Addendum, re: staying warm without looking like a North Face ad. I purposely ignored the subject of winter and shoes. I did so because I’m still on the fence about it; I have been going the time tested route, natural leather boot, treated for inclimate weather. The issue, however, is not staying stylish so much as staying safe – my two main winter walking concerns are walking stability (personal safety), and salt (shoe safety). This is a new experience for me; salted surfaces, and while salt will take care of the stability issue, it will completely screw up natural materials (ie. leather).
So I’ve been kicking around in a pair of these with moderate success. I treat them every month with obenaufs, after sufficient desalinization with a wet rag and liberal drying. The issue is this- I don’t want to wear these shoes every day for the next 3 months. I bought them because they were on the cheaper side of well made, and because I wouldn’t regret damaging them with winter wearing as much as, say, my other and more beloved boots.
I’ve come up with what I think will be the key to the problem, take a look at these-
So, you’ve got waterproofing, and warmth, and resistance to salt, all in a layer that can zip on top of a boot or shoe. This quote from their COO, Hanne Bismo Steen, seems to sum it up- “The SWIMS Mobster is built on the same rubber foundation as the SWIMS Classic (our first product) but has a warm neoprene water resistant high top. It protects more of the shoe and is good for days with lots of snow!”