The desire and ability to go for hike doesn’t have to be limited by the seasons or weather conditions. We can enjoy the benefits of hiking all year round! It’s a great form of exercise that can accommodate different fitness and skill levels, provided you do your research.
If your hike requires you to travel some distance to get there, or it’s a longer day hike, you want to pack only what’s necessary to make it less strenuous. It wouldn’t be practical to bring every type of shoe and boot you own to accommodate each potential outcome. During winter months especially, it is important to bring exactly what you need – no more or less. This may also mean assuming there could be snow.
Since it is winter, you will already be wearing extra layers. Backpacks may already have an extra scarf or headwear, gloves, socks and a warm thermos. A bonus set of boots can take up valuable inventory space or add unnecessary weight.
So, it comes down to picking the footwear that will work regardless of the weather. Which raises the question: Are hiking boots good for snow? Or do we need to invest in specialty boots?
What You'll Learn
Are Hiking Boots Good for Snow?
Yes. While many outside considerations may impact this, hiking boots are generally appropriate for walks in snowy conditions. As with all footwear, it is important that the boot fits your feet precisely.
Newer boots will have the disadvantage of being less limber, so it will be best to break them in on a more controlled walk before using them in the snow. Start by walking around the house, then the yard, then maybe a few blocks or short 1 mile trail.
Hiking boots come with their own strengths that can allow them to work well for walking in the snow.
Hiking boots come in a variety of styles. In addition to providing support and traction, they can pair well with your hiking pants, jacket, hat, and other attire… should you care to coordinate. They can help you blend in with the environment, or be whimsical and fun.
Here are some of our recommedations:
When Are Hiking Boots Not Good for Snow?
As we mentioned earlier, hiking boots are generally good for walking in the snow. However, there are times when they might not be the best fit.
When the snow is more than just decorative.
If the snow is more than just an inch or two deep on the entire trail, this affects a few things. For one thing, small holes will be completely filled in by the snow. This creates the illusion of terrain being much more smooth and flat than it really is. There is also a much higher risk of the lowest level of snow having formed a thin layer of ice over the surface of the ground.
Additionally, rather than your feet being on the surface of the snow, each step will place your feet into the snow. Much of the hike will have your foot be surrounded by ice rather than merely be on top of it. Without proper insulation, that can lead to frostbite or other medical issues.
In this case, snow boots have some advantages like:
Disadvantages of Hiking Boots, which can be an issue include:
Ultimately, there may be better options than hiking boots depending on your level of experience or the level of the snowfall.
When Experience Trumps Practicality
If you have grown up playing in snow and ice, running in the woods with tennis shoes in all kinds of weather, you may feel that you know what is best when it comes to keep your feet comfortable for the entire hike. If you know hacks (like plastic bags in the shoes), that’s your choice.
Final Thoughts on Hiking Boots Being Good for Snow
When someone asks me, “Are hiking boots good for snow?”… my answer is yes. There may be better options if you are more experienced, but hiking boots are a good default for those still learning. Deep snow, however, will likely require snow boots. Even more experienced hikers will need a form of snow boot in extreme circumstances, despite preference and comfort.
There are many factors that come into play when choosing the most suitable hiking gear. So be sure to speak with people who have hiked in your area of interest and during the times of year you plan to hike. They will have inside information!
And if you are new to hiking, be sure to check out how to get started on an effective walking program so that you can work your way up to enjoying the sport for many years to come!