Extreme Cold Weather Winter Boots
The correct footwear is vital for Antarctica's extreme cold
The warmest winter boots for Antarctica or any
Ordinary leather or synthetic hiking
boots aren't warm enough for
very cold conditions, even
with an extra pair of socks.
Boots for extreme cold weather conditions have a different construction, they have soft uppers, thick rubber or synthetic soles, insulation that is often removable and thick insoles to prevent heat loss downwards to the snow and ice. The flexible uppers and a lacing system or adjustable buckles allow you to get them on while already wearing one or more pairs of thick socks (and gloves), and allow for flexibility of fit. It is important not to squash socks down too much as trapped air is the real insulator.
These kind of boots are great at keeping you warm and are suitable for most activities at low temperatures, though you'll need something more specialist for exceptionally rugged terrain or climbing. If you intend to walk or stand around on flat-ish ground in incredibly cold conditions, they will fulfill their function admirably.
Boots for cold weather are going to be bulky and heavier than those for warmer temperatures, all that insulation leads to wide uppers and a hefty sole to keep the cold away. In the coldest temperatures, there is no getting away from this. There is no super thin or ultra light insulating or heat reflective material that can avoid this, whatever the advertising material says.
Boots for your Antarctic Trip
If you're planning on a trip to
Antarctica you'll need some suitable substantial
footwear. These notes are specific to those
going to Antarctica, but are applicable to any hiking
boots that you may need for cold climates and rugged
Antarctica is rugged. There aren't any footpaths and walking will be at best on sandy or pebble beaches. The landscape that is not snow and ice is rocky, pretty rough and rarely flat. So a good solid substantial sole to any footwear is needed so that you don't feel all of those rugged Antarctic rocks too directly.
Summer temperatures in coastal regions where most visitors go will be at about temperate Northern hemisphere winter levels. It may well get below freezing point, so the boots should be warm enough and roomy enough to take a pair of under socks and also thicker warmer hiking socks.
Your footwear needs to be warm, water-resistant, supportive (at least ankle height) and with a good sole. Comfortable also helps of course and fortunately modern boots are much, much better than they used to be not so many years ago. Gone are the days of breaking in boots long before you needed to use them in earnest from a stiff incompliant starting point.
Also gone are the days when it was necessary as my grandfather advised me to my great horror as a fastidious teenager, to wee in them and leave them over-night (that's what they used to do in the army apparently - India, Northwest Frontier circa 1922).
It is sensible to get used to your boots and wear them around town or at least the house for a while before you set off for the airport to go south. It's not a good idea to put them on for the very first time in your cabin to go ashore and see your first penguin colony close-up. They arrive pretty much ready-to-go, but as with all footwear it also depends on how standard your feet are!
Socks - Don't "spoil the ship
for a ha'porth o' tar". Get some nice comfy warm socks
too. A good quality light-weight pair for next to your
skin and then some "hiking" socks to go over these.
These are usually made so as not to have seams in uncomfortable
positions and may be specially cushioned on the areas
where the weight is taken.
Hiking Socks: Midweight | Heavyweight
As you will be on a ship and making boat landings ashore, waterproof boots are very useful! While you won't be deliberately wading through water, a missed footing into just a couple of inches of water could result in an uncomfortably soggy foot for quite a while afterwards.
For use in and around boats in the Antarctic summer, the modern take on rubber wellington style boots are ideal with a close fitting and insulated neoprene upper.
They are much better for walking in than traditional wellington boots and are widely used in Antarctica by scientists, guides and tourists alike . They are waterproof up to the top so you don't have to worry when getting in or out of the zodiac in shallow water and you can be comfortable walking around in them all day long.
Clothing for cold conditions - layering is the key
(men's down the page)
Rated -25F /-32C, textile and suede upper, waterproofed, 200g insulation
Rated -25F / -32C Waterproof boot with lace closure, grippy tread, 10+ colors!
Rated -40F / -40C, 100% synthetic, rubber sole, inner boot
Rated: -100C /-148F, 7 layer inner boot, rubber sole
Rated: -25F /-32C, waterproofed suede upper, faux fur collar, 8+ colors!
Rated -25F / -32C, waterproof, leather upper, rubber sole, faux fur collar
Waterproof, leather and synthetic uppers
Warm, water resistant and durable
Rated -40F / -40C, leather upper, 200g thinsulate insulation, traditional laces
Rated -94F / -70C, Tall leather and nylon boot quick-lace, grippy lugged outsole
Waterproof, rated -40F / -40C, removable 9mm felt inner boot, extra insulated sole Women's Caribou
Rated -100F / -74C, Fabric and synthetic, rubber sole
Stay out all day in extreme cold weather, rated -70C / -94F
Rated -148F / -100C, 100% leather quick lace system, 8 layer inner boot
Waterproofed leather and synthetic upper, rated -25F / -32C, 200g insulation, tough sole Women's
Leather and textile upper, rated -40F / -40C, tough and durable, traction sole, snow collar, double buckle