ISO comfortable, non-bulky, water-resistant shoes
February 10, 2013 4:33 PM   Subscribe

I'll be traveling to the northeast next week and I've realized that I don't own any shoes that are remotely suitable for trapising about on the cold, potentially snowy or slushy sidewalks of Boston. When I lived there I wore my Dr. Martens everywhere and they were great, but I've since learned that they don't play nicely with my issue-prone feet, and anyway I need something that will be comfortable to wear for long periods of time and not particularly bulky, which puts most snow or combat-type boots out. I know this is kind of a silly question, but I'm really stumped as to where to start looking. So, residents of similar climes, what do you wear on your feet that keeps them relatively warm and dry but still fairly comfortable? Suggestions for specific models and brands or general types welcome.
posted by rhiannonstone to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
(By "comfortable to wear for long periods of time and not particularly bulky" I mean I will be spending a bit more than 24 hours straight in a movie theater where space is limited and comfort is key to remaining sane.)
posted by rhiannonstone at 4:39 PM on February 10, 2013

Keens have some pretty decent boots with a lower profile.

My go-to shoes all year, but especially now, are Salomon trail-running shoes. They have a lot of similar-looking styles, but get the kind with Gore-Tex. I wear them in puddles, snowdrifts, slush, mud, bare pavement... This is the second pair I've owned and I'm pretty sure I'll be getting a third.
posted by Madamina at 4:42 PM on February 10, 2013

posted by mumimor at 4:43 PM on February 10, 2013

If you're going to be indoors the whole time, I don't think you need to worry about water much. A pair of thick socks & cute rubber rainboots will get you to the theatre - you can change shoes when you get there to something less water resistant but more comfortable.
posted by maryr at 4:45 PM on February 10, 2013

Changing into something isn't really an option because then I have to put the original shoes somewhere, and I'm not kidding about space being limited.
posted by rhiannonstone at 4:50 PM on February 10, 2013

My own choice this year is Jill Sander Chelsea Ankle Boots, and they are perfect for rain, snow and indoor stylishness, but the ones I can find online are far more expensive than mine.
posted by mumimor at 5:03 PM on February 10, 2013

Hm. Well then, if fashion isn't a concern, hiking boots seem like a good direction to go in. A spare pair of socks might be worth packing anyway.

Is fashion a concern? What is your flavor of issue-prone? I've been getting away with wearing ankle/low calf low-heeled boots to work (which is a 10 minute walk to the bus stop and where I stand ~50% of the day) because I can buy them on the larger side, but I'm not sure a full 24 hours in them would do me any good.

BTW, god only knows what the weather will be like by next week. Yesterday we got two feet of snow. Tomorrow it may rain and melt all of it. Tuesday, it'll likely freeze over the whole city. I've been running around in non-waterproof shoes for a week until Friday.
posted by maryr at 5:06 PM on February 10, 2013

PS: I found my relatively comfortable ankle boots by trying them on in Macy's and then literally running around the shoe department to make sure I could catch the bus in them.
posted by maryr at 5:07 PM on February 10, 2013

Merrell Mocs?

I personally have a pair of sorel boots but I'm guessing you would consider those too clunky.
posted by quodlibet at 5:17 PM on February 10, 2013

I also was going to recommend Sorel boots - not sure if something like this would be non-bulky enough? They are waterproof and rated to -25F.
posted by faineant at 5:31 PM on February 10, 2013

I swapped from boots to shoes back when I was year round cycle-commuting in Boston. While I no longer cycle-commute, I still avoid boots. I use waterproofed Keen Bidwells They keep their traction in the cold, resist the water, and with a pair of gaiters and snow pants I have been hanging out in 5' drifts and snowbanks all weekend.

Now, unlike boots shoes do get cold, but my feet don't get wet.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:38 PM on February 10, 2013

I wear these, with a thin gel insole, most days in the winter. They're waterproof, perfectly comfortable for walking, non-bulky enough to wear all day at work, and with a pair of Smartwool-type socks my feet are usually warm enough in all but the most ridiculously low temperatures.

Keen and Merrell are probably good brands to look at too; my friends with issue-prone feet seem to have good luck with them.
posted by clavicle at 5:39 PM on February 10, 2013

These Propet Snow Walker Weather Shoes are the most comfortable shoes of this type I have *ever* worn, and I have terrible feet, including bunions. They look more boot like in the photo than they do on, and they do not feel bulky on at all. They were also comfortable right out of the box.
posted by gudrun at 6:01 PM on February 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

This is kind of out of left field, but I was thinking of comfort and the most comfortable shoes I know are made for people who are on their feet all day. Add in the 'water resistant boots' part, and I immediately thought of two brands: Shoes for Crews and Crocs. I'm not sure if they'll work for what you need (bulky they might be), but since you really need comfy shoes you might want to take a look.
posted by librarylis at 6:05 PM on February 10, 2013

I have an older model of the North Face NUPTSE bootie. They are "squish-able" so they don't take up much room. They have removable insoles. The only downside is that they aren't water proof in rain, only snow.

I personally don't like super waterproof shoes (like "rubber" rainboots, for example). They don't breathe, so my feet sweat, so my feet get wet anyways.

Seriously, though I think your best best are some leather shoes/ boots. Wear a nice pair of Smartwool socks, and pack a spare pair if you can.
posted by oceano at 6:26 PM on February 10, 2013

Fashion's a concern in that I'd like them to be dark colored and not hideous so I don't feel self-conscious wearing them and they fit in with my dark wardrobe, but I don't particularly care about them being stylish, dressy, or otherwise "fashionable." My foot issues are such that I need a supportive, stable sole and insole.

Water-resistant or -proof athletic shoes or low ankle boots are looking like the best options so far, since they're versatile enough that I can wear them here at home, where it gets wet a couple months a year but not very cold and never snowy. I've got the Salomon trail shoes and Prophet Snow Walkers on the way from Zappos to check out, but please keep the suggestions coming!
posted by rhiannonstone at 7:00 PM on February 10, 2013

LL Bean has a whole line of very comfortable waterproof shoes for women. Their "comfort mocs" look a smidge like bedroom slippers but feel like them too -- warm, light, cushiony and waterproof.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:36 PM on February 10, 2013

Slightly more than 50% of the people I saw over the past three days (in the middle of Nemo) were wearing shoes from LL Bean. I'm in MA.

Mostly these, but also these.

Believe it or not, the stylish people are mostly wearing LL Bean boots (the ones from the first link). But the quilted ones are warmer. Both are really comfortable (I also have problem feet). I think both come in black.
posted by topoisomerase at 7:51 PM on February 10, 2013

Keens. I wear my Targhee IIs to work where I am on my feet on concrete floors every day. Keen makes many other styles that are comfortable and weatherproof as well, but those are my favorites.
posted by Requiax at 8:35 PM on February 10, 2013

I am not in snowy weather thank goodness but it can get awfully wet and cold here in SF, and I have pretty much been living in UGG Bellvue II boots. IMHO they are pretty stylish, and very warm and comfortable. I used a waterproofer first to make sure they would be protected. FWIW I don't fold them over which I think is cuter.
posted by radioamy at 11:10 PM on February 10, 2013

One thing to note about LL Bean boots and shoes generally - with a few notable exceptions, they seem to run narrow most of the time. Even the ones purported to be a size wide are often too tight on my wide feet (and that was before the bunions got bigger). I did not have that issue with the Propet shoes I mention above.
posted by gudrun at 11:12 AM on February 11, 2013

Madamina, the Salomons arrived today and goodness, they're comfortable! Surprisingly light, too. I tend to shy away from athletic shoes when I'm not actually doing athletics, but these might be my new walking-around town shoes. I think they'll do quite nicely for my trip. Thanks for the recommendation!
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:22 PM on February 12, 2013

You're very welcome! I always swear I'll buy something different, but after I bought a pair of Merrells with VERY hard soles, I shrugged my shoulders and kept on loving my Salomons. I have a male friend who swears by them, too; I think he has two or three pairs himself.
posted by Madamina at 9:48 AM on February 13, 2013

gudrun, the Propets were awesome, too! I wish I'd had a pair when I actually lived in cold, snowy places. I ended up sending them back because they'd never get worn here at home, though. But highly recommended for anyone else looking for simple, versatile, comfortable, warm, weatherproof shoes.
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:35 PM on March 13, 2013

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