Over the past 8 years, we've bought and tested 30 different pairs of rain boots. For this 2020 review, we purchased the best 14 boots we could find and stomped into the elements for testing. From sloshing around in lakes, rivers, and the ocean, to slipping and sliding in sub-freezing temps, our experts have found the best boots for whatever wet weather you face. We took painstaking measurements of flood heights, weights, and insulation efficacy in an ice-filled tub to truly put these boots through their paces. We then scored each boot based on its performance. Whatever your needs are, we're here to show you the right pair of boots for the job.Related: Best Rain Boots for Women of 2020
Best Rain Boots for Men of 2020
|Price||$149.95 at Amazon|
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|$164.95 at Amazon||$134.99 at Amazon||$222.00 at Amazon||$49.95 at REI|
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|Pros||Lightweight, great traction, adjustable fit, everything you want in a boot||Extremely warm, grippy||Well insulated, ideal comfort, easy to take on and off||Great looks, extremely warm and comfortable, versatile||Highly waterproof, stiff construction for rough terrain, great traction|
|Cons||A bit pricy, cushioning in midsole is slightly lacking||Too warm for most uses, too tight to easily slip on and off||Lower shaft height, less traction||Expensive, included wool insole can be too warm for all conditions||Looser fit, lacks insulation|
|Bottom Line||You won't go wrong with these boots, no matter what you're using them for||These boots are too much for urban use, but are perfect for those who require top-notch warmth and water resistance||These boots easily won our testers' hearts due to their uncompromisingly solid construction, comfort, and warmth||If you want a boot that looks and performs as good as it feels, this may be the boot for you||If you're looking for a classic rubber rain boot, this is the best one we've found at a solid price|
|Rating Categories||Bogs Workman||Arctic Sport||Bogs Classic Ultra High||Blundstone Thermal Chelsea||Baffin Enduro|
|Weather Protection (30%)|
|Specs||Bogs Workman||Arctic Sport||Bogs Classic Ultra...||Blundstone Thermal...||Baffin Enduro|
|Weight per Pair (lbs)||4.97 lbs||5.74 lbs||5.76 lbs||2.93 lbs||5.49 lbs|
|Flood Height (inches from bottom of sole to lowest point at top of shaft)||14.75"||17.6"||12"||6.7"||16.3"|
|Mouth Circumference (inches)||16"||15.25"||17"||9.75"||17.5"|
|Lining/Insulation||7.5MM Neo-Tech waterproof insulation||Fleece||7mm waterproof Neo-Tech insulation||Thinsulate||Synthetic|
|Upper Material||Neotech/Rubber||Rubber||Rubber||Leather + Elastic||Rubber|
|Outsole Material||BioGrip slip resistant outsole||MS-1 molded outsole||Siped self-cleaning non-slip rubber||TPU Outsole||Rubber|
|Insole||Modular Algae-based EVA footbed||EVA molded midsole with contoured footbed and 2mm thermal foam underlay||Aegis antimicrobial contoured insole||Removable sheepskin insulated insole||Gel-Flex shock-absorbing heels and midsoles|
|Unique Features||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||Cushioned Midsole||Aggressive outsole|
|Width Options||Regular||Regular||Regular||Regular + Wide||Regular|
|Sizing info||Order next size up||Order next size up||Order next size up||Order next size up||Order your true size|
Best Overall Rain Boot for Men
The new Bogs Workman finally toppled the previous 4-time award-winner, thanks to its innovative lightweight design, studded traction, and impressive warmth (from 7.5 mm of Neo-tech insulation). Their large circumference shaft makes them easy to step into, and we really appreciate the modular insole system and heel-lock collar. For all of these reasons and more, these boots are a pleasure to wear.
The Workman boots are almost perfect, in our opinion. Sure, they look like rain boots, but you're here looking for rain boots! And they could potentially do with a more cushioned midsole, but that's only if we're looking for something to critique. In all other ways, we think these boots are phenomenal. We've worn these for long days chopping wood, hiking around trails in Maine, in heavy rainfall, in lakes, and every time, we find we're charmed by these boots. We honestly can't recommend them highly enough!
Read review: Bogs Workman
Best Bang for the Buck
The Baffin Enduro looks like the classic rain boot — the type you'd imagine if you closed your eyes and someone told you to imagine a rain boot — in design and style. With its tall 16.25" rubber shaft and a solidly lugged outsole, the Enduro will keep you happy in even the wettest and worst conditions. Due to their large 17.5" circumference shaft, you can easily slip into and out of these boots, and their price to performance ratio is unbeatable.
The Enduro is uninsulated, so you'll need to pair them with thick socks if you're in colder weather, and the included insoles aren't great, so if you intend to put in a lot of time wearing these, you'd be best served by a more structured insole. But when we dialed in our sock and insole game, we found we could cheerfully spend entire days wearing these boots. They even kept us comfortable when we were pushing a 14 hr work-day. If you're looking for the best price and don't need the most deluxe option, we'd highly recommend the Enduro.
Read review: Baffin Enduro
Best for the Worst Weather
The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport
Most people don't need the Arctic Sport boots, and we don't recommend these boots casually. But if you spend time in truly rugged conditions — picture heavy rain, snow, and cold temps — this boot is the best. No matter how frightful the weather, we're sure your feet will be comfortable and warm in these dreamy boots.
We love these boots for their heavy insulation, extra-tall shaft, and secure-feeling weight, but these qualities also make them pretty uncomfortable when you're just looking to bop around town on a warm fall day. When we slid them on in temps warmer than 40 degrees, our feet started sweating immediately. And while the tighter shaft keeps the toasty air in, this also means that you'll need to reach down to pull them on and off. If you're spending time in truly icky (wet and freezing) weather, then these are definitely the boots for you. If you're not, maybe look at a more casual boot.
Read review: The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport
Most Stylish Boot
Blundstone Thermal Chelsea
If you want your rain boots to do double duty — to keep your feet dry in the wet and look good — the Blundstone Thermal Chelsea is the boot for you. The cozy sheep's wool insole and Thinsulate lining will keep your feet warm no matter the weather, and these boots perfectly balance between workboot (with their great outsole and seam-sealed leather) and style boot (with their premium hand-crafted leather.)
The only legitimate drawback to these boots is that they're not as tall as some of the other options in our test. So if you actually need a boot with a shaft higher height than 10", consider one of the other award-winners. Otherwise, if you're interested in a stylish boot with almost no drawbacks, the Blundstone Thermal is the way to go!
Read review: Blundstone Thermal Chelsea
Why You Should Trust Us
This review is written and produced by OutdoorGearLab Senior Review Editor Richard Forbes. Richard spends his time wandering around the perma-soggy Pacific Northwest — which is ideal for his rain-boot-oriented lifestyle. Every day off is a new opportunity to get outdoors, and he finds himself wearing rain boots in a variety of ridiculous situations (from "approach rain boots" to "rock climbing rain boots" to "whitewater rain boots"). He has not yet mountaineered anything serious in a pair of rain boots, but last summer he saw a tween rocking a pair of Bogs at 9,500' on the side of Mount Rainier, and he was both inspired and worried (for the tween's safety, the boots were fine). He's worked as a farmer, ecological researcher, conservationist, and outdoor guide worldwide and reluctantly admits that he is a gearhead, which means he has more opinions about gear than days outside.
Each new version of this review starts with prep work: hours of reading and research, looking through the competition's reviews, and surveying all the new boots released this season. Once we've identified the new most promising new models, we buy them at full price and then test them mercilessly. We make sure to practice good science and create hypotheses for each boot before we test them (no Sir Francis Bacon random empiricism here). With our hypotheses in mind, we begin testing the boots over several months. At this point, 8 years in, we've spent over 500 hours testing, wearing, and measuring various rain boots. Some tests, such as warmth, are best suited to the "laboratory," where we submerge the boots in a bathtub filled with ice water and monitor their internal temperature with our bare feet. Other tests, such as comfort, are best tested by long days slogging through soggy weather to do outdoor sports or fieldwork in the Cascades. At the end of every review, we have strong opinions about each boot, so read on to see what we learned.
Related: How We Tested Rain Boots
Analysis and Test Results
Soggy feet will muck up your day, no matter what you're up to. Throughout our tests, we consider each boot's weather protection, all-day comfort, grip and traction on wet ground, warmth, and style, and write detailed notes along the way. For every performance metric, we give each boot a rating from 1 to 10; then, we weight these scores to show the value of each category (for example, to most folks, weather protection matters more than style). Let's be clear, we're not trying to give absolute ratings; these values are relative to each boot and show how it compares to the other boots in this particular year of the rain boot test.
Related: Buying Advice for Rain Boots
While we don't put pricing into our scoring system, we know that cost matters a lot when you're making this decision. However, we'll always mention whether we think each boot is worth its price. And rest assured, after uncountable hours in rain boots, we are sure: more expensive rain boots generally look, feel, and last better. In other words, you (generally) get what you pay for. But this goes both ways — if you're not spending much time in these boots, or if you don't spend that much time in nasty weather, you may not need the most pricey option.
Do you need to pay more for the ultra-protective Original Muck Boots Company Arctic Sport, or do you want to keep your money for other gear and just get something that works well for the price, like the Baffin Enduro? If we're talking straight dollars vs. performance point, the Enduro (uninsulated) and the Kamik Icebreaker (insulated) are the best deals in the test.
This is obvious, but it must be stated clearly. Rain boots have to be water and weatherproof; otherwise, why are you wearing them? The world of waterproofing gets complicated if you get into it (waste a few hours and research hydrostatic head testing), but we define waterproof practically. Something is "waterproof" if we can stand in water up to the top of the shaft for 10 minutes and not get wet. We've tested weather protection by wading in Puget Sound on a blustery 25° F day, in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River on a month-long river trip, and in the Atlantic Ocean on the Maine Coast. In all scenarios, wet feet would have been truly miserable, and we were thankful our boots ended up waterproof.
We put each boot into freshwater and saltwater waterways (not for any particular reason but just because variety is nice), from creeks and ponds to the ocean, literally all over the United States (at this point, we've tested in every region of the Lower 48). The final test involves a standardized five-minute wading test. Since all the tested boots are waterproof (with the exception of our faulty Bogs Sauvie), we then assign scores as a function of boot flood height (which we measure as the lowest point at which water can enter).
With its superlative 17.6" high shaft, the Arctic Sport wins the weather protection category handily, and its relatively snug-fitting top prevents accidental splashes, easily protecting your feet from rain, deep water, and dumping snow.
We tried fly-fishing in the Baffin Enduro boots and only got water in them when we chased after a trout and fell into a deep pool. The second-highest boots are the Hunter Original Tall (3/4" shorter), though these aren't nearly as reliably trustworthy due to their larger circumference shaft and their lighter-duty floppy construction.
Our tested boots feature a variety of shaft heights. Pick your boots based on your intended use-case. This list is in order of height:Calf-height Boots (16" or higher)
- Muck Boot Arctic Sport
- Hunter Original
- Baffin Enduro
Mid-calf Boots (approximately 12" to 16" tall)
- Servus CT Safety
- Bogs Workman
- Kamik Icebreaker
- Bogs Ultra Classic High
Low Boots (lower than 6")
- Blundstone Thermal Chelsea
- Kamik Lars Lo
- Bogs Sauvie
- Sorel Madson
- Sperry Saltwater
- Original Muck Boot Company Chelsea
The low boots were worryingly short during our depth testing (we were worried about any and all waves and splashes), but they're likely exactly what you want to wear during strolls through town when there's soggy weather. The low boots won't keep you as dry as a taller boot, but we think they have their place in more casual use-cases.
Our testers are lucky enough not to have any major podiatric (foot) maladies, but they get sore feet like anyone. Our comfort tests are designed to replicate tough conditions (mainly by testing for long periods on concrete and other hard surfaces). And, ultimately, our tests let us know which boots to slip on for 10+ hour stints (the Bogs Workman and Blundstone Thermal Chelsea among others), and which boots we want to stop wearing after half an hour (in particular, the Servus CT Safety).
For some reason, in our experience (which is corroborated by these studies), people tend to shrug off foot pain and assume that it's inevitable. Let's be clear: foot pain can be solved. Yes, sometimes it's complicated, but it's so worth it. Help us change the trend! If you suffer from foot pain, take this category seriously. Rain boots (and shoes in general) aren't supposed to make you hurt, and some of the models we tested are a genuine pleasure to wear. Consider supplemental insoles, and if you've got a lot of trouble with your feet, please see a doctor. Take it from us, happy feet will dramatically improve your life.
Boot construction plays a large role in overall comfort. Leather boots are generally more comfortable as leather breathes better, tends to weigh less, and breaks in and molds to your feet. Though, of course, leather is a little less durable than a burly rubber boot. And you might think all "rubber boots" are equal, but when you look more closely, there's a fair amount of variation. We don't have degrees in rubber (though if we'd spent the last 8 years better, we probably could have gotten at least one Ph.D.), but here's what we know. Boots made with foamed neoprene uppers (Bogs Classic Ultra High and Bogs Sauvie, among others) stretch and bend smoothly when walking on rough surfaces. On the other hand, boots with fully rubber uppers tend to buckle against the ankle when on the same terrain. And while we don't have the words to describe the different types of rubber, we know that there's a spectrum of comfort between lower-grade rubber boots (like the Servus CT Safety boots), which is unforgiving as it pushes against the tops of our feet, and the more flexible XTRATUF Legacy 15 material, which flexes smoothly and doesn't pressure the ankles. However, in general, the thicker your socks, the less you'll notice these issues.
To test for comfort, we spent 20+ hours in every boot, intentionally prioritizing long stints (at least 5 hours) and time on hard surfaces to ensure the test was as difficult on our feet as possible. One significant factor is insole construction: there's a wide range of thicknesses. Some boots have thick, cushioned insoles like the Bogs Classic Ultra High and the Bogs Sauvie. One pair of boots, the Blundstone Thermal Chelsea, went even further and added sheepskin. We're disappointed by other boots' flimsy offerings (come on, Hunter boots!) or the budget Servus CT boots' lack of insoles entirely.
Our testers have higher arches and wear green Superfeet for general use, and once we'd finished testing with the standard insoles, we'd put Superfeet in our favorite pairs, which only made the boots more comfortable. Depending on your arches (and how exhausted your legs feel after a whole day on your feet), consider talking to a doctor or footwear specialist about whether you'd benefit from a pair of insoles. They make a difference for us.
For testing, we also wore rainboots during our general day-to-day. They came with us as we worked, shopped at the grocery store during the pandemic, and as we went voyaging up into the Cascades. The Bogs Workman and Blundstone Thermal Chelsea both lead the pack in comfort, for different reasons, though both fit snugly and minimize the sloppy fit we find in some other boots. Other comfortable boots include the Bogs Ultra Classic, Bogs Sauvie, and Sorel Madson.
Stiffer-shafted boots are generally more uncomfortable underfoot and jabbed our shins as we walked. The Servus CT, in particular, scored poorly in this category due to their low-grade stiff rubber and because our toes were constantly ramming forward into the steel toe (which protrudes internally into the toe box and makes things generally miserable). However, stiffer-shafted boots were not always uncomfortable. The Enduro boots are pretty stiff (and do buckle somewhat), but they're comfortable underfoot, likely due to their "gel-flex midsoles," which sounds like marketing fluff but seemed to make a difference, especially after a long day.
Weight also plays a role in comfort — remember the hiking maxim that a pound on your feet equals 4 lbs on your back? Lighter boots (especially the Blundstone) are more comfortable to wear for long days but generally less protective, so it's a pretty obvious trade-off. However, some boots are mysteriously heavy — how does the uninsulated Servus CT weigh more than the more burly and heavily insulated Arctic Sport? And even more mysteriously — how did Bogs make the Workman 15% lighter than the Bogs Ultra Classic while adding more insulation and a burlier outsole? We know they credit their "Seamless" technology, but we're suspicious that wizardry may have been involved.
Let's also be clear that comfort and warmth can be overlapping and competing variables — depending on what weather you find yourself in, you may sometimes need extra insulation to be happy, but remember: too much insulation makes things sweaty and miserable. As we want to try to keep each metric as separate as possible, we'll try to cover how insulation affects general comfort in the warmth section below.
We generally don't wear rain boots when it's nice weather — they're for nasty conditions when comfy shoes aren't enough. And when it's nasty, it's generally slippery, so we want to make sure whatever shoes you get keep you up and on your feet, not slipping around on the ground. Some boots prioritize deeply-incised lugs that grab muck and snow easily, like the Bogs Workman, while others feature less textured outsoles better suited for flat pavement and casual use as the Sperry Saltwater Duck Boots boots do.
We test our boots on all the slippery conditions we can find: wet grass, mossy wood, deep mud, slick asphalt, riverbeds, (shallow) lake floors, and in ice and snow. The Arctic Sport is a clear leader with its mega-studded sole, allowing us to feel secure no matter the surface. The Baffin Enduro and Bogs Workman also perform impressively in this category.
More casual boots are obvious — they have shallower (or no) lugs on the outsoles and feature lower-quality rubber. Thus, they do appreciably worse during traction tests. While wearing less grippy boots, we found it harder to stay upright on ice, snow, and mud. In particular, we found that the wet grass hill-running test let us separate the slippery wheat from the grippy chaff. We looked like we were new to roller-skating when wearing the low scoring Hunter boots, while the better performers made us feel like we were wearing crampons. However, through all our traction tests, we never fell over, so we either have good balance, or the boots are all decent enough.
Thanks to our research-science background, we love to research to absurdity, and so we headed to the literature to read about warmth and workboots. Who knew — there's a hardy segment of the scientific community devoted to feet and ergonomics (which studies people's efficiency while they're working). Feet, in particular, get cold quickly for three reasons:1) they feature a lot of surface area without having mass
2) they are extremities that get de-prioritized first
3) they contain no big muscles to produce heat during exercise.
Maybe it's just us, but we're fascinated by how the human body responds to cold stress.
TL;DR: Surprise, surprise, your body doesn't heat your extremities as efficiently as it heats your core, so they will get cold if it's cold outside.
As a result, insulated boots make a big difference and work especially well during active work, when the heat your body produces gets caught and contained by the boot. We looked at another study that measured foot temps during cold exposure which stated that, according to Sweden's version of OSHA, cold conditions make work significantly harder, and that over 70% of cold injuries are caused to the hands and feet. In other words, and you probably know this already, lots of people get cold feet when they're out in the cold and wet winter. We realize all the references are a lot, but the point of all these citations is to remind you to take your foot warmth seriously.
Here's some direct advice on rain boot warmth: think about the typical temperature range of the region in which you'll be wearing these boots. Then base your purchase decision on that measurement. We've lived all over the country and needed to prioritize different types of boots in Maine (cold and pretty wet), Colorado (extremely cold but not that wet), and Washington State (not that cold, extremely wet). Once you've thought about your intended climate and your intended use-cases, keep reading.
The warmest boot isn't always the best, as rain boots are generally bad at releasing heat (rubber does not breathe well). If you're hoping to wear the ever-toasty Arctic Sport at 60°F fall football games, prepare for hot swampy feet. Though if you wear those same boots in foot-deep snow at 15°F (with windchill), we know you'll stay comfortable thanks to these boots' almost knee-high microfleece-lined neoprene.
If you know you'll never see snow or cold temps in your boots, go with an uninsulated model like the Baffin Enduro or the XTRATUF Legacy — your feet will praise you when you're doing chores on warm and wet fall days. If you want the best of both worlds, go with the Bogs Workman boots, which are warm enough for snow use but also tolerable (though not wonderful) in warmer temps.
Boot material also has a big impact on warmth/breathability. Rubber boots (11 of the 14 boots in our test) don't breathe very well, while the three leather boots (the Blundstone Thermal Chelsea, the Sorel Madson Moc Toe and The Original Muck Boot Waterproof Chelsea) are a lot more comfortable in warmer weather. Leather doesn't insulate as well as a rubber boot, which is why the Blundstone Thermal Chelsea is the best of both worlds — it has Thinsulate built-in and features a shearling insole that's quite cozy, though if you're expecting warmer temps, you can remove this insole.
To compare boot insulation, we did warmth tests in an ice bath with ~20 lbs of ice and a half-pound of salt to lower the freezing point of the water. We wore each pair without socks (to keep things standardized and properly miserable), then submerged each pair of boots as deeply as we could without water incursion. We kept track of the time from initial immersion until "the cold set in" — a temperature which we tried to standardize. We warmed up our feet in between tests with jumping jacks. We set a cut-off time at 20 minutes so we wouldn't have to sit with our feet in an ice bath forever (though only one boot made it to 20 min — the Arctic Sport). This test was about as hard on the boots (and our feet) as it could have been — we were stationary and didn't get too much circulation, so our feet cooled down fast in uninsulated boots. We prioritized the ice-water test in the scoring, but we also made sure to test boots in real-world scenarios — in the rain, snow, ice, and other cold conditions. Ultimately, we incorporated each boots' ability to keep us warm during these practical tests into their overall scores.
For context, the boots with the lowest scores did not keep our feet warm at all and almost instantly cooled our feet to discomfort. Those models were the Hunter, Servus CT, and XTRATUF boots, all of which feature thin rubber and no insulation. Their low scores in this category are not disqualifying, though — poor insulation makes them strong candidates for use in reliably warm and wet weather. On the other side of the spectrum, the Arctic Sport is the obvious heat champ and lasted the full 20 minutes in the ice test. The Bogs Workman was a decent second and kept our feet warm enough until 18 minutes into the ice bath.
Boots closer to the middle of the range are the generalists — generally comfortable in a wide variety of ambient temperatures but not great at extremes. Remember, our ice-water test is designed to be both easily standardizable and hard on the boots, but it is not realistic. We hope for your sake that you never have to wear your boots without socks on (it's not comfortable), and socks dramatically affect a boot's insulation. So if the boots you want didn't do well in this test, just put on a thicker sock (as long as you have a large enough size to fit it in)!
While rain boots are generally designed to prioritize function above everything else, our testers (and fashion consultants) think certain models look better than others. As this metric is quite subjective, it's weighted at only 10% of the total score, but we still think it's important to talk about.
Most boots go the practical route (most obviously the rubbery and pebble-patterned Baffin Enduro boots, which pair easily with oil-stained Carhartt overalls). Some boots, especially the low leather options like the classy Blundstone Thermal Chelsea and the Sorel Madson, pair with most clothes and are more reasonable for a soggy night out on the town.
To get an objective idea of the stylishness of each boot, we asked a diverse panel of male and female friends to rank the boots from worst to best, based on whether they'd be happy to wear them (or have their SO's wear them.) We then averaged these style scores. Some boots were controversial (in particular, the Baffin Enduro, which received a wide variety of scores) and ranked differently depending on who was doing the ranking.
Our most valuable style consultant is a New Zealander, where rain boots (called "gumboots") are the unofficial national footwear choice and shine to their fullest potential when paired with rugby shorts. He's an Aucklander, not a country boy, so he's not as deep into the gumboot life as we've gotten during our stints on farms down there, but gumboots still run in his blood.
We don't want you to feel that this style assessment provides any hard empirical takeaways, though, so please wear whatever strikes your fancy!
Sizing + Fit
We are footwear nerds. We take sizing and fitting shoes extremely seriously, and we spend many hours deliberating which shoes fit perfectly, from backpacking boots, climbing shoes, ski boots, trail running shoes, all the way to approach shoes, and casual shoes. But the truth is that you probably don't need a super technical fit from your rain boots, so save your mega worry for the technical gear.
But if you're a tricky case, or if you just like talking about feet, let's talk through some terms we've learned in our years of research:
- Foot Size: This is the length of your foot, measured from the back of your heel to the end of your longest toe (which is not always your big toe). There are a variety of sizing standards, but most people in the US use the "Brannock Size." These measurements have annoyingly nothing to do with inches or even centimeters, though other countries (like Japan) have more intelligent systems.
- Foot Width: This is the width of your forefoot, measured across your foot, beginning at the inside of your first metatarsal head (the bump on the inside of your forefoot). Brannock sizing describes widths with letters (Super-narrow AAAA, AAA, AA, A, B, C… to extremely wide EEEE). D width is generally considered standard width for men, and E or EE means wide. We recognize that this also makes no sense, but just go with it.
- Foot Volume: How much foot do you have? This is determined by your bone structure and the height of your foot — do you have a high volume foot or a low volume foot? This is more of an informal spectrum — footwear shops don't have a way to easily measure this, but it's a good variable to keep in mind. If you often get heel blisters (like our testers do), chances are you have low volume feet.
- Arch: We don't want to get annoyingly complicated, but you actually have three arches (medial, lateral, and transverse). However, when people talk about arches, they're generally talking about their medial arch. You can have "high" or "low" arches, but this won't matter when it comes to your rain boots, and we don't want to get too far into this. If you experience a lot of arch pain or plantar fasciitis during normal activity, go see a doctor, research foot strengthening exercises, and/or think about supplemental insoles (with the help of a footwear expert).
In general, please don't wear shoes (or rain boots) that match your measured "foot size." Your feet change size as you stand on them, and you also want extra room for thicker socks. So try to go up a half-size (or if there aren't half sizes, go up a full size — bigger shoes are better). And shoe sizes are complicated, so don't expect them to be consistent from brand to brand (or even model to model).
Our reviewers decided to get US size 13's for every model except the Baffin Enduro (which our research suggested runs larger than average, so we got a 12). All our boots fit pretty well. To put our cards on the table: our head tester has almost exactly US size 12 feet (though one is slightly longer than the other), with a standard D width. These measurements are from a Brannock device, which can be found in any American footwear store. We chose 13s to ensure a healthy amount of toe space while keeping room to wear thick socks and in case we wanted to add insoles (socks and additional insoles generally add warmth and comfort).
If your feet are on the narrower side, take a look at the Bogs Sauvie (which run narrower) and the XTRATUF Legacy (which feel just a bit narrower than standard). And if your feet are truly wide (EE or wider), the Bogs Workman features modular insoles that let you make the boots wider if you need it!
Ease of Use & Cleaning
Two updates ago, we removed two sections from our grading — Ease of Use and Cleaning — as they felt too wishy-washy. However, we wanted to mention both criteria, as they could make a difference to some.
We recognize Ease of Use may not seem like an important metric — just how hard could it be to use a rain boot? But after many hundreds of hours in rain boots, we truly appreciate the pairs that kept things easy. And let's be real, one of our favorite things about rain boots is that we can just slip right into them.
In general, larger circumference boots are easier to slip on and kick-off. We appreciate, in particular, boots that feature heel studs to make kicking them on and off easier (Bogs Workman and Bogs Classic Ultra High). The Classic Ultra goes the extra mile with cutouts for grabbing, but these lower the shaft height and haven't proven to be very durable.
The low boots are the most difficult category to put on, and our testers often had to shoehorn them on with their fingers. We also had trouble putting on and taking off boots with snugger shafts and ankles, such as the XTRATUF, Hunter, and Arctic Sport. These models, if you're standing up and try to slip your foot in, will generally bend and buckle when your foot is halfway in, so you'll have to reach down and finish up the job. This may or may not matter to you — we are heroically lazy people, so we notice these things.
And regarding cleaning: rain boots will always get dirty, just due to the nature of their use, so we wanted to assess how easily we could hose off each boot (the outsole and upper). We found that almost all of them are extremely easy to clean. At most, we'd have to smack them against a hard surface after a quick hose-down. But there are two big exceptions — the XTRATUF and the Enduro.
Both of these boots, especially the XTRATUF, use negative space to make their outsoles grippy. On the face of it, this doesn't seem like a bad idea, but inevitably gravel and other hard objects get lodged in these spaces and need to be pried out with pliers. If you don't pry the rocks out, you'll make clicking noises every time you take a step. If bigger pieces of gravel get stuck, you can even feel them underfoot. If you are mainly spending your time on boat decks, this might not be a big deal, but at any other time, it can be pretty annoying.
If you spend a ton of time in sloppy weather, you owe it to yourself to get some rain boots. And if you haven't tried a pair on since the miserable days of clunky childhood rainboots, we promise that things have improved and that there are some good models out there. Give one of our award-winners a try!
— Richard Forbes