For the past 7 years, we've purchased and tested 27 different pairs of rain boots. For this 2020 review, we took the current 12 best contenders into the elements for rigorous testing. From wading in lakes, rivers, and the Puget Sound, to battling through below-freezing temperatures, our experts have determined the best boot for a variety of climates and situations. For a comprehensive look at how each one ranked against one another, we took careful measurements of flood heights, weights, and insulation efficacy in an ice-filled tub. We then scored performance based on our meticulous metrics. Whether you need something casual or technical, we're here to help you choose the right pair.Related: The Best Women's Rain Boots of 2020
The Best Rain Boots for Men of 2020
Best Overall Rain Boot
Bogs Classic Ultra High
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. They are insulated just enough, but so much 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 kept our feet warm even in the snow.
The Classic Ultra High boots do have a few drawbacks. They're not fashionable per se, and the handles mean there's a lower flood height. We think these "drawbacks" are just the backside of its strengths — they're obviously workwear, and the handles actually make them easier to use (in our lazy opinions). We can confidently attest — from full 10-hour workdays on concrete to wading through Seattle rainstorms to a 30-day winter whitewater extravaganza down the Grand Canyon — these boots make us happy every time we slip them on. And when soggy Seattle winters settle in, we make sure to keep these boots by our front door, ready for whatever weather we might find.
Read review: Bogs Classic Ultra High
Best Bang for the Buck
The Baffin Enduro is the archetypal rain boot — what anyone would imagine if they closed their eyes and imagined one — in looks and construction. With its 16.25" rubber shaft and a variably lugged outsole, the Enduro is reliable in even 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 Enduro isn'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 add a more structured insole. But once we got our sock and insole situation sorted out, we've found we can cheerfully spend entire days working in and out of doors (for up to 14 hrs at a time!). If you're looking for the best deal, and you're not as concerned finding the most stylish, deluxe option, give the Enduro a try.
Read review: Baffin Enduro
Best for the Worst Weather
The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport
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 weather protection, 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 puppies.
The things that make these boots wonderful (their insulation, high shaft, and general heftiness) also make them unpleasant for kicking around town. When we wear them in anything warmer than 40 degrees, our feet sweat. And the snugger shaft keeps the warm air in but means that you'll need to work a little harder to get them on and off. If you're spending time in truly nasty (read: cold and wet) environments, then these are definitely the boots for you. Outside of that, they may be overkill.
Read review: The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport
Most Stylish Boot
Sorel Madson Moc Toe
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 snug and comfortable in rain while wearing a good-looking leather boot, and avoid the clunkiness of rubber boots. The Madson is stylish, lightweight, and nearly as comfortable as a pair of casual kicks. They're not insulated but made of leather, which means they breathe well and are comfortable in a wider range of temperatures than the rubber boots.
Our biggest issue with these boots is their frustratingly low waterline (3"). For some reason, they weren't designed with a waterproofed tongue. If they were, 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. The Madson was designed for the city, not the farm. If you're looking to stylishly kick around town despite the weather, though, this is perfect.
Read review: Sorel Madson Moc Toe
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 lucky he is to be in the PNW. He's worked as a farmer, ecological researcher, and outdoor guide all across the world and has strong opinions about many things gear-related, especially related to dry feet.
Each iteration of this review begins with hours of reading and research, looking over 50+ different models of wet-weather boots and reading the competition's reviews. From this large group, we then select the best models (this time being 12 boots) to purchase and test in the field and "laboratory" (the bathtub for our cold tests). Before testing, we consider what the point of a rain boot is, then identify several important performance areas to build testing protocol around. We then begin testing the boots over a period of months. At this point, we've put over 400 hours into testing and measuring these boots. Some tests, such as warmth, are best suited to the lab, and we submerge the boots in ice water and monitor their internal temperature with our bare feet. Others, such as comfort, are best tested by long days hiking through mucky conditions to climb at the crag, and doing fieldwork in the Cascades. All in all, at the end of every review, 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 can really ruin 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 evaluate each boot's weather protection, all-day comfort, 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 and weight these scores to reflect the importance of each category (e.g., weather protection is more important than style for most users). To be clear, 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
While we don't incorporate price into our scoring regime, we understand that cost is a significant part of your decision-making. And despite our inherent frugality, 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 peripatetic protection (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 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 water and weatherproof. The world of waterproofing gets complicated if you actually dig in (check out hydrostatic head testing), but we define waterproof somewhat casually as "whether we can stand in water in boots for 30 minutes without getting our feet wet." We've tested weather protection by wading 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 involves a standardized five-minute wading test in the Puget Sound and Lake Union. Since all the tested boots are waterproof (with the exception of our faulty Bogs Sauvie), we assign scores as a function of boot flood height (measured at the lowest point at which water can enter).
With a 17.6" high shaft, the Arctic Sport easily wins the weather protection category, and its relatively snug-fitting top prevents errant splashes and allows comfortable wandering around the shallows of Puget Sound (over a foot deep at times) without concerns.
We went fly-fishing in the Baffin Enduro 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 don't trust these boots as much when we go splashing through the waves.
Our tested boots features 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
- Kamik Icebreaker
- Bogs Ultra Classic High
Low Boots (lower than 6")
- Sorel Madson
- Original Muck Boot Company Chelsea
- Sorel Madson
- Kamik Lars Lo
- LaCrosse Alpha Muddy
The low boots were stressfully short during our immersion testing (we were worried about all waves and splashes), but they're perfect for casual jaunts through soggy weather, thoughtlessly stomping through puddles (to the envy of our less protectively-dressed companions). Obviously, the low boots' waterproofing isn't as robust as taller boots. However, we find the low boots to be more appropriate and comfortable for rainy days around town than their taller competitors.
Our testers are fortunate not to have any major foot maladies, but after their years of experience on farms around the world, they've definitely had sore feet. Our comfort tests are designed to replicate these conditions (mainly by testing for long periods on concrete and other hard surfaces). And, ultimately, we know which boots we'd happily wear for 10+ hours (the Bogs Classic Ultra High and Sorel Madson among others), and which boots we want to stop wearing after half an hour (in particular, the Servus CT Safety).
So let's buck the trend: if you have foot pain, take this category seriously. Rain boots (and shoes in general) 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. Take it from us, happy feet will 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 and mold to your feet. Within "rubber" boots, there are still some distinctions. The boots made with foamed neoprene uppers (Bogs Classic Ultra High and Bogs Sauvie, among others) stretch and bend when walking up hills. However, boots with fully rubber uppers tend to buckle in against the ankle when climbing steep hills and walking 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 CT Safety boots), which we can feel as it buckles against the fronts of our ankles, and the more flexible XTRATUF Legacy 15 material, which bends but 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 Ultra High and the Bogs Sauvie. We're disappointed by other boots' flimsy offerings (come on, Hunter boots!) or the budget Servus CT 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 keep 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 certainly make a difference for us.
For testing, 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 adventuring up in the Cascades. The Bogs Ultra High and Sorel Madson 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 Kamik Icebreaker, Bogs Sauvie, and Baffin Enduro.
The stiffer-shafted, more rigid boots are more uncomfortable underfoot and tend to jab into the shins as their shafts bend. The Servus CT 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 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.
Weight also plays a role in comfort — the lighter boots (especially the Madson) are more comfortable to wear for long days but are often less insulated and less protective, so it's a pretty obvious trade-off. However, some boots are mysteriously heavy — why exactly does the uninsulated Servus CT weigh more than the more heavily insulated Arctic Sport? Mystery aside, neither of these two boots scored well in comfort.
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.
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 prioritize deep cut lugs that grip mud and snow easily (Baffin Enduro), while others feature less textured outsoles better suited for flat pavement and casual use (Hunter boots).
We test our 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 is a clear leader with its hugely studded sole, allowing the wearer to feel secure no matter the surface. The Baffin Enduro and Kamik Icebreaker also perform impressively in this category.
More casual boots are characterized by shallow lugs on the outsoles and lower-quality rubber, and do 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 when wearing 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 landed on the ground, so we either have good balance, or the boots are all decent enough.
Because we love to over-research, we headed 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, in particular, get cold quickly for three reasons: 1) they have a lot of surface area without much mass, 2) they are extremities that get de-prioritized quickly, and 3) they contain no big muscles to produce heat during work. Maybe it's just us, but how the human body responds to cold stress and hypothermia is a fascinating topic.
TL;DR: your feet get way less heat than your core, so they will get cold if it's cold out…
Thus, insulated boots can make a big difference, and work especially well during active work, when the heat produced is contained by the boot. 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. In other words, and you may have known this already, many people get uncomfortably cold feet when they're out in the cold and wet winter. We realize all the references are a lot, but we're hoping all this research 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!
The warmest boot isn't always the best, as rain boots are generally bad at releasing heat (due to their rubber). 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 your boots, go with an uninsulated model like the Baffin Enduro or the XTRATUF Legacy — 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 (though not wonderful) in warmer temperatures.
The material a boot is made of also matters. A rubber boot (10 of the 12 boots in our test) won't breathe at all, while the two leather boots (Sorel Madson and The Original Muck Boot Waterproof Chelsea) are a lot more comfortable in warmer weather, but may not keep your feet as protected from the elements.
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 the 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, warming 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've also tested these boots in the rain, snow, ice, and other cold conditions, and incorporated each boots' ability to keep us warm into their overall scores.
For context, the boots with the lowest scores don't 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 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 is the clear insulation champion and lasted the full 20 minutes in the ice test. The Ultra Classic High is a decent second and kept our feet warm enough until 15 minutes into the ice bath.
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 in an ice bath 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.
While rain boots typically prioritize function over other concerns, 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.
Most boots go the pragmatic route (most obviously the rubbery and pebble-patterned Baffin Enduro, which pairs best with oil-stained Carhartt overalls). Some boots, especially the low leather options like the classy Sorel Madson and the Muck Boot Chelsea, are much more reasonable for a soggy night out with friends.
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. 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.
This style assessment is only a rough determination, not an ultimatum — wear whatever you want!
Sizing + Fit
As footwear nerds, we take sizing and fitting shoes seriously and spend absurd amounts of 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 save your mega worry for the technical gear.But in case you're a particularly tricky case, let's talk about some terms:
- 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 are 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 rain boots) 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 XTRATUF Legacy (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.
Ease of Use & Cleaning
For our most recent update, we removed two sections — Ease of Use as well as Cleaning — as they both felt too subjective. However, we felt that we should still mention both criteria, as they could make a difference to some.
We recognize Ease of Use may not seem like an important metric — how hard can it be to use a rain boot? But after 400+ hours in this style of boot, we truly appreciate the pairs that kept things simple. And let's be real, we mainly like rain boots because we can just slip right into them.
The Editors' Choice Bogs Classic Ultra High blew the other competitors out of the literal water with its handles and heel studs. The handles allow you to carry easily and attach them 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.).
Other boots with wider circumference shafts are also easy to slip on and kick-off. The low boots are the most difficult category to put on, as testers often had to shoehorn their boots 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 reliably bend and buckle when your foot is halfway in.
And regarding cleaning: since rain boots almost always end up dirty, 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 off, requiring a few smacks against a hard surface and a quick hose-down. But there are two big exceptions — the XTRATUF and the Enduro.
Both these boots, especially the XTRATUF, use negative space to make their outsoles grippier. Inevitably (and with the XTRATUFs within a few minutes), gravel and other hard objects get lodged in these spaces and need to be pried out with pliers. If you don't, you'll make subtle 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.
If you are spending a lot of time in wet or chilly weather, you're going to want to get some rain boots. And if you haven't tried them since the clunky days of childhood, we promise that there are truly comfortable options out there. Give one of these models a try!
— Richard Forbes