Opinions, Column

Boots or No Boots: The Winter Dilemma

Let’s set the scene. It’s 8 a.m., and you just woke up. You’re staring out of your bedroom window. You watch herds of students bundled in winter jackets leave footprints in the light dusting of snow that covers the sidewalks. Immediately, you’re faced with a dilemma: should you wear boots or sneakers?

Sneakers, although comfortable and breathable, have two major winter weather flaws. If there is too much snow—either falling from the sky or piling on the ground—they can get wet. In a chilly place like Boston, the freezing water can dampen not only your socks, but also your mood. And if that’s not enough, the salt used to combat treacherously icy sidewalks and roads can stain sneakers in an unflattering way. A more foolish version of myself wore sneakers in the snow several times last year, and upon viewing the chemical lines that had perforated my footwear, I made a trip to the hallway trash can and unceremoniously discarded the pair.

Boots, on the other hand, can be rather clunky. Activities that are simple when wearing sneakers, like running, exercising, or playing sports, are hindered by the size and weight of most boots. More importantly, heat radiates inside those perfectly insulated rubber shells, so the entire day is spent in a mild state of over-warmth. Even with a full year of Boston weather under my belt, if I took “BOOT1050: When To Wear Sneakers,” I would not pass the class.

I grew up in Arkansas, a state with little precipitation throughout winter, so every day was a sneakers day. But only three months after I left my home state, I was already purchasing my first pair of boots. They worked well throughout freshman year on Newton, but I was in for a rude awakening after relocating to Lower Campus at the start of sophomore year. On the first day of fall semester, full of innocent joy and optimism, I happily knotted up my laces and headed out for classes. The cheerful expression was quickly driven from my face when I reached the foot of the Million Dollar Stairs. Weighed down by a cumbersome bag and heavy boots, I, like Sisyphus, began my daunting climb.

There are dozens of other questions students face mere moments after waking up—which stairs to take to class, what to have for breakfast, how much longer they can sleep without being late—but none of these minor questions have such a major impact on the rest of your day as what you put on your feet. If you decide to skip breakfast, the ramifications of this choice last no longer than the time it takes to have lunch. But if you decide to wear sneakers on what should’ve been a boots day, not only do you run the risk of leaving your sneakers in a state of disrepair, but trudging around with soggy soles leaves an embarrassingly messy trail. 

There is, of course, a clear and clever solution to this daunting conundrum. Until the Snoot (a combination sneaker and boot) is invented, I will seek the best of both worlds by sporting one boot and one sneaker.

January 31, 2023