If you’re looking for the best boots for Alaska, winter or summer, hiking or fishing or just walking around town, you’ve come to the right place! Whether you’re a visitor or planning a move to Alaska, I’ve got you!
I’m a born and raised Seattleite who lived in Alaska for seven years, in different parts of the state, working in tourism and schools. I’ve lived in the super rainy parts and the super cold parts and visited most places in between, so you can trust me to recommend boots that are amazing and truly the best for Alaska.
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Best Winter Boots for Alaska
The best winter boots for Alaska vary quite a bit depending on where you’re going. Interior Alaska, including Fairbanks and Denali National Park are extremely cold (way below zero) in the winter and very warm boots are an absolute necessity. This is overkill most of the time in Southeast Alaska, where winters are quite wet and rubber boots or snow boots that are waterproof are most important. Anchorage can be somewhere in between, not as wet as Southeast but not as cold as the Interior.
If you’re visiting Alaska in winter, make sure to bring some other shoes as well, since you may need a break from boots, especially in indoor spaces.
Interior Alaska (Fairbanks and Denali National Park)
The most important thing in the best boots for Interior Alaska in winter is WARMTH. I think waterproofness is still helpful, because you take your snowy boots inside and then they get wet as the snow melts, but that is not as important as warmth.
Another really important factor is traction, since you’ll be walking on ice and snow you want to have some good tread on your boots. If it’s really icy you might also consider some microspikes (like tire chains for your feet).
I love Sorel Boots, both how they look as well as how comfortable they are and they are super warm. I am super comfortable in mine down to about -20 degrees F. The one downside of these is that the liner comes out every time you take them off which I find really annoying, but not a huge deal given how amazing they are overall.
OK, but what if it’s going to be, like, REALLY COLD?
If you’re going to be in temperatures colder than -20 (the coldest I experienced was -56 F, but as a visitor you’re not likely to have it be that cold!), then go big with Baffin snow boots. This is the brand I had when I lived in Fairbanks and they were absolutely amazing. Highly recommended for crazy cold weather! But this is totally overkill unless it’s going to be super cold.
Southcentral Alaska (Anchorage area and the Kenai Peninsula)
Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula can be a little tricky because it’s not as cold as the Interior, but it can still be QUITE cold (still below zero). I recommend the same warm snow boots above for Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula, but make sure they’re waterproof too.
Southeast Alaska (Juneau and the Inside Passage)
Southeast Alaska is definitely cold and snowy in the winter but it’s also quite wet and at times it’s warm enough for cold rain instead. You can still with the snow boots I recommend above BUT it’s super important they are waterproof because wetness is a much bigger issue in Southeast Alaska.
Many people, including myself, wear the extremely popular XtraTuf rubber boots (you will literally see them everywhere) and they are plenty warm with a warm pair of wool socks. Most of the time it’s not cold enough in Southeast Alaska for me to need something warmer. I love the gorgeous prints on the Salmon Sisters ones, that turn a boring rubber boot into a piece of art! In addition to the Octopus ones I have, they also have ones with fish, puffins and more fun designs!
Yep, in Alaska people wear boots all year! You’ll probably want boots even if you’re visiting in the summer, but the right kind depends on your preferences and also what your plans are.
If you are visiting Southeast Alaska or the Kenai Peninsula in the summer I highly recommend bringing rubber boots that are comfortable to walk in. This is also a good idea in other parts of Alaska like Anchorage, Fairbanks and Denali although they are somewhat less wet parts of the state.
Alaskans all around the state wear XtraTufs (mentioned above for winter in Southeast also) and you will see them everywhere in Southeast Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula in the summer.
XtraTufs are completely waterproof as well as having good traction if you’re on slippery wooden boardwalks (there are a lot of those!) or muddy trails. I wear mine hiking in Southeast Alaska, that’s how comfortable they are! I often wear them hiking in the Pacific Northwest in the winter too. If you’re not convinced, my husband worked for many years as a field archaeologist in Gates of the Arctic National Park and this is what he (and all of his colleagues) wore for many miles of backpacking for weeks on end!
You’ll want thin wool socks to wear under them so your feet don’t get too hot and stay comfortable.
If you’re visiting Alaska, make sure to bring some lighter shoes in summer, because it can get warm and sometimes you just don’t want to wear boots anymore! A pair of sandals, running shoes or casual shoes is a good addition along with boots.
Best Hiking Boots for Alaska
As I said above, I like to wear my XtraTufs for hiking in Southeast Alaska, but if I’m near Anchorage, Fairbanks or Denali National Park in the summer where it’s often a bit drier and less muddy, I usually opt for the same hiking footwear I wear in Seattle. I prefer hiking shoes which I’ll talk about below. If you prefer hiking boots, any hiking boots you already have will work great for Alaska!
If you are buying new hiking boots for your trip to Alaska, make sure they are waterproof. That’s the most important thing because your feet are likely to get wet. While each person’s preferred boot varies, I recommend Merrell Moabs because they’re a great company and make wonderful waterproof boots that perform well.
When it’s wet or snowy, I often wear the shoes with gaiters, which keep water from going in over the top of the shoe. They are basically a waterproof layer that goes over your lower legs. They’re not necessary but can be really helpful staying dry.
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years. I've been a tour guide in both Alaska and Washington and I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best low key adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!
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