Can you wear leather boots in the snow?
Well if you have never worn an expensive pair of leather boots or shoes outside in the snow I’m going to tell you what you just what to expect and how it is going to impact your footwear.
Winter leather boots might appear to be an ok idea until you go outside in the snow and ice and come back home with cold feet and an unsightly tide mark on your shoes.
Does this mean that leather is inappropriate for winter weather conditions? Well no but you have to pick the right leather and design of boots to wear otherwise you are going to ruin your footwear in the bad weather.
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Is Leather Good for Winter Shoes and Boots?
So is leather good for winter when it comes to boots and shoes?
Well, the actual answer is it depends. Yes, you might have guessed that the answer wouldn’t be as straightforward as you think.
The fact is that your average quality leather boots and shoes that you might wear in a workplace setting or for an evening out are not going to work well in the snow and are going to be damaged by salt leaving a tide mark on the material.
However, there are plenty of leather boots out there that are up to the challenge of cold weather but they have the following extras that an average boot may not.
What Kind Of Boots Should I Wear In The Snow?
Good boots to wear in the snow require a number of features that typically leather boots are lacking. These include:
Normal leather boots don’t tend to be insulated which means that your feet are going to get cold really quickly in freezing temperatures.
Leather shoes and boots often have a leather sole as well which is going to be one of the worst things you can wear in the snow and ice. Leather footwear that works for snow is going to have a sole with deep treads to prevent you from slipping.
The average leather shoe may have some waterproof protection but not enough for trudging around in deep snow. Good snow boots however will keep your feet dry even when you are walking in slush.
Typical leather boots may not hug your feet and ankles and be designed to stop snow coming in over the top and into the boot. Snow boots however are designed with extra protection to stop that cold snow from getting to your feet.
The number of features you need will very much depend on how much snow you are dealing with and for how long. In London, we get snow a few days a year and it is rarely very deep so top-end leather snow boots would be a waste of money. It is a completely different story in areas of Canada and the United States where you can get extreme snow for an extended period of time.
Let’s look at some leather boots that have been specifically designed for winter weather. Some of these will be suitable to use as full-on snow boots whilst others may help with the odd snowy day.
Best Leather Boots For Winter
Can you wear leather boots in the snow?
Well, the fact is that real leather is a great material and in the hands of the right shoe and boot manufacturers, it is possible to find some designs that work for snowy conditions.
Here are some of my favorites:
So when is a leather boot not a leather boot? When it is combined with rubber to create hybrid footwear that works well for rain and snow.
Duck Boots are fantastic boots as they combine the flexibility of leather with a rubber outsole that is built for water resistance.
These work perfectly as regular boots but they have thermal lining and great traction enabling you to wear them as snow boots.
Use these boots in the snow to keep your feet warm and dry. Just note that you may need proper snow boots if you are dealing with extremely harsh temperatures or very deep snow.
Are Timberland’s good for snow? Well, their regular boots are not insulated boots that can cope with the cold weather but they do have a design that works perfectly and that is their Timberland Men’s Snowblades design.
These are another hybrid design made from suede and rubber to help your feet stay warm and dry in the colder winter conditions.
These work well as winter boots for now because of the additional traction, the PrimaLoft insulations, and the waterproofing.
Who says that leather boots built for snow have to look unfashionable? These Kamik Women’s Snow Boots are on trend but are warm enough for cold weather and are waterproof as well.
These have a removable EVA footbed that helps to make them comfortable on your feet when you are out walking. They also have special thermal insulation which will keep your feet warm when the temperature dips.
UGG the Australian brand also does a great leather winter boot with their Adirondack design. The price tag might be a little hefty on these boots but the quality of the product is clear from the 5-star reviews.
These are 100% leather uppers with synthetic soles and are the ultimate boots to keep your feet warm and dry in the snow and ice. They have wool lining and insoles which make them toasty when the temperature starts to dip.
In fact, these great boots can withstand -32 degrees which will suit most people.
Will Leather Get Ruined in The Snow?
The fact is that unless you have bought the right type of boots or have taken time to waterproof and protect your shoes then you are going to have a problem with any form of leather footwear.
Firstly let’s start with the obvious problem when it comes to snow and that is the salt stains that you get on your shoes and boots. These marks not only look horrible but they can damage your shoe over time.
Salt stains also dry out your shoes which is not what you want with flexible leather so this needs to be removed as soon as possible. Water and vinegar rubbed over the area with a white cloth can help to remove the problem.
Next, we have the fact that whilst leather boots and shoes can cope with some moisture they aren’t really designed to be completely saturated with water. When the boots get saturated not only do you get wet feet but your boots need to be dried out. This can cause your boots to lose the oils in them that keep them supple leading to leather cracking.
Learn how to fix cracked shoes and boots in my article which shows you how to solve the problem.
Finally, the cold itself also makes your boots more brittle adding to the cracking problem. This means that winter weather can be a good way to ruin your footwear unless you have taken precautions or bought specially-made boots.
Does Leather Keep You Warm?
Most leather boots and shoes are not insulated when you buy them. This means that when you wear them in freezing temperatures for any significant period of time your feet are going to get cold extremely quickly.
Of course, you can always wear a pair of thick winter socks when you are wearing your leather boots. The problem is that sometimes warm socks are still not sufficient in very cold temperatures and snow leaving your feet freezing cold. This can be dangerous if you are outside for long periods of time.
So if you are looking for leather boots you want to wear in the snow you are going to need good insulation as well. Thinsulate, Primaloft and even sheepskin are typical materials you may find when looking for boots with good thermal properties to keep heat in.
How Do You Protect Leather Boots From Snow?
If you are going to risk wearing your leather boots outside in the snow and ice then you really need to think about protecting them from the elements.
There are a number of products that you can use that might help such as Atsko Sno-Seal 1330 Original Beeswax Waterproofing. This needs to be melted slightly and then rubbed into your boots so that you can waterproof them. You can easily do this with a hairdryer. When you have finished applying the wax rub off any excess with a clean cloth.
Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather is another good product that can help. This has a sponge applicator which makes it easier to use. This will help to repel water from your boots and shoes and protect your best leather footwear from some of the effects of the winter weather.
How Do I Stop My Boots Slipping On Ice?
The other problem with regular leather boots is that they cannot cope with icy conditions. That means if the snow on the ground has frozen solid and become an ice skating rink you are going to be one of the first people who fall over.
Good snow boots need to have deep treads or specialist outsoles to give you extra traction. This is essential if you want to be able to stay upright when you are walking around.
Ice cleats can help. These are devices that you put on over your existing winter boots which give additional traction by digging into the snow.
Yaktrax is one of the most popular brands on the market. Their alloy diamond beads enable your footwear to get the extra traction you need to keep you safe in snow and ice.
Are Leather Boots OK For Snow?
So can you wear leather boots in the snow? Well as you can see the answer is yes providing you weather leather shoes or boots that have been designed for challenging temperatures and conditions.
I strongly advise people never to wear their best boots and shoes out when it is snowing because regular leather footwear just isn’t up to the job. It is a good way to ruin your favorite boots for good.
Look for leather with specialist waterproofing, insulation and traction however and you are going to find plenty of boots that will be just perfect when you are out in the snow.
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