What Shoes Do You Wear To Ski? (Best Footwear for Ski Trips)

by Simon Naylor | Updated: September 12th, 2023 |  Skiing Articles

While skiing you wear special ski boots that clip into your skis. These are very large rigid boots that lock your heel into place and protect you on the slopes.

While you're off the slopes and walking around the ski town you can wear your ski boots, but they're not very comfy for long distances. You should have another pair of walking boots that are warm, grippy in snow and ice, and fully waterproof. 

best snow footwear

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Best Off-Piste Boots 2022

These are quality hiking boots that have the dual purpose of being comfy in the ski town and can take you on long hikes all year round.

1. SALOMON Men's Quest 4 GTX Boots

2. Merrell Moab 2 Mid WP

3. THE NORTH FACE Tsumoru Insulated Boot

4. Salomon X Ultra 3 Gore-TEX Shoes

5. Scarpa Men's Zodiac Plus Gtx Hiking Boot

6. Asolo Falcon GV

Best Socks To Wear

Fully cotton socks won't be that warm but can be fine in milder weather. Fully synthetic socks will be warm but can be sweaty. A synthetic cotton mix would be better and a wool merino blend even better.

Merino Wool Socks

Merino wool socks are soft, warm, and very breathable. They'll keep your feet warm but not sweaty.

Here's my Top Pick for Merino Socks To Pack For Your Next Ski Trip:

1. Kirkland Merino Wool Blend Socks

2. Women’s 86% Merino Wool Socks

3. Danish Merino Wool Hiking Socks

Key Features Boots in Snow

1. Waterproof

It will likely snow during your ski trip and there will be plenty of snow or slushy puddles in the town to walk through. Wearing trainers or normal shoes won't cut it. In normal shoes, your feet will get soaked through in mere minutes and drench your socks - not fun for when you go to put your ski boots on and get them wet too!

Luckily there are now amazing fully waterproof materials like Gore-Tex® that allow your boot to breathe (wick-away internal sweat) and stay fully waterproof. Waterproof boots are essential for any ski trip, keeping you comfortable, warm, and dry throughout the day - no matter how hard the snow falls.

My favorite shoes to wear off the slopes are my Gore-Tex North Face hiking boots. They're comfortable, very light, and fully waterproof,  highly recommended.

ski resort 1
Photo by Baker County Tourism licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

2. Grip

Apart from easily absorbing water, most shoes and trainers lack the grip that you'll need to stay upright on your walks through town, on and off pavements, from icy patches to snowy drifts. Not only do you have to contend with slippery surfaces, but you might carry your skis over your shoulder - adding extra weight.

Trainers Vs Hiking Boots Grip Profile Hiking boots will have a deeper grip profile, with more nobbly grooves and a more defined texture to grip uneven surfaces. The deeper your grooves the more your shoes will grip you and prevent you from falling flat on your face.

No grip is perfect and walking on snow and ice can still be slippery but much less deadly! Look for a boot with an excellent grip to make your trip to the slopes less challenging.

snow shoe

3. Hardwearing 

A boot that lasts you one season is a waste of money. Buying a cheap boot is often a false economy. If it only lasts you a few months before poor stitching, inferior materials, and bad craftsmanship let you down - then what's the point?

The more you invest in a quality boot, the more it will keep you warm, safe, and dry for many years to come. Check the reviews and buy a boot from a reputable brand like North Face, Patagonia, or Salomon. Expect to pay at least £100 / €100 / $120 for a decent boot that will last.

4. Warmth

It's no secret that ski towns are cold places. A thicker sturdy boot will provide more warmth than a typical shoe. Interior fleece lining and padding will insulate your feet and keep you warm in the cold mountain weather.

couple in resort

Most Gore-Tex® hiking boots will be warm enough and they have the added benefit of usually being very light. While you at get a few pairs of quality socks for your new boots. They'll provide greater insulation and comfort.

What NOT To Wear Off-Piste

Everyday shoes that you might wear at home will quickly get soaked. Here's a list of shoes to avoid while walking around on your ski trip.

  • Ugg boots
  • Formal shoes
  • Trainers
  • Heels
  • Slippers or flip-flops!

Dangers of Bad Footwear

  • You could slip and hurt yourself.
  • Your feet will get cold and wet.
  • Your socks will get wet and make your ski boots wet.
  • Your feet can get sore and blisters - ruining your time skiing.
  • Your feet won't be comfortable and relaxed after a hard skiing session.

Final Thoughts

Leave your trainers and everyday shoes at home and invest in a quality pair of light hiking boots that keep your feet comfortable off the slopes. Not only will it make your time more enjoyable but you'll have an all-year boot ready for trail running, hiking, and hill walks.

If you want to know what else you should pack for a day skiing read: Everything You Need to Pack Skiing: List of Essentials.