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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 winter snow boots for 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!
Throughout the years, we’ve pretty much tried EVERYTHING when it comes to uncovering the best winter boots for kids. Boots from Wal-mart, expensive name brand boots, second-hand winter snow boots from the thrift store…and just about everything in-between. In this kids winter boot review I’ll share what kids boots have been amazing, which ones have been horrible, and ultimately share with you what I think are the best winter snow boots for kids.
(Make sure to also check out our article on the best winter coats for kids.)
Below you’ll find reviews that have taken us YEARS to compile. Many of the kids snow boots that we mention below have been used by our family for several years and some have been worn by 4 of our kids, so this is really comprehensive (Including our favorite winter boots for toddlers and infants down at the bottom).
Below, we tested 6 pairs of winter snow boots for kids (7 if you include the toddler winter boots) and have some great advice and recommendations for you to be able to buy the best winter boots for kids.
We’ve rated everything on a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best:
Best Winter Snow Boots For Kids
Last season 4 of our 5 kids wore the Merrell Snow Quest Lite boots and I fell in love with them. Feet were always warm and dry, and best of all, after a super long and cold winter (where they were worn daily), they are all still looking almost new, so they’re really durable!
This year, we were so impressed with Merrell’s boots that our entire family is wearing their winter boots and all our kids are wearing the Snow Quest Lite 2.0 boots.
Features: They are super easy to get on and off, and since they have an elastic bungee closure at the top, they stay on really well too. Our kids have worn them hiking, snowshoeing and even at recess playing. They’re not as snug of a fit as the KEEN Hoodoo, but they are significantly easier to put on (which is a big win for MOM). If you’re looking for the best snow boots boys or the best snow boots for girls, Merrell has several different colors available for both genders.
What are the differences between the original Snow Quest Boots and the 2.0 version? As far as performance goes, these boots are almost identical and have exceeded my expectations. The 2.0 version has a bungee that tightens up the front of the boot, and the older model only tightened at the top cuff. The Snow Quest Lite 2.0 also does not have a removable liner.
Waterproofing 5/5: The lower part of these boots is molded all as one piece, so everything below the ankle was always dry. Surprisingly, the nylon uppers were amazingly waterproof as well (my boys even wore them out puddle jumping several times and never soaked them through). We did have a couple of times where the inside of the boot got wet from being left outside by the door, and thankfully they have a removable liner (not in the 2.0 version) which was really easy to take out and dry quickly.
Warmth 5/5: Technically, the Merrell Snow Quest boots are rated to be warm down to -40 degrees and the Snow Quest 2.0 is rated to -35 degrees. While I hope to never be in -35 degree weather to test that out, we did have plenty of days last year where the temperatures were around 0 F and our kids all stayed warm, including our 1-year-old (I know because I always took his boots off for him and his feet never felt cold). Of course, we’re always careful to wear wool socks since that makes a big difference in
Price 5/5: For a boot with as many features as this boot has, the price is exceptional.
Overall 5/5: The Merrell Kids Snow Quest Boot is outstanding. It has lots of great features, is really well built, and both the original and 2.0 boot are great choices.
If you’re looking for a boot that’s not only warm, but incredibly waterproof, then Muck boots might be the perfect match for you. We’ve been wearing Muck boots in our family for about 6 years, and they’re so waterproof that my kids also wear them as rain boots.
Features: The Muck Hale has a rubber bottom with a 4mm neoprene top. They are more snug fitting than the other boots than a moon boot style snow boot, but still pull on. 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 want to put their own shoes on, but can’t figure out the laces or Velcro of other boots.
Waterproof 5/5: Muck 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 10 minutes in the sink and not a drop soaked through to the inside!
Warmth 5/5: Somehow these boots offer an amazing warmth balance. My kids have worn these out to play in the snow for years and never complain about cold feet despite being outside on many single digit days (good wool socks make a big difference too – these are our favorite wool socks). Surprisingly, the kids feet are never sweaty in these boots, even if they throw them on for a quick trip to the store without socks in the springtime. 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, but worth every bit of money!
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 again in a heartbeat.
Note: We originally owned the Muck Rover boot, which is an older version of what Muck now sells as the Hale boot.
A few years ago, we reviewed a similar KEEN boot, the KEEN Basin, and still, 7 years later it’s performing wonderfully. A new updated version of KEENS winter boot is the kids HooDoo Boot. The HooDoo is technically a snow boot for girls, though if you are looking for boys snow boots, check out these winter boots for boys also made by KEEN.
Features: This is the only boot that we reviewed that have laces and I LOVE them. Think of them as a cross between a snow boot and a hiking boot. They provide lots of support and structure, but go high on the leg so to provide good coverage and prevent snow from getting in.
Since these girls snow boots have laces, they are a bit trickier to get on and off, especially compared to a pull on boot like the Muck Boots. The advantage though, is that they stay on tighter, so they’re very well suited to snowshoeing and other activities that are very active.
Waterproof 5/5: These boots are made of waterproof leather on the bottoms and the uppers are treated with a waterproof and breathable coating.
Warmth 5/5: KEEN boots are really warm. I think that because they offer such a secure fit, they are even warmer than some other boots because there’s not a lot of room for cold air to be trapped inside. In fact, KEEN winter boots can sometimes be too hot and our kids have gotten sweaty feet on days where they wear them all day long. Make sure your kids are wearing good wool socks so that if they do start to sweat, their feet don’t stay wet and get cold. I highly recommend these wool socks which are great for skiing and last for YEARS (we have several pairs that have lasted for 7 years and multiple kids) which pair great with these KEEN snow boots for girls.
A boot being too warm is actually kind of a nice problem to have, especially for kids who always feel COLD!
Price 3/5: It is true that you get what you pay for with your outdoor gear. KEEN Winter boots are not cheap but they are great quality. Like I mentioned earlier, we’ve had our KEEN Basin Boots for 7 years and are about to pass them down to their 4th kid.
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. Remember to also check out these boys winter boots as well.
I scored a pair of Sorel Cub snow 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 kids run around like crazy in the snow like mine do! Basically, they are great for regular backyard play, but not suitable for more intense winter activities like snowshoeing or winter hiking.
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: While I did get a great deal on these at the thirst store, the regular price of the Sorel Cub is really great, and especially when you consider the quality, it’s a bargain.
Overall 4/5: 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. The main disadvantage to these boots is that they don’t stay on as well as others, so they’re not as versatile in the winter.
I was introduced to Northside a few winters ago and was immediately intrigued by their fun colors and low prices. To top it all off, they were the #1 selling kids boot on Amazon, so I figured they were probably great…that really couldn’t have been farther from the truth!
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 1/5: 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. I don’t even think they’d survive one school recess before becoming soaked!
Warmth 4/5: I was amazed that these boots are comfort rated to -25 degrees F. Our oldest wore 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 (we wore them during a mild Colorado winter).
Price 5/5: You can purchase the Northside Frosty boots on Amazon for a great deal…but don’t let the price fool you. Keep reading below for their major flaw!
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 kids step 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 1/5: 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 really poor. These boots are proof that saving a few bucks is absolutely NOT WORTH IT!
Wal-Mart Special Snow Boots
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.
Best winter snow boots for toddlers and babies
Truthfully, picking the best toddler snow boots is really hard. Mostly it’s hard because most snow boots for toddlers are really horrible. Either they don’t stay on their cubby ankles well, or they’re impossible to put on. However, I can fully stand behind two baby and toddler winter boots that have worked well for us.
Amazingly, the best snow boots for boys and girls also happen to be some of the best snow boots for toddlers. Last year our 18 month old wore these and they were incredible. These toddler winter boots stayed on no matter what we did (thankfully they cinch up with a Velcro tab) and always kept our baby’s feet warm.
The smallest size they come in is a size 5, though we recommend going a size up for winter boots for toddlers. Truthfully, our son wore about a size 5.5T last winter and the size 7 worked fine for him. If you have a very active toddler and are planning on doing a lot of walking, sledding, and playing in the snow, I highly recommend these winter boots for toddlers.
Also, like we mentioned over and over with the older kids boots, wearing good wool socks is critical for kids in the winter. We like these toddler wool socks because they don’t bunch up and stay up all day long (which is so HARD to find in toddler socks!)
We discovered Stonz winter boots a few years ago when our youngest was just a baby. The concept is incredibly simple, and they’re just about the easiest boots to put on that we’ve ever seen. They’re essentially a rectangle that you slide on your toddler or baby’s foot and then cinch up to keep tight. Stonz toddler boots can be worn over regular shoes or with their insulated liner which is a must have for winter. Personally, I think they are the best winter boot for babies, though I don’t love them as much for toddlers since I don’t think they’re great for active toddlers (I like my winter boots for toddlers to have a real sole). Also, make sure to check out these styles of winter boots for baby girls.
Our recommendations for winter snow boots for kids:
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 all over again, here would be my picks:
#1 – Merrell Kids Snow Quest Lite – It’s affordable and really well built. Waterproof, warm, and secure which is exactly what I look for in a kids snow boot.
#2 – Muck Hale – 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!
#3 – KEEN HooDoo – An amazing and secure boot, but can sometimes be too warm and a bit tricky to put on for kids.
#4 Sorel Cub – Warm, easy on/off and can often be found at a great discount online.
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 (both ways that will make your winter adventures instantly less fun).