Your Foot-Friendly Winter Boot Checklist
It’s never too early or late to think about having a good pair of winter boots handy. Even when snow has been missing for weeks, a good number of inches can suddenly show up any morning.
If your current boots are looking worse for wear, you should definitely consider getting them replaced before you need them most. A good general rule of thumb is replacing your winter boots about every 500 miles or six months. If you’re not making frequent long treks in your boots, that basically translates to replacing them every other year.
But not all boots are created the same. Different features exist for different uses, and having the wrong boots for your intentions can lead to some very miserable feet.
So, the next time you plan on heading out for winter boots, we recommend keeping these following tips in mind:
Get Your Feet Checked
When is the last time you have had your feet checked, especially regarding structural abnormalities such as flat feet, overpronation, or high arches?
Knowing whether your feet have any of these or other conditions can help you choose boots (and other footwear) that best accommodates and supports you.
It can greatly reduce your chances of discomfort and injury over the long term, and it just makes practical sense. It doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles you buy for a box, for example, if it was never going to properly fit what you wanted to put in it in the first place!
We are offering free foot exams during the start of the year, and we encourage you to take advantage of them. Simply call our office too check our availability.
At the very least, check your foot size if it has been a year or more since last doing so. Feet can change, even through adulthood, and making sure you have the right size can go a long way.
Check Warmth (but Don’t Always Rely on “Comfort Ratings”)
Insulation is a high priority for all winter boots, whether you use them for walking down the street or trekking through the woods.
For casual boots, fur can be an effective insulator, but also an expensive one. Synthetic materials such as Thermolite and Thinsulate tend to do the trick at a lower cost and with lighter overall weight added to the boot as well.
If you are seeking winter boots for hiking or hunting, your insulation needs will tend to be higher. Looking to the density of insulation can be an effective guide.
Boot insulation is often measured in grams per square meter. The higher the number, the denser, heavier, and warmer the boot will tend to be.
If you are walking around in mild weather, 200-400 grams of insulation will often suffice. Get around the 30-degree mark and you will likely want to upgrade to 600-800 grams instead.
If you plan on being out in deep cold or standing still in the snow for long periods of time, a boot at 1,200 grams or higher may be best for you. However, keep movement in mind. If you will be moving a lot, you will not only want a lighter boot for mobility, but you’ll be generating more of your own heat as well. A lower rating may suffice.
The “comfort rating” on many boots should be treated as a general guide only. The boots are tested for ratings in a lab, but they’re unable to take factors such as your fitness level, circulation, and wind chill in mind. Based on your personal health and the conditions outside, a warmer or cooler boot might be better.
Keep Water Away from Your Feet
Waterproofing is also essential to keeping your feet warm, comfortable and less likely to pick up nasty fungal infections. However, moisture concerns are not only an external issue.
A good waterproofed boot will not only keep outside water from getting in, but also move natural sweat away from the foot.
If this sounds a bit like a catch-22, then you’re somewhat correct. We’re essentially asking for a good winter boot to be both water tight and breathable. It can be done, though!
For more casual walking, you might be able to get away with a boot that is waterproof along the bottom and has a breathable mesh on the top of the foot. Be warned, however, that hitting any deep puddles or snow will likely send water in through the top of the boot. Only use these when you know your path is clear.
For heavier duty boots, having a lining made of synthetic material such as Gore-Tex will provide the waterproofing you need while providing enough space away from your feet to breathe.
Stay away from rubber boots if you’ll be moving a lot. Rubber is great at keeping water out, but your feet will likely be stewing in their own juices after some time walking about.
What’s on the Bottom?
Traction on hard snow and ice is essential for any good winter boot, period. Style can be nice, but there’s no substitution for avoiding a fall on a sidewalk or in a parking lot.
The more bumps, lugs, and crevices along the outsole of the boot, the better. Rubber is also going to be a good ally in increasing traction. Many brands will boast “non-slip” or “anti-fall” technology, but inspect the treads and feel yourself.
What’s on the Top?
Is the boot tall enough to meet your environmental needs? If deeper snow may be on your trek, look for an adjustable collar along the top of the boot that you can cinch around your leg.
In general, taller boots will also be better at regulating temperature throughout your lower legs. They might be a bit more difficult to move around in, though, so keep mobility in mind.
If you have questions about the best footwear for your individual needs, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (262) 544-0700. We can also provide extra help and assistance when custom support is needed. Please also feel free to contact our office for information on a free foot exam!