When I started researching for waterproof winter boots for men, I was under the false impression that all the quality winter boots were waterproof by default. I mean, if you’re going to build a solid pair of winter shoes, resistance to water should be the main factor that could make or break the deal. Who on Earth wants to spend their day walking in the snow with wet feet? Surprisingly enough, I came across a lot of winter boots who has little to zero water resistance, so I ruled them out for this review.
We did find 4 pairs of waterproof winter boots for men which stood up to the winter challenge, but as you read on, you’ll notice that most models have compromised certain aspect so they can excel in others. But before I go on telling you about this and that, let’s talk a little bit more about what makes a good pair of winter boots.
What are pac boots?
When you read about certain types of winter boots, you’ll notice that the term “pac” is used. The pac looks much like a moccasin, but it was designed to be worn inside your actual shoe. A pac boot is a boot that has a removable lining. Whenever people hear about “pac boots”, they think of some form of winter shoe which an exterior waterproof coating and an internal lining which is super comfortable and warm. Pac boots were introduced back in the 1960s, by a manufacturer called Sorel (yes, you’ll read more about them as we go on).
What are slip-on boots?
Any boots that lack laces and are literally put on by slipping your feet inside them are named slip-on boots. You will discover a lot of slip-on boots that have handles or pull tabs, so it’s easier to put them on. The variety of materials used in the manufacturing of slip-on boots ranges from neoprene to rubber, from sheepskin to textile. Depending on the season they were made for, they can have insulation and be waterproof or water resistant. The main advantage of owning such a pair is that they are super easy to put on and you can use this to your benefit when you have to get out of the house quick, to run an errand.
What are insulated boots?
If you’re searching for a decent pair of waterproof winter boots for men, you should consider their insulation. In general, insulated winter boots have a non-removable liner which is meant to keep your feet warm in rough weather conditions. Unlike the other 2 types of boots we just presented, insulated winter boots are meant to cover long distances in the cold season, which means they need to have a good balance of comfort, insulation and fit. The cuff height is usually above that of other types of boots because they need to prevent snow from actually reaching your feet.
The North Face Chilkat 400
It should be no surprise to anyone that we have a North Face product in our list of waterproof winter boots for men. The Chilkat is one of the best, if not THE best choice out there. In terms of warmth, especially, this is the best boot that money can buy. You can soak the boots for a full 5 minutes in freezing water and you won’t even be able to tell that you’re actually standing in that temperature. At about 8 minutes, you’ll start to feel a bit cold but hey, what are the chances you’ll be dipping your feet in freezing water for that period of time? In general, waterproof winter boots come with about 200 g of Primaloft insulation, to keep your feet cold at below 0 degrees temperature. However, the Chilkat has a full 400 g of Primaloft insulation, so it’s already one of the warmest choices out there.
Let’s talk about its water resistance. The outside of the boot features a TPR shell which is then followed by a waterproof leather upper. Even after dipping your feet in water, you’ll see that the boot doesn’t leak, which makes it the perfect companion even for cold rainy seasons. The water entry height level for this boots is 8.5 inches. Beyond that height, water could leak in at the gap where the tongue is attached to the main shaft. There is a boot that has a water entry level of 10.5 inches, but we’ll talk about that when it’s due.
Comfort is obviously very important when we’re talking boots. What makes the Chilkat a comfortable boot is the flexible upper. Since it was designed for people who are into moderate hiking, this boot should feel comfortable for long walking distances. Since the boots do run a bit small, you should consider ordering a full size up.
There is a chapter where this boot doesn’t really perform that well, and that’s accessibility. While it’s not that difficult to put the boots on and take them off, there are other waterproof winter boots for men that do extremely well in this chapter. The difficult part is actually tying up the laces. It’s simple to cinch up with a single pull of the laces, but only halfway. Then, you’ll have to loop the laces around their designated hooks on each side before you tie them up at the end.
The sole of the Chilkat is made of a rubber compound, which won’t be of much relevance to you… until you need to walk on ice. The sole is soft and sticky, which provides just enough traction for you not to slip and land flat on your face. So, when are these boots actually useful? Answer: when you want to hike in the winter. They are also a great match for men looking for a decent pair of snow shoes. Thanks to the height of the shaft, it’s pretty easy to keep your feet protected from snow. Since they are super-warm, you can use them for whatever outdoor activity where feet are required to stay warm. However, if you’re in need for boots that allow you to perform around-the-house chores, like shoveling the snow in the driveway, you may want to consider a pair that’s easier to put on and take off.
Kamik Nationplus Waterproof Winter Boots For Men
As you already know, Kamik’s Icebreaker is, in my humble opinion, the best rain boot for men. But does Kamik have the knowledge and resources to make the best waterproof winter boots as well? Let’s find out.
From the moment you read the specs of the boot, you’ll think “I could definitely use a pair of these when hunting”. That’s because they are made from reindeer hide/sealskin, allowing you to stealthily move on snow. Compared to the Chilkat, these boots only come with 200 g of Thinsulate insulation, which doesn’t really make them the warmest choice available. Attention: they are not THE warmest, but they are warm nevertheless. Even if it has half the insulation you want from winter boots, it does the job almost perfectly. That’s because the boot has insulation hidden under an inner liner. Even more, it has a thick rubber sole that will keep your feet far away from the cold ground. In addition to all that, there is also a thing metallic lining sewn into the bottom of the liner. This will increase the heat transferred from your feet to the ground. There is a felt material used in the boot’s liner and even if it’s not actual insulation, it can still keep your feet warm for temperatures as low as -40 degrees F/C.
What about water resistance? There is a combination of thick rubber and suede leather that covers the exterior of the boots. The sole and outsole have been molded into a single piece. Even so, we’re not happy with the performance of the NationPlus at this chapter. There is a place located at the bottom of the gusseted tongue, right where it’s sewn to the leather upper, that water can easily penetrate and sneak its way into the boot. That means that the maximum puddle depth you can afford in these boots is 4.5 inches. That’s quite a waste, considering that the shaft measures 11 inches in length. If water does leak through, the foam insulation will soak it up, leaving the inner liner cold and wet.
Since the shaft is mostly made of suede, it will get wet after being exposed to water for a long period of time. However, it does not allow for the water to actually penetrate the shaft fully, so your leg will still be dry. Aside from the leakage point we just mentioned, the boots are actually quite water resistant.
The boots are true to their size, so you don’t have to worry about ordering a size up or down. You can easily fit 2 pairs of socks with these boots. They are also easy to put on and your feet won’t slip out even with the laces left untied. Thanks to the plush inside, the boots provide great comfort even if you decide to wear short socks. If you plan on wearing these boots for longer walks, you should consider purchasing an additional set of insoles, as the Nationplus comes with a rather thin piece of felt that separates your feet from the sole.
What does this boot have to offer in terms of traction, you ask? Well, the sole comes with deep molded lugs, which provides great traction on flat surfaces. You guessed it, they are the best choice for wearing on ice. The sole also features a sticky rubber compound, which means that slipping should be out of the question if you’re careful with how you step.
Even if these boots do provide a reasonable amount of insulation, they are not the best choice for people who want an insulated hiking boot.
Sorel Caribou Waterproof Winter Boots For Men
One thing we I absolutely must mention about the Caribou is that it’s a pac boot. A pac is a soft, moccasin-like shoe that is designed to be worn inside an outer shoe or boot. A pac boot can be defined as a boot with a removable lining. This is important to mention because pac boots are generally comfortable, but, in several cases, they could be considered sloppy and, therefore, not the best choice.
The 9mm ThermoPlus felt provides a decent amount of warmth for your legs. However, water resistance is where the Cabirou really shines. There is a seam sealed construction that will make sure water doesn’t leak into the boots. The upper side of the boot is made of some sort of rubber that covers the foot and is then combined with the Nubuck leather upper which has a waterproof coating.
Saying that these boots are uncomfortable is a bit of an overstatement. But they are not the most comfortable waterproof boots for men either. That’s mainly because the design of the boots is flawed enough as not to fit properly even with a thick pair of socks. And no, it’s not because you ordered a size too big, it’s just how they were built. Ordering a size down will surely help, but there are still chances you may feel a lot of movement inside the boot. Another disadvantage is that the boots are heavy. And by heavy, I mean 5 lbs. heavy. That’s what makes these boots terrible for hiking, even if they are the most water resistant boots in this whole article.
If you want an upside to this whole size thing, it would be the fact that the boots are really used to use. You can quickly slip your feet inside. This is particularly good news for those horrible winter mornings when you have to shovel the snow in the driveway and just don’t want to spend too much time tying/untying the laces. Since they are placed through their metal rings all the way up, the laces are easy to cinch.
Another thing that really pointed out these boots aren’t made for hiking is the sole. The circular lugs are made of soft and sticky rubber and while they are not the worst in terms of traction, they are not the best ones either. Even if you don’t really expect them to perform well on ice, these boots were actually quite unstable on snow. That’s mostly because of the roundness of the lugs, which really doesn’t make much sense.
In the end, it seems that these boots are well suited for people who have to perform all sorts of activities around the house. Even if they are really good at keeping water away from your feet, they are too loose and too unstable to even be considered as a reliable hiking companion.
Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Waterproof Boots For Men
There is a lot of praise for the Plus III, especially since Columbia is no stranger to rugged outdoor shoes. Even if it uses a mere 200 g of insulation, the boots make up for that with the Omni-Heat thermal reflective fabric which is used in the interior. If I’d have to choose a specific application, I’d say these boots are best for winter walks. Your feet will feel warm enough to withstand walking in the snow and doing outside chores around the house. However, dipping your feet in ice cold water for more than 5 minutes is bound to result in discomfort caused by the low temperature, so I have my reservations when it comes to long hours of hiking in these boots.
That’s a real shame, considering that the boots can resist water more than most of their competitors. There is a Techlite shell membrane added to these boots, which provides an extra level of waterproofness in case the leather and nylon additions get wet. So if you’re planning a long day in the snowy park, no need to worry about wet feet.
These boots seem to run a bit large, so ordering a half size down is not the worst idea. With the shaft measuring about 7 inches for the arch, this boot is a breeze when it comes to ease of use. You can quickly put the boots on tie the laces to be on your way. There is plenty of space inside the boot to consider putting on your thickest pair of socks. The boots tend to be a bit wide but hey, guess that’s good news for people with wide feet.
While these boots were designed for long walks, the stiffness of the shaft is not exactly comfortable. Even if you wear long socks, you may still feel some discomfort in your calves. That’s sad if you consider the fact that they score about an 8 out of 10 in terms of traction. The rubber compound is equipped with an aggressive lug pattern, which makes your feet stick to the snow and prevents slipping.
Even if they are not the most waterproof boots on the market, our top pick is definitely The North Face Chilkat. It scores high in pretty much every other aspect, so the water resistant features that aren’t that great, can be compensated in other ways. You can use the Chilkat for anything from sledding to hiking and your feet are guaranteed to stay warm even if you plan on enjoying a full day in the snow.