What kind of hiking boots to wear in the snow? Full Guide!

The last time I went to Kharung la, the highest motorable pass in the world, there were about 10 of us! This incredible journey is only by road, either by a four-wheeler (check out these car mattresses for camping), preferably SUV, or a two-wheeler, preferably Enfield.

On the way, you can start viewing small patches of snow, here and there, from one of the toughest roads to drive in the world. By the time you reach, you will realize the whole place is covered with slippery ice.

Every one of us started walking on the ice and was facing the same problem. You guessed it right. Instead of enjoying nature, we were all eyes on the ice.

Instead of walking comfortably, we were keeping our footsteps so carefully that we could not enjoy mother nature.

This experience made me realize the importance of snow boots, climbing pants, a kettle for boiling water, warm jackets, and lanterns to help us fight the darkness, with which we could have had a better time.

Let us first try to understand what a boot is. No No! we are not talking about the boot that starts your phone, laptop, and similar devices. You can visit this website if you want to know about technology.

Here we are talking about the footwear type.

What is a Boot?

A boot is a special type of shoe that is rugged and covers the ankle, the foot, most of the time, the leg, and sometimes, even the thigh up to the hip. It typically comes with a heel that looks like a separate entity from the other parts of the sole.

By the above definition, you already know how a boot can protect your feet from the snow, especially during activities like rappelling.

We visited Solang Valley, which is a few km away from Manali. It is extremely cold in the winter seasons, which is the time I am referring to here.

When we were on the way back, it was early evening. The sun started to set. Every minute was colder than the previous one. As it became colder and colder, we realized that the legs started getting frozen, due to the snow that had gone in, in the form of water during the day.

This gave us all immense pain and shivering together. We had to choose the nearest place of fire. We hurried to the place to remove the shoes and get our feet a little warmer.

Keep this incident in your mind as I explain to you the importance of boots.

What is a hiking boot?

Hiking boots are those strong rugged footwear designed to protect your feet and ankles during long walking activities like hiking, trekking, and the likes.

Since you walk for a very long time and that too on rough surfaces, you might sprain your ankles. The hiking boot is specifically made for such terrains, you will be taking care of your foot well.

Moreover, there are chances that the regular shoes might tear off during your hiking journey, while the hiking boots protect you from keeping your feet enclosed in a safe place.

There could be small water-filled pits where you might have to place your foot. Such incidents let water into your regular shoes while the hiking shoes will protect your feet from getting wet.

There are some times when I myself have seen people getting their soles coming out of the shoes putting them at the big risk of hiking barefoot. To avoid this risk surrender to the hiking boots.

Snow Boots vs Hiking Boots

When we talk about snow boots, they are much more than what we have discussed in the previous section, hiking boots.

These are the points that we consider while buying Snow Boots.


When we are hiking in the snow, each time we step into thick snow a portion of powdered snow gets accumulated on a regular shoe. Due to the warmth of our body, it turns into a liquid state and gets inside.

During the daytime, we don’t realize this. It gets really uncomfortable during the evening when again the water in the form of liquid freezes back to ice.

This is the very reason why we need Snowproof boots as opposed to waterproof boots that do not take care of the powdered snow.

Ankle Support

It is quite obvious that the boots have to support your ankles from twisting. There is a long trail that you have to follow, so you have to be extremely careful about your ankles.

This kind of support is no different when it comes to hiking boots. So it does not really matter much. Just a reminder that you should not forget to look out for the boot with ankle support.


I know you are not going for a sprint. Even then, while you are planning to buy a snow boot, you need to consider a lighter one as far as possible. The lighter, the easier to hike (be careful about the bear).

But at the same time, you should not forget to keep your foot warm. The thicker the insulation is, the warmer the foot the heavier the boots.

Your decision should be made based on the climatic conditions of the place during the time of your hike.


If you have read the article right from the beginning, how we suffered in Khurdungla was a great example of how things can go wrong when you have the wrong set of shoes.

Snow, most of the time is slippery unless it is powdered. There are all chances that you might fall off. To combat that, you need to have a pair of boots that are designed in such a way that you can depend on them to have great traction.

This enables you to enjoy the surroundings during the hike leaving the shoes to take care of you from falling.


In addition to the previous point, you should also make sure that the snow boot is breathable as far as possible. Again, this will depend on the temperature of the place you are visiting.

The lesser the temperature, the lesser the breathability of the shoes, and the lesser comfort of the footwear.


The material of the Snow boots should protect from the extreme cold (like how the wood burning stove is useful) by keeping the feet warm. This can happen only with insulating material.

Of course, the degree of insulation depends on the temperature you would want to hike. The colder the temperature the higher should be the degree of insulation.


The snow boots are not as comfortable as the regular hiking shoe, due to the following reasons:

Weight: The snow boots are heavier because of the rounds of insulation

Breathability: To keep the feet warm the snow boot is designed in such a way that cold wind should not come in. This affects the breathability of the footwear for which you will sweat from within at times.

Bulky: Due to the same reason, the footwear tends to be bulky making it harder for the snow hikers

You should have got an idea about how a hiking boot is different from a snow boot.

Can you wear hiking boots to the snow?

Considering snow as a different terrain, we would certainly advise against it. You should understand the temperature, depth of snow, and type of snow to wear the right type of hiking boots that are made for snow.

Do waterproof hiking boots work in the snow?

There are other factors that affect the hike on snow like:

  • Grip
  • Insulation
  • Snowproof

Make sure the above three important factors are fulfilled, which are what differentiate a hiking boot from a snow boot.

What shoes should I wear for winter hiking?

In view of the Manali incident that I narrated a little earlier, it is always sensible to wear boots that protect your feet from getting wet. Once your feet get wet, you will not have comfortable hiking.

So, make sure you stop wearing regular shoes in winter, especially in a snowy place, and change them to boots.

What should I wear if I don’t have snow boots?

You can wear a hiking boot that has good traction, and ankle support, which is lightweight, with good insulation, and covers the leg partially. This way you will be comfortable hiking on snow.

How do I keep snow off my hiking boots?

You can do one of the following:

  • Make sure that your hiking shoes at least cover the legs partially
  • Use a waterproof shoe cover that completely covers the shoes
  • Wear plastic covers on the socks and make sure snow does not enter inside the cover

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