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Q:

What are the best boots for snowshoeing?

I bought my first pair of snowshoes, and now I need to buy some snowshoe boots. What do you think of Columbia's Excellerator or Bugabootoo boots? Dan St. Louis, Missouri

A:I'm not particularly keen on the current generation of snowshoe boots. I tend to think they're a solution looking for a problem. They make sense primarily from a marketing standpoint—someone wants to try some snowshoeing, isn't sure what to get, and sees these boots labeled "snowshoe boots." So they think, Of course, this is what I need!

That said, the Bugabootoo ($90) and the warmer Excellerator ($100) aren't bad boots for the money. They're designed to be waterproof, comfortable, and warm—both models are insulated. They're pretty good for snowshoeing on moderate terrain, or for all-around winter use, such as for in the car when driving to a ski resort (in case you have to hop out to install chains or dig out the tires). Around Missouri, they might be great.

The thing is, any good quality leather boot will work pretty well. Good socks provide insulation, and a little attention to waterproofing will ensure your feet stay dry. You can also purchase over-gaiters that cover the entire boot, keeping out snow and adding some warmth. A good example: Outdoor Research's X-Gaiters ($94).

Better yet—ideal, in my view—is a light plastic boot, such as the Koflach Degre ($255). Very warm, completely waterproof, and pretty comfortable. I concede it may be more boot than most people want, but for a full day on snowshoes or an overnight trip, it's by far the best solution.

Have fun! Snowshoeing is a terrific winter sport.

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