How to Choose Rain Boots?

How to Choose Rain Boots?

Not everyone needs rain boots. But if your feet keep getting wet and uncomfortable in other footwear, rain boots are the best option. People choose to purchase rain boots due to different reasons. But no matter what kind of working and living environment you are in, you must need a solid and comfortable rain boots. If the choices are made for kids, the standards should be even higher.


The general weather in your area will determine whether rain boots are a good option for you. There's no certain annual rainfall cutoff above which you need rain boots, but if you spend more than three months in wet conditions, rain boots are really helpful to have. And if those wet months are generally below 40°F, you should consider insulated boots.

Water Resistance

There's nothing wrong with the low boots, and depending on your intended use, you may not need anything more. Lower boots can be a lot more comfortable for casual use. But remember, if your boot only stands a few inches high, it's surprisingly easy to splash your ankles, even in shallow water. When we tested the boots in Puget Sound, we were constantly worried about waves and splashes in the shorter boots, while the highest boots allowed us to confidently stride around without worrying about errant droplets.

And if you're concerned about water getting in the top of the boot, choose a boot with a smaller circumference at the top, so it fits more snugly around your calf (the Arctic Sport). It can be a pain to shove your feet and pant legs in, but there won't be any room for rain to fall.


Not everyone needs an insulated boot, and if you're hoping to use the boot in moderate temperatures, they're not a great idea, as your feet will get unpleasantly warm. But if it'll be reliably cold, insulated boots are a wonderful idea, as you can simply slip them on and head out the door, no matter how snowy it might be. And if you're going to be shoveling snow, or spending a lot of time in cold temperatures without moving, an insulated boot is essential. We loved our insulated Bogs Classic Ultra High after an unexpected November snowstorm dumped 18" on our Thanksgiving plans.

Once you've decided how warm a boot you're looking for, check out the warmth scores of our boots, but remember, warmer boots are not always better, and you may be happiest in an uninsulated option like the Baffin Enduro.


If you're hoping to use your rain boots for quick errands and walking to your mailbox, comfort isn't a big consideration. But if you're like us, and you want to invest in something that you can wear for extended amounts of time, comfort is king, and comes down to a few different factors, including cushion, fit, and support.


Some boots, designed for more casual use, have ambiguously squiggly patterns on their bases. These will be sufficient for general light use, including yard work and walking on concrete, but you'll likely be disappointed if you're hoping to use them in snow or mud. If you are looking for better traction on a variety of surfaces, large and deep-lugged options like the Arctic Sport or the Kamik Icebreaker can hold on when lesser boots slip. Keep in mind that the rubber type, outsole geometry, and intended substrate all affect traction ability. We assessed all the boots in our test on wet grass, mud, snow, ice, stream beds, and in standard urban terrain, and found that generally the larger the lugs, the better they held, though rubber-type also seems to matter.


While style may not be the most important factor in your rain boot decision, it's nice to have something that looks good. During our tests, we talked to friends (and to the many people who wanted to comment on our boots as we tested them fearlessly in dry, warm weather) about the looks of all the boots. Generally, the more casual boots will look "more stylish" though we all disagreed on which were our favorites. It also has to do with your style - the Hunter boots looked pretty strange with our more utilitarian (read: Carhartts and old jeans) aesthetic, but many women wear and love the Hunter around Seattle, and we got a lot of compliments on them when we were dressed up.

Style tip - rain boots are designed for you to tuck your pants into! If you don't, they'll fit badly and look strange. This runs the opposite of cowboy boots, which, our Texan friends assure us, you should never tuck your pants into (if you're a guy).


Every type of footwear is designed with a "last," which is the manufacturer's deliberate approximation of a human foot. Every brand and (often) every model of footwear is going to be designed with different lasts. This is why all shoes fit differently. The category of footwear will also change the last - dress shoes and climbing shoes are patterned on far snugger lasts than backpacking boots and rain boots. Laces can help make different shoes fit, even if the last isn't ideal for your foot, but rain boots don't have laces, so the fit is necessarily going to be on the loose side. Rain boots also rarely come in half sizes, so you may not be able to find your specific size. We recommend against sizing rain boots to your exact foot size (due to the wide variety of foot issues that can develop from overly tight shoes).


No rain boots will be perfect for all conditions. Depending on your priorities, you may lean toward low-cut models or tall-shafted beasts. The most important thing is to consider your needs before ordering a new pair of boots. All we hope is that you end up happy with whatever you choose!

Review Editor: Richard Forbes


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