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Snow shoes versus Winter boots

Updated: Oct 8, 2021

When searching online for the right set of footwear, don’t let terminology trip you up. As Kevin Rosenberg, a mountain guide and owner of International Adventure Guides explains, these terms denote key differences in the type of shoes you’re looking at and its relevance to different use cases.

Snowshoes are meant to be worn with a base pair of boots. “Snowshoes help to distribute your weight across the surface of the snow and prevent you from sinking in,” Rosenberg explained. “Snowshoes are a bit like clown shoes — you need to imagine yourself wearing skis so that you don’t trip yourself when trying to turn around — and will generally have crampons built in so that you also have traction on icy patches.”

Snow boots or snow shoes are commonly interchangeable and refer to the same thing: a waterproof or water-resistant pair of boots specially designed for trekking through snow.

Winter boots are made for winter temperatures but aren’t necessarily waterproof. They’re typically more fashionable and aren’t necessarily intended for snow activities. “Winter boots are worn during the winter months for style and warmth,” explained Casey Ann Pidich, a podiatrist and founder of Dr. Glass Slipper. “They are also acceptable to be worn around inside a home, a restaurant or the office, whereas it is more acceptable to remove snow shoes before entering a home.”


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