Best Overall Model
Bogs Classic Ultra High
12 inches | Pair weight:
Easy to slip on/off
Warm and insulated
Lower flood height due to the handles
The Bogs Classic Ultra High is a fantastic rain boot, well-cushioned enough to wear on any surface for entire days straight, and waterproof enough for the worst conditions, while not being so insulated as to be only wearable in winter. Their inventive handles and studded heels make them a cinch to get on and off, and their foamed neoprene uppers keep our feet warm even in the snow.
The Classic Ultra High boots do have a few drawbacks. They're not fashionisto fodder, and the handles mean there's a lower flood height. We think these "drawbacks" are just the backside of its strengths - it's obviously workwear, and the handles make it so much easier to use that it was hard for us to go back to normal boots. We can confidently attest — from full 10-hour workdays on concrete to wading through creeks, and during a 30-day winter whitewater extravaganza down the Grand Canyon, these boots made us happy every time we slipped them on. And when the soggy Seattle winter settled in, we put these boots by our front door, ready for whatever weather we might find.
Read review: Bogs Classic Ultra High
Best Bang for the Buck
16.25 inches | Pair weight:
High flood height
Solid construction for rough terrain
Deep lugs for traction on all surfaces
The Baffin Enduro is the quintessential rainboot — if you close your eyes and think of a rainboot, this is it. With its 16.25" rubber shaft, and a variably lugged outsole, its reliable in the wettest and worst conditions. Due to their 17.5 circumference shaft, they're easy to slip in and out of. And their price, when you consider how good they are, is unbeatable.
The Enduros aren't insulated, so they definitely need to be paired with thick socks, and the insoles that come with the boots aren't the best, so if you're planning on spending a lot of consecutive time in them, you should put in a more padded insole. But once we got our sock and insole situation sorted out, we were able to spend entire days working outdoors (14+ hrs) happily. If you're looking for the best deal, and you're less concerned with the most stylish, deluxe option, give these stout boots a try.
Read review: Baffin Enduro
Best for the Worst Weather
The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport
17.6 inches | Pair weight:
Most insulated boots tested
Most protective with highest flood height
Best traction tested
Snug and more difficult to put on and take off
Too warm for most situations
If you need the Arctic Sport boots, you'll know. We don't recommend these boots casually — other boots in the test will be more reasonable for most people, but for those who need uncompromising warmth, comfort, and water resistance, this boot is the best. No matter what horrible weather is dumping from the sky, we're certain your feet will be comfortable and warm in these boots.
The things that make these boots wonderful (their insulation, high shaft (17.6"), and general heftiness) also make them unpleasant for kicking around town. When we wore them in anything warmer than 40 degrees, our feet were sweating. And their snugger shaft keeps the warm air in, but means that you'll need to work a little harder to get them on and off. Spending time in truly nasty (read: cold and wet) environments? These are the boots for you.
Read review: The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport
Best for Good Looks
Sorel Madson Moc Toe
3 inches | Pair weight:
Lightest boot in test
Good for large temperature range
If you're not totally sold on the idea of getting rain boots, the Sorel Madson Moc Toe is a great solution. You can keep your feet dry while wearing a good-looking leather boot, and avoid the clunk of a pair of rubber boots. The Madson is stylish, lightweight, and nearly as comfortable as a pair of casual kicks. They're not insulated, so you can wear them in a wide range of temperatures. And being leather, they breathe considerably better than rubber.
The biggest flaw we could found with these boots is their low waterline (3"). For some reason, they weren't designed with a waterproofed tongue, otherwise, they'd be waterproof up to a 4.5". We recognize that this waterline may be too low for some, so we want to be clear that this is not a heavy-duty work boot. But this boot was designed for the town, not the farm. If you're looking to kick around town no matter the weather in style, the Madson is perfect.
Read review: Sorel Madson Moc Toe
Sometimes field testing involves getting your feet wet.
Why You Should Trust Us
This review is brought to you by OutdoorGearLab Review Editor Richard Forbes. Richard spends most of his time in the perpetually soggy Pacific Northwest — perfect rain boot territory. When getting after outdoor objectives, you can usually find him somewhere in the Cascades: mountaineering, climbing, trail running, pack rafting, or backpacking, though he occasionally travels to remind himself how much better the PNW is. He's worked on farms all around the world and has strong opinions on the importance of dry feet.
This review began with hours of reading and research, looking at over 49 different models of wet-weather boots. From this large group, we selected the best 13 models to purchase and test in the field and "laboratory" (the bathtub for our cold tests). Before testing, we considered what the point of a rain boot is, then identified several important performance areas to build testing protocol around. We then began testing the boots over a period of months and over 300 hours of work. Some tests, such as warmth, were best suited to the lab, and we submerged the boots in ice water and monitored their internal temperature with our bare feet. Others, such as comfort, were best tested by long days in the boots, hiking through mucky conditions to climb at the crag, and doing fieldwork in the Cascades. In all, we're confident we put the best rain boots on the market through their paces.
Related: How We Tested Rain Boots
Analysis and Test Results
Getting your feet wet feet can really mess with your day, no matter whether you're wading across a cold stream, harvesting carrots in the fall Maine rain, or slogging to the store through a surprise snowstorm. Throughout our testing period, we evaluated each boot's water resistance, all-day comfort, traction on wet ground, warmth, style, and ease of use, and wrote detailed notes. For each performance metric, we gave each boot a rating from 1 to 10 and weighted these scores to reflect the importance of each category (e.g., water resistance is more important to warmth for most users). These are not absolute ratings; our values are relative to the boot as it compares to the other boots in this test.
Related: Buying Advice for Rain Boots
Some test boots ready for rainfall -- Kamik Larslo, Servus boot, and The Original Muck Boot Company Chore (left to right).
While we don't incorporate price into our scoring regime, we understand that cost is a significant part of your decision-making. We're confident (based on the absurd amount of time we spent in these boots) that there is a positive relationship between price and overall performance. In other words, you (generally) get what you pay for. But you'll need to think about what you actually need, because to be honest, most folks don't need the most insulated, heavy-duty rain boots. Do you want to pay more for the ultimate in ambulatory armor (the Original Muck Boots Company Arctic Sport) or are you willing to forgo the heft and insulation for a boot that will keep your feet and shins dry for a better price (the Baffin Enduro)? The Enduro (uninsulated) and the Kamik Icebreaker (insulated) stand out from the bunch for providing the most performance per dollar spent.
Rain boots, at their very core, must be waterproof. The world of waterproofing gets complicated if you actually dig in, but we define waterproofing as "able to stand in water for 30 minutes without getting our feet wet." We tested water resistance in Puget Sound on a blustery 25° F day, in a mountain stream on the chilly east side of the Cascades, and in Lake Union. In all scenarios, wet feet would have been truly miserable.
We put each boot in a variety of freshwater and saltwater waterways, from rivers and lakes to the ocean, across Washington State and along the Pacific Ocean. The final test involved a standardized five-minute wading test in the Puget Sound and Lake Union. Since all boots were waterproof, with the exception of the Bogs Sauvie model we bought and tested, we assigned scores as a function of boot flood height (measured at the lowest point at which water can enter).
Pushing these boots right to the edge.
With a 17.6 inch high shaft, the Arctic Sport easily wins the water resistance category, and with its relatively snug top fit to prevent errant splashes, allowed us to comfortably wander around the shallows of Puget Sound (over a foot deep at times) without concerns.
The Chore boots were warm enough to let us do some fall fly fishing in a mountain stream on the east side of the Cascades.
We went fly-fishing in the Original Muck Boot Company Chore boots, and only got a little water in when we forgot we weren't wearing waders and chased after a particularly tempting trout. The second highest boots are the Hunter Original Tall (3/4" shorter), though, with their larger circumference shaft and their lighter-duty floppier construction, we didn't trust these boots as much when we went tromping through the waves.
Fearlessly striding into the Puget Sound with the Arctic Sport boots.
Our test featured 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)
Mid-calf Boots (approximately 12" to 16" tall).
Low Boots (lower than 6")
- Original Muck Boot Company Chelsea
These low boots were stressfully short during our immersion testing (we were worried about all waves and splashes), but they were perfect for casual jaunts through soggy weather, as we thoughtlessly stomped through puddles (to the envy of our less protectively-dressed companions). Comparatively, their waterproofing isn't as robust as taller boots. However, we find them much more appropriate for rainy days in the city and around town than their taller competitors.
We tested a variety of different boot heights, all of which were good for different things.
Our testers are fortunate not to have any major foot pains, but after their years of experience on farms around the world, they've definitely gotten uncomfortable after long days. Our comfort tests were designed to replicate these conditions (mainly by testing for long periods on concrete and other hard surfaces). And ultimately, we identified which boots we'd happily wear for 10+ hours (the Bogs Classic Ultra High and Sorel Madson among others), and which boots we wanted to stop wearing after half an hour (in particular, the Servus Comfort).
77% of Americans experience foot problems (as found in Today's Podiatrist's 2014 study
), and 51% of Americans say they have to restrict their activities due to foot pain. However, the same study shows that only 25% of people regularly take time to address their foot health.
If you have foot pain, take this category seriously. Rain boots aren't supposed to be painful, and some of the models we tested are a pleasure to wear. Consider supplemental insoles, and if you've got a lot of trouble with your feet, please see a doctor. Happy feet can really improve your life.
Boot construction plays an unexpectedly large part in comfort. Leather boots are more comfortable as they're more breathable, tend to weigh less, and actually break in. Within "rubber" boots, there are still some distinctions. The boots made with foamed neoprene uppers (Bogs Classic Ultra High and Muck Boots Company Chore among others) stretch and bend as we walked up hills. However, boots with fully rubber uppers tend to buckle in against the ankle as we climbed steep hills and walked on rough terrain. And while we're not rubber scientists, there's definitely a spectrum of comfort between lower-grade rubber boots (like the Servus boots), which we could feel as it buckled against the fronts of our ankles, and the more flexible XTRATUF Legacy 15 material, which didn't press up against our ankles. However, in general, the thicker your socks, the less you'll notice these issues.
The inflexible rubber bit into the front of our ankles on steep surfaces.
To test for comfort, we spent 20+ hours in every boot, intentionally prioritizing long stints in boots (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 had thick, cushioned insoles like the Ultra High and the Bogs Sauvie. We were disappointed by other boots' flimsy offerings (come on, Hunter boots!) or the budget Servus boots' lack of insoles entirely.
Most of our testers have higher arches and wear Superfeet for general use, and once we'd finished testing, we'd often put them in our favorite pairs, which only made them more comfortable. Depending on your arches (and how exhausted you 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.
The Superfoot insole couldn't fix every boot, but it did make hard-to-wear boots a bit more manageable.
We also wore rainboots out and about during our day-to-day. They came with us as we worked, shopped at the grocery store, and as we went fall-adventuring up in the Cascades. The Ultra High and Sorel Madson both lead the pack in comfort, for different reasons, though both fit snugly and minimized the sloppy fit we found in some other boots. Other comfortable boots include the Kamik Icebreaker, Bogs Sauvie, and Baffin Enduro.
Moody evening photoshoot with the comfortable Madson.
The stiffer-shafted, more rigid boots are more uncomfortable under our feet and tend to jab into our shins as their shafts bend. The Servus Comfort scored poorly in this category due to their lower-grade stiff rubber and because we consistently hit our toes on the steel toe (which protrudes internally into the toe box and provided no value for us). However, stiffer-shafted boots were not always uncomfortable. The Baffin Enduro boots are relatively stiff (and did buckle somewhat), but are comfortable underfoot, likely due to their "gel-flex midsoles," which sounds like marketing nonsense but seemed to make a difference, especially after a couple of hours of wear.
The left boot (Bogs Ultra Classic High) is way nicer than the Servus on a cold morning as we organized our gear for a fall backpacking trip.
Weight also plays a role in comfort — the lighter boots (especially the Sorel Madson) are more comfortable to wear for long days but were often less insulated and less protective, so it's a pretty obvious trade-off. However, some boots were mysteriously heavy - why exactly does the Muck Boot Chore weigh more than the more heavily insulated Arctic Sport when they're both from the same company? Neither of these two boots scored well in comfort.
Why are the Chore boots so heavy? They do have serious lugs for traction and significant insulation.
Let's also be clear that comfort and warmth can be overlapping variables - depending on what weather you're in, you may need that insulation to be happy, but too much insulation for the weather can make things sweaty and miserable. As we want to try to keep each metric as separate as possible, we'll cover the essential ways that insulation affected general comfort in the warmth section below.
Sorel Madson boots looking glamorous on a wet trip to the Post Office.
We don't (typically) wear rain boots when it's nice outside - they're for gnarly conditions when more comfortable shoes don't cut it. It's important that the boots you choose keep you up and on your feet, not slipping and slopping around. Some boots prioritized deep cut lugs that gripped mud and snow easily (Baffin Enduro), while others featured less textured outsoles better suited for flat pavement and casual use (Hunter boots).
We tested all boots on a variety of slippery conditions: wet grass, wood, mud, wet asphalt, riverbeds, (shallow) lake and bay floors, and in ice and snow. The Arctic Sport took a clear lead with its hugely studded sole, allowing us to feel secure no matter the surface. The Baffin Enduro and Kamik Icebreaker also performed impressively in our traction assessment.
The Enduros boots have particularly good traction even in snow, due to its aggressively studded outsole.
More casual boots were characterized by shallow lugs on the outsoles and lower quality rubber, and did worse during traction tests. While wearing them, we found our feet slipping in unpredictable ways on ice, snow, and mud. In particular, the wet grass hill-running test separated the slippery wheat from the solid chaff. We looked like we were ice-skating in the low scoring LaCrosse Alpha Muddy, while the better performers made us feel like we had crampons on. However, through all our traction tests, we never actually fell over, so we either have good balance, or the boots are all decent enough.
These look nothing like a rain boot, but still have plenty of grip.
To get a better scientific understanding of rain boots and feet, we went to the literature to read about warmth and workboots. And as it turns out, there's a flourishing niche in the scientific community devoted to feet and ergonomics (studying people's efficiency while they're working). Feet easily get cold because they have a lot of surface area without much mass, are extremities that get de-prioritized quickly, and contain no big muscles to produce heat during work. In case you get as interested as we did, here's a scientific article with a bunch of details and diagrams on how the human body responds to cold stress and hypothermia. TL;DR - your feet get way less heat than your core.
Thus, insulated boots can make a big difference, and work especially well during active work, when the heat produced is contained by the boot. And we looked at another study assessing the protection of feet during cold exposure which stated that, according to Sweden's version of OSHA, cold makes work significantly harder, and that over 70% of cold injuries are caused to the hands and feet.
We loved how warm these were in the snow, and they were only outperformed by the heavier-duty Arctic Sport.
In other words, and you may have known this already, many people get miserably cold feet when they're out in the cold and wet winter. We're hoping all this science-y stuff will remind you to take your foot warmth more seriously!
Here's some advice on rain boot warmth: consider the typical temperature range of the season in which you need waterproof footwear to base your purchase decision. We've lived all over the country, and needed to prioritize different types of boots in Maine (cold and very wet), Colorado (extremely cold but pretty dry), and Washington State (not that cold, extremely wet). Then, once you've thought about your climate and your intended use-cases, continue through the review!
These boots are comfortable and warm enough for everything, from stomping in puddles to long days on farms.
The warmest boot isn't always the best, as rain boots are generally bad at breathing away heat. If you're hoping to wear the toasty Arctic Sport at 50°F soccer games, prepare for swampy feet, though those same boots will be ideal for wading through foot-deep snow in 15°F (with windchill) thanks to its almost knee-high microfleece-lined neoprene.
If you're never going to see snow or cold temps in these boots, go with an uninsulated model like the Baffin Enduro or the XTRATUFs - your feet will thank you when you're doing chores on moderately warm rainy fall days. And if you want the best of both worlds, go with the Editors' Choice Classic High boot, which is warm enough for some snow use but also tolerable (not wonderful) in warmer temperatures.
We loved the look of these boots on a chilly evening.
The material the boot is made of also matters. A rubber boot (11 of the 13 boots in the test) won't breathe at all, while the two leather boots (Sorel Madson and Original Muck Boot Company Chelsea) are a lot more comfortable in warmer weather, but may not keep your feet as protected from the elements.
Decisions, decisions: how warm is it? Do we want to wear sandals or boots?
To compare boot insulation, we conducted warmth tests in an ice bath with ~30 lbs of ice and a half-pound of salt to lower the freezing point of water. Wearing each pair without socks (to keep things standardized), we submerged the boots as deeply as we could without water incursion, then recorded the time from initial immersion until the cold set in. We warmed up our feet in between tests. We set a cut-off time at 20 minutes so we wouldn't have to sit with our feet in an ice bath forever (only one boot made it to 20 min - the Arctic Sport). This test was about as hard on the boots as it could have been - we were totally stationary and didn't get too much circulation, so our feet cooled down quite quickly in uninsulated boots. And while we prioritized the ice-water test in the scoring, we also used these boots in the snow, ice, and other cold conditions, and incorporated each boots' ability to keep us warm into their overall scores.
We can't say that the ice test was our absolute favorite, but it told us a lot about how warm each pair truly is.
For context, the boots with the lowest scores didn't keep our feet warm at all, and almost instantly cooled our feet to discomfort. Those models were the Hunter, Servus, and XTRATUF boots, all of which feature thinner rubber. Their low scores in this category make them strong candidates for use in reliably warm and wet weather. On the other side of the spectrum, the Arctic Sport was the clear insulation champion and lasted the full 20 minutes, and the Ultra Classic High was a decent second, and kept our feet warm enough until 15 minutes in.
Boots closer to the middle of the scoring range are reasonably comfortable in a wide variety of ambient temperatures. Remember that our ice-water test is designed to be both easily standardizable and hard on the boots, but it is not realistic. It is very unlikely that you will be wearing yours without any socks (it's not comfortable), and socks dramatically increase a boot's insulation. So if your favorite type of boot didn't do well in this test, add a thicker sock.
With thick mountaineering socks, we could even wear uninsulated boots like the XTRATUF Legacy Series down to 25 degrees, as long as we weren't standing still for extended periods.
Ease of Use
This may not seem like an important metric — how hard can it be to use a rain boot? — but after 300+ hours in rain boots, we truly appreciated the pairs that kept things easy and simple. And let's be real, we're pretty lazy people who are only really willing to work hard when it really matters (like on that project at the crag).
The Editors' Choice Bogs Classic Ultra High blew the other competitors out of the literal water with its handles and heel studs. It's surprisingly helpful to be able to carry your boots with the handles, which also allows them to attach to things (strapped to a pack, clipped up for storage in a gear closet, or carabinered to a raft hurtling down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, etc).
We loved slipping on a pair of comfortable rain boots after pulling our feet out of overly tight climbing shoes
Other boots with wider circumference shafts were also easy to slip on and kick off. The low boots were the most difficult category to put on, as testers had to shoehorn their boots on with their fingers. And it's hard to say this without sounding like the laziest people in the world, but the laces on the Sorel Madson really slowed us down. We also had trouble putting on and taking off boots with snugger shafts and ankles, such as the XTRATUFs, Hunter Boots, and Arctic Sport. These models, if you're standing up and try to slip your foot in, will repeatedly buckle after your foot is halfway in.
While rain boots typically prioritize function over other concerns, our testers (and fashion consultants) did find certain models to be more aesthetically pleasing. As this metric is quite subjective, it's weighted at only 10% of the total score.
Most boots go the pragmatic route (most obviously the rubbery and pebble-patterned Baffin Enduro, which pairs well with oil-stained Carhartt overalls). Some boots, especially the low leather options like the classy Sorel Madson and the Original Muck Boot Company Chelsea, are much more reasonable for a soggy night out with friends.
Rain or shine, these boots look good.
To get some objective idea of the stylishness of each boot, we asked a panel of male and female friends to rank the boots from worst to best, based on whether they'd be happy to wear (or have their SO's wear) them out and about during a casual day. We then averaged these style scores, though it's important to recognize that certain 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 esteemed consultant was a New Zealander, where this type of boot (there called a "gumboot") is the unofficial national footwear and shines to its fullest potential when paired with rugby shorts.
Our Kiwi agonizes over which boots are the most stylish.
This style assessment is only a rough determination, not an ultimatum — wear whatever you want to!
Since rain boots almost always end up dirty, we also tested how easily we could hose off each boot (the outsole and upper). We found that almost all of them were extremely easy to clean off, requiring a few smacks against a hard surface and a quick hose-down. But there were two big exceptions - the Xtratuf boots and the Baffin Enduro boots.
Spraying off the boots!
Both these boots, especially the XTRATUFs, use negative space to make their outsoles deeper. Inevitably (and with the XTRATUFs reliably within a few minutes), gravel and other hard objects get lodged in this negative space and needed to be pried out with pliers, or they'll make subtle clicking noises every time you take a step. If you are mainly spending your time on boat decks, this might not be a big deal. The Baffin Enduro heel studs also have this problem, but because they are deeper, it was more likely that small pebbles got silently lodged up there (and we wouldn't notice until we were cleaning them). As long as the pebbles were quiet, this didn't bother us as badly.
Close-up of the gravel stuck in the base of the XTRATUF. The rocks wouldn't come out without prying.
Sizing + Fit
As footwear nerds, we take sizing and fitting shoes seriously, and spend way too much time agonizing over the perfect fit for our myriad backpacking boots, climbing shoes, ski boots, trail running shoes, approach shoes, etc. But the truth is that you probably don't need a super technical fit out of your rain boots, so don't worry too much about it unless your feet are particularly tricky to fit.
Let's establish some terms you'll find in the rest of this section of the review:
- Foot Size: The length of your foot, from the back of your heel to the end of your longest toe (which is not always your big toe). There a variety of sizing standards, but most people in the US use the "Brannock Size".
- Foot Width: The width of your fore-foot, measured across your foot starting on the inside at 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.
- Foot Volume: How much foot do you actually 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: Not to get too complicated, but you actually have three arches (medial, lateral, and transverse). However, most people are talking about their medial when they talk about arches. You can have "high" or "low" arches, but this won't matter when it comes to your rain boots and we're not going to get too deep into this. If you experience a lot of arch pain or plantar fasciitis during normal activity, see a doctor, look into foot strengthening exercises, and/or consider supplemental insoles.
In general, don't wear shoes (or rainboots) that match your measured "foot size", go up a half size, unless you want them to jam your toes. 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 but the Baffin Enduro (which research suggested runs bigger than average, so we got a 12). All our boots fit relatively well, except for the LaCrosse Alpha Muddy, which runs very strangely on size - it was both too wide and too short. Our reviewers have almost exactly US size 12 feet, with a standard D width (measured with 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 (for added warmth and comfort).
If your feet are on the narrower side, take a look at the Bogs Sauvie (which run narrower) and the XTRATUFs (which feel just a bit narrower than standard). And if your feet are truly wide (EE or wider), you might be able to get away with the LaCrosse Alpha Muddy (as we found it ran quite wide), but you may just have to go up in size till you get your width and ignore the extra toe space.
A large part of our autumn was spent carrying rain boots from one testing ground to another.
If you're will be spending time in wet or chilly weather, rain boots are a perfect footwear choice. And if you haven't tried them since the clunky days of childhood, we promise that there are truly comfortable rain boots out there. Give one of these models a try!
We call this one "Test Boots on Driftwood." Submitting to the curator of the Seattle Art Museum for possible inclusion...