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

Sperry Saltwater Duck Nylon Review

With an extremely low flood-height, these boots are only suitable for light use around town
Sperry Saltwater Duck Nylon
Photo: Sperry
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $120 List | $89.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Extremely light, stylish
Cons:  Poor traction, very low water-line
Manufacturer:   Sperry
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
43
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 14
  • Weather Protection - 30% 2
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Traction - 20% 2
  • Warmth - 15% 5
  • Style - 10% 8

Our Verdict

Sperry is a legacy brand and is best known for its preppy boat-shoes. We had hoped that their excellence in boat-related footwear would translate to rain-gear, but our rigorous testing regime did not find this to be the case for the Saltwater Duck Nylon boot. While we liked these boots for their light weight, flashy looks, and decent microfleece insulation, they ultimately ranked poorly for weather-protection and traction, and we would not recommend them for any wet weather use.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $89.95 at Amazon$149.99 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$164.95 at Amazon$134.99 at Amazon$49.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
43
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 Extremely light, 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 Poor traction, very low water-lineA 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 look flashy but perform poorly in wet conditionsYou 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 Sperry Saltwater Duck Nylon Bogs Workman Arctic Sport Bogs Classic Ultra High Baffin Enduro
Weather Protection (30%)
2
7
9
7
8
Comfort (25%)
7
8
4
8
6
Traction (20%)
2
8
9
6
8
Warmth (15%)
5
9
10
8
4
Style (10%)
8
6
4
6
5
Specs Sperry Saltwater... Bogs Workman Arctic Sport Bogs Classic Ultra... Baffin Enduro
Weight per Pair (lbs) 2.44 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) 2.8" 14.75" 17.6" 12" 16.3"
Mouth Circumference (inches) 12.75" 16" 15.25" 17" 17.5"
Lining/Insulation Woven Nylon 7.5MM Neo-Tech waterproof insulation Fleece 7mm waterproof Neo-Tech insulation Synthetic
Upper Material Nylon Neotech/Rubber Rubber Rubber Rubber
Outsole Material Non-marking lugged rubber outsole with molded Wave-Siping BioGrip slip resistant outsole MS-1 molded outsole Siped self-cleaning non-slip rubber Rubber
Insole Removable EVA 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 Laces 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 we received the Saltwater Duck and ran it through our testing regime, we realized quite quickly (within 15 seconds of stepping in a lake) that these boots are only waterproof up to the top of the rubber, which is a mere 2.8" up the boot. While we like the light weight (2.44 lbs, the lightest in our test) and its fun looks, these qualities can not compensate for the lack of waterproofing or poor traction. Ultimately, we don't recommend these boots for any serious use.

Performance Comparison


We really like the looks of these boots. If only that top nylon were...
We really like the looks of these boots. If only that top nylon were waterproof!
Photo: Richard Forbes

Weather Protection


When we were researching the Sperry Saltwater boots before testing, we couldn't figure out whether the nylon upper was waterproofed. We liked the looks of these boots enough to buy them and try them out, assuming that a boot that was advertised as "waterproof" would have a waterproofed upper, but as soon as we stepped into a lake to test weather protection, we realized that we had been wrong.

The exact moment when we discovered that these boots are not very...
The exact moment when we discovered that these boots are not very waterproof.
Photo: Richard Forbes

Instead, these boots are only waterproof up to 2.8", or up to the top of the rubber.

Illustrating the deepest these boots can go into water. However...
Illustrating the deepest these boots can go into water. However, functionally, you can't even go this deep, as splashes from shallower water still got our feet wet.
Photo: Richard Forbes

To be clear, the nylon keeps out light rain (in the same way that a suede sneaker does), but we found the nylon couldn't protect us from heavy rain or even light splashes. If only these boots featured a waterproof lining, they would be waterproof up to the gusset (at 7.5"), but alas.

When these boots got wet, we also had issues with the microfleece lining holding in moisture — read about it in more detail in the warmth section below.

Once these boots got wet, they did not dry quickly.
Once these boots got wet, they did not dry quickly.
Photo: Richard Forbes

Comfort


The Saltwater feels a lot more like a sneaker than a pair of boots. This isn't a good thing in regards to some things but actually serves the boot in the comfort category. We like how absurdly light this boot is, weighing in at only 2.44 lbs for a size 13.

These boots are so light they will make you feel like your feet are...
These boots are so light they will make you feel like your feet are floating!
Photo: Richard Forbes

However, this boot weighs so little because they skimp on a lot of important features, including a supportive midsole — they are unpleasantly flexible, especially under the forefoot, and don't protect the feet at all from rocks or sharp edges. The Saltwater also has a thin insole that doesn't provide any arch support and tended to make our feet feel tired after just a few hours of active wear.

This is a pretty thin insole
This is a pretty thin insole
Photo: Richard Forbes

However, we ultimately decided that the Saltwater is a pretty comfy sure, as long as you're just using it for light around-town use. The light weight will make you forget you're wearing boots, which is pretty nice. We also like the laces, which you can keep loose or tight, depending on your preference.

Left untied, this boot is pretty sloppy in the heel, but when...
Left untied, this boot is pretty sloppy in the heel, but when cinched up snugly, this boot provides a great fit.
Photo: Richard Forbes

Traction


Sperry claims that the "lugged rubber outsole with molded Wave-Siping provides no-slip traction," but we disagree. Nothing about the soles made us think of the word "lugged." And while the "wave-siping" might be good on boat decks, we didn't find it secure on any type of terrain besides concrete.

We wish these boots had more traction - the "wave-grip" doesn't do...
We wish these boots had more traction - the "wave-grip" doesn't do much on slippery terrain.
Photo: Richard Forbes

When we conducted our slip-tests on wet terrain (rocks and wood) and slippery terrain (pine needles, mud, and loose dirt), we found our feet slipping all over the place in these boots. We wouldn't recommend the Saltwater if you need good traction on anything other than the most standardized of surfaces.

These boots even slipped on this slightly damp rock.
These boots even slipped on this slightly damp rock.
Photo: Richard Forbes

Warmth


The entire inside of these boots is lined with microfleece — and this makes them very cozy in colder temperatures. It is a true pleasure to pull these boots on during cold mornings. That said, this has some surprising drawbacks. When this boot got wet in our immersion testing, the microfleece seemed to hold the moisture inside the boot, and despite 30 hours of drying, they still felt damp to the touch, making our feet colder than they should have been. We didn't dock them for this, but if you anticipate your boots getting wet, they will not dry out quickly.

The Saltwater boots tested quite well in our ice-bath test since the microfleece is indeed very comfortable. However, due to their low waterline, we couldn't immerse our feet in the ice water without getting leaks, so this wasn't a perfect comparison with burlier boots that we could fully surround with ice water. Ultimately, these boots scored around the middle of the pack for warmth.

This boot scored decently for warmth, but it wasn't really a fair...
This boot scored decently for warmth, but it wasn't really a fair comparison. Due to the very low waterproofing line, we could only immerse our feet in very shallow icy water.
Photo: Richard Forbes

Style


This is where the Saltwater boots shine. We really like the duck boot look, especially with the quilt-patterned nylon uppers and distinctive red-stripes up along the back of the boot. Our style consultants were surprised by how much they liked these boots in person, and there's no denying it — they draw the eye. However, you can't wear them out in just any weather unless you want to worry about wet feet.

These boots definitely photograph well
These boots definitely photograph well
Photo: Richard Forbes

Fit


A size 13 boots fit our size 12 feet with a half-inch of room. It felt like there was some extra width available for our D-width feet as well. In other words, they fit exactly how we like. And we especially appreciate the laces: we always enjoy the opportunity to fine-tune a fit, and laces are a great way to get boots snug. We liked having the option to tie them tight or loose, and when we laced these tight, they were very comfortable, with no heel slippage.

These boots are super comfortable for kicking around the woods.
These boots are super comfortable for kicking around the woods.
Photo: Richard Forbes

Value


If you are looking for a sturdy pair of boots to keep your feet dry in the rain and bad weather, you will not get your money's worth out of the Saltwater Duck Nylon. However, if you want to buy them for their looks and don't mind getting another pair of boots to wear when the weather's poor, then these may be worth the purchase. However, there are other boots in this test that both look good and keep your feet comfortable despite the weather.

Boot modeling at a rustic cabin up in Maine
Boot modeling at a rustic cabin up in Maine
Photo: Richard Forbes

Conclusion


We enjoyed wearing these boots thanks to their microfleece lining and extremely light weight. If this were a different type of review, perhaps for comfortable sneaker-like shoes, we might recommend these boots. However, we can't recommend them because their flood-height is just too low. We couldn't even step in shallow puddles without feeling like we were going to get our feet wet, and this makes it difficult for us to classify these as "rain boots." Unless you're sure you don't need a rain boot, we'd recommend most people look at some of the other boots in our review to meet their needs.

Richard Forbes