If you're thinking that a great pair of winter boots is the perfect think to buy in these post-Christmas sales, I couldn't agree more--as long as you score a pair that will properly protect your feet. When choosing winter boots, you need to think about more than just appearance: winter boots will also have to keep your feet warm and dry and help protect you while you walk through icy, slippery conditions.
With all that in mind, here's your podiatrist's guide to picking (and preserving) the perfect winter boots!
What to look for in a Winter Boot
Winter boots should be insulated and waterproof. Even pairs that already claim to be waterproof could benefit from an extra dose of waterproofing once you get them home. Keeping your feet dry in these cold winter months will not only help stabilize your body temperature, but it will also keep fungal infections like athlete's foot from taking hold of your feet.
Try to stay away from rubber, as they prevent your feet from breathing (and moisture around your feet is bad news, as I just mentioned.) If rubber boots are your only option, make sure that they are fully lined as this will help with moisture absorption.
Unlike rubber, natural materials like leather are a good choice, since this will allow for some air to breathe in and out of your feet.
Flat boots are a decent choice, since this will help you keep your balance during the winter, but a little bit of a heel can help your arches feel better--a rubber sole with lots of grooves is a great choice if you don't want to slip and slide. If you do pick completely flat-bottomed boots, make sure you have enough room to slip an insole or orthotic into the boot, or else you may experience foot, knee or back pain as the winter wears on.
Avoid styles with narrow toes, since this can lead to pain and numbness, the last things you need when the weather alone makes it painful to go outside!
The Right Way to Try on Winter Boots
Now that you know what to look for in a boot, you still have to find your perfect fit. Here's the best way to shop for boots:
• Shop later in the day, because feet tend to swell throughout the day and you want your boot to fit the feet at their largest point.
• Go shopping wearing socks that are the same thickness as ones you'll wear most of this season. Since winter boots typically get worn with thick, wooly socks, bring a pair with you when you shop.
• Boots should feel comfortable as soon as you slip your feet into them. If they don't, look for another pair.
• Also, be aware that many people's feet are different sizes. Match your boot size to the larger of your two feet.
Getting the Best Wear out of Winter Boots
Once you bring home that perfect pair of boots, there are steps you can take to help them offer even greater protection for your feet.
Try investing in a pair of ski sock liners, which are worn under your normal socks. Not only with this add an extra layer of warmth to your feet, they will keep them dry as well. Look for materials like 100 percent polyester, or wool fiber, for optimal moisture-beating power.
Be careful where you store your boots: drafty doorways or freezing garages are a no-no. If your boots are cold when you put them on, they can't do the important work of keeping your feet at the right temperature!
Finally, remember the rules of shopping: your boots should feel good as soon as you put them on. Even a once-perfect pair can become old, worn out and uncomfortable. If this is the case with your boots, that means one thing: it's time for a new pair. Simply return to the beginning of this post and start all over again!