Best Winter Sailing Boots

Best Winter Sailing Boots | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

August 30, 2022

Boots are often overlooked when sailing, but they're absolutely essential for a safe and comfortable sail during cold days. But which are best for winter sailing and why?

The best winter sailing boots are the TIDEWE waterproof boot, the Gill Short Cruising boot, the Grundens Deck Boss boot, the XTRATUF Legacy Series insulated deck boot, and the L.L.Bean Original Shearling-Lined boot.

In this article, we'll cover five of the best winter sailing boots. Additionally, we'll go over the features that make each boot ideal for cold and wet weather. We'll cover the differences between insulated and uninsulated boots, go over some strategies for keeping warm, and provide some alternatives that work just as well.

We sourced product information directly from each boot's distributor and manufacturer. Additionally, we considered reviews of actual sailors to help find the pros and cons of each winter sailing boot.


Table of contents

Are Winter Sailing Boots Waterproof?

Generally speaking, winter sailing boots must be waterproof or extremely water-resistant. There are numerous reasons why—the primary reason is that the water that gets into your boot won't evaporate. Plus, frostbite is a risk in some environments, so it's best to keep the water out at all costs.

What Kind of Boot Insulation is Best for Winter Sailing?

The answer depends on what temperatures and conditions you intend to sail in. For mild conditions with a lot of spray and wind, rubber boots with a non-slip sole usually work well when combined with an insulated sock and when sealed to your drysuit leg.

For harsher conditions, simple non-slip rain boots won't cut it. You'll need a boot with true waterproof and insulation capabilities, along with a rim that can seal with your outwear to prevent water from coming in through the top.

Insulated Sailing Boots Vs Uninsulated Rubber Boots

Insulated and uninsulated boots are both common with winter sailors, and they each have unique benefits. The obvious benefit of an insulated boot is that it keeps your feet warm. However, many people don't consider what happens when the insulation gets wet.

There are all kinds of unpleasant things that can happen when your feet are wet and cold, and we won't get into them here. Let's just say that it's absolutely imperative to keep your feet dry.

Insulated boots often have fluffy material that extends beyond the boot. When this material gets wet, it can wick water down through the boot and into your socks. This situation can be avoided by taping your foul-weather pants over your boot, but the seal must be very tight.

Uninsulated boots are much easier to seal than insulated boots, and they're extremely easy to dry in the event that water makes its way inside. Additionally, the lack of insulation can be (mostly) mitigated by wearing warm socks. However, insulated boots are more comfortable and warmer overall.

Are Snow Boots Good for Winter Sailing?

Some sailors wear snow boots for winter sailing, which is a resourceful alternative to purchasing specially-made footwear. This strategy works pretty well as long as you have non-slip and waterproof boots.

If you're wondering if your snow boots are suitable for sailing, there are a few easy tests you can perform. First, get your deck sufficiently wet and see how your boots perform on all walkable surfaces. If they slip, don't use them. Also, see if you can submerge your boot to a few inches below the top to test its true waterproof qualities.

Best Boots for Cold Weather Sailing

Based on the qualities that we discussed above, we found five of the best-selling winter boots that are suitable for sailing. Some of these boots aren't specifically designed for marine use, but they have all the qualities of a good sailing boot and make an excellent alternative.

1. TIDEWE Waterproof Boots

If you're in need of a good, high-quality waterproof boot for sailing, it's hard to go wrong with the TIDEWE waterproof boot. This high boot is designed for a multitude of outdoor activities, and its design makes it ideal for winter sailing in milder climates.

Unlike a standard rain boot, this TIDEWE boot comes with a breathable material along the higher edges, which keep your feet and ankles comfortable. It's roomy enough for heavy socks but provides a remarkable amount of insulation due to its thick material.

As you might expect, these high-top boots are durable and completely waterproof. They feature a non-slip sole that performs well on many boat surfaces, including anti-slip fiberglass, standard fiberglass, and teak decks.

The boot is made with 6mm-thick neoprene and natural rubber, which is superior to rubber-only boots in many ways. This also allows the manufacturer to keep the cost reasonable, but you'll spend more on these than a Walmart rain boot.

They are steel-toed boots; they feature a small steel support shank to retain the rigidity of the sole. The inner liner is both breathable and durable and dries relatively fast when compared to insulated boots.

These boots are available in sizes ranging from 5 to 14, and owners praise their high quality and durability. Plus, these boots come with a warranty, which adds peace of mind to an extremely important purchase. The lower 1/3 of the boot is rubber, which makes it easy to tape off your foul-weather trousers for a strong water-tight seal.

Best Uses:

These boots are a great high-quality waterproof boot for mild winter weather conditions.

2. Gill Short Cruising Boot

Here's a classic waterproof boot that's ideal for mild sailing conditions. In cold weather, it's essential to keep your feet dry—and the Gill Short Cruising Boot is a completely waterproof option for marginally cold weather.

This boot is made from 100% natural rubber, which has excellent durability and is completely waterproof. The short top makes it less ideal for extreme weather, but it's tall enough to replace a standard sailing shoe if there's a risk of heavy spray or cold weather.

Another advantage of a classic rubber boot on sailboats is its size and openness. You can wear virtually any kind of sock inside, including heavy wool socks to keep your feet warm. And since this boot is designed for sailing, it features a non-slip bottom that works extremely well on almost all sailboat surfaces.

These boots are remarkably easy to clean, and they dry out almost instantly. The sole is removable, and the rest of the boot is rubber. This means that if they get completely flooded, all you have to do is dump them out and remove the sole. You can replace it with a rubber sole for the fastest drying.

These boots are easy to clean and maintain, and their thick rubber makes them extraordinarily durable. And for the price, you can't go wrong with this long-lasting and waterproof winter sailing boot.

Best Uses:

Gill cruising boots are a fantastic and proven deck boot with a short profile for comfort and flexibility, though they're not ideal for the roughest conditions.

3. Grundens Deck Boss Boot

Grundens Deck Boss boots are designed for exactly what you'd expect—boat decks and in all sorts of weather conditions. These are one of the few pairs of boots on the market that are designed specifically for boats and often used for a wide range of tasks.

Grundens Deck Boss boots are completely waterproof from top to bottom and contain totally sealed seams that prevent water ingress from any point. Additionally, they feature a non-slip rubber sole that is durable and naturally resists sliding on rougher surfaces like fiberglass.

Grundens deck boots are made in the USA and come with an excellent warranty. The design is trusted by thousands of cold-weather sailors across the country, as these are some of the highest-rated winter boots on the market for sailboats. They're also popular for fishing (particularly fly fishing) as they can be sealed with waterproof trousers.

The company has a long-standing reputation that dates back decades, and these boots are the culmination of their marine engineering experience. The upper is injection-molded for uniformity and a long-lasting seal, and they'll never delaminate like less premium deck boots.

Best Uses:

Grundens Deck Boss boots are true sailing boots that are strong enough for harsh weather—but you may want to wear a thick pair of wool socks in the cold.

4. XTRATUF Legacy Series Insulated Deck Boots

If you're in the market for an insulated deck boot with all the characteristics of a true sailing shoe, look no further than the XTRATUF Legacy deck boot. These boots are designed specifically for cold-weather boating, and they're an excellent choice for sailing when the temperature dips low.

These classic deck boots are reminiscent of the work boots worn by fishermen in Alaska and Maine during the 20th century. They feature a 15-inch tall profile, which gets you more than enough space to seal your pant leg around the boot and tape it off for a waterproof seal.

Legacy series deck boots are made with waterproof neoprene, which is one of the best materials for cold weather sailing boots. Many sailors prefer it to 100% natural rubber, as it's less prone to damage from the sun and age. Additionally, neoprene makes these boots affordable and more comfortable than traditional boots.

These boots feature a non-slip rubber sole, which is one of the best in the industry. Additionally, they are insulated with a dry cushioning in the moisture-wicking material that provides superior warmth and comfort. It dries fast when wet, and it's completely sealed, which makes water ingress unlikely.

Best Uses:

These boots are ideal for harsh, cold, and wet conditions where a good waterproof seal and insulation are a must.

5. L.L.Bean Insulated Cold Weather Boot

For drier conditions, nothing beats the cold like a classic tall boot from L.L.Bean. These boots have been a staple in cold climates for decades, and they've proven their long-lasting durability and resistance to all kinds of weather conditions.

The boots we chose for sailing are the 10-inch shearling-lined insulated leather boots. The sole is designed for snow and ice, and the rubber has excellent anti-slip qualities on fiberglass as well. These boots were traditionally worn in Maine by fishermen and outdoorsmen alike.

Bean boots (as they're colloquially known) come in many different varieties with varying levels of water and grime resistance. These particular boots can be made waterproof, and they come with thick shearling insulation that provides fantastic warmth.

The natural materials used in this boot are of the highest quality, and they're known to last for decades. As a result, it'll likely be the only pair that you'll ever need to buy. However, these boots have a slightly different fit than most, so you may need to try them on before choosing a size.

Best Uses:

Bean boots are best for cold weather that's relatively dry, such as inland sailing in northern climates or living aboard.

Best Winter Sailing Boots
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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