Best Shoes for Walking on Ice

If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best shoes for walking on ice are, then I recommend the Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Plus IV as the best pair for men and the Columbia Women’s Ice Maiden II as the best pair for women.

Hiking on ice

Is there a safe way to walk on ice? Not really, but there are ways to minimize the risks. I’ve researched the best shoes for walking on ice to help with that.

If you’d rather not be stuck all winter indoors, you might want to consider some of these shoes. No more slipping, sliding and falling flat.

Here are the best shoes for walking on ice in 2020:

What Makes Ice-Walking Shoes Special?

You can walk on ice in any shoes, but the best shoes for walking on ice are out there, with some specific features that make them stand out.

The Soles

Traction is your key to success when walking on ice. 

If your shoes can grip the ice in some way, you’re already on the icy road to success. Traction varies from shoe to shoe, even surface to surface. So with ice as a surface, you need a specific type of outsole to avoid mishaps.

Material

Rubber is an excellent sole for ice. Have you ever run your finger across an eraser? It’s not usually smooth—your finger will drag—but that’s exactly what you want in your shoes.

Tread Pattern

The tread is what grips the ground, so it’s important to look out for shoes with a wide tread pattern. A pattern helps boost friction, reduces moisture and keeps you steady.

Friction

Shoes with a widely spaced pattern on the soles are something to consider. Flat, smooth shoes on flat, slippery ice have no friction between them. This sends you sliding like socks on wooden floors. The more friction you have, the less you slide. 

Moisture Reduction

Something else keeping you stable is how the ice’s moisture can’t travel. It’s easy to slip on liquid, more so when the wetness can coat the entire sole of the shoe. Gaps in the sole make it so this can’t happen. Thus, keeping you safe on the ice.

Water Resistance

Just like you can’t drink with numb lips after the dentist, you shouldn’t walk with numb feet.

The more melted ice that gets into your shoes, the colder your feet will become, resulting in discomfort or trouble walking.

Your shoes don’t have to be waterproof to the point you can submerge them, but some water resistance does wonders, so you’re safe from rain or stepping in puddles.

Insulation

Another savior of cold feet is an insulated shoe. You could wear warm socks, but insulated shoes help, too. Here are some examples of insulation materials used in shoes:

  • Fur.
  • Nylon.
  • Fleece.

Insulation is measured in grams, with 200g being a common baseline for adequate insulation.

Comfort

Shoes with no support or cushioning will give you aches and pains the next day, trust me, but comfort can also equal safety. I’ve suffered many an injury due to inadequate shoes, so support and cushioning is an important factor to consider. Look for a soft interior, like fur or plush.

Durability

What’s the point of comfortable, water-resistant shoes if they get holes after a few uses?

Also, look closely at how the seams are attached. If you see big, loose-looking stitches, don’t bother with the shoes.

Material is the main thing when it comes to durability. Rubber and leather are often used around the toes and on the soles of winter shoes. They’re generally known for being tough, especially leather—“as tough as leather,” as the idiom goes.

Will My Regular Winter Boots Work?

They might. Winter boots that are made for walking on ice are often different from your usual ones.

Winter boots should usually handle snow and keep heat in, but ice is another challenge. You can’t take your chances with your regular shoes for the winter, unless you’re certain they hit all the points I talked about.

What About Removable Snow Grips?

If you’re on a budget, by all means use removable snow grips on your regular shoes. I understand how tight money can be. 

I absolutely don’t recommend these in general, though—only if you’re really struggling. Remember, it’s more than just grips and traction going into a sturdy ice walking winter boot. Your overall safety and comfort aren’t things you should be cutting corners on.

However, these removable crampons could make an excellent addition to any fully optimized shoe. They may be what takes your great ice walking shoes and turns them into the best shoes for walking on ice.

I’ll let you be the judge of that as I get into the reviews.

The Five Best Shoes for Walking on Ice

1. Columbia Women’s Ice Maiden II

With a rubber sole and leather wrapping your feet up safe, we’re already off to a great start with these boots. 

The leather is waterproof, and the interior is lined with 200g of insulated fur. The fur should keep your feet toasty warm while providing luxurious comfort. The outside should keep the fur and your feet from getting soggy.

As for the rubber sole, it’s got Omni-Grip advanced traction, so this is no ordinary winter boot. This should help prevent slips and slides when you’re out on the ice. There are plenty of dips and dents in the sole to form that grip and traction to the ground as you go.

One bonus of these boots is that they go up quite high on the leg, so you get waterproof warmth part-way up your calf.

These shoes come in sizes 5–12. 

Pros

  • Stylish.
  • Made of durable materials.
  • Advanced Omni-Grip traction.
  • Waterproof.
  • Adequate insulation to keep you warm and dry.

Cons

  • Narrow toe box.

2. Sperry Women’s Saltwater Rain Boot

If fur isn’t your thing, fleece might be. Despite lacking the furry winter feel, the subtle fleece lining and cushioning inside should keep you comfortable and warm.

Once again, we have a leather exterior and rubber sole, so you’re covered there. The soles of these shoes have lots of little grooves, which allows them to grip the ground tightly, rather than sparsely, as wider gaps would. These soles are hard to leave a mark on, too, so you’re safe from wear and tear.

Expect to be protected in all weathers with these, whether it’s rain, ice or dry skies. A bonus with them is that they don’t look like winter boots, but more like hiking ones. 

These boots come in sizes 5–12, with some available in a wide fit.

Pros

  • All-weather, all-season boot.
  • Durable.
  • Soles are unlikely to mark.
  • Available in wide sizes.

Cons

  • “Sperry” logo may start peeling off within a few months, compromising the visual quality of the shoe.

3. Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Plus IV

These leather shoes lined with nylon for insulation may be perfect for you. The soles are rubber, with a cleat-like pattern, which is great for slippery surfaces—just look at soccer players wearing cleats on wet grass.

Each protruding part of the sole has grooves to grip the ice. There’s plenty of space between these protruding areas to provide a grip every time you take a step. The cleat-like sole and lacing style gives these boots a hefty, war-like, yet urban look.

While staying stable, you’ll also be waterproof on the outside thanks to the leather upper’s seam-sealed construction. This makes sure the 200g of nylon that should be keeping you warm gets to do its job—cold moisture out, warm heat in, making for an excellent shoe.

These boots don’t go up as high as Columbia’s Ice Maiden ones. This is a potential worry for those who fear snow getting in when trudging through the depths. However, the fit appears to be tight if you lace them up correctly.

The boots come in sizes 7–17. Some of the sizes offer a wide fit.

Pros

  • Made of tough, durable leather.
  • Cleat-like rubber soles for great grip.
  • 200g of insulation for adequate warmth.
  • Strong urban look.

Cons

  • Lace attachments are prone to popping off.

4. The North Face Men’s Chilkat III

The hefty urban style isn’t for everyone, so here’s a calmer-looking rubber-soled shoe. Waterproof, leather, with 200g of plush insulation, these are excellent for walking on ice. 

The soles of these shoes have a particular and unique pattern with plenty of small lines and grooves for gripping icy surfaces. They’re also temperature-sensitive for increased traction. This, along with the rest of the outside, is tough, while the inside is equipped to cradle and heat your feet.

If you like a more attractive, casual look, these boots could be great for you. They do have a winter-esque vibe, but unlike the Columbia Bugaboot, these don’t look like you could stomp off to war in them.

These shoes come in sizes 8–14.

Pros

  • Stylish look.
  • Premium construction for durability.
  • 200g of insulation for warm feet.
  • All-weather waterproof boots.

Cons

  • The rubber soles may start to crack after about two years.

5. Merrell Coldpack Ice+

Merrell’s sturdy leather boots have 200 g of insulation but somehow manage to be lightweight. This is impressive, but not a surprise considering how popular Merrell’s footwear is for walking in general.

The Vibram Arctic Grip soles offer excellent traction thanks to the clever tread pattern, even in extreme weather. That should keep you stable, no matter how much mother nature rages.

Low-bulk and stylish, these boots should last through all weathers and activities. They come in sizes 7–15.

Pros

  • Lightweight.
  • 200 g of insulation.
  • Stylish.
  • Excellent traction.

Cons

  • Some customers say they run a size small.

The Best Shoes for Walking on Ice

To me, the best shoes for walking on ice for women are the Columbia Women’s Ice Maiden II. They’re cushy, stylish, durable and can withstand the cold.

The fur interior is perfect for keeping you comfortable and heated. The exterior is hard, keeping you resistant against the elements. Also, advanced Omni-Grip traction of the rubber soles allows for great traction, which is crucial when walking on ice.

For men, I think the Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Plus IV is the way to go. A hard, waterproof exterior and a comfortable, warm interior make an excellent shield against snow and ice.

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