Merrell Thermo Pathfinder
Thermo Pathfinder (courtesy, Merrell)

Which women’s boot can handle sub-zero temperatures?

My daughter is going into the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan and is looking for an everyday shoe that can handle the sub-zero temperatures. What would you recommend? Patricia

Merrell Thermo Pathfinder

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This is a good challenge. She needs something tough, probably reasonably light, and warm. Or at least adaptable to be warm.

Merrell Thermo Pathfinder

Merrell Thermo Pathfinder Thermo Pathfinder

Merrell makes a cold-weather boot called the Thermo Pathfinder ($125;, which is a tough, insulated boot that is also waterproof. Yet they’re fairly light and would work as an everyday shoe for walking around town, wearing in a classroom (will she be teaching?), that sort of thing. It’s available in women’s sizes.

An alternative is a quality leather hiking boot such as Montrail’s Solitude II ($140; For warmth, she can wear wool socks such as SmartWool Light Hikers ($16; and perhaps supplement those with vapor barrier liners, which are waterproof sock liners that reduce evaporation from sweat, keeping the feet warmer. There are several brands available, and most are around $25 (note: she should change into dry socks every day when wearing a vapor barrier sock, otherwise she might get “trench foot”).

Also, several companies make good-quality, durable, low-top shoes that are less like a hiking boot. But, alas, they’re mostly for men. Timberland’s Classic Trekker ($140; is one such shoe—all leather, with a Gore-Tex liner, supportive steel shank, and grippy leather soles.

Hope this helps!

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From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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Lead Photo: courtesy, Merrell