Published Jul 14, 2022 12:28 PM
Duck boots are boots with a rubber sole that transitions to a lace-up leather ankle and shaft. Most duck boots end just above the ankle but some can lace all the way to below the knee. It’s a classic boot intended to keep feet dry and warm. Although the original duck boots were designed as men’s hunting gear, they are now a staple in many non-hunting closets. But, they’re still a functional outdoor boot. The duck boot is a great choice for moderate ankle support and dry feet. So whether you’re shopping for a great hunting boot, fishing boot, or all around waterproof boot—duck boots should be considered.
Before jumping down to our top picks, read through the buyer’s guide. You’ll discover the things you need to know to find the best duck boots of 2022.
Things to Consider Before Buying Snowshoeing Boots
While most duck boots look similar, there are some key differences to consider when sifting through the market of products.
Customers can choose from a variety of insulation in their duck boots including:
- Zero to Light insulation: The classic duck boot does not have insulation. These are perfect for traditional fall and spring weather where leather and rubber are enough to keep feet warm against the elements. Some come with a cotton or flannel lining for comfort. However, this doesn’t provide much warmth.
- Mid insulation: A mid-insulation duck boot has 100-200 grams of insulation. This keeps feet comfortable down to around 30℉. Some duck boots, like the L.L. Bean Shearling-Lined Duck Boot, adds an additional soft lining for extra warmth and comfort.
- Heavy insulation: Duck boots now come insulated for extreme weather. These boots will have 400 g or higher insulation as well as soft wool interiors. For example, the Ugg Men’s Butte Snow Boot is rated below 0℉.
Duck boots traditionally come just above the ankle, about 8 inches from the bottom of the heel to the top. However, there are instances where the customer might want a shorter or taller boot. Here’s a breakdown of the boot heights:
- Loafer: It might be a stretch calling them boots at all but the loafer height duck boots cut off below the ankle. These are ideal for keeping feet dry when walking to the mailbox or for trips around town.
- 6 – 8 inch: The classic sits 1-3 inches above the ankle. The boot will keep feet dry in puddles and mud.
- 10 – 12 inch: The taller lace up boot is a favorite of hunters—this tall boot will keep legs dry above the shin.
- 16 inch and higher: For deeper water and mud, some opt for a lace up boot just below the knee. This is another favorite of hunters.
Besides insulation and height, there are a few other things to look out for when picking out a pair of duck boots.
- Waterproof: Duck boots are meant to be taken out in wet weather, however, not all options are completely waterproof. While the rubber sole will keep the moisture out, the upper portion might not. Look for terms like “waterproof leather” to ensure the ankle stays dry. In addition, even if the sole and leather are waterproof, it doesn’t mean the seam is. If you are planning on moving through ankle deep water or higher, check with the manufacturer about the waterproofness of the seams.
- Materials: While the traditional duck boot is leather and rubber, many designers now sell boots in other materials. Quilted fabric, faux-fur, Gore-Tex lining, canvas or flannel boot shafts are examples of some of the choices in duck boot materials.
- Sizing: When dealing with rubber and leather, there’s little room for stretching in these boots. It’s important to read the manufacturers sizing information carefully before pulling the trigger on your size. Factor in the thickness of socks that will be pairing with the boots.
Best Overall: L.L.Bean Boots, 8″ Gore-Tex/Thinsulate in Men’s and Women’s
Why It Made the Cut
With high quality materials and a proven design, this duck boot can last a lifetime.
- Material: Waterproof leather and rubber sole
- Height: 8 inch
- Insulation: Thinsulate with Gore-Tex lining
- Quality Materials
- Variety of Sizes
The L.L. Bean brand originated with a unique “hunting boot” that we now call the duck boot. The 8″ Gore-Tex/Thinsulate Bean Boot is fairly similar to the original with a few modern add-ons. Purists will appreciate the full grain leather along with durable rubber bottoms and a traditional rubber chain tread. However, this pair comes with the added thinsulate insulation layer that will keep feet warm into the winter months. In addition, this pair is lined with Gore-Tex- an added barrier against water. This is especially helpful where water can sometimes enter on the seams of a traditional Bean Boot.
Overall, the L.L. Bean Boot lives up to its hype of being one of the best rated duck boots. It’s a dependable duck boot that, if well cared for, will be a closet staple for decades. We also find it to be comfortable. However, due to the basic cushioning over a steel shank, our feet felt the impact on long treks in the balls of the feet. Other boots like the Sperry Saltwater Duck Boot have more cushion.
One last note: sizing on the traditional L.L. Bean Boots can be tricky. While they come in a variety of sizes—including narrow and wide—Bean Boots often run large. Consult the sizing chart before purchasing.
Best Slip On: Lands’ End Insulated Flannel Lined Chelsea Duck Boots in Men’s and Women’s
Best Slip On
Why It Made the Cut
These slip on duck boots will keep your feet warm and dry through three seasons.
- Material: Waterproof leather
- Height: 7 inch
- Insulation: 200 g Thermolite insulation
If you’re looking for a duck boot to easily slip on and off in rain and snow, Lands’ End Insulated Flannel Lined Chelsea Duck Boot is your best bet. While a traditional duck boot is laced, the Chelsea boot makes it easy to get in and out for short errands, yard work, or dog walk.
The Lands’ End duck boot has a lot going for it. For starters, these waterproof boots are insulated with 200 grams of insulation. This should keep feet warm down to 30℉—perfect for shoveling the driveway in winter or walking through the woods on a cold fall night. In addition, the flannel lining and cushioned sole makes for a comfortable slip on boot that you won’t want to take off.
This boot is affordable. With the current price on Lands’ End’s website hovering around $50, it’s a third of the cost of L.L. Bean’s Chelsea Boot. The difference is most seen in quality of materials and longevity with use. While the Lands’ End boot is arguably more comfy, it won’t last the test of time. So as long as it’s not your primary shoe for the season, this slip on is your best bet.
Best for Snow
Why It Made the Cut
This winter duck boot will keep feet toasty in cold, snow, and ice.
- Material: Waterproof leather and rubber
- Height: 10 inch
- Insulation: 400 g Thinsulate insulation
For a truly winter duck boot, look no further than the LaCrosse Ice King. These are the best duck boots for snow. The quality rubber outsole and waterproof full-grain leather provides exterior protection from the elements. In addition, the 400 gram Thinsulate insulation will keep feet warm into the negative degrees. The removable foam liner provides extra warmth and will also cushion feet.
Meant for hunting and ice fishing, these boots are all about function. The sturdy steel shank and extra durable rubber are stiff enough to also strap into snowshoes on those deep powder days. Extra insulation and protection from the elements make these boots heavy. At over 6 lbs a pair, they are work to carry. Lastly, LaCrosse does not make this boot in a Women’s line, although the LaCrosse Women’s Outpost II is a good alternative.
Best on a Budget
Why It Made the Cut
This solid and stylish boot will keep your feet warm and dry without breaking the bank.
- Material: Rubber sole and synthetic leather
- Height: 7 inch
- Insulation: 200 g Thinsulate insulation
- Great Traction
For a duck boot that will keep your feet warm and dry through three seasons without breaking the bank, look no further, this is it. The London Fog Ashford Duck Boot is our pick for best affordable duck boot. To start, the waterproof faux-leather upper shaft and lower thermoplastic elastomers sole keeps feet dry in puddles and moderate snow. The 7 inch height is the perfect size for most outdoor activities. We appreciated the padded heel and cushioned sole for comfort.
This boot has 200 g of Thinsulate insulation which allows for use is winter down to about 30℉. With Amazon’s price for the boot hovering around the $50 range, London Fog’s boot is a steal. However, the lack of real leather means durability issues. Simply put, this synthetic upper likely will not last past its leather counterparts elsewhere on this list. It doesn’t take away from the boot as a value, but it does affect its overall performance. Also, the London Fog Ashford duck boot does not come in women’s. For another affordable duck boot, check out this option from Nautica.
Why It Made the Cut
These fashionable, waterproof duck boots will keep feet dry and comfortable.
- Material: Rubber sole and waterproof leather
- Height: 7 inch
- Insulation: Microfleece lining
- Style choices
- Zipper entry
Super comfy and stylish, the Sperry Saltwater Rain Boot are the best duck boots for women. These boots are comfortable right out of the box. With the signature Sperry molded wave tread, they are great for wet surfaces and traction. The boots will keep your feet dry. Rubber and waterproof leather are ideal for cool, wet days. With no insulation beside the microfleece lining, these aren’t intended to take on snow or freezing temperatures.
These boots slip on easily with the side zipper entry. The rawhide laces with the barrell ties are stylish but not all that functional for tightening. Therefore, these boots are best used in town and not for hunting or hiking. Lastly, Sperry takes duck boot style to the next level by offering customizable colors and patterns for womens duck boots.
How I Made My Picks
Living in Maine and New Hampshire, I’m in the land of the duck boot. It’s not only an essential piece of hunting gear, but also a staple item in most Mainers’ closets. From walking the dog, to going to the store, duck boots keep my feet dry and comfy in this cold, wet climate. While researching and testing for this article, I used the following criteria in order to procure the best duck boots of 2022:
Durability: A common issue with duck boots are cracked rubber and broken treads. I chose boots that are durable. The highest quality options are made with a full grain leather upper and thermoplastic rubber foot.
Value: We’ve all had the experience of chasing what we think is a great deal on gear, only to realize we sacrificed quality for price. Some of the pricier duck boots can literally last multiple decades—even with daily use. I highlighted boots that are well worth the cost.
Comfort: Duck boots’ job is to keep feet dry and comfortable over wet outings. The typically high ankle is generally made of soft leather that protects the foot from the elements without being stiff.
Q: What are duck boots good for?
Duck boots are good for hunting, fishing, and everyday wear in rainy weather. The rubber sole keeps feet dry, while the leather lace up shaft provides flexibility and protection. While they are perfect for walking across muddy fields and wet forests, they are certainly not wading boots. If that’s what you came here looking for, check out our other stories, and our picks for best waders or best rubber hunting boots.
Q: Are duck boots comfortable for walking?
Duck boots are indeed comfortable for walking. The protective nature of the rubber and leather should keep your feet dry and warm in wet weather. However, they are not optimal for actual hiking. This is because the rubber body does not allow for ventilation. A similar issue with full rubber boots, moisture doesn’t come in, but it also doesn’t go out. Over long walks and hikes, sweat gets trapped in and can lead to blisters.
Q: Are duck boots really waterproof?
Most options will be advertised as waterproof. However, testing revealed that while the rubber and leather block water, the seams can allow some in. Therefore, duck boots are great for walking through an occasional puddle, but, again, you’ll want to stick to waders or full rubber hunting boots if you’re mucking through high water.
Q: Do duck boots stretch out?
Duck boots can stretch out. Heat makes rubber stretch, so over time, it is possible that the natural heat from your feet as well as the environment can allow the rubber to stretch a little. That said, it is important to get a boot that fits without needing stretching. Consult the manufacturer’s size table before purchasing a new pair.
Duck boots’ sturdy and waterproof nature allow them to be an essential gear staple in wet and cool climates. Elongate the life of your boots by occasionally washing the rubber with a mild soap and protecting the leather with a leather cleaner. Lastly, store duck boots in a dry area to reduce odor and decay. With proper care, a good pair can last a lifetime.