Hunter boots have been around for over 150 years, and while their dedication to handcrafting their boots with natural rubber is impressive, we don't find that the Hunter Original Tall performed better than average in our grueling series of tests. Their high shaft height and unique styling aren't enough to compensate for their lack of comfort, traction, and functionality. These boots seem to be sold mainly based on their looks, and there are significantly more functional and cost-effective options.
Hunter Original Tall Review
Cons: Impractical for intense use, relatively uncomfortable
Manufacturer: Hunter Boots
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Hunter Original boots are "name-brand" rain boots from a company established in 1856. But beyond the name, styling, and handcrafted natural rubber, these boots deliver pretty standard performance for a rubber boot. Measuring 16.9 inches tall and weighing in at 5.42 lbs, they lack insulation, which makes them more useful in warmer weather. And while this is hard to quantify, these boots are extremely floppy and don't provide much support. Overall, we're not impressed when comparing them to the products that are designed with function first and form second.
At 16.9", these boots have the second-highest shaft height in our test. However, the Hunter boots' far more flexible rubber makes them feel much less protective, a feeling accentuated by their larger circumference at the top of the shaft (17"), which feels like water might slosh in. These boots also aren't insulated, so they aren't what you should choose for super chilly climates.
The Hunter boots are very squishy, but not in a supportive way. They feel like standing on a stack of rubber mats, not like cushioning. And while they come with an insole, it's flexible and thin enough to be almost entirely cosmetic. The fit is snugger than several of the other competitors, so the Hunters don't flap around on the feet as much as looser options, but this isn't as important an issue as their relative lack of support underfoot.
Hunter boots are relatively frustrating to use, as their tightly cut ankle means they're difficult to get on. You have to sit down, grab the flexible top of the shaft, and tug them on. And they're too flexible to kick off, so you have to grab the heel to wrench them off. They're a far cry from larger circumference boots that you can just step into and go.
The Hunter boots don't have much traction when compared to the other boots in our test. They feature "traditionally calendared soles," which, as far as we can tell, means they roll the rubber on large metal rollers (calendars) to make a sheet of rubber, which they then trim with heated knives to give it three-dimensional shape. In our tests, we find that this process doesn't create much traction. The sharply cut heel piece helps grab the ground when heading down wet grass and muddy hills, but when climbing up hills (on the toes), the heels can't come into play, and the Hunters don't hold well. They have even less traction on snow and ice.
The Hunter boots are not insulated and provide no warmth beyond the sock you are wearing. During our ice water test, our bare feet felt the cold immediately, and we were uncomfortably cold after a mere 30 seconds.
The Hunter boots are designed to look a certain way. Our fashion consultants significantly disagree on this boot. In general, the women universally like them, while the men are a little more uncertain about their molded styling. However, the men in our test almost all tend toward the Carhartt/utilitarian aesthetic, which does not work with these boots. Ultimately, if you like their looks, get them and don't listen to us!
The Hunter boots fit our feet with a half-inch of room and are comfortable for D-width feet without being too snug. We expect they would not have enough room for a wider foot, though. They fit far more snugly on the ankle than most of the other boots, which is nice because they don't flap around, but frustrating because the rubber pushes into the front of the ankles when walking.
The Original Tall are handcrafted natural rubber. If you like the looks enough and want to have a rain boot that looks a certain type of way, they may be worth that much to you. Multiple women who we met wearing ours around Seattle told us that they'd all gotten several years of winter use out of them, so they're durable (under typical urban use).
The Hunter Original Tall boot is designed for those who want to own a piece of history, and for those who like the way the boot looks. It is handcrafted and built using old-school methods and natural rubber. Their 16.9" shaft height means they'll provide a fair amount of water resistance, but due to their other limitations (relatively uncomfortable, too squishy to trust on rough terrain, lack of traction and insulation), we do not recommend them for most people.
— Richard Forbes