The Best Winter Work Boots in 2021
So You Can Stay Warm On The Job
It’s that time of year again - winter is on it’s way and the temperatures are already beginning to drop. Your current pair of boots won’t cut it, and you’ll soon have to rely on a pair of the best winter work boots to get you through the icy months ahead.
If your job exposes you to the harsh winter elements like snow and slush, or even if you work in a freezing warehouse, having the good insulated footwear is the difference between comfort and misery. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
We’re going to start by identifying the most important factors in footwear for working in cold climates, and then review the nine warmest to handle icy conditions of any kind.
What you should look for in
Great Quality Insulated Boots
First and foremost, you’re going to need the best insulated work boots that can keep the warmth in and the cold out no matter what your job is. When you’re stomping your way through snow banks or step through some puddles of icy and unforgiving slush, the true beauty of insulation will shine through.
There are a couple of different materials that are good for insulation, but without a doubt, Thinsulate is king. Acting as a thin layer of insulating material, it’s designed to retain your natural body heat within the boot while resisting the cold.
Depending on the types of temperatures you’re going to be exposed to, there are different levels of insulation that can get the job done:
This is going to be your basic level of cold protection. It can handle chilly weather and won’t make your feet sweat from movement.
This level of insulation is designed to handle very cold weather. If you’re going to be standing in snow and experiencing below freezing temperatures on the regular, 400 grams should do the trick.
Getting into the heavy duty side of things, 600 grams will have you covered in temperatures that are regularly way below freezing.
Build to withstand the extreme cold, this level of protection will keep the cold out at all costs. Naturally, that also means your foot will be more prone to sweating inside if you’re active a lot.
Imagine lighting a furnace in your boots. Few people actually need this much insulation, but if you’re going to be standing in snowy, double digit negative temperatures, it’s the best.
Another great feature about Thinsulate is how thin it is. It’s extremely lightweight, hence why it’s the most common insulation material that companies turn to when making cold weather shoes.
PrimaLoft is another tried and true form of insulation that is less used than Thinsulate. This synthetic material acts as a built in layer of insulation that comes in different weights depending on the level of protection you need.
One of the massive advantages it has over common down forms of insulation is that it can get wet. PrimaLoft has great breathability and the versatility to withstand moisture without becoming ruined and leaving your feet in cold, soggy conditions.
Removable Wool/Felt Liners
It’s a pretty straightforward and reliable form of insulation. Wool and felt liners have been around for quite some time, and still, stand to be some of the best forms of insulation. The removable feature makes it easy to dry your boots between wear and maintain the liners for maximum life.
This is a particularly important feature to look for if you’re going to be working in the snow (or even worse, cold rain). As soon as water gets into your boot and the temperatures are freezing, you might as well call it a day.
A lot of the best winter work boots come built with a standard waterproof design. This is usually accomplished with a combination of waterproofed leather, and some kind of rubber shell.
You’ll also want to double check and make sure the seams are sealed. Water is sneaky and has an annoying ability to seep in through the smallest of openings.
One final waterproof feature you may want to look for is a gusset tongue. This is especially important if you’re going to be trekking through deep snow so none of it seeps in through the top of your boot.
Any material that can conduct cold temperatures, you’ll want to avoid. Steel, while offering a high level of durability and support, can be one of many factors leading to cold feet.
Steel toes and steel shanks are the primary culprits that are prone to getting chilly as temperatures drop. Instead, look to their composite counterparts, such as composite toe work boots, to keep you safe and offer support without sacrificing the boots insulation.
This probably wasn’t one of the important factors coming to mind when searching for the best cold weather work boots. There are two main categories that a boot will fall under: ankle and mid-calf. Which one is right you really depends on the application.
This type of boot is going to be easier to get on and off. However, since it’s shorter, it’s not going to be as warm. Also, they will be more prone to letting water, ice or snow seep in through the top of the opening.
These boots are going to stand taller, and offer a better level of insulation and make for a warmer experience. They’re ideal for jobs where you’ll be exposed to deep snow or puddles, but they’re harder to get on and off.
Durability Of Winter Work Boots
If you're working in freezing conditions, your footwear is going to be exposed to rougher than usual elements. Water is one of the worst enemies of work boots. It slowly decays the seams, bonding, rusts metal and can even compromise the internal lining.
Jobs that require cold weather footwear also usually expose the wearer to very rough terrains. You’re going to need durable soles that can withstand a constant beating and give you longest life span.
Non Slip Work Boots
Not only do you want to have durable soles like mentioned above, but you also need advanced traction. In colder environments, you will be more prone to encountering ice, snow, and wet surfaces which are all slip hazards.
Flexible, advanced tread patterns will help to make sure that your footing is stable so you can focus on work without the worry of falling. You may also want to consider purchasing an attachable traction system if you’re going to be in particularly frigid temperatures with lots of ice and thick snow.
These systems usually incorporate some kind of chain or spike feature. This helps you grip the unforgiving surfaces of winter easier, and will ultimately help you conserve energy while staving off fatigue.
Even the warmest winter work boots need a pair of quality socks to add an extra layer of insulating protection. We’re going to save you a lot of pain and suffering and tell you to avoid cotton socks at all costs.
Cotton is a great material for other seasons during the year, but it has poor insulation value and it keeps moisture locked in. Instead, consider socks made from wool, shearling, fleece, or other synthetic materials.
The key features you want in your socks are comfort and breathability. Thicker socks are going to give you additional cushioning, and also insulate better than thinner socks adding to the overall warmth of your feet. However, thinner socks will be able to breath more and work well with boots that already have high-grade insulation.
Know Your Winter Work Environment
Before we dive into the boot reviews, in order pick and be happy with the best pair for your job, you have to know what kind of challenges you will be facing. It’s easier said than done, so we’ve compiled a quick questionnaire to make life easy.
- How cold will it get?
- Will you be exposed to snow, slush, or rain? (Maybe all three)
- Do you walk on frozen surfaces?
- If snow will be present, how deep does it get?
If you’ve got a good idea of the features you want in your ideal pair of winter work boots, let’s get started.
The Best Warm/Winter Work Boots: 2021 Reviews
Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Plus III Omni Cold-Weather Boot
These visually appealing boots live up to the look. They’re ankle high and easy to get on thanks to the semi-elastic laces and built with a durable combination of leather and nylon.
They will feel exceptionally light on the feet and offer a waterproof seam sealed shell on the lower part for any puddles of slush that you may step in. On top of a nice dry fit, the 200 grams of insulation will ensure your feet stay toasty in chilly conditions.
Columbia also incorporates some great built in comfort features that allow you to be on your feet for hours on end. To top them off, they come with increased treading to counter common slip hazards in the frigid environment.
- Long lasting foot comfort
- Lightweight design
- Great arch support for those with foot problems
- Excellent traction
- Stylish for casual and business wear
- Poor breathability
- Insulation could be better
- Waterproof shell prone to leaks
Sorel Men’s Conquest Boot
These boots look ready to equip you for climbing mount Everest. The sleek design starts with a rubber shell around the base for increased water resistance, followed by a full leather body.
The half-calf design is built for deep snow trekking and even incorporates adjustable gaiters to keep any snow, ice and frost away from your feet. For maximum stability, they have an adjustable strap around the ankle to ensure a snug and secure fit.
Featuring 400 grams of Thinsulate, these warm workboots are equipped to take on freezing temperatures with ease. Built in EVA midsoles and insoles will help to provide you with sustained comfort wherever your day takes you.
- Good insulation for extreme cold
- Adjustable comfort features
- Protective, thick soles
- Short break in period
- Gaiters for deep snow
- Leather to rubber joints lack durability
- Ankle area can cause discomfort
- Toe area prone to getting cold
- Comfort features wear out fast
Kamik Men’s Nationplus Boot
Half-calf construction meets a durable leather and rubber design. The tough waterproof exterior is completed with a waterproof gusset tongue to keep snow and debris out.
These boots are rated for minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit and feature a removable 200 gram Thinsulate liner for added cold protection. Being removable, it also makes cleaning and maintaining these boots very easy.
The moisture wicking lining along the inside helps to dissipate any sweat that may form. With an extremely affordable price tag, these heavy duty work boots should be on anyone’s radar.
- Keeps the feet warm through the toes
- Tall design can handle deep snow
- Comfortable internal padding
- Slip resistant durable soles
- Poor support for the feet
- Hard to get on and off
- Thin soles are prone to getting cold
DREAM PAIRS Men’s Rubber Sole Winter Snow Rain Boots
For an affordable pair of utility boots, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more qualified pair. These slip on rubber boots are not meant for long term wear, but ideal for smaller, short term jobs that require heavy protection.
The full rubber design makes them completely watertight. At the top, they’re finished off with a padded collar and tongue for comfort and further insulation.
Along the inside, your feet will be greeted by comfortable, warm fur lining. Insulation is handled by a thin reflective heat layer to keep your feet feeling good while you get work done.
- Affordable utility boots
- Dual lining provides ample insulation
- Durable long lasting design
- High quality traction
- Internal lining lacks durability
- Bulky and heavy
- Prone to absorbing and retaining bad foot odor
Chippewa Men’s 29416 Eight-Inch Waterproof Insulated Work Boot
The Chippewa brand has done it again and knocked it out of the park with these cold condition work boots. The extreme durable leather is only the beginning of the waterproof features as these boots pack reinforced seam sealing, and a waterproof internal lining.
A long lasting Goodyear welt construction meets Vibram soles to ensure you’re not slipping around the workplace. They’re packed with high-grade insulation that will keep you warm in the coldest of conditions.
While they don’t carry the most affordable price tag around, they’re well worth it. This toasty work footwear carry the reliable Chippewa name and are ready to tackle cold weather challenges.
- Great heel and ankle support
- Comfortable internal lining
- Long lasting leather
- Breathable for both winter and spring
- Durable Goodyear welt
- Long break in period
- Insoles lack durability
- Seams are prone to leaks over time
- Laces feel cheap
Wolverine Men’s Gold 6-Inch Insulated Waterproof Boot
These Wolverine boots mean business. They come wrapped in an aesthetically pleasing nubuck leather which offers natural water resistance. The slip, abrasion, chemical, and heat resistant soles with a durable direct attach make them extremely versatile.
Along the inside, you’ll find both warmth and comfort with 400 grams of Thinsulate and a breathable mesh lining to keep you dry. Between the removable insole and built in nylon shank, these boots offer superior comfort and support.
They are packed with so many features including the reliability of the Wolverine brand, they come with a very affordable and attractive price tag.
- They hold up well against rain and snow
- High-grade insulation
- Great support features for flat feet
- Lightweight build
- Added support from shank
- Seams are prone to splitting
- Toe area can cause discomfort
- Run narrow
- Feel stiff at first
Timberland Men’s Chillberg Tall Insulated Boot
To be environmentally friendly, Timberland has made portions of this boot from recycled materials. But, don’t let that fool you, they are both durable and stylish.
Beautiful full grain leather is lined with rustproof eyelets to increase the wear life, and topped off with a gusseted tongue to prevent anything from entering your boots and causing discomfort. The inside is lined with both warming fleece and 400 grams of PrimaLoft to provide toasty warmth even in deep snow.
Finishing with great traction and a rubber sole, they have great shock absorption for handling rough terrain and unstable surfaces that winter jobs may put you up against.
- Stylish design for casual or business wear
- Light on the feet
- Firm footing on different terrains
- Great cushioning
- 400 gm PrimaLoft - Good warmth
- Heel prone to causing blisters
- Wear out fast
- Narrow sizes
KEEN Utility Men’s Sheridan Insulated Composite Toe Boot
These boots offer the heaviest duty insulation in this article. They come lined with 600 grams of KEEN’s own insulation that offers a great lightweight alternative to Thinsulate.
The cold protection doesn’t stop there, even the footbeds of these boots provide insulation to make sure that nothing gets in as you work through whatever icy conditions the job throws at you. These extreme cold weather composite toe work boots toe will give you protection and the shanks will give you safety and support in one complete package.
Of course, they wouldn’t be great winter boots if it weren’t for the waterproof leather and internal lining. For the worker needing the best insulated work boots that stand up to constant intensive beatings, give these a shot.
- Comfort padding and lining
- Extremely warm
- Very watertight
- Long lasting
- Long break in period
- Tough to take on and take off
- Heavy build
Carhartt Men’s Rugged Flex Safety Toe Work Boot
Beginning with the flexible rubber sole, these boots provide you with the versatility you need on the job. Featuring cement construction and an insulated composite safety toe, they’re equipped to handle a broad variety of workplace challenges.
Five unique layers of comfort protection between your foot and the ground handle and resist the energy sapping conditions of frigid weather. Jumping to the inside of the footwear, your feet will be well protected by 400 grams of Thinsulate and comfort padding with waterproof features.
They’re by no means the cheapest winter boot you’ll find, but they more than deliver when it comes to keeping you warm and safe.
- Secure fit with ample ankle support
- Broken in out of the box
- Superior warmth
- Solid traction and grip
- Tall 8-inch design
- Not very breathable
- Poor shock absorption
- Needs better comfort features
Types of Soles and How They Can
Keep You Warm
Cold travels up from the ground, through the soles of your work boots and into your feet. The temperature of your feet affects your entire body and having very cold feet over a long period of time puts you at risk of frostbite.
To avoid this fate, think carefully about the soles of your work boots. What are the best sole materials and features for winter wear?
Three Types of Sole Found On Work Boots
There are three types of sole, insole, midsole and outsole.
Usually made from a breathable material, insoles absorb impact and keep your feet warmer throughout your working day. If you are exposed to ground vibration from heavy machinery, good quality insoles can reduce foot pain, especially if they have added arch support. Removable insoles are also handy as you can remove and clean them.
For extra shock-absorbance, choose a boot with midsoles. Midsoles are an extra layer of padding between the insole and outsole of your boot. A midsole is beneficial to anyone walking on hard, uneven surfaces.
The outsole is the bottom section of your boot. Outsoles come in a variety of materials and have a major impact on your safety in the workplace. Do you need protection from heat, moisture, falling or rolling objects, anything that might pierce your foot, electrical hazards?
Common Sole Materials
Don't Choose Leather Soles for Work Boots
Many shoes and boots are made with leather soles. While leather is a durable and traditional choice (leather soles have been in use for millennia), we don’t recommend them for winter work boots as they are not waterproof, nor do they have a useful tread.
Rubber Lugged Sole
The rubber lugged sole is sometimes known as the commando sole for its popularity with adventurous types. A lugged sole has a particularly thick tread, making it perfect for working outdoors on slippery or wet surfaces.
Rubber Camp Sole
These rubber soles have an interesting pattern that features layers of small dots. Rubber camp soles are perfect for work that requires a lot of movement on uneven surfaces.
Cork Nitrile Soles
Another variation on a rubber sole, cork nitrile is a composite material known for its flexibility. These soles rarely have a decent tread, so they’re not great on uneven surfaces but can be surprisingly efficient on ice and snow.
And our winner is...
Between all of the different brands and features, you’ve hopefully learned a lot about what makes warm work boots. Though it was a fairly close race, our selected winner for the best winter work boots is the Carhartt Men’s Rugged Flex Safety Toe.
They check off on all of the features you want to look for in high-quality cold weather workwear. Leather construction with a warm composite safety toe and waterproof features provide a solid base to ensure you stay dry.
The 400 grams of Thinsulate is more than enough to stand up to just about any temperatures a job can throw at you, and they stand tall at 8 inches so you can trek through deep snow if necessary. These Carhartt boots will get your feet through the harsh winter with both comfort and warmth.