Stomp around with impunity in these–the best winter boots of 2014.
The North Face Arctic Guide
Think of the Arctic Guide ($150) as a winter boot with the DNA of a minimalist trail runner. A waterproof-breathable upper paired with Primaloft insulation in the toes protects your foot from the elements while letting excess heat and moisture escape. Like winter tires, the lugs get harder as the ground gets colder.
Sorel-like pack boots—the standbys you pull on to shovel the driveway—are typically warm but also heavy and lacking in underfoot protection. Not so the ultralight Sottozero ($140), which features bomber support and snow-chomping lugs. The synthetic liner pulls out for easy drying.
Keen Revel 2
Keen wraps a honeycomb layer of plastic with heat-reflecting material on the inside of the Revel 2 ($160), then covers the package with a wool liner. A sculpted ridge on the heel keeps a snowshoe strap in place, and the lugged sole holds fast to frozen surfaces. Best for wide feet.
Columbia Bugaboot Original Tall Omni-Heat
The retro Bugaboot ($160) sports a waterproofed nubuck leather exterior with a heat-reflective liner and a layer of insulation that will keep your feet toasty even in single digits. The uppers have a notch in them so you can roll down the faux-shearling cuff, if that’s your style.
A waterproof membrane, beefy lugs, and lightweight, breathable insulation make the skater-styled Slopecruiser ($125) perfect for shorter winter excursions. The heel-mounted cuff keeper, designed to keep your pant leg from dipping into the slush, also supports a snowshoe strap.
Lowa Yukon Ice GTX
The heavy-duty Yukon Ice ($240) looks like it should be clunky, but it’s surprisingly light-weight. The leather upper is insulated and waterproof and has a wool-poly fleece lining. Underfoot, ultrafine gripping fibers aggressively bite into ice and snow. And the boot is sturdy. "Best-in-class ankle support," said one tester.