They keep you warm and cozy. They can take an outfit from ordinary to amazing. They give you the traction you need to enjoy a winter hike on a winding trail through the woods. Truly, a good pair of boots is one of the joys of the season.
But we all know that footwear also can be our downfall. When your feet hurt, it is simply impossible to enjoy an outing.
Happily, with a little effort, it’s possible to find stylish and comfortable boots, even for those with bunions, plantar fasciitis or other foot conditions. Remember, too, that a good shoe doesn’t just protect your foot—it also can help prevent back pain.
The most important thing to get right—whether your boots are for dancing or dog-walking—is the fit. It’s not good enough to simply put on a pair and take a few steps. Instead, you’ll want to check the following:
• Have your feet measured. Feet change over time.
• Before lacing or zipping up the boot, push your foot forward. One finger should fit behind the heel.
• Lace or zip your boot and wiggle your toes. They should not be cramped at all.
• Gently kick a wall. Your toes should not touch the end of the boot.
• Rock up and down. Bounce a bit. Your heels should not move in the boot.
• If you’re selecting a hiking or work boot, stand on the sides of your feet to test for ankle support.
• Make sure the toe box is deep enough to prevent rubbing, especially if you have a condition like hammertoes.
Unfortunately, quality footwear can be expensive. Invest in one good pair and look for sales. Also, remember to take care of your boots so they last longer than one season. Here are a few of the best boots for winter:
Best All-Around Boot: Boylan Dawn by Clarks, $120
There’s a reason Clarks has been around since 1825. It is known for footwear that is stylish, comfortable and well-made. These boots offer a cushioned footbed without an “orthopaedic” look. Wear them with trousers, skinny jeans or even dresses.
Best Weekend Boot: Wedge Zip by Keen, $150
With a just-the-right-height cushioned heel and arch support, this bootie is comfortable enough for a day of running errands and cute enough for a night out.
Best Comfort Boot: Kingston by Abeo Biomechanical Footwear, $99
How can one shoe fit both flat-footed and high-arched people? That’s the concept behind Abeo, which offers custom arches in all its shoes. These boots, with their soft uppers, are also a good choice for bunion-sufferers. Grommets and a bit of fringe keep these boots stylish, without looking too trendy.
Best Snow Boot: Minx Mid II Omni-Heat Boot by Columbia, $120
Waterproof, insulated and light, these boots will keep you warm without the bulk.
Best Heels: Malika by Born, $210
No orthopaedic doctor in the world would advise wearing 4-inch heels, especially if you suffer from lower back pain. But just like a scoop of ice cream on a fine summer day, there is a time and place to break the rules. These heels are stacked, which makes them better than stilettos, and offer the comfort that Born is known for. Just don’t wear them every day.
Best Boot for Plantar Fasciitis: Aalto Chukka Boot by Kuru Footwear, $145
Anyone trying to beat plantar fasciitis knows what a long, painful process it can be. Kuru Footwear was designed specifically for people with the condition. Kuru’s patented technology cushions the heel of the foot, helping your feet stay happy all day long.
Best Splurge: Arst Waterproof Wedge Knee Boot by Taryn Rose, $250
Yes, these are pricey. But they’ll work just as well at the office as they will for a night out. And comfort will not be a concern. Taryn Rose was founded in 1998 by orthopaedic surgeon and shoe designer Dr. Taryn Rose.
Best Everyday Boot for Men: Northfield Plain Toe Boot by Rockport, $119.95
Rockport’s mission is to make casual and dress shoes that feel like sneakers. And they’ve succeeded. These waterproof leather boots keep you light on your feet all day.
Even with proper footwear, your feet can still bother you. If you're experiencing problems with your feet, Fisher-Titus has a great team of orthopaedic specialists and podiatrists that can help find and treat the cause of your foot pain. Visit our Find a Physician page to learn more about our specialists.