If you live in an area that sees significant snowfall each winter, snow boots are a must-have for your child’s winter wardrobe. Even those who live in milder climates might need to purchase a pair of boots if a winter vacation, family visit, or trip to the mountains is on the schedule.
Choosing the right kids’ snow boots shouldn’t be harder than convincing your two-year-old to wear them. That’s why we’ve done the research for you. We looked over the snow boots currently available to children, listened to feedback from owners, and identified the best products available. What we didn’t do is accept free items or perks from manufacturers. This approach allows us to bring you buying recommendations that are unbiased, helpful, and accurate.
So if it’s time for a new pair of boots, check out the five recommendations in our product list above.If you’d like to learn more about children’s snow boots in general, including how to find the right size and how to get your kids to actually want to wear their boots, read on. Up ahead: the patter of warm, dry feet.
The difference between winter boots and snow boots
While it’s true that there is a lot of overlap between winter boots and snow boots, the two aren’t exactly the same.
Winter boots are just warm boots. They might be waterproof, or they might not – although it’s always best to choose winter boots that are at least water-resistant. Often, winter boots have a fleece lining for an extra dose of warmth.
They come in a huge range of styles, from rugged to fashionable, and many have kid-pleasing features like bright colors, fun patterns, metallic trim, fuzzy fleece trim, or cute buttons and fasteners.
“Add extra coziness to your child’s feet with wool or wool/blend socks. In the coldest climates, or for extended outdoor play, add a pair of boot liners to really up the warmth factor.”
Snow boots are generally more utilitarian and less flashy than winter boots, although there are certainly some cute, kid-appealing snow boots on the market. Snow boots are often warmer than simple winter boots. Other features that are common to snow boots include the following.
While simple winter boots come in a wide range of materials, most kids’ snow boots are made either of heavy leather with a rubber upper or a waterproof material like nylon.
Most snow boots are waterproof from bottom to top. Taped seams and other barrier systems work to keep cold water out, protecting your child’s feet from dampness. Simple winter boots are not always waterproof, although some are. And of course, rain boots are entirely waterproof, but they generally lack the warm materials and insulation that snow boots offer.
“Don’t assume that all winter boots are suitable for snow. Snow boots go beyond warm; they are also waterproof, have heavy tread to provide plenty of traction, are well-insulated, and have a system of fasteners that keeps cold and snow out.”
The best snow boots reach at least a couple of inches above the hem of your child’s pants. It’s better if they’re even taller, as this prevents snow from creeping inside your little one’s pants in deep snow. Winter boots come in a range of heights, including just above the ankle.
Snow boot soles are usually made of some type of rugged rubber to provide secure traction. This is a crucial feature for children who will be walking on slippery sidewalks and playgrounds. Winter boots don’t always have the same level of tread.
For the ultimate in adjustability, snow boots often have drawstrings around the top, two or more straps around the shaft, and full-length laces. Winter boots might have one or two of these features. And many winter boots simply tug on without any way to seal the top against snow.
Features to look for in kids’ snow boots
There are a few things that elevate the best snow boots above the rest of the pack.
Although you’ll obviously have to help your toddler put on and take off her snow boots, a child old enough to go to school needs to be able to do this on her own. Nobody wants to miss recess because they were struggling with their boots.
Look for a tongue that pulls out far enough to make it easy to slip the boot on and fasteners that aren’t too complicated for little fingers.
“Have your child practice fastening her snow boots at home until you’re sure she can do it without assistance.”
Adjustable cord at top of boot
Snow has a way of creeping into boots and up pants legs. But if you choose boots with a toggle-fastened, adjustable cord around the top, you may be able to avoid this. The wearer can easily tighten the boots enough to keep out the cold and snow, yet not enough to hinder circulation or otherwise create discomfort.
If their feet are freezing, you can bet your kids are going to beat a hasty retreat from winter playtime. Snow boots that are rated for protection down to a stated temperature have been lab-tested for insulation performance. If you live in an area that regularly drops below freezing, this is especially important. You’ll normally find the cold rating on the box or tags included with the boots.
“Resist the urge to buy boots a size too big so they’ll last longer. Kids can grow up to three shoe sizes per year, so it’s best to accept that you’ll have to replace the snow boots seasonally – or possibly twice per season if your child grows fast and snowy weather lasts for several months in your area. “
Waterproof – not “water-resistant” or “water-repelling”
Some inexpensive snow boots are merely water-resistant, meaning dampness can still seep in through the seams or fabric. A good-quality snow boot is sealed along all seams and has a gusseted tongue that keeps out snow, moisture, and chilly temperatures.
Snow boots should reach well above your child’s ankles – up to mid-calf is best. To keep pants tucked in, look for boots with a padded collar. This adds a bit of extra snugness to hold the leg of the pants in place.
Did you know?
Snow boots with good arch support not only feel comfortable, they also help your child’s feet grow properly. The right snow boots fit comfortably over your child’s entire foot without slipping, squeezing, or sliding.
Tips for finding the right fit
Don’t assume that you need to buy snow boots in a bigger size than your little one normally wears to fit over thick socks. Snow boots are generally sized a little wider and longer to accommodate thick socks, so you’ll likely do best with your child’s usual size.
A child’s snow boots shouldn’t slip at the heels, squeeze at the toes, or feel tight around the sides. If they do, they are probably the wrong size.
Slip a finger into the back of the boot. If you can comfortably fit one finger there, the boot shaft fits properly. If you cannot, the boots are too small. If you can fit more than one finger, the boots are too big.
Q. Should I buy snow boots a size or two too big so they’ll last more than one season?
A. While it might be tempting to try to save money in this way, your child will pay the price in uncomfortable, cold feet. Plus, kids’ feet grow fast; you’d have to buy boots significantly larger than your child’s current size in order for them to fit a year later. That greatly increases the danger of your child falling or twisting an ankle while wearing the boots.
Q. How much should I spend on snow boots?
A. If you live in a climate with little snowfall each year, expect to spend around $20 to $30 for snow boots sufficient to keep feet warm and dry. If you live in an area with significant snowfall or very low winter temperatures, you’ll need to buy heavy-duty snow boots to protect your child’s feet throughout the winter months. Generally, these will be in the $30 to $60 range, depending on size.
Q. How do I get my kids to wear their snow boots without a struggle?
A. While one experience with cold feet might be enough to teach the lesson, many kids are stubborn when it comes to putting on their snow boots. Make things a little easier by giving your child some say in her footwear.
Once you’ve narrowed down the brand and size that suits your child’s needs, let her pick the color or pattern. You might not like neon green, but if your child loves it, that could be enough to get the boots on without a struggle.
Make sure your child knows how to fasten the boots properly and easily, and choose boots that aren’t beyond his dexterity level. If it’s a lengthy struggle just to get the boots on, they’ll probably be left unworn.