I need snow boot recommendations!
November 17, 2014 9:11 AM   Subscribe

This week's temperatures being consistently in the single digits and below zero has made me realize that I need some snow boots. I've had my eye on the Sorel Tivoli High II's but after reading some reviews, it sounds like the quality has declined in recent years. Can you give me info on Sorel's quality of late, or alternatively, recommend some good boots? Snowflakes (heh) within!

I tend to wear Women's 10.5-11, and my feet are on the wide side. I usually can wear normal sizes, but if the style runs narrow, it won't work. These are mainly going to be used for commuting, walking around campus, and standing in the snow while I dig my car out. As a recent Denver transplant, I'm told the temperatures this week are a bit extreme, but I'd rather not spend the winter shivering uncontrollably.

Some other points:
-I'm moderately style conscious, so I'd prefer something not hideous, but my last pair were just basic black snow boots, and I actually tended to get complements on them (they got dry rot at the end of last season, and I didn't think to check their source)
-Bonus points for REI availability, as they're having a sale this weekend
-Also, any other cold weather gear recommendations are welcomed!
posted by bluloo to Shopping (25 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'll vote against Sorel, which I purchased last year and am very unhappy with. I like La Canadienne ($$). I had another brand I liked until I accidentally melted them on a malfunctioning space heater, which I can check if I have not actually thrown them out.
posted by jeather at 9:19 AM on November 17, 2014

Steger mukluks are the best boots.

Seriously, I can't say enough good things about them. They're very comfortable, they're warm enough to walk to work in at 40 below and still ok to wear all day in the office. (My husband's got some rated to -40 and he finds those too warm to wear all day inside, though, but I see other people wearing the same style all the time).
posted by leahwrenn at 9:20 AM on November 17, 2014

My daughter also had some Baffin boots last year and they seem to have held up pretty well.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:21 AM on November 17, 2014

I'll also recommend against Sorel, I bought the caribou boots and the rubber cracked after a season and a half. Don't have a better recommendation at the moment, sorry.
posted by quaking fajita at 9:31 AM on November 17, 2014

Response by poster: The La Canadienne's are beautiful, but I'm realizing I left out a specification- not crazy expensive. I was hoping for something sub-$200? Not sure if that's reasonable or not.
posted by bluloo at 9:31 AM on November 17, 2014

I wear your size as well, ordered a size 10 which fit just fine, and have had these Patagonia boots for two years in Minneapolis winters. Great on the ice and very warm, especially when paired with SmartWool socks which you can get with your REI sale purchase this weekend!
posted by thenewbrunette at 9:32 AM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have that exact pair of Sorel Tivolis, and they bore me through the Polar Vortex last year marvelously; I don't have any complaints about them whatsoever. I also received many compliments on them--they're apparently good for a "sexy lumberjack" kind of vibe.

I guess it's possible they will crumble to dust tomorrow? But I kind of doubt it...
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:38 AM on November 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have an older version of the LL Bean Storm Chaser. The regular width is pleasantly wide. These boots have lasted me through four Buffalo winters and are still going strong. The bottoms are more like sneakers than boots, as far as flexibility and tread go, so they're fantastic for walking (but not at all slippery, like sneakers would be). They're not terribly high, so they might not be great if you'll be walking through deep snow, but they are wonderfully warm.
posted by okayokayigive at 9:38 AM on November 17, 2014

Oh! And as far as cold-weather recommendations: remember ears, nose, fingers, and toes. Keep 'em covered and warm and make sure you can still feel them.
posted by okayokayigive at 9:40 AM on November 17, 2014

Aigle (Aiglentine) boots are awesome in the snow. You'll need a good warm sock (I'll second smartwool) , but they fit a wide foot really well and the rubber is beautiful yet super durable. Pretty sure I got mine off zappos, and they tend to have super quick shipping (not to get hopes up, but mine have always shown up next day free of charge).
posted by lawliet at 9:41 AM on November 17, 2014

I'm very pleased with my Toe Warmers boots. Canadian brand, I think, tend to be basic black snow-boot shape with leakproof soles and at least one interesting style detail, of order $100-140. Mine are like this except the leather not the nylon version, which I'm sure I could have looked up if I'd clicked around more.

(note, not only do many styles come in wide-width, the standard width is far from narrow)
posted by aimedwander at 9:42 AM on November 17, 2014

I usually just wear my normal boots with a set of traction cleats (like Yaktrax) added.
posted by Poldo at 9:47 AM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I got these bean boots (in brown) from L.L. Bean last year, and they are fantastic. The warranty is an added bonus. They're sized a bit differently than bean boots with other linings, so do peruse the reviews to get a feel for what would work for you; I ended up getting my usual size, and they're perfect with thick socks (although I wear them with thin socks sometimes while walking the dog, and they feel fine). They do sell them in multiple widths.

As for looks, well, they're bean boots. I think they're quite smart for snow boots, but I've embraced my inner New Englander and am sitting around in an oversized flannel shirt at the moment. YMMV.
posted by cellar door at 10:03 AM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been very pleased with this pair of Sorel Joan of Arctic boots that I purchased last winter. I spent a lot of time standing with my feet totally submerged in snow, and I didn't feel a thing. Although I wore them a decent amount, they still look good as new. I like that they have a removable liner, and everything seems very high quality. I have pretty narrow feet, but they seem like they would work for someone with wide feet because I have a fair amount of space in them.

With that being said, I really do use these as snow boots. If it's cold but there's not a ton of snow, I just go for leather boots.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:26 AM on November 17, 2014

I have a similar pair of Sorels (I think the original Tivoli model) bought Jan 2013 and I love them - still in perfect condition with no leaks or visible damage after 1.5 winters of a lot of walking around in slush/salt/deep snow. They're pretty wide and comfortable, and decently warm with good socks. Try them on in-store if you can, though. They are pretty heavy so I usually only wear them when the sidewalks are covered in snow/slush, but they're great for those days.

I've never had Sorels before so maybe the quality was higher before, but it still seems fine to me. Definitely noticeably higher than any of the cheaper boots I've bought in the past.

other recommendations: Not sure how cold it gets in Denver but a pair of thin-to-moderate weight long johns or tights under your pants helps a lot when it gets below -20C or so here. Plus a warm scarf, mitts, and a hat or fur-lined hood.
posted by randomnity at 10:31 AM on November 17, 2014

Another vote for Joan of Arctic here. Mine are five years old now and heavily used every winter. They fit wide, too. My only minor niggle is that the tread is not as grippy as it might be.

I have heard a few complaints about Sorel too, but mine have been great. The other one to try is Merrell.
posted by tardigrade at 10:33 AM on November 17, 2014

I will say that La Canadienne boots that I have bought seem to last forever -- you get quality for the price. They're also warm but thin, which is nice. Not that you should break your budget for them.
posted by jeather at 10:39 AM on November 17, 2014

I love my Muck Boots and just wear them with thick socks to stay warm.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:41 AM on November 17, 2014

I've lived in Alaska [where I worked in a -30 freezer for eight hours a day] and Winnipeg. I advise against rubber covering the the foot if you are going to be in the cold for any length of time. The rubber keeps the moisture in. Believe it or not when I worked in the -30 freezer everyone wore canvas Converse shoes.

The thing is you really can't buy a three season boot. In the cold when everything is frozen and dry you don't need the rubber lower, in the fall and spring when it's slushy you do.
posted by vapidave at 10:59 AM on November 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've lived in Denver nearly ten years without heavy duty snow boots like Sorels - our winters tend to be cold, but dry-ish. We get a week like last week maybe once or twice a winter. I walk the dog an hour every day and get along fine with sheepskin lined boots with traction cleats when it's icy - I wore them when I was a student on campus and also when I go to the mountains in winter. Come to think of it, I don't really know very many people with snow boots like sorels - they sell them, but you don't see them around very much. So, they might be more than you need here - I find them too heavy and clunky for my feet.

(For other tips, in winter I wear thermals under my jeans and wool socks pretty much year-round from October to April. My first year here, I got by with a pair of uggs and yaktrax, wool sweaters, a wind-resistant fleece, a down coat, and wool hats, gloves, scarves. I've since added lots more down coats when I find them cheap.)
posted by umwhat at 10:59 AM on November 17, 2014

I have a pair of Sorel Caribou I bought a couple of years ago. They are still in great shape and I've had no issues with them quality-wise, but I kind of hate them because I feel like they're way too heavy and too big (they definitely run wide through the toe box). What I find myself reaching for more often is a pair of shorter, pull-on insulated boots similar to these. This type of shoe is definitely not what I thought I'd wear through a snowy winter, but I'm finding them far more practical except in the absolute deepest snows.
posted by marmago at 5:12 PM on November 17, 2014

The boots I really, really liked (until I melted them, which makes them unattractive but still warm and waterproof) were made by Pajar. Now that I look at it, the Sorels you like are the ones I specifically hate or something very similar (though they're nice looking).
posted by jeather at 6:09 AM on November 18, 2014

I bought some Sorel boots last year and they're fantastic.
posted by shesbenevolent at 8:36 AM on November 18, 2014

Minor correction: the sorels I have and like are the Tofino boots, not the Tivoli. Mine are bright red and get a lot of compliments.
posted by randomnity at 12:12 PM on November 18, 2014

I find Sorel's too heavy. Saute Mouton carries boots between $200-$500 CD. They are extremely durable and I've had my pair for 7 years in Ottawa. Mine are all leather with shearling inside, they are light and waterproof when cared for.
posted by Gor-ella at 1:26 PM on November 18, 2014

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