A good pair of winter hiking boots will have several things going for them, the chief one being that they are waterproof. Damp, cold feet is a recipe for disaster when out on a long hike, and above all else, you should be keeping your feet dry.
Typically you have two options for keeping your feet dry. One is a leather winter hiking boot. Leather makes a good waterproof layer, provided you do a minimal amount of upkeep. The other option you will typically see is synthetic boots with a GoreTex liner. GoreTex is good because it tends to breath quite a bit. Sometimes you see leather boots with a GoreTex liner, which can get heavy but is a good bit of redundancy to have when weather conditions get bad.
Beyond waterproofness, your winter hiking boots should fit well, because foot problems can always get bad fast on a long hike. Winter hiking boots should also have quality construction and quality materials. With some hiking gear it's ok to go cheap, but with winter hiking boots you should spare your feet a pair of boots that will have to be returned after a couple goes at the winter hiking trails.
List of Winter Hiking BootsHere's a short list of winter hiking boots to peruse. I tried to pick a few highly rated boots in a few different categories to give you an idea of what's out there.
- Salamon Beluha WP LTR Winter Boots - These winter hiking boots from footwear manufacturer Salamon are good all around boot for the really cold conditions. They are waterproof but also include an insulating layer, so neither water nor the cold will get to your feet. If you head in to cold conditions, socks wont cut it, and it really does pay to have some extra insulation courtesy of your winter hiking boots. Here are a similar pair of women's winter hiking boots, also from Salamon.
- Asolo TPS 520 GV Hiking Boots - These are a great example of a sturdy, no-nonsense pair of leather winter hiking boots. They are well constructed and come with an additional GoreTex liner, so you can be sure your feet will stay dry. They also seem to get a lot of points with reviewers for being sturdy and durable, so you can be sure they will outlast at least one season of winter hiking. A similar pair of women's winter hiking boots.
- Treksta Evolution Mid GTX - These winter hiking boots from Treksta managed to win the 2011 Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice Award, so you know they're doing something right. They're a lightweight, trail running style boot with a GoreTex liner to keep your feet dry while pounding out trail. If you're looking for a boot that can be worn year round, this is probably the winter hiking boot for you. Here is a similar women's winter hiking boot from Salewa.