I always think that the TV show Dancing on Ice is rather over ambitious. For me, a show called Walking on Ice would provide adequate danger, moving narratives of overcoming personal adversity and mild peril.
Celebrities would be forced to do simple tasks like walking to shops – only with the pavements replaced by sheet ice. The skill would lie in the right choice of footwear.
Fair enough, I’d be crap commissioning light entertainment. But I do know a thing or two about picking sensible shoes for shitty weather. With much of the UK currently covered in a terrifying, yet terribly pretty layer of ice and many pavements being left ungritted, the right shoes matter. Cute as it is, no one wants to star in a real life re-enactment of Bambi-on-ice on their way to work.
Here are some of the best boots to keep you with two feet firmly on the ground. Some of them even look stylish too...
I like to imagine that these babies turn feet into heavy machinery. They are super-grippy and supportive, mainly because they originated as work boots for building sites and factory floors. Most pairs have deep treads that ensure maximum grip on slippy surfaces. Some even come with steel toecaps built in, which may be slightly over cautious.
A pair of Cat boots also manages to look kind of cool, in a clumpy, ‘don’t mess with me’ kind of way. A knee or mid-calf high pair looks great over skinny jeans or with tights/leggings. They aren’t cheap but a pair will last for years. These brown leather work boots are a bargain at £60.00 in the Debenhams sale.
Yes, I know that they have lost some subcultural cachet in recent months but you really can’t beat a pair of DMs for year round, no-nonsense, ass-kicking footwear. They aren’t quite as grippy as Cat boots but they are the sort of shoes that make you feel in control of any situation.
The classic 1460 boots come in a rainbow of classic colours and finishes, meaning that you can express a little bit of your personality whilst enjoying the comfort and cushioning of the good Doctor’s trademark bouncing sole. They also cater for vegans with a range of quality faux-leather boots and shoes - my favourites are these cherry red vegan 1460 boots.
These were the boots that all the cool kids at my high school used to wear. I may have scoffed at them then, but now I get it. Timberland boots are designed to get stuff done – be it rugged adventuring, legging it after getting caught having a fag behind the woodwork workshop or walking to the bus stop on an icy morning.
The brand prides itself on their fully waterproof leathers and fused soles. The deeply ridged soles are tough and rubber outsoles allow for maximum grip on any surface. Styles include the classic ankle high hiking boot, with extra comfy padding at the ankle or the 14” lace-up boot that would look awesome layered over jeans or tights. They offer all sorts of nature inspired colours –from fern green to granite grey, but the classic camel/rust shade is the ultimate. I'm in love with these 14" boots in medium brown. Not only are they in the sale, they also come in half sizes too!
This is where we enter ‘serious walking territory’. Merrell are normally for people who carry backpacks instead of handbags and use phrases like ‘base layer’ when getting dressed. Thankfully, this means that Merrell know what they are talking about when it comes to sensible shoes for shitty weather.
Their Natalya waterproof snow boot has a snuggly fleece lining and a sole made out of something called ‘sticky rubber’ – that sounds good to me. These are boots that have been designed with snow and ice in mind. Thankfully, they look kind of cool too - the lacing looks really outdoorsy and would work well with a check flannel shirt and one of those puffa jackets. Pricey, but who knows? 2013 could be the year you take up skiing.
Nordic Grip Mini Ice Grips
I’m yet to try these babies out, but if this cold snap sticks around I’ll be hightailing it to my nearest outdoors store to stock up on Nordic Grips. These hardened metal studs are attached to a colourful rubber band that you simply slide over your shoes. The idea is that the studs dig into the ice to provide extra traction and grip.
They are, apparently, designed to work even with party shoes and come in a handy storage case to slip into your handbag. At £5.00 a pair in the Millets sale, they make a cheap and versatile alternative to splashing out on new boots.
Main image via Chelsea BK's Flickr