The snow has finally arrived, and it’s time to go out for some pleasant winter walks (or perhaps dreaded winter walks)! Which also makes it the perfect time for part two of Feet First Toronto’s Walk Into Winter series! Winter boots come with many excellent features focusing on insulation, traction, weather resistance and more, so it’s tough to limit our top picks to just one blog article.
Finding the right winter boot often involves a little give-and-take. For example, if you want something that will protect you in deep snow and blizzards, you may need to compromise a bit on versatility, looks, and the weight of the shoe. If you want something super stylish that will easily pair with your favourite outfits, you may need to give up some of the warmth factor. That’s why it’s important to think about where you will be wearing your boots, and what your specific winter needs are. From there, you can find something that best suits your activities.
That’s why, like last time, we’re featuring some classic winter personas for different winter activities. These personas range from the person who excitedly waits for winter to arrive, to those who can’t wait for it to end. All you have to do is find the persona that suits you best, and we’ll cover the rest!
We’ll highlight our favourite boots from some of the best brands and tell you why you’ll love them. We’ll also touch on some of their downsides that might make you want to consider another alternative. Regardless of what way you’re leaning, you can rest assured that Feet First Clinic is here to help you find the options that work best for you and your winter activities.
These fantastic boots are just a glimpse of what our one-stop shop has to offer!
The Winter Dodger: Sorel Lennox Chelsea
Why You’ll Love It
Let’s be honest; plenty of people dislike winter. Perhaps you’re looking to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible? The cold air and wet snow might bother you, and you prefer to stick with hopping in and out of the car without taking walks during the winter. If this sounds like you, a simple boot like the Sorel Lennox Chelsea is a practical choice. Sorel is known for its weatherproofing technology and constructing boots that tackle seasonality for when you do need to go outside, while still being stylish and versatile.
Unfortunately, you can’t totally avoid the outdoors and are going to have to brave the elements from time to time. Fortunately, the Sorel Lennox Chelsea is great for wet winter weather to get you through those times when you need to trek through the streets of Toronto. The moulded-PU like EVA footbed cushions and helps absorb shock for a gentle walking experience, while the waterproof leather upper keeps your feet from getting soaked. The outside is made from moulded rubber, allowing for good traction and reducing the risk of slipping accidents for those who aren’t used to winter.
Got orthotics? No problem! This boot also has a removable footbed, which lets you easily insert your custom orthotics or specialty insole-of-choice. All in all, with the Sorel Lennox Chelsea, winter dodgers can get all the winter protection they need, while giving you the timeless style you can expect from a sleek, classic winter Chelsea boot.
- While it works well in light rain and snow, the Sorel Lennox Chelsea is not good for heavy and deep snow.
- Other boots may be more supportive when it comes to foot pain management.
- The winter dodger likely won’t mind, but other boots are better for frigid temperatures and winter exploration.
The Winter Fashionista: Ara Liverpool Liberty
Why You’ll Love It
Style meets practicality with the Liverpool Liberty boot from Ara. The Liberty is made with a waterproof GORE-TEX upper and interior membrane, which is unique for numerous reasons. GORE-TEX stands out for its ability to stop wet weather from getting in while letting perspiration out, so your feet stay consistently dry. And keeping your feet dry is essential to keeping your feet warm in cold weather.
So why GORE-TEX is one of the best waterproof fabrics? It’s primarily due to the construction of the fabric, which has three layers: a standard outer layer and two separate GORE-TEX layers. Explain That Stuff notes that the two layers have different functions. One is a hydrophilic, thin inner membrane that allows perspiration from your feet to escape without allowing moisture from wet weather to enter.
The other layer is a thicker layer often made from Teflon. This layer is hydrophobic, meaning it repels water regardless of the weather’s persistence or the amount of rain/snow. Knowing your boots are waterproof is excellent news for the winter fashionista. There’s nothing worse than going out for the evening and a sudden rainfall or snowfall ruining the night by drenching your feet. Wet feet can be a recipe for disaster, not only because it’s uncomfortable and makes your feet cold, but also because it can lead to waterlogged and wrinkly skin, blister formation, cracked heels, athlete’s foot and fungal infections.
In addition to being waterproof, Ara is known for being more supportive than other brands without sacrificing style. The Liberty includes their innovative HighSoft technology, which contains a soft upper, a flexible outsole, a padded insole and a comfy foam insert. These super sleek boots also have a removable footbed for those who wear orthotics. To top it off, the slight heel and durable rubber sole provide a stable walking experience that will give you more grip on slippery surfaces than your stereotypical dress boot. All together, the Liverpool Liberty is perfect for stylish Torontonians looking to hit the town, while keeping their feet dry, comfortable, and supported.
And for those wanting something even dressier with a little extra height, Ara also makes a similar boot with a block heel.
- Other boots may be warmer, with some offering more protection in extreme winter temperatures.
For The Everyday Commuter: Sorel’s Whitney II Plus
Why You’ll Love It
A bulky boot can be a pain for the out-and-about Toronto dweller who needs to regularly commute to work or school. With Sorel’s Whitney II Short Lace Plus you can enjoy protection with a lightweight feeling during your winter activities. This fun, sporty winter boot comes with a cozy microfleece lining. It also has 200g of insulation, which refers to its thickness, not the total weight. Thus, there are no worries about added bulkiness.
Thanks to the nylon upper and PU (polyurethane) coated synthetic overlays, the Whitney II is also a solid weather-resistant choice when faced with unexpected city weather. The durable moulded rubber soles – something Sorel is notorious for – are fantastic for traction on the wet, slick pavement when you’re in a hurry. It also has a removable footbed, a beloved feature for people who need to wear orthotics. The pull tab comes in handy for the everyday commuter, allowing you to put them on without a fuss, while the laces let you loosen and tighten them to your preferred fit.
- The laces are not waterproof.
- Other brands, like Mephisto, offer more supportive features.
- As a short boot, the Whitney II Short Lace Plus may not be ideal for deep snow
The Winter Explorer: Sorel Whistler
Why You’ll Love It
Some people absolutely love winter and count down the days until it arrives. If this sounds like you, you might want to stick with Sorel. Embracing winter means investing in an exceptionally warm and rugged winter boot. With its cozy wool lining, the Sorel Whistler can keep your feet warm in temperatures as low as -32 degrees Celsius. You’ll need something that traps warmth if you’re heading up north for a crisp winter adventure, as those temperatures can dip much lower than Toronto’s.
The Sorel Whistler also comes with a removable EVA foam footbed. This footbed also helps lock in warmth and offers shock absorption qualities, reducing the chances of experiencing joint and muscle strain. It’s also removable, so you can use your custom orthotics or high-quality insoles. The Whistler also provides excellent protection from the elements with the OutDry waterproof construction and full-grain leather materials.
- A reasonably supportive boot, but it falls short compared to other brands, like Mephisto or Ara.
- It’s discontinued! So get it while you can!
Those With Foot Pain Concerns: Mephisto Opera-Tex
Why You’ll Love It
From Mephisto’s ALLROUNDER series comes the exceptionally supportive Opera-Tex boot for people who struggle with painful foot conditions. This Mephisto boot can keep you warm in -10 degrees C temperatures, which makes it great for people with mobility concerns looking to stay close to Toronto for the winter. They’re also well insulated and waterproof. When it comes to sticking close to the GTA (with occasional ventures beyond), The Opera-Tex is a good choice as it’s also appropriate for moderate to deep snow levels.
The Opera-Tex includes Mephisto’s classic removable anatomical footbed, featuring an ACTIVE SUSPENSION shock absorber system. Shock absorption is vital as it reduces the adverse effects that walking can have on people with foot conditions. Without ample shock absorption, the “shock” from the impact of the ground can strain the interconnected knees, hips, lower back, feet, and ankles. The footbed is also removable, which can be a priority for people who need to wear custom orthotics or insoles.
- Not suitable for extreme winter temperatures below -10 degrees Celsius
- It can be clunky and heavy, and may not pair nicely with every outfit. You may therefore need to bring an extra pair of shoes to wear indoors if you’re going somewhere nice.