Let’s face it: it’s chilly out there. Temperatures are dropping, days are icy and nights are frigid. But you’re no dummy—you know to gear up properly before venturing out into the cold. Before picking out the perfect pair of boots for you or your little ones, however, it’s always a good idea to be informed on just what all the cold ratings on winter boots actually mean. It’s not always as straightforward as you might think!
Understanding Cold Ratings from Western Chief
The temperature ratings of cold weather products are used to determine if the product itself can withstand a specific temperature range. These ranges vary from product to product. Boots are tested in a freezer set at a specific temperature (often well below 0 degrees F), then flexed several times to stimulate walking or running. The boot is then inspected for damage: if the boot withstands the test without cracking, splitting, or separating, the temperature rating is earned.
Interestingly, the temperature rating you find on any cold-weather products is meant to advertise that the item can withstand those temperatures, not that the wearer will remain warm wearing the product in those temperatures. As cold is subjective to each person – differing based on metabolism rates, how snug or loose one’s boot fits, and what type of socks are worn – there is no reliable metric for item’s “warmness.”
A solid pair of snow boots is still a must when the weather turns, but there are a few other tips to keep in mind to help stave off the chill:
Get the Right Fit
Your boots should allow you to wear a quality winter or wool sock and be able to wiggle your toes easily. In a correct-fit, there shouldn’t be any pressure points on your toes or widest part of your foot, but you should be able to walk at your normal pace, without your foot slipping inside the boot.
Wear the Right Sock
Start with a good-quality pair of winter socks. Look for wool or synthetic material blends, as those socks tend to breathe best without sacrificing warmth. Wearing a thin thermal or sweat-wicking sock (ideally one meant to be layered) underneath a quality winter, wool-blend, or wool sock will not add thickness, but it can provide extra warmth. It will also keep feet dry, as excess sweat can often make someone feel cold in the snow. Simply put, wet feet means cold feet.
Use Toe Warmers
If you haven’t used them before, toe warmers are single-use inserts that can be placed above or below toes and typically stay warm for up to 6 hours. Overuse can make feet sweat, but they can be great in a pinch!
Dry Between Uses
Allow your boots to fully air out and dry between uses, if you can. Take out any liners and insoles to let them dry on their own, since moisture will invariably build up inside as you wear them.
That’s right: move! When things start getting REALLY cold, your extremities can lose heat quickly. Jog in place, jump, stretch, dance—whatever you like. The extra blood flow from a heightened heartrate will help keep your feet warm.