Hunter boots have been around for over 150 years, and while their dedication to handcrafting their boots with natural rubber is impressive, we did not find that the Hunter Original Tall performed better than average in our grueling series of tests. Their high shaft height and unique styling weren't enough to compensate for their lack of comfort, traction, and functionality. These boots are sold mostly 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 (and the brand was 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, these boots lack insulation, which makes them more useful in warmer weather. And while this is hard to quantify, these boots were extremely floppy and did not provide much support. Overall, we weren't impressed by these boots when comparing them to the products that were designed with function first and form second.
With a 16.9-inch shaft height, these boots have the second-highest shaft height in our test. However, the Hunter boots far more flexible rubber made them feel much less protective against splashes, a feeling accentuated by their larger circumference at the top of the shaft (17"), which felt like water might slosh in the top.
The Hunter boots are very squishy, but not in a supportive way. They feel like we're standing on a stack of rubber, not like we're cushioned. And while they came with an insole, it's flexible and thin enough to be almost entirely cosmetic. The fit was snugger than several of the other competitors, so the Hunters didn't flap around on our feet as much as looser options, but this was not as important an issue as their relative lack of support underfoot.
The Hunter boots don't have much traction when compared to the other boots in the test. They feature "traditionally calendered 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 found that this process didn't create much traction. The sharply cut heel piece helped grab the ground as we went down wet grass and muddy hills, but when we went up the hills (on our toes), the heels couldn't come into play, and the Hunters did not hold well. They had even less traction on snow and ice.
The Hunter boots are not insulated and provide no warmth beyond the sock we were wearing. During the ice water test, our bare feet felt the cold immediately, and we were uncomfortably cold after 30 seconds.
The Hunter boots are designed to look a certain way. Our fashion consultants significantly disagreed on this boot. We found that the women universally liked them, while the men were 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!
Ease of Use
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 and wrench them off. They're a far cry from larger circumference boots that you can just step into and go.
The Hunter boots fit with our size 12 feet with a half-inch of room and are comfortable for our D width feet without being too snug. We expect they'd measure in at a D width: they would not have enough room for a wide foot. And they fit far more snugly on the ankle than any of the other boots (besides the XTRATUF Legacy 15"), which is nice because they don't flap around, but frustrating because the rubber pushes into the front of our ankles as we walk in them.
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 they look. The boot is handcrafted and built using old-school methods and natural rubber. Their 16.9-inch 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