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Tips to choose your snow shoes

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

Aside from material, you want to be on the lookout for snow boots that feature these details, according to experts ":

  • Flexibility and ankle stability. The right snow shoe allows for some movement of the ankle for trekking through piles of snow. “Simultaneously, our ankles need to feel stable for walking on irregular surfaces,” said Pidich.

  • Good traction. “Check out the sole of the boot and look for something that will give you good traction in the snow and a firmer footing on ice,” said Rosenberg. “Avoid anything flat or smooth and look for lugs (deep indentations in a rubber sole) that will flex.”

  • Substantial warmth. As Pidich explains it, our toes and fingers are the body parts most prone to frostbite, so it’s key to find boots that will keep them warm.

  • Water resistance. There are different elements to a snow boot that can be waterproof, noted Rosenberg: Think of a membrane layer as “a thin sock that is sewn into the boot” that you want to be waterproof and breathable to keep your feet dry while in the snow. You also want the upper part of your boot, the outer portion that completely covers the foot, to be waterproof and not just water-resistant. “Water-proof means that when immersed in cold water or wet snow, it will not penetrate the shoe,” explained Lobkova. “Water-resistant repels water but may allow it to penetrate the shoe when the shoe is immersed.”

  • Protection. Ideally, your snow boots will have reinforcement on the toebox and a thick sole to help protect toes when wading through deep snow. “We also need extra bottom protection on our snow shoes because our feet contain thousands of nerve endings,” said Pidich. “These nerve endings are incredibly sensitive to temperatures. A rubber sole will protect the sensitive bottoms of our feet from snow and ice.”

  • A rigid sole. The rigidity of a sole dictates the stability of the shoe, according to Lobkova. “If you are able to freely twist the shoe, it is not a good snow boot,” she said. In order to prevent common winter injuries like ankle sprains, she also advised a shoe with a firm heel counter, which is the back part of the shoe that surrounds the heel. “A firm heel counter minimizes the tilt of the heel bone during walking and prevents twisting the ankle on ice or snow,” she explained.

  • A removable liner. This is ideal if you deal with a lot of snow and wear the boots often or if you will be wearing them during intense activity. “This makes it easy to remove and clean the liner, cutting down on any odor,” Williams told us.

  • Boot height. How tall your boot is depends on the length of its shaft. A shorter duck boot style is fine for a small amount of snow as long as you can tuck your pant into it but “if you’re talking three feet of snow, then you need a taller shaft boot,” advised style expert Jené Luciana.

  • Laces. Although a lace-up closure can be more time consuming when you are putting the boots on, it gives you the ability to customize the fit according to your calf size and sock thickness. Bonus points if the boot also has a zipper closure, too, simplifying putting them on and off easier after an initial adjustment.


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