Can You Wear Rain Boots in the Snow? Don’t Get Caught Out

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by  Bradon Matthews | Last Updated: 

If you’ve already bought a good pair of rain boots, it’s natural to wonder if you need snow boots as well. 

After all, snow is just frozen water, and rain boots are waterproof. It seems like snow boots would be redundant.

Like most things in life, the situation is more nuanced than it seems on the surface. There are times when rain boots are truly alright for the snow, and times where a dedicated pair of snow boots is best.

Should you shell out the cash for a pair of snow boots if you’ve already bought rain boots? What are the differences between the two, anyway? 

Let’s dig into these questions. Here’s what you need to know to keep your feet warm and dry this winter.

Snow Boots vs Rain Boots: What’s the Difference?

Before deciding if you need a pair of dedicated snow boots, you need to understand what separates them from rain boots.

Rain Boots

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Rain boots are completely waterproof thanks to the material from which they’re constructed. They’re almost always exclusively made from rubber or PVC. This makes them waterproof while keeping them flexible. 

Rain boots also tend to be very tall, with most coming up to the mid-shin or knee. The famous HUNTER Boots are a good example.

HUNTER Original Tall Rain Boots
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This isn’t always the case though. Duck boots are technically a type of rain boot, and they tend to be ankle height instead. 

Sperry Avenue Duck Boot
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Rain boots are on the thinner side, as this keeps them light. They aren’t meant for insulation as much as for protection from getting wet.

While they do provide some degree of traction, rain boots don’t tend to have incredible grip. This is largely because their soles aren’t chunky or textured. They keep a smoother, sleeker profile and retain their lightness because of it.

Snow Boots

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Snow boots on the other hand tend to be constructed from leather, nylon, wool, and sometimes rubber. They’re layered so as to provide both waterproofing and insulation. 

Snow boots will keep your feet warm where rain boots won’t. 

That insulation comes at a price, though. Snow boots are typically far heavier. Even snow boots that only reach the ankle can become tiresome by the end of a day’s wear.

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They’re also less flexible than rain boots, as the dense materials are stiffer than simple rubber or PVC. Snow boots don’t have much give. This makes the break-in process more intensive as well. 

While rain boots tend towards the higher side, snow boots are more frequently ankle boots. The heaviness of the insulating layers means that high snow boots can be unreasonably heavy for city commuting. 

That said, outdoor snow boots that reach the knees are available. These just aren’t the most pragmatic choice for those who don’t need to trek through knee-high snow.

In terms of traction, winter boots will almost always outperform rain boots. They feature heavier soles meant to compact and grip the snow, keeping you from slipping.

Kamik Nationplus Boot
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Rain Boots in Snow: Is It a Good Idea?

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If you want to avoid buying a second pair of boots, you may be tempted to stick with your rain boots in snowy conditions. Depending on the severity of the conditions and the activities you plan to do, this can work.

If you live somewhere with fairly temperate winters, rain boots should be fine in the snow. They’ll keep the snow from soaking into your feet just like winter boots would. If it isn’t terribly cold out, you should be alright with just their PVC or rubber construction.

The same goes for short outings. If you drive to work and just need a pair of boots to keep your feet dry as you walk to the car, rain boots can work great. 

Finally, there’s the stylistic consideration. Rain boots can be a bit more subtle because of their thinner construction. This makes them easier to incorporate into a dressed-up look. If you need to keep a more formal outfit and don’t need to be outside long, rain boots may be the better choice.

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The situation changes considerably if you live in an area with harsh winters though. Rain boots simply don’t keep your feet warm the way winter boots do. Going out into the cold with rain boots can be uncomfortable at best and dangerous at worst. Frostbite is a possibility.

Additionally, if you’re planning on walking a longer distance, you’ll want to stick to snow boots. Rain boots typically don’t have enough traction to keep you safe on snow and ice. This isn’t a big deal for quick outings, but walking around on longer treks can lead to falls and injuries.

If you must wear rain boots in harsher conditions, invest in a pair of thick wool socks. These socks can mimic the insulation in a winter boot, keeping your feet warm in colder conditions. It isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s better than nothing. 

What are the Best Rain Boots to Wear in Snow?

Bogs Classic High Waterproof Insulated Rain Boot

Our top pick for rain boots you can wear in the snow. These boots will keep your feet warm while remaining somewhat breathable in the warmer fall months. This makes them versatile without putting you in the danger zone when it gets below freezing.

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If you’re absolutely intent on buying only one pair of boots for fall and winter, you’ll need to be methodical. Winter boots will be too warm for fall, so you’re going to be looking at rain boots in the snow.

The best choice will need to be something of a hybrid. You don’t want the intense warmth you’d get with a heavily layered winter boot, but you also don’t want a complete lack of insulation. 

You’ll also need a good deal of tread if you’re going to wear these boots out in the winter. More tread will keep you from slipping on ice as the weather dips.

Our choice is the Bogs Classic High Waterproof Insulated Rain Boot. These boots will keep your feet warm while remaining somewhat breathable in the warmer fall months. This makes them versatile without putting you in the danger zone when it gets below freezing

Their intensely heavy-grip soles will keep you stable and allow you to cruise through snow in the winter. The tread grips even loose snow and ice, meaning you can wear these on walks without fear.

Finally, the silhouette remains relatively sleek. While they aren’t dress boots, they aren’t overly clunky or exaggerated either, giving you a bit of leeway with your wardrobe choices.

Conclusion

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Rain boots and snow boots share a few basic similarities, but they’re ultimately better suited to different conditions. It’s typically better to wear rain boots when you just need dryness, as they won’t cause your feet to overheat.

Snow boots offer the insulation and tread needed to face harsh winter weather. They keep your feet warm and prevent you from slipping. They’re heavier and less flexible though, making them less ideal for dressing up.

If you just can’t bring yourself to buy two pairs, go with a pair of rain boots that feature insulation and tread. Our top pick is the Bogs Classic High Waterproof Insulated Rain Boot.

Bogs Classic High Waterproof Insulated Rain Boot

Our top pick for rain boots you can wear in the snow. These boots will keep your feet warm while remaining somewhat breathable in the warmer fall months. This makes them versatile without putting you in the danger zone when it gets below freezing.

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FAQs

Are rain boots slippery in the snow?

How well rain boots grip the snow is dependent on the type of sole they have. Typically, rain boots don’t have heavy, textured soles, making them prone to slip when walking on snow. That being, some do feature heavier soles with better tread. These better grip the snow, making them less slippery.

Are waterproof boots good for snow?

Waterproofing is a vital component of any good snow boot. Keeping the snow from soaking into your foot will ensure your feet stay warm in the cold winter weather. That said, rain boots feature waterproofing but are often not well suited to snowy conditions.

Do Hunter rain boots work in snow?

Hunter rain boots can work in the snow for short periods. If you only plan to walk to the car or mailbox, Hunter boots will keep your feet dry. They don’t have insulation though, meaning your feet will get cold if you are outside for long.

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