Over the past 7 years, we've bought and tested over 30 different pairs of rain boots. For this 2021 review, we purchased the best 15 we could find and put them through their paces. From wading through waterways to slipping and sliding in sub-freezing temps, our experts have found the best boots for whatever bad weather you find. We took careful measurements of flood heights, weights, and tested insulation efficacy in an ice-filled tub to see what these boots are made of. We then scored each boot based on its performance. We're here to show you the right pair of boots for whatever your needs or budget may be.Related: Best Rain Boots for Women of 2021
Best Rain Boots for Men of 2021
|Price||$138.71 at Backcountry|
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|$203.95 at Amazon|
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$69.99 at Amazon
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|Pros||Extremely comfortable, lightweight, and trendy good looks||Great looks, extremely warm and comfortable, versatile||Lightweight, very stylish, comfortable||Affordable, well-insulated, great traction||Impressive traction on wet surfaces, flexible, higher shaft height|
|Cons||Pricey, only waterproof to 2.75"||Expensive, included wool insole can be too warm for all conditions||Flood height is a low 2.75", slightly narrow for standard width feet, expensive||Not as comfortable as other models||Heel made us worried about our ankles, no insulation|
|Bottom Line||While they've got a low waterline, these boots are at the top of our tests for comfort and style||While admittedly pricey, these good-looking boots can do it all||These rain boots are a stylish choice if your main priority is staying dry in the city||While we love many of the innovative aspects of these boots, we wish they could provide more support underfoot||If you need traction on a boat deck, these are your boots; if you're using these in the woods, they may not be suited for the job|
|Rating Categories||Sorel Madson II Moc...||Blundstone Thermal...||Sorel Madson II Chukka||Kamik Icebreaker||XTRATUF Legacy Seri...|
|Weather Protection (30%)|
|Specs||Sorel Madson II Moc...||Blundstone Thermal...||Sorel Madson II Chukka||Kamik Icebreaker||XTRATUF Legacy Seri...|
|Weight per Pair (size 13)||2.63 lbs||2.93 lbs||2.4 lbs||4.58 lbs||5.38 lbs|
|Flood Height (inches from bottom of sole to lowest point at top of shaft)||2.75"||6.7"||2.75"||14.3 in||15.1"|
|Mouth Circumference (inches)||13"||9.75"||14.5"||16.5"||17"|
|Lining/Insulation||Textile and synthetic||Thinsulate||Synthetic and textile||Moisture wicking removable Zylex liner||Woven nylon|
|Upper Material||Waterproof leather||Leather + Elastic||Waterproof suede||Rubber with waterproof adjustable nylon collar||Triple-dipped latex neoprene|
|Outsole Material||Molded rubber||TPU Outsole||Molded rubber||TRACKER synthetic Rubber||Slip-resistant, non-marking chevron pattern|
|Insole||EVA||Removable sheepskin insulated insole||EVA||11mm Zylex insole||Moisture-wicking Breathe-O-Prene insoles|
|Unique Features||Suede collar and tongue-top||Cushioned Midsole||Seam-sealed waterproof suede construction||Drawstring, Zylex liner||Flexible neoprene upper|
|Width Options||Regular||Regular + Wide||Regular||Regular||Regular|
|Sizing info||Order next size up||Order next size up||Order next size up||Order next size up||Order next size up|
Best Overall Men's Rain Boot
The Original Muck Boot Company Wetland
The Muck Wetland boots are our latest top scorer due to their impressive performance in almost all our tests. We appreciate their 18" shaft height, which kept us warm and dry no matter the weather, their light weight (they're significantly lighter than any other similarly high boot), and their solidly studded outsole, which kept us standing despite the worst of conditions.
The Wetland boots are almost ideal. We wish that they were black (their drab brown stands out compared to black), and they're slightly too flexible underfoot for our taste, but we really had to go looking for these critiques. In all other ways, these boots are perfectly protective, well-insulated, and easy to slip on. If you need a reliable pair of rainboots, look no further.
Read review: Original Muck Boot Company Wetland
Best Bang for Your Buck
Close your eyes and imagine a rain boot. You're probably imagining something that looks exactly like the Baffin Enduro. With its tall 16.25" rubber shaft and a solidly lugged outsole, the Enduro will keep you warm and dry 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 want thick socks if you're in cold weather, and the included insoles aren't great, so if you are wearing these a lot, you'll be best served by a more structured insole. But once we dialed in our sock and insole game, we could cheerfully spend entire days wearing these boots. They even kept us comfortable during a 14+ hr workday. If you're looking for the best price and don't need the most deluxe insulated option, we'd highly recommend this boot.
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 wouldn't recommend these boots to just anyone. But if you spend time in truly rugged conditions — heavy rain, driving snow, and frigid temps — this boot is the best. No matter how frightful the weather is, we're sure your feet will stay happy 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 stroll around town on a warm fall day. When we wore them in temps warmer than 40 degrees, our feet began sweating immediately. And while the tighter shaft keeps the warm 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 bad weather, then these are definitely the boots for you. If you're not, consider looking at a more casual boot.
Read review: The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport
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 a great choice. Its cozy sheep's wool insoles and Thinsulate lining will keep your feet warm despite chilly weather, and they perfectly balance between workboot (with their heavy-duty outsole and seam-sealed leather) and stylish 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. 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 few 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 Richard Forbes. Richard spends his time adventuring across the wet Pacific Northwest and the cold northern Rockies –- both of which are ideal for his rain-boot-oriented lifestyle. Every day is a new opportunity to get outdoors, and he often finds himself wearing rain boots in ridiculous testing situations (from "approach rain boots" to "rock climbing rain boots" to "whitewater rain boots"). He has not yet climbed anything harder than 5.7 in a pair of rain boots, but two summers ago, he saw a tween exhaustedly slogging toward Camp Muir in a pair of Bogs at 9,500' on the side of Mount Rainier, and he was both inspired and worried (for the tween, the boots were doing well). Richard has worked as an environmental journalist, farmer, ecological researcher, conservationist, outdoor guide, and storyteller worldwide and reluctantly admits that he is a gearhead, which means he has more strong opinions about gear than days he spends outside.
Every new iteration of this review starts with preparation and market research: hours of reading, assessing the competition, and surveying all the new boots released each season. Once we've identified the most promising new models, we buy them at full price and then beat them up. We make sure to practice the vaunted scientific method and create hypotheses for each boot before we test them. With our hypotheses in mind, we test the boots over several months. At this point, many years in, we've spent over 650 hours testing, wearing, and measuring various rain boots. Some tests, such as warmth, are best assessed in our high-tech lab, where we submerge the boots in a bathtub filled with ice cubes and monitor their internal temperature with bare feet. Other tests, such as comfort, are assessed by wearing the boots in various conditions over long days. We do our best to slog around in every type of weather we can find in the Washington Cascades and Western Montana Rockies (which means we get a lot of rain and damp cold). At the end of every review, we take our opinions about each boot and write them up, so read on to see what we learned.
Related: How We Tested Rain Boots
Analysis and Test Results
Soggy feet will ruin your day, no matter what. Throughout our tests, we consider each boot's weather protection, all-day comfort, grip, traction on wet ground, warmth, and style, writing up detailed notes along the way. For every performance metric, we rate each boot between 1 to 10 (with 1 being the worst). Then we weight each score to show the value of each category — for example, most folks believe that weather protection matters more than style, so we give weather protection a heavier weighting. Let's be clear; we're not trying to give absolute ratings because we haven't personally worn all boot models in existence. Instead, each value is relative to every other boot in the review.
Related: Buying Advice for Rain Boots
While we don't incorporate pricing into our scoring system (as prices are constantly changing), we know that cost is important. However, we'll always describe the general price range of each boot and write about whether we think each one is worth its price. And rest assured, after an absurd number of hours in rain boots, we are certain: more expensive rain boots almost always look and feel better while lasting longer. In other words, you will generally get what you pay for. But this goes both ways — if you're not spending much time in rain boots, or if you don't spend much time in nasty weather, you may not need the priciest option.
Do you need to pay more for the ultra-protective Muck Arctic Sport, or do you want a boot that bucks the trend and works perfectly despite its lower 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 must be stated clearly. Rain boots must be both water and weatherproof; otherwise, why pay for them? The world of waterproofing can get surprisingly complicated if you get into it (dive in for a few hours by researching 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 these boots' weather protection by wading in the chilly Clark Fork River of Western Montana, the Puget Sound on a blustery 25° F day, the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River on a month-long river trip, a variety of cold streams flowing out of the snowy Cascades, and in the Atlantic Ocean on the Maine Coast. When boots failed to be waterproof (as a few did), we had a bad time, so we were always thankful for the boots that actually worked.
We put each boot into all manner or waterways, 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, as rainboots come on every single trip we go on). Our final test is a standardized five-minute wade. Almost all the tested boots are waterproof except our faulty Bogs Sauvie model and the Bogs Workman, which started leaking after 6 months. For all waterproof boots, we assign scores as a function of boot flood height, measured as the lowest point at which water can enter. Any boot that isn't waterproof gets docked severely.
With their impressive 18" high shaft, the Wetland boots eke out the win in the weather protection category, their height preventing accidental splashes and easily protecting your feet from rain, deep water, and dumping snow.
We tried fly-fishing in the high-shafted Baffin Enduro boots and only got water in them when we chased some trout into a deep pool. The Arctic Sport are the second-highest boots (just under 1/2" shorter than the Wetland) and are significantly warmer than all other boots in the test, with their microfleece lining.
Our tested boots feature a variety of shaft heights. Pick your boots based on your intended use-case — the different boot heights will lend themselves to different uses. This list is in order of height:Calf-height Boots (16" or higher)
- Muck Boot Wetland
- Muck Boot Arctic Sport
- Hunter Original
- Baffin Enduro
Mid-calf Boots (approximately 12" to 16" tall)
- XTRATUF Legacy 15"
- Servus CT Safety
- Bogs Workman
- Kamik Icebreaker
- Bogs Ultra Classic High
Low Boots (lower than 6")
- Blundstone Thermal Chelsea
- Kamik Lars Lo
- XTRATUF 6" Ankle Deck Boot
- Bogs Sauvie
- Sorel Madson II Moc Toe
- Sorel Madson II Chukka
To add a caveat about the low boots: they're practical just as long as you won't be getting into deep water, as some are only waterproof to a few inches. But low boots like the XTRATUF Deck Boots come into their own if you'll be using them on strolls through town when there's soggy (but not inclement) weather. The low boots obviously won't keep you as dry as a taller boot, but they have their place for more casual use cases.
Our testers are lucky enough not to have any major foot problems but sometimes get sore feet like everybody else. Our comfort tests are designed to replicate tough conditions, and we wear each boot for long periods on concrete and other hard surfaces. Ultimately, our tests let us know which boots to buy when you know you'll be wearing them for long days (the Bogs Workman and Blundstone Thermal Chelsea among others), and which boots you won't want to wear for more than half an hour (sorry Servus CT Safety).
For some reason, people tend to ignore foot pain and assume that it's somehow inevitable. Let's be clear: foot pain can be solved. Yes, sometimes it's complicated, but it's absolutely worth taking the time. 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 hurt you, 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 or physical therapist; both will help dramatically. Take it from us, happy feet will improve your life.
A boot's material plays a big role in overall comfort. Leather boots generally feel more comfortable because leather breathes better, tends to weigh less, and breaks in, molding to your feet. Leather's drawback is that it's less durable than a thick rubber boot. And while you might think all "rubber boots" are equal, we've found a fair amount of variation after wearing so many different boots. We don't have degrees in rubber chemistry (though if we'd spent the last eight 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 perfectly when walking on rough surfaces. In contrast, boots with fully rubber uppers tend to buckle against the ankle when on the same terrain. And while we don't know all the scientific terms to describe the different types of rubber, we know that there's a big difference between lower-grade rubber boots (like the Servus CT Safety which bites and bothers the front of our ankles) and higher quality rubber-like the more flexible XTRATUF Legacy 15" material, which flexes smoothly across our feet. But the thicker your socks, the less you'll notice these issues.
To test for comfort, we spent 20+ hours in every boot, prioritizing long stints (over 5 hours) and time on harder surfaces to ensure the test was as difficult on our feet as possible. Insole construction is an important variable, as there's a lot of variation in insole sturdiness and thickness. 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 to the top of their insoles, which makes them positively plush. We're disappointed by other boots' flimsy offerings (come on, Hunter boots!) or the budget Servus CT boots, which don't even have insoles, which leads directly to their poor ratings.
Our testers have high arches and generally wear green Superfeet insoles for general use. Once we'd finished testing with the standard insoles, we'd often 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 big difference for us.
For testing, we also wear rainboots during our general day-to-day lives. They come along as we go to grad school, work, do our grocery shopping, and as we go voyaging up into the mountains every few days. The Bogs Workman and Blundstone Thermal Chelsea both lead the pack in comfort thanks to their snug fit around the ankles, which minimizes the sloppy fit we find in some other boots. Other particularly comfortable boots include the Bogs Ultra Classic, Bogs Sauvie, and Sorel Madson II Moc Toe.
Stiff-shafted boots are generally more uncomfortable underfoot and jabbed our shins as we walked. The Servus CT scored particularly poorly in this category due to their low-quality rubber and because they were so loose in the ankles that our toes were constantly running forward into the steel toe (which actually protrudes into the toe space and makes feet miserable). However, stiffer-shafted boots were not always so bad. The Enduro boots are pretty stiff and buckle a bit, but they're comfortable underfoot, likely due to their "gel-flex midsoles," which sounds like marketing nonsense but actually makes a tangible difference.
Weight also plays a big role in comfort — have you heard the idea (popular for backpackers) that a pound on your feet equals six pounds on your back? Lighter boots (especially the Blundstone and Madson II Moc Toe) are more comfortable to wear for long days but generally less protective, leading to an obvious trade-off. Do you need the extra protection?
However, some boots are mysteriously heavy — why 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 there may be some magic 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: in warm weather, too much insulation makes things sweaty. And while we'll cover this more in later sections, you can always change the insulation by changing up your socks (up to a point). However, we want to try to keep each metric as separate as possible, so we'll talk more about how insulation affects general comfort in the warmth section below.
We generally don't wear rain boots when there's nice weather. Rain boots are for nasty conditions when comfy sneakers aren't enough. And when it's nasty, it's generally slippery, so we want to make sure whatever boots you get will keep you up and on your feet, not slipping around and making a scene. Some boots feature deep-cut lugs that grab muck and snow easily, like the Bogs Workman, while others have less textured outsoles better suited for flat pavement and casual use like the Sorel Madson II Chukka boots.
We test our boots in a variety of unstable conditions: soaking grass, mossy wood, sucking mud, slippery asphalt, rocky riverbeds, (shallow) lake beds, and on 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 well in this category, again thanks to their studs.
More casual boots are easy to recognize — they have shallow (or no) lugs on the outsoles and feature less flexible rubber. As a result, casual boots do noticeably worse during traction tests. While wearing less grippy boots, we found it harder to stay upright on ice, snow, and mud. In particular, we find that our wet grass hill-running test lets us separate the slippery wheat from the grippy chaff. The low-scoring XTRATUF Ankle boots and Hunter boots made us look like beginner skiers (as we skidded awkwardly down hills), while grippier boots made us feel like we were wearing crampons.
Thanks to our research science background, we love to read scientific literature, so we spent a few riveting hours reading scholarly articles about warmth and workboots. Who knew — there's a devoted segment of the scientific community committed to learning about feet and ergonomics (which studies people's efficiency while they're working). And according to this literature, feet get colder than other body parts for three reasons:1) feet feature lots of surface area without having much mass
2) feet are extremities, which means they get less priority than your core and your brain
3) feet contain no big muscles to produce heat during exercise, just lots of fiddly tendons and ligaments
Maybe it's just us, but we love learning about how the human body responds to cold stress.
Too long; didn't read: Shockingly, your body doesn't heat your extremities as well as it heats your core, so your feet will get cold if it's cold outside.
As a result, insulated boots make a big difference, especially during active work, when your body heat (thanks to your mitochondrial inefficiency) gets caught and contained by the boot. We looked at another study that measured foot temperatures 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 plain English, lots of people get cold feet when they're out in the cold, and this is unpleasant. We realize the references might be excessive, but the point of all these citations is to prove to you that you need to take your foot warmth seriously.
To bring it back to practicalities: where are you going to wear these boots? How cold does it get there? Make your purchase primarily with that assessment (and boot height) in mind. We've lived all over the country and needed to prioritize different types of boots in each news place.
- Coastal Maine = cold and pretty wet
- High-mountain Colorado = extremely cold but not that wet
- Western Montana = extremely cold and pretty wet
- Western 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 since rubber does not breathe well, which is partly why it's so protective. If you're hoping to wear the ever-toasty Arctic Sport at 60°F fall sports games, prepare for sweaty feet. Though if you wear those same boots in foot-deep snow at 15°F, 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 15" — your feet will thank 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 or the Wetland boots, both of which are warm enough for snow use but also tolerable (though not wonderful) in warmer temps.
Boot material makes a big impact on warmth/breathability. Rubber boots (12 out of the 15 boots in our test) don't breathe very well, while the three leather boots (the Blundstone Thermal Chelsea, the Sorel Madson II Moc Toe, and the Sorel Madson II Chukka) are much more comfortable in warmer weather. Leather doesn't insulate as well as a rubber boot, which is why the Thermal Chelsea is the best of both worlds, with its built-in Thinsulate and fuzzy shearling insole. And best of all, you can substitute a thinner insole for warm weather (though you need to provide this yourself).
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 uncomfortable), then submerged each pair of boots as deeply as we could without water incursion (slightly less deep than the measured shaft height). 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 for too long (though only one boot has ever 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 sitting still so our feet cooled down quickly in the less insulated boots. We prioritized the ice-water test in the scoring, but we also made sure to test boots in real-world situations — in the rain, snow, ice, sleet, graupel, and every other type of cold precip. Ultimately, we incorporated each boots' ability to keep us warm during these practical tests into 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 Legacy 15" 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 reigning champion 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's not that 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 typically designed for function above all 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 discuss.
Most boots go the practical route (most blatantly the rubbery and pebble-patterned Baffin Enduro boots, which pair easily with our oil-stained Carhartt overalls). Some boots, especially the low leather options like the classy Blundstone Thermal Chelsea and the Sorel Madson II Moc Toe and Sorel Madson II Chukka, pair easily with most clothes and are much more reasonable when the weather's not too bad, and you're just wearing them out and about. And other boots, like the Hunter Original Tall, seem to be designed as fashion statements.
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, asking them to make their decision about 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, and how much each consultant liked rain boots.
Our most valuable style consultant is a New Zealander, where rain boots (called "gumboots") are the unofficial national footwear and shine to their fullest potential when paired with rugby shorts - an aesthetic that we briefly experimented with before abandoning due to our lack of confidence. 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 definitive takeaways, 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, 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 fit obsessing for the technical gear.
But if you're a tricky case, or if you just like talking and thinking about boot fitting, 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, depending on your foot shape). There are a variety of sizing standards, but most people in the US default to their "Brannock Size." These measurements have annoyingly nothing to do with inches or even centimeters, though other countries (like Japan) have more sensible metrics.
- 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 very little sense, but just go with it.
- Foot Volume: How much foot material 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. And if you often have trouble fitting into shoes, you probably have wider, higher-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 "higher" or "lower" arches, but this doesn't matter too much when it comes to your rain boots, and we don't want to get too far into this. If you experience significant arch pain or struggle with plantar fasciitis, please go see a doctor, research foot strengthening exercises, and/or think about supplemental insoles (with the help of a footwear expert).
In general, 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 get US size 13's for every model except the Baffin Enduro (which our research suggested runs larger than average, and we've been happy with a size 12). All our boots fit pretty well. To be clear about what we're working with: our head tester has almost exactly US size 12 feet (though one is slightly longer than the other), and has a standard D width. These measurements are from a Brannock device, which can be found in any American footwear store. We generally wear 13s to ensure a healthy amount of toe space while keeping enough room to wear thick socks and in case we want 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 narrower Sorel Madson II Chukka and the Bogs Sauvie or the XTRATUF Legacy 15" (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!
If you spend a lot of time in wet and chilly 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 really turned around. There are some great models out there, give one of our award-winners a try!
— Richard Forbes
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