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Hunter Original Tall Review

While Hunter Boots have a lot of history, these were not the most utilitarian boots in our test
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Price:  $150 List | $109.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Fits well, unique style
Cons:  Impractical for intense use, relatively uncomfortable
Manufacturer:   Hunter Boots
By Richard Forbes ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 1, 2020
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52
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 12
  • Weather Protection - 30% 8
  • Comfort - 25% 4
  • Traction - 20% 3
  • Warmth - 15% 3
  • Style - 10% 7

Our Verdict

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.


Compare to Similar Products

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.

Performance Comparison


While these boot's strongest suit is their looks  they performed adequately during our wading and traction tests.
While these boot's strongest suit is their looks, they performed adequately during our wading and traction tests.

Weather Protection


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.

While they kept our feet dry  they definitely didn't keep our feet warm in the cold Puget Sound.
While they kept our feet dry, they definitely didn't keep our feet warm in the cold Puget Sound.

Comfort


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.

An insole shouldn't do this...
An insole shouldn't do this...

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.

They would always get stuck on our heel when we were taking them off.
They would always get stuck on our heel when we were taking them off.

Traction


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.

We slipped around a fair amount in the Hunter's on snow and ice.
We slipped around a fair amount in the Hunter's on snow and ice.

Warmth


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.

These boots do not keep the cold out  though when paired with a thick enough sock  they are bearable.
These boots do not keep the cold out, though when paired with a thick enough sock, they are bearable.

Style


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 styling on these boots is divisive - some people love them and others not so much.
The styling on these boots is divisive - some people love them and others not so much.

You may find, after some use, that a whitish powder will appear on the outside of your boots. This is called the "bloom" and is a normal occurrence for natural rubber. While it's not bad for your boots, Hunter sells a cheap boot buffer to help clean them should you want to get it off, or you could just use soap and then rub in some olive oil.

This buckle doesn't do anything...
This buckle doesn't do anything...

Fit


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.

While the Hunters wae fine for casual stream wading  they don't feel secure enough in higher stress situations.
While the Hunters wae fine for casual stream wading, they don't feel secure enough in higher stress situations.

Value


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 Hunters' relatively smooth sole didn't do it any favors in our traction tests  but its good looks and all-round decent performance have kept it popular for 162 years!
The Hunters' relatively smooth sole didn't do it any favors in our traction tests, but its good looks and all-round decent performance have kept it popular for 162 years!

Conclusion


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