Have you considered snow pac's. "bull" Have used Sorel Caribou pac for years and when there is snow on the ground or its froze they are the go-to boot. Just bought another pair last winter and these have a bob sole and traction on snow and ice is superb. Add two sets of liners and a pair of gaiters and your good to go. A pair last about 5 years using them about 4 months a year.
I also use the Danner Rainforest when its dry but the rubber in the soles are too hard and when it freezes up they just don't get a good grip. I have quit wearing them all together once the cold sets in.
I can vouch for Sorel Caribou pac . I've used same from Montana to NWT, with great satisfaction. However, I think there must be more improvements since then. I also liked Danner trooper with Vibram sole for dry ground. Same for wool pants. Modern synthetics must be better. Wool shed water amazingly, but they don't breathe like synthetics.
The warmest boots I ever had were military bunny boots, but I wouldn't want to hike in them much. For stand hunting, they would work.
Boots are like other forms of clothing. You have to pick what works best for you and what you can afford.
There is variability in leather, and I have never gotten the same wear out of two of the same type. Also decide if you want replaceable stichdown soles (Danner) or randed soles that will never come loose, but can't be replaced.
Modern soles often last as long as the uppers, so the replacement option isn't a big issue for me anymore.
Not sure if this applies to your question but to increase the insulation of any boot use bread bags or zip-lok freezer bags. Just don't take the boots off when exposed to cold. We have used this method for years, since before good insulation was an option in boots. It does work.
Danner just lost their limited contract for the Combat Hiker, AKA the "Afghanistan boot" issued to US Special Forces in Afghanistan. The military paid $310 for each pair of boots, with two pair issued to each (SF) soldier receiving them. Any general troops wishing to purchase their own paid $310 per pair. The retail price per pair would have been $350, if they went into permanent production and available for civilian purchase
Belleville 950 Mountain Combat Boot was selected over the Danner Combat Hiker for general army distribution to Afghanistan troops (probably because it was the cheapest). Danner redesigned the Combat Hiker to the Improved Combat Hiker and it now sells to anybody for $380 per the Danner website. Belleville 990 Mountain Combat Boot is the non-Gore-Tex version of the Belleville 950 for hot weather use, at a lower cost. Wellco makes a version of the Combat Hikers with the same Vibram Bifida outsole for less money than Danner Combat Hiker, and generally better liked by troops than the Belleville 950 MCB. All three boots use the Vibram Bifida outsole, and IT IS AWESOME IN MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS.
I picked up a pair of the Danner Combat Hikers at closeout special at Shipton's Big R in Billings for $99.99 just before Christmas. A guy came in right behind me and picked up the last pair in my size. WOW!!! Are these boots ever awesome in steep terrain! They have better ankle support than any other 6" boot I ever wore. They are better than my Italian made LL Bean Cresta hikers in grip on any kind of steep slope, and the Cresta is an awesome Gore-Tex hiking boot at the price. I feel like a mountain goat in these boots.
At the Danner Portland store, the Danner Combat Hikers were available for $50, walk-ins only. You may find some of them being sold on eBay at this time by folks wishing to make a few bucks. They are no longer in production, but they were developed from the Danner Talus mountain hiking boot, which sells for $190 and is imported. The Vibram Bifida sole is the same in both cases, but the Talus rand is lower and the top lace hooks are different and the leather is probably lower quality.
My Combat Hikers are awesome and I never had a blister or hot spot during break-in on steep slopes. The Improved Combat Hiker should make an excellent cold weather boot if you buy them a size bigger than normal for an extra pair of wool socks and an insulated insole. The Wellco Combat Hiker should do you good if you can't find the Danner and it will be cheaper. The Belleville 950 Mountain Combat Boot seems to not be available to the general public at this time as it is the current issue boot and military orders are being filled first.
There are always various versions of the Danner Acadia and Ft. Lewis that include various degrees of insulation that make excellent cold weather hunting boots. My cold weather hunting boots for the past 18 years have been Danner Ft. Lewis with 200g Thinsulate insulation.
US Special Forces receive the very best gear above and beyond what the regular army ever gets, so I took the Danner Combat Hikers very seriously, and they compare well against any cost-no-object European mountaineering boot like Lowa, Zamberlan and La Sportiva. The Danner Improved Combat Hiker at $380 is thus not overpriced at all. That Vibram Bifida outsole should have been named the Mountain Goat outsole. After 5 hikes in steep terrain, I had to look hard to spot any wear at all, and it was very minor.
The Iraq type desert combat boots went to pieces in as short as two weeks when used in the mountains of Afghanistan due to the sharp rocks and steep talus slopes. These Danner "Afghanistan boots" have gotten everybody through a tough tour of duty in Afghanistan without falling apart, and you can cruise the military gear boards if you don't believe me. These are some of the toughest and stickiest mountain boots you will ever come across.
I'm looking for a second pair if I can snag them at a closeout price like I just paid. Just buy a size larger if you need them for cold weather boots.
However, I see they've come up in price quite a bit! I've worn them on quite a few hunts and have no complaints. Real supportive for steep / rocky terrain. Looking at the price now for a comfortable, warm, deep snow boot, I don't think you can beat the Schnees Pac's. I've worn them a lot for coyote calling during the winter and wear them daily for work when the snow is deep. My only recomendation is to buy an extra pair of liners. If your feet sweat, it's good to change back and forth to give them a day to dry. I think this helps them last longer too. I've had my Schnees pac's for about 6 years and even in and out of corrals full of cow $&*# they have held up really well. I've had the sheephunters for about 5 years, and they too have held up really well. However, I save them strictly for hunting. For a lot of years I bought "cheaper" boots once every year. Paying the $$$ up front is well worth it for a good pair of boots that last.
Lowa is a good replacement for Meindl as they are both excellent German made boots.
You might also consider AKU made in Italy. AKU was my first true world class Europen hiking boot, and I still have the original pair from 15 years ago. They make some of the most high end mountaineering boots in the world worn by top mountaineers. They are also a full range boot manufacturer. They offer very good mountain hunting boots with a choice in Vibram soles on the same model boot, which is rare.
AKU has a few US dealers, mostly in western states. There is a dealer in Bozeman, MT. I just bought my third pair of leather hiking boots made by AKU, the LL Bean Cresta Hiker. It's not rated a winter boot, but it's less than $200 from LL bean and compares to the Meindl Alaska boot that Cabelas sells for $100 more. It makes a good winter stalking boot for southern states, and LL Bean sold a taller version called the Cresta Hunter. AKU boots are famous for comfort out of the box. If they didn't last, LL Bean couldn't sell them because of their total satisfaction warranty.
Many of the AKU boots are now made in the AKU factory in Romania. My old Italian made AKU boots and the new Romanian replacements are of the exact same craftsmanship quality as far as I can tell. They share the same extraordinary comfort right out of the box and fit exactly the same. A Romanian made boot will save you $100 or more over a German or Italian made boot, and if it is made in the company owned factory it will be of the same quality as the previous German or Italian boot. I have Rossignol ski boots made in Romania and Fischer skis made in Ukraine in company owned factories. They are every bit as good as from the home countries.
The Danner Pronghorn boots are now made in China, and previous owners of US Pronghorns are VERY dsssatisfied with the new Chinese Pronghorn boots per the Cabelas website. About the best thing you could do with a Chinese boot is pour dirt in the boot and use it as a flower planter or something, or as a chew toy for your new pup....if the possibility of poisoning your pup doesn't concern you much.