The majority of testing took place in the lead tester's location in Colorado. From varying mountainous landscapes and canyons to the shoving of all boots into one duffel bag to the limited comfort of living in a van, these contenders became an interesting part of daily life. Through rain, snow, and creek-splashing, we tested in town, in canyons with rivers, and of course, with hoses and bathtubs.
We started with the objective measurements, documented onto a single spreadsheet, such as all technical specs of height and weight, materials used, and even manufacturer claims. We also read through hundreds of customer reviews from various online retailers for more insight into what to look for and what to expect with each pair, such as odd smells out of the box or weird quirks that may develop over time.
We took our boots one by one, one right after the other, through walkabouts in the snow, on wet pavement, up hills, and into rivers and creeks, taking note of how shaft height and circumference influenced our experience. For a long-term waterproofing test, we headed to the bathtub or sink. We had them sit in shallow water for several hours, checking for leaks in the soles (notably where they meet the upper rubber), and unfortunately, we have had a pair fail. With pairs that had nylon gussets or zippers, we also wanted to make sure to test the waterproofing of these certain design features. To do this, we raised the water levels and weighed the boots down so they wouldn't float, and noted any leakage or water absorption into the boots at these seams or zippers, which then determined a more accurate flood height. In tandem, during the test where we stand in a creek for warmth, we are also again testing waterproofing.
Comfort and Fit
Out of the box, we tried each pair of boots on to see if they felt true to size, taking into consideration whether fit was adequate with thin socks as a baseline. Then, we began to wear them out and about, and on select days, we wore them all day no matter the errands or tasks. We even wore them while watching movies and driving. We paid attention to heel lift and hot spots, and the ease of stepping into and out of each boot. Lastly, we paid attention to the weight of the boots and whether they felt cumbersome to carry, move about in, or store at home, in the car, or in a bag. We scored each of these factors (i.e. all-day wear, fit, and mobility), then calculated the average to conclude with an overall comfort score.
For this metric, we scored performance based on how each boot did in snowy/icy conditions, in a river environment, on dry/wet surfaces, and on a wet grassy or muddy incline. Purposefully trying to find points of slippage without risking injury was an exciting task, but we tried our best to be as consistent as possible. We also encountered a variety of flat surfaces such as gravel, rock slab, dirt, and of course, the urban asphalt, concrete, and linoleum tile or plastic playground slide. We scored the performance for each type of environment and then used the average as the basis for how each boot ranked in this category.
For warmth, performance was scored on how well the boots kept our feet comfortable in the snow, the river, and throughout warmer temps of 50-80F. We also took notice if the boots made our feet sweaty after a day of wear, particularly during the warmer temperatures. For another test, we stood in a river for several minutes and subjectively ranked each boot on how quickly our feet seemed to feel the cold. In the snow, we also critiqued insulation quality. While most boots are not designed for true winter conditions, we did take advantage of the cold temperatures to see if we could find all the more differences between the pairs.
Style is certainly the most subjective metric. We ranked each boot on the overall design, appeal, and versatility across our wardrobes. We asked ourselves what we felt the purpose of each design was. We took note of any added features and accessories in order to critique whether stylistic choices compromised the integrity of what the boot was fundamentally made for. Lastly, we paid attention to comments from friends and strangers, and, of course, online review comments.
We try our best to be as meticulous and consistent as possible. As the years go by, we add and remove boots from our testing group, which is why our note-taking is so critical to maintaining accurate comparisons. It's also great to see how things change over time. Nonetheless, we strive to bring you careful and genuine testimony of what these rain boots are all about.