Warm, dry, kids are happy kids.
Okay, that may not always be true, but I promise, that wet freezing cold kids are NOT HAPPY! When you buy boots for your kids (or any outdoor gear for that matter), you want to make sure that you get something that it great quality and hopefully doesn’t require you to eat ramen noodles for a month to afford. No one wants to get out on an adventure and then discover that their kids gear is inadequate and they’re unhappy!
Lucky you, we’re here to take the guess-work out of winter snow boots and help you find the BEST winter boots around. We tested 5 pairs of winter boots and have some great advice and recommendations for you to make the best purchase you can. We’ve rated everything on a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best:
I scored these boots at a thrift store for only $4. They looked like they were in good condition, but I was skeptical at best. I mean, I love a good deal, but would they stand up to the test (especially since I had no idea if they were well cared for in their previous life). They did not disappoint at all.
Features: The Sorel Cub is a boot that is easy on and off. With elastic securing the foot from the outside, they’re pretty straightforward. This is great for getting feet in, but also means that a little must be sacrificed as far as security. Yes, they will come off easily if stuck in a snow bank or if your kid is running around like a crazy person (not that mine are ever that way…).
Waterproofing 5/5: When I initially poured water on these boots, I was worried because it appeared that the fabric was soaking it up, however, none of it ever got inside of the boot. I think that I left them submerged for at least 5 minutes and they were still dry as a bone. Considering that waterproofing is usually the first thing to go on shoes, I was amazed.
Warmth 5/5: Chloe has been wearing these boots in all sorts of conditions and has never had cold feet this winter. In fact, because of the many milder days that she wore them, we actually have had the opposite problem of hot feet. To balance it all out, make sure that your kids are wearing wool socks to keep them dry even if their feet start to sweat.
Price 5/5: These boots originally retailed for around $55, however it appears that Sorel did not make this model this year (But check out similar boots of theirs here and here on sale for under $30). Right now you can pick up a pair of Cubs at Sierra Trading Post for only $38 here.
Overall 5/5: These boots are fantastic. They are easy to put on and take off, keep feet totally dry, are warm, and as far as boots go they are pretty reasonably priced. To top it all off, I know that they will meet the test of multiple kids since they already have!
I was introduced to Northside this winter and was immediately intrigued by their fun colors and low prices. To top it all off, they are the #1 selling kids boot on Amazon, so I figured they were probably great.
Features: Similar to the Sorel Cub, they have elastic on the outside of them to make them easy on and off (the elastic is adjustable with velcro!). As I’ve already mentioned, this is a good and bad thing!
Waterproofing 2/5: Because this boot has a rubber bottom, water stayed out of the bottom part well. However, after less than a minute, the inside of the boots were starting to get wet from water soaking through the fabric upper. If your kid is prone to puddle jumping in the melting snow, or will be out playing hard for long periods of time in lots of snow, these are not going to cut it.
Warmth 4/5: I was amazed that these boots are comfort rated to -25 degrees F. Mason has worn these all over the place with no complaints of cold or of feet that are too hot. However, the liners are medium weight so I’m still unsure how they will do in extreme cold, despite the claims (it’s been a pretty mild winter).
Price 5/5: You can purchase the Northside Frosty boots on Amazon for only $25 here.
Traction 1/5: Okay, here’s where I ran into a serious problem with these boots. On the sole, the outer part of the tread is rubber, while the inner section appears to be felt or some other similar type of fiber. As soon as Mason stepped into the snow, a giant clump of snow would stick to the bottom of the felt section. Yes, this means that the traction becomes essentially worthless and your child is just walking around on a snowball. For me, this is a deal breaker! If I can’t trust that my kids are not going so slip and fall, I wouldn’t buy them.
Overall 2/5: The traction problem was a deal breaker for me. I wanted to love these boots, I really did. I love that the are such a good price and easily available on amazon. However, they simply do not perform and need to come up with a different sole in order for them to be good for kids. The price and warmth are great, but again, the waterproofing is lacking. Overall, it makes me think that saving a few bucks is not worth it in the big picture.
A few seasons ago, we were at Grandmas and a spring snowstorm hit. Ill-prepared for this delightful surprise, I did what any parent would do in my situation – I went to Wal-Mart. I scored these no-name boots for only $5 on clearance (I think that the original price was $15). They’ve been worn a lot and I think that they offer a good comparison for this test.
Features: These boots have a velcro adjusting strap on the front. While this can make them a little trickier to put on that those boots with just elastic, they also provide a more snug fit, so I think it’s a great feature.
Waterproofing 1/5: Let me preface this by saying that these boots are 3 seasons old (I bought them pretty big to begin with and we have lots of kids…). The bottom rubber section of the boots was great at keeping water out. However, when submerged in water, these boots started leaking through in about 20 seconds. Yep, that means that if your kid jumps in one puddle, their feet will be soaking wet for the rest of the day – BOO! Also, I have noticed over the years that they also get wet inside when just playing in the snow. Totally a 1/5.
Warmth 3/5: These boots are not bad, but also not great. I do remember a few times that Mason complained of cold feet while wearing these boots, but that was rare (and he almost never complains about being cold). Probably fine for 80% of the times that you send your kids out to play in the winter.
Price 5/5: For $5 it’s hard not to pick them up and throw them into the shopping cart. At $15, I’d think a little more about it but would likely still grab a pair in a pinch.
Overall 2/5: A great boot in a pinch, but not something that can perform as well as kids need. They simply are not warm enough or dry enough to go out on big adventures or do anything beyond the backyard (and even then they will need a day or 2 to dry out EACH TIME). Wal-Mart does what it does best with these boots, and gives you a great price, even if the quality is lacking.
These boots are seriously great. At first glance, I think that I overlooked them because of their simplicity, but they are amazing. We’ve been putting them to the test and have yet to find an area where they didn’t perform with flying colors.
Features: The Rover II has a rubber bottom with a neoprene type of top. They are more snug fitting than the other boots that I’ve mentioned here as well. That means that they take a minute longer to put on, but once they are on they are staying put and not going to fall off. This is an excellent option especially for smaller kids who need to put their own shoes on, but can’t figure out the laces of more complex boots.
Waterproof 5/5: These boots are the most waterproof that I have found. When I poured water on them, it simply beaded up and rolled off. It’s no shocker that over 5 minutes in the sink and not a drop soaked through to the inside!
Warmth 5/5: Somehow these boots offer an amazing warmth balance. Chloe has never complained about cold feet in them (despite some single digit days), yet her feet are never sweaty even if she throws them on for a trip to the store without socks. I don’t know how they did it, but these boots are amazing for both freezing and warm temperatures.
Price 4/5: These boots are on the bottom end of the expensive spectrum. I found them on amazon for about $50 here, but in most of my searching, it looks like they will set you back about $65. The bonus is that they are a 3-season boot and I have no doubt that they can be used for MANY kids.
Overall 5/5: These boots are amazing. I’d really call them the ultimate 3-season boot. They can easily go from building snow forts to puddle jumping and mud-pies without skipping a beat. I’d buy these in a heartbeat.
You may remember us reviewing these boots earlier this year here. Well months have gone by and not much has changed (in a good way). We still love them and they’re still working great.
Features: This is the only boot that we reviewed that have laces and I LOVE them. The bungee laces give the most secure fit of all of the boots, yet are simple to adjust even with mittens on. They are a little more complicated to get on and off than the other boots I mentioned, but still they are not hard. This is a fantastic boot for more active adventures like snowshoeing!
Waterproof 5/5: Just as KEEN claims, these boots are totally waterproof. Mason has never gotten his feet wet while wearing these and after 5 minutes of dunking in the sink, they were as dry as a bone.
Warmth 5/5: These boots are really warm. I think that because they offer such a secure fit, they are even warmer. We’ve yet to hear a complaint about the cold, but on several times, Mason has worn these to school and come home with sweaty feet. As with the Sorel Cub, make sure your kids are wearing wool socks so that if they do start to sweat, their feet don’t stay wet and get cold. A boot being too warm is actually kind of a nice problem to have!
Price 3/5: These boots are not cheap. They retail at $80 (however, I just found some on clearance at amazon for under $40 here). You get what you pay for and in this case, you get a premium boot at a premium price. Hard to swallow, but made easier by the fact that these will be a great pair to pass down.
Overall 5/5: These boots are amazing. They are warm, will keep your kids dry and are very secure, making them a great fit for active winter activities.
Our recommendations: It’s clear to see that there is a direct correlation between price and quality, as far as kids boots are concerned. If I were buying boots for my kids, here would be my picks:
#1 - Rover II by Muck – Awesome 3-season boot that is secure, warm and waterproof. I love it when I can use one pair of shoes for multiple conditions, so these are fantastic!
#2 – SOREL Cub – Warm, easy on/off and can be found at a great discount
#3 – KEEN Basin WP – An amazing and secure boot, but a little pricey for my budget.
Truthfully, I wouldn’t recommend buying the Northside boots (because of the snow traction problem) or a pair from a discount store like Wal-Mart. It’s just not worth it to have kids who are wet or cold or who are slipping all over the place (all ways that will make your winter adventures instantly less fun).
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