This winter in Canada has been anything but predictable: Vancouver registered near-record warmths in December and a 17°C day in January, whereas parts of Alberta are covered in snow and saw the thermometer read -47°C — not counting windchill last month. Meanwhile, Toronto has received little to no snow, and much of the East Coast enjoyed a rare green Christmas — the same can't be said for Valentine's Day, however.
ACRUX TR GTX Boot
Helly Hansen Bivy 2.0 IceFX T-Max Heat Waterproof Winter Boots
Timberland Men's Icon 6" Boots
Helly Hansen Men's Lockdown IceFX Waterproof Leather Boots
Model 008 Boot In Honey
Ellis Chelsea Boot
Such variability in temperature and precipitation makes it challenging to dress for outdoor success. Heavy-duty winter boots can feel like overkill when there is no white stuff on the ground, but wearing shoes or loafers in the year’s early months is a recipe for shivering while shovelling. I’ve tested several pairs of winter boots and wrote about them here to help you decide what to put on your feet. Here are the six men's winter boots that score high on warmth, are water-resistant, and will have you prepared for every version of Old Man Winter.
Best hiking boots: Arc’teryx ACRUX TR GTX Boots
GORE-TEX Waterproof technology
Durable moulded rubber toe cap
My first thought when I saw these boots, because of their size, was that they would feel cold and flimsy in snowy terrain. I instead found myself running in them from one errand to the next because they felt almost as sturdy and snug as cross-country running shoes. Turns out, they have amazing grip, thanks to their Vibram Megagrip outsole. Plus, they’re comfortable even over rough or rocky terrain because of their EVA midsole — a similar chunk of shock-absorbing foam that I have in my running shoes. Their thinness has not bothered me because the GORE-TEX fabric keeps the water out, and I have yet to wear them in temperatures colder than 20 below. They would not be my choice for a trek to the Arctic Circle, but for a day on the town or on outdoor hikes, they are hard to beat.
Best boots for shovelling: Helly Hansen Bivy 2.0 IceFX T-Max Heat Waterproof Boots
Tall, lace-up style
Terrific heat retention
With a thick Ultrafoam liner, T-MAX HEAT insulation technology, and low-temperature protection down to -40°C, the Bivy 2.0 Boots by Helly Hansen are built for comfort, even in extreme cold. I will admit that it’s difficult to pull off their Ski-doo-style look anywhere that is not covered in snow, but they have no match in the dead of winter. They do more than just heat retention: their rubber outsole allows for safe walking on ice, and their HYPER-DRI tech prevents water from getting in.
Best winter work boots: Timberland Men's Icon Boots
Frequent Timberland wearers might find this boot to be familiar: the Icon 6" boots pay homage to the brand's inaugural lifestyle boots of 1973, blending retro aesthetics with modern functionality. This model features full-grain leather, a waterproof upper and 400 grams of synthetic PrimaLoft insulation, which keeps the feet warm and dry in all situations. What I like about them most is they deliver most of the perks of heavy-duty boots like the Bivy 2.0 — traction, warmth and durability, to name a few — without weighing nearly as much. Plus, they are one of those rare boots that, at a time, fit into city, country and mountainside aesthetics.
Best boots for deep snow: Helly Hansen Lockdown IceFX Waterproof Leather Boots
Heat-moldable technical liner
Waterproof vulcanized rubber shell
I hope the Albertans who endured minus-40 temperatures had access to these foot furnaces from Helly Hansen; as they are the heaviest-duty, warmest models on my list. The Lockdown winter boots, equipped with a waterproof rubber shell and leather shaft, are clearly designed to withstand frigid temperatures. But there is more here than meets the eye. They come with a removable, heat-moldable technical liner system that makes the boots cold-resistant to temperatures as frigid as minus 50. And sure, they are bulky and not easy to store, but despite their size, they are relatively easy to slip on and off thanks to their floppy pull loop and easily lockable lacing system.
Best warm boots for a night out: TAFT 365 Model 008 Boot
Suede and calfskin accents
Many parts of Canada have so far managed to avoid snowy conditions this winter; and for that, it has been a good year to rock designer boots without risking salt wounds on their soles. The Model 008 by TAFT 365 has often been my footwear of choice for running errands around Toronto, and they remain as shiny as they were when I took them out of the box. They have a distinguished wingtip pattern, a comfortably lined interior, and a handcrafted, two-toned calfskin and suede construction. They are more for city strolling than for snow shovelling, but their heavy-duty rubber outsole still gives them a bit of heft. It's a stylish complement to a heavy-duty snow shredder.
Best boots for the office: Jack Erwin Ellis Chelsea Boot
Narrow, glove-like heel
I am a sucker for Chelsea Boots; I wear them for date nights, work meetings and shovelling snow — sometimes all on the same day. This sleek pair by Jack Erwin, handcrafted in Portugal, should be more expensive than they are. They come with a full-grain calfskin upper, leather-lined interior, and a padded insole that comfortably hugs the feet. They also nail the subtle details; they have a Blake construction, meaning their outsole directly attaches to the insole with a chain stitch, and a stacked leather heel to avoid quick erosion (a must if you dig your boots in salt and snow every day). You could pay hundreds more for similar boots — this version is a steal.