Duck boots are one of the trendiest fall and winter footwear items you can find today, and for good reason. Their warmth, stability, grip, and unique look are why millions of style-conscious men and women line up every fall to get their pair of duck boots.
But what are duck boots exactly, and what should you know before purchasing a pair? In this guide, we’ll give you all the details you need before buying your own pair of the waterproof wonders that are duck boots.
#1 Duck Boot for Men: L.L. Bean’s Bean Boot
L.L. Bean literally invented the duck boot, and they continue to handcraft their boots in Maine. You can’t beat that level of quality, and you can’t miss with these boots.
Price: around $129-249 depending on the style
#2 for Men: Sperry Men’s Avenue
Sperry makes some of the best shoes and boots on the market, and their duck boots are no exception.
Price: around $75-80
#3 for Men: Sorel Men’s Cheyanne Metro Lace Boot
These boots are both cool-looking and functional. If you’re not as worried about trekking through rugged terrain and need a more practical yet stylish option, this is it.
Price: around $155
Best Women’s Duck Boot: Sorel Women’s Out ‘N About III Classic
Sorel knows how to make boots that look good and function well, and these are just that. They’re downright stylish, and they’ll keep your feet warm and dry. Enough said.
Price: around $120 depending on the style
Why are they called duck boots?
Duck boots get their name from the fact that they were originally invented to keep hunters’ feet dry – primarily when hunting ducks. As you can imagine, because ducks like water, they hang out in wet places, so to hunt them requires waterproof boots that you can also maneuver in. That’s why duck boots were invented, and that’s how they got their name.
In 1912, a 40 year old man from Main named Leon decided he was done coming home from hunting trips with cold, damp feet. He decided there had to be a better way. He knew there were rubber boots and there were leather boots, but never had they met.
Rubber boots, of course, are awkward and clunky to walk around in. But leather boots weren’t waterproof. So Mr. Leon decided to merge the two materials and created a boot with a leather upper and a rubber bottom, creating what we now call duck boots.
This man, of course, was none other than Leon Leonwood Bean, or as the world knows him today, L.L. Bean. His duck boots, as we now call them, were originally named the “Main Hunting Shoe” and later became known as simply the “Beat Boot”. With so many names, you may wonder, “What are duck boots called?” The original duck boots from L.L. Bean are what are simply called “Bean Boots”, but other manufacturers have adopted the style and call them duck boots.
What are duck boots good for?
Duck boots are perfect for cold, wet weather because they’re warm, rugged, waterproof, comfortable, and stylish. Insulated duck boots keep your feet cozy in the rigid temps while uninsulated pairs give you the waterproof benefits while not causing your feet to sweat. Their roomy bottoms and soft leather tops make them comfortable everyday boots that are much more practical than all-rubber boots and more functional than all-leather boots.
From their invention in the early 1900s, duck boots not only went on to become a favorite of hunters and outdoors enthusiasts everywhere, but it also was the product that launched the popular brand L.L. Bean brand that is known and loved today.
It was waterproof and rugged with great grip and superior warmth, which are all things that are desperately useful when you’re outside in Maine and it’s 10 degrees with 6 inches of snow on the ground.
For decades, the Bean Boot stood alone as the boot of choice for those who would encounter wet terrain but didn’t want to wear full rubber boots. Then, after years of slowly building popularity, the duck boot trend exploded first because they were required for prep school uniforms in New England, and then because they caught fire as the hot new look in preppy fashion. From there, the trend took off until it peaked around 2015 and has continued to maintain popularity ever since.
When can you start wearing duck boots?
Even though duck boots are intended more for colder climates typically found in the fall or winter, they’ve become a mainstay you can wear through the majority of the year depending on where you are. You can get a pair of uninsulated duck boots for when it’s warmer or go all the way up to the insulated Gore-Tex duck boots that are made for hunting in frigid temperatures. There are low-tops, high-tops, and everything in-between. No matter the season or the climate you find yourself in, if duck boots are your look, then there’s a duck boot for your situation.
Do duck boots run big or small?
Duck boots are made in such a way that they tend to run slightly big. Therefore, if you’re going to be wearing thick socks with them, you’re probably good ordering your normal boot size. However, if you’re going to be wearing light-to-mid weight socks, you’re probably better off ordering a size down.
How comfortable are duck boots?
Because duck boots are uniquely light and functional, they tend to be quite comfortable. Part of the reason leather boots aren’t typically the most comfortable shoes – at least not at first – is because of the durability of the leather around the bottom part of the boot. When your feet push against the stiff leather bottoms of most boots, it takes a while to get them to “give” in order for them to be comfortable. With duck boots, because the bottoms are rubber and the tops are leather, you get the durability of leather with the comfortability of flexible rubber on the bottom half. That makes them light, easy to put on, and more comfortable than most boots.
Now that we’ve looked at what they are, here are the best duck boots on the market today:
3 Best duck boots for men (and women, too)
#1: L.L. Bean’s Bean Boots
Of course, at the top of our list is the original Bean Boot from L.L. Bean. This should come as no surprise seeing as L.L. Bean invented the duck boot and has been handcrafting them at their headquarters in Maine for over 100 years.
Made with full-grain leather tops and rubber chain-tread bottoms, what’s not to love about these? They weigh about 21 ounces depending on the style you get, which is slightly heavier than the other boots on this list, but according to L.L. Bean’s website, they’re made with such care and quality that they’re probably the only pair of duck boots you’ll ever need.
They offer a large range of linings depending on the level of warmth you’re looking for. They have uninsulated, flannel-lined, shearling-lined, sherpa-lined (which is that really fluffy warm lining that feels amazing), fleece-lined, or Gore-Tex with Thinsulate for the folks who are in the forreal outdoors.
Check out L.L. Bean’s Bean Boot – around $129-249 depending on the style
#2: Sperry Men’s Avenue Duck Boot
Sperry started in 1935, so they aren’t newbies when it comes to preppy footwear, and they don’t disappoint when it comes to duck boots, either. Their Men’s Avenue Duck Boot and their Women’s Saltwater Snow Boot are two of the top snow/rain boots in their respective classes, and their thousands upon thousands of positive reviews online speak for themselves.
They have leather uppers, rubber bottoms, and fully lined with warm thermal insulation. They offer lugged rubber outsoles with molded Wave-Siping for traction, and they weigh in at 15 ounces. They’re light, comfortable, and classy in the way Sperrys usually are.
Sperry Men’s Avenue Duck Boots – around $75-80
#3: Sorel Men’s Cheyanne Metro Lace Boot
While L.L. Bean may have started the duck boots craze, Sorel is no slouch when it comes to creating quality duck boots known and loved by boot enthusiasts everywhere. What’s interesting about the Cheyanne Metro Lace Boot is that it combines the classic duck boot look with the modern flat-bottom sneaker style made popular by Converse.
While these may look like something you’d wear more for fashion that function, they actually have the makings of a legitimate boot. They come in waterproof full grain leather or waterproof suede with microfleece lining. They have a waterproof vulcanized rubber shell on the bottom, and Sorel recommends them for “light snow”, so they’re fully capable of getting you around and keeping your feet dry in wet weather. And best of all, you’ll look pretty cool in the process.
Sorel Men’s Cheyanne Metro Lace Boot – around $155
Best Value Duck Boot: Nautica Men’s Duck Boots
If you’re looking for a cheap duck boot that won’t feel like you’ve been ripped off, then the Nautica Men’s Duck Boot is for you. They come with a faux-leather polyurethane upper and a water-resistant rubber bottom and weigh in at 14.4 ounces.
Let’s be honest, these are more for looks than functionality, but if the most rugged terrain you’re facing is a wet sidewalk and you just want the duck boot look, then these will do the job.
Nautica Men’s Duck Boot – around $60
Best Duck Boot for Women: Sorel Women’s Out ‘N About (multiple styles)
(shown above: Sorel Women’s Out ‘N About III Classic Duck Boot)
While all of the duck boots on this list come in both men and women styles, it’s worth noting the duck boots that have easily become the most popular style for women, and that is the Sorel Women’s Out ‘N About. They make several different styles of the Out ‘N About boot, but one of the most popular is the Women’s Out ‘N About III Classic Duck Boot. It has an upper made of full-grain leather, suede, and synthetic materials and a bottom made of molded rubber outsole with enhanced traction.
These are like a mix between a boot, a wedge, and a sneaker, but they’re 100% awesome-looking. Whether you’re shopping for your wife or you’re a woman looking to send your man a gift recommendation, these boots are sure to be a good choice.
Sorel Women’s Out ‘N About boots – around $120 depending on the style
Regardless of your preference, your style, whether you’re a man or woman, or whether you even like to go outdoors, there’s a duck boot for you. Because, as L.L. Bean puts it, warm, dry feet never go out of style. So go get your duck boot on, and keep those feet of yours light and airy while you get your stunt on this fall.