Can Hiking Boots Be Used In the Snow (3 Requirements)

Share With Your Friends!

I get this question all the time, and for a good reason. No one wants to spend another hefty lump sum on a second pair of hiking boots for the snow unless you absolutely have to.


Hiking boots can be used in light snow. However, they must provide insulation, traction, and be waterproof. If the boots fail to meet the three requirements or the snow is too deep, investing in a second pair of boots for the snow will be necessary. 


Hold on right there! Before you go buy a second pair of hiking boots for the snow, I’d like to teach you a few hiking hacks that will work exceptionally well in case your boots don’t meet the 3 requirements. They’ve worked for me and I know they will work for you. Let’s get started. 


How to Determine if Your Hiking Boots Will do Well in the Snow 

First and foremost you need to find out how much snow you’re going to be hiking in. For the sake of this article I’m going to define light snow as roughly 2 inches or less of snowfall. You can easily determine this by checking the weather forecast. 


If you see anything above 2 inches of snowfall you’re more than likely going to need hiking boots specifically designed for the snow. Anything above 6 inches will require snow shoes, and exposed and steep conditions (regardless of snowfall inches) where snow may turn into ice will require crampons. 


However, if you determined your hiking location received light snow, your hiking boots should be sufficient. Just check for the following 3 general guidelines. 

1. Ensure Your Boots Are Waterproof 

Many hiking boots nowadays come waterproofed straight out of the box regardless of what season they were designed for. If you are unsure whether your boots are waterproof or not, simply do a quick google search for your specific brand and model. However….


Heed this warning: Many hiking boots, which claim to be waterproof,  WILL leave you with soaked feet in the snow such as my Moab Merrel 2 boots. 


They’re amazing boots, until you hike in the snow or one of your feet goes straight into the creek on your last creek crossing just before you get to the car….you know what I’m talking about. 


If your boots aren’t waterproof or even if they are but you want to take extra precaution, here are two of those hacks I was talking about which will help MINIMIZE the amount of water getting into your boots. 


Waterproof Your Boots with A Spray


Remember, there is no magic spray that will completely waterproof your boots. If you’re hiking in the snow, your feet will get wet. I’m emphasizing it so you are completely aware of the situation before you go out on your hike. 


As far as which product I’ve used, I’ve found The Art of Crep Protect Spray to be the best at minimizing the amount of water seeping into your boots. 

I like to use multiple coats on my boots (at least 3 for each boot) before heading out into the snow. Spray your boots from about 7-10 inches away for best results. 


I don’t like to spray the inside of the boots because I feel it’s unnecessary, and I’d like to avoid as many chemicals as possible near my skin, but I’ll leave that one completely up to you! 


It takes about 8 hours for each coat to dry, so make sure to begin the process a few days before you go on a hike. 


Use Hiking Gaiters

Hack #2 includes using gaiters to keep snow, water, dirt, and rocks from creeping into your boots especially around the ankle. There are three different types of gaiters: hiking, trail running, and mountaineering gaiters. 


Although we’re talking about hiking in this post, I’ve found the following all-around-use gaiters to be sufficient, and the best part is they don’t break the bank! They are lightweight, ACTUALLY waterproof, and breathable. 


They’re called Azarxis Hiking Gaiters. 

I love these gaiters. They’ll do a great job at stopping snow from getting in through the ankle area, but keep in mind the front of your boot and the sides will still be exposed. 


To sum things up, if you’ve done everything you can to waterproof your feet and you’re okay with getting your feet somewhat wet in the snow, you can mark this section as a pass for your boots. 


2. Your Boots Must Have Traction

Most hiking boots do an amazing job at providing sufficient traction in all weather conditions, which is great because there’s not much we can do to increase their traction other than using microspikes in very icy conditions. 


You could technically apply a salt and glue mixture to the bottom of your boots if you really wanted to, but I wouldn’t advise it for the snow. If you find that you’re slipping frequently in dry conditions you’re better off investing in a new pair of hiking boots that will also suit you well in the snow.  


What I do HIGHLY recommend is using your trekking poles to increase your traction. My girlfriend and I learned this the hard way at Big Bear, CA. Most poles come with different adapters for different conditions including mud, snow, and dry conditions. 


Trekking poles are godsent in snowy conditions. 


3. Your Hiking Boots Must Be Insulated

Most all-season hiking boots will not provide the necessary insulation for snowy conditions. Your toes will get numb from the cold. Luckily for us, there’s more hiking hacks we can use to compensate for the lack of insulation. 


Wear 2 Pairs of Socks


Yup it’s that simple. Want to keep your feet warmer? Simply use two pairs. You should have bought your hiking boots at least an extra half size bigger therefore, you should have enough room to double up on socks. 


Use Snow Socks

If you didn’t go up a half size when you bought your boots, you can use socks specifically designed for the snow. I recommend cushioned high socks for hiking in snowy conditions, preferably made of wool, polyester, and/or nylon. Trust me, you’ll thank me later for this one. 


So what are my favorite hiking socks for the snow you ask? Believe it or not I used Stance Star Wars Snowboarding Socks for the longest time and they worked like a charm. It was a night and day difference from regular socks. 


Unfortunately, those socks are no longer around. However, you can find very similar ones right here: 

Musan Wool Ski Socks Unisex

Other Guides You May Like

Top 12 Hiking Gifts 2022: For Men & Women

Top 12 Hiking Gifts 2022: For Men & Women

It's that special time of the year again! But don't worry, I got you covered with Christmas gift ideas for hikers of all ages. I'll start with the cheapest to the most expensive.  Although I receive a small Amazon affiliate commission when you buy these products via...

read more
7 Best San Diego Hikes You Must Explore!

7 Best San Diego Hikes You Must Explore!

San Diego is one of the most beautiful counties in SoCal. Not only does it have amazing coastal beaches, but there are tons of amazing hikes both by the ocean and in the mountains of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. You can wait to experience the snow in the winter months...

read more
3 Best Hikes in Laguna Beach [OC Resident]

3 Best Hikes in Laguna Beach [OC Resident]

As a current resident of Huntington Beach, I can assure you that some of the best hikes in Orange County can be found at Laguna Beach, more specifically Aliso and Woods Canyon Wilderness Park. Due to the stunning views of the ocean and downtown Laguna Beach, the 4500...

read more
10 Best Hiking Apps in 2022

10 Best Hiking Apps in 2022

One of the most crucial aspects of hiking is the planning. Hiking apps can help you check the weather, distance, elevation, parking information and so much more. However, as technology has progressed, hiking apps have become increasingly sophisticated to the point...

read more
13 Crucial Hiking Tips to Consider for Seniors

13 Crucial Hiking Tips to Consider for Seniors

Hiking is fantastic for physical and mental wellbeing, and it’s an activity any age group can enjoy. Seniors can get just as much satisfaction from hiking as younger people – it just takes a little more pre-planning. I’m here to help you along your hiking journey....

read more

More to Explore!

Stoddard Peak Hiking Guide: Map, Directions, & Fun Facts

Stoddard Peak Hiking Guide: Map, Directions, & Fun Facts

5.9 miles Time: 2.5 Hours Roundtrip Difficulty: Moderate Season: All Year Elevation Gain: 1224 ft Peak Elevation: 4611 ft Trail Type: Out & Back Restrooms? Not Available Dogs Allowed? Yes, on a leash Take a windy dirt road up Stoddard Canyon to be rewarded with...

Henninger Flats: Hike to a Scenic Forest Nursery

Henninger Flats: Hike to a Scenic Forest Nursery

Distance 5.04 MilesTime3.5 HrsDifficulty ModerateSeasonAll YearElevation Gain1531 FtFeel like learning a bit of history on your next hike? If so, I highly suggest paying a visit to Henninger Flats. Henninger Flats is a wooded flats located above Eaton Canyon and...

Sunset Peak Trail Guide: 2 Routes + Maps & Directions

Sunset Peak Trail Guide: 2 Routes + Maps & Directions

Distance  7.2 MilesTime 3.5 HrsDifficulty  Moderate Season All Year Elevation Gain 1281 Ft Dogs allowed on a leash Out & Back Trail No Restrooms available You can't go wrong with a trail in the Mt Baldy area. Lower temperatures, possible snow, and amazing views....

Etiwanda Falls: San Bernardino’s Most Popular Waterfall

Etiwanda Falls: San Bernardino’s Most Popular Waterfall

Distance 3.19 MilesTime2 HrsDifficulty ModerateSeasonAll YearElevation Gain803 Ft No dogs allowed Out & Back trail Restrooms not available Take a stroll through the foothills of the Angeles Forest and into a woodsy canyon where you'll be rewarded with a beautiful...

Hello, There!

I’m Phillip, and just like you, I feel very passionate about California and the outdoors. After many years of exploring amazing and hidden places, I thought I’d share them with you. Life goes by fast so get out there and enjoy it.  

Sign Up For Bonuses

Want to save all your favorite hikes? Sign up to be able to heart all the trails you plan on visitng, plus more awesome bonus features!

Legal Info

We only recommend what we use. This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to However, no company pays us to share these products with you. If you decide to purchase a product via one of our links, we will recieve a small compensation, which in turn, helps us to keep making videos and posts to share with all of you.