A Step Ahead: Winter Boots 101
By Ralph Napolitano, Jr., DPM, CWSP, FACFAS
Winter is really here in central Ohio, albeit a little late. I think we would all agree that we’ve seen some rather mild meteorological activity till now. Spring will come, but not tomorrow, so we have to face the cold, ice and snow (and rain?) before Spring has sprung. Proper footwear in Winter is a must. Moreover, that must in Winter boots. A truly good pair of winter boots will cost you, so you want to make sure you buy ones that will protect your feet for a while. Here are the factors to keep in mind when comparing your options.
Consider these four important parameters when selecting your new pair of boots:
- Fit: If buying online, make sure the boots are true-to-fit, so you don’t have to reorder them in another size. The supportiveness of the boot is key to them fitting your feet well and being comfortable even after hours of wear. When trying on boots just like other shoes, do this towards the end of the day to be sure your boots will accommodate the natural swelling that happens to feet when you’re on them for several hours. If you wear inserts or orthotics, it goes without saying that your boots need to fit well with those in place. Also, be sure to try on your boots with the socks you’ll be wearing most of the time. Traditional, thicker socks are the usual choice for winter boots, but newer high tech materials and merino wool blends are thinner and can insulate just as well.
- Waterproofing: Your boots should be water resistant and tall enough to keep rain and melted snow out. A waterproof spray is another option and is a close second alternative. So if you have a favorite traditional style leather work boot you plan to wear in the snow, spray away. Just know your feet, and your boots will not be completely immune to truly wet conditions for significantly extended periods.
- Insulation: Retaining heat is key to keeping your feet warm. The old “wear two pairs” of socks trick can work, but your base pair should be thinner and made from moisture wicking material. Constriction is bad and can decrease circulation which is a big no-no in cold environments. The safe bet is to get insulated boots with a robust enough cold temperature rating, so your feet stay toasty without the added second pair of socks.
- Traction: Look for boots with enough traction to keep you on your feet even on icy sidewalks or powdery snow. Think about snow tires and what they do. Enough said.
Hey, nice boots!