Hey, your boots may be hurting your back! The weight of a pair of shoes or boots may not be something most people think about. For anyone living with chronic back pain and spine conditions, variables like these matter greatly and impact our overall quality of life. And if you don’t have time to read endless reviews to figure out which boots are best for easing your back pain, we’ve got you covered.

Whether you’re walking a lot, a little, or avoiding the outdoors as much as possible, we’ve got suggestions for you. We did our own research and looked for lightweight options, boots that allow for orthotic insoles to be placed, and overall comfort for everyday wear. We also took price into consideration. We know it can be hard to budget for all of the specialized items that make life with back pain more bearable.

How to shop for the right, back pain friendly winter boot

SportsRec.com offers several tips for how to shop for winter boots when living with low back pain. They include:

  • Look at your current shoes or boots, and note where you see the most wear and tear. You may need extra arch support if you notice that the soles are mostly worn down where the ball of your foot sits. Alternatively, if you notice more wear on the outer edges of the sole, you need more cushioning and support.
  • Don’t assume that a boot you try on will “break-in” and become comfortable if it isn’t comfortable when you try it on. Some footwear simply isn’t for your body!
  • Make sure that you buy boots that are fitting to the activities you plan to participate in. If you are simply walking about town, running errands, or getting to and from the office, you don’t need a hiking winter boot. Conversely, you need more tread and grip on your boot if you plan to hit those snowy hiking trails!

Let’s dive in

Who knows winter gear better than REI?

Columbia Minx Shorty III in Black

REI is a company built around a love of being outdoors. So, when we went looking for reviews on winter boots for everyday, around-town wear, we decided to consult the experts. Their staff pick for the best boot for overall comfort and utility is the Columbia Minx Shorty III Snowboot for women. 

With a weight of just 1 lb. 5.9oz. per pair, the boot won’t make you feel like you’re carrying sacks of concrete on your feet, exacerbating low-back pain. The model has been discontinued, though, so if you’re going to snag a pair, snag them now! 

Merrill Thermo Chill Mid Boots

REI staff chose the Merrill Thermo Chill Mid Waterproof Boots as the best boot for a mild winter, and this model comes in men’s and women’s styles. They’re not as lightweight as the Columbia Minx, but at 2.4lb. for a pair of men’s size 9, they’re still versatile and should treat you well whether you’re walking about town or on a mild winter hike.

“What if you’re wearing orthotics in your boots?”

It’s not uncommon for those living with chronic back pain and spine conditions to wear medical orthotics in their shoes daily. I have been wearing orthotics in my footwear since early 2018 when I discovered that I was incredibly flat-footed and the arches in my feet were dropping. This was impacting my gait significantly and contributing to some of my instability issues.

An example of an orthopedic insole

As much as I’d love to buy any pair of shoes or boots I think are cute and stylish, my low back doesn’t allow it. I have to take width into consideration as well as the ability to accommodate a medical orthotic insert. The Merrill Thermo Chill came up again on prevention.com for these very reasons. Other boots recommended for those of us wearing orthotic insoles include:

“I live in the frigid tundra. A basic boot won’t cut it.”

I figured I should consult with the experts for winter boots in places where winter weather is most extreme. Naturally, I googled, “winter boots for Canada.” I was not disappointed when I made my way to switchbacktravel.com

Sorel Caribou women’s boot

The Sorel Caribou is the boot they recommended for extreme cold and large amounts of snowfall. They point consumers to the boot based on comfort, warmth, traction, and weight. There are styles of the Caribou available for men and women.

Yes, these boots are heavier than others, but for a boot with a 10″ shaft and generous insulation and sole cushioning, 4lbs. 10oz. isn’t that bad. These definitely aren’t the boots to wear on long treks or hiking. But if you need to get to the grocery store the day after a No’reaster because you forgot to stock up on milk before the storm hit, these will probably serve you well.

“I hate the snow. Just make it easy for me to get to and from my car.”

Suppose you’re spending the least amount of time possible outside in the cold and snow. In that case, you may want to be as utilitarian as possible when shopping for boots. Don’t want to struggle to get your boots on and off? Would you rather not stay bending down to tie your shoes? We’ve got your back. (See what we did there?)

DADAWEN Women’s Waterproof Frosty Snow Boot

The friendly folks at HelpandWellness.com brought these unisex boots with a flair for the 70s and 80s to our attention. In comparison to other, more trendy brands, these bad boys are pretty darned affordable, too. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: DADAWEN Waterproof frosty Snowboot

Lightweight, under $45, velcro closures, and waterproof; I won’t lie. I might order the purple pair myself after I finish writing this piece. My back aches a little as I look over at my lace-tie boots, watching the snowfall in southeast Michigan pile up over 12 inches. Happy boot shopping, friends!

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