The 6 Best Hiking Boots of Winter 2020

BACKPACKER

Boots insulated enough for the coldest winter days usually feel like moon shoes—good for warmth, bad for precision. The Sawtooth II is a standout exception: Its stellar warmth-to-bulk ratio comes courtesy of a lean layer of 200-gram 3M Thinsulate insulation, which hoards heat without adding too much volume.

The Best Winter Hikers of 2021

OUTSIDE BUYERS GUIDE

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.

Oboz Arete hiking shoe review

SWITCHBACK TRAVEL

Hiking footwear has been trending toward fast and light for the past few years, and it’s easy to see why. These shoes are significantly nimbler and more agile than their bulky hiking boot counterparts, and many designs retain impressive stability and support. Oboz’s new-for-2020 Arete fits the bill well: this shoe weighs less than 1.5 pounds (for the women’s version) but manages to pack in a good deal of cushioning and nicely isolate you from the trail.

Light Hiking Shoes We've Tested and Trust

OUTSIDE ONLINE

If this test had been based solely on performance, the Arete Low would have won. I made audible oohs and aahs while navigating downhill amid both mud and scree, as the Arete’s fantastic traction and best-in-test fit made it incredibly capable at maintaining control. The fit—a nice cupping heel to keep my foot in place, with an arched midfoot and a wide toe box—married the best of performance and comfort. Though the upper was featherlight and breathed well, I never felt like this shoe would be undergunned on a technical day hike.

Oboz Arete Low Hiking Shoes

THE TREK

Ever wondered what would happen if a rugged boot had a baby with a lightweight trail runner? If so, put your weird dreams to bed and take a look at the Oboz Arete Low hiking shoes. This is a strong boot from the ankle down that can power through most any terrain you’d want to put it up against (just don’t forget the gaiters). Striking a nice balance between rugged boot and lightweight trail shoe, the Aretes are an interesting hybrid to check out.

Go the Distance

OUTSIDE BUYER'S GUIDE

Best Low Hiker
With TPU stabilizers that are thicker in the heel than at the midfoot, the Arete Low boasts impressive stability without compromising flex. The result is a rebounding sensation that eases foot fatigue on long hikes. We were big fans of the breathable mesh upper: it was great on hot days, but thanks to TPU overlays, it still provided a surprising amount of lateral support. One tester thought the Arete Low's insoles were the most supportive of any hiking shoe in our test.

See the full review in the Spring 2020 Outside Buyer's Guide.

The Best Winter Boots of 2020

OUTDOOR GEAR LAB.COM

The Oboz Bridger 10 is not only the best overall winter boot according to our wide variety of performance tests, but is also the best choice for winter hiking. All of our testers who have worn this boot have taken a liking to the comfortable and secure fit that starts with an excellent O-fit insole. The uppers are moderately stiff, providing excellent support when hiking or snowshoeing, with a lace system that is user-friendly and secure...