Related: The Best Rain Boots for Women
The Best Rain Boots of 2019
|Price||$131.32 at Amazon|
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|$121.92 at Amazon||$49.95 at REI|
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|$94.88 at Amazon||$64.95 at Amazon|
|Pros||Well insulated, ideal comfort, and easy to take on and off||Extremely warm, grippy||Highly waterproof, stiff construction for rough terrain, great traction||Grippy, cushioned, well-insulated||Affordable, well-insulated, great traction|
|Cons||Lower shaft height, less traction||Too warm for most uses, too tight to easily slip on and off||Looser fit, lacks insulation||Heavy, loose fit||Not as comfortable as other models|
|Bottom Line||The Ultra High boot will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable even on the longest, coldest, and wettest days.||The Arctic Sport will keep you warm when all else fails, though they'll be way too warm in normal conditions.||This workhorse boasts a phenomenal price for such a rugged boot.||Bulky, heavy, and capable - these boots are best if your chores take hours in rough conditions.||While we loved many of the innovative aspects of these boots, we wish the boot had more support underfoot for all day comfort.|
|Rating Categories||Bogs Classic Ultra High||Arctic Sport||Baffin Enduro||Chore Hi||Kamik Icebreaker|
|Water Resistance (30%)|
|Ease Of Use (10%)|
|Specs||Bogs Classic Ultra High||Arctic Sport||Baffin Enduro||Chore Hi||Kamik Icebreaker|
|Weight of pair in pounds||5.76 lbs||5.74 lbs||5.49 lbs||6 lbs||4.58 lbs|
|Shaft Height (in inches - from bottom of sole to lowest point at top of shaft)||12 in||17.6 in||16.25 in||15.5 in||14.25 in|
Best Overall Model
Bogs Classic Ultra High
The Bogs Classic Ultra High is a phenomenal boot, comfortable enough to wear on any surface for hours at a time, and insulated and waterproof enough for miserably cold and wet conditions. Their innovative handles and large heel studs make them easy to get on and off, and their foamed neoprene uppers kept our feet comfortable even in the snow.
The Classic Ultra High boots do have a few drawbacks: they're not fashionisto fodder, and the handles definitely mean there's a lower flood height, but we think these "drawbacks" are just the backside of its strengths - it's clearly workwear, and the handles make it so much easier to use that it was hard for us to go back to normal boots. We can confidently attest: from full 10-hour workdays on solid concrete to wading through rivers, cragging, and car camping, these boots made us happy. And when the soggy Seattle winter settled in, we kept these boots by our front door, ready for whatever weather we might find.
Read review: Bogs Classic Ultra High
Best Bang for the Buck
The Baffin Enduro is the archetypal rainboot — the one you would imagine if someone told you to picture a rainboot. It provides a rugged rubber shaft up to 16.25 inches, and a variably lugged outsole to tackle any surface you might find. Due to their 17.5 circumference shaft, they're easy to take off and put on, even without sitting down. And their price (for the value) is unbeatable.The Enduros aren't insulated, so they definitely need to be paired with thick socks, and the insoles that come with the boots aren't the best, so if you're planning on spending a lot of consecutive time in them, you should replace the insole. But once we took our sock and insole game seriously, we were able to happily spend more than 14 hours straight in these boots without any issues. If you're looking for the best deal, and you're less concerned with the most deluxe option, give these tough boots a try.
Read review: Baffin Enduro
Top Pick for Inclement Weather and Water Resistance
The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport
If you need the Arctic Sport boots, you'll know. Other boots in the test will be more practical for everyday use, but for those who need uncompromising warmth, comfort, and water resistance, this boot is ideal. There's something wonderful about slipping into this boot (in the cold weather) and knowing that no matter what you find, your feet will be comfortable and warm.
However, the things that make these boots incredible (their warmth, high shaft, and general heavy-duty-ness) will make them extremely uncomfortable for casual use. They're too heavy to kick around in temperatures above freezing. And their snugger shaft means that you'll need to work a little harder to get them on and off. But if you're looking at these boots, wondering what it would feel like to have warm feet no matter what happens, you're in the right place. And if you expect to spend a lot of time on ice, check out the Arctic Ice, as it's an even more burly offering from the Original Muck Boot Company and features a new (and inexplicably effective) outsole to give you traction on wet ice.
Read review: The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport
Top Pick for Good Looks and Mild Use
Even though the Bogs Carson barely look like a rain boot, they'll keep your feet warm and dry in any reasonable city condition. You won't have to worry about anyone commenting on your footwear not fitting any occasion, due to their desert boot inspired silhouette, and their solid outsole will help you keep your balance, even in mud and snow.The Carson boots are not high enough for serious mudding, and if you try to wade in these boots, its almost guaranteed that you'll get some splashes (or worse). And their svelte good-looks mean they've got a lower volume narrower fit than any of the other boots in this review. But ultimately, they're the best option for keeping your dry on wet city days while not provoking stares.
Read review: Bogs Carson
Why You Should Trust Us
This review is brought to you by OutdoorGearLab Review Editor Richard Forbes. Richard currently resides in prime rain boot testing terrain - the dripping pacific northwest. When getting after outdoor objectives, you can usually find him either at his local climbing crag (Index), pack rafting, or backpacking at locations around the US. He formerly worked on farms around the world and has a strong appreciation for gear that keeps your feet dry.
The process of creating this review began with in-depth research of 49 different models of rain boot. From this group, we selected the most promising 11 models to purchase and test in the field and lab. Before testing, we considered the function of a rain boot and identified several critical performance areas to build testing protocol around. We then began testing the boots, over a period of two and a half months and over 300 hours. Some tests, such as warmth, were best suited to the lab, where we submerged the boots in ice water and monitored their internal temperature. Others, such as Comfort, were best tested by long days in the boots, in locations ranging from New Zealand farms to a muddy Patagonian construction site. In all, we thouroughly tested the best boots on the market and are confident in the findings presented here. If you're looking for the best rain boots, this is the perfect place to start.
Related: How We Tested Rain Boots
Analysis and Test Results
Getting your feet wet feet can ruin your day, no matter whether you're mucking out a stall, harvesting carrots in the rain, or walking to the store. For a combined 4 months, our testers wore these rain boots in all the conditions they could find within a three-hour radius of Seattle, WA. We spent a lot of unstructured time in the boots in addition to formally testing the boots against one another in controlled circumstances to be able to compare them accurately. After a lot of research, we tested each boot for true water resistance, all-day comfort, traction on wet ground, warmth, style, and ease of use, and took specific notes.
Related: Buying Advice for Rain Boots
For each performance metric, we rated the boots from 1 to 10 and weighted these scores to reflect the importance of each category (e.g., water resistance is more important to style for most users). It is important to explain that ratings were given based on the competition in the test — all scores are relative to the other models we reviewed. After we'd assessed all the individual scores, we calculated overall scores (out of 100).
While we don't incorporate price into our scoring regime, we understand that cost is a significant part of your decision-making. We're confident (based on our extensive experience in these boots) that there is a causal relationship between price and overall performance. In other words, you roughly get what you pay for. But you'll need to take a long hard look at what you're hoping to use these boots for, because let's be honest- most urban folks don't need the most rugged rain boot available. Are you willing to pay more for the ultimate in ambulatory armor (the Original Muck Boots Company Arctic Sport) or do you just need a boot to keep your feet and lower legs dry for a good price (the Baffin Enduro)? The Enduro and the Kamik Icebreaker stand out from the bunch for providing the most performance per dollar spent.
Their water resistance defines rain boots, and for the third year running, all our tested boots were waterproof. This was a huge relief, as we tested water resistance in the Puget Sound on a blustery 25° F day and in a mountain stream on the chilly east side of the Cascades. In either scenario, wet feet would have been truly miserable. All boots, regardless of whether they were foamed neoprene or more traditional rubber, withstood water all the way up to their top edges.
We tested each boot in a variety of waterways, from streams and rivers to lakes, across Washington State. The final test involved a standardized five-minute wading test in the Puget Sound and the Yakima River. As all boots were waterproof, we assigned scores as a function of boot height (or to the lowest point at which water can enter the boot).
With a 17.6"shaft height, the Arctic Sport easily wins the water resistance category, and with its relatively snug top fit, allowed us to comfortably wander around in relatively deep water (over a foot deep) without concerns.
We even went fly-fishing in the Original Muck Boot Company Chore boots, and only got a little water in when we forgot we weren't wearing waders. The second highest boots are the Hunter Original Tall (3/4" shorter), though, with their larger circumference shaft and their lighter-duty flexible construction, we didn't trust these boots as much when we went tromping through the waves.
The height of a boot from the ground to the top of its "collar" is called the "shaft height" of a boot, and our test featured a variety of shaft heights. Some boots reached the top of our calves (at roughly 17 inches tall), while others only came to mid-height (approximately 12 inches tall). We also included three short boots, the Bogs Carson, Kamik Larslo, and LaCrosse Alpha Muddy, which at ~ 6 inches shaft height all came just over our testers' ankles. These low boots were stressfully low during our immersion testing (we were worried about all waves and splashes), but they were perfect for jaunts through soggy Seattle, as we joyfully stomped in puddles (to the envy of our less protectively dressed companions).
Our testers are lucky not to deal with any long-term foot issues, but after their years of experience on farms around the world, they've experienced temporary foot pain cropping up on long days. Our comfort tests were designed to replicate these conditions (mainly by testing for long periods on concrete). And ultimately, we identified which boots we'd choose to wear for 10+ hours (the Bogs Classic Ultra High and Kamik Icebreaker among others) and which boots we wanted to stop wearing after half an hour (in particular, the Servus Comfort).
If you have foot pain, take this category seriously. Rain boots aren't supposed to be uncomfortable, and some of the models we tested are a pleasure to wear (as weird as that may sound). Consider supplemental insoles, and if you've got a lot of trouble with your feet, see a doctor.
Shaft construction plays an unexpectedly large part in comfort. The boots with foamed neoprene uppers (Bogs Classic Ultra High and Muck Boots Company Chore) stretch and bend as we walked up hills. But boots with rubber uppers tend to buckle in against the ankle on the same slopes. And while we're not rubber scientists, there's a spectrum of comfort between lower-grade rubber boots (like the Servus boots), which we could feel as it crushed in against our ankles, and the more flexible XTRATUF Legacy 15 material, which didn't buckle in as painfully. However, if you wear thick socks, you may not notice this as much as we did.
To test for comfort, we spent 20+ hours in every boot, intentionally prioritizing long stints in boots (generally 5+ hours) and time on hard surfaces (like concrete) to ensure the test was as hard on our feet as possible. There's a wide range of insoles (and lack thereof), and we tested the boots with the provided insoles to see whether the differences could be felt. Some had thick, cushioned insoles like the Ultra High, while we were disappointed by other boots' flimsy offerings (come on, Hunter boots!). In the interest of controlling as many variables as possible, we also conducted comfort tests while using a hardier insole, the Green Superfeet, which our lead tester uses in most footwear.
Most of our testers have higher arches. The Superfeet allowed us to ignore how insoles (and lack of adequate arch support) change the feeling of a boot, and to determine precisely how much comfort each boot can deliver for day-in and day-out comfort. Depending on what your arches are like (and how your feet feel after a whole day of work), consider talking to a doctor or footwear specialist about whether you'd benefit from a pair of insoles. They make a difference.
We also wore the boots out and about during our daily lives, and they came with us as we worked, shopped at the grocery store, and as we went fall adventuring up in the Cascades. The Ultra High easily led the pack in comfort. They fit snugly and minimized the sloppy fit we found in some other boots. Other comfortable boots include the Kamik Icebreaker, Bogs Carson, and Baffin Enduro.
The stiffer-shafted, more rigid boots are more uncomfortable underfoot and tended to jab into our shins as their shafts bent. The Servus Comfort scored poorly due to stiffer rubber and because we consistently hit our toes on the steel toe (which protrudes internally into the toe box). However, stiffer-shafted boots were not always uncomfortable, as the Baffin Enduro boots are relatively stiff (and did buckle somewhat), but are comfortable underfoot, likely due to their "gel-flex midsoles," which sounds like marketing fluff but seemed to make a difference.
Weight also plays a role in comfort — the lighter boots were easier to wear for long days but were often less insulated and less protective (so it's a trade-off). However, some boots were mysteriously heavy - why exactly does the Muck Boot Chore weight more than the more heavily insulated Arctic Sport?
It's also important to remember that comfort and warmth can be overlapping variables. As we want to describe each metric separately, we'll cover the essential ways that insulation affected general comfort in the warmth section below.
We don't wear rain boots when it's nice outside - they're for sloppy conditions when sneakers don't cut it. So it's important that they keep you up and on your feet, not groveling on the ground. Some boots prioritized deep aggressive lugs that gripped mud and snow easily, while others featured minimal outsoles better suited for flat pavement and urban use.
We tested all boots on wet grass, wood, and mud, in river beds and the ocean, and on ice and snow. The Arctic Sport took the lead with its heavily studded outsole, allowing us to feel comfortable no matter the surface. The Baffin Enduro and Kamik Icebreaker also performed well in our traction tests.
The lowest performing boots were characterized by shallow lugs on the outsoles and lower quality rubber. While wearing them, we found our feet moving in unpredictable ways on ice, snow, and mud. In particular, the wet grass hill-running test separated the wheat from the chaff: our feet slid all over in the low scoring LaCrosse Alpha Muddy, while the better performers made us feel like we were wearing crampons (in a good way). However, through all our traction tests, we never found ourselves falling over completely.
Putting our science caps on, we went to the literature to read about warmth and workboots. And it turns out, there's a flourishing niche in the scientific community devoted to feet and ergonomics (the study of people's efficiency when they're working). Feet easily get cold because they have a lot of surface area and not much mass, and contain no big muscles to produce heat during work. Thus, insulated boots can make a big difference, and work especially well during active work, when the heat produced is contained by the boot. And we looked at another study assessing the protection of feet during cold exposure which stated that, according to the Swedish version of OSHA, cold greatly inhibits successful work, and that over 70% of cold injuries are caused to the hands and feet.
In other words, many people's feet get cold and make them miserable when they're outside in the winter. But, after spending hundreds of our hours in all these boots, we're confident that within our selection are boots that will keep you comfortable in any reasonable working condition (but maybe not if you're spending a lot of time below 0°F).
So here's some advice on rain boot warmth: consider the typical temperature range of the season in which you need waterproof footwear to base your purchase decision. Depending on what you need out of a boot, there's something glorious about comfortably wading through foot-deep snow in 15°F (with windchill) in a fully insulated boot. The Arctic Sport is an easy Top Pick for such conditions, as its microfleece-lined neoprene reached almost to our knees.Warm boots aren't always better, due to sweat and overheating. If you're never going to see snow or cold temps in these boots, go with an uninsulated boot like the Baffin Enduro - your feet will thank you when you're doing chores on moderately warm rainy fall days. And if you want the best of both worlds, go with the Editors' Choice Classic High boot, which is warm enough for some snow use but also tolerable (not great) in warmer temperatures. As our testers realized during general comfort tests, no boot we tested was fun to wear above 60°F.
To accurately compare boot insulation, we conducted warmth tests in an ice bath with ~ 30 lbs of ice and a pound of salt to lower the freezing point of water. Wearing each pair without socks (to keep things standardized), we submerged the boots to the top of the shaft and recorded the time from initial immersion until the cold set in. We warmed up in between boots. We set a cut-off time at 20 minutes so we wouldn't have to sit with our feet in an ice bath forever (only one boot got us to 20 min - the Arctic Sport). And while we prioritized the ice-water test in the scoring, we also used these boots in the snow, ice, and other cold conditions, and incorporated each boots' ability to keep us warm into their overall scores.
For context, the boots with the lowest scores did not manage to keep our feet warm at all, and almost instantly cooled our feet to discomfort. Those models were the Hunter, Servus, and XTRATUF boots. Their low scores in this category make them strong candidates for warm wet weather. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Arctic Sport championed, while Ultra Classic High kept our feet warm enough until 15 minutes in.
Boots in the middle of the scoring range were reasonably comfortable in a wide variety of ambient temperatures. And the lowest scoring boots were generally the most comfortable in the warmest weather but didn't do enough for our feet in the cold. Keep in mind that our ice-water test was designed to be both standardizable and hard on the boots, but it may not be entirely realistic. It is unlikely that you will be wearing yours without any socks (it's not comfortable at all), and socks dramatically increase a boot's insulation.
Ease of Use
This may not seem like an important metric — how hard can it be to use a rain boot? — but after 280+ hours in rain boots, we truly appreciated the pairs that kept things easy and simple.
The Editors' Choice Bogs Classic Ultra High blew all the other competitors out of the water with its handles and heel studs. It's surprisingly helpful to be able to carry your boots with the handles, which also allows them to attach to things (strapped to a pack, clipped with a carabiner, etc).
Other boots with wider circumference shafts were also easy to slip on and kick off. The low boots were the most difficult to put on, especially the Bogs Carson, which required testers to use their fingers like shoehorns to force their feet through the constricting elastic of the boot. We also had trouble putting on and taking off boots with snugger shafts and ankles, such as the XTRATUFs, Hunter Boots, and Arctic Sport. With these models, you can't step in and out of them, but instead, need to sit down to slide them on.
While rainboots typically prioritize function over other concerns, our testers (and fashion consultants) did find certain rainboots to be more aesthetically pleasing. As this metric is quite subjective, it's weighted as only 5% of the total score.
Most boots go the utilitarian route (most obviously the rubbery and pebble-studded Baffin Enduro, which pairs well with some oil-stained Carhartts), but some boots, especially the classy Bogs Carson and the Kamik Larslo, are much more subtle for urban use.
To get some objective idea of the stylishness of each boot, we asked a panel of male and female friends to rank the boots from worst to best, based on whether they'd be happy to wear them out and about during a general day. These style scores were then averaged, though it's important to recognize that certain boots were controversial (in particular, the Bogs Carson, which earned rave reviews from all but one very dismissive consultant, and the Baffin Enduro, which received a wide variety of scores), and ranked far differently depending on each consultant's aesthetic. Our most esteemed consultant was a New Zealander, where the rainboot (there called a "gumboot") is the national footwear and shines to its fullest potential when paired with rugby shorts (which is a weirdly comfortable get-up once you get used to how weird it looks).
Remember, this style assessment is only a guide, not an ultimatum — wear whatever you're into!
Since rain boots almost always end up dirty, we also tested how easily we could hose off each boot (the outsole and upper). We found that almost all of them were extremely easy to clean off, requiring a few smacks together and a quick hose-down. But there were two exceptions - the Xtratuf boots and the Baffin Enduro boots.
Both these boots, especially the Xtratuf, have negative space in the outsole where gravel and other hard objects could get lodged and needed to be picked out with pliers or pried out, or the boots would make annoying clicking noises as we walked around. If you are mainly spending your time on boat decks, this might not be a big deal. The Baffin Enduro heel studs also have this problem, but because they are deeper, it was more likely that small pebbles got silently lodged up there (and we wouldn't notice until we were cleaning them).
Sizing + Fit
As footwear geeks, we take sizing and fit seriously, and spend time finding the perfect fit for our many backpacking boots, climbing shoes, ski boots, trail running shoes, approach shoes, etc. But the truth is that you don't need a super technical fit out of your rain boots (unless you're doing some ridiculous stuff), so don't worry too much about it unless your feet are particularly tricky to fit.Let's establish some terms you'll find in the rest of the review:
- Foot Size: The length of your foot, from the back of your heel to the end of your longest toe. There a variety of sizing standards, but most people in the US use their "Brannock Size".
- Foot Width: The width of your fore-foot, measured in line with your first metatarsal head (the bump on the inside part of your forefoot). Brannock sizing describes widths with letters (Super narrow AAAA, AAA, AA, A, B, C… to extremely wide EEEE). D width is standard width for men.
- Foot Volume: How much foot do you actually have? This is determined by the bone structure and height of your foot - do you have a high volume foot or a low volume foot? This is more of an informal spectrum - footwear shops don't have a way to easily measure this, but it's a good variable to keep in mind.
- Arch: You actually have three arches (medial, lateral, and transverse) but most people are talking about their medial when they talk about arches. You can have "high" or "low" arches, but we're not going to get too deep into this — if your feet hurt during your normal day-to-day, see a doctor, look into foot strengthening exercises, and/or consider supplemental insoles.
In general, don't wear shoes (or rainboots) that match your "foot size", go up a half size, unless you want them to jam your toes. And shoe sizes are complicated, so don't expect them to be consistent from brand to brand.
Our reviewers went with US size 13's for every model but the Baffin Enduro (which is bigger than average, so we got a 12). And all our boots fit relatively well, except for the LaCrosse Alpha Muddy, for which we should have gotten a smaller size, as they run huge. Our reviewers have almost exactly US size 12 feet, with a standard D width (measured with a Brannock device, which can be found in any American footwear store). We chose 13s as we wanted a bit of toe space and room to wear thick socks.
If your feet are on the narrower side, take a look at the Bogs Carson (which run narrower) and the XTRATUFs (which run just a bit narrower than standard). And if your feet are truly wide (EE or wider), you might be able to get away with the LaCrosse Alpha Muddy (as we found it ran quite wide), but you may just have to go up in size till you get your width (even if there's some extra toe room).
If you're looking to keep your feet dry in wet and cold weather, rain boots are perfect. And while you might think rain boots are guaranteed to be uncomfortable and clunky, we promise they're not all like that (though some definitely are). Read on through our individual boot reviews for all the specific details on each model, and consider your performance and style needs before purchasing your next pair.
Related: Buying Advice for Rain Boots
— Richard Forbes