On rainy, wet days, protective boots are a necessity (as are a rain jacket and an umbrella). There are varying levels of style, price and lower-leg coverage — duck boots are taller, but muck boots are the tallest — but one thing remains constant among these sturdy stompers: They’ll get you from A to B safe and dry.
All of them come with grippy, hearty outsoles that are designed to be totally waterproof. Uppers and liners vary by style, so consider your climate (and whether they need to be insulated or not) and your usage. Then, slip 'em on and go out into the world without fretting the wet.
Best Overall Rain BootAll-Weather Duckboot Read More
Best Upgrade Rain BootRed Wing Heritage Classic Moc Gore-Tex Read More
BEST AFFORDABLE RAIN BOOTBogs Sauvie Waterproof Chelsea Boot Read More
Best Heritage Rain BootL.L. Bean Bean Boots Read More
Best Work Rain BootXtratuf 6-inch Legacy Chelsea Boot Read More
What to Look for in a Rain Boot
The best rain boots come with a single upper mounted to a hearty, traction-focused outsole. In order for your feet to stay dry, the rain needs to be repelled or sealed off. Slip-on boots with single-piece uppers have fewer access points. Those with laces leave room for droplets to access through the spaces between the tongue and the liner, making wet feet a little more likely. But, don't stress it if that's the look you like. You'll find that lace-up rain boots are less common, and Chelsea versions prove most abundant. No one wants to untie wet laces either, especially if it's cold out.
If it's wet outside you'll want boots with better traction than those you'd wear to a wedding, for example. Steer clear of flat-bottomed ones or ones with crepe or wedge soles. Those will only work if they've been edged or grooved; Red Wing's Gore-Tex Moc Boots, for example, come with a "Traction Tred" outsole (horizontal squiggles that stick to slick surfaces). Speaking of materials, alterations like adding a Gore-Tex membrane can waterproof even leather boots. Otherwise, it's best to stick to rubber. It's impenetrable, meaning you can wipe rubber boots dry when you take them off.
How We Tested
In Pittsburgh, our tester's rain boots are an essential item. Although it's known for having its fair share of wet days, Pittsburgh is actually rainier than Seattle. That said, they bust their rain boots out at least once a week, if not more — to go to the grocery store, go buy a Christmas tree or simply shuffle out for their mail.
They paid attention to how dry they keep their feet, but also how comfortable they were and how easy they were to take off.
While most rain boots tend to be a little wobbly — it's the nature of a heeled rubber outsole planted on a tall boot shaft — these give you better traction control and stability. Plus, running or briskly walking in these doesn't feel abnormal or really different at all from your usual hiking sneakers.
The uppers are seal seamed and made from waterproof full-grain leather, while the outsole is Vibram-designed and very comfortable. Plus, there's cushioning through the insole and incredible, especially for the style, arch support. Think of this one like a rain... sneaker?
Reviewers say the sizable tongue can cause problems, though, especially during the first few wears. You see, it's slightly oversized, and, as such, it can fold, creating a pinching sensation on the top of the foot. Early on, before it folds, it's fairly stiff, creating unnecessary friction on the top of the foot and on the sides of your ankles.
Red Wing Heritage Classic Moc Gore-Tex
Red Wing recently upgraded its classic Moc Toe boot by adding a breathable GORE-TEX bootie. The addition makes the iconic style waterproof. Be warned, and repeat after me: Laces and tongues leave room for rain. This is the best standard boot turned rain-ready by far, but it won't completely seal off your feet from wetness if you stand in a stream, or get submerged in a surprisingly deep puddle. Are these worth it? Yes, but for a day's work, not wading through wetlands.
Read more about Red Wing's Classic Moc Gore-Tex.
Bogs Sauvie Waterproof Chelsea Boot
These sub-$100 boots feature a comfortable EVA footbed and a slip-resistant sole. Unlike other options, these have a lining that evaporates sweat and deters odors as well. Plus, this Oregon-based brand cares about its footprint: The boots use natural rubbers and carbon emissions while making them are kept to a minimum.
Our tester found they were comfortable, even if they were a little shorter and a tad tight at the achilles. All around, though, these offered some of the best bang for their buck, thanks to the serious traction they offer, the waterproof nature of the all-rubber uppers and the sort-of-sporty, somewhat-gorp-y look of the molded toe.
L.L. Bean Bean Boots
Tried, true, still made in Maine and still plenty waterproof: L.L. Bean's classic Bean Boots feature a rubber bottom with a steel shank for support and a weather-resistant — Gore-Tex membrane equipped — leather upper. If you plan on wearing boot socks with these, which you should, order a full size up. Standard socks? Order your normal size.
As for how they feel, our tester found they were comfortable, thanks to the rubber sole and lifted heel, but slightly unstable because of it, which meant slight rolls of the ankle until you're used to them. The malleable shafts don't help here, but they do prioritize comfort, which means you won't suffer through a harsh break-in period.
Xtratuf 6-inch Legacy Chelsea Boot
Xtratuf's boots are designed for messy, wet jobs. They have best-in-class tread and triple-dipped, single-piece seamless bottoms as to prevent puncture and water penetration. You sacrifice a little style in favor of true waterproofing, but these are worth it if you're only worried about staying dry; you surely will in these.
The rubber shells are triple dipped, ensuring they're puncture and leakproof. They're comfortable, too, because they come with built-in insoles with substantial arch support.
Swims Charlie Rain Boot
Available in three colorways — including this cool Taupe Biscuit option — this vulcanized rubber boot by Swims comes with a single-piece upper seam-sealed to a rain-specific outsole. Flip them over and you'll find a custom pattern designed to prevent slips. An orange heel tab and elasticated gussets make these easy to remove, and cleaning them calls for silicone spray and a towel.
Blundstone Thermal Chelsea Boots
Technically part of the Australian bush boot lineage of boots, Blundstone’s boots are one of the best values you can get. They're a top choice for people in every industry, thanks to the tough leather uppers, shock-absorbing soles and classic Chelsea design.
These, however, are made from waterproof leather and have Thinsulate insulation. The seams are also latexed to keep water out, and a removable sheepskin footbed helps you transition from fall to winter with ease. That makes these more year-round, working when the weather is temperate and torrential or frigid and frosted over.
Reviewers appreciate that these don't look much different at all from regular Blundstones, but offer more warmth and better protection against the elements. Beware of water stains, though, they say, which appear if you haven't oiled your boots. Oiling them isn't necessary, per se, but it's the best way to prevent the white film some earn, which is different from blooming, a different white film that rises to the surface of rubber boots.
Hunter Commando Waterproof Chelsea Boot
Hunter’s Commando Chelsea Boots are stylish yet technical. The boot comprises a high-grip outsole, rugged upper, and exaggerated elasticated gussets They're just the right height to protect your feet against wet sidewalk splashes and the extended heel makes them easy to take off.
They're better than Hunter's basic Chelsea rain boots, both because of the heel, which offers better stability, but also the overall design, which proves much more sleek and less, well, traditional. They pair better with a wider array of outfits, whether you go gorpcore or more office-friendly.
Be warned, though, because most reviewers say the boots run about a half-size too big, but because Hunter only offers them in full sizes, it can be hard to find the right fit.
Merry People Darcy Mid Calf Rainboot
When people think of rain boots, big, tall yellow ones probably come to mind. These are black, but they're a similar shape. They're mid-calf height with an adjustable gusset and a padded collar (so they don't make the back of your legs chafe). I found they remained comfortable, even as I wore them for long periods of time. Plus, they don't let your heel rise or fall with each step, essentially locking it in place without causing blisters.
They have a simple toe and heel shape, no logo except one on the upper shaft and decent tread, albeit not the best on this list. I felt skittish on slick sidewalks, but I was good to go on wet gravel or muddy grass. Plus, I could wear most pants overtop the boots or tucked inside.
Seavees Bolinas Boot
The brand's first-ever boot, the Bolinas is an ideal, easy-to-wear rain boot. It's tonal and seam-sealed, so the boot looks like it's one big piece of rubber. The heel has improved traction for slip prevention with each step.
Reviewers say they're lightweight and waterproof, but also plenty hefty, meaning they never felt unsure about wearing them out into the rain. Some say you should size up, though, perhaps even a full size.