The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

Sorel Madson Moc Toe Review

While we wish these boots had a higher waterline, they're comfortable and stylish enough to wear all the time
Sorel Madson Moc Toe
Photo: Backcountry
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $180 List | $164.48 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, comfortable, stylish
Cons:  Low waterline
Manufacturer:   Sorel
By Richard Forbes ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 3, 2020
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 14
  • Weather Protection - 30% 4
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Traction - 20% 5
  • Warmth - 15% 5
  • Style - 10% 9

Our Verdict

We love the Sorel Madson Moc Toe boots and find ourselves wearing them daily throughout the winter, whenever we're not testing other rain boots, because they're basically classy waterproof sneakers. They are shockingly light when compared to the clunkiness of almost every other boot in our test. And the best part: they look absolutely nothing like rain boots yet are waterproof enough to allow you to ignore the wet weather and go about your urban business while looking fashionable. The big issue with these boots is that the gusseted tongue is not waterproof, which redces the flood height significantly.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Sorel Madson Moc Toe
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $164.48 at Amazon$149.95 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$175.00 at Amazon$134.99 at Amazon$49.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
59
77
74
71
66
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Lightweight, comfortable, stylishLightweight, great traction, adjustable fit, everything you want in a bootExtremely warm, grippyWell insulated, ideal comfort, easy to take on and offHighly waterproof, stiff construction for rough terrain, great traction
Cons Low waterlineA bit pricy, cushioning in midsole is slightly lackingToo warm for most uses, too tight to easily slip on and offLower shaft height, less tractionLooser fit, lacks insulation
Bottom Line These boots are unique in our test for their modest weight, comfort, and easy styleYou won't go wrong with these boots, no matter what you're using them forThese boots are too much for urban use, but are perfect for those who require top-notch warmth and water resistanceThese boots easily won our testers' hearts due to their uncompromisingly solid construction, comfort, and warmthIf you're looking for a classic rubber rain boot, this is the best one we've found at a solid price
Rating Categories Sorel Madson Moc Toe Bogs Workman Arctic Sport Bogs Classic Ultra High Baffin Enduro
Weather Protection (30%)
4
7
9
7
8
Comfort (25%)
8
8
4
8
6
Traction (20%)
5
8
9
6
8
Warmth (15%)
5
9
10
8
4
Style (10%)
9
6
4
6
5
Specs Sorel Madson Moc Toe Bogs Workman Arctic Sport Bogs Classic Ultra... Baffin Enduro
Weight per Pair (lbs) 2.59 lbs 4.97 lbs 5.74 lbs 5.76 lbs 5.49 lbs
Flood Height (inches from bottom of sole to lowest point at top of shaft) 3" 14.75" 17.6" 12" 16.3"
Mouth Circumference (inches) 11.2" 16" 15.25" 17" 17.5"
Lining/Insulation Synthetic 7.5MM Neo-Tech waterproof insulation Fleece 7mm waterproof Neo-Tech insulation Synthetic
Upper Material Nubuck Leather Neotech/Rubber Rubber Rubber Rubber
Outsole Material Rubber BioGrip slip resistant outsole MS-1 molded outsole Siped self-cleaning non-slip rubber Rubber
Insole Ortholite Modular Algae-based EVA footbed EVA molded midsole with contoured footbed and 2mm thermal foam underlay Aegis antimicrobial contoured insole Gel-Flex shock-absorbing heels and midsoles
Unique Features Waterproof nubuck leather uppers Seamless Construction to reduce weight + Heel Lock Neoprene shaft, thick insulation, and aggressive outsole Easy to put on due to handles, easy to take off due to heel studs, neoprene shaft 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

When the weather was only a bit damp, we really enjoyed wearing these boots. The Sorel Madson, once it's laced up, fits better and feels better than any of the more standard rain boots in this test. We realize it doesn't look or perform exactly like a traditional rain boot, but we think that there are a lot of folks out there who don't need the utmost in puddle protection and would prefer something a little more casual and comfortable. Read on to see how the Madson fared in our tests!

Still looking as good as ever!
Still looking as good as ever!
Photo: Richard Forbes

Performance Comparison


These boots are perfectly comfortable to wear around town all day.
These boots are perfectly comfortable to wear around town all day.
Photo: Richard Forbes

Weather Protection


This is our only major issue with the Sorel Madson: we wish it had a higher waterline. Since these boots have laces (unlike any of the other boots in our test), they also have a tongue. And while the tongue is gusseted, these gussets are not waterproof, so the boot is only waterproof to around 3". Waterproof gussets would have added an additional 1.5" to the waterline, which would be a big improvement. We're definitely bummed that the designers didn't think of this.

The water comes in right here - if only they had waterproof gussets!
The water comes in right here - if only they had waterproof gussets!
Photo: Richard Forbes

This lack of waterproofing at the tongue had a big impact on the lack of success of the Madson during our water immersion tests, and we caution users against stomping in deep puddles or wading in much of anything with these boots on. However, in our real-world tests, our feet stayed dry in these despite heavy rain, and it's only upon stepping into deeper water that anything gets in.

Showing how high they could have been waterproof with higher gussets.
Showing how high they could have been waterproof with higher gussets.
Photo: Richard Forbes

We're also impressed by how Sorel treated the leather on this boot, as it doesn't soak up any moisture despite extended exposure (this is in contrast to other leather boots we tested, which showed the moisture immediately). We're not sure how long this treatment will last (it's lasted one year so far), but it keeps the boots looking great.

The boot on the left is wet, the one on the right is dry. Thanks to...
The boot on the left is wet, the one on the right is dry. Thanks to whatever treatment Sorel uses, the leather doesn't soak up moisture readily at all.
Photo: Richard Forbes

Comfort


We didn't realize how heavy rain boots typically are until we put these on. The Madson weighs in just under 2.6 lbs per pair. The average weight (per pair) of the other boots in this test, is just under 5 lbs, with one model weighing more than 6 lbs. Due to the Madson's low weight, we were overjoyed to pull these on. After comparing a day in the Madson versus the heavier boots, the extra 3+ lbs makes a huge difference in how tired we felt in the evening. And yet, despite their weight, they're still perfectly cushioned. They feel like a great casual shoe — pleasantly flexible, but not so thin as to feel every pebble underfoot.

The Madson boots are so light and balanced that they float!
The Madson boots are so light and balanced that they float!
Photo: Richard Forbes

These boots have a pretty thin insole, but the midsole is cushioned enough that it didn't matter — we can happily wear these boots all day.

It's a thin insole, but the midsole is cushioned enough to keep this...
It's a thin insole, but the midsole is cushioned enough to keep this boot comfortable on concrete.
Photo: Richard Forbes

Traction


Based on how the outsole looks, we're pleasantly surprised at how grippy the Madson is. It can't compete with the more heavily studded models, but it does perfectly well at keeping the user upright on slippery grass and slick rocks. We were particularly expecting them to slip laterally (due to the tread pattern), but we've found them to be stickier than expected. They don't grip as well when it comes to loose mud (since the lug pattern isn't that deep), and if you're planning to wear these in ice, we'd recommend pairing them with some traction devices (like microspikes).

All that being said, these are obviously more style-oriented boots than work boots, so if you're in conditions that require the work boots, these won't do well. We're thinking, in particular, of a chicken coop we had to clean and hose down, which was a very slippery job. These boots would not be the tool for that gross job.

While the outsole doesn't look like much, it's surprisingly grippy.
While the outsole doesn't look like much, it's surprisingly grippy.
Photo: Richard Forbes

Warmth


The Madson boots have surprised us with how warm they are. Leather transfers heat slower than rubber does, and we're happy to wear these in chillier weather with a thick pair of socks (and they have enough wiggle room to allow thick mountaineering socks).

These boots don't have any insulation. There is a thin microfleece lining for the forefoot area, though there is nothing but leather for the heel and ankle area. However, the boot was warm enough during our ice-bath test to get up to ~5 minutes before some water leaked in through the non-waterproof gusseted tongue and made our feet uncomfortably cold. We think these boots could be comfortable in wintery weather with your thickest socks.

Even though these boots were pretty warm in the ice-water, the leather is also extremely breathable, and we've found them to be comfortable even over 60° F while other rain boots turned into sweatboxes. We are confident that these boots will be comfortable for you in a wide range of temperatures.

We feel like these boots have the perfect amount of insulation. Not...
We feel like these boots have the perfect amount of insulation. Not too warm for warm weather, not too cold for colder weather.
Photo: Richard Forbes

Style


The Sorel Madson boots look great. They're trendy with their "Moc Toe," though we didn't know what this meant until we looked it up (a "moc toe" means the boots have a moccasin-esque upward seam along the front upper edge of the forefoot). Their laces make them look better (to our taste) than our standard slip-on shoes.

Every style consultant we asked said two things immediately. First, "Those are rain boots?!?" and second, "They look great!" Our testers have unanimously voted the Madson the best-looking boot in the test, and we agree. All the compliments we get while wearing them put some pep in our step as we strut around town.

Rain or shine, these boots look good.
Rain or shine, these boots look good.
Photo: Richard Forbes

The Madson boots are indistinguishable from "normal" shoes, and if you want to have dry feet during stormy weather but not pay a social penalty, these are perfect. For the first time in our testers' lives, their significant others have been excited for them to wear rain boots on date night, as these look so nice.

Sorel Madson boots looking glamorous on a wet trip to the Post Office.
Sorel Madson boots looking glamorous on a wet trip to the Post Office.
Photo: Richard Forbes

We're also excited that they're high-quality leather because we think they'll look better and better as the leather ages.

Its hard to say which of the leather boots in our test looks better...
Its hard to say which of the leather boots in our test looks better, but our style consultants all preferred the Sorel Madson (left) to the Muck Boots Chelsea (right).
Photo: Richard Forbes

Fit


These size 13 boots have around 3/4ths of an inch of room forward and back (for our size 12 feet) and have just a little wiggle room width-wise for a D-width foot. They're probably just wider than a true D width. The best part about them is that their laces let you really lock your heels in (and our feet move less in them than in almost any other boot in the test).

We loved the look of these boots on a chilly evening.
We loved the look of these boots on a chilly evening.
Photo: Richard Forbes

Value


At this time, the Madson is the most expensive boot in our test, but we think it's a great option thanks to how stylish it looks and how many conditions it's good for. They can easily be worn almost year-round, depending on your climate, and pair with enough different outfits to be worth the price in our book. Do keep in mind that they are primarily style-oriented, which means that if you need to be out in bad weather all day, these will not be sufficient. But if you need a comfortable pair of shoes for around town on wet sloppy days, these are perfect.

Moody evening photoshoot with the comfortable Madson.
Moody evening photoshoot with the comfortable Madson.
Photo: Richard Forbes

Conclusion


We loved wearing the Madson Moc Toe for its light weight, cushioned midsole, and perfect fit. We wish it had a waterproof tongue (to get that waterline up to 4.5" instead of 3"), and if it did, we would wear them literally all the time, no matter how bad the weather got. It comes down to how you're planning on wearing this boot. The Madson can't keep you dry in deep puddles, and it's definitely not suited for deep mud, so if this is what you need a boot for, go check out one of the high boots. However, the Madson is perfect for the rainboot dilettante, the person who says, "I'm not sure if I actually want a full-on rain boot, but I want something that will keep me dry." If that sentence describes you, get this boot. We're sure you'll be happy with it, we certainly are.

We appreciate the reinforced back loop to help us pull the boots on.
We appreciate the reinforced back loop to help us pull the boots on.
Photo: Richard Forbes

Richard Forbes