Roomy, flexible, waterproof snow boots?
January 9, 2019 8:31 AM   Subscribe

I have wide, "tall" feet with high arches and insteps; also, duck-style splayed toes that I like to wiggle up and down when I walk. Normally I do barefoot or minimalist shoes, but most brands have limited winter offerings. Can anyone suggest proper waterproof snow boots (not fashion boots) that have wide, ideally untapered toe boxes AND a deep midfoot that won't press down on the tops of my feet? Light and flexible soles would be a huge bonus, but not absolutely required.

I think my feet look pretty normal, but the wide-forefoot + tall-instep + can't-stand-pressure-on-the-top-of-the-foot thing has been bizarrely hard to fit, even in barefoot styles. For instance, I had a pair of Lems mary janes that squeezed horribly across the base of the toes, and even Vivobarefoots are generally way too narrow.

Regular Sorel boots in men's sizes (am girl) seemed like they'd be wide enough, but again, the shape pressed my big toe inward and my instep downward in a way that was really uncomfortable after a few hours. Conventional EEEE or orthotics-friendly styles seem universally to have pointy and shallow toe boxes. Does anyone have ideas for roomier alternatives, or else creative solutions I haven't considered? I'm not looking to use these for extreme cold conditions, just normal backyard snow activities.
posted by Bardolph to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
A year or so ago I bought some Columbia waterproof boots that look very similar to the "Minx" and "Heavenly" styles they have this year. The footbed is soft and flexible (I also prefer this). The toe box is tapered, but seems to fit my slightly wider feet. The laces help with my higher arches, too.

My child wears SoftStar boots like these which are NOT waterproof, but seem to keep out most of the water my puddle-loving child stands in.
posted by jillithd at 8:51 AM on January 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have been very happy with my Kamik Sienna Mid boots so far - only bought them in ~Nov so not sure yet about their durability but they seem well-made. And most importantly they have been completely waterproof in inches-deep puddles, and acceptably warm (not ideal below -20C ish). Lighter than Sorels for sure.

I have various foot issues - mild bunion, low arches, duck feet - so I need a high and wide toe box too, and these feel roomy to me, though you'd need to try them on and walk around the store for awhile to really know. I would also definitely size up 0.5-1 sizes if you want to wear with thick socks.
posted by randomnity at 9:06 AM on January 9, 2019

Have you tried Keens? I have a similar foot shape and have had good luck with their shoes. Currently eyeing the WP snow boots but waiting for a sale, so can’t officially vouch for the boots.
posted by stillmoving at 9:18 AM on January 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

No specific recommendation, but Merrell often issues shoes in wide sizes, and their outdoor footwear has been consistently excellent in my experience. I have some insulated waterproof hiking boots for them that I wear as winter work boots (they are great) but I don't think they're quite the style you're looking for and I'm not seeing them on their site now so they may be out of production. They have a number of winter boot styles that might fit the bill, though. Their shoes are known for being both very comfortable and very well made. They're my favorite brand of outdoor footwear by far.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:24 AM on January 9, 2019

My bean boots have generally fit my giant feet comfortably well -- the one drawback is there is a bit of a taller heel than my feet like these days.
posted by Comrade_robot at 9:33 AM on January 9, 2019

I don't know how waterproof they are, but I have a pair of BarePaw UGG style boots. I don't wear them to the mall with sweatpants, but they have served me well for dog walking and trekking occasionally through the snow with said dogs. Warmest boots I've ever had and suuper-roomy toebox; plenty of room for my orthotics, too. I bought mine on ebay, but the website says they have some styles that have had waterproofing applied.
posted by sarajane at 9:37 AM on January 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have an extreme version of the high instep problem, and while I don't have a specific boot to recommend, the only boots that ever fit reliably have laces (or elastic sides, but that doesn't work for snow.) LLBean maybe?
posted by LizardBreath at 9:43 AM on January 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

How do you feel about Muck / BOGS -style neoprene shaft + molded foot boots? I have a 13-year-old pair of BOGS and find them very warm and waterproof (they're my go-to winter hiking/snowshoeing shoes), with a wide toe box, and they come in wide sizes and men's sizes as well.
posted by momus_window at 10:10 AM on January 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

I wear Lands End winter boots (women's version - I have a style from a few years back) on snowy days and LL Bean duck boots (men's version with tumbled leather - the regular leather was so painful) on less snowy days.

Trotters and their sister brand Softwalk were the first shoe brands I found as an adult that didn't make walking painful, and Trotters definitely sells winter boots. I haven't tried them, but I adore their fashion boots and flats. They may be worth a try.

Propet is my other favorite shoe brand. (Some styles go up to 4E - and they mean it!) They make some pretty cute waterproof winter boots too, but I've been waiting for my current boots to wear out before I try them.
posted by marfa, texas at 10:22 AM on January 9, 2019

Every day I wear Keen shoes because they have a toebox which is very roomy. (Think "shaped like a Kleenex box on your foot.") And I also have bad arches. In the winter, though, I wear a pair of "Arctic" mukluks from Steger! (Yes, I paid extra for the ribbon. An uncomfortably cold man has the right to feel pretty, too. Hmph!)

They are butter-soft moosehide, with a super-cushiony rubber sole, and I treated the canvas uppers with waterproofing spray which works well. (They are designed for very cold, dry conditions, which may or may not suit your climate. I wear them in New England, which lately has been damp and cool, and I am well satisfied.) They are pricey, but so comfortable. They are designed for you to insert as many layers of insoles as you please: they come from the store with thick felt insoles plus a rigid one, and there's room to stuff in more insoles if it's super-cold or if your feet are weird. :7)

I also have a pair of the Steger Scout moccasins that I wear around the house and out on errands. These, too, were not cheap, but they formed to my feet and are both soft and supportive.

There are a few other Steger mukluk owners on MetaFilter, and plenty of us online swooning about our footwear.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:36 AM on January 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

+1 Keen. I have the Elsa snow boot and it's super-roomy and comfortable (and I have feet like yours and have "claustrophobic" feet as well).

I also have a pair of Lands End lined duck boots that I purchased a size up from my normal size to accommodate thick socks and they are great, roomy and warm and easy to walk around in.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:49 AM on January 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

There are a few other Steger mukluk owners on MetaFilter, and plenty of us online swooning about our footwear.

I swear by my Steger Mukluks too, but they would not be my go-to if what you want to be doing is wading in icy water or something. I would suggest Bogs---a lot of folks here recommend them.

Also, my daughter last year had Columbia boots with omniheat (I have a pair as well) and they are significantly more lightweight than much of what's on the market for winter boots (although I switch to my Steger mukluks when it's much below 0F...but my daughter wore them without complaints all winter for the last two years, and it gets pretty cold here (although last year it didn't get much below -30F)). So those might be something to look at as well; they seem to run about a size small.
posted by leahwrenn at 11:13 AM on January 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I need a very wide toebox and have been reasonably happy with the Columbia OmniHeat Heavenly - I have them in tall and mid heights. I believe I bought them a size up as recommended in various places. Re: the top of foot issue, I've been trying to replace the removable insoles with something a bit better for my arches, and the insoles are so high volume that I think I'm going to have to use something thin and flat underneath to build them up to be able to fill the shoe. They're like half an inch thick! So if there wasn't quite enough room, a replacement insole would probably fix it.
posted by pekala at 11:33 AM on January 9, 2019

I have both Boggs and Bean boots, and the Boggs are much roomier. I don't have the same issue do with the pressure on the top of the foot, but considering the two I'd recommend the Boggs.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:54 AM on January 9, 2019

Your feet sound very similar to mine; although I don't think my arches are as high as yours, I think my feet are somewhat high-volume, and I need room for my toes to both splay out and wiggle up and down. I also wear barefoot/minimalist shoes and am constantly frustrated by the lack of waterproof/winterproof options. Vivobarefoot is too narrow for me too.

After eliminating Vivobarefoot Gobi Hi-Tops and Tracker FG, I think the only waterproof minimalist boots I know of are the Feelmax Kuuva. I haven't ordered from them since they're located in Finland and I'm in the US and would hate to pay return shipping all the way to Europe if they don't work for me. But I have heard good things about the Kuuva, so that could be a possibility.

I looked into Steger and Manitobah Mukluks, but I read that mukluks are really best for walking around in lots of dry snow, not so much walking around on salted sidewalks in the city with lots of slush, which eliminated those as an option for me personally.

As far as "regular"/non-minimalist brands go, the widest toebox I've ever encountered is on certain Bogs models. I wear Bogs B Puffy Tall as my winter boots. They are warm and waterproof, but even though the toebox is definitely wider than any other "regular" shoe brand, it's not as wide as I'd like. Still, it's tolerable and I've gone with it since there are so few options out there.

You could try asking on this barefoot shoe discussion group, as well - I've done searches there and haven't really turned up better options, but it is a great resource for information on barefoot shoes.
posted by LNM at 12:05 PM on January 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Mucks might suit your needs. They are quite similar to Bogs winter boots. I have these.
posted by Grandysaur at 1:15 PM on January 9, 2019

Also the Mucks are totally waterproof all the way up.
posted by Grandysaur at 1:15 PM on January 9, 2019

I have similar tall instep, wide foot problems and like LizardBreath the only shoes and boots that work for me have laces that I can loosen up a whole bunch. Keens are my go-to choice but Merrell is usually pretty good too. I mean, not stand-in-a-puddle-all-day good but I've worn my Merrells through a couple of slushy, wet Minnesota winters and they've kept my feet warm and dry just fine. If you are near an outdoor store like an REI they may have some in stock that you can try on.
posted by beandip at 1:34 PM on January 9, 2019

I am seconding the barepaw recommendation. I have exactly your feet, women's very wide very high arch, and I got a pair of barepaw's at DSW that are my go-to boots when it's wet or very cold. They aren't barefoot style but I find that I like the shearling style lined boots because that seems to offer some give around my wide toes/high arches.
posted by ch1x0r at 2:21 PM on January 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

My wife has similar foot issues and ended up with these. Uggs Bonham II Boot but these won't help in a snowbank.

She found them on a site recommending footwear people with bunions/and big toe arthritis which she has just developed. Might be a good search strategy for finding what you need because they have similar toe box needs.
posted by srboisvert at 5:03 PM on January 9, 2019

Seconding Kuuva by Feelmax; I actually have a pair of these. I need a wide, kind of rectangular toebox. I also have high arches. From spring to autumn I wear either Vibram 5-fingers or Altra running shoes. Now that there's snow on the ground, it's either waterproof hiking boots (Kuuva) or a pair of Muckboots that have a warm neoprene shaft. The Mucks aren't too bad, I use them every day when I'm doing farmwork (like, actually mucking out), but I wouldn't use them for hiking, fatbiking or snowshoeing. A pair of Kuuvas can handle all that.

Hiking boots by Meindl have a wider toebox than most similar shoes and they're great quality, but I need a zero drop shoe and can't stand hard, heavy soles, so I've ditched my old Meindls and only use the Kuuvas now.
posted by kaarne at 10:00 PM on January 9, 2019

I agree with the Bogs recommendations. Comfortable & warm. I have high arch & can’t get Bean boots on., but my Bogs are great for that & standing around putside in the cold.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 10:26 AM on January 12, 2019

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