Best Cold Weather Work Boots | What are the Warmest Winter Shoes?

If you are one of the poor souls working outside, you’ll need more than a hat and hot coffee to get through it. Some people believe “a work boot is a work boot” but in reality there are countless work boot variations. Each designed with different user needs in mind. With winter just around the corner we’re looking at some of the best cold weather work boots, so let’s answer the question: what are the warmest winter work boots for extreme cold weather?

Updated Feb 2020 by Tony Bleak

what are the warmest winter work boots

In a Hurry? The Top Pick

Timberland PRO Mens Boondock, Read on to find out why.


Comparison Table

Waterproof
Safety ToeFeatures
Irish Setter 860
Elk Tracker
YesSoft12 inch boot
Steel shank
1000 gram insulation
View
Timberland PRO
Boondock
YesComposite8 inch boot
EH rating
Fiberglass shank
Oil and slip resiistant
View
Carhartt Insulated
PAC
YesComposite
w/o rating
10 inch boot
EH rating
Oil, chemical & slip resistant
View

How to keep feet warm in work boots – Key Features of the best cold weather work boots:

Keeping your feet and toes warm when walking in snow and on ice seems difficult but it is possible. It is actually easier to do if you are active vs sitting or standing still. So make sure to move as much as possible although it might not be comfortable. This is a good start how to keep feet warm in work boots. 

Waterproof material

One of the most critical aspects to warm feet in your work boots is keeping your feet dry. Make sure your work shoes are waterproof. If they are only water resistant, make sure you stay out of snow. However it would be best if you waterproof your safety shoes for winter to ensure the best chances of warm feet.

Steel vs Composite Toe Caps

This is an easily overlooked detail that could make a big difference on how warm your toes are in your safety shoes.

The steel toe is affected by temperature much more intensely than composite material is. This means that the metal gets very hot by absorbing heat in hot weather and very cold in cold weather. 

The composite material does not let the temperature affect it in the same way. Composite toe caps offer a much better protection layer to keep out the cold, or the heat, depending on the weather outside.

Soles

With cold weather comes snow and ice. If you work outside and need to walk on snow or icey areas, you need to pay attention to your outsole. 

Does it have a deep treat to avoid snow collecting in your boot? Snow will fill shallow tread more easily, resulting in less grip when you walk. This could lead to slipping and falling. Examine different tread patterns and choose the one that has lugs that provide traction by locking with the ground. This will help you avoid fatigue as you will not need to use additional energy to keep your balane on slippery surfaces.

Not only do you need a deep, agressive tread for sufficient traction, but the material is also important. Rubber has a much better grip factor compared to a mixed carbon and rubber sole. 

Slipping (and falling as a result) in one of the most common and dangerous workplace accidents. Make sure your outsole is specifically designed for slippery winter conditions and is suitable for snow and ice work.

Foot, Ankle and Arch Support

Even with soles that have great grip, you might still step on an icy patch unexpectedly. This is when you need your ankles to be protected with high cushions. This will not only help you potentially avoid a fall but also protect your ankle from getting hurt unnecessarily. 

A fiberglass or nylon shank will provide additional support on uneven ground. Avoid the steel shank as this transfers cold and will decrease the temperature of your boots drastically in winter.

Arch support is not specifically winter related. Infact you want to have arch support year round. If your boot doesn’t have a suitable insole included, you could get one designed to offer extra insulation warmth for both winter and arch support at the same time.

Insulation

Depending on how cold your winter gets, you can choose between different levels of insulation. The lowest level of insulation is 200 grams. This is a winter boot for standard winter weather and it the usual solution how to keep feet warm in work boots.

If you work in an area with bitter cold winters and you need your safety shoes to be as warm as possible you can get boots with 1200 grams of insulation. These boots are meant for the coldest of cold situations and would heat your feet to an uncomfortable level in “standard” winter weather.

If you are outside for extended periods of time, you would want to opt for a boot with a higher level of insulation.

What are the best winter work boots?

1000 gram insulated work boots

The most common insulation material used in work shoes is Thinsulate™. This is a product developed by 3M™. 3M™is an American multinational corporation and one of their specialisations is in the worker safety field. Thermally insulated safety shoes is one of the best things you can treat your feet to if you work outdoors in winter. What are the best 1000 gram insulated work boots?

What is the insulation made of?

Thinsulate™ insulation is a very thin material at 0.00059 inches in diameter. This makes it thinner than polyester and other similar fibers, and is therefore more dense and effective at retaining heat. It has a design allowing moisture to evaporate and escape while keeping warmth in. 

Tests have shown this material is 1.5 times warmer compared to down and surprisingly double as warm when compared to other insulation materials. This material retains its thermal benefits even when wet. It is a highly resiliant material and durable that will see you through multiple winter seasons in a good quality boot.

With Thinsulate™ it is possible to keep the boot lightweight because it is such a thin material, you can fit a larger amount of it into the shoe lining, allowing for an extremely well insulated winter safety boot.

Who should use 1000 gram safety shoes insulation? 

This is one of the warmest winter work boots you can get. If you are facing temperatures minus 30 degrees, this type of boot is for you.  Winter rigger boots contain one of the highest levels of insulation and are often also fleece lined.

This insulated footwear is suitable for brave people working outside in extremely bitter cold environment. These boots have safety toes required for construction site work, ironworker welding and are taller than standard safety boots to provide additional protection from the cold. If you need construction site boots, make sure they are puncture resistant and non slip or slip resistant.

1000 gram insulated work boots are usually extreme cold weather composite toe work boots suitable for hunters who spend many hours outside. These boots will keep your feet warm even if you are standing or sitting stationary and generating a low amount of heat by staying still. 

This type of footwear is rugged, durable and abrasion resistant as well as waterproof, windproof but still breathable and cushioned so that your feet remain comfortable during your long work day.

Other Levels of boot Insulation

200 grams is the standard most people will feel comfortable in. This insulation level is for people spending a limited amount of time outdoors in the winter. They will also be active when outside, either by walking or speed walking to their destination. Aproximate temperatures for this boot range from plus 30 – 50 degrees.

400 and 600 grams is designed for working people who are outside for extended periods of time or who might not be active when outside. If you are standing still or sitting, your body generates less heat and so you will get colder vs if you were generating warmth by being active. Suitable for approximate temperatures between 0 – 30 degrees.

800 and 1000 grams of insulation in your work boots is suitable for temperatures under 0 and colder. If you are working in these extreme conditions, make sure you wear wool socks and not cotton.

What are the warmest winter work boots?

Irish Setter 860 Elk Tracker 1000 Gram Boot

This lace up 100% leather boot is one of the best warmest boots you can get. Although it has a has a synthetic sole vs rubber, the aggressive tread style makes sure the sole has solid grip with every step. 

It’s difficult to find any down sides to this winter boot as it ticks all of the boxes. Being very picky, the need to do regular leather maintenance could be a con, but you do want a leather boot for freezing weather so there is no good way around that slight inconvenience.

A deal breaker might be the price tag as it is certainly not on the cheap side. However multiple user reviews mention that it is a worthwhile investment and they don’t regret it for a second. 

PROS

  • 12-inch boots
  • Gore-Tex waterproof material
  • SCENTBAN™ killing bacteria and odors
  • No break in period
  • Multi-directional traction lugs
  • Full Grain Leather
  • 1000 gram 3M™ Thinsulate™ Ultra

CONS

  • Regular leather maintenance required
  • Expensive
  • Steel shank
  • Unfortunately no safety toe
  • No EH rating
  • No slip resistant specification
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Timberland PRO Boondock Work Boot

This boot is comparable to the Irish Setter as it is leather and lace up with 1000 gram insulation. Lace up boots are more snug vs slip on or pull on boots.

However, 2 big differences are that this boot has both a composite toe with a compression rating and Electrical Hazard protection. This is one of the best extreme cold weather composite toe work boots you could come across.

NOTE: Make sure to get the boot with the red line vs the boot with the orange line. The difference is that the red lined boot has the 1000 gram insulation and the orange one doesn’t.

PROS:

  • 8-inch boots
  • Composite Safety Toe 
  • Waterproof leather
  • Fiberglass shank
  • EH protection ASTM F2892-11
  • Antimicrobial Odor Control
  • Anti-fatigue technology 
  • ASTM F2412-11/F2413-11, I/75 and C/75
  • flame-laminated Thermolite® 1000 grams of insulation
  • Outsole features deep lugs for traction
  • Weight 2.35 pounds
  • Oil and slip-resistant

CONS

  • Regular leather maintenance required
  • Expensive
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Carhartt Insulated PAC Composite Toe Boot

Although these boots look heavy duty, they do not have a compression rating. This means that they might not be suitable for certain workplaces that require safety toe shoes. They do however have a EH protection. And a black rubber outsole, unlike the other 2 boots above.

These boots are more slip resistant compared to the other 2 boots and lastly they are also a bit cheaper. 

PROS

  • 10 inch boots style
  • Composite safety shoe
  • 1000 gram LiteFire® insulation (not Thinsulate™)
  • ASTM 2413-17 electrical hazard standards
  • TPU arch support
  • Rubber outsole
  • OrthoLite insole
  • Oil, chemical and slip resistant

CONS

  • Cheaper compared to comparable boots
  • There is no safety toe compression rating
  • No steel or fiberglass shank
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Conclusion

If you want the most features for your money, the Timberland is the go to with it’s composite safety toe, EH rating and fiberglass shank. These are excellent extreme cold weather composite toe work boots.

They are all good boots and if you have no danger of heavy objects falling on your feet and have no need for a safety toe, the Irish Setter is probably one of the ultimate best cold weather work boots choice with it’s exceptional quality, extra height, insulation and helpful customer service.

If you are an electrician or work with electricity in any way then the Carhartt boot is a solid choice with it’s EH rating and rubber outsole. However, the Timberland also has an EH safety rating plus other useful safety and comfort features. Subsequently, the Timberland is the top pick and also the answer to both: “what are the best winter work boots” and “what are the warmest winter work boots” questions.

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