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Inside The Outdoors

How to Choose Snow Boots

22.11.2013 | Ski Buying Guides

Snowboots are designed to keep feet warm in cold conditions and for this reason are a popular choice of winter footwear in ski resorts and here in the UK. We’ve put together this snowboot guide to explain the different features and help you find the right snowboots for you.

Common Snow Boot Features

Waterproof Membrane
A porous membrane that allows feet to breath (perspiration can escape) but prevents water penetrating through. Isodry is a term specific to Mountain Warehouse products.
Faux Fur Trims
Faux fur trims and fold down collars are added for extra warmth and style.
Warm Linings
Faux sheepskin (Sherpa) is a popular lining for snowboots providing comfort and warmth. Thinsulate lining is a great alternative for adding warmth without bulk- thinsulate retains heat but is highly breathable.
Toe Bumpers
Offer extra protection from hidden obstacles in the snow.
Velcro and laces/cords are common fastenings. A velcro closure can be secured quickly and easily for a secure and comfortable fit. Laces or cords can also be tightened for the best fit.

Snowboot Construction

Uppers– The uppers of snowboots can be made from many different materials. Some of the most common include padded or quilted nylon, textile, suede and leather.

Midsoles and Insoles (footbed)– It is common for midsoles (the layer between the outsole and insole) and insoles to be padded for shock absorption and extra cushioning. Some of our snowboots also have a moulded footbed for better arch support. Typically the midsoles and insoles are made from EVA (a compression foam) that is lightweight.

The footbed of snowboots may also be lined with faux sheepskin or other soft fabrics.

Soles (Outsoles)– The outsole of snowboots will often be made from rubber which is durable, lightweight and waterproof (please see below for more about waterproofness).

Snow boots tend to have a softer more flexible sole than walking or hiking boots to aid traction on the ice. Deep tread on the soles provide grip and stability on slippery surfaces. Our ISOGrip outsoles (a feature of our Women’s Alto snowboots) offer up to 50% more grip on ice than regular soles for extra traction in extreme conditions.

Temperature Ratings

Snow Boot Temperature RatingsMany manufacturers will use temperature ratings to help you choose the right snow or winter boots for your activity/destination. Temperature rated snowboots are laboratory tested for their performance.

The temperature rating refers to the minimum temperature your feet will be warm and comfortable. For example a rating of -20 degrees means they are capable of keeping your feet warm to temperatures as low as -20 degrees. The ratings should always be taken as guidance as there are many factors that can affect this. Health, physical activity, exposure time, correct socks, weather conditions and perspiration will all affect performance and comfort.


Snow boots vary in their waterproof capabilities. The waterproofness of snowboots will depend on many different factors, not limited to, the materials and construction of the boots. It is important to understand the conditions you will, or may, encounter to ensure you choose the most appropriate snowboots. In the simplest terms snowboots can be broken down into two different levels of waterproofness- water resistant and waterproof.

Snowproof Snow Boots

Snowproof Snow Boots

Snowproof or Water Resistant

A snowproof boot will be treated with a waterproof coating to make the upper water resistant. The water resistant upper will repel splashes and light snow fall.

Although the sole of these boots will often be made of a naturally waterproof material (eg PVC or rubber) the boots are not fully waterproof.

Most suitable for…. Keeping your feet warm après ski. Cold but dry days in the UK.

Not suitable for… Particularly wet weather or slushy/deep snow.

Waterproof Snowboots

Waterproof Snow Boots

Waterproof Snowboots

A combination of a water resistant upper and a waterproof membrane makes a snowboot waterproof.

The waterproof membrane allows perspiration to escape but prevents water/snow leaking through. In Mountain Warehouse footwear this is referred to as an ISODRY liner and is in the form of a bootie in the base of the snow boot. The waterproof lining provides waterproof protection for the part of the snowboot most likely to be submerged in snow (around the base and typically up to 3 cm around the lower part of the boot).

Most suitable for….. Days out in moderate levels of snow and walking in slushy snow (this could be at a ski resort or in the UK).

Not suitable for… Submerging fully in very deep snow (snow is likely to penetrate through the upper part of the boot and enter through the top and tongue area).