Best Winter Boots for Dog Walking
We love our dogs. They always have our best interest at heart, working their persuasive powers to leash up and insert a little fresh air into an otherwise routine day at the desk. Veterans of the four legged friends know that the right pair of boots makes the difference between an invigorating walk and a frostbite march. We took advantage of some recent Arctic weather here in Vermont to put some of our favorite models to the test!
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Our Test Models
Baffin Snogoose comparable to any Baffin - 40°F boots such as the Judy, Iceland, Wolf or Maple.
Baffin Icefield comparable to any Baffin -148° F boots such as the Impact, Resolute, Endurance or Apex.
Sorel Tofino comparable to Sorel boots such as the Joan of Arctic or Tivoli Low.
With the thermometer topping out at 1°F. in Vermont today, it was the perfect chance to test out the Baffin Snogoose for sub-zero dog walking! Obviously, our office is stocked with options when it comes to selecting a boot to slip on when pounding the pavement with our puppy. We considered the Baffin Icefield, a reigning favorite in the -148° category, but with the full sun and lack of wind, we wanted to see how the lighter-weight -40° Snogoose would match up to Burlington’s frigid day.
Our dog walker geared up in plenty of layers: long underwear, glove liners and mittens, a fleece skull cap topped with a wool hat and an 800 fill down jacket. In other words, we ensured that there was plenty of protection all around - a key first step in setting your boots up to keep you warm.
Mackie, our favorite Bernese pup, wasn’t intimidated by the icy ground and neither was the Baffin Snogoose. Though it wasn’t slick all over, there were icy patches that might have been trouble for a lesser tread.
The Snogoose is easy to walk in; it’s best to aim for a slightly roomy fit so that there is plenty of air circulation. You don’t want the Snogoose to fit like a dress shoe, a little bit of heel lift is fine given that it will also mean you have space for the air inside the boot to move freely and keep your toes warm. This isn’t a boot that’s meant to scale the side of a mountain, but a casual hour long dog walk doesn’t require that kind of stability. Bear that in mind when selecting your size.
Our outing lasted 35 minutes, and we maintained a fairly brisk pace, but at no time during the walk were cold feet an issue. Mackie is a busy puppy so we weren’t stopping to smell the evergreens - if you are keeping company with an older dog, or a scent happy hound, you might find a warmer model necessary, but for typical coldest day of the winter dog walking, the Baffin -40°boots find that perfect balance. Warm enough to keep you comfortable, light enough to keep you moving.
The Baffin - 40° boots are warmer than most boots, perfect for active use in temperatures between - 20° to 40°. They hold up to sedentary use as well depending on the length of time outside. One of our resident experts has spent many days watching her children ski race and reports that the Snogoose keeps her feet warm for 4 hours plus up down to 10°or 20°.
A second day with the temperature hovering just below the 0 mark, and we were off to the walking path for another test run. This time, our dog walker donned the Baffin Icefield, a tried and true model from Baffin’s -148 Polar series. With the memory of the -40 Snogoose fresh, and the back to back days of identical weather, it was a perfect opportunity to compare how boots in the different temperature ratings performed.
The first fifteen minutes of walking was comparable; comfortable and warm. Mid-way through the route, it was clear that despite the brisk air, the Baffin Icefield was just more boot than necessary for an active walk with the pooch. Our dog walker couldn’t wait to get home, not because of the cold, but because her feet were getting too warm!
Moral of this story? The Baffin Polar Series (-148° F rated) is the warmest boot you can buy. Its intended use is for long, cold days that involve sedentary activity such as ice fishing, snowmobiling or winter camping. Don’t choose the -148 series just because “your feet are always cold.” More often than not, the Baffin -40°boots, or any of the options in our All Around Winter Boots, are much warmer than your current footwear, and will be all the boot you need for active cold weather days.
When the temperature is below 10°F, it's best to pull out the big guns, the Baffin -148 F series, but don't confuse them with a run of the mill everyday winter boot. We like to say, "if these boots don't keep you warm, nothing will!"
The Sorel Tofino strikes that fine winter balance of keeping you "warm enough" on the cold days but is still "light enough" to wear playing pool apres ski. Like its sister model, The Sorel Joan of Arctic, or the sleeker Conquest Carly, the Tofino wins big on style points. The key with wearing the Tofino on your dog walking days lies with sizing up the elements. As long as you keep moving, the Sorels can keep your feet happy down to about 10° though it may take ten minutes of activity to get the blood flowing. Once the temps fall below 0°, you'll feel the ground underneath. Another caveat is the appearance of post-storm ice that loves to appear as winter turns to spring. Black ice, slushy ice, snow covered slick pavement...all will challenge anything less than a high traction boot. It doesn't mean you can't wear the Tofinos on a slippery day, just proceed with caution. The Sorel fit is one of the best making it a natural partner for outings with your pooch. Know that every boot has its limits, and bear in mind Sorel's enticing fur trims make them very popular chew toys on the puppy circuit!