Best Duck Boots for 2022

Published Jun 23, 2022 12:27 PM

Anyone who has lived through a long winter knows that waterproof shoes, like duck boots, are essential to keeping your feet warm and dry. But while galoshes are our go-to for rainstorms, wearing nothing but rubber boots in the mud and slush and muck can wreck more havoc with our feet then we’d care to admit. Enter the duck boot: rubber at the soles and around the base of your foot to maximize the waterproofing where you need it, with a more breathable leather upper. They’re a great combination of practicality and functionality. So, if you’re looking for a pair to get you ready for the next wet season, here’s a list of the best duck boots you can buy to keep your feet dry:

Things to Consider Before Buying Duck Boots

History

While duck boots have a somewhat fashion-based reputation today, the first duck boots were developed in 1912 after Leon Leonwood Bean found that his regular hunting boots weren’t cutting in the wet and cold of Maine. When he got back from one fabled hunting trip, he set about combining rubber boots with a leather upper, and started to sell them soon after. This became the first product sold by the company known today as LLBean.

Construction

At its core, a duck boot is constructed of a highly durable, completely waterproof sole and upper, and a highly breathable (but still waterproof) shaft. The key to quality with a duck boot (beyond the quality of the materials being used), is in the construction—specifically, the stitching between the rubber upper and the leather shaft. Look for multiple stitch lines, as this seam has the greatest potential for failure of anywhere in the duck boot.

Waterproofness

The likeliest fail point for any duck boot is where the rubber upper meets the leather shaft. This is typically low enough down on the boot that at least some moisture could still sneak in on the wrong conditions, but it creates enough breathability and flexibility to make the duck boot comfortable. Ensuring that the seal here is both watertight and durable is imperative to the long-term use of the duck boot.

Another important feature to look at with duck boots is the tongue. When the tongue is attached to the rest of the upper at its sides (known as a gusseted tongue) the ability of the duck boot to keep water out at that point increases. Typically, higher quality duck boots from reputable brands will have gusseted tongues where others may not.


Key Features

  • Materials: rubber sole and upper, leather shaft
  • Comes in 6-inch and 8-inch heights
  • Sizes: men’s 7-14; women’s 5-11
  • Narrow and wide options available
  • Warranty: one year

Why It Made the Cut

The original duck boot, still hand-stitched in Maine, continues to be one of the best values ​​available.

Pro

  • Quality materials will last for years
  • Triple stitching
  • Wide range of available sizes

Cons

  • No longer has a lifetime warranty
  • No insulation

Product Description

There aren’t many shoes or boots that have been around for over a hundred years, but the original LLBean duck boot is one of them. Part of what explains their enduring longevity is simply the quality of the construction. Whereas other duck boots are mass produced thousands of miles from where they are sold, these are still hand stitched in Maine by craftsmen who first undergo a rigorous six-month apprentice program. While the once-fabled lifetime warranty of these duck boots no longer exists, their high quality construction means that you can expect to enjoy them for many years.

Best_Duck_Boots_landsend

Key Features

  • Materials: rubber sole and upper, leather shaft, flannel lining
  • Sizes: women’s 6-11
  • No narrow or wide sizes available
  • Warranty: 90 days

Why It Made the Cut

The fleece lining of these traditional duck boots is paired with a touch of insulation to provide a boost of comfort for cold spring days.

Pro

  • Affordably priced
  • Soft fleece lining
  • Traditional construction

Cons

  • Limited sizing compared to other duck boot styles
  • No men’s options available

Product Description

For an extra boost of insulation and comfort over the traditional duck boot, especially for long spans of outdoor activity hovering just above freezing, a touch of extra comfort is called for. These Lands End duck boots feature both fleece lining and 200 grams of Thermolite insulation (just enough to take your toes from numb to comfortable on cold days). I also liked that these were affordably priced compared to other options on the market. For now, these duck boots are only offered in women’s sizing and lack the narrow and wide options of the LLBean duck boot.

Best_Duck_Boots_Sperry

Key Features

  • Materials: rubber sole and upper, leather shaft
  • Sizes: women’s 5-12
  • Wide sizes available
  • Warranty: none

Why It Made the Cut

A short zipper at the inside ankle makes the Sperry Saltwater Duck Boot easy to pull on and off.

Pro

  • Affordably priced
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • No insulation
  • No men’s sizes available (Sperry does sell men’s duck boots in other styles)
  • No warranty

Product Description

Sometimes I just want to get out the door, but I still want the superior fit of a lace-up system. To help get you out the door faster, the Sperry Saltwater has a zipper on the inside ankle in addition to laces. Fortunately, that’s this shoe’s only deviation from the traditional styling of the duck boot. Rubber soles and uppers help keep the moisture of the worst of the snow and slush away from your feet, while the breathable, form-fitting leather uppers help relieve your feet from the discomfort and sweat build-up of full-blown galshoes. Like other classic duck boots, these do not have any additional insulation, so a thick pair of wool socks is essential for keeping the cold of the shoulders season at bay.

Best_Duck_Boots_Propét

Key Features

  • Materials: rubber sole and upper, nylon and suede shaft
  • Sizes: 6-12
  • Wide sizes available
  • Warranty: none

Why It Made the Cut

The extra insulation of the Propet Ingrid Duck Boots makes them an excellent choice for anyone whose feet run cold.

Pro

  • Affordably priced
  • Comfortable
  • Has insulation and a sole with heat-retention properties
  • Faux-fur lining

Cons

  • Not as warm as boots built for snow

Product Description

The classic duck boot is not built for the winter months—even with thick wool socks it doesn’t provide enough insulation to extend out through the shoulder seasons. The Propet Ingrid Duck boots, while not ready for a nor’easter, are significantly more insulated than some of the best duck boots, including insulation at the shaft, a sole with heat-retention properties, and a faux-fur lining at the cuff to help keep the warmth in. Like other duck boots, it has a rubber sole and upper, but shifts from the pure leather shaft with a combination of suede and nylon.

Best_Duck_Boots_llbean_2

Product Description

  • Materials: rubber sole and upper, leather shaft
  • Sizes: 2-6
  • Warranty: one year

Why It Made the Cut

The kid’s bean boots from LLBean are the mini-me version of the adult classic, complete with the iconic triple stitching.

Pro

  • Quality materials that will last for years
  • Triple stitching
  • Some insulation

Cons

  • No longer has a lifetime warranty

Product Description

At first glance, the Kid’s Bean Boot is simply a shrunken-down version of the adult LLBean boot: same leather shaft, same rubber sole and upper, same triple stitching. But there is one important difference here: the kid’s version incorporates insulation at the sole. I like this detail because while adults can stand some amount of cold in the outdoors, typically kids can lose patience with being outside when they start to get cold. I also like that this boot has a one year warranty on it, as no one is tougher on outdoor gear than kids (and let’s be real, they probably won’t fit into them after a year of use anyway).

FAQs

Q: How much do duck boots cost?

Duck boots typically cost between $80 and $180, typically depending on the quality of the materials used.

Q: What are duck boots good for?

Duck boots are best used for any activity where you would typically wear full-rubber boots or heavy-duty winter boots but there is a chance that your feet could overheat, either because temps are rising or because you will be exerting yourself. It’s worth remembering that duck boots were initially created as a hybrid rubber hunting boot, so their highest and best use is typically not the dead of winter.

Q: Can you wear duck boots in the snow?

While you can wear duck boots in the snow, their best and highest use is for seasonal transitions, where temps aren’t quite subfreezing but you still need substantial protection from early morning frosts or the snow melting into slush on the ground. If you plan to use your duck boots for midwinter activities, plan to size up so that you can add in a pair (or two) of the best hiking socks or hunting socks.

Methodology

Having spent time in both the soggy Pacific Northwest and the Northeast’s version of Alaska’s infamous “breakup” season, I have developed an appreciation of (and an eye for) footwear that can go the distance in a number of different environments. The duck boots here were selected based on their reputation, the quality of the materials used, and their adherence to the purpose and function of duck boots as a distinct category from either full-rubber rain boots or highly insulated snow boots. No ankle boots were included on this list as this cut is typically more about style or fashion than accomplishing the core mission of the duck boot.

Final Thoughts

The ongoing popularity of duck boots is easy to understand—it’s when the seasons are changing and we’re trying to dig ourselves out that we sometimes need the most protection from the elements. While the original LLBean Bean boot remains one of the best duck boots and for good reason, there are a number of other excellent available options in the event that those are out of stock.

Leave a Comment