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Written byI Carney
Updated October 20, 2022 10:15 am
Waterproof boots should keep your feet dry by protecting you from rain, snow, puddles, or streams. Not all waterproof boots on the market meet these requirements as many are only waterproof. Therefore, it is important to know how to tell the difference when shopping.
Although there are a variety of activities that require waterproof boots, in this review we will focus on outdoor activities related to hunting and hiking. Learn what makes a boot waterproof and how to choose the best waterproof boots for your unique outdoor needs.
- Overall best:Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex
- Best for Fishing:Xtratuf nautical ankle boots
- Best for men:Lowa Renegade GTX for men
- Best for women:MAGMA S MID GTX Technik
- Best budget:Merrel Moab 2 Mid WP
Things to Consider Before Buying Waterproof Boots
With so much of our shopping done online these days, it's hard to know how waterproof a pair of boots really is before you buy one. Catchy marketing campaigns and fake online reviews give consumers a lot to read. Because of this, we always recommend making some important considerations before you start shopping.
The reason you are looking for waterproof boots, and how you intend to wear them, will greatly affect the actual boots you purchase. For example, the waterproof hiking shoes you wear in summer and spring are different from the waterproof boots you wear in winter. The same goes for waterproof work boots or ones that you can put on when working in the garden or walking the dog.
Identifying the purpose will help you narrow down the options fairly quickly. While we discuss a variety of boots in our gear coverage, this article focuses on boots designed for outdoor activities like hiking, not necessarily casual wear or work environments. Check out our summary in thebest steel toe bootsif you are looking for working boot options.
When buying waterproof boots, it's easy to overlook actual water resistance. If a boot is waterproof, it's made of a material that won't let water in. Most often it looks like a lining on the inside of the boot made from a waterproof material like Gore-Tex or neoprene. If a boot is waterproof without a lining, it's probably made out of a material like rubber.
Waterproof boots are made of synthetic materials or leather and have a water-repellent treatment. Waterproof coatings generally repel most water unless they are submerged for long periods of time. The functional disadvantage of the waterproof coating is that it wears out over time and needs to be reapplied.
Fully waterproof boots are not very breathable, while waterproof boots tend to allow more airflow and may be suitable for warmer environments. Knowing how waterproof a pair of boots is depends on the materials and the brand. With no industry standard to help consumers know how waterproof a boot is before they buy it, we need to trust the labels and understand the materials.
Labels must describe the product and explain its function. Most outdoor boots use similar materials like Gore-Tex, Omni-Tech, Primaloft, ClimaProof or OutDry. Some brands develop and apply their waterproof materials or coatings and use lesser-known labels. When reading product descriptions, make sure you understand the function of the materials and labels listed.
that knowmaterialsIt can help you to choose a boot that is more likely to protect your feet from water. Regardless of the material, they aren't completely waterproof unless it's something like rubber or they use waterproof technology or coating.
Common materials for boots are:
- Manager:It can be impregnated with coatings or wax, but leather itself is not a naturally waterproof material due to its breathability. The type of leather also influences the ability to be waterproofed. For example, nubuck leather is more absorbent than other types of leather and requires more maintenance to keep water out.
- Ante:Often used for casual wear, chamois is not a waterproof material. It's even less waterproof than raw leather, and you should avoid wearing it when it's wet. Most suede boots can become soiled with water, causing discoloration that is difficult to remove. For this reason, a waterproof layer is recommended.
- Synthetic:Alongside leather, synthetic materials are among the most common materials for outdoor boots. This can include synthetic leathers, but generally refers to textiles such as polyester or nylon. Natural fibers are sometimes used in footwear, but they are not as common and less common in a waterproof boot design. Textiles are made waterproof with a lining, a fabric backing or a coating.
The materials may be waterproof, but if you need a boot that will take you through water and mud without stages, check them outRubber and neoprene boots. They don't require additional lining or lining to be effective, but they aren't the most comfortable for long-distance travel.
Since the boot breathability is highly dependent on the materials and waterproofness, you can opt for a quick-drying waterproof boot. These boots are more breathable, lighter and should keep your feet relatively dry depending on the conditions.
Overall best:Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex
Why he made the cut:The Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex Boots are waterproof mountaineering shoes that will take you over any terrain, even in the wettest weather conditions.
- Weight:2.9 pounds
- Boat type:medium weight
- Best use:backpacker
- Excellent traction on rocky terrain
- stable and supportive
- Premium waterproof design.
- high price
- Heavy compared to other options.
If you are looking for a hiking shoe that can withstand even the wettest weather conditions while carrying heavy loads, the Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex is the perfect choice. One of the best in the waterproof category along with other essential hiking shoes like stability and traction.
These boots will keep your feet dry when walking in the rain and can even be worn through puddles or shallow stream crossings. The waterproof Gore-Tex design along with a 6 inch tide height gives you ample protection from moisture.
The only major downside (besides the high price) is that they are not very breathable. Because they excel at being waterproof, their breathability doesn't make them suitable for all climates, and they don't dry very quickly if the inside gets wet. So if you tend to have sweaty feet and plan to hike somewhere really hot, opt for a more breathable boot. Overall, the functionality of these boots and their superior waterproofing make them not only the top choice for waterproof boots, but our choice for thebest hiking shoes 2023.
Best for Fishing:Xtratuf nautical ankle boots
The best for fishing
Why he made the cut:The Xtratuf Ankle Boots are classic rubber fishing boots that ensure your feet stay dry and you have plenty of traction.
- Weight:3.2 pounds
- Boat type:ankle
- Best use:fishing, boating
- 100% impermeable
- all-day comfort
- Simple slip-on design
- excellent traction
- For recreational use, not a commercial boot.
- Durability is questionable in everyday use.
A brand well known and loved by many avid anglers, the Xtratuf Ankle Boots are our go-to choice for the best waterproof fishing waders. Xtratuf has a long history of keeping anglers' feet dry, even in commercial settings. Keep in mind that these ankle boots are not made from the same rubber material as commercial boots, making them a little less durable. We recommend getting one of their commercial use deck boots if you work in the fishing industry or plan to wear them on a daily basis.
The main selling point of these boots is that they are 100% waterproof due to the use of rubber materials. They have a non-slip sole, making them a great option for fishing, especially when you're on board a boat. Their ankle height and additional ankle loops make them easy to put on and take off. So even if you're not fishing, they can be great to have on hand on a rainy day or muddy garden work. The lining is breathable, so they dry quickly if water penetrates the upper part, improving comfort during prolonged use.
Best for men:Lowa Renegade GTX for men
The best for men
- Weight:2.9 pounds
- Boat type:medium weight
- Best use:hike, hunt
Why he made the cut:The Lowa Men's Renegade GTX is a functional hiking shoe with a lot of stability and unbeatable water resistance.
- great stability
- Comfortable for long walks
- durable construction
- lacing system
Also in our rankingThe best waterproof boots for men, Lowa Men's Renegade GTX has a durable construction and enough water resistance to get you through even the wettest hikes. Despite weighing almost 3 pounds, they are a reasonable weight for the class and the features provided.
Surprisingly, the impregnation doesn't lose too much in terms of breathability. They still aren't as breathable as non-waterproof boot designs, but the moisture-wicking insole reduces moisture build-up in the shoe. They are made of nubuck leather, Cordura nylon and a Vibram rubber sole and offer excellent durability and shock absorption when walking.
To ensure quality water resistance, these shoes use a Gore-Tex lining. With this lining and added water-repellent coating, there should be minimal issues with rain, puddles, or even crossing shallow streams and streams. The leather upper of the boot needs regular maintenance and waterproofing to achieve the best results.
Best for women:MAGMA S MID GTX Technik
best for women
Why he made the cut:The Tecnica MAGMA S MID GTX is a lightweight, waterproof boot option that delivers all-day comfort right out of the box.
- Boat type:Licht
- Best use:Hiking, backpacking
- versatile design
- unbeatable traction
- surprisingly waterproof
- Takes a while to dry
- Shoelaces feel thin
New for 2022, the Tecnica MAGMA S MID GTX is our top choice for waterproof women's boots. These boots use aspects of their ski boot design and are ready to go. With no break-in period, they're comfortable enough to wear all day. The lightweight design makes you forget you're even wearing hiking boots, while still providing the protection, stability and traction you need while you're on the move.
The waterproofness of these boots is impressive. There's no doubt that the Gore-Tex lining does the job. You can use them through tall wet grass, mud, in the rain, and even canoe camping with minimal effort. To put these boots through the waterproof test, I wore them on a four-day canoe trip in the rain, paddling, camping, and towing. Amazingly, my feet stayed dry as I got in and out of the water while loading and unloading the canoe. The only time moisture got into the boot was while paddling in a sudden heavy downpour. Because water could enter the top of the boot and wet the tongue, the inside could get wet.
Luckily they were dry enough that I could use them the next day. However, I would have expected them to dry a little quicker as the boots are so light and breathable. They are true to size but the toe box is a bit narrow and may not work well for women with wide feet or feet prone to swelling. Although I have moderately wide feet, I have not felt uncomfortable wearing them for long periods of time.
Overall, these boots are easily among the best waterproof boots I've tried. Traction keeps you stable even on slippery surfaces, they're stylishly designed and so comfortable you'll forget you're wearing boots. As this is a newly released design I can't speak with confidence about the durability but will update as more miles are added to these boots.
Best budget:Merrel Moab 2 Mid WP
Why he made the cut:The Merrel Moab 2 Mid WP is a classic hiking shoe that offers all the necessary features, including a reliable waterproof design.
- Weight:2.25 pounds
- Boat type:Licht
- Best use:Day trips, short backpacking trips
- improved design
- Great for wide feet
- Durability is questionable
- It doesn't work for long distances or heavy loads.
IsMerrell Moab 2 Mid WPIt's a great option for anyone looking for a reliable waterproof boot on a budget. These boots will stand up to most weather conditions, but you should stick to well-groomed trails. While there is a decent level of comfort and traction, they won't do well on rocky terrain or slippery rocks.
Merrell is a long-trusted hiking brand and this is one of their most popular shoes due to the comfort and affordability at the price. These boots work well for hikers with wider feet and are a great choice for new hikers or someone who only hikes a few times a year.
The waterproof membrane not only protects feet from getting wet, but also dries quickly and is breathable enough to prevent perspiration. The improved design helped improve breathability as previous models didn't perform as well. Overall, this is a decent hiking shoe that's popular for good reason. It has a functional and comfortable design, but remember that it is not intended for heavy loads or long distances. We recommend this shoe for day hikers or those who only wear their hiking boots a few times a year. If not, these might be good boots with the intention of replacing them within a year.
How we made our selection
While we all have our personal preferences when it comes to boots, some things will be the same everywhere: we want our feet to stay dry. When it comes to waterproof boots, we not only consider the things discussed in the "Things to consider before you buy" section, we evaluate the options with a different focus on:
- Sustainability:Materials used, the company's sustainability practices, transparency reports, durability and repairability of the boots were all taken into account.
- Expected usage:For each category, the intended activity is paramount, along with waterproof capabilities.
- Durability:how long the boot lasts and how long the impregnation is effective. If the company had detailed maintenance or repair policies, that was a plus.
Other factors that played into our top picks included personal experience with the products, brand and product research, verified customer reviews or reviews, and the brand's overall customer service.
frequently asked questions
Q: How much do waterproof boots cost?
The cost of waterproof boots generally depends on the effectiveness of the waterproofing and the overall quality of the shoe. While this won't always be the case, and with some brands you really pay for the name, waterproof boots can range in price from $50 to $300 and up.
Q: Are waterproof boots really waterproof?
Not all waterproof boots are truly waterproof. Some of them are waterproof only. The materials and the type of impregnation determine whether the boot is fully waterproof or not. While most waterproof hiking shoes have a waterproof element, they are not completely waterproof. Materials such as rubber, PVC and Gore-Tex are waterproof and are commonly used in shoe manufacturing.
Q: What is the difference between waterproof and waterproof boots?
Waterproof and waterproof boots differ in how much water they repel or how much moisture they can keep off your feet. In theory, fully waterproof boots should not be affected by water or moisture. In contrast, waterproof boots will only repel a certain amount of moisture and prevent it from penetrating the boot. The differences that determine what the boot is are usually in the materials and construction of the boot.
Q: How long do waterproof boots last?
The lifespan of waterproof boots depends on the quality of the materials and construction of the boot, as well as the frequency and type of use. Most hiking shoes should get you at least 500 miles, but better quality shoes will get you closer to 1000+ miles. How long boots are waterproof depends on whether they have a coating or material. If a material like rubber makes them waterproof, they should last the life of the boot as long as they don't tear or puncture. If they do rely on a coating, you can expect them to stay waterproof for a year or two before needing to apply a new one.
Q: Are waterproof snowshoes any good?
Waterproof boots can be good for snow if they're also good for the cold.winter hiking shoesIt features insulation to help your body retain heat inside the boot and a waterproof material or lining.
Q: Should I use mink oil on waterproof boots?
You can use mink oil on waterproof boots if they are leather industrial boots. Most leather hiking shoes use dry-tanned leather, and mink oil can soften it, reducing overall support and weakening the material.
The best waterproof boots are the ones that will keep your feet dry and meet your other needs. There are a variety of boot styles, and no matter the activity, chances are you can find a waterproof boot. Most of the boots we list are suitable for outdoor activities. However, you can also find waterproof work boots, casual boots and more in the market with similar quality and durability. Check out our other boot reviews for more information on the different styles of boots.