Winter weather has set in and you need a pair of boots that can handle the cold weather and snow. Rubber boots are popular because they are 100% waterproof and can take on the sloppy, wet environments that winter throws our way. But what about warmth? Are rubber boots warm?
Yes, rubber boots are warm. Unlined rubber boots are a moderate insulator of heat and can keep you warm in chilly conditions. However, for colder, more extreme conditions, you will need an insulated rubber boot. In my experience, unlined rubber boots keep me reasonably warm in conditions at or above freezing. For sub-freezing temperatures, I prefer an insulated rubber boot.
Of course, a lot of this just depends on your specific situation. For example, if you’re simply walking from the parking lot to your office building, even an unlined rubber boot can take on sub-freezing snowy conditions for a minute or two. But if you are walking many city blocks in snowy conditions, or working outside for long periods of time, you will likely need an insulated rubber boot.
The first thing you need to understand is that not all insulated rubber boots will offer the same amount of warmth. The amount and type of insulation can vary boot to boot and can greatly impact warmth. Your activity level will also impact the amount of insulation you need. If you are sitting and operating equipment and have low activity level in the cold weather, you may need extra insulation.
Matching an insulation weight to your activity level and climate is important. Most rubber boots will be insulated with 200g to 600g of synthetic insulation, but there are also boots that will offer even more insulation for extreme conditions.
In my experience, 200g and 400g will be warm enough for most US climates, but I must stress that there will be some exceptions. If you are living and working in dangerously cold temperatures, then you may need boots that use 600g or more of insulation.
In this article let’s take a closer look at how effective rubber boots are during winter. Let’s also discuss the different types of insulation used in rubber boots and how much warmth you might need.
Are Rubber Boots Warm?
Rubber boots are typically renowned for their reputation as rain boots. Kids and adults of all ages will don their shin-high yellow rain boots to trek and splash in giant puddles undeterred because they’re confident their feet will stay dry. However, what happens when the temperature drops and that spring rain turns into fall sleet and winter snow? Are rubber boots good for winter?
Yes, rubber boots can keep you warm since rubber is scientifically determined to be a good insulator of thermal heat. However, it is not as efficient at insulating heat as other materials and won’t keep your feet warm in freezing conditions without the proper design and additional elements of insulation.
While rubber itself can do wonders for thermal heat retention and keeping your feet warm, most ordinary rubber rain boots can’t handle extreme conditions for long amounts of time. Obviously, rubber is waterproof, so it’s unlikely your feet will get wet, which helps, but for those extreme winter conditions, insulation is needed.
As I mentioned earlier, plain rubber boots can keep you warm in most conditions at or above freezing. Yes, there may be exceptions based on other work conditions or your personal comfort level.
Freezing temperatures are when I personally start to notice that I need an insulated rubber boot. Don’t plan on rubber boots keeping you warm in sub-freezing conditions for prolonged periods of time without additional insulation.
A great deal of rubber boots are designed to cover up to the wearer’s mid-calf or just below their knee. While this can be helpful in keeping the majority of their lower legs warm, many rubber boots are also designed to have open tops. This design allows heat to seep out through the gaps between the wearer’s legs and the inside of the boot.
Therefore, if you’re adamant about using a pair of rubber boots in the late fall or all throughout winter, finding a pair of boots with laces allows you to tighten then securely and help trap heat (best lace up rain boots).
Are Rubber Boots Good for Snow?
Yes, rubber boots are great to use for snowy conditions because they are waterproof and don’t get salt-stained and ruined the way certain types of leather boots can (are leather boots warm?). And, as we have discussed, they do provide a reasonable amount of warmth.
But there are a few things to consider if you are planning to wear rubber boots in the snow:
- First, how long will you be in the snow? As we have discussed, if you will be in sub-freezing temperatures for a long amount of time, insulated rubber boots will be the better option. But if you are running simple errands and looking for a boot to tackle the snowy weather, rubber is a great option.
- Second, you will want to make sure that the rubber boot has the proper traction and outsole needed to tackle a slippery, wet environment. Most rubber boots do have nice traction, but there can be exceptions. Having a slightly raised heel can be helpful to provide some extra slip protection.
Why Insulated Rubber Boots Are Best for Winter Warmth
If your goal is to have a pair of rubber boots you can wear outdoors during the harsh winter months, you’re going to want to invest in a quality pair of insulated rubber boots versus non-insulated ones.
Insulated rubber boots are more effective at keeping your feet warm because the insulation material helps slow the movement of heat through the boot’s rubber. As a result, when you match the proper amount of insulation to your climate and activity level, it provides comfortable warmth to your feet even in sub-freezing conditions.
When you walk in your rubber boots, your movement generates heat, but if your boots don’t have insulation, it is much easier for that heat to escape the boot, either through openings at the top or through the rubber material itself.
Although rubber is a good insulator in itself, adding an extra source of insulation will increase the boot’s ability to retain this heat and prevent it from leaving the boot.
It’s important to understand that the insulation doesn’t generate its own heat; it merely helps retain the heat your body creates. So, the more active you are the more heat you generate. And the thicker the insulation, the more heat the insulation retains.
Boot insulation usually does not affect the fit of the boot, but to read more, visit my article about rubber boot sizing.
Types of Insulation for Winter Rubber Boots
One of the most popular materials you’ll see for rubber boot insulation is 3M Thinsulate. This material is synthetically engineered and is very good at trapping heat while also remaining lightweight and non-bulky.
The reason synthetic insulations are popular is it allows companies to line the boot, but not drastically affect the form and shape of the boot due to the non-bulky nature of synthetic insulation. This type of insulation is measure in grams, and for work boots, you will usually see it in 200g, 400g, and 600g forms, but some extreme boots will use 1000g or beyond.
Other common types of synthetic insulation include Thermolite and PrimaLoft. Just like 3M Thinsulate, these other types of insulation are very good at trapping heat while remaining lightweight.
Some rubber boots will use foam insulation around the foot to add warmth. For example, the LaCrosse rubber boots I own picture below use polymeric foam around the foot (in addition with a wool midsole) to help trap heat and provide comfort.
If you want to read more about these boots, visit our article about the best insulated pac boots.
Furs and Fabrics
Fur liners are some of the most natural, effective, and potentially expensive insulation options you can purchase for boots. Although synthetic insulation is much more common in rubber boots than fur, you will occasionally see fur-lined rubber boots.
Fur and fabric lining is more common in winter duck boots and pac boots, which use a combination of leather and rubber. Sometimes insulated pac boots will use a synthetic insulation for the rubber portion around the foot, then use a fur for the lining around the leather shaft of the boot.
There is a wide range of fur and fabric insulators, including:
- Faux furs
High Socks or Liners
If you have an exceptional pair of rubber boots that doesn’t seem to quite cut it with insulation, purchasing a quality pair of high socks or liners might be all you need for that extra boost of heat retention. We recommend purchasing a pair that is as high as your boots and made of exceptionally warm materials, such as wool. This will help keep your body heat within your shoe rather than seeping out the rubber material.
Some rubber boots may have a removable inner liner that helps insulate the boot. These types of liners make the boot versatile and able to handle a wide range of conditions.
Other Winter Boots
There are a wide variety of insulated boots on the market today, and if you are not happy with your winter rubber boot options, then maybe one of the options below will give you what you need:
- 600g Boots
- 800g Boots
- 1000g Boots
- Best Insulated Plain Toe Boots
- Best Insulated Steel Safety Toe Boots
- Best Insulated Composite Safety Toe Boots
- Best Insulated Slip On Boots
- Best Insulated Zipper Work Boots
- Best Insulated Moc Toe Leather Boots
- Best Insulated Wedge Work Boots
- Best Insulated Farm Boots
- Best Pull On Duck Boots
How much insulation for winter rubber boots?
It is most common to find rubber boots that use a synthetic insulation like 3M Thinsulate or Primaloft to line the boot. This type of insulation is lightweight and non-bulky, but very good at trapping heat. As I mentioned earlier, I also own a pair of insulated rubber boots that uses a foam insulation down around the foot.
It’s important to understand that the weight of insulation used in a boot greatly affects the warmth of the boot, as does your activity level. It is important to find a boot that fits your specific needs. Yes, you will want a boot that provides adequate warmth, but please understand that it is also easy to get too much insulation which can also become uncomfortable.
Sometimes, people who are very active on the job might buy an insulated rubber boot that has too much insulation for their needs, and because their activity level produces so much heat, they find themselves sweating out of the boots.
I can’t give you a recommendation because I don’t know your climate, activity level, or personal comfort levle. For me, I have found that 200g and 400g fit my needs that I experience here in Kansas winters.
In general, insulated boots that use 200g or 400g of insulation are warm enough to cover most US climates, although there can be a few exceptions. If you are in extreme conditions, or have a very low activity level while out in the cold, you may need 600g boots, or higher. While you can find insulated boots even up past 1200g of insulation, the most common range is 200g-400g.