The Best Women's Rain Boots of 2020
Best Overall Women's Rain Boots
Hunter Original Back Adjustable - Women's
If any rain boot can have a legacy, the Hunter Original holds that seat. Hunter makes a few versions of this boot, but we particularly like this one due to its back adjustments, which change the tightness or looseness of the shaft. It ranks high in weather protection thanks to its adjustable mouth and tall shaft, and also scores high in comfort, traction, and style. This award-winner truly has it all, especially if you're looking for something functional, sleek, and cute.
Th Hunter isn't very warm, however, but for most folks, warmth may not be a priority for humid spring, summer, and fall rainstorms. Plus, a nice pair of cozy socks can go a long way. The only true drawback of this boot is the price tag. Though, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for; so if you can shell out the cash, there's no question in our minds that this pair is of remarkable craftsmanship.
Read the review: Hunter Original Back Adjustable
Best Bang for the Buck
With all the qualities of a top contender, scoring well in comfort, traction, and style, the Kamik Heidi is a dream come true, especially because of the modest price tag. Coming in far cheaper than the competitive Hunter Original, the Kamik is the price of a typical low-top. Outfitted with high-quality tread and recyclable rubber, it is both flexible and fashionable. Overall, it scores almost as high in our review as the Editors' Choice, but for a much lower price point — a match made in outdoor gear heaven.
Disadvantages of the Heidi are the relative lack of insulation and foot support when compared to the others. Still, it's a worthwhile purchase if you're looking for a dependable mild-weather boot with obvious flare. It is a deal that is hard to beat.
Read the review: Kamik Heidi
Best for Working Outside
Xtratuf Legacy 15" - Women's
The XTRATUF Legacy model grew on us as time went on. They have the thickest soles, which offer the greatest foot support and long-lasting comfort for long days, outperforming many of the other models in this metric. While working in outdoor environments, whether it be on a farm, on a boat, or in a garden, comfort is invaluable. Plus, as the name implies, these boots are certainly more than tough enough to withstand rugged duties.
The brown neoprene isn't unappealing, but they aren't the most stylish in the bunch, either. This particular model offers a fish or octopus print lining in honor of the famous Alaskan Salmon Sisters, who have used these boots heavily on their commercial fishing boats. The main drawbacks are their relative performance on snow and ice, a slightly big fit, and overall weight. But depending on where you're living and working, many of these facets won't outweigh their hardworking and technical appeal.
Read the review: XTRATUF Legacy 15"
Best for Style and Warmth
Bogs Amanda Plush
With high style and added warmth, the Bogs Amanda Plush brings a fresh hybrid to the table. Laces and a tongue add to the appeal without compromising the waterproofing of the shaft. Standing 10.5 inches tall, easy-carry handles are classic for the brand and useful, though they do diminish the flood height. Overall, this pretty boot is clearly the best option if you want style and warmth above all other attributes.
Comfort, traction, and overall weather protection are rather average as compared to the group we tested, however. The weight of the Amanda is on the heavy side as well, despite it being of the mid-height class. Yet, we feel that this model is worthy of a Top Pick for how versatile the look is and the warmth they provide for colder environments, such as having to briefly wade through snow to get the mail.
Read the review: Bogs Amanda Plush
Best for Ankle-Height
The Bogs Sweetpea is based on the classic Chelsea design with its short stature and nylon gussets. Without a distinct heel, the traction is ideal for flat surfaces. The stand-out perk of having this boot is the ability to pair it with virtually any wardrobe. It is also easy enough to pull on without having to fuss about stuffing your pants into a super tall boot.
The main critique of the Sweetpea is its low overall weather protection, due to its short shaft. The foot box is also much narrower than the rest of the boots we've tested so far. Still, these gripes aren't enough to keep us from wearing them all day, rain or shine. They performed much better than other short boots in the group, and we love them for their casual, on-the-go appeal.
Read the review: Bogs SweetPea
Why You Should Trust Us
This review of women's rain boots is led by GearLab contributor Sara Aranda. Sara holds a writing degree and has tested and written about gear, such as trail running shoes, hiking shorts, and umbrellas in various capacities. An avid trail runner and climber, she has lived and worked in Yosemite National Park, she attends outdoor industry events such as Outdoor Retailer, and has written about outdoor experiences for Alpinist Magazine and The Climbing Zine, among others. Currently based in and around the mountains of Colorado, Sara's use of rain boots is a seasonal requirement.
For this review, we began with market research, making a first-cut of more than 60 models of rain boots before further refining a selection to only include the most competitive based on customer reviews. We purchased the best of the best and commenced testing, paying attention to critical performance standards along the way. We made objective measurements of things like weight and height and compared them to the manufacturer's advertised specs. We measured waterproofness by submerging the boots for hours and examining them for leaks. Finally, we wore them, a lot — all day and in many environments, ranging from snow to pavement to river crossings. Everything we learned is distilled into this comprehensive review, which will surely be an asset in your search for a great pair of women's rainwear.
Related: How We Tested Rain Boots for Women
Analysis and Test Results
The ideal rain boot is the one that is the most functional for the environment you spend your time in. Right out of the box, the look and size often leave the biggest impressions. But overall quality certainly has a huge influence on how we select shoes, and thankfully, brands tend to be mindful of making technical and comfortable boots that are still aesthetically pleasing, which is to say, wearable in public.
With varying shaft heights from just above the ankle to just below the knee, these competitors range from the simplistic to more technical designs. All consist of a multitude of materials from vulcanized rubber to neoprene, which yield a range of flexibility and warmth. Depending on where you're going and what you're doing, there Is a rain boot for every scenario. Practicality and performance, however, remain the most important apects for us.
While price does not influence performance or technical scores, the relationship between affordability and overall quality is something we all pay attention to. The Hunter Original Back Adjustable is currently the most expensive pair in our test group. Yet, this Editor's Choice winner also contributes great value when you consider longevity as a result of quality craftsmanship. On the other end of the price spectrum, the Asgard Chelsea ankle-height boot is one of the cheapest we've included thus far, a top-seller on Amazon. Despite how alluring the price is, their not-so-thorough weatherproofing ranks them at the bottom of our performance list. Our Best Buy Winner, however, the Kamik Heidi, is the perfect example of where high value doesn't have to also come with a hefty price tag. How each boot performs across all the metrics we've established helps determine the practical worth of their cost, and thus, their overall value.
This metric holds the most weight for obvious reasons. Inevitably, the tallest rain boots provide the best overall protection. Scores shrink as shaft height decreases. Even with the aid of an umbrella, the taller the shaft, the more protection there is from sideways rain or puddle splashes. Throw on a pair of waterproof pants or gaiters over ankle-high boots, however, and you're all the more ready for anything. But who wants to do that all the time? In and of themselves, the boots in our review are critiqued on the ability to keep all the undesirables from soaking your lower legs. From slush, mud, snow, or icy river water, there are notable differences in how each boot protects the wearer, but thankfully none of the models have leaked on us in places they shouldn't (like where the sole meets the upper rubber).
Through rain and snow, river wading, and in lab-like testing, the Hunter Original is a winner in this metric thanks to its 16-inch height and the adjustable circumference of the boot opening. With a circumferential range of 14-19 inches, the shaft is easily adapted to personal calf sizes for the best comfort, preventing rain from entering from above. The XTRATUF Legacy also scores well in this metric with a shaft height of 15 inches. In addition, these two models do not have handles or cutouts in their shafts, resulting in flood heights that are hard to breach.
For this metric, we do consider any cut-outs or zippers in the boot design, such as the Bogs Amanda Plush, which have rectangles cut as handles for easy carrying. Because of the cut-outs, the flood height is lower than the overall height of the shaft, which impacts the effective water and weatherproofing. While these handles aid their score for mobility and ease of putting them on, this weather metric takes priority for us; it is the fundamental principle of a rain boot. In the case of the ankle-height Sperry Saltwater Duck Boot, the non-waterproof zipper diminishes the flood height to the mere height of the rubber footbed. Because of this, the Sperry ranked low, but not as low as the Asgard Chelsea. The Asgard's long nylon gussets are merely sewn into the rubber and leak readily, diminishing the flood height of the boot to a sad 2.5 inches.
Keep in mind, however, this ranking only helps us visualize the extent of weather protection for each individual pair and, thus, does not necessarily imply a lack of day-to-day function and overall quality.
Once we slip on rain boots, we expect enough support and comfort to wear them for fair amounts of time. This is the second most important metric. We also consider how each model fits, feels, and whether or not it is easy to carry, pack, put on, and take off. Each of these pairs varies in construction, foot support, and pressure points, so we had to create a focused assessment surrounding the good ol' tried and true: did we ever forget we were wearing them? If we found ourselves thinking about them often, we made sure to note why.
Quite a few of the boots share top scores for comfort. Having soft rubber typically means a smoother flex of the shaft with your legs as you walk, which is a must with taller models. The top-ranking contenders fit and feel the best overall. While specifics of how each performed vary slightly from one another, such as the synthetic lining of the Joules Wellibob feeling cozier than the nylon lining of the Hunter, averaging all these smaller nit-picks together is what ultimately allows us to determine rank in comfort. The Kamik Heidi, for example, are true to size and fit nicely around the foot. They are also easy to take on and off, and wearing them all day results in a satisfactory level of comfort, but just a tad less than the workaholic XTRATUF Legacy.
Stiff and inflexible rubber results in hot spots, pressure against the shin when walking, and sometimes the sensation of bagginess around the shin and calf, which makes boots feel unwieldy. Those with stiff construction fail to provide the highest standard of comfort for us, and as a result, we often end our test days with tired and achy feet. The Sloggers Rain and Garden boot gave our lead tester blisters on her heel after thirty minutes of walking around town but were nonetheless lightweight and okay to stand around in. With brands often offering whole shoe sizes only, it's difficult to customize a proper fit of the footbed, and thus, true comfort. Heel slippage is, sadly, to be expected, but there are ways to mitigate that with the socks you wear. Too, boots that are shorter tend to be easier to walk in (as they feel all the more like normal boots).
Another thing we consider in this metric is whether or not a boot requires wearing socks that are taller than the shaft is. Commonly, the mouth of the shaft is found to be abrasive against bare skin. With the Bogs Amanda Plush, we found the tongue design to be irritating to the shin if our socks weren't tall enough, even though the faux-fur lining helps prevent abrasion on the calf. Ankle-height boots typically don't have this problem, since the circumference is much larger than the ankle and lower-leg, such as the wide-mouthed XTRATUF Ankle Deck Boots. Again, when going uphill or up a set of stairs, we have to pay attention to the flexibility of the shaft and how the ridge of the shaft rubs, even with the short models. Thankfully, none of the short boots in our group have given us much to complain about in this sense.
Whether working or playing outside, traction is high on the list of important qualities we think a rain boot should have, almost as important as the waterproofing itself. This metric often contends with comfort and style, but there's little point in a product being completely weatherproof if you're slipping around and using your hands to steady yourself wherever you go.
The top performers for traction are the Hunter Original, Kamik Heidi, and Sloggers Rain and Garden Boot. Notable runners-up are the UGG Shaye, XTRATUF Legacy, and the Kamik Olivia models. All the boots mentioned above have substantial tread design and enough flexibility in the soles for effective purchase across a variety of surfaces. Each pair had its nuances, however, such as the Heidi with its thinner sole. This offers ample sensitivity, a plus in our book, though this led to a drawback in comfort on surfaces with gravel and sharp rocks.
In the realm of questionable stability, the Joules Wellibob is an example of traction being too singular. Having a more pronounced heel takes away from the surface area of possible traction. We found that this boot is suited best for the flattest and simplest surfaces. It suffers on the ice, snow, and wet rocks, but then again, those situations might call for different footwear altogether (like winter boots). If you seek a comfortable boot to get you from your house to your car to the office building, any of the boots with average traction scores, even the Wellibob, would be adequate enough. This is why this metric conflicts in priority with comfort, as it really does depend on where you'll be walking.
This metric holds a fair amount of weight when determining overall scores, but not nearly as much due to the nature of differing consumer locations and variable needs for warmth. Warmth can even be a bad thing altogether if you live in an already humid locale.
Each boot is ranked according to how well they retain heat during general indoor use, across the snow, or on a casual rainy day. The warmest boots perform the best in the snow and perform the worst, of course, during hotter days with temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The leading examples are the Bogs Amanda Plush and Sperry Saltwater, the Bogs having added insulation for temperatures below freezing. In the sun and dry conditions, these pairs are, of course, far too warm.
The majority of our fleet has a more traditional amount of insulation, which is little to none. This means that boots like the XTRATUF Legacy, Hunter, and Kamik Heidi fail to hold in heat in the snow and an icy river. On the other hand, this also means these boots function quite nicely in places with continuous mild weather (or until you're ready to switch out for your winter boots). They're more likely to prevent your feet from overheating and sweating. If you're only looking for a pair to wear fun, thick socks with for spring and fall showers, we prefer models that have versatility across a range of temperatures as opposed to boots that might dominate one end of the spectrum.
A notable mention is the XTRATUF Ankle Boot with its Xpresscool lining, which helps ventilate your feet while maintaining warmth. During our river test, we could barely feel the sensation of cold while standing for several minutes, less so than the insulated Amanda Plush, surprisingly. We also found that such breathable lining helps mitigate sweat build-up when temperatures rise.
Style is one of the most subjective categories for ranking. We base each score on the out-of-the-box appeal, the versatility of being both fashionable and practical, and on any cultivated opinions over time. In the end, we went with our gut reactions and the input of our peers. While being as objective as possible, this metric will inevitably remain a subjective reflection on our behalf.
The Hunter Original and the Kamik Olivia have slim profiles with added buckles, finger loops, and other molded accents. The Olivia looks the most like a traditional horseback riding boot. The Hunter is sleek and tall, with several color options available. Modest, classy style.
The other tall or mid-calf models are remarkably varied. The Kamik Heidi stands out with its deep red and glossy finish, whereas the XTRATUF Legacy has a technical style built for the rough-and-tough outdoors. The Sloggers Rain and Garden Boot is the most eccentric of the bunch with the fun pattern designs, but this also means it has fewer chances of matching a variety of outfits.
The UGG Shaye has an elegant, simple look. The Shaye, along with the Kamik Heidi and Bogs Amanda Plush, were the highest scorers in this metric thanks to their modern, chic design.
The Asgard Chelsea honestly reminds us of a cowboy boot when worn under jeans, but they do have long gussets for that urban Chelsea edge. The wide XTRATUF Ankle is a bit more nostalgic of the classic Converse with its white midsole and, therefore, is more vintage and urban. The Joules Wellibob has a taller heel and synthetic fur lining, which we felt gave off a more feminine vibe. Lastly, the style of the Bogs Sweetpea is admirably simple, yet highly versatile. The earthier tones give off a more organic impression and also fit well in urban environments due to their more low-profile and incognito nature.
It's a delicate balance between style and function, and certain boots seem to prioritize fashion the most. We found the Sperry Saltwater to be such a case. The Saltwater is unfortunately made with a detached tongue and a non-waterproofed side-zipper. Due to this design, it invariably had the shortest effective shaft height and the least amount of practical weather protection of the bunch. As one of the most "trendy," these boots are lined with micro-fleece, and have rawhide uppers and lacing. Interestingly enough, the rawhide laces do not tie into a bow and seem to only be for the aesthetic appeal. Cute in their own way, we wish the waterproofing was a little more thorough. Similarly, the Bogs Amanda Plush has laces that also seem to be rather functionless, except the tongue is attached in their case, maintaining a high flood height.
Fit is something we can never expect to be perfect with rain boots because they commonly lack half sizes. The fit will also vary depending on sock preferences, from those who prefer a snug foot box and a thin sock to those who prefer a roomy foot box and a thick sock. More often than not, boots will run too large or too small, which means you'll want to read up on the sizing charts most companies provide. Even then, weigh in with your own intuition, as manufacturers may suggest something you have no preference for, such as, "those who are half-sizes, size up," when you are one to prefer a snug foot box and thin socks instead. Comments from customer reviews are likely the most helpful when determining the appropriate size. With such variability, fit is not a metric we score on its own, but it does play a heavy role in comfort.
A couple of the models we tested provided an excellent fit for us, and it is no surprise that they are also top scorers in comfort, such as the Hunter and Legacy. Those that happened not to fit us as well include the XTRATUF Ankle Boots, which run large and wide, so fit is amiss from the get-go despite adhering to sizing recommendations for those without wider feet. Not nearly as bad, but still a notable fit concern, is the Bogs Sweetpea with its relatively narrow footbed. Over time, however, the footbed has broken in a bit with the Sweetpea, which is a plus for those who don't particularly have narrow feet.
Deciding on the perfect boot is a daunting task, from weighing in personal style preferences, reading as many online reviews as humanly possible, to inevitably finding out on your own. With all there is to consider, remember the fundamentals discussed in this article as to what makes a pair of rain boots so great: weather protection, comfort, traction, warmth, and oh-so-cute-and-fun style.
— Sara Aranda