I've always hiked in trail runners or cross trainers. The one time I've tried actual hiking boots I snagged an expensive pair of solomon's with great fit, planned a 6day in the smokies and had to bail on day 4 due to achillies tendonitus in my right heel. I've always blamed boots since I've never had any issues like that before.
So anyway, I was planning on doing some winter hikes...not really in deep snow to where snowshoes are needed. Is there anyone who makes some really nice insulated shoes? I have several pairs of goretex trail runners and even with some nice wool socks muh toes do get rather cold. Wasn't sure if there was a better option out there. Would be doing shoes+gaiters to keep the snow out.
Wow - I had the identical problem last winter when I switched from shoes to boots (Vasque Breeze model for both). I wondered if it might simply be the change from low to high tops - now there's some anecdotal evidence that the switch may have been to blame. I had never had a similar problem in 30 years, the first 20 of which involved the use of boots rather than shoes. Since last winter, after switching back to shoes and letting the heel heal (!), I've had no further problems.
I'm planning to try the shoe/gaiter thing this winter in the snow; I'm going to try GoreTex gaiters, though I'm not sure they offer any real advantages over plain coated-nylon gaiters - the only reason I got the GoreTex was because they were on clearance sale at the local outfitter.
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I don't think that hiking boots, per se, caused that problem. Rather, I'd think it was the fit of the particular boots you chose. Of course, I could be wrong...
One thing I know for sure is, fit, feel, and comfort are directly related to how tight you lace mid-top hiking boots. Because they lace up higher on your foot it makes sense (to me anyway) that this effect would be more pronounced with a mid-top boot compared to low-top shoes.
Every few days I have to loosen the laces on my Merrells because they tend to keep cinching up each time I put them on. When they get to tight they hurt, if I keep walking in them like that all day it really hurts. Several days in a row of that would render me lame.
As far as winter hiking shoes go, the best I ever owned were snow mobile shoes. The pair I had was discontinued the year I got them and I've never seen any quite like them since. I've never tried any others, but I'd certainly look into them if I were planning on doing a lot of hiking in the snow.
I do hike a little in snow here, though usually not very deep snow (6-8 inches is a lot here), and I do hike in below freezing quite a bit, so I use wool blend socks and "Toastie Toes" with those same Merrells I wear everyday. This year I think I'll try gluing a piece of mylar under my padded inserts to see if that helps keep some warmth in too, but I'm a firm believer in those "Toastie Toes" chemical warmers.
I use trail runners when it's spring, the ambient temps are 50+F, and the snow is shallow like that.
In winter while walking in Sierra cement(tm) or deep powder I have a pair of Columbia boots, the kind that's waterproof and insulated, because repeatedly sinking in snow eventually chills and wets out the socks.
There's a variety of options, including the waterproof gaiter approach, for shallow snow and cold. I generally dislike Goretex boots but if continually hiking in conditions such as you describe I'd probably go with a Goretex mid and add gaiters rather than a full boot. Goretex in my usual 3 season temps/conditions is miserable but would probably be tolerable in the cold.
I've had bruised ankles and foot issues trying to use a full boot for 3 season hiking. I suspect the winter boots are okay for me due to the fact that I don't go backpacking in snow, and don't do more than a few miles at a time on snowshoes - and snowshoeing alters my gait and slows me down to the point that I have less bruising around the ankles.
(I've had people argue with me about boot fit - I have zero issues with mid height or low top shoes of the right size, and bruised ankles with full boots that otherwise fit like the low tops. I think in things as important as shoe fit, that you do what works for you and ignore the misguided advice of others who have "normal" feet.)
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
Blood circulation is important to keep the feet warm. We tend to tighten the laces to prevent blisters, but that needs to be done more gently in the winter. Adding a pair or two of thick wool socks makes the problem worse because now the shoe is even more constricting. Gore-Tex socks can often work better than Gore-Tex footwear because there are less holes and stitching for the manufacturer to seal, and it's easier to find and patch a leak in a sock than a shoe. Using two pair of thick socks, it's often necessary to use a larger outer sock, and a larger Gore-Tex sock to fit over both of them. Then, wear all of this to the shoe store to pick out some footwear which fits snugly enough without constriction--generally about 1.5-2 sizes larger than with normal warmer weather socks. Wear the Gore-Tex socks with non-waterproof footwear.
If temps are below 15-20F, consider adding a vapor barrier sock to the above system. This is a waterproof sock which is worn over a thin liner sock which holds perspiration next to your foot, but keeps the other sock layers dry. I've used oven bags as vapor barrier socks. They work ok, but I'll probably try MYOG silnylon this winter.
Also, consider footwear with less sole support for winter. You're probably walking mostly in soft snow, and the foot flexing more keeps it warmer.