The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Hunter Original Back Adjustable - Women's Review

The best of the best, this model is a high-quality, stylish boot.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $160 List | $149.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Tall flexible shaft, comfortable, adjustable boot circumference
Cons:  High cost, no insulation
Manufacturer:   Hunter
By Sara Aranda ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 22, 2018
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81
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 11
  • Weather Protection - 30% 9
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Style - 20% 8
  • Traction - 20% 8
  • Warmth - 10% 6

The Skinny

Hailing from Great Britain, the Hunter Original Back Adjustable - Women's earned the title as the best overall in our test. This particular model is designed with the ability to adjust its boot opening, which allows one to customize the circumference from 14 inches to an impressive 19 inches. As the winner of our Editors' Choice Award, it provides top-notch quality and performance. The most significant drawback is its hefty list price of $160. It's not a boot for all budgets, like the Kamik Heidi (an affordable mid-height alternative), but it's popular nonetheless.

You can typically purchase this model in different solid colors but always check with retailers as to what styles are still currently being sold. Happily, the model we tested was a lovely color with molded construction. The style can either be deemed highly aesthetic or with mixed feeling, depending on the needs and preferences of the user. It wasn't as popular for a few testers, who fancied something more standard or techy, like our Top Pick winner, the Xtratuf Legacy.

Color Updates

Though this boot is no longer available in the purple shade we tested, there are still a variety of options to choose from. The basic black shown above is a staple color in Hunter's lineup.

October 2018


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The women's Hunter Original is made well and highly functional. We found no blatant drawbacks other than the $160 list price and the fact that they run a little large. A mild-weather boot, this tall boot offers all the fundamentals of prized rainwear. The natural rubber has a matte finish, textile lining, and is handcrafted from 28 parts — maybe this is why the price is so high? The model had ample traction on wet ground, snow, and even on slippery grass. We are pleased to award it Editors' Choice for consistent ranking above the other models we tested it against. If you're a fan of the molded look and a tall, narrow profile, yet the $160 price tag is out of your budget, check out the similar yet much more affordable Kamik Olivia.

Performance Comparison


High style and high class  the Original Back Adjustable Boots are capable of going off the beaten path.
High style and high class, the Original Back Adjustable Boots are capable of going off the beaten path.

Weather Protection


The tallest in the fleet, the Original Back Adjustable measures 16 inches from the ground. The waterproof, natural rubber Hunter offers provides some of the best weather protection, especially with the adjustable circumference.


Having a rubber gusset allows you to cinch the boot opening closer to your calf (or vice versa), keeping out the rain or snow that may otherwise find its way into a gap. The circumference ranges from 14-19 inches. The shaft height also grants excellent weather protection. The UGG Shaye and Kamik Olivia also offer ample weather protection but are a touch friendlier on the wallet.

Close-up of the adjustable gusset on the Original Back Adjustable.
Close-up of the adjustable gusset on the Original Back Adjustable.

Comfort


We wore this competitor around town, in the snow, in the river, and basically, wearing them all day posed no discomfort other than the tall shaft touching behind the knee when sitting down. The rubber itself is soft and flexible, and since the circumference is adjustable, accommodating for pants wasn't as difficult as some of the other boots. Our feet were not overly tired by the end of the day, and while the footbed is rather narrow, the rubber is soft enough to flex with your feet and legs as you walk.


Weighing in at 3.58 lbs for a pair at size 7, these boots weren't the easiest to lug around and pack, but they didn't necessarily feel cumbersome either. In regards to sizing, they run on the larger side, so it was recommended through user reviews to size down if you are a half-size. We found this to be an excellent recommendation. Too, they were easy to put on and relatively easy to take off as well, even without hands. The foot box is comparatively smaller, which lends to their lean look, and these boots do not come with removable insoles. If you have wide feet, the narrow foot box might not be as comfortable. Make sure to try on a pair, if possible.

A closer look at the lining and flexible rubber shaft of the Original Back Adjustable.
A closer look at the lining and flexible rubber shaft of the Original Back Adjustable.

Style


This model of the Hunter Original tends to come in a variety of matte colors, but always refer to the manufacturer's website for the current season's styles. The style we tested was the black grape rubber with a bright violet buckle, although this "black grape" color is more purple than it looks in online photos.


Since the shaft is so tall, we still found it was challenging to fit pants into the boot, despite the option to widen the circumference. This means they are not as versatile as, say, the short Bogs SweetPea, but, if you're wearing skinny jeans and leggings, the look is quite cute. Reviewers have expressed mixed opinions on the Hunter look, with the buckle, preferring something plainer like the UGG Shaye or sporty like the Bogs North Hampton. Having the rubber fold as you walk isn't the most flattering aspect of the Hunter, but the molding and subtle heel provide a nice touch. Again, the Kamik Olivia provides a similar (yet not as refined) look for one-third the price.

The stylish Original Back Adjustable.
The stylish Original Back Adjustable.

Traction


With a similar performance to the Kamik Heidi, the tread on these Hunters can be described as a "calendered outsole."


The design consists of long lugs with mini, shallow zig-zags. This surprisingly provided confidence in terrain such as snow, wet grass, inclines, and of course, across dry, flat surfaces. In the river test, however, when the rocks were slimy, the traction was that of an average boot. Overall, we were surprised to feel so confident when previous reviews found the traction to be a disappointment. This is likely due to the specific spread of boots the Hunter is being compared against. For example, the presence of higher scoring tread in the men's review resulted in a low rank for the brand.

This model is designed for general wear, and we wouldn't recommend hiking around in them. Regardless of their relative performance to the other boots, the traction is still not ideal for rugged, technical terrain. For average, casual use, these boots will perform incredibly well.

A look at the "calendered" outsoles of the Original Back Adjustable boots  which performed well across the board.
A look at the "calendered" outsoles of the Original Back Adjustable boots, which performed well across the board.

Warmth


With no added insulation and a thin nylon lining, warmth was this award winner's lowest score.


This metric helps determine how well each contender retains warmth across a variety of temperatures. The Hunter did not excel in colder temperatures such as snow; these boots are just not made to withstand much more than average rain. Although the height of the shaft helped with exposure, the main culprit for heat loss might be the fact that the foot box is very lean and close to the foot, transferring body heat through conduction. If warm insulation is a requirement, we'd recommend the Bogs North Hampton boots, or the cozy and plush micro-fleece of the Sperry Saltwater.

The Original Back Adjustable in an icy river at the bottom of Dream Canyon  CO. While these boots are excellent at keeping moisture out  they aren't very warm. For many folks  that's actually what you want.
The Original Back Adjustable in an icy river at the bottom of Dream Canyon, CO. While these boots are excellent at keeping moisture out, they aren't very warm. For many folks, that's actually what you want.

Fit


Coming in only whole sizes from 5-11, we dug through customer comments to gain insight. While the manufacturer states their boots run true to size, many users stated they may run large. Heeding this advice, we ordered a size down and purchased a size 7. Our lead tester prefers a snug foot box over that of something wider, like the Crocs Jaunt Shorty. Owning a larger amount of thin socks (versus thick), we were very satisfied with the size 7. If you are the opposite and want to wear thick socks and are contemplating custom insoles, you might consider sizing up instead.

Best Application


These boots are ideal for temperatures above 50F. Thanks to their height, exposure to the elements will be greatly reduced, though the lining is minimal. We recommend these boots for all things that involve typical rain boot use, such as summer or fall thunderstorms or a rainy shoulder season.

Rubber just isn't the most comfortable footwear material  but the Hunter boots scored higher in in comfort than most.
Rubber just isn't the most comfortable footwear material, but the Hunter boots scored higher in in comfort than most.

Value


With a list price of $160, these are on the more expensive end of the spectrum. But the handcrafted and molded construction is rather appealing and the brand is known for its trusted quality.

Quality workmanship leads to a top-performing product in the women's Hunter Original boots.
Quality workmanship leads to a top-performing product in the women's Hunter Original boots.

Conclusion


The Hunter Original is a fine piece of craftsmanship. It's hard to argue against the top-notch quality of these boots. If you can afford it, there's no doubt in our minds that Hunter puts an exceptional amount of care and thought into their products. With a classic rain boot look, matte color, sufficient comfort, adequate traction, and an adjustable circumference, it's hard to ask for much more. Well, maybe a discount.


Sara Aranda