Not every rain boot has to look like one. While the Carson boots don't have much height, they did a great job of keeping our feet dry on wet days and were extremely comfortable to wear for long periods of time. We were more than happy to wear them to work for full shifts, and they fit in well when we went out to the bars later. Our style consultants agreed almost unanimously that these were the best looking boots in the review. While they didn't score highly in water resistance (due to their 6.25" shaft height) or ease of use (they're kind of a pain to put on), we loved these boots for more casual urban pursuits.
As far as rain boots go, these look pretty great.
The Carson boots are perfectly waterproof all the way up to the top of the shaft. The only problem is that the shaft ends at 6.25 inches, which just isn't deep enough for most intense applications. If you only need something to keep your feet dry from puddles and rain, the Carson will do perfectly.
If you'll be wading in water, stomping through snow, or muddling around in muck, you'll be constantly worried about whether the water's going to slop in the top of the boots. When we tested these boots in the Puget Sound, we couldn't wade more than a few inches in without risking immersion from stray waves and splashes that we wouldn't have even noticed in higher boots (Baffin Enduros). Nevertheless, we loved these boots as we fearlessly strode through deep puddles in the Seattle fall.
If we don't make any sudden movements we might get out dry...
The Carson boots tied for second place (with the Baffin Enduro) in the comfort category and were almost as comfortable as the much taller Editors' Choice Bogs Classic Ultra High. In terms of ankle mobility and comfort in warmer conditions, these boots were even more comfortable than the Editors' Choice. The neoprene in the shaft of the boot allows these to hug your ankles without being too snug, and our ankles appreciated the room to breathe (as opposed to the eight higher boots). If you're looking for a boot to walk to work in, these are comfortable enough that you might forget to take them off once you get to the office.
The dual-density contoured EVA insole was the third thickest in our review and provided good support. We still found these boots to benefit from a supplementary insole, but we're pretty picky about our arches.
This is the third thickest insole in our test (it's thicker than it looks).
The Carson boots had average traction across the surfaces we tested. They have relatively heavily grooved outsoles, but we found that these boots slipped on our wet grass running tests and on ice, where they skated around more than other options.
They did well in mud and snow and were perfectly secure on wet sidewalks and in creek beds. Overall, if you're expecting the sort of rough conditions these boots slip in (lots of mud and ice), you'll probably have already chosen other boots for the additional height.
They're ok on snow, but pretty slippery on ice.
While we wouldn't recommend the Carson in hot temperatures, they were the most comfortable in temperate weather, due to their height (which released hot air better than higher boots) and their minimal (2mm Neo-tech) insulation.
This insulation kept them reasonably warm, even in colder temperatures, when paired with thick socks. They did not fare very well in the ice-bath test and were uncomfortable 1 minute after immersion. We'd wear these boots down to 20°F if we were actively moving, but this isn't really what they're designed for. If you're looking for a pair of boots to be active in, check out the Arctic Sport.
2mm of Neo-tech insulation is enough to make these comfortable down to 20 degrees.
Our fashion consultants almost universally agreed that the Carson barely look like rain boots, due to their low shaft height, desert boot styling, and narrower profile.
If you pair them with stylish pants, no one will even notice you're wearing rain boots until you casually stroll through a stream in them. It's hard to even tell how uniquely good looking these boots are until you compare them with the other two low boots from our test (the Kamik Larslo and the LaCrosse Alpha Muddy), both of which feature wider cuts and less subtle styling.
One looks like a rain boot, the other doesn't.
Ease of Use
The Carson boots were finicky to put on and take off due to their small shaft circumference (10 inches - the smallest in the test). If the top of the shaft were any wider, or the elastic were any more stretchy, they'd be easier to work with.
They might even stretch out over more time, but as they are, you have to jam your heel in while using your fingers as shoe-horns. The very aspects that help them be so comfortable around our ankles (their snug fit) mean you can't step right in (which is one of the greatest joys of rain boots). They're even snug enough that they can be a bit hard to kick off.
We wish they were a little easier to get on
Ultimately, this boot's good looks are worth the relatively small hassle to put them on and take them off.
A hose cleans them easily, despite their deeply grooved outsole.
These boots have around 3/4ths inches of room forward and back (for our size 12 feet) and are actually minimally too snug width-wise for our D-width feet. They're probably in between a C and D width. In addition, due to the desert boot styling, they're very low volume compared to most of the other boots in this review, and in thick socks, we could feel the tops of the boots as we walked. This means the boots fit us well, without any of the flapping associated with higher-volume boots, but this fit won't be ideal for everyone.
If you have slightly wider feet, check out the Kamik Larslo
which is a very similar boot, but runs slightly wider. And if you have wide or high-volume feet, but still want a low boot, check out the LaCrosse Alpha Muddy
This ankle-cut boot won't let you cross rivers, battle through mud, or brave ice, and the low shaft height means that you'll need to be cautious about what you're stepping in — mud and water often end up sneakily more than 6 inches deep, and then you've got wet feet.
But if your main goal is to wear rain boots without being obvious about it, the Carson boots are perfect. They were perfect for doing chores in the backyard, wearing around camp, and heading out on the town. At least one of our testers plans to get a pair for himself for when his day job takes him outside in the winter, as he doesn't want to have to bring two pairs of shoes to work, and the Carson boots are comfortable enough to wear for as long as your day might last.
Please don't splash in the sides...
The Carson cost around $125. If you need a full-scale rain boot, just go with the Baffin Enduro (for just over half the price). But if you want an ankle-height boot that will keep you warm and dry in wet and cool conditions (like the Pacific Northwest winter), while not looking like a clunky rain boot, we're certain you'll find these boots worth the price.
These boots look great and can handle any urban situation. They even do well out on the beaches and trails!
There are taller, more insulated, and more cushioned boots than the Bogs Carson, but none look as good or are as comfortable in warmer weather. We wouldn't wear these to work on a farm, but we repeatedly found ourselves wearing these out and about on errands. And when one of our testers' girlfriends expressly forbade him from wearing rain boots on another date night, she almost didn't notice what these were until he busted through a puddle without a care. So if you want to wear rain boots and get away with it, check out the Bogs Carson.