Brrr! What a way to finish the year and ring in the new! The winter of 2017/2018 is off to a brutal start in America, and it doesn’t seem to matter where you live: Bomb Cyclones in the Northeast; five feet of snow in Erie, PA; record low temps all along the North; even the South has gators frozen in the ice! So how do we fight back against Old Man Winter? We start by kicking him in the chops with a new pair of mens winter snow boots!
Winter is Coming…er, it’s Here! Layer Up!
Personally, I don’t think any other season brings out the whiners more than winter.
I get it that it’s a pain to shovel snow, that driving is a heckuva lot trickier, and the fashions are more about covering up than showing off.
But does it deserve all the crankiness? What about the winter sports and snowball fights and ice castles and snow men — even snow angels? So the elements are a bit on the nasty side. Just be smart and deal with it by wearing the RIGHT layers and enough of them. Then go have fun!
Wait — that’s right… some folks have to WORK in the c-c-cold. Maybe they have a reason to be cranky.
If you ask me, most fellahs and ladies grow a mite surly only because they have failed to follow their mom’s advice and “bundle up.”
Well, I’m here to show you how to stay warm and retain a full range of movement. No need to look and feel like that poor kid from A Christmas Story. Shirts, sweaters, pants, jackets, hats — they all make a difference as to whether you’re going to feel like a pop star or a popsicle when you step out into that freezing air. I’ll cover ’em all, one item per article.
But first (if it isn’t obvious already), we’ll be starting with FOOTWEAR.
Lt. Dan Wasn’t Wrong
Remember that guy from Forrest Gump? I mean, how could you forget! Not only was he Tom Hanks’ former commanding officer in Vietnam and a lifelong friend (in the movie), but he lost his goldarn LEGS! That meant he lost his FEET — which he clearly cherished. A cruel irony, indeed.
We got to understand Dan’s foot obsession when he lectured Forrest upon his arrival at the jungle. Dan was all about caring for one’s feet, and he knew that the heat and the sweating could cause some serious tootsie troubles. No feet = no walking = no soldiering. Even if he was a bit preoccupied with the subject, Dan made sense.
Well, we’re not talking about hikes in the jungle today — that’s for a post later in the year.
Right now, we’re discussing how to protect your feet from the cold rather than the heat. We’re also just as concerned about the dangers of too much moisture collecting in your socks… just like Lt. Dan.
This means we need to be concerned with what we put on our feet. At this time of year — particularly for all you working fellahs out there — we need to be focused on the three W’s: Warmth, weatherproofing, and wicking action. So that brings us to our apparel subject for Tuffduds Post #1: Mens winter snow boots.
The Telltale Toe
Dudes: For those of you that haven’t figured this out yet, when it comes to choosing the right kickers from all the mens winter snow boots available out there, you’ve got to pay the greatest attention to the one body part that has the most to ‘say’ on the subject.
That’s right: Your toe! And hopefully you have more than one and frostbite didn’t take the rest. Hate to think this article is coming a bit too late for someone. Anyhoo…
Whether you’re trying on a new pair or slipping into your old favorites, you’ve got to make sure of two things:
Warmth and wiggle room.
They go hand in hand — or, in this case, foot in foot.
If your toes feel a nip on them, then there’s a problem that can lead to bigger problems. The likeliest causes?
- Poor Insulation
- Wrong outer materials
- A hole or a split somewhere in the boot
- A damp spot, either from moisture that got in, or moisture that stayed in — probably a pocket of sweat (i.e. poor wicking properties)
Any of these will be made 5 times worse (or 10 times if in both boots) if your toes are all scrunched together. This is not a case of safety in numbers — more like, misery loves company!
It usually starts with the BIG TOE. He takes the brunt of your weight, and therefore the brunt of the day’s abuse. He may be bigger than the rest, but he’s still really just a little fellah. If you get him wet and freeze him — or just freeze him — he’s going to make you as miserable as he is.
Ditto for his four other foot friends. When the biggest gets a chill, and the other toes are crowded next to him because of inadequate space, then they’re all going to catch HIS chill. This means numb feet and poor balance — not good if you’re working with ladders and power equipment or carrying heavy stuff. It could also mean — if the temps are low enough — that frostbite could be starting to set in, and we all know the stories of how BAD that can be for frozen flesh!
Bear in mind that that numbness is actually the second warning sign our feet are in trouble.
First, our toes really start to smart from that nasty cold, don’t they? I personally hate that particular pain.
The numbness is the body part shutting down as a last resort to protect itself, but now the circulation is starting to slow too much, and that means the warmth from the blood is now leaving that extremity. It’s like your toe is crying out for help but it’s coming out a yawn!
Numbness is dangerous because it’s really easy to ignore what you can no longer feel. I know I’ve done it plenty of times — all in the interest of just getting the job done. Came close to the “f” word more than once as a result. At this stage, however, what is being experienced is referrred to as ‘frostNIP.’ If you feel your toes getting warm again on their own, or you feel blisters forming, GET INSIDE and GET HELP!
That’s your body’s final warning!
So not only is PAYING ATTENTION to your toes super important, but so is giving them the right protection to begin with.
Good socks are the first step. Pure wool or a wool blend usually do the trick.
Secondly, and most importantly, you need to be wearing the right BOOTS for working out in the white stuff.
This means throwing out those scuffed-up, worn-out veterans and tossing aside those poorly-marked “wide” sole boots you found in the bargain outlet. It’s time to check out the best of the best! And I’m not talking budget-busters here.
Boots on the Ground: Which Ones?
First, let’s tackle one of the two dilemmas facing all of us when choosing footwear by narrowing down the selection of types of mens winter snow boots that are out there.
Snow boots doesn’t necessarily mean you are not buying WORK BOOTS. You just need to choose whatever is A) practical for the work you are performing, and B) ideal for the weather situation you are encountering.
To help you with the process of making up your mind, here are what I consider to be the big three choice categories when it comes to rugged footwear for the outdoor winter worker:
- Pac Boots
These are your best friends when the snow is piled high and deep (kinda like your boss’ credentials, if you get my meaning). They are always weatherproof, rise high enough above your ankles to tackle most snowfall depths, synch up close to your legs to keep avalanches off your socks, and typically come with a super-warm, heavily-insulated sole liner.
A word of caution:
These liners have great wicking properties in them, but once you get home at the end of the day, you need to REMOVE THE LINERS FROM THE BOOTS and let them dry out.
Failure to do this will trap the moisture in the boot, and you’ll be greeted the next morning with cold, wet footwear that will not keep you warm at all. Many dudes forget this or don’t bother (’cause it’s kind of a pain to keep taking them out and putting them back in), and then they moan and groan about how the boots stink (in every way imaginable).
Do yourself a favor and always take the time and effort to perform this extra step after every wear. Your feet will thank you for it and your boots will work as hard as you do for YEARS.
For the best bona fide choice of mens winter snow boots, I highly recommend anything by Sorel.
These guys know what they’re doing. After all, they’re from Canada — and that country’s all a-boot snow boots!
2. Work Boots
This category is pretty self-explanatory. Just remember the three w’s of warmth, weatherproofing, and wicking action when making your selection.
Also, LEATHER makes for a great, tough exterior that can stand up to knicks and other abrasions. And if you are required to go for steel toes, don’t forget to give those toes plenty of room — you’re gonna need thick socks to stay warm in those!
3. Hunting Boots
Want a waterproof and well-insulated environment for your feet that will last all day — without the weight of your average snow or work boot? Can’t have enough camo in your life? Then these babies are an epic win for working outside! Best of all: You can go straight to your deer blind right after quitting time! Just keep your hunting jacket and pants waiting for you in the truck.
Should you decide to go this route for your feet, try to choose boots that have rubber toe caps — they last a heckuva lot longer and keep those dogs safe from all kinds of stub-worthy situations!
Now to tackle dilemma #2: Where to find these boot brutes.
Best Places To Find Mens Winter Snow Boots
Where to look? Where to buy? Is there something in a store near me?
As far as that last question, I suggest AVOIDING THE ‘BIG BOX’ STORES altogether if you can… the boots you’ll find there are more than likely just crap.
If you need to stay within a tight budget but still want good deals on great brands, then you can’t do better than The Sportsman’s Guide. Give that web site a visit and then sit back — ’cause there’s a lot to look at! I mean, a lot! Yep, they’re all there — Sorel, Propet, Wolverine, Columbia, you name it.
Should you come to realize you really like them, then a membership would be a good idea, too. It doesn’t cost much, and the extra savings are hard to beat — more than making up for what you spent to become a member.
Your second best choice is pretty much your first choice in quality workwear: The Duluth Trading Company.
They’re a bit pricier, but the materials they use are outstandingly tough, and a lot of it is AMERICAN MADE.
Both places have 100% money-back satisfaction guarantees, which I’ve taken advantage of more than once. Friendly folks on the phones (that you can understand!) if you need to dial them and be all old-school about it, and there’s tons of humor and anecdotes to keep you grinnin’ while readin’.
So give these two places a try (if you’re not familiar with them already)!
Your search for the warmest, most durable, and driest winter footwear will definitely be off to a good start.
Whatever you wind up choosing, I betcha it’ll make Lt. Dan proud!