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(The Gear Loop) - A decent pair of snow boots is a winter sports essential, whether you’re hiking across snowy city streets or bar-hopping your way around your favourite ski resort’s après ski venues, they are here to keep toes snug and icy ramblers away from A&E.

Alas, a decade or so ago, finding a pair was fairly simple, because there wasn’t much in the way of choice, but with dozens of snow sports brands now clamouring to get a slice of the snow boot pie, there are now more styles than ever to choose from. 

VansThe most stylish men's and women's boots for snow and ice lifestyle photo 5

The upside? Whether you’re someone with extra wide feet, someone with an inability to stay upright on icy terrain or just someone with a weakness for some designer-branded winter kit, finding your ideal winter boot is now easier than it has ever been. 

In terms of technical features, the boots on this list aren’t designed to conquer Ben Nevis in the height of winter, but instead get your from A to B in a ski resort in comfort and style. For that reason, we’d recommend looking out for materials with good thermal properties when buying (Columbia’s Omni-Heat tech is a great example of this), Ortholite footbeds for all-day comfort and soles from recognised suppliers, such as Vibram, to give you extra stability when you need it most.

DecathlonThe most stylish men's and women's boots for snow and ice lifestyle photo 4

Read our selection of some of the best boots below and don’t forget to scroll to the end for a few additional nuggets of buying advice, should this be the first time you’ve been snow boot shopping. Oh, and if you need a decent insulated jacket to go with those boots, we've got you covered. 

The most stylish men's and women’s boots for snow and ice

ColumbiaThe most stylish men's and women's boots for snow and ice product photo 3

Columbia Slopeside Village Omni-Heat Mid Boot

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For 

  • Brilliantly grippy sole 
  • Incredibly warm

Against

  • Sole isn’t as stiff or supportive as rivals

This is one of the most elegant pairs of women’s snow boots we’ve come across in a long time. A trainer-like piece of loveliness that packs all of the properties of an urban boot with Columbia’s latest heat retention tech inside and a grippy sole for conquering the slush. 

The easy-on-the-eye styling admittedly raised a few warning flags at first. All too often, footwear that looks this good simply doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to traction and warmth. However, we’re pleased to report that Columbia’s Omni-Heat technology (reflective inner lining that traps and bounces heat back to the foot) keeps things very toasty and a waterproof construction ensures feet stay dry in adverse conditions. 

There’s plenty of tech to talk about on the sole too, including Columbia’s Techlite midsole for brilliant comfort and cushioning without added weight, and the brand’s Omni-Grip high traction rubber for tackling icy pavements. 

Our one word of warning is that this boot might not be for you if you prefer a high level of support for longer winter walks or hikes - because despite the soles being incredibly comfortable (they’re some of the bounciest we’ve come across), a lack of rigidity and ankle support here means they come unstuck a little when traversing unpredictable terrain.

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Danner Cloud Cap

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For

  • Fantastic cushioning 
  • Incredibly stylish 

Against 

  • Multiple seams mean more potential areas of weakness

It’s best to view these men’s snow-friendly boots as pillows for your feet. They’re so comfortable, and a generous amount of synthetic fibre stuffing ensures feet stay wonderfully warm.

The presence of Danner’s legendary Dry Barriers doesn’t just repel water, but means there’s zero chance of moisture making its way through to your socks, no matter how deep the snow stash you’ve just schlepped through. Extra security and a nice lock-down fit is also provided by a toggle on the front.

Unlike many boots with this level of waterproofing, there’s little chance that your feet will overheat either. The reason for this is the OrthoLite footbed, which doesn’t just provide superior cushioning, but also allows heat to dissipate quickly and efficiently, thanks to the open-cell membrane.  

The shock absorption is boosted by the presence of a Plyolite midsole, laid over an ultra-grippy Vibram Arctic Grip AT compound sole, which has been deliberately designed with icy, treacherous conditions in mind. 

They might not be the most fashionable items on this list but they are a top choice if you want something practical, grippy, dry and warm. We tested them in a variety of conditions and found they performed admirably, proving really easy to get on and off when slipping in and out of ski or snowboard boots. 

Moon BootThe most stylish men's and women's boots for snow and ice product photo 1

Chloé + Moon Boot Leather and Shearling Snow Boots

For

  • Incredibly stylish 
  • Lightweight 

Against 

  • Expensive
  • Not the most rugged of snow boots

Let’s face it, these boots, which are part of Moon Boot’s collaboration with fashion label Chloé, aren’t going to be your go-to boots for slogging through snow, slush and ice, seeing as they’re designed for slinking around town on chilly days and possibly, if you’re feeling reckless, a stylish slope-side bar. 

We use the word reckless simply because these particular Moon Boots aren’t designed to stand up to much wear and tear. Yes, they look fabulous darling, but the patches of Shearling wool certainly won’t conceal any rogue splashes of red wine spilled during that après ski session (then again, we suspect most wearers will be on the champers).

And although the sole has the grippiness we’ve come to expect from Moon Boot (and we love the fact that it’s biodegradable), don’t expect to stay upright for long should you stray onto patches of ice. Especially after all that bubbly.

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Vans Sk8-Hi Gore-Tex MTE-3

For 

  • Unique skate style
  • Lightweight 

Against 

  • There are grippier soles available
  • Heat retention could be improved 

These are Vans Jim, but not as we know it. Designed with the same high-top profile that you’ll find on some of the brand’s most popular skate shoes, these boots might not be the toughest around, but let’s face it, if you’re planning a mammoth trek through the Arctic Circle, Vans probably won’t be the first brand on the list. 

That said, they are still surprisingly tough and they achieve that rare feat (or should that be feet?) of making winter-specific footwear look effortlessly stylish. We loved the two-tone styling of the All-Trac all-weather outsole, complete with a dynamic lug pattern for added grip and a larger-than-average area of toe protection.

There is generous use of Gore-tex on the outer to stave off not only the cold, but any hint of moisture that could leak in. Extra heat retention is provided courtesy of the 3M Thinsulate inner lining insulation, while Vans’ UltraCush liner (which anyone who owns a pair of Vans snowboard boots will be familiar with) ensures all-day comfort.

Throw in a great range of colours to match any mountain-based outfit and we can see these being hugely popular with the hip ski and snow crowd this winter.

KeenThe most stylish men's and women's boots for snow and ice product photo 5

Keen Terradora II Wintry Waterproof Boot

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For 

  • Hi-tech design
  • Fantastic insulation 

Against

  • Not the best choice for wider feet

This is the kind of sequel we love - an improved version of a boot that we were blown away by in its original incarnation.

We’d recommend it for slim-footed wearers who crave extra stability, which in this case is provided by a brace of features that includes a lightweight stability shank, a precision-engineered pattern of 4mm multi-directional lugs and the so-called KonnectFit heel-capture system, which holds feet firmly in place.

A nod to sustainability comes in the form of an upper made from recycled plastic, which is also used for the insulation. Which brings us nicely onto the boot’s fantastic heat retention, which comes courtesy of that eco-friendly, thick fleecy lining and a heat-trapping thermal insole. 

Prone to stinky feet? These might just be your saviour. The boots also pack Keen’s Eco Anti Odour tech, which breaks down sweat scents using a pesticide-free odour control treatment that’s made from natural ingredients. 

We also loved the quilted design, which compliments a variety of outfits, as well as the non-marking rubber outsole, because nobody wants to leave thick black streaks on their ski lodge’s beautiful oak flooring. Although we found the boots true to size, comfortable and incredibly weatherproof, their narrower profile might pose a problem for wearers with wider feet.

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Columbia Fairbanks Omni-heat Snow

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For

  • A great range of colours
  • Lightweight 
  • Wide sizes available

Against

  • Poor water-proofing
  • Not much ankle protection

Columbia’s Fairbanks are a great option for those who don’t want the typical bulk associated with heavily-insulated snow boots, but instead require a slimline hiking option with some added warmth and a tread pattern designed for the icy stuff.

The boots are comfortable, with Columbia’s excellent Omni-heat technology keeping the foot insulated on really chilly days but we have to question the waterproofing claims. Yep, they’ll withstand a walk in shallow slush, but anything more than that and socks start getting a bit damp.

Good for the first time skier, snowboarder or inner-city pavement pounder looking for a warm pair of boots, but they lack the longevity and build quality of some of the more expensive options on this list.

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Sorel Explorer II Joan Cozy Boot

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For 

  • Fabulously cosy
  • Lightweight 

Against  

  • Colour schemes aren’t great for hiding wear and tear
  • Fleecy outer lining can add weight when damp 

We know what you’re thinking: “are these boots inside out?” No, they’re not, and we’ve usually got little time for high maintenance winter boots, which is why we were a little nervous about these ones, which have patches of light-coloured fleece on both flanks. 

But after some time stomping around in all manner of wintry conditions, we stand corrected. A quick spot-clean with a damp cloth will quickly banish light patches of dirt, and the thick soles mean blobs of mud and slush rarely make it past the extra-thick rubber that adorns the bottom of the shoe. 

Fleece doesn’t just feature on the outside either, because there’s also a layer covering the moulded EVA footbed, for hot water bottle-level cosiness when out for a walk. The midsole is also incredibly comfortable and these turned out to be some of the most pillow-like boots we were lucky enough to test.

What they lack in fuss-free maintenance and 100 per cent waterproofing, they more than make up for with bags of style. But be warned, the grip lacks lugs, so can’t be recommended for steep uphill hikes in the more remote ski resorts. 

Decathlon/QuechuaThe most stylish men's and women's boots for snow and ice product photo 6

Quechua SH100 X-Warm hiking boots

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For 

  • Excellent value
  • Warm fleece lining

Against 

  • Lack reassuring heft 

Decathlon’s own brand Quechua enters this list purely because it represents great value for money and doesn’t look half bad doing so. Available in a number of modern grey, brown and  navy hues, it’s slim enough to wear with casual clothing but comes with enough cold weather tech to protect from the elements.

There’s a waterproof and breathable outer membrane, for keeping out the wet and limiting sweaty feet, while a fleece lining has been tested to keep feet warm between -6°C when stationary and -15°C when hiking hard.

Although they feel light and not particularly toughened, the SnowContact sole with 3mm gripping studs performs well in the snow.There are better boots for serious wintry hikers, but these protect from the wet and feel like a great low-cost investment for the occasional ski trip. 

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What to look for in a pair ski resort-friendly boots

Substance over style

Although it’s tempting to go for the most fashionable boots you can afford, it’s worth thinking about the locations you plan to wear them in, the weather and how much walking you’ll have to do. Most popular ski resorts will have immaculately cleared footpaths, meaning you don’t need too much in the way of grip. That said, it always pays to spend a bit more on a specially designed sole, so you’re not slipping around like Bambi on ice.

Manage moisture

Although some models claim to be fully waterproof, opting for those with renowned outer textiles from the likes of GoreTex, as these have a proven history. A seam-sealed construction will also reduce the number of places water can sneak in, keeping the foot dryer for longer in deep snow and slush.

Get a grip

Tread patterns an the material make-up of a boot’s sole play an important part in keeping its wearer upright and most footwear designed for snow and ice have a series of relatively shallow lugs that allow for some additional traction. On top of this, look out for a boot with additional ankle support or a reinforced collar that prevents the foot from rolling should you come unstuck on the slippery stuff. 

Writing by Tamara Hinson and Leon Poultney. Originally published on 16 November 2021.