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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
Hunter Original Tall
Photo: Hunter
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Price:  $160 List | Check Price at REI
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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
#10 of 14
  • 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

 
Hunter Original Tall
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
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$164.95 at Amazon$169.95 at Amazon$65.10 at AmazonCheck Price at REI
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Pros Fits well, unique styleExtremely weatherproof, decently lightweight, great tractionExtremely warm, grippyAffordable, well-insulated, great tractionHighly waterproof, stiff construction for rough terrain, great traction
Cons Impractical for intense use, relatively uncomfortablePretty pricey, thin-feeling underfootToo warm for most uses, too tight to easily slip on and offNot as comfortable as other modelsLooser fit, lacks insulation
Bottom Line While Hunter Boots have a lot of history, these were not the most utilitarian boots in our testThese boots performed highly in every test we threw at them, and we're confident they'll keep you dry and happyThis impressive boot will keep you toasty when all else fails, though they'll be far too warm for normal conditionsWhile we love many of the innovative aspects of these boots, we wish they could provide more support underfootThis workhorse boasts a very fair price for such a rugged boot
Rating Categories Hunter Original Tall The Original Muck B... The Original Muck B... Kamik Icebreaker Baffin Enduro
Weather Protection (30%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
Comfort (25%)
4.0
8.0
4.0
6.0
6.0
Traction (20%)
3.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Warmth (15%)
3.0
9.0
10.0
7.0
3.0
Style (10%)
7.0
5.0
4.0
7.0
5.0
Specs Hunter Original Tall The Original Muck B... The Original Muck B... Kamik Icebreaker Baffin Enduro
Weight per Pair (size 13) 5.42 lbs 4.72 lbs 5.74 lbs 4.58 lbs 5.49 lbs
Flood Height (inches from bottom of sole to lowest point at top of shaft) 16.9" 18" 17.6" 14.3 in 16.3"
Mouth Circumference (inches) 17" 18.75" 15.25" 16.5" 17.5"
Lining/Insulation Woven nylon lining 5 mm neoprene Fleece Moisture wicking removable Zylex liner Synthetic
Upper Material Rubber Rubber Rubber Rubber with waterproof adjustable nylon collar Rubber
Outsole Material Traditional calendered outsole Rubber MS-1 molded outsole TRACKER synthetic Rubber Rubber
Insole Cushioned footbed EVA EVA molded midsole with contoured footbed and 2mm thermal foam underlay 11mm Zylex insole Gel-Flex shock-absorbing heels and midsoles
Unique Features Natural latex, handcrafted, calendared outsole Breathable air mesh lining Neoprene shaft, thick insulation, and aggressive outsole Drawstring, Zylex liner Aggressive outsole
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Sizing info Order next size up Order next size up Order next size up Order next size up Order your true size

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

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

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...
Photo: Richard Forbes

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.
Photo: Richard Forbes

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.
Photo: Richard Forbes

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

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

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...
Photo: Richard Forbes

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

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...
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!
Photo: Richard Forbes

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