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Sorel Madson II Chukka Review

These rain boots are a stylish choice if your main priority is staying dry in the city
Sorel Madson II Chukka
Credit: Sorel
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Price:  $175 List | $122.46 at Backcountry
Pros:  Lightweight, very stylish, comfortable
Cons:  Flood height is a low 2.75", slightly narrow for standard width feet, expensive
Manufacturer:   Sorel
By Richard Forbes ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 12, 2021
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50
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Weather Protection - 30% 2.0
  • Comfort - 25% 6.0
  • Traction - 20% 6.0
  • Warmth - 15% 5.0
  • Style - 10% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Sorel Madson II Chukka boots take the 80-year-old chukka design and modernize it with waterproofed suede and a new and improved chunky outsole. While their lack of a waterproof gusset means that they're not the most weatherproof boots in our test, they were more than enough for rainy day chores around town. If you're in the market for a pair of casually dressy waterproof shoes, and you're planning to wear them year-round in rain or shine, these stylish kicks are a great choice.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Madson II Chukka fits into Sorel's "Madson" lineup — a series of waterproof boots that are designed to look good and be comfortable. This lineup is not designed to be super-waterproof, and as a result, the Chukka have a pretty low flood height. Still, they're pretty practical boots, as they're dressy enough to be worn in the city without attracting any weird looks. We found them to be perfect for comfortably kicking around town, but we wouldn't recommend them for anyone who plans to spend a lot of time in the mud.

Performance Comparison


Sorel Madson II Chukka rain boots - the wind kicked up while we were doing this photoshoot!
The wind kicked up while we were doing this photoshoot!
Credit: Richard Forbes

Weather Protection


We tested the Madson Moc Toe back in 2019, and the Chukka has the same major issues. The gussets (the folds between the tongue and the boot proper) aren't waterproof, and as a result, the flood height of the boot is only 2.75". This means that even small puddles can get your feet wet, especially if you don't tie the laces tightly. We found that these were waterproof enough for most rainy situations, but they really aren't that protective. If only the boots had waterproof gussets, their flood height would double (to ~ 5"). But alas, Sorel didn't want to go to the extra trouble.

Sorel Madson II Chukka rain boots - if you look closely at the left boot, you'll see that this is as...
If you look closely at the left boot, you'll see that this is as deep as they can go (the water's right at the bottom of the gusset).
Credit: Richard Forbes

Sorel Madson II Chukka rain boots - taking a closer look at the leaky gussets (those leather folds...
Taking a closer look at the leaky gussets (those leather folds alongside the tongue).
Credit: Richard Forbes

Comfort


The Chukka is the lightest in our test, weighing in at only 2.4 lbs, and as a result, you'll barely notice you're wearing them, especially compared to some of the 5+ lb clunkers in our test. We love lighter boots like these because they let us forget how long we've been up and on our feet.

Our biggest issue with these boots is that they're narrower than any others in our test, though we realize this narrower cut is part of the aesthetic. This didn't feel great with our slightly wider feet, but we'll get into this more in the "Fit" section below. We also wish the insole was a bit thicker, but the midsoles are cushioned enough to make these comfortable for full days on your feet.

Sorel Madson II Chukka rain boots - if this insole were any thicker, we would have had issues getting...
If this insole were any thicker, we would have had issues getting these low-volume shoes on.
Credit: Richard Forbes

Traction


The new outsole is the best part of the upgrades from the 2019 Madson to this newer Madson II. We were relatively unimpressed by the outsole on the 2019 Madson — it just had a series of semi-lugged ridges. This new outsole is a lot more solid, with deeper lugs, more lateral traction, and the rubber compound feels stickier.

As a result, the outsole on the Chukka feels significantly grippier on pretty much all the surfaces we tested, from wet grass to muck. If you'll be on the slickest of surfaces, you'll want a heavier-duty boot with more studs, but for most conditions, you should feel confident with these boots.

Sorel Madson II Chukka rain boots - the outsole on this model is a big improvement from previous...
The outsole on this model is a big improvement from previous iterations in the Madson line.
Credit: Richard Forbes

Warmth


Since the Chukka is made of suede (leather), it does a better job of insulating your feet than similarly insulated rubber. As a result, these boots kept our feet comfortable for a solid five minutes in the ice bath test (compared to the 30 seconds we were getting from similar rubber boots). At the same time, leather also breathes better than solid rubber, and so we found that these boots are also pretty comfortable in warmer conditions.

These boots aren't the best choice if you're planning to spend a lot of time in chilly conditions, and with their narrower fit, you won't be able to easily wear thicker socks. However, if you're not planning to stand around in the cold, these will be perfectly comfortable as long as you're in 20+ degree temps.

Sorel Madson II Chukka rain boots - our ice bath test is tricky in boots with only a 2.75" flood height.
Our ice bath test is tricky in boots with only a 2.75" flood height.
Credit: Richard Forbes

Style


If nothing else, these boots are stylish. The chukka design has been around and popular since the 1940s. According to Wikipedia, chukkas can be worn with suits or with jeans, so feel to wear these to a wedding! You definitely can't say that about any of the other boots in our test. Our style consultants all agreed — these boots look great, and everyone around will be admiring your style.

Sorel Madson II Chukka rain boots - these are some stylish boots!
These are some stylish boots!
Credit: Richard Forbes

Fit


These boots felt a bit small for our D-width feet, but we think that's because they run pretty narrow. After breaking the leather in over a few weeks, they got more comfortable, but they still didn't fit perfectly. So if you've got wider feet, we'd recommend steering clear of the Chukka. Otherwise, we were wearing size 13 boots on our size 12 feet, and that gave us just enough toe wiggle room to feel good.

Sorel Madson II Chukka rain boots - these run narrow, so may be best to avoid if you have especially...
These run narrow, so may be best to avoid if you have especially wide feet. At the very least, size up.
Credit: Richard Forbes

Value


It's tricky to talk about the value when it comes to these boots because they're definitely expensive. However, they're much more versatile than most of the rubber rain boots in our test, as they can also double as casual around-town shoes. You can probably even get away with using them as dress boots. And since they're made of high-quality suede, they're both breathable and warm enough for most weather conditions you'll find. However, if you're just looking for a good pair of rain boots, you can find a lot more water resistance for a lot less money if you look elsewhere in our test.

Sorel Madson II Chukka rain boots - the sorel madson ii chukka boots gently bobbing in puget sound.
The Sorel Madson II Chukka boots gently bobbing in Puget Sound.
Credit: Richard Forbes

Conclusion


Overall, these Chukka boots do a great job at being a lightweight dressy boot for rainy days. If you get them because you need something heavy-duty for working outdoors, you'll be disappointed. But if you want a pair of comfortable city boots that will keep your feet dry in most types of weather (but not puddles or deeper water), we recommend them.

Richard Forbes
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