Sperry Saltwater Duck Boot Review
Cons: Low weather protection, expensive
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Saltwater Duck Boot is Sperry's take on the classic Bean Boot originally invented by L.L. Bean. They have a waterproof rubber foot box and an upper that is constructed from rawhide leather, with rawhide barrel tie lacing and rust-proof eyelets. Lined in micro-fleece, they are exceptionally cozy. Other features include a side zipper and a non-marking rubber outsole with Wave-Siping tread. Though, due to a detached tongue and non-waterproof zipper, the overall flood height of the boot is one of the shortest of the contenders we recently tested. We also found the traction to be subpar in the snow or across slimy rocks during our river test. Regardless, this high style option seems to be very popular all over the world.
The Saltwater did not stand up as well against the elements as the others in our fleet. The barrel laces and tongue collect snow (and ultimately, water) over time. Since the tongue is detached, we found ourselves with melted water in the boot, which soaked into our socks. The side zippers are not waterproof and allow for water to seep through when wading. Despite measuring 7.5 inches from the ground, the flood height is only 4.25 inches (to the base of the zipper). This leaves the rubber foot box as the only substantial buffer against the wet elements.
The most notable aspect of these boots is the micro-fleece lining. The footbed is also fairly cushioned with a removable insole, and the toe box is roomy. We did experience heel slippage, but the lining didn't create any hot spots. For all-day wear, there isn't anything particularly remarkable, but our feet did not ache by the end. The leather is flexible for ample walking. Weighing in at 1.9 lbs for the size 8 pair we tested, they are easy to carry around and pack. The rawhide upper is flexible and does not impede mobility.
A significant drawback is in how difficult the Saltwater is to slip on or take off, as they require the use of the zippers. And, while we like the look of the barrel laces, they don't seem to serve any function, as they are not long enough to tie in a bow. When we did try to tighten them, they came undone after a while, leaving the boot feeling loose and a bit big around the ankle.
With Wave-Siping tread, the Saltwater performs well across all flat surfaces, no matter wet or dry, and even in the snow. However, on an incline, the traction does not hold up as well, especially when compared to the incredible performances of several of the others in our review. We attribute this to the tread being fairly shallow and not designed for uneven or strenuous terrain. Made by a marine-oriented company, the stable non-slop traction for fairly flat surfaces is all we can expect.
With a thick lining of micro-fleece, these boots are indeed warm and one of the top performers in this metric. Although the insulation is not as technical and rugged as a few of the others, the Saltwater does a fine job maintaining heat above 35F or so. There was a loss of warmth over time in the snow, and during our icy river test, but this boot is still warmer than most of the other models, which also means they became quite hot in temperatures above 55F, give or take.
Sporting a high level of fashion, the Saltwater is one of the most urban looking of all the boots we reviewed. The dark barrel laces and the subtle heel provide a nice, feminine look. Overall, they are cute and highly versatile with various outfits. You can easily wear jeans over them, or in them, and you don't have to worry about looking too "rubbery" when wanting a shoe to keep your feet dry.
While Sperry offers whole sizes from 5-12, they only offer half-sizes up to 9.5. In retrospect, we think we should have gone with the 7.5 as opposed to sizing up to the 8, as our findings indicate they run true to size. The foot box is roomy, especially for the toes, but being a touch big, there is some heel slippage. The circumference of the top opening ranges from about 10-11 inches, depending on whether you can keep the laces tied.
Based in Massachusetts and manufactured in China, these brand-name shoes list for a cringe-worthy price. For being such a short rain boot and with comparatively low weather protection, we do not believe the price is worth it unless you absolutely love the fashion. Thus, if you value high style over all else, these boots certainly fit the bill and are adequate for light rainstorms.
These Sperry Saltwater Ducks Boots are a wonderfully feminine approach to the classic duck boot. Unfortunately, it seems to us that fashion outweighed functionality in this case. Weather protection is relatively low, but, nonetheless, they are very stylish and provide sufficient coziness for all-day wear.
— Sara Aranda
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