The 6 best winter boots for women, according to our testing

  • Spring may be around the corner, but it’s still the season of unpredictable winter storms
  • A good pair of winter boots can keep your feet warm and dry as long as the snow sticks around
  • The UGG Adirondack III Boots are our top pick, The UGG Adirondack III Boots are our top pick, but there are other boots we recommend, too
  • If you’re looking for men’s sizes, check out our guide to the best winter boots for men.

When you think of “winter boots,” it’s likely you think of thick-soled, lace-up boots that are perfect for stomping through the snow. But anyone who has lived in the suburbs or a major city knows that not everyone needs winter boots that are so technically-focused. The most important things in a winter boot are style, warmth, comfort, and its ability to protect your feet from the elements. 

After all, we know that not everyone needs heavy-duty boots that can take on sub-zero temperatures and six-foot snowbanks, but we also know that there are plenty of people who are looking for a great pair of snow boots who won’t be satisfied with a cute pair that can’t handle more than a light flurry. And with the unpredictability of winter storms, you may find you need one of each type. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up our top boot picks, below.

Here are the best winter boots for women in 2021:

Updated on 1/5/2020 by Maria Del Russo: Updated prices, links, and sizing information. Added the LaCrosse Women’s Alpha Thermal Boots as our best slip-on snow boots pick. We’re currently in the process of testing more boots for this guide, so make sure to check back soon. 

The best winter boots overall

ugg boots

The UGG Adirondack III Boots are super cute winter boots that can handle extreme cold and deep snow without any problems.

Pros: Waterproof, pure wool lining, made for very cold temperatures, good traction, Vibram sole

Cons: None to speak of

Sizing options: 5-12

UGG makes super stylish boots, and the Adirondack III boots are made for intense cold and tons of snow. With these boots on your feet, you’ll be ready to brave anything winter throws at you.

The boots are made of waterproof leather and they have a super cozy insulating wool lining that’s as fuzzy as it is warm. You can roll the tops down to expose the wool for style, or flip them back up to keep more of your ankle and lower calf warm.

The Vibram outsole is strong and provides great traction on icy surfaces, plus, these boots can handle extremely cold temperatures as low as -20°C, which is -4°F. You can buy the Adirondack boots in a few different colors, including white, black, and brown.

When I first put an older version of these boots on, I was impressed by how light, warm, and cute they were. By all rights, they should be clunky, but they’re not. UGG’s boots look cute enough to pair with skinny jeans or leggings all winter long in even the snobbiest of cities.

These boots are tough enough to handle rural areas with tons of snow, too, so you really can’t go wrong with them. In my mind, they’re the perfect boots for just about everyone. The only downside is the high price, but they’ll last you for years. After a full winter of use, mine are still going strong.

The best tall winter boots

Sorel

The Sorel Joan of Arctic Boots are absolutely perfect for stomping through snowbanks and tackling intense winter conditions in style.

Pros: Tall boots, extra warm, rated for cold temperatures, good grip, comfortable, many color options

Cons: None to speak of

Sizing options: 5-11

When the winter winds blow up a crazy snowstorm and you have 6 feet of snow to contend with in sub-zero temperatures, you need some serious winter boots that will keep more than just your feet warm. Sorel’s Joan of Arctic Boots are just the ticket.

These boots are nearly a foot tall, so they’ll keep your entire calf warm and dry even in deep snow. The suede leather shaft is fully waterproof and a faux fur cuff finishes the boots off in style. They lace up from a sturdy vulcanized rubber section that covers your toes and keeps them dry.

Sorel says these boots can handle temperatures as low as -25°F or -32°C. The tread on the bottom is grippy and good for ice and snow. You can even get them in a number of different colors and styles if faux fur isn’t your thing or you don’t want leather.

When I first took them out of the box, I thought these boots would be super clunky and bulky, but looks are deceiving. Once they were on my feet, they looked great. I can easily see these boots being perfect for both the city and the country because they are super stylish yet rugged enough to take on serious snow.

The best slip-on snow boots

Lacrosse Women's Alpha Thermal Boots

Avoid fussing with laces with the LaCrosse Women’s Alpha Thermal Boots, which have incredibly warm insulation and a reliable outsole to keep you safe and dry in nasty weather.

Pros: Easy to slip on, waterproof, insulted down to -40°F, reliable outsoles to prevent slipping, lightweight, comfortable footbed, wide calf

Cons: Potentially too warm to wear at a restaurant or office

Sizing options: 5-11

All of the boots on our list will keep your feet warm and dry in snow and slush alike. But if you have to trudge through calf-deep powder to shovel your car or just run to the mailbox in wintry conditions, it’s a serious pain to lace up your heavy-duty boots. LaCrosse’s Women’s Alpha Thermal Boots are ideal for winter activities where function is the driving factor. The upper is made from thick, waterproof rubber and neoprene for keeping snow, ice, and rain out up to your knees. 

Without laces, these boots offer protection against the element for people whose dexterity might be limited — or when you’re running out the door to ski or grocery shop. The soft, neoprene upper has an adjustable gusset to expand or size down for varying calf size.

The inside is lined with fleece to keep your feet warm down to a whopping -40°. The boots are outfitted with a seriously grippy, thick-lugged outsole which helps minimize slipping on ice and keeps snow from clumping underfoot. At $160, these boots aren’t a budget pick. But their versatile design and the durability of everything LaCrosse makes mean one pair will last years. — Rachael Schultz

The best light but tough winter boots

Columbia

The Columbia Bugaboot IV Winter Boots protect your feet from the fierce cold of winter and wet icy slush puddles — plus, they’re light on your feet.

Pros: Lightweight, very warm, rated for low temperatures, relatively affordable

Cons: A bit bulky, not the most attractive boots you’ll ever see

Sizing options: 5-12

When you think about tough gear that’ll last you through an epic snowstorm, chances are, Columbia comes to mind. The company’s coats, boots, shoes, and other gear are known for being of the highest quality. Columbia’s Bugaboot IV Winter Boots are no exception.

I tested an older version of these popular and very highly rated winter boots and came away impressed by how light and toasty warm they were. By the look of them, I expected these boots to be as heavy and awkward to wear as the old winter boots I used to wear to survive the brutal winters in upstate New York (right across from the Canadian border, so we’re talking 6 feet of snow and -30 windchills here). Imagine my surprise when they turned out to be light and nimble like a good pair of hiking boots.

The secret is in their design: Columbia used a mix of waterproof leather and textiles on the uppers to keep out all the snow, slush, and wet of winter without adding any unnecessary weight. The 200 grams of insulation inside keep your feet piping hot, too. These boots are so cozy that Columbia says they can handle temperatures as low as -25°F or -32°C. 

Of course, it’s not just the uppers that keep these boots light, it’s also the special Techlite midsole and the Omni-Grip outsole that keep the weight down. Both are lightweight and specially designed for great comfort, stability, and traction on slippery surfaces. 

These are the kind of boots I’d want on my feet during the cold nasty winters in snowy climates. They’re perfect for walks through the snowy woods, shoveling out your driveway, and heading out to the grocery store. They obviously will not win any beauty contests and those who have more mild winters or live in cities where style is more important than strength won’t need tough boots like these.

However, for anyone who needs a super warm, waterproof, stable, and lightweight pair of winter boots that are ready for action, these are the ones I’d recommend.

The best stylish winter boots with a small heel

Sorel boots

The Sorel Slimpack II Lace Boots are fully waterproof, slim, and cute with a slight heel and fun color options.

Pros: Slight heel, good traction, waterproof, slim, comfortable, warm

Cons: Not as rugged or warm as some

Sizing options: 5-11

If you don’t want to wear clunky winter boots all the time, you may want a lighter, slimmer pair for days when there’s less snow on the ground. These Slimpack Lace II boots from Sorel deliver. They have the distinctive duck boot design you see on many winter boots and rain boots, but Sorel adds cute little design elements like wool accents and fun laces to make them stand out.

The full-grain leather upper is fully waterproof as is the vulcanized rubber part that wraps around the lower part of your foot. You can splash in the rain or stomp through slush puddles in these boots without getting wet. The wool felt collar around the top of the boot adds warmth and style to the basic boots. Inside the boots, there’s a nice microfleece lining that will keep your feet warm but not sweltering.

These are comfortable, breathable boots that Sorel says are best for heavy rain instead of snow. However, if you wear them with a nice thick pair of socks, they are perfect for cold winter days and a few feet of snow. The waterproof construction and the grippy outsole offer good traction on ice.

These boots even have a little heel that’s just under two inches, which I appreciate as a 5-foot-2 lady. I love these Sorel boots and I wear them whenever it rains. In the winter, I wear them on days with light snow because they’re both nice-looking and practical for the city streets.

If you need heavy-duty winter boots for extreme cold and snow, check out our other more rugged picks.

The best mid-calf winter boots

columbia boots

The Columbia Heavenly Omni-Heat Boots are super cozy and fully waterproof mid-calf winter boots that feel like light slippers on your feet.

Pros: Warm, comfortable, good traction, rated for very cold temperatures, higher rise

Cons: None

Sizing options: 5-12

If the other Columbia boots in our guide are just too clunky and rugged for your tastes, you’ll love these Heavenly Omni-Heat boots. First things first: These boots look way cuter in person than they do online. When I put an older version of these boots on the first time, I knew I could easily wear them with skinny jeans or a dress and tights in the city without shame. Columbia has a bunch of fun colors, too, so you can buy the pair that’ll look best with your style.

Believe it or not, these boots are just as warm, waterproof, and comfortable as the chunkier Bugaboots. The waterproof woven textile uppers hit your leg mid-calf and boast a cute faux fur lining that peeks out at the top and along the sides where you lace the boots up. They’ll keep your feet and legs warm even in a foot or two of snow.

Columbia’s Omni-Tech waterproof seam-sealed membrane keeps water, slush, and snow out of your boots while the 200 grams of insulation inside keep your feet and legs super warm. Just like the Bugaboots, these can withstand temperatures as cold as -25°F or -32°C, thanks to the Omni-Heat reflective lining.

These boots will fare just as well on the snowy city streets as they will in the driveway shoveling snow or out walking on snowy paths. I consider these boots to be the perfect stylish alternative for colder climates where you still need serious boots.

Other winter boots we love

ll bean boots
  • L.L. Bean Shearling-Lined Bean Boots ($229): L.L.Bean’s boots are quintessential winter gear for a reason: They’re extremely high quality. These classic duck-style Bean Boots are lined with real sheepskin shearling to keep your feet extra warm even in the cold winters of Maine where these boots are made.
  • Columbia Newton Ridge Hiking Boot ($79.95): Although it isn’t technically a winter boot, this stylish boot does an amazing job at keeping your feet dry and supported. It has amazing cushioning, and grippy outsoles to keep you sure-footed in the most slippery conditions. 
  • Doc Marten 1460 Collar ($169.95):With their thick, rubber soles and amazing traction, Doc Martens are an ideal winter boot for people who aren’t traipsing over snowy cliffs. They’re not the boots you want to take on a hike through the woods, but they’re perfect for those who live in the city and just need a sturdy shoe to get you to and from the subway. The shearling adds a nice touch, although you’ll want to wear thick socks with these on particularly frigid days. 
  • Timberland 6-inch Premium Waterproof Boots ($170): These boots have light PrimaLoft eco insulation to retain warmth and are made of responsibly sourced, waterproof leather on the outer. The footbed is comfortable, shock-absorbing, and has great traction on slippery surfaces. I bought these for slushy winter weather when I lived in New York City, but they’re still my go-to boots after a snowstorm in my new home of Colorado. — Rachael Schultz

Check out our other winter gear guides

j.crew scarf
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