Why You Need the Right Pair of Winter Boots
Many people love winter. Some would rather hibernate until spring.
Regardless of your feelings on the season, however, it’s important that you equip yourself with the right kinds of winter boots for your needs. Not having the right footwear for your environment and activities can make for a miserable day out at best and dangerous conditions for your feet at worst!
So, whether you’re walking snow-covered streets to work or heading out for winter hunting, it pays to keep important factors in mind when looking for winter boots.
Keeping Water Out
Waterproofing is one of the first factors to consider for winter boots. Spending prolonged periods of time in the cold with wet feet can be particularly dangerous. Extreme tissue damage from frostbite can be a concern. Immersion foot, a condition that causes clammy, pale skin that, is not as severe as frostbite but can still be damaging.
Most winter boots are made using waterproofing materials, but it still pays to make sure the signs or literature that comes with any pair of boots confirms as such. Look for waterproof membranes and inner linings for added protection, as well as sealed seems to further keep water out.
A few additional features can help keep water out. One is a gusseted tongue. This form of tongue attaches to the boot with a triangular piece on each side, closing off spaces through which snow and water can infiltrate.
For heavier duty wear, also look for a gaiter, tubes that rise from the top of the boot and tighten around the calf. You might also see them referred to as “top closures.” Many boots come with gaiters pre-installed, but you can also purchase them separately.
Other options do exist, though. Certain material mixtures can be considered both waterproof and breathable, although they tend to be more pricey than options that aren’t. Gore-Tex is one such material, and is very likely worth it.
Warmth is essential for extended time out exploring winter’s majesty. The right insulation will keep your body heat where it belongs.
For shorter and less snow-filled jaunts, neoprene can be a good, lightweight choice. It is durable and keeps its insulating characteristics over time. The downside is that it’s not the warmest choice out there, but it may still be suitable for you.
If you’re going out hunting or plan to spend days in deep snow and cold, you will more likely want to measure your insulation by the gram. Boot insulation tends to range from 200 grams per square meter to 1,000 grams per square meter—or more! The higher the number, the denser the insulating properties of a boot will be. The tradeoff is that those boots tend to be heavier as well.
If you do a lot of standing and waiting outdoors, you will likely want to opt for a higher insulation rating. If you’re trekking about a lot, however, your movement will help keep you warm as well, and a lower rating may be more comfortable for you.
Thermal ratings are also available on most boots, but they don’t always tend to be the most reliable. Your activity level, circulation, and general health can have big influences on how warm or cold your feet might feel. Gram-based insulation ratings are a more consistent way to discover what works best for you.
The cold isn’t the only potential hazard in the winter. Slipping on ice or packed snow can be a ticket to sprains and fractures.
Having boots with good anti-slip measures can help keep you upright. Look for large and deep lugs in the rubber of the outsole. These are simply the channels and bumps that appear. A heel brake, which will stand out from the rest of the outsole, can add further protection against slippery surfaces, especially when you are going down a sloped surface.
Hardness and durability might seem like desirable factors for preventing slips, but they can actually increase your risks of falling. A relatively soft rubber will grip against slippery surfaces much better than rubber that has been mixed with carbon. Save that hybrid for times when you need durability but not as much traction control.
Yeah, But Are They Comfortable?
The best features against winter’s woes don’t really mean a whole lot in a boot if it doesn’t fit comfortably and allow you to move well. Never buy any form of footwear without trying them on—preferably using the kind of socks and orthotics you are most likely to have on when wearing them. Feel for slippage of the heel and comfortable toe room. If you spend all day in cramped or ill-fitting boots, your feet are more likely to pay for it in terms of blisters, heel pain, and other maladies.
If you would like some further advice on the best footwear for your seasonal needs, Dr. Carlos Barra, Dr. Maureen Ratchford, and the staff of Premier Podiatry Group can help! Give us a call at (814) 472-2660 to schedule an appointment.
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