Are Snow Boots Good For Hiking? 4 Factors To Consider 

Have you ever asked yourself are snow boots good for hiking?

 Hiking boots are often the go-to footwear for hikes of various levels and terrain due to their versatility, comfort, and support.  

This has left many to consider whether snow boots are worth investing in especially if you don’t intend to go on many hiking trips where there’s snow.

There are several factors to consider such as the snow boots’ features, the hiking trail, the type of hike you’re embarking on and weather conditions. 

This article will explain these four factors and help you decide if snow boots are good for hiking! 

At a glance, here are some of the things we will be looking at in our quest to find out all about whether snow boots are good for hiking

  • Are snow boots and hiking boots the same?
  • Hiking boots vs snow boots: The difference 
  • Can you wear hiking boots in the snow? Pros and cons 
  • Using hiking boots in the snow: 3 things to consider
  • Are Columbia hiking boots good for snow? 
  • Are Merrell hiking boots good for snow? 
  • Are Sorel boots good for hiking?
  • Frequently asked questions 
    • Are winter shoes good for hiking? 
    • Can you use boots for hiking? 
    • Are winter boots the same as snow boots? 

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Are Snow Boots Good For Hiking? 

When deciding are snow boots good for hiking, you must consider these points: 

1. Features of the snow boot

2. The terrain 

3. Type of hike 

4. Weather conditions 

Let’s go into each point in more detail! 

1. Features Of The Snow Boot

are snow boots good for hiking
Picture credit: @linlang on Pixabay

Snow boots, as the name suggests, are made to be used in the snow. It’s also designed to be used in wet conditions where the path may have deep, thick, and slushy piles of snow.

 This is because the sole of the snow boot is made of rubber which prevents snow and moisture from penetrating through. 

The upper part of the boot is made from leather or a combination of leather and nylon which can extend from the ankle to the calf.

 This is to provide additional warmth and more ankle support. 

While snow boots are waterproof, it also means that they are bulky and heavy.

 Snow boots normally have a tight cuff to prevent the snow from seeping through so it might not provide your feet as much breathability and can cause your feet to sweat more. That’s why it’s important to wear the right socks to absorb the moisture. 

Overall, it’s clear that snow boots have great features. Now, let’s consider the other three factors to decide whether it’s good for hiking. 

2. The Terrain

are snow boots good for hiking
Picture credit: @robi-idris on Pixabay

If you’re wondering are snow boots good for hiking, it’s important to consider the terrain you’ll be embarking on. If you’re walking on a path with deep snow, then you’re better off wearing snow boots. 

This is because snow boots are waterproof and will keep the water or snow out and protect your feet from the cold.

The rubber sole of the snow boots will also prevent any moisture from seeping through while walking on thick, deep, and slushy snow.  

If the terrain only has light snow, then hiking boots can be used as they will provide sufficient insulation and also have waterproof features.

If you’re going to trek on loose snowy surfaces or steep slopes, your boot must have good traction and grip so that it will prevent you from slipping. 

The sole of the boot should have triangular patterns, V-shaped lugs (deep indentations in the pattern), and Z-shaped ridges so that they can bite deeper into soft and shifting surfaces.

Both snow boots and hiking boots can provide good traction for this sort of terrain.

3. Type Of Hike 

are snow boots good for hiking
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How intense will the hike be? Will you be going on a hike with good elevation? Or will it be a stroll with less elevation? Will the hike be a short or long one?

These are several valid questions to ask yourself before deciding are snow boots good for hiking. 

If you’re thinking are snow boots good for walking, then the answer is they can be good for walking. Snow hiking boots provide good insulation to keep your feet warm and so if you’re going for a casual walk then they would suffice. 

Meanwhile, if you intend to go on a more intense and long walk, and the terrain isn’t covered in snow, then you might be better off wearing hiking boots that provide more comfort, breathability, and support.  

4. Weather Conditions 

If you’ve asked yourself, can you use snow boots for hiking, then you would need to consider what the climate will be like on your hike. Will the weather be mild? Will you experience light or heavy snowfall? 

If the weather is mild, then you may use hiking boots but if you’re going to have heavy snowfall, then you’re better off in snow boots.  

Are Snow Boots And Hiking Boots The Same? 

While snow boots and hiking boots do protect our feet, the boots’ features vary. As mentioned before, the snow boot is a specialist boot that is designed to be used in snow and wet conditions. 

Meanwhile, the hiking boot is more versatile and can be used for more general hikes and long-distance walks.

However, this is also subject to the terrain and weather conditions during the hike. 

The snow boot should not be confused with the winter boot.

Winter boots are more for generic use compared to snow boots so if you’re wondering are winter boots good for hiking, the answer is not necessarily as winter boots are prone to getting snow in and their waterproofing isn’t as solid. 

Hiking Boots vs. Snow Boots: The Difference

To settle this snow boots vs. hiking boots debate, let’s take a look at some of the key differences between the two. 

FeatureSnow bootHiking boot
Traction and gripStrong traction and gripSubject to the design of the boot 
WeightHeavier and bulkierNot as heavy and lightweight 
WaterproofYesNot always waterproof and more likely water-resistant 
Insulation and warmth YesYes but not as insulated and warm as the snow boot 
BreathabilityNot as breathable compared to hiking bootYes
Ankle and foot supportYesYes 
Versatility NoYes

Now, let’s get into the details of each of these differences:

1. Traction And Grip 

Traction refers to the ability to pull something along or the resistance against sliding. Grip refers to the ability to cling onto the surface.

Regardless of the terrain, your boots must have good traction and grip to prevent you from slipping. 

Snow boots are usually made to keep you upright in the snow so they will have good traction and grip. Meanwhile, the traction and grip of a hiking boot vary depending on the sole of the boot. 

2. Weight 

Snow boots are heavy pairs of footwear whereas the weight of hiking boots varies depending on the material and what terrain it’s designed for.

Generally, snow boots are bulkier compared to hiking boots making them more challenging to walk in. 

This could also mean that snow boots are less comfortable to walk in compared to hiking boots. 

3. Waterproof 

are snow boots good for hiking
Picture credit: @birgl on Pixabay

Snow boots are more likely to be waterproof compared to hiking boots.

The former is built to keep water or moisture out completely which means they are more likely to protect your feet from snow or rain whereas the latter is more likely to be water-resistant which means they repel water but only to a certain degree. 

Snow boots extend up the leg and minimally to the calf which protects your feet from thick or falling snow. They also have a tight cuff to prevent snow and moisture from getting inside the boot. 

Hiking boots can be waterproofed if they are made from Gore-Tex material and have a gusseted tongue to prevent water and snow from leaking through the underside of your laces. 

Another difference is that hiking boots usually don’t extend as far up to the calf compared to snow boots so gaiters might need to be worn as an added layer of protection.  

4. Insulation And Warmth 

Generally, snow boots are well insulated whereas hiking boots vary depending on the boot’s design.

This feature of the snow boot will further protect your feet from the snow and will keep your feet warm. Hiking boots are normally less insulated but that doesn’t mean they will not keep your feet warm. 

5. Breathability 

As a result of the snow boot being waterproof, this also means that snow boots are less breathable compared to hiking boots.

With the snow boot designed to keep moisture completely out, it will have less air circulating on your feet compared to your hiking boots

This will cause your feet to sweat more and create discomfort when walking so you can consider wearing hiking socks to absorb the moisture. 

6. Ankle And Foot Support 

are snow boots good for hiking
Picture credit: @pen_ash on Pixabay

Snow boots are designed to extend from the ankle to the calf whereas hiking boots come in varying heights. Both shoes can provide sufficient ankle and foot support provided that you test the comfort level of the boot. 

For instance, when trying on the boots, ensure that the fit isn’t too tight as this will cut off circulation, and also ensure that it’s not too loose as this will make you more prone to injuries. 

Some suggestions when trying on the boots include wiggling your toes, rotating your ankle, and walking around them. Your feet should feel secure with room to breathe and not tightly gripped. 

7. Versatility

As mentioned previously, snow boots are designed for a specific type of terrain. Its main priority is to protect your feet from the snow, and moisture and subsequently keep your feet warm. 

This has caused many to consider whether it’s worth investing in a pair of snow boots due to its specificity.

Meanwhile, hiking boots are designed for multiple types of terrain and can be used all year round making it a better investment. Though it might not offer the same level of protection from the snow compared to snow boots. 

To conclude, the main takeaway from comparing the difference between hiking boots vs snow boots is that snow boots are specifically designed for snow treks. Hiking boots also have the same features but also have the slight advantage of being more versatile.

Can You Wear Hiking Boots In The Snow? Pros And Cons 

A frequently asked question is are hiking boots good for snow? This depends on the snow conditions. If the path has light snow and you will not experience heavy snowfall or rain on your journey, then you can wear hiking boots in the snow. 

This is because hiking boots will offer sufficient insulation and are waterproof enough for this condition. If the hiking boot has a rubber sole with a deep lug and triangular pattern then it can be worn in the snow as it will provide sufficient grip against loose snow surfaces.

However, if the path has packed snow and heavy snowfall, then hiking boots might not be the best option. Opt for snow boots instead as they have a tight cuff to prevent the snow from entering and will provide more protection and warmth. 

Furthermore, the waterproofing on hiking boots might not be sufficient for snow trails so it’s best to opt for a pair of snow boots. 

Overall, hiking boots can be worn in the snow if it’s lightweight, well insulated, sufficiently waterproofed, and have a good grip on the boot’s sole provided that the terrain has light snow. 

Using Hiking Boots In The Snow: 3 Things To Consider 

If you’re adamant about wearing hiking boots in the snow or if you’ve ever wondered can winter boots be used for hiking, here are several ways you can adapt your boots to the snow and trek conditions.

The main priority when preparing your footwear for a snowy hike is to protect your feet from the cold and to keep your feet dry and warm. 

Here are three things to consider when preparing your hiking boots in the snow: 

1. Wear Proper Socks 

are snow boots good for hiking
Picture credit: @stevepb on Pixabay

You would need to wear thick wool socks or more specifically winter hiking socks that can

are snow boots good for hiking

retain heat and absorb moisture. This is also compulsory if you’re wearing snow boots which are even more insulated so you would need the socks to do the latter. 

2. Use Winter Boot Accessories 

There are several winter boot accessories you can consider purchasing for added protection and comfort. Bear in mind that these accessories are designed for different situations so you should only consider buying them if it meets your needs. 

Winter Boot AccessoryDescription Function/When To Use 
GaitersA protective covering for the ankle and lower leg To provide another layer of protection for hiking boots that only extend to the ankle 
CramponsA foot frame or sole with fewer but larger spikes that are made of steel and aluminum 
Hiking boots need to be compatible with attaching crampons.
To increase traction and surface area of your shoe so that you won’t sink too much when walking in the snow To be used for ice-climbing and challenging terrains with icy and rocky surfaces Not suitable for trekking
MicrospikesComprise of small spikes and chains that are made of stainless steel and are worn over the hiking boot To increase traction and grip of your boot to prevent from fallingThey are lighter and can be used for hiking and trekking activities 
Snowshoes Specialised gear with a bulky design to help walk over snow
To increase traction and surface area Mainly used for deep snow conditions and short-distances 

3. Waterproofing Your Hiking Boots 

You can opt to waterproof your hiking boots if you don’t want to invest in proper snow boots. Here are several tips to keep in mind when waterproofing your boots: 

  • Check what material your boot is made of as different materials require different waterproofing applications. 
  • Check if your boot already has a protective layer as this will determine the type of waterproofing i.e. waxing or a light spray.
  • Clean off any mud or dirt from the boot and give it a good wash and dry before waterproofing the boot.

The question of can you hike in winter boots can be somewhat resolved by taking these three factors into consideration. Also, by considering these factors, you can have the best boots for snow and hiking without breaking the bank! 

Are Columbia Hiking Boots Good For Snow? 

Columbia is a household name in the outdoor gear and apparel industry. They also have an impressive collection of footwear. 

Generally, Columbia hiking boots are reputable for producing hiking boots with great traction and grip and are lightweight and durable for long winter hikes. 

However, if they are not specifically designed for snowy terrain, do assess whether the boots are waterproof, well-insulated, and adaptable for such terrain.  


Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat  

are snow boots good for hiking

Are Merrell Hiking Boots Good For Snow?

You will be spoiled with choice when browsing the Merrell catalog as they offer plenty of hiking boots that have all the features you need to walk in the snow including being waterproof, well-insulated, and Gore-Tex sole. 


Merrell Men’s Thermo Overlook 2 Tall Waterproof Snow Boot 

are snow boots good for hiking

Merrell Women’s Thermo Kiruna Mid Shell Wp Snow Boot

are snow boots good for hiking

Are Sorel Boots Good For Hiking?

Sorel boots seem to be the most popular choice as winter boots because of their durability. It’s normally the preferred choice if you want to keep your feet warm when walking outdoors. 

However, in general, it’s not recommended to be used during a hike or long, strenuous walks. This is because the rubber sole of the Sorel boot does not provide any breathing room which means that your feet will sweat and trap moisture in the boot. 

A cold foot is not ideal during a hike so Sorel boots would not be the first choice for hiking. Of course, you can opt to purchase the right socks or consider other types of Sorel boots but given that other brands specialize in hiking footwear, you’re better to explore those options first. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Are Winter Shoes Good For Hiking? 

Winter shoes are good for hiking because winter shoes will have better waterproofing on them. Having waterproof winter shoes is important as they will protect your feet from wet conditions or snow during your hike. However, hiking boots are more lightweight compared to winter shoes so the former is potentially more comfortable to walk in. 

Can You Use Boots For Hiking? 

Hiking boots offer better ankle coverage, which helps prevent ankle sprains, and much stiffer midsoles, which provide better support. They’re generally a better option to hike in compared to regular sneakers or tennis shoes as you are more likely to slip, sprain your ankle, or even injure yourself in sneakers of tennis shoes.

Are Winter Boots The Same As Snow Boots? 

Snow boots are waterproof or water-resistant, but winter boots are not. Both boots have two different functions. Snow boots are normally worn during the wet season or under snowy conditions. Meanwhile, winter boots are worn on flat surfaces such as roads or smooth pathways and for everyday use such as shopping.


So, are snow boots good for hiking?

 Now, this question very much depends on the features of the snow boots, whether the terrain has deep snow or just a light dust of it, whether the hike is a short or long one, and if the weather is mild or extremely cold. 

Alternatively, you may also consider wearing your hiking boots and ensuring it’s adapted for the snowy conditions. 

Whichever option you decide, it’s important to take your time in making this decision as a good pair of footwear can make all the difference on your hiking journey. All the best!  

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