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Published Apr 14, 2022 12:10 PM

Waterproof boots for men aren’t just for winter wear, they can also be invaluable when hiking, hunting, and for various occupations like sitework or agriculture. Boot makers produce men’s waterproof boots in almost endless variety, often focused on specific needs. As a buyer, it’s great to have all that choice, but picking the best waterproof boots for your own needs can be a challenge.

So we’ve been delving into the details to help with that decision. The following article talks about the key features that separate the best waterproof boots for men from the also-rans. We also suggest some top picks that will suit a range of different purposes.

Things to Consider Before Buying Waterproof Boots for Men

There are lots of different styles of waterproof boots for men, and as with the many types of waterproof shoes or waterproof jackets, personal taste will be a major factor. However, choosing based on fashion alone might result in an expensive mistake. The following elements will help focus on waterproof footwear that also provides high performance and value.

Purpose

Often buyers of waterproof boots are looking for a good all-round solution, in much the same way as sneakers are widely accepted for both work and casual wear. Waterproof leather boots often perform this function.

Other waterproof boot buyers have a specific purpose in mind, and then it becomes important to focus on particular aspects of the boot. Shaft height (the distance from instep to the opening where the foot goes in), can have a major impact. Waterproof hiking boots for men often have a very low shaft to allow the foot maximum freedom of movement. The flip side is that they offer zero protection in water that is any more than ankle deep. Tall shafted waterproof rubber boots are excellent in this situation, but may not have the traction for rocky climbs, for example.

While it is understandable to want to maximize value there are occasions when two pairs of waterproof boots might be the better option. One pair that is specifically designed for work, for example, and another pair of budget waterproof boots for leisure use.

Material

Leather remains one of the optimum materials for making waterproof boots for men. It is hard-wearing, looks great, and can be used for virtually any style. However, keeping leather boots waterproof requires additional care. Nubuck is popular but while often made from buckskin, which is very tough, some is made from calfskin. This wears much more quickly, and isn’t recommended for waterproof hiking or work boots.

Leather waterproof boots generally require a period of wearing-in, and may need periodic treatment to maintain the waterproof barrier. Soles are almost never leather, which can become slippery when wet. Instead rubber, crepe, or synthetics are used. These improve both grip and durability.

Synthetic materials not only look different, they perform differently. There is almost no limit to the designs and colors possible. They are often lighter, more flexible, and are frequently combined with products like Gore-Tex. This is guaranteed waterproof, and breathable too, thus providing added foot comfort. Synthetic waterproof boots require minimal care, though the resistance of the uppers to abrasion is seldom as good as leather.

Insulation

For those who do wear their waterproof boots in all weathers it will be important to check insulation. Thinsulate, made by 3M, is an example of a fiber that has minimal bulk but is excellent at maintaining foot warmth. Waterproof hiking boots often make good provision for cold conditions. By contrast, while rubber work boots are among the most waterproof types of footwear available, they sometimes have minimal lining. As a result they are notorious for allowing feet to get cold. One solution is to invest in a good pair of thermal socks, though well-insulated rubber waterproof bots are available.

Fit

While good fit is obviously a key issue, it’s important to check not just size, but manufacturer’s fitting instructions. Often it will be recommended that waterproof boots are ordered a half- or whole-size up from your normal shoe.

How the boot is secured is also worth thinking about. Some hiking boots have relatively long laces. That’s not a problem if they are going to be worn all day, but can be a nuisance sometimes. Elasticated sides make this much easier. Those considering tall boots might want to check the size of the opening. A narrow entry can make them awkward to put on. Wide openings should have a good buckle to allow proper closure.

Best Overall: Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX

Best Overall

Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX Lowa

Why It Made The Cut

The Lowa Men’s Renegade is a top-quality waterproof hiking boot with the contemporary styling that also makes it a great choice for casual wear.

Key Features

  • Materials: Leather, cordura, and synthetic rubber
  • Size Range: 7.5 to 16
  • Color/Style Options: 8

Pros

  • Super-tough construction
  • Excellent comfort levels
  • Comprehensive range of sizes

Cons

  • Premium price
  • Not for consistent sub-zero temperatures

With such a huge variety available, picking a single model as the best waterproof boots for men is an almost impossible task. However, the Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX has a combination of features that make it both stylish, very hard-wearing, and super comfortable.

The construction of the upper is a combination of tough Nubuck leather, with cordura nylon in the shaft area for additional durability. A Vibram synthetic rubber sole is securely bonded to this shell, providing shock absorbing ability, and good traction. The GTX in the name indicates the use of Gore-Tex for the liner, which is not only guaranteed to be waterproof, but is also breathable. This ensures all-day comfort in all but the most severe weather conditions. There is also a moisture-wicking footbed that draws away perspiration that might otherwise cause soreness and blisters.

The Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX is a mid-height waterproof boot with a 5-inch shaft that gives the firm ankle support favored by many over difficult terrain. The range of sizes available is exceptional, providing top quality waterproof men’s footwear for everyone, even those feet beyond the usual averages. Speed lacing hardware makes them quick and easy to put on.

It is difficult to find fault with the Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX waterproof boots, and they frequently top independent reviews. They are a substantial investment, but likely to outlast many rivals. They lack the insulation for long-distance cold weather trekking, but thermal socks are always an option.

Best Budget: Nortiv 8 Men’s

Best Budget

Nortiv 8 Men’s NORTIV 8

Why It Made The Cut

Finding a combination of solid waterproof performance, comfort, and low-cost is a tough ask, but the Nortiv 8 Men’s boots are up to the challenge.

Key Features

  • Materials: Suede, synthetic leather, and rubber
  • Size Range: 6.5 to 13
  • Color/Style Options: 4

Pros

  • Solid, durable construction
  • Easy to look after
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Air flow could be improved
  • Limited half sizes

The Nortiv 8 Men’s waterproof boots cost a fraction of what you might expect to pay for footwear from leading brands, so the big question is whether you get good value for your money. We are not the only people who think you do, and these boots are extremely popular.

It’s not difficult to see why. The upper is made of suede, wrapped with synthetic leather for toughness. This is bonded and stitched to a flexible EVA foam layer that absorbs shocks, and then a rubber sole that offers a high level of grip. The rubber extends to the toecap for bump protection. Inside the boot there is a memory foam insole that molds to the shape of your foot, adding to the solid, connected feel. A 5.5-inch shaft, and reinforced heel offer good ankle support without restricting flexibility. Thick padding provides good comfort and a reasonable level of insulation.

The Nortiv 8 Men’s waterproof boots are not simply low-cost, they are excellent all-round value. The only downside is that although the suede offers some breathability, the waterproof layer does not. As a result, the feet can get very warm on hot days.

Best Waterproof Hiking Boots: Salomon Men’s X Ultra 3

Best Waterproof Hiking Boots

Salomon Men’s X Ultra 3 Salomon

Why It Made The Cut

The Salomon Men’s X Ultra 3 waterproof hiking boot is lightweight, designed for all-terrain performance, and intended for those who take their hiking seriously.

Key Features

  • Materials: Synthetic fabrics, synthetic rubber sole
  • Size Range: 7 to 14
  • Color/Style Options: 2

Pros

  • Very good traction
  • Lightweight
  • Well-protected toes

Cons

  • Low shaft
  • Modest durability

Many of the best waterproof boots for men are made in the popular hiking boot style. They can be worn as anything from work boots to casual wear. The Salomon Men’s X Ultra 3 waterproof boot is a different animal, one very much focused on providing serious hikers with the performance they demand in tough conditions.

The lightweight structure makes extensive use of modern materials. A synthetic fabric upper is bonded to a proprietary compound rubber sole called Contagrip HT (for high Traction). It is injected with EVA foam to absorb impact energy. The sole offers extended heel and toe protection, and has a tread designed for improved grip both climbing and descending. The waterproof layer is Gore-Tex.

Many hikers prefer the low shaft, which allows greater freedom of movement than mid-shaft models. The Salomon Men’s X Ultra 3 is comfortable, and provides the foot stability that experienced hikers look for. However, while the lightweight structure is an advantage when on the move, particularly over long distances, it is likely to prove less durable than heavier-duty waterproof boots.

Keen hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts will also want to check out our recent waterproof phone pouch article.

Best Waterproof Leather Boots: Red Wing Heritage

Best Waterproof Leather Boots

Red Wing Heritage Red Wing

Why It Made The Cut

Red Wing is one of America’s leading brands of boots for men. Their Heritage model is a tough, timeless classic that develops patina with age, but is never out of date.

Key Features

  • Materials: Full-grain leather, and crepe rubber
  • Size Range: 7 to 13 (plus wide fit)
  • Color/Style Options: 9

Pros

  • Classic look
  • Comfortable and immensely durable
  • Can be resoled

Cons

  • Need breaking in
  • Require occasional maintenance

There is a timeless appeal about a sturdy waterproof leather boot. Designs like the Red Wing Heritage remain unchanged for decades because they look good, and they work. The brand itself has been around since 1905, and has a well-established reputation for high-quality footwear, made in America. They even own their own leather tannery.

The RedWing Heritage uses full-grain leather produced at that facility. It is made from the tough outer skin layer with just the hair removed before treatment. This retains great strength, and is highly resistant to wear. Once cut and stitched it is fitted with a crepe sole. This is made from real rubber rather than synthetics. It has excellent natural grip, though it does wear relatively quickly. With regular use the sole may need replacement after two or three years, but thanks to the use of a Goodyear welt (a high-quality method of attaching sole to boot) this can be done by any good shoe repairer.

Like any well-made real leather boot, the Red Wing Heritage takes time to wear in, and it will likely be a couple of weeks until they are supple and comfortable. The upside is that with the application of a good leather treatment just a couple of times a year, they will still be looking great when other waterproof boots for men are long gone.

Best Waterproof Insulated Boots: LaCrosse Men’s Alphaburly Pro

Best Waterproof Insulated Boots

LaCrosse Men’s Alphaburly Pro LaCrosse

Why It Made The Cut

Hunting boots can be highly waterproof but many let the cold get to your feet. LaCrosse is different with good breathability, efficient insulation, and high levels of comfort.

Key Features

  • Materials: Rubber, neoprene, and Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA)
  • Size Range: 6 to 15
  • Color/Style Options: 8

Pros

  • All-weather warmth and comfort
  • Great flexibility
  • Wide range of sizes

Cons

  • Can be a struggle to remove
  • Not great on rocky surfaces

Encasing your feet and legs in rubber is a surefire way to keep the water out. However, rubber is no barrier to the cold, and many waterproof boots of this type offer limited comfort when the thermometer drops. Fortunately that’s not always the case, and the LaCrosse Men’s Alphaburly Pro is a fine example of how good the best insulated boots for men can be.

This boot is made in several layers. There is a premium rubber outer over a neoprene core which is not only completely waterproof, but for hunters is also scent-free. Inside is a moisture-wicking liner, so dampness doesn’t collect around the feet and make them sore. A Thinsulate layer provides superb insulation without bulk. The outer sole wraps around the toe and heel for extra strength and foot protection. The chamfered tread doesn’t clog easily, thus maintaining good traction in varying conditions.

The LaCrosse Men’s Alphaburly Pro waterproof boot is targeted at hunters, and comes with a variety of camouflage patterns. That said, anyone who regularly walks through wet or muddy terrain will appreciate them. They won’t compete with hiking boots over rocky surfaces, but under normal conditions they will eat up the miles while leaving your feet completely dry, pleasantly warm, and very comfortable.

How We Made Our Picks

I come from a farming background where waterproof boots are part of your wardrobe as soon as you are able to walk. While I no longer live on the farm I still enjoy the outdoors and weekends will often find me on a trail somewhere. To support my own experience the team conducted market research that included manufacturing methods, materials technology, and customer feedback.  

In addition to the buying considerations above, the following factors also had a bearing.

  • Variety: While it was never going to be possible to offer solutions for every individual, when selecting the top waterproof boots for men we tried to pick a full range of designs that showcase the choice available.
  • Suitability for Purpose: It’s one thing to call something a waterproof work boot, or a waterproof hiking boot, it’s another thing to produce a boot that stands up to the kind of treatment they are likely to receive. Cheap waterproof boots for men often don’t live up to expectations, so we chose footwear either from brands with well-established reputations, or those who had gathered overwhelmingly positive customer feedback.
  • Value: Value is often confused with low price, but they are not the same thing. While most of us will save a few bucks when possible, there are also false economies. In most cases when buying waterproof boots you get what you pay for. That’s not to say that budget waterproof boots are poor quality. Some do provide a good balance between cost and durability. However, to get the best waterproof boots for men it is usually necessary to invest more than you would for a pair of sneakers or casual shoes. That said, we believe our top picks still represent excellent value for money.

FAQs

Q: How much do waterproof boots for men cost?

How much waterproof boots for men cost will largely depend on personal preference. It’s unlikely you’ll find well-made boots for under $50, but it’s not difficult to pay over $200. Our top picks provide excellent examples of the range of prices you are likely to pay for good quality men’s waterproof boots.

Q: How long do waterproof boots stay waterproof?

How long waterproof boots stay waterproof will depend on the type of boot, materials, quality of manufacture, how often they are worn, and in what circumstances. Some manufacturers quote an approximate mileage, others give a number of years. In both cases the terrain covered can have a major impact. Wearing waterproof hiking boots around the city is very different to wearing them for hill climbing. Generally speaking we would say one to three years is a reasonable expectation, though well-treated leather can exceed this.

Q: What’s the difference between weatherproof and waterproof boots?

The big difference between weatherproof and waterproof boots is that weatherproof boots offer no real guarantee, and may allow water through in harsh conditions. Terms like weatherproof and showerproof are somewhat vague. If described as waterproof boots, they should prevent liquid penetrating the sole, any seams, the upper, and zipper if fitted.

Q: Can you treat waterproof boots?

Whether you can treat waterproof boots or not largely depends on the materials used. Waterproof leather boots may need periodic maintenance. Synthetics usually do not. It is important to follow instructions provided by the boot maker to preserve the waterproof layer correctly.

Final Thoughts

Our top pick, the Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX comes from a European maker with over 90 years experience making outdoor footwear. Your investment is rewarded by outstanding all-terrain performance, dryness and comfort. They don’t look out of place walking around the city either.
If you’re looking for a cheap waterproof boot for men that actually does what it is supposed to, the Nortiv 8 is hard to beat. It is smart enough for work wear, and tough enough for hiking trails on the weekend.