Hiking boots are undoubtedly a good investment for all avid hikers, but are hiking boots good for snow?
When it comes to hiking in snowy conditions, wearing the right footwear is extremely important.
This is because the presence of snow and ice poses much more danger during the hike.
While it would be nice to maximize your investment and be able to use your hiking boots in both dry and icy conditions.
However, the suitability of hiking boots for snow depends on a few factors – whether it is waterproof, insulation, and how sturdy your hiking boots are.
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Hiking Boots VS Snow Boots
|Feature||Snow Boots||Hiking Boots|
|Waterproofing||Yes||Not necessarily waterproof|
|Breathability||Less breathable||More breathable|
|Insulation||Yes||Not necessarily insulated|
|Traction||Good traction for snow and ice||Good traction, but may not be suitable for ice|
|Sturdiness||Stiff and sturdy||Less sturdy compared to snow boots|
|Height||Up to ankles, snug to prevent snow from entering||Can be high-top or low, may not be snug at the ankles|
Hiking boots are known to work in all sorts of terrains – from the smoothest, paved trail to the roughest, rocky paths.
They also allow you to brave most weather conditions, making them a trusted companion for every avid hiker.
However, when it comes to hiking during the winter things get a little tricky.
The answer to questions such as “are hiking boots good for winter” and “are hiking boots good for snow and ice” is no longer straightforward, and recommending a pair of hiking boots might not be the best idea.
While hiking boots can definitely be used during winter, they may not suffice as a suitable choice of footwear.
Their thick and sturdy soles may provide a decent amount of traction on snow and ice, but just ‘decent traction’ is not sufficient to answer your question on are hiking boots good for snow.
With snow and ice thrown into the mix (especially if we’re dealing with deep snow), there are other factors to consider as well when deciding on your choice of footwear.
When dealing with these kinds of elements, it might be a better idea to consider a pair of snow boots instead.
How Are Snow Boots Different Than Your Pair Of Hiking Boots?
Snow boots are usually waterproof or water-resistant, whereas hiking boots come in a variety of choices that are not necessarily waterproof.
As snow boots are made to withstand snow and ice, their waterproofing will generally be better than that of your hiking boots.
Snow boots are ideally used in wet, snowy conditions and work well in keeping snow from entering your boots and making contact with your foot.
When snow comes in contact with the warmth of your feet, it melts resulting in moisture in your shoes and this is quite frankly a recipe for blisters and frostbite.
Snow boots also have thicker soles and deeper treads for better traction when dealing with snow and ice. They have fantastic insulation and tend to be heavier than your regular pair of hiking boots.
“So can I use hiking boots in snow?”
It may seem like hiking boots are at a great disadvantage for use in snowy conditions, but this depends on quite a few factors that we look into next.
What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing Footwear For Hiking In The Snow?
Let us now take a look at exactly what factors you should take into account when choosing your shoes for your next hiking adventure!
Hiking in the snow would mean your feet are in constant contact with snow, and melted snow can seep through your choice of footwear and come into contact with your feet.
The last thing you want when hiking in chilly conditions is for your feet to get wet and invite frostbite.
For this reason, a pair of waterproof boots is a must.
Many but not all hiking boots are waterproof, whereas snow boots are definitely waterproof as they are designed to be used for hiking in snowy conditions.
One thing to note with waterproof boots is that they generally have lesser breathability.
So while their waterproofing does an excellent job keeping moisture out, it also does a great job in keeping moisture in the shoes – which may not be the best for when your feet are sweaty from your hike.
To combat this, a good pair of hiking socks with great moisture-wicking properties would be ideal.
When hiking in chilly conditions, you always want to ensure your feet stay warm, so well-insulated boots are something you should look for.
The level of insulation that comes with hiking boots varies according to their specifications, whereas snow boots will have good insulation since they are made with winter conditions in mind.
Hiking in the snow exposes you to both snow and ice. For this reason, it is important that your choice of footwear provides adequate traction and keep you from slipping or falling during your hike.
While hiking boots generally provide great traction (they are, after all, designed to handle various terrains), they may not work as well when dealing with ice.
It is safe to say snow boots provide better traction and does a better job at keeping you upright during your hikes.
When dealing with high levels of snow and ice, you want to ensure your choice of footwear is sturdy enough to offer you support and protection during your hikes.
While hiking boots are usually much heavier and sturdy compared to other choices of footwear such as trail runners and hiking shoes, they are not as heavy and sturdy as snow boots.
Snow boots are generally also much stiffer than hiking boots, the decreased flexibility allows them to give you more stability during your hikes.
One more factor to consider when deciding to use hiking boots in snow is the height of your boots.
Ideally, you want high-top boots that come up to your ankles. They must also be snug and secure at your ankles and prevent any snow from getting into your boots.
The high ankle collar of your boots will also offer greater ankle support, which can be crucial when dealing with high levels of snow on your path.
While hiking boots are usually high-top, they may not come as high up on your ankles compared to snow boots, and even if they do the fit at the top may not be as snug. This can lead to snow finding its way into your shoes and increasing your chances of frostbite.
When Can I Use My Hiking Boots In Snow?
So can you use hiking boots in snow? The answer is – it depends on the conditions really.
1. Light Snow Conditions
When you’re dealing with light snow conditions, your hiking boots can pretty much work well. This would be for conditions when you’re dealing with hikes involving about an inch of snow or less.
As long as your boots are waterproof, they should be able to keep your feet warm and dry besides providing enough support and traction for your hike.
Even if your hiking boots are not waterproof, this can easily be fixed with some waterproofing coating.
2. Heavy Snow Conditions
When there is a lot more snow involved (we’re talking hikes involving more than an inch of snow), you will have to be more careful with your choice of footwear.
It is a definite must for your boots to be waterproof and provide great ankle support.
The snug cuffs around your ankle are also vital as hiking in deeper snow can lead to snow finding its way into your feet.
What About Gore-Tex?
You may then wonder are gore tex boots good for snow. After all, these are waterproof and breathable – sounds like a win, no?
Again, it depends. While the waterproofing and breathability factors are definitely appealing, they may not be high and snug enough around your ankles to prevent snow from entering your boots.
For this reason, Gore-Tex boots may be safe enough for light snow conditions but would probably need reinforcements when dealing with heavier snow conditions.
How Can I Use My Existing Hiking Boots In The Snow?
So does this mean the answer to “can I wear hiking boots in the snow” is a big, fat “No”?
Thankfully this is not the case, so if you have already invested in a pair of hiking boots hoping that they will work for all sorts of terrains and weather conditions, you don’t have to fork out more money and get a pair of snow boots just yet.
With the addition of some reinforcements, your existing pair of hiking boots can help you maneuver through snowy trails.
Firstly, you can consider adding some gaiters. These cloth coverings offer protection against rain and snow. Some gaiters are waterproof and are able to provide insulation, which can definitely help when dealing with snow.
Gaiters can also be used during non-snowy conditions as they work equally well to keep out mud, water, and insects.
Crampons are traction devices with large spikes that can be attached to your hiking boots. These help your boots get a more sturdy grip on packed snow and icy surfaces.
For this, you will have to make sure your hiking boots are compatible for attaching crampons.
Microspikes work by digging into more even terrains (such as icy surfaces and packed snow) and provide you with traction across these surfaces.
They are small and easily slipped over your hiking boots, allowing you to move across slippery surfaces safely and reduce the chances of slipping.
They’re also very handy when dealing with inclines.
4. Woolen Socks
As mentioned earlier, waterproof hiking boots may not have the best breathability, so if your feet sweat during the hike chances are your feet will remain damp throughout your journey.
In order to deal with the lack of airflow in your hiking boots, a good pair of woolen socks aid in absorbing the moisture from your feet. By keeping your feet dry, they also ensure that any possible blisters are kept at bay.
Woolen socks also help to provide further insulation, keeping your feet warm and comfortable when hiking in chilly conditions.
5. Waterproof Coating
If your current pair of hiking boots are not waterproof, some waterproof coating can take care of this.
This helps for both light and heavy snow conditions to keep your feet dry during your hike, as well as offers protection to the material of your hiking boots when using them for hikes in the snow.
Snowshoes need to be attached to hiking boots.
These allow you to maneuver across trails where snow is not packed down yet without sinking into the snow, keeping your hiking boots reasonably dry in the process.
7. Heated Insoles
Heated insoles provide added warmth which can be essential when trying to make your hiking boots work on snowy terrains.
While these can be quite expensive, the warmth that it provides will give you great relief during your hikes.
So if you were wondering can you wear hiking boots in the snow, all you’ll need are some added reinforcements to make your hiking boots work!
FAQs on Are Hiking Boots Good For Snow
What Boots Are Best For Hiking In Snow?
|Merrell Women’s Thermo Chill 6″ Shell Waterproof Sneaker||200g insulation|
|Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid Winter TS CSWP Hiking Boots||200g Thinsulate insulation|
|Keen Revel IV Polar Boot||200g insulation|
|Salomon Women’s Toundra Pro CSWP W Snow||Aerogel|
Can You Wear Hiking Boots For Snow?
You can wear your hiking boots in snow as long as you’re dealing with light snow conditions. Deeper levels of snow may require snow boots, but you can always reinforce your existing hiking boots instead of purchasing a pair of snow boots.
Do Hiking Boots Make Good Winter Boots?
Hiking boots do make good winter boots as lightweight, breathable hiking boots have really come a long way in the comfort department, giving them a good edge over snow boots which are heavy, bulky and not very breathable.
Are Hiking Boots Good For Ice?
Are hiking boots good for ice? Snow boots and hiking boots tend to be the best footwear to go for when it’s cold and icy outside as they have the necessary traction to maneuver across slippery trails.
And there you have it – all you need to know on deciding if your hiking boots are good enough to use in icy conditions.
Hiking boots that are waterproof, sturdy, and provide good insulation are suitable choices for snowy terrains.
These will also work when there are light snow conditions.
However, if your hiking boots do not meet these requirements, it is still possible to add on accessories such as a good pair of winter socks, gaiters, crampons, thermal insoles, waterproofing coverage, microspikes, and snowshoes to make your hiking boots work.
Let us know! Does this now answer your question “are hiking boots good for snow”?