Long gone are the days of Moon Boots and après-ski footwear furry enough to double as twin shih tzus. Shoes for skiers in the ’00s are cool. And there are enough styles out there to satisfy the Imelda Marcos in you — which is a good thing, since you may want a pair from each of these specialty categories.
Nutshell: Thank the Dutch for these heel-free shoes, although today’s varieties are made of materials softer than wood, like fleece, wool, and leather. Most even have outdoors-worthy rubber soles.
Wear Them: Padding around the condo; taking out the garbage.
Caution: They’re so comfy, you won’t want to take them off, but remember, clogs are not designed for walking on ice, up hills, or through deep drifts.
Key models: Sorel’s Toledo clog ($35; shown here), made of a soft polar fleece, is like a slipper with sole. The Jibs Polartec Splog ($80) has a rubber traction sole and a drawstring at the ankle for a snug fit. The Hanley ($65) leather clog by Simple has a surf-print suede lining.
Nutshell: Low-cut, lace-free simplicity in a hip-looking package, these shoes feature water-resistant leather uppers, moderately knobby soles, and easy on- and off-ability.
Wear Them: Wintertime doggie walking.
Caution: Okay, so they’re a cousin of your granddad’s loafers; they tend to lean toward the overwarm side.
Key models: Nike’s Izy ($70; shown here) with its retro zipper and black suede is designed for chillin’. Merrell’s Winter Moc ($70; see above) is water resistant and has a Polartec Power Dry lining. The Gravis Cue ($75) is moisture wicking, water resisting, and so cool Elvis has been sighted wearing a pair.
Nutshell: You can thank the skate community for making you look so good. The latest trend: winterized models.
Wear Them: Gettin’ jiggy on the dance floor; looking hip while swilling beer.
Caution: True skate shoes are not constructed with snow — or especially ice — in mind.
Key models: The water-resistant Gravis Factor ($80; shown here) has a decent tread and stretchy panels that make it easy to get on and off. Reef’s RB Cyklone ($50) is simply a sweet-looking shoe. You know K2 for skis; now the company has a whole line of stylie sneaks, including the cool-looking Reactor ($70).
Nutshell: Shoe designers combined DNA from a sneaker and a hiking boot to create this category. The result is a versatile, sturdy, warm shoe with a solid sole.
Wear Them: Trudging from the parking lot to the lodge; tooling around the ski area and town; hiking on easy trails.
Caution: Low cut means cold ankles in deep snow.
Key models: Columbia’s Trail Grinder Low ($80; shown here) is a light, comfortable hiker with knobby soles. The suede leather upper on Tecnica’s Entrada ($75) makes for a natural-looking shoe. Salomon’s Exit Low 2000 ($90) is a lightweight, breathable hiker with a beefy new midsole for rough trails.
Nutshell: This category’s been around since the Swiss started walking in the Alps. These shoes have knobby soles, ankle coverage, and lots of support. Today, most hikers designed for ski season travel are waterproof, breathable, and otherwise teched out.
Wear Them: Hiking and snowshoeing on and off trail; plodding on snowpacked sidewalks.
Caution: They’re high on function, but not too swanky on the dance floor.
Key models: Tecnica Cirrus Mid TCY ($125; shown here) is a waterproof-breathable nubuck leather hiker. For hiking and snowshoeing, Sorel’s Powderhound ($100; see page 109) is warm, waterproof, gaiter compatible, and has a killer tread. The waterproof Nordica ExoTrail High ($129) features Outlast temperature-regulating material, so your dogs won’t get too hot or too cold.
WINTER TRAIL RUNNERS
Nutshelll: Hey, if you’re hardcore enough to run in wintertime, you deserve a good, waterproof shoe with positive traction.
Wear Them: Speeding along snow-covered or icy trails.
Caution: If you’re going to have only one shoe in your quiver, this one’s awfully specialized; won’t keep you warm when just strolling around.
Key models: Designed for snowshoe racing and trail running, the waterproof Salomon Raid C/D ($119; shown here) has a grippy sole and neoprene at the ankle to keep out snow. Montrail’s Java GTX ($120) has a full Gore-Tex bootie. The Ice Blade Waterproof by Merrell ($115) is designed for winter trail running, but is more of an insulated, waterproof, midheight cross trainer.
KAWB (kick-ass warm boots)
Nutshell: These frostbite fighters benefit from modern technology, making them waterproof, moisture wicking, and warm as all get out.
Wear Them: Standing on the sidelines of a World Cup race; dogsledding (think Iditarod).
Caution: Wear them in a crowded bar, and your feet will probably fry.
Key models: The Yukon Icelander ($85; shown here) has moisture management, a removable bootie, and is rated down to -45 F. Columbia’s Bugabootoo ($96) has sealed seams, Thermolite insulation, and a -25 F temp rating. The Polar Blast Waterproof ($135) from Merrell is a winter hiker and snowshoeing boot with Thinsulate and Polartec 200, rated to -10 F.
Columbia: 800-547-8066; www.columbia.com
Gravis: 802-862-2574; www.gravisfootwear.com
Jibs: 570-455-4742; www.jibs.com
K2: 800-666-2579; www.k2sports.com
Merrell: 888-637-7001; www.merrellboot.com
Montrail: 800-647-0224; www.montrail.com
Nike: 800-344-6453; www.nike.com
Nordica: 800-892-2668; www.nordicaboots.com
Reef: 858-514-3600; www.reefbrazil.com
Salomon: 877-2-SALOMON; www.salomonsports.com
Sorel: 800-667-6735; www.kaufman.ca
Tecnica: 603-298-5790; www.tecnicausa.com