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 Can You Wear Hiking Boots In The Snow [2023 Update]

Have you ever asked: can you wear hiking boots in the snow? This is a common question after you consider what to wear hiking in the snow. 

It seems that hiking boots are perfect for uneven terrain and rough ground, but what if you want to wear them even in the winter snow?

As someone who enjoys the outdoors, I know that I don’t want to spend extra on a pair of winter boots if I can get away with a sturdy pair of hiking boots. 

can you wear hiking boots in the snow

There are various things to consider if you want to wear your hiking boots in the snow, including weight, fit, and even type of snow. 

Read on for extra tips on how to improve the durability of hiking boots in snow! 

At a glance, here are some of the things we will be looking at:

  • How And When To Wear Hiking Boots In Snow
  • Key Components Of Hiking Boots For Snow
  • Winter Hiking Boot Features
  • Fit Of Winter Hiking Boots
  • Disadvantages Of Wearing Hiking Boots In Snow
  • Tips For Wearing Hiking Boots In Snow
  • Top Hiking Boots You Can Wear In Snow
  • Are Hiking Boots Good For Ice
  • Snow Boots Vs Hiking Boots
  • How to Waterproof Hiking Boots 

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Can You Wear Hiking Boots In Snow?

So, can you use hiking boots in snow? Yes you can! But while hiking boots are undeniably good for most terrains, there are several things to consider before using them in snow. 

Think about what you will be doing, check the weather, and understand the type of boots you will be wearing. 

can you wear hiking boots in the snow

Light Snow

In winter, hiking boots are great because they provide better grip and traction in comparison to regular shoes. If there is not a lot of snow, you can consider wearing your usual hiking boots.

 I wear mine in most conditions, and I find it fine for conditions with minimal snow. 

If the conditions are more brutal with ice and slippery ground, you need to grab some accessories to help your traction. 

This can include microspikes or other devices that will improve grip on the ground. It’ll make a big difference, especially when going up inclines, trust me! 

Deep Snow

A good rule of thumb is: how deep is the snow? If it is more than one inch deep, make sure that your hiking boots are prepared.

First, make sure that your boots are waterproof. Most hiking boots for snow are, although if it isn’t you can read till the end to find out how to waterproof your hiking boots. 

Secondly, check the collar of your boots. Are they tight enough to ensure that snow will not get into your boots?

Deep snow may sometimes require the use of snow boots, or leg gaiters that will keep your feet warm. Not to fret, you can still use the gaiters in wet weather, not only in snow!

can you wear hiking boots in the snow

Key Components Of Hiking Boots For Snow

Now that we understand the types of terrain, you may still be thinking, “Can I use hiking boots in snow?” 

The defining factors to answer the question of: are hiking boots good in the snow will depend on their sturdiness, waterproof ability, insulation, ankle support, breathability, and versatility. 

Let’s deal with each one of these in turn. 


As mentioned above, different snow conditions could impact the choice to wear hiking boots. 

The terrain is very different in packed or heavy snow, with recommended heavier boots for the latter condition. 

As such, hiking boots that are sturdy and heavy will fit the occasion better. Some soles are thicker to provide better traction and avoid falls.  


You might be wondering: are hiking boots waterproof? One obvious function boots should have is to keep your feet warm. 

As long as your feet do not come in contact with snow, there is a high chance that it will be warm and dry. A regular hiking boot may not be designed for snow and have insufficient waterproofing. 

Read on till the end to find out how to waterproof your hiking boots! 


This refers to the boots’ ability to keep feet warm and toasty in winter, and snowy conditions. 

The materials that your hiking boots are made from (synthetic or natural) will affect their insulation.

Your hiking boots should have insulation, although you may want to add some insulation to your boots for harsh winter conditions. 

Ankle Support

Hiking boots that are custom designed for winter are sturdier and fit snugly around the ankle. This is different from regular boots which are flexible and loose around the ankle or calf area. 

The higher ankle support also helps to keep snow out, which improves insulation! 

Check your hiking boots to see if they can keep out the snow – they usually come in varying heights. 


If you’re concerned that waterproofing your boots might make them less breathable, pay attention to what types of terrains you venture into.

 Highly breathable boots keep moisture out of your hiking boots, especially if you tend to go for strenuous summer hikes.

However, if you are living in mostly colder conditions with occasional snow, get hiking boots with good waterproofing and lower breathability. Compensate for the sweat by wearing good, comfortable hiking socks

can you wear hiking boots in the snow


Being the budget-wary type of customer, we recommend getting the best out of your money by investing in a good pair of hiking boots that can be used on different types of terrain.

Using a good, sturdy, and warm pair of hiking boots in both summer and winter definitely fits the bill! Ensure that your hiking boots can be used year-round by checking out the components we just listed above. 

Alternatively, read on to find out what the additional features winter hiking boots should have! 

Winter Hiking Boot Features

The parts that make winter hiking boots suitable only for a season include having a gusseted tongue, reinforced toe caps, removable liners, and higher cut boots. 

can you wear hiking boots in the snow

Gusseted Tongue

This may sound like delicate food but trust me, it is an essential feature of winter hiking boots. 

To prevent unwanted water (from melted snow) from entering the boots through the laces, the tongue (the flap under boot laces) is sewn closed to the sides. It guarantees that your feet are kept warm and toasty!

Reinforced Toe Caps

This refers to the tip of your boots that may unintentionally come into contact with hard objects in the deep snow. The area is reinforced to keep your toes safe and your step from slipping. 

Additionally, this feature also makes your winter hiking boots compatible with additional

can you wear hiking boots in the snow

hiking accessories such as crampons and microspikes (more details below!). 

can you wear hiking boots in the snow

Removable liners

On the odd occasion that your feet get wet from jumping into deep snow, you may feel at ease knowing that winter hiking boots have removable liners.

They work better than built-in insulation because you can simply remove the liners, air your boots, and have warm feet the next day when you wear the same pair of boots. 

High Cut Boots

Winter boots come with a mid-to-high-cut design in order to maintain waterproof ability and ankle support. As mentioned above, these are necessary components for hiking boots that are meant to be worn in winter and snow.

When your boots cut off at a higher point of your leg, there is less opportunity for snow and water to enter your boots. Additionally, you get a better lift from a sturdier pair of boots. 


Above all, ensure that your winter hiking boots have an adequate fit to aid in comfort and long-term health. Trust us, good blood circulation is key for enjoying a fun hike out!

Boots that are too tight make for poorer blood circulation while loose boots may cause injuries. It should wrap around your ankles nicely without being too tight or too loose. 

Check your fit by engaging in these steps:

  • Wiggle your toes. If there is sliding in your heel, it is too loose. Make sure that there is some room to wiggle your toes without additional movement in your feet.
  • Rotate your ankle. Try out the first step of a regular warm-up routine by rotating your ankle with your toes to the ground. Check for some flexibility in the rotation. 
  • Walk around in your boots. Pressure points may well lead to potential blisters in your feet!
  • Test them wearing your hiking socks. Note that thicker socks require a looser fit. 

Downsides Of Wearing Hiking Boots In The Snow

If you’re wondering: can I wear hiking boots as winter boots? At the end of the day, some caution about wearing your boots on all terrains – make sure that your choice of footwear is well-researched! 

Hiking boots may not always have:

  • A high-cut collar that will provide the ankle support you need for snow and icy terrain.
  • Adequate waterproofing. Being designed for wet weather does not make your boots suitably protected against the snow.
  • Snug fit around your ankle. Consider their ability to keep snow from getting into your boots, leaving you cold and wet. 

Tips For Using Hiking Boots In Snow

can you wear hiking boots in the snow

Always make sure that your hiking boots can stand the snow. This will help if you’re thinking: can you wear hiking boots in the snow?

 If you are looking to enforce your hiking boots, you can consider some accessories:

  • Gaiters. They function to keep your shoes free from snow, mud, stones, or other things that do not belong in your hiking boots. Note that they come in ankle- to knee-length sizes. Check if your boots have a gaiter ring at the top of the toe box!
  • Crampons. To keep your foothold on slippery or icy surfaces, get a pair of crampons. Note that if your hiking boots have soft center soles, you should get crampons with a flexible center bar.
  • Microspikes. These pointed metal pieces are attached to chains or bands to improve your traction on wet or snowy grounds. Think of them as the “tire chains” to your hiking boots. Get them in the correct boot size to prevent them from overstretching!
  • Snowshoes. Extra pair of protection to walk over snow instead of sinking in it. They look like duck paddles so you stay afloat on snow. 

Top 3 Hiking Boots For Snow

can you wear hiking boots in the snow

Well renowned as one of the top hiking boots available, it is perfect for both uses on rough or snowy terrain. You can trust in its traction, support, breathability, and waterproof materials, which means that it will take your hike to greater heights without concern.

Note that this pair has a wide toe box, heel protection, and a gusseted tongue to protect your feet.

Even better: they come in both men’s and women’s sizes. 

can you wear hiking boots in the snow

If you are looking for a lighter pair of hiking boots good for snow that can still remain sturdy and give your exceptional traction, give these pair a go. The leather material (keeping it waterproof) and gusseted tongue will keep most of the elements out of your boots.

The midsoles provide a cushion to keep your step sure and comfortable. Talk about walking on air!

These boots come both in men’s and women’s sizes, with regular or wide fitting to give you maximum comfort. 

can you wear hiking boots in the snow

Oboz has long been known to produce tough footwear that prioritizes comfort at the same time. The Bridger hiking boots show a reliable fit made from lasting materials, with a good level of support and comfort.

The insole is a good cushion that will keep the underfoot safe from rough terrain, with a medium arch and cupped heel to give you that custom fit. 

On the flip side, most reviews of the boots mention that they can feel slower and heavier compared to the boots above. Its height can also be lower compared to the Salomon Quest 4 GTX.

Overall, it is a good buy for comfort and support at this price, for both men and women

Are Hiking Boots Good For Ice

No, hiking boots are not good for ice. Icy conditions mean that trails are likely to be slippery, so you will want a pair of hiking boots that has good traction, if you do plan to use them.

If your hiking boots do not have good traction, one tip is to add traction devices such as the ones mentioned in Tips For Using Hiking Boots In Snow above.

 Crampons will prove their worth by keeping you safe and steady on icy paths. 

If you spend your days walking and hiking over icy terrain, we recommend using snow boots instead. Their grooved treads on the sole will provide you with better traction while walking and running.

Additionally, their slip-resistant soles also keep your feet steady on the most slippery of surfaces.

 Check the soles when you purchase a pair of snow boots to make sure that they are slip-resistant!

Hiking Boots Vs Snow Boots

You know by now that hiking boots are well-rounded and are for all-purpose hiking or trekking. They provide good traction, protection, and comfort while being lightweight and breathable.

On the other hand, snow boots are recommended in some conditions. So, are snow boots good for hiking?

Snow Boots

These boots are designed for traveling in snowy conditions and terrains. They keep your feet warm and insulated in cold, icy weather, even if you are in the middle of a snowstorm.

The use of rubber materials means that it is fully waterproofed against wet snow or muddy grounds. The top of the boots extends up to your calves with a tight cuff to prevent snow from entering from the top too!

Snow boots are important if you tend to spend your days in cold, snowy conditions. In comparison to hiking boots, they provide better traction, waterproofing, insulation, and ankle support.

From walking in the snow, hiking in snow, or just clearing the snow outside your house, snow boots are a good bet!

The Disadvantages Of Snow Boots

It is important to note that the prized qualities of snow boots may be its downfall. Because it is meant to withstand extreme winter, snow boots tend to be heavier than hiking boots. 

This means more energy is expended to travel wearing snow boots. 

Secondly, your waterproofed snow boots can make you really, really sweat because they are completely sealed! 

Consider getting a good pair of woolly socks to absorb that moisture, but this also means that additional accessories are required. 

Lastly, snow boots are not meant to be versatile. 

Their single-purpose design fits beautifully for snowy terrains, but if you are looking into a multi-purpose usage of boots, you may want to consider hiking boots instead. You’ll get a better deal for your money this way!

How To Waterproof Hiking Boots For Snow

can you wear hiking boots in the snow

There are four main steps to waterproofing your hiking boots, mainly:

  • Choose the correct waterproofing method
  • Prepping your hiking boots
  • Applying waterproofing treatment
  • Drying your boots

#1 Choosing The Correct Waterproofing Method

Depending on the material of your hiking boots, your choice of waterproofing may be different. Typically, the treatments are designed for leather or suede or nubuck boots.

Waterproofing products can be in the form of a spray, wax, or cream. Choosing the product may require some planning in advance. 

  • For synthetic and nylon boots: Waterproofing spray. Choose the correct spray for the type of material you are waterproofing, as there are sprays for different materials. To use this method, simply hold the spray about six inches away from the boot and spray evenly. 
can you wear hiking boots in the snow
  • For leather boots: Wax/Bee’s wax. Heat up the wax slightly (use a hairdryer or heat gun) before working it on your boots. The best way to apply will be using the wax applicator cloth that is provided with your wax. 
can you wear hiking boots in the snow
  • For other boots: Cream. Soak the cream into your boots by rubbing the product all over the areas of your boot. Using a cloth, wipe away any excess and allow it to dry. 
can you wear hiking boots in the snow

Always check the product labels to make sure that it is a good fit for your hiking boots. If your boots have a GTX membrane that is already waterproofed, no treatment is required. 

#2 Prepping Your Hiking Boots

Make sure that your boots are scrubbed and cleaned before applying any waterproofing treatment. Any dirt or grit will compromise the quality of your treatment, which means double or triple the work!

For a better process, do your waterproofing in a well-ventilated and clean area. If you prefer, you can do it outdoors. 

Tip: Don’t forget to remove your boot laces! For a more thorough cleaning, use boot cleaners, and brushes. 

#3 Applying Waterproofing Treatment

To start with, make your boots completely wet. For leather boots, you may need to soak them for some time to make them sufficiently wet for treatment.

You can wrap your boots with a wet towel for a few hours to soak them. Once the boots are wet, apply the waterproofing treatment of your choice. 

Use the waterproofing spray, wax, or cream according to the instructions. Some steps may vary and you will find it best to read the labels beforehand. 

#4 Drying Your Boots

Never rush the process of drying by using any heating products such as a hairdryer or heat gun. This is because some waterproofing products may melt and cause uneven patches on your boots.

Choose a place with low humidity and dry your boots at normal temperature. Avoid unventilated areas. 

Tip: You can stuff newspapers into your boots to speed up the drying process, simply change the papers when they get damp!


Are Hiking Boots And Snow Boots The Same?

No, hiking boots and snow boots are not the same. Hiking boots are made from durable materials for maximum protection, grip, and ankle support for harsher terrains. Snow boots are designed purely for snow travel, with good insulation and heat retention.

 However, it is not comfortable to wear them for longer periods or on slippery, icy terrains. 

Can I Wear Hiking Boots As Winter Boots?

Yes, you can wear hiking boots as winter boots, long as the boot is waterproof or there is little snow. Hiking boots are highly versatile and can be used on snow or ice. However, ensure that you use necessary accessories such as crampons, gaiters, and thick socks to keep your feet firm and warm. 

What Kind Of Boots Should I Wear In The Snow?

Choose hiking boots with a rubber or heavy-duty lug sole, water-resistant materials (including the stitching), and perhaps even a shearling or faux fur lining for extra style and warmth. For light snow, wear hiking boots that have good traction and support. For heavy snow, choose hiking boots that have a high cut design. 

Can You Wear Rain Boots In The Snow?

Yes, you can wear your rain boots when it’s snowing and the temperature is not lower than 41°F (5°C). Rain boots are made from rubbery, slip-resistant material that makes them great for wet or slippery conditions. However, be cautious as they may not keep your feet warm in deep or falling snow.  

can you wear hiking boots in the snow


So can you wear hiking boots in the snow? Yes!

Hiking boots are versatile and they can provide you with the support you need for your next snowy adventure. They may require some preparation or additional accessories for harsher environments. 

Once you’ve considered the quality of your hiking boots, the type of hiker you are, the length of your hike, and the type of terrain you are in, it’s easy to find a pair of hiking boots that can serve you through winter. Let us know which hiking boots you use and their best features!