Before we went motorhome skiing, we considered snow boots to be a luxury / fashion item. In fact, on my last first trip before Winterised came into being, I took a pair of winter leather riding boots. They are waterproof and warm-ish and the worst I was going to put them through was a 5 minute trudge from an aprés bar to a restaurant. That’s how skiing holidays used to be for me. Fast forward to ‘new me’ who skis from a mobile chalet and I decided to reconsider my footwear.
This post is going to go through a lot of information, but the short version is that having researched snow boots for months before choosing, and then battering several different pairs on our short list in real life testing, we are fully in the ‘you get what you pay for’ camp. Our ‘forever’ boots are Sorel Glacier XTs (click here to see them on Amazon) and they are the most expensive snow boot we tried. We have never once doubted the value of that investment.
We know that these aren’t necessarily within everyone’s budget (upwards of 100 bucks – there are men’s, women’s and kids versions) and there are a huge number of boots on the market that will keep your feet warm and dry, but if you’re looking for a pair that will last as long as you’re able to strap planks or a tea-tray to your feet for fun, then they should go on your Christmas and Birthday list. The Sorel Glacier XTs are EPIC and you will have to leave them to your next of kin as they will probably outlive you.
Why We Chose Sorel Glacier XTs
Actually in the first instance, we weren’t going to take snow-specific boots at all. We thought that a pair of old Muck Boots and my leather Dublin riding boots would do the job – but a few weeks before we left, snow started falling in the UK and after realising that this set up was not going to work, James disappeared down the rabbit hole that is the internet and reappeared a few days later with a short list.
If you are ever in any doubt about the level of research that goes into selecting and testing products that we feature on Winterised, know that James is all for the following:
b) Has PhD level research skills
c) Isn’t frightened of spending on stuff that will last
The chances of you ever finding a recommendation for a anything that isn’t ‘endurance spec’ is rare. That doesn’t mean that everything we suggest is the most expensive product, it means that the theory of ‘buy cheap buy twice’ is a mantra we largely stick to. cost per use…
Because there are 4 billion pairs of snow boots on the market, we had to start somewhere. We decided that we’d start in Scandinavia, Canada and Alaska. Those folk know about cold weather gear.
We did a bit of Googling and inevitably ended up on Alaskan Homesteading YouTube channels and Mountain Rescue vlogs. This is good – what are these guys wearing? Then it happened. We stumbled across a bloke who was wading through a glacial stream up to his calves. SOLD.
James looks for credibility ‘tells’ when researching gear and this guy was all outdoors. He was wearing Filson tin trousers (if you don’t know what these are you probably don’t need them!) and sporting an epic moustache. He also looked like he would survive Armageddon with the cockroaches.
James got his first (we’ll come onto mine later) and simply picking up the box you’ll know that these babies are heavy. They are, no doubt heavier than your wellies. The ladies and kids are significantly lighter but the fact is, to get the performance that these claim (and deliver), they need to be robust. In good news, you don’t need to worry about that because you’re already mountain fit! Don’t get us wrong, it’s not like dragging bricks about – it’s just something not to be put off by.
They have a removable NASA spec space blanket inner (they callout a Meltdown Midsole whatever the heck that means) which we occasionally wore as slippers and despite thinking they’d need to come out every night to dry out, they never even get damp.
They don’t look like they offer any ankle support which is why I hesitated and originally went for a different boot in the Sorel range. You’d be surprised – the draw string barrel lock lace bit around the ankle is really supportive and the fact that there’s a good weight distribution through the sole means that any instability you might fear is completely unfounded. This is speaking as someone with chronic long-term ankle issues.
Now the important stuff. Getting them on and off. I can almost be reduced to tears trying to release my calves from the vacuum created by my wellies, so priority number one was ease of entry and speed of extraction. This is where these Sorel boots are truly amazing. It’s a simple design but the ankle support and draw string top to the boot mean that if you just want to nip out and change a gas tank or check the cable isn’t buried, you don’t need to go through some sort of expedition procedure to get out the door. Slip in, slip back out.
Plenty of space for trousers. Really, it’s far better to put your trousers inside your boots rather than outside and deal with snow skirts and gaters and stuff. There is loads of room (unless you’re an England No8) for your legs and calves and what’s more, you look badass – like you drink with Sir Ranulph Fiennes.
Matchy-Matchy. I’m pretty sure that there’s nothing that yanks James’s chain as much as me getting stuff that matches his stuff. In fact, now I know exactly how upset it makes him, I do it very deliberately. However, what he finds even more irritating than me playing outfit-snap, is me complaining about being cold. So in this instance matching gear is apparently ok. And after a lifetime of searching for one good thing about the idea of having kids (not EVER), we have found it. Baby Sorel’s. If they did dog boots we’d have those too.
If you’re like us, a motorhome or caravan ski trip involves a fair amount of walking. Whether that’s to top-up on groceries, too and from ski lifts and lockers or just general mooching and motorhome admin (emptying and refilling water containers, putting out the rubbish et al). For exactly the same reason I am crazy about Apex ski boots, I’m also nuts about Sorel.
Both James and I suffer with terrible circulation in our feet and I can add to that, the constant fear of going over on my ankle. Putting the Glacier XTs on is like shoving your feet in a duck down sleeping bag as well as being confidence inspiring. We actually went in search of glacial rivers, just to wade smugly through them!
You might expect that with all this insulation, your poor feel would melt as soon as you get to the bar. I don’t understand why, but through some science or wizardry or something, this doesn’t happen. Perhaps the fact that we always spend big on merino socks helps but either way, no soggy feet.
As you can see, total converts.
My First Sorel Boots and The Rest in The Test – What to look for in Winter Boots
My first Sorel boots (Carnival) were ace. Just not ace enough. If we’d had a drama free trip that didn’t involve being stood outside for hours on end – getting in and out of the van continuously “is it running yet?” and possibly going one size up, these boots would have done the job and they are far more fun, coming in a range of colours. However, as it is, drama follow us, so the ruby slippers were replaced with the more robust Glacier XT Women’s without a second thought.
In case you’re interested in our comparison products, here are the other boots we tested and the reasons why they didn’t win the competition to be Our Boots. They all have brilliant qualities (otherwise we wouldn’t have considered them) but their failings, in every case, made them less awesome than the Glaciers.
- Muck Boots – insufficient insulation
- Keen Winteterra Boots – Not tall enough in the leg for touring really and the structural integrity falls down under heavy use – otherwise, very good alternative
- Moon Boots – Style over function and insufficient grip (so disappointed because all I wanted was Lime Green moon Boots)
- Mountain Warehouse – lace up boots are a no – too much faffing but a significantly cheaper alternative
- Anything that’s quilted – too many stitches to be fully waterproof or windproof
These are the key things you should look for when buying a snow boot for motorhome skiing:
Budget – there’s no beating around it, this is where you start, but of you can afford to think about cost per wear and longevity, you can adjust your budget accordingly
Comfort – having given up heals unless on bridesmaid duties, I can’t understand why in this day and age their has to be a compromise on comfort in snow boots. Yes – in hiking boots and mountaineering equipment comfort is often a bonus after functionality, but not in snow boots and if Apex have taught us anything, it’s that you don’t need to be trussed up in devices of torture to have fun in the snow.
Waterproofing – This comes ahead of thermal insulation properties because once your feet are wet, it doesn’t matter what your toasty-feet rating is.
Thermal Insulation – If you pick a Sorel Glacier XT, you are obliged to go and find conditions of -74°C, just so you can test them at their limits.
Grip – Obviously, it goes without saying that if you’re on your arse, your boots have failed. Also be warey – as with winter tyres, looks can be deciving and the right compound trumps a rugged look.
Getting them on an off – neither James or I are advocates of lace-up snow boots. All they are is more admin and a place for snow and ice to collect and fuse, making it absolutely necessary to have gloves on and be sat over a bucket to get them off.
Maintaining Winter Boots
If you’re going to make an investment of this scale in your winter boots, you will want to make sure you look after them.
Ours are currently stuffed with newspaper in a cool dark place, free from rodents or anything else that lurks in the places where you keep you ski gear off season.
Here are a few tips we learned from winter warriors and have found enormously helpful and effective:
- Take any removable linings out – this seems obvious but people don’t, and it’s a place for any tiny bits of moisture to get into and do their worst
- Don’t leave them in airing cubaords or near radiaotors. They are not designed to be in warm environments and the dry heat can damage their construction and the integrity of the boots.
- Loosen any laces or fastenings. If you can remove laces, take them out, wash and dry them thoroughy – mud, grit and salt get in them and reduce their longevity. If you have any Velcro, clean out any fluff.
- Treat them with NikWax. If you have the Sorel Glacier XTs you can skip this step but when you pull out your kit, consider treating your boots with NikWax Fabric and Leatherproof (Various volumes available on Amazon). It’s incredible. It’s an old fashioned British brand with an eye on all things ecological and sustainable.
We hope you found this useful. As you can see we’re big fans of this boot and the fact that the design has gone unchanged for many years is testament to it’s excellent performance.
If it aint broke.