The Best Rain Boots for Women Review
What are the best women's rain boots on the market? To find out, we tested 13 pairs while walking the dog, traipsing through the woods, and heading to campus for class. Our reviewers endured Colorado's rainy afternoon monsoons, cool April and October showers, and snowy days in the mountains. We also hiked across muddy trails and tested traction on an obstacle course of slick rocks. Once we had finished up our field tests, we brought all the contenders inside and measured the shaft height and circumference. Then we polled more than a dozen women to gauge their opinions on the style of each one. In the end, we ranked each pair across the following metrics: weather protection, comfort, style, traction, and warmth. Read on to learn more about our conclusions!
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Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
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Analysis and Test Results
For some people, especially those who live in rainy climates, rain boots are an absolute necessity, just as winter boots are critical for people who live in cold, snowy climates. On the other hand, some women see rain boots more as a cute accessory sure they are extremely useful on rainy days but they're still cute. Almost all the products we tested in this review were fully waterproof. Some were warmer than others and some were more stylish than others. If you live in a precipitous climate, we recommend looking at the models that scored highest in our weather resistance and comfort categories. Generally, these are taller and have smaller shaft circumferences (they won't let much (if any) water in from the top). Also be sure to consider the average temperatures on rainy days in your area. If it's often 65F and rainy, you don't want an insulated model that will make your feet warm and sweaty inside.
While there are certainly other factors to take into consideration, we think that style is one of the most important, especially if you don't require a lot of technical performance out of your boot. We understand that style is highly objective. Just within our own polls, we got widely ranging opinions, so definitely take our style metric with a grain of salt. If you only plan on wearing your rain boots a few days a month in the spring or fall, you can get away with sacrificing a little bit of comfort for style. We don't necessarily recommend this, but we also know that style sometimes trumps comfort when it comes to shoes. However, if you regularly endure days upon days of rainy weather, you should definitely consider something that will keep your feet happy and supported throughout your climate's rainy season.
Want more info? Cruise over to our buying advice guide, which provides even more information on how to select the product that is right for you! This article breaks down the different types of waterproof boots that you can choose from, discusses how your climate should affect your decision, and explains what to think about when fitting this footwear.
Different Types of Rain Boots
There are several different ways that you can categorize the products in this review – let's start with height. Not surprisingly, shorter models provide less weather protection, but can often offer more comfort and mobility. It's also challenging to tuck your pants into taller boots, so if you want that option, it's best to opt for a short or mid-height product. Our testers liked the mid-height models the best since they provided good weather protection, but had a bit more mobility than the tallest pieces.
Short (under 11 inches)
Sperry Top-Sider Falcon
Sloggers Rain and Garden Boot
Mid-Height (11-15.5 inches)
Bogs North Hampton
Helly Hansen Veierland 2
Bogs Summit Insulated - Women's
Bogs Women's Classic High
Ilse Jacobsen Long, Classic with Laces
Tall (over 15.5 inches)
The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport II
Hunter Original Adjustable
Another way to categorize the products in this review is by the amount of warmth they provide. We tested boots with heavy duty insulating liners, as well as boots with no insulation and very thin rubber walls. When deciding which pair is right for you, be sure to consider the average rainy day temperatures where you live. In our warmth metric, we rate how warm each boot it, but remember, a lower score may be exactly what you want if you frequently encounter late spring or early fall rainstorms. In fact, we awarded the Helly Hansen Veierland 2 a Top Pick for Mild Weather because it doesn't offer much warmth. On the other end of the spectrum, we also tested two boots that earned a 9 and a 10 in our warmth metric. These rain/winter boot hybrids are an excellent choice if you regularly face wet, muddy conditions and a winter boot won't quite meet your needs. We also tested a number of boots that aren't too hot and aren't too cold. Boots that earned middle of the road scores in our warmth metric are the most versatile of the bunch – this is one of the reasons why we loved our Editors' Choice winner, the Bogs North Hampton.
Criteria for Evaluation
The boots in this review are designed to protect you from rain, snow, slush, and mud, so it's no surprise that weather protection was one of the key metrics that we used to rate the products in this review. We were happy to discover that almost all the pieces we tested were completely waterproof. The one exception was the Bogs Women's Summit, in the model that we tested, we found a major leak after fairly light use. In addition to wearing all the products out in the rain, we also submerged them all in the bathtub for several hours and felt for leaks at the end of the testing period.
In general, the tall and mid-height models scored higher in this category than the short products. The Hunter Original Adjustable, the tallest boot we tested, is more than 17 inches tall, so by default it will provide more protection from puddle splashes and stray raindrops than the short Sperry Top-Sider Falcon. Tall and mid-height boots are great to pair with an umbrella on rainy, windy days. Even if your umbrella has a small canopy or the rain is blowing sideways, a boot that covers half or all of the shin will keep you (and your pants) drier.
The other factor that we considered in weather protection was the size of the opening at the top of the boot. Although a larger circumference can make it easier to take a product on and off, if the circumference is too wide, there can be a sizable gap in coverage. On both the short boots we tested, the gap between the shin and the wall of the boot was so large, that it would easily catch puddle splashes or collect other debris. Our Editors' Choice winner, the Bogs North Hampton poses an interesting challenge here. Its shaft is 14 inches high at its tallest point, but it has two handles cut into the sides of its neoprene upper. When walking in normal rainy conditions, we didn't think these handles really negatively affected the boot's overall weather protection, but when it comes to wading across a creek or a similar activity, the boot will flood in 11.5 inches of water.
All the products we tested in this review are easy to clean whether you just mucked a muddy barn or just splashed through a grimy puddle. This is one reason to choose rain boots over winter boots (which are often made with textile or leather uppers).
The products in this review range significantly in terms of comfort. Some have cushy insoles and plush lining while others are decidedly more Spartan. We really liked the supportive, cushioned insole in the Sperry Top-Sider Falcon and the Bogs North Hampton, but were surprised that the Hunter Original Adjustable and Joules WellyPrint offered minimal footbed comfort. If you love the look that a certain product has, but you're not crazy about its comfort, remember that you can always purchase an after-market insole to increase its support, just be sure that the boot will still fit with the extra cushion in the footbed.
Neither the Kamik Jennifer nor the Kamik Heidi have any sort of interior lining, which makes them a bit better suited for warm weather. However, we found the rubber on the inside of the Jennifer to feel grippy rather than smooth, something our testers thought was quite uncomfortable. On the other end of the spectrum, the Bogs Summit has a soft, cozy lining that adds both comfort and warmth. Similarly, the Tretorn Kelly has a microfleece lining that isn't quite as plush as the Summit, but provides more coziness than some of its unlined competitors. We liked this middle ground, since you can still wear this boot in slightly warmer temperatures.
The final things that we considered in our comfort metric are centered around mobility and weight. Products like the Ilse Jacobsen Long, Classic with stiff soles earned lower points. Likewise, the models like the Hunter Original Adjustable and Kamik Jennifer that have tall, stiffer shafts also lost a few points. Our testers found that when walking in the Hunter boots, the rubber shafts don't move as easily with the body as the neoprene shafts on other pieces. Likewise, walking in heavy boots like The Original Muck Boot Arctic Sport II and Bogs Women's Classic High is not as pleasant over long distances due to their bulky designs.
As we mentioned above, style is extremely subjective and we understand that everyone has their own ideas of what they would or would not wear. That said, we polled over a dozen women and averaged their responses to come up with our style scores. We think that lots of women buy rain boots largely based upon their style, so we knew that we needed to include a style metric. However, regardless of our scores, you should trust your own judgment. Even if a boot earned top scores in weather protection and comfort, if you don't like the way it looks, you probably won't enjoy wearing it. Be sure to weigh your own sense of style heavily into your decision.
Some of the pieces in our review cater more to a specific look; for example the Sperry Top-Sider Falcon is more of a motorcycle boot, while the Ilse Jacobsen model has a bit of punk rock flair. Most of the others have a more "classic rain boot look." This is part of the reason why our reviewers really liked the Kamik Heidi, a glossy boot with subtle molded detailing that adds shape to the toe box.
Our Top Pick for Mild Weather, the Helly Hansen Veierland 2 is a simpler classic boot, but has attractive molding along the ankles and across the top of the foot. We also liked its shapely profile and its more narrow toe box. Also, thanks to its cute, simple gusset and decorative buckle, our testers thought it complemented many different outfits. Be sure to consider whether you prefer a glossy or matte finish and how a boot's height will affect its overall look. Some models come in lots of colors and patterns, but remember that you likely won't be able to pair brighter products with as many different outfits. We actually experienced this conundrum with the Joules WellyPrint. Our testers were excited to have such a fun, cute boot, but they actually ended up wearing it less frequently because it stood out so brightly from the crowd and matched fewer outfits. If this is even a slight concern for you, we'd recommend at least choosing a more subtle pattern than the navy striped one that we chose. For example, in fall 2015, the WellyPrint came in a black with gold bees that might suit your style a bit better.
Finally, several of the products that we tested, including the Arctic Sport II and the Bogs Classic High, are designed more as rugged workhorse boots without much style. If you need burly cold weather footwear, think about how much style you're willing to sacrifice. We thought that the Bogs North Hampton actually offered a really nice balance of cold weather protection and decent style. Although not quite as warm as either the Classic High or the Arctic Sport II, the North Hampton has a lower volume footbox, as well as print on the neoprene shaft, both of which make it more attractive.
Most of the products in this review have some type of rubber outsole. The Bogs models incorporate a proprietary gripping compound, while some models have unique tread designs. After wearing the products in our review for two months, we decided to test them head-to-head in a nearby stream. We scoped out the slick and grippy rocks, and chose a spot that had a good mix of low and medium angle stones to hop across. Then, we put on each pair and walked through this obstacle course of algae-covered rocks, running water, and steep stones. The results really surprised us; the Sloggers Rain and Garden Boot and the Bogs Summit were some of the top-performers while the Hunter Original Adjustable and the Arctic Sport II earned the lowest scores.
In addition to the outsole's materials and tread design, we found that another major component in our traction metric was sole thickness. The models with thinner soles tended to offer better traction. We think this is because the thinner sole maximizes sensitivity and gives the foot an opportunity to intuitively move across the rocks, whereas thicker soles feel clunky and less agile. Additionally, when the sole bends, more of it comes into contact with the slippery surface that you're crossing. Remember though that products with thinner soles often have more shallow tread, so they aren't as useful in mud; they also provide less insulation between you and the ground when it's cold out.
The products in this review offered a wide range of warmth. The Bogs Women's Classic High and the Arctic Sport II are both rated into the negative degrees, while our Best Buy award winner has no lining and be worn in temperatures as high as 70. When you look at our warmth scores it's important to remember that you might want a low-scoring product if you live in an area with warm, rainy springs or mild, drizzly autumns. This is exactly why we awarded the Helly Hansen Veierland 2 our Top Pick for Mild Weather. Meanwhile, mid-scoring products like the Tretorn Kelly and Bogs North Hampton will be a bit more versatile throughout the spring and fall.
When thinking about how much warmth you want or need, it's also good to remember that rain boots generally are not very breathable, so if you choose a boot that is too warm, your feet might sweat, leaving you feeling uncomfortable and swampy.
We didn't assess "fit" as one of our metrics, but we discuss the fit of each boot in our individual reviews. It's often challenging to get a good fit with rain boots because they frequently don't come in half sizes, rarely run true-to-size, and generally don't have laces to help ensure a good fit. Some of the products we tested have wider footbeds and toe boxes, some are better suited to narrow feet, and still others to individuals with low-volume feet. Be sure to read up on our assessments in each review, but also remember that you can play with the fit of your boot with aftermarket insoles and socks of different thicknesses.
Depending on where you live, a pair of rain boots can be essential. Not only can they protect your socks and feet from the rain, these boots can be a stylish addition to your wardrobe. We hope that our tests and comparisons prove to be helpful when sorting through the different options on the market. Our Buying Advice article is also intended to help break down the different types of waterproof boots available and explains what to consider before making your purchase.
— Amanda Fenn
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