Cold feet always put an end to outdoor fun. We asked several outdoorsy people who live in cold climates about the boots they wear so they can stay out there.
Jim Braaten, Minnesota “I've been wearing the Caribou model by Sorel for many years. I like a boot I can slip on and off quickly and this seems to fit the bill. I also like the fact that every other year or so you can just purchase the inner felt liners to freshen them up and they feel like new again,” said Jim Braaten, an outdoor writer and hunter. Since the boots are not waterproof, he applies Sno-Seal to them. MSRP: $140
Braaten advises that you check the fit of your boots. “That extra air trapped within the boot helps for insulation, and you lose that if you get a snug-fitting boot that also restricts blood flow in the feet.” He has been known to wrap duct tape around the tops of his daughter’s boots to keep cold snow from falling into her footwear.
Braaten advises pairing gaiters with boots. “The goal is to keep snow from getting inside your boots, and gaiters (just like duct tape) can work wonders to eliminate this potential problem. They also come in all sizes and qualities, so just like boots, you need to purchase accordingly based on your outdoor adventures.”
Julie Golob, Montana Smith & Wesson’s team captain, Julie Golob, also hunts. “As far as cold-weather, everyday boots, I wear a pair of men’s boots by Cabela’s, Alaskan Guide. My husband bought a pair of these and I found myself slipping on his boots whenever I needed to head out to the store or take care of something in the garage in the winter,” said Julie.
She liked them so much that she bought a pair for herself. “These are slip-on boots that have a pigskin upper with rubberized mud guards up and around the soles and toe of the boot. The inside is lined with shearling and is super soft and toasty...The tread is aggressive enough that I have even gone hiking and hunting with them, like this year's Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt in blizzard conditions,” she added. Since these boots only come in men’s sizes, Julie wears the smallest size. (A good rule of thumb is that men’s sizes run two sizes larger than women’s, so a woman’s size 9 would translate to a man’s size 7.)
Kevin Paulsen, Nebraska “I prefer SCHNEE’s Extreme pac boots for men. In fact, my 67-year-old mom wears these for hunting and likes them as much as I do,” said Huntinglife.com’s editor, Kevin Paulsen. MSRP: $259
As the dad of three children—ages 16, 14 and 12—Paulsen buys a lot of boots. He recommends purchasing adult-sized boots as soon as possible for children. “Once they hit size 7 in men’s or 6 in women’s shoe sizes, they are eligible for a massive upgrade in quality, sizing and better insulation—as well as hunting colors built for real hiking and hunting.”
For women, he recommends getting a step up in insulation weight, because women typically have cold feet. “So for temps that you would consider 400-gram boots for men, I recommend that women wear 600 grams,” he said.
Michelle Bodenheimer, Oregon “My husband, eight-year-old son and I all have fairly new snow boots we use for late season hunting up on Mt. Hood,” said paralegal and avid hunter Michelle Bodenheimer.
She wears Columbia Bugabootoo. “I count on these boots to keep my toes toasty warm. The boots boast a warm 200 grams of Thermolite insulation and are rated to -25 degrees Fahrenheit. The rubber outsole keeps me steady on my feet, no matter how snowy or icy the conditions,” said Bodenheimer. Columbia now sells Bugaboot Plus II Omni-Heat. MSRP: $120
For her son, Wyatt, Michelle chooses the Columbia Powderbug model. “As a parent, I worry whether my son’s shoes fit correctly, offer proper support, and are keeping his little piggies warm and dry. I cannot always count on him to tell me when something is wrong or not wearing properly. As fast as my son is growing, I am also concerned about not spending a fortune every few months when he has outgrown his current shoes,” said Bodenheimer.
These boots comes with a removable fleece liner and are rated -25F. Bodenheimer likes that an adjustable elastic instep and drawstring closure allow the boots to go on and off quickly, yet ensure a proper, secure fit over bulky pant legs. The Powderbug has been improved since her initial purchase and is now marketed as the Youth Powderbug Plus II Print Boot. MSRP: $50
Michelle’s husband, Todd, a technical representative for an international wood-products company and avid hunter, revealed his choice for boots. “I have tried countless pairs of boots over the years, including custom-made boots. The Kenetrek 13-inch Grizzly have hands-down been the best. Quite simply, the Grizzly fit my feet better than any other boot I have ever tried. The Grizzly’s 400 grams of Thinsulate ultra insulation keep my feet warm, while its rubber bottoms keep my feet dry. The Grizzly boots are perfect for the back country and the big city, and everywhere in between.” MSRP: $235
Sara Ahrens, Illinois Former law enforcement officer and Top Shot competitor Sara Ahrens and her adolescent son wear Danner’s Pronghorn boots. The pair hunts in rough, rocky terrain. “I know they are a bit pricey, but that is well worth it. Once the feet, hands and core are cold...you’re done; so, with these boots—along with heat compression gear and plenty of hand and foot warmers—we can survive long days outside,” said Sara. She liked the Danner boots from her SWAT days on the police force, and these boots are constructed similarly, except loaded with 800 grams of Thinsulate. MSRP: $205
Amy Grisak, Montana Homeschooling mom and freelance writer Amy Grisak chooses Sorel Pac boots. Since going out to the mailbox might mean trudging through two-foot-high snow banks, this mighty Montana mama likes the boots’ fabric uppers and its rubber bottoms with great traction. Sorel offers several varieties of cold-weather boots. She also wears White’s winter riding boots. “Winter riding is tough, because you’re often not moving enough to keep warm, so having a good boot is essential. They have a toe that fits better in the stirrups. They’re rubber on the bottom and leather on the uppers with a good felt pac insulation,” said Amy. She noted that you can put foot warmer packs into the boots, too.
Amy’s husband, Grant, a wildlife biologist, chooses LaCrosse Mountaineers.“He’s had them forever and says he can hike in them in 70-degree weather, yet they do a great job of keeping his feet warm during the cold weather,” she said. MSRP: $170
Sam, Grisak’s older son, wears Kamik Youth Coaster waterproof pac boots because of their rubber bottoms and nylon uppers. “They’ve done a great job keeping his feet warm, as long as he doesn’t step in the hole while we’re ice fishing! Thankfully the felt liner is removable,” said Amy. MSRP: $59.99
Her other son, John, wears Lands End boots with a strap instead of a zipper. “It’s sometimes hard to get his foot in them, but it’s nice to be able to snug up the top with the strap. I think they stay on better than a zipper would,” said Grisak. MSRP: $64