When we found ourselves slipping these boots on every time we left the house, no matter the weather, we knew we'd found a new Top Pick. The Sorel Madson, once you get it laced up, fits better and feels better than any of the more standard rain boots in the test. We realize it doesn't look or perform exactly like a traditional rain boot, but we think that there are a lot of folks out there who don't need the utmost in puddle protection and would prefer something a little more casual and comfortable.
These boots were perfectly comfortable to wear around town all day.
This was our only major issue with the Sorel Madson: we wish it had a higher waterline. Since these boots have laces (unlike any of the other boots in the test besides the Kamik), they also have a gusseted tongue. These gussets are not waterproof, so the boot is only waterproof to around 3". Waterproof gussets would have added an additional 1.5" to the waterline, which would have been a big improvement.
This lack of waterproofing at the tongue had a big impact on the boots' success during the water immersion tests, and we caution users against stomping in deep puddles or wading in much of anything with these boots on. However, in our real-world tests, our feet stayed dry in these despite heavy rain, and it was only upon stepping into deeper water that any water got in.
The water comes in right here - if only they had waterproof gussets!
Showing how high they could have been waterproof with higher gussets.
We were also impressed by however Sorel treated the leather, as it did not soak up any moisture despite extended exposure (this is in contrast to other leather boots we tested, which showed the moisture immediately). We're not sure how long this treatment will last, but it kept the boots looking great throughout over the multiple months we had them.
The boot on the left is wet, the one on the right is dry. Thanks to whatever treatment Sorel uses, the leather doesn't soak up moisture readily at all.
We didn't realize how heavy rain boots typically are until we put these boots on. The Sorel Madson boots weigh just under 2.6 lbs per pair. The average weight (per pair) of the other boots in this test, not including the Madson, is just under 5 lbs, with two models weighing more than 6 lbs. Due to the Madson's low weight, we were overjoyed to pull these on. After comparing a day in the Madsons vs the heavier boots, it turns out the extra 3+ lbs makes a huge difference in how tired we felt in the evening.
And yet, despite their weight, they're still perfectly cushioned. They feel like most casual shoes — pleasantly flexible, but not so thin as to feel every pebble underfoot.
The Madson boots are so light and balanced that they float!
These boots had a pretty thin insole, but the midsole was so cushioned that it didn't matter to us, and we happily wore these boots all day.
It's a thin insole, but the midsole is cushioned enough to keep this boot comfortable on concrete.
Based on how the outsole looks, we were pleasantly surprised at how grippy it was. It definitely couldn't compete with the more heavily studded models, but it did perfectly well at keeping us upright on slippery grass and slick rocks. We were particularly expecting them to slip laterally (due to the tread pattern), but we found them to be stickier than we expected. They did not grip as well when it came to loose mud (since the lug pattern isn't that deep), and if you're planning to wear these in ice, we'd recommend pairing them with some traction devices (like microspikes).
All that being said, these are obviously more style-oriented boots than work boots, so if you're in conditions that require the work boots, these won't do well. We're thinking, in particular, of a chicken coop we had to clean and hose down, which was a very slippery job. These boots wouldn't be the tool for that gross job.
While the outsole doesn't look like much, it's surprisingly grippy.
The Madson boots surprised us with how warm they were. Leather transfers heat slower than rubber does, and we were very happy to wear these in chillier weather with a thick pair of socks (and they had enough wiggle room to let us wear our thickest mountaineering socks).
These boots don't have any insulation. There is a thin microfleece lining for the forefoot area, though there is nothing but leather for the heel and ankle area. However, the boot was warm enough during the ice-bath test to get up to ~5 minutes, before some water leaked in through the non-waterproof gusseted tongue and made our feet uncomfortably cold. We think these boots could be comfortable in wintery weather with our thickest socks, but we do worry about traction.
Even though these boots are pretty warm in the ice-water, the leather is also extremely breathable, and we found them to be comfortable even over 60 degrees Fahrenheit when other rain boots had turned into sweatboxes. We are confident that these boots are comfortable in a wide range of temperatures.
We felt like these boots had the perfect amount of insulation. Not too warm for warm weather, not too cold for colder weather.
Ease of Use
Laces feel like a lot of work when it comes to slipping on rain boots. However, these boots are easy to lace up, and once they were well-laced, they fit better in the heel than almost any other rain boot. Turns out, the laces are worth it, even though we have to sit down to tie them on (unlike the higher rain boots).
We also love that they're leather, which means that they'll continue to break in and get more comfortable as we wear them, even if it also means that they may stain if we wear them in mud or other nasty semi-liquids. They do have a nice reinforced pull-tab on the heel to help get the shoe on, though we wish they had some protective material on the back of the boot, so we don't scuff them as we kick them off.
We appreciated the reinforced back loop to help us pull the boots on.
The Sorel Madson boots look great. They're trendy with their "Moc Toe," though we didn't know what this meant until we looked it up (a "moc toe" means the boots have a moccasin-esque upward seam along the front upper edge of the forefoot). And their laces make them look better (to our taste) than our standard slip-on shoes.
Every style consultant we asked said two things immediately. First, "Those are rain boots?!?" and second, "They look great!" The Madson was unanimously voted the best-looking boot in the test, and all the compliments put some pep in our step as we strutted around town.
Rain or shine, these boots look good.
The Madson boots are indistinguishable from "normal" shoes, and if you want to have dry feet during stormy weather but not pay a social penalty, these are perfect. For the first time in our testers' lives, their significant others were excited for them to wear rain boots on date night, as these look so nice.
Sorel Madson boots looking glamorous on a wet trip to the Post Office.
We're also excited that they're high-quality leather because we think they'll look better and better as the leather ages.
Its hard to say which of the leather boots in our test looks better, but our style consultants all preferred the Sorel Madson (left) to the Muck Boots Chelsea (right).
These size 13 boots have around 3/4ths of an inch of room forward and back (for our size 12 feet) and have just a little wiggle room width-wise for our D-width feet. They're probably just wider than a D width. The best part about them is that their laces let you really lock your heels in (and our feet move less in them than in almost any other boot in the test).
We loved the look of these boots on a chilly evening.
At this time, the Madson is the most expensive boot in the test, but we think it's a great option thanks to how stylish it looks and how many conditions it's good for. They can easily be worn most of the year-round, depending on your climate, and pair with enough different outfits to be worth the price for us. Do keep in mind that they are primarily style-oriented, which means that if you need to be out in bad weather all day, these will not be sufficient. But if you need a comfortable pair of shoes for around town in bad weather, these are perfect.
Moody evening photoshoot with the comfortable Madson.
We loved wearing the Sorel Madson Moc Toe for its minor weight, cushioned midsole, and perfect fit. We wish it had a waterproof tongue (to get that waterline up to 4.5" instead of 3"), and if it did, we would wear it literally all the time, no matter how bad the weather gets. It comes down to how you're planning on wearing this boot. The Madson can't keep you dry in deep puddles, and it's definitely not suited for deep mud, so if this is what you need a boot for, go check out one of the high boots, because they'll work a lot better for you. However, the Madson is perfect for the rainboot dilettante, the person who says "I'm not sure if I actually want a full-on rain boot, I just want something that will keep me dry." If that describes you, get this boot, we're sure you'll be happy with it.