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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
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $180 List | $107.83 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, comfortable, stylish
Cons:  Low waterline
Manufacturer:   Sorel
By Richard Forbes ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 1, 2020
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59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 12
  • 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. 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. Our biggest issue is that the gusseted tongue is not waterproof, reducing the flood height significantly. If it were, these would have been a shoe-in for an Editors' Choice Award. As they are, we are happy to give them a Top Pick for Good Looks!

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

When we found ourselves slipping these boots on every time we left the house, no matter the weather, we knew we'd found a new Top Pick. 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.

Still looking as good as ever!
Still looking as good as ever!

April 2020 - Takeaways and Durability after 8 months of Heavy Use


After 8 months, we're still sure about this boot — it definitely deserves to be a Top Pick for Style. While we'd still put on burlier boots if it was dumping rain or snow, we love wearing these throughout the standard Seattle drizzle, and we found ourselves putting them on whenever we had to do anything social.

We still love how light and comfortable they are, and they've only gotten more comfortable as the leather has worn in. The traction is still solid, though the cosmetic light-pebbling of the outsole is starting to wear down.

This outsole doesn't look like much  but we've been impressed with how grippy it actually is.
This outsole doesn't look like much, but we've been impressed with how grippy it actually is.

Our biggest issue with the Madson is still that the tongue gussets aren't waterproof, so if there's heavy rain or deep puddles, we have to be careful. As of yet, we can't see much wear on these boots besides where the leather is gently creasing across the top of the midfoot. We're considering treating the leather in the next few months as it warms up; otherwise we think we'll get a few more years out of these boots, no problem.

The creasing actually makes them look classier?
The creasing actually makes them look classier?

Read on to see how the Madson fared in our tests!

Performance Comparison


These boots are perfectly comfortable to wear around town all day.
These boots are perfectly comfortable to wear around town all day.

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.


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.

The water comes in right here - if only they had waterproof gussets!
The water comes in right here - if only they had waterproof gussets!

Showing how high they could have been waterproof with higher gussets.
Showing how high they could have been waterproof with higher gussets.

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 eight months 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 whatever treatment Sorel uses  the leather doesn't soak up moisture readily at all.
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.

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!

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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  but our style consultants all preferred the Sorel Madson (left) to the Muck Boots Chelsea (right).
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).

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.

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.

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.

Richard Forbes