Guide: Some boots to see you through the winter

For me winter means boots. I know some people feel it appropriate to stride through the cold and dark, over the ice and snow, wearing the same flimsy, slippery and chilly footwear they use the rest of the year. Around here though we see winter as an opportunity to boot up. And boots must be real boots, no zips and no inappropriate soles will be accepted.

What makes a boot a winter boot? The basic concept is one of ruggedness. They have to be usable when when it’s bastard cold, almost pitch dark, the laces and hooks are frozen, you’ve got bags of shopping and those half a dozen mugs of tea are suddenly back to haunt you. That may be the worst case scenario, but you get the drift. A pair of Converse won’t cut it (too cold!), neither will the typical christie-soled Red Wings (the sole is rubbish on snow and ice) or even a pair of those duck-boot things you see about (too plain ugly).

Don’t forget though, good boots are only half the solution, you wan’t some good wool socks as well.

So, what have I come across that would be good?

[Links to retailers after the description, for your convenience]



These are what I have been mainly wearing the past two winters. Yes, they are Red Wing, but very rarely recognised as such, as they’re not the mic-toe christie-soled variant that are most popular. These are pure ruggedness, from the soft Vibram commando sole through the Goodyear welted construction, to the simple appearance and the wool lining. 4 eyelets and three hooks make it easy to get on and off. Available in black and brown. Pure business. Made in the USA. [END]


Solovair Chestnut 6-eyelet Derby Boot


I’ve been wearing a pair of these quite a bit this Autumn and I like them a lot. Not dissimilar to Dr Martens of old, in both looks and in being practical no-nonsense footwear. Not surprising really, as Solovair used to make Dr Martens. These have soles similar to the old DM soles, both grippy and comfy. The soles are Goodyear Welted to the full-grain leather uppers, with a leather insole. Available in black, burgundy and chestnut, and several soles. 6 eyelets. Reasonably prices as well. Made by NPS Shoes in Northamptonshire, UK. [Solovair]



Shackleton have teamed up with traditional British boot and shoe maker Cheaney for the “Boss” boot. A combination of a classic Dainite sole Goodyear welted to an upper of Italian grain leather and Maracca suede. And fully lined in shearling for comfort and cosiness. Looks magnificently rugged and stylish at the same time. Nice and tall as well, great for wading in snow. Boss, indeed. 5 eyelets and three hooks are practical. Handcrafted in Northamptonshire, UK. [Shackleton]




Every time I think about doing a guide to boots I bring out this one. Or one almost just like it. That rugged country brogue boot. I’m really not sure what Mark McNairy brings to the table here, as these are an identikit classic brogue boot. Commando soles Goodyear welted to the full leather uppers, brogue detailing and 7 eyelets. A bit tricky to get on and off, I suspect, but great once you’re stomping around. Available in a number of variants. Made in Britain. [END]





Another boot I tend to include is the classic Fracap hiking boot. This time though I’ve included the intriguing ripple sole. I can only imagine the traction this sole gives in medium firm snow. With the ripple sole Goodyear welted to the leather upper and the great leather lining, this makes for a splendid boot. 5 eyelets and two hooks make it easy to get this quite low boot on and off. [END]




And in from the left field comes something of an outside. Classically British, Goodyear welted, Kainite-Style soles, brogue patterns and well… shiny! It was the shiny leather that made me notice them, to be honest. And they’re quite reasonably priced. And they have branded eyelets, if that makes a difference. They’re unlikely to be made in the UK though. [END]




You probably saw this one coming as well, right? You can’t do a list of premium gentlemans boots without including a variant of the Yuketen Maine Guide style. This is one the classic reworkings of the American hunting boot. I wanted a variant with a decent winter sole though and this one has the requisite commando sole. Again, Goodyear welted to the leather uppers. This time in chromexcel leather. Hand stitched occasion (aka “moc”) toe. Leather laces, leather lining and excellent details. Leather laces and 7 eyelets make it hard to get on and off though. They come with their own shoe bag. Quality boots. Handmade in the USA. [END]




Occasionally I run a boot or shoe by my friend Scratch, asking his considered opinion, or in many cases triggering a rant. Scratch is particular about his shoes, and this one falles heavily into the category he describes as “Mr Noisy” (I should probably write that in capital letters to really ram the point home). For all intents and purposes this is another repeat of the very classic country brogue boot. Commando sole, Goodyear welted, leather uppers and brogue markings. Check check check. This one was reptile style leather though, combined with smooth calf leather. You can just se yourself stomping around being Mr Noisy, right? 7 eyelets means not easy to get on and off. [END]


Alden Indy Boot


I’ll leave you with another American vintage workbook classic. The “Indy”boots got their name after Harrison Ford wanted to use his personal pair in the “Indiana Jones films”. Normally I wouldn’t have included these in a Winter boot guide, as they are rare to find with anything approaching a usable sole. These are the rare pair that come with a proper Commando sole and that means they can be included. Goodyear welted, naturally, to a Horween Chromexcel upper. 5 eyelets and 4 hooks, make for an easy life. The laces included are pretty feeble though. A distinctive and quality pair of boots. Made in the USA. [KAFKA]



  • Brian in Alberta 11/12/2015 at 17:58

    That list looks good to me but I have two questions:
    – Do you size-up for more sock-room? I usually go up at least a full size for my non-insulated winter boots. Regular wool works socks are good for me down to -15C. Colder than that I use alpaca socks. A mistake I see frequently is people squeezing thick socks into boots that fit them properly with sport weight socks. This only serves to restrict blood flow to the foot (which already has relatively little blood flow) , often causing even colder feet.
    – Wouldn’t brogueing trap snow? All those little holes would make brushing or stamping the snow off difficult. I can imagine a lot of water being absorbed because it couldn’t run off when the boots are warmed up.

    • Well Dressed Dad 13/12/2015 at 15:00

      I would allow some extra room for socks. My Ice Cutters are pretty roomy, plenty of space for some really thick wool socks. Wool will indeed not work if compressed, it’s the air that insulates. I’d actually not considered the blood flow aspect, but that may well be an issue as well. Dry snow, or even wet snow, filling the brogue holes? If properly treated I don’t think the leather will mind much. The amounts will be minuscule once melted and should quickly evaporate.

      It’s good to have feedback from someone else that actually has a real winter 🙂

  • Scratch 13/12/2015 at 13:03

    I reckon if the leather is pukkah and they’re well waxed, water retention would not be an issue RE the brogueing pattern.
    Those Yuks while nice wouldn’t make for this sort of weather with me. I believe they are not storm sealed – are any Yuk Maine guide variant? So, they’d look good but cold wet socks… no thanks.

    • Well Dressed Dad 13/12/2015 at 15:02

      It’s down to the definition of winter though… Winter to me is cold and dry, hence there is no demand for the boots to be watertight and in this respect the Yuks would be just fine. I think all Maine Guides are of the same construction. Like the original brogues they were a shoe that was designed to dry quickly when wet, hence there was no need to be water tight.

  • Joseph 14/10/2016 at 17:24

    How are you getting on with the Solovair Chestnut 6-eyelet Derby Boot? I am considering purchasing a pair of these, or a pair of Redwing Iron Rangers. I can’t really find any more pictures or reviews, other than the website for them however. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated? How’s the sizing?

    • nick 20/10/2016 at 16:13

      A very nice boot for the Autumn days before ut gets really cold. Sensible soles and reasonably priced. Sizing was true to expectation, ie 8 fit me like a pair of 8 should. Iron Rangers are an entirely different prospect! Twice the price, twice the weight and poor soles for Autumn!

  • Horsepower chef 07/08/2017 at 20:03

    I spent a week in NL in January, being from Texas, I was not prepared…I had a pair of uninsulated fashion boots with zips on the side…the second I stepped off of my bicycle, the cold would radiate through the soles so quickly, it was genuinely starting.

  • Unknown User 14/01/2023 at 14:09

    A bit unfair to describe the Trickers as” this is another repeat of the very classic country brogue boot” considering that Trickers pretty much invented the country brogue boot. They were at least the first to mass produce them.
    Ripple soles are great if you only go backwards and forwards and never need to contour across anywhere or twist around or over stuff. I’d be very wary of using them on rougher ground or even contouring across wet grassy slopes. There’s a reason that commando style soles have lugs angled in several directions.


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