Insulation Guide for Winter Boots

Credit author Chloé Lavigne

Baffin, Boots, Columbia Sportswear, Sorel, The North Face, Winter. Insulation Guide for Winter Boots

Whether you are playing outside with your kids, going to work or waiting for the bus, you need winter boots! It can sometimes be a headache navigating through the different insulation types and making a choice so we hope this guide will preserve your sanity during the shopping process! 

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Types of Insulation

  • Primaloft

→ This insulation is very popular with various brands making winter boots. It’s made of small hollow polyester fibers which are highly compressible and surprisingly water resistant. This insulation, therefore, provides excellent warmth for its weight. However, it is less durable than other insulation: over time, the fibers tend to cluster and form small bumps.
  • Thinsulate

→ Just like Primaloft, Thinsulate is made up of thin hollow fibers which trap the air. It’s also breathable and water resistant. It’s a light insulation used by many companies.
  • Heatseeker

→ This insulation was developed by The North Face. It’s a synthetic insulation, warm, durable and fairly compressible.
  • Omniheat

→ This one was developed by Columbia. It’s breathable and warm. There are little silver dots that reflect body heat back onto the wearer.
  • Zylex

→ You’ll find this insulation in Kamik boots. It’s a removable slipper inside the boot that is warm and breathable. This insulation is made of three layers which promote the evaporation of moisture and encloses the body heat. The seams of the insulating liner are also strengthened so the boot is more durable.
  • M Select WARM

→ This one was developed by Merrell. It retains and diffuses the heat of the feet to keep them warm.

Temperature Ratings: How Reliable Are They?

First things first, watch out for those temperature ratings. They are less and less common and less and less used by companies, and for good reasons! They are barely a clue to the warmth of the boot because there are way too many factors to consider. The warmth that one feels may depend on one’s metabolism, what one eats in the day, on one’s state of health, etc. However, you can look for the number that appears next to the name of the insulation, this represents the weight of the insulation used. Generally speaking, winter boots have 200g of insulation which is enough in town, to walk outside or to stay active. Some will have 400g of insulation which is good if you have poor circulation, if you stand still outside for a long time or if you find yourself in very cold climates.

merrell aurora tall ice


Aurora Tall Ice+


sorel joan of arctic


Joan of Arctic


sorel mens 1964 pac nylon waterproof boots


1964 Pac Nylon


baffin men's jasper boots




Moisture Management Begins With Your Socks!

Most winter boots nowadays have a waterproof membrane, whether it be Gore-Tex or a membrane developed by a company, they are all waterproof and will keep your feet dry. If you often have wet socks and feet in your boots, it’s most likely due to sweating and this moisture will probably make your feet cold. This is why wearing a good pair of socks is important! Avoid cotton and opt instead for socks made out of merino wool as these will keep your feet warm even when wet.

*You can also avoid cold feet by wearing a hat and mittens. The human body spends a lot of energy to keep you warm so without a hat and mittens, all this heat will escape. Make sure you keep that precious heat!

Still Cold? Try An Insole!

If your feet are still cold, you may want to consider a heated insole. Maybe you’ll prefer the toe warmers: each envelope can be used one time only and creates heat for as long as 8 hours. However, it can be uncomfortable in the boot and, if not used properly, it can cause burns. Another option would be to use a wool or sheepskin insole which retains heat. Moreover, this insole can be added to any pair of boots like your trekking boots to extend the season for your walks in the forest!

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