Garmont Tower 2.0 Extreme GTX ($400)
When your day involves steep alpine terrain, you want the Tower 2.0 on your feet. Hardcore users will appreciate its trim profile, Gore-Tex waterproofing and insulation, built-in gaiter, and burly sole, which is compatible with semiautomatic crampons. Nylon and fiberglass in the midsole shave weight while preserving stiffness and protection, and EVA foam provides the cushion you need for long days. Underfoot, air chambers and a heat-reflective microfiber-aluminum insole provide still more insulating power without adding weight.
Wolverine ShiftPlus Polar Range Boa ($230)
Boots can be a pain to take on and off with cold hands. The ShiftPlus is a cinch, thanks to Boa lacing. PrimaLoft Aerogel insulation—which is over 95 percent air and incredibly good at trapping heat—throughout the upper and sole, plus a waterproof liner, was a recipe for warm feet while we shoveled snow. Down below, the Vibram Arctic Grip sole kept us from eating dirt when pushing out a stuck car on an icy road.
Lowa Casara GTX ($185)
Everyone needs a winter boot that doesn’t take itself too seriously. This year, the Casara (and men’s Bosco, $200) is our favorite of the genre. Lace it up once and then use the hidden side zip to slip it on and off forever after. It fits like a sneaker but has the technical chops for low-key winter exploring. A low-profile sole with snow-biting rubber studs keeps you upright, and the fuzzy Gore-Tex lining ensures that your feet stay dry and cozy.
Muck Apex Mid Zip ($140)
When temperatures plunge and the skies deliver a wintry mix, this is what we slide into. (Literally, courtesy of a front zipper.) It’s rated to sub-freezing temperatures, and has a waterproof rubberized foot and a thick EVA midsole that wards off ground chill. A wicking, breathable neoprene ankle and mesh lining keeps both snow and sweat at bay. Widely spaced lugs have 90-degree edges and flat tops for superior traction on slick surfaces.
Oboz Sawtooth II 8" Insulated B-Dry ($165)
Warmth, comfort, and weight savings don’t often come together in winter boots, which is why the Sawtooth II wowed us. Waterproof and packed with 200 grams of synthetic insulation, it’s ready for sloppy, muddy hikes or all-day snowshoe adventures. And at just 20.2 ounces per shoe, it kept us going when other heavier, insulated models bogged us down. Supportive insoles and cushy midsoles also reduced fatigue.
Salewa MTN Trainer 2 Winter GTX ($250)
With its low-profile, high-contact lugs, ice-gripping rubber, and waterproof-breathable lining, Salewa’s latest performed for everything from peak bagging to below-freezing Christmas-tree harvesting. Our favorite detail: the lacing system extends down to the toe and loops through a metal cable around the heel and instep, so our feet stayed snug and blister-free.