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Made to Wade: The 6 Best Waterproof Boots

Posted By

Oct 27, 2014

Category: Style

Cold isn’t the only thing you need to worry about during the winter. You can cope with freezing temperatures so long as you stay dry, but the minute someone drops a wet load of snow down the back of your coat, that’s when the frigid air is really going to bite. The same goes for your feet. Even if your winter boots are packed to the gills with insulation, that means nothing the second they let water in. If you live in a wet climate where rain falls as commonly as snow to vex your toes, or find yourself with a long melting season where puddles and slush surround your car, then you’ll want some waterproof boots added to your wardrobe.

We’ve sought out waterproof boots for every need. We have modern styles for the urbane gentleman who will be riding the subway and walking the streets as well as hard-core boots for the laborer who has to earn his cash miles from civilization. For hikers seeking an outing to soaked hunters trying to catch food in the pournig rain, one of our 6 best waterproof boots will keep you high and dry when the snow flies, the rain falls, and the tide rolls in.

Danner Pronghorn GTX

Danner Pronghorn GTX

Pro: Gives good feeling of the terrain
Con: Takes a long time to break in

On the Hunt: Odds are good that if you’ve ever sat in a hunting lodge talking footwear then you’ve heard the name Pronghorn. The tall uppers laces up perfectly to give you long-term ankle support even when moving over rough or uneven terrain. The rubber soles are thick enough to give you plenty of protection and traction, even in standing water, but not so dense that you won’t feel connected to the forest floor. With a little practice you’ll be capable of moving silently even on dry brush without any fumbling or bumbling that might alert your prey. A reinforced toe and heel help improve the longevity of these boots as well as keep them from looking too battered after seasons of use. They can take longer to break in than other hunting boots, but that is due in a large part to their rigid leather body which is capable of going for months or years over the competition, even if you brutalize them day after day. Waterproofing is accomplished via the enhanced, breathable Gore-Tex liner which also gives some insulation, but these boots are meant for all season and all terrain wear. [Purchase: $150+]

Tretorn Gunnar

Tretorn Gunnar

Pro: Lace and slip-on capability
Con: Casual style

Urban Outfitted: Tretorn is rapidly becoming the top name in waterproof boots and shoes for the average city dweller. They have everything from slip-on boots to rubber galoshes to fit any lifestyle. The Gunnar is our favorite because it combines the comfort and support of a lace-up with the ease of a slip-on thanks to stretchable material on the ankle cuff. You won’t be able to tackle huge snow drifts, but for basic snowpiles in the midwest or the wet weather of the south these give you a good, comfortable urban shoe that you can use without looking like you’re about to take a trip into the wilderness. The style is casual rather than professional so they probably won’t meet stringent dress codes, but otherwise you won’t need to carry a change of shoes with you wherever you go. The sides are canvas which isn’t meant to hold in heat, so during cold snaps, outfit yourself with some wool socks. Don’t try off-roading with these since the soles are soft and won’t give you that winter running shoe protection required under these conditions. [Purchase: $90]

Original Muckboots

Original Muckboots

Pro: Seals around the ankle
Con: Slippery on ice

Swift Slip-Ons: The Muckboots were first introduced to us as a work boot and while they are good for that, they also make an excellent waterproof boot for anyone that wants something easy to slip on that can also be worn for long periods if need be. The muckboots work best as a secondary shoe for professionals who intend on carrying their loafers or their – ahem – high heels with them. The muckboots don’t just repel water, they also won’t pick up filth, sludge, grime, or other detritus so you won’t track in half of nature’s bounty to your home or office. The 4-way stretch nylon moves easily for quick on/off action but also seals tight against your ankle to deny any outside elements entry. They work up to 75 degrees and have sufficient insulation to keep you from losing toes even if the temperature gets below zero. The heel, toe, and Achilles sections are all reinforced for extra support, long-term wear, and rough conditions. They rinse off in seconds and have a true hermetic seal. The only drawback is the shallow tread works well in water, but not on ice. [Purchase: $90+]

Caterpillar Diagnostic

Caterpillar Diagnostic

Pro: Resistant to numerous job hazards
Con: Looks like a work boot

On the Job: CAT is the premier brand of work boot on any job site, but the Diagnostic goes one step further by being the premier brand on sites where wet work is not only possible, it’s mandatory. With 200 grams of insulation they are plenty warm. The ergonomic, contoured sole is meant to keep your foot comfortable all day long while you work, be it indoors or out, standing or strolling. The body is also tested against heat, cold, abrasion, slipping, and even electrical shock, meaning you can hop from machining to wiring work to duct replacement without fear. It has a shaft that is 6 inches long and padded generously. You can get these with a steel toe or not depending on your needs. Both use the same nylon mesh and leather uppers to keep water out, so the only difference will be in protecting your toes. You will be limited when it comes to looks with only brown or black options available. [Purchase: $98+]

Asolo TPS 520

Asolo TPS 520

Pro: Interior reduces foot fatigue
Con: Very heavy

Over the Hill: These were one of our favorite hiking boots due in large part to their extreme waterproofing thanks to a solid, full grain leather body complete with leather upper meant to keep water out. The ankle laces provide support and allow you to pinch them down tight to prevent anything from seeping over the top. Inside, a cambrelle lining prevents water from getting near your foot and still allows for enough ventilation that they’ll be able to breathe even if you find yourself trudging through a foot of snow. The wonderful vibram outsole allows you to handle most terrain while the reinforced body will prevent injury in case you hit a buried rock. The insole is a rocker which is meant for motion and reduces fatigue even on long hikes in adverse conditions. The one major drawback is weight. These are heavy and can tire you out. If you expect wet weather, the extra protection is necessary. If you live and climb in a more temperate climate, the Salomon Quest GTX will give you good protection at a fraction of the weight. [Purchase: $235+]

LL Bean Waxed Canvas Maine Hunting Shoe

L.L. Bean Waxed Canvas Maine Hunting Shoe

Pro: Canvas upper
Con: Limited insulation

Daily Wear: L.L. Bean’s stylized rubber bottoms make almost any of their boots incapable of springing a leak, but the Maine is one of the best since it also has a waxed canvas upper rather than leather which can take damage from moisture when not properly treated. They first caught our attention as a great winter boot, due in large part to their excellent waterproofing. With a steel shank set in the center they have enough rigidity that you can work in these all day if need be or just cut a path to and from your car. The high cuffs work in snow as well as rain, though you will want to get a good umbrella to keep water from sliding down your pants into these since once it is inside, it has no way to escape. The signature chain tread that has been synonymous with L.L. Bean will grip in standing water and on ice, though don’t expect intense traction if the streets are too slick since these are made with water resistance rather than ice skating in mind. Outstanding in snow and slush though not quite as heavily lined for protection from cold. A pair of thermal socks is a wise addition if you are deep into the arctic north. [Purchase: $139]

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