By choosing the right winter boots, you can maximize versatility by using a single pair for any number of outdoor activities. Whether you're going for a walk around town, a light hike, or a snowshoe trek, insulated footwear is essential. But with so many different kinds to choose from—all of which offer various benefits—it can be difficult to whittle your choices down to identify the winter footwear that's right for you.When selecting a winter boot, one of the first specifications you may want to look at is the kind of insulation the boot offers. Some of the most popular boots today use Thinsulate insulation and other synthetic materials that offer plenty of warmth without the weight and bulk of traditional insulating materials.
Thinsulate, which is found in many around-the-town boots from companies such as Sorel, has established itself as a leader in synthetic insulation. In 1979, the material became one of the first name brand synthetic insulations to hit the market, enticing people with the slogan, "warmth without bulk." Sorel's best-selling Tivoli Winter Boots use 100 g Thinsulate alongside a full-length fleece lining and a waterproof shell to make it an ideal choice for simple walks through snow. Wildly popular UGGs take a different approach, using 100% premium sheepskin to regulate temperature and wick moisture away.
On the other side of the insulation spectrum, you'll find traditional wool felt, which offers extreme warmth, but may keep you slightly less agile than synthetic insulations. Sorel's Caribou Wool Boots, one of the company's best-selling winter footwear items, is a bit bulkier than other boots, but can keep feet warm in temperatures as low as -40°F. Such a boot is a great example of extreme cold-weather gear that may be necessary in deep winter.
When it comes time to leave the city and hit the snow-packed hiking trails or treacherous mountain ridges, you'll need to keep a few things in mind. Mountaineering or ice climbing requires both serious insulation and waterproof abilities. While some mountaineering boots are made of leather to increase sensitivity and comfort, the most popular choice for a mountaineering or ice climbing expedition is plastic. Plastic boots, such as the Koflach Arctis Expe, are some of the warmest, most durable and waterproof boots on the market.
If it's rugged mountaineering boots you're looking for—whether they're plastic or leather—keep in mind how compatible they are with crampons and snowshoes.
Perhaps you decide to take a long-distance hike over packed snow and ice that may not be as intense as a climb up a 4000-footer in a snowstorm. Several hiking boots on the market offer the right amount of insulation for such an adventure, which will likely require slightly more durability and traction than many Sorel and UGG models. An insulated hiking boot will also fit much more precisely, ensuring stability on the trails. When you go about buying a new pair of insulated boots, be sure to think about the terrain on which you'll be walking, how active you'll be when wearing the boots, and which activities you'll be enjoying. By selecting the appropriate boot and insulation, you'll be ready for whatever winter blows your way, wherever you may be when it comes.
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