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Wellington boots, often just called “Wellies,” have been a favorite waterproof work boot for generations. Original versions were made of leather. Then, in the mid-1850s, Hunter Boots started making them out of rubber. These had the advantage of being completely waterproof, where the leather boots of the time were not. They were also much less expensive, so whereas leather Wellingtons were footwear for the rich, all kinds of people could afford rubber wellies.

The drawback with rubber (and current PVC versions) is that, although flexible, they lack the strength and toughness of a leather model. With the introduction of fully waterproof membranes, the latter once again became popular. Today, both types are available so finding the best Wellington work boots will depend on a number of factors, which we’ll look at in detail in the following article.

Things to Consider Before Buying Wellington Work Boots

While all top Wellington work boots have similarities, just like good work overalls or work gloves, they also have key features that can make one pair better for particular tasks than another. The following will help you identify the best Wellington boots for your specific needs.


Roughly speaking, Wellington boots can be divided into two categories: PVC or leather. Some boots, from leading brands like Hunter Boots or Dunlop may be called “rubber,” but rubber on its own isn’t very strong so it is almost always blended with PVC. These boots are made using a molding and/or welding process that melts the PVC into a single piece, guaranteeing they are 100-percent waterproof. Low-cost versions are light, and relatively inexpensive, though high-quality, heavy-duty Wellington work boots can be sold at similar prices to their leather counterparts.

Wellington leather work boots are typically more hard wearing than PVC. Full-grain leather is the optimum material, made from unblemished hides that only have the hair removed before tanning, and thus remain extremely tough. Leather is not completely waterproof naturally, so a liner or membrane is added. GoreTex is the industry leader, but others can be equally good. Nylon or other textiles may be used in the shaft (the part that wraps the shin and calf). This area of the boot is less prone to abrasion, so the use of modern synthetic materials makes the boot lighter.

Wellington Boots are typically used in wet and muddy conditions, so soles are designed with thick lugs (tread) to provide traction in all conditions. They are often hard-wearing composite rubber, but may be polyurethane which also has good anti-slip properties. The rubber may extend around the heel or sides for increased support and waterproofing.


Many Wellington boots incorporate a safety toe. This can be steel or composite. Steel is cheaper; composite is lighter. These might be a combination of materials including fiberglass, kevlar, and carbon fiber. The important thing is that they comply with the ASTM F2413 standard that specifies particular levels of impact and compression resistance.

A steel or plastic shank may be included in the arch to support the foot, and protect it from impact from things like manual digging or climbing up and down ladders all day.

Comfort and Warmth

While PVC versions are often easy on the pocket, they may not be the most comfortable Wellington boots to wear for long periods. The PVC isn’t breathable, so even in fairly cool conditions feet can sweat, and that can eventually lead to blisters.

Low-cost leather Wellingtons may also be short on comfort features, although the leather itself is breathable, as are waterproof liners. Better quality boots, both PVC and leather, may have moisture-wicking liners that draw sweat away from the foot, and cushioned insoles. These are often removable for washing, and can be replaced when worn. Basic models could be upgraded, and gel insoles for work boots are popular.

Insulation may also be provided. Thinsulate is the market leader, but several boot brands produce their own. These can provide surprisingly high levels of warmth in cold weather, without adding bulk. Because they are also breathable, they don’t overheat feet in summer like fur or wool linings.
While we’re on the subject: If you are often out in very severe weather, you might want to check out our heated jacket article.

Best Overall: Timberland PRO Men’s Powerwelt Wellington Boot

Best Overall

Timberland PRO Men’s Powerwelt Wellington Boot Timberland PRO

Why It Made The Cut: Timberland has a well-established reputation for tough work boots. Their Powerwelt Wellington combines top-quality materials and construction to create durable, safe, and comfortable footwear.

Key Features

  • Material: Full-grain and Ever-Guard leather (see below)
  • Sizes: 7 to 15 (including wides)
  • Height: Mid-calf


  • Renowned Goodyear welt construction
  • High comfort footbed
  • ASTM-rated steel toe


  • Need breaking in
  • Not insulated

Few work boot brands are better known than Timberland PRO. They have an enviable reputation for high-performance footwear thanks to the use of quality materials, and outstanding construction methods.

The Timberland PRO Powerwelt Wellington is a fine example. It uses not one but two types of leather. Industry-standard full-grain for the shaft is triple-stitched to their own Ever-Guard leather for the upper. This is claimed to be 10 times tougher than normal leather, and is also heat-resistant.

The sole is polyurethane with deep, well-spaced lugs that provide traction without the risk of clogging. It is also slip- and oil-resistant. It is bonded to the upper using Timberland’s own version of the Goodyear welt system. This interlocks layers in what is widely-regarded as the strongest boot construction method.

Inside the boot is moisture-wicking material that helps prevent blisters, plus a contoured footbed from foot comfort specialist Ortholite. The arch has a steel shaft for support and protection, and there is a steel toe that meets ASTM standards.

The Timberland PRO Powerwelt Wellington is not insulated, though good socks should overcome that problem. New boots can be a little uncomfortable for a week or so while they break in, but that initial stiffness is a reflection of the strength of the leather used.

Best Budget: Dunlop Chesapeake PVC Wellington Boot

Best Budget

Dunlop Chesapeake PVC Wellington Boot Dunlop Protective Footwear

Why It Made The Cut: Dunlop’s injection-molded PVC Wellington work boots are made as a single piece so there are no seams, and therefore no possibility of water getting in.

Key Features

  • Material: PVC
  • Sizes: 4 to 14
  • Height: 14 to 16 inches (varies with size)


  • Completely waterproof
  • ASTM-rated steel toe
  • Made in America


  • Insoles could be improved
  • Not insulated

Classic black Wellington work boots like the Dunlop Chesapeake have changed little in generations because they’re easy to manufacture and inexpensive—and because they work. The boot is created by injecting molten PVC at high temperatures into a one-piece mold. Anyone who regularly works in mud, marsh, or flood conditions will appreciate the resulting seamless construction that gives nowhere for liquids to get in.

The Dunlop Chesapeake is light, and reasonably flexible. It incorporates an ASTM-rated steel toe for added foot protection. The BAY-LOC outsole helps cushion impacts. The tread uses a similar principle to car tires with lugs shaped to actively displace water. Although traction in the wet is therefore very good, the sole is not resistant to chemicals or fuel oils.

The Dunlop Chesapeake Wellington work boot is made in the USA.  It would be unfair to call it uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have the moisture-wicking liner of many leather models, and the removable ‘economy insole’ is basic. A gel alternative would improve things. The boot is not insulated either, so good socks are recommended for winter use.

Best Steel Toe: Irish Setter Steel Toe Wellington Boot

Best Steel Toe

Irish Setter Steel Toe Wellington Boot Irish Setter

Why It Made The Cut: Lots of Wellingtons boots have steel toes. This one from Irish Setter features both excellent comfort, and a high-traction sole from specialist Italian manufacturer Vibram.

Key Features

  • Material: Full-grain leather
  • Sizes: 8 to 14 (including wides)
  • Height: 13 inches


  • Ultra-dry comfort system
  • Vibram sole
  • Secondary electrical protection


  • A little heavy
  • Not for smaller feet

The Irish Setter brand is part of Red Wing, a highly-respected company that has been making work boots for more than 120 years. The Irish Setter steel-toe Wellington combines the traditional toughness of full-grain leather with modern waterproofing materials to provide high levels of durability and comfort.

The sole comes from Italian specialist Vibram, and uses rubber compounds designed to maximize grip in all conditions. The lug patter mimics a tractor tire to displace the greatest amount of water as possible. Inside the boot is Irish Setter’s UltraDry system that combines moisture management and waterproof membranes for dryness and comfort.

As expected from a high-quality boot, the steel safety toe is ASTM-rated. The sole and heel also offer what’s called ‘secondary’ electrical protection in the event of the foot coming into contact with live power. This can be as high as 18,000 volts in dry conditions.

The Irish Setter Wellington work boot is durable, offers excellent protection and good support for the foot and ankle. It is heavier than some, and will take a few days to break in. It isn’t available smaller than size 8, or larger than 14.

Best Insulated: Carhartt Waterproof Safety Toe Wellington Boot

Best Insulated

Carhartt Waterproof Safety Toe Wellington Boot Carhartt

Why It Made The Cut: Carhartt is a brand well known for their quality boots. These waterproof Wellingtons benefit from lightweight, but highly efficient, insulation that can keep feet warm all through the winter.

Key Features

  • Material: Full-grain leather and Nylon
  • Sizes: 8 to 15 (including wides)
  • Height: 11 inches


  • All-season performance
  • Heel guard and ankle support
  • Secondary electrical protection


  • Some find them narrow
  • Not for smaller feet

These Carhartt boots come in as our best insulated Wellington work boots, but they also has a number of other features that make them an outstanding general-purpose choice.

Let’s deal with the insulation layer first. It is called 400 LightFire. The 400 indicates that it is the equivalent of 400 grams (14 ounces) of traditional insulation. Carhartt’s version is aluminum-based rather than fur or wool, so it doesn’t have the weight or bulk. It is also waterproof and breathable, so the feet don’t overheat and sweat in normal weather conditions.

The boot upper is a combination of oil-tanned leather to increase water resistance, with lightweight reinforced nylon in the shaft area which is less prone to abrasion. The heel and ankle area has a TPU (thermal polyurethane) reinforcement for added stability, and side impact protection.

Inside, waterproofing is provided by the Storm Defender membrane, which is also breathable. A cushioned insole helps absorb shocks, and provides improved comfort. An ASTM-rated steel toe cap is fitted. The deep-lugged soles are made from high traction polyurethane.

On the down side we have read reports that the Carhartt Wellington boot is on the narrow side. Wides are available in all sizes, and are clearly the better option for some. Also, while the heel guard provides superior protection in that area it does add stiffness, where some prefer more flexibility. The Carhartt boot is not available for feet smaller than size 8.

Best Lightweight: Wolverine Overpass Composite-Toe Wellington Boot

Best Lightweight

Wolverine Overpass Composite-Toe Wellington Boot Wolverine

Why It Made The Cut: The Wolverine Overpass Wellington boot has great flexibility so it doesn’t need breaking in, and uses a composite toe that reduces weight while still meeting safety standards.

Key Features

  • Material: Full-grain leather
  • Sizes: 7 to 14 (including extra wides)
  • Height: 11.5 inches


  • Carbon fiber safety toe
  • Very flexible
  • High comfort insole


  • Narrow opening
  • Extra wides, but no wides

Thick leather work boots with steel safety toes can often be quite heavy. While comfort systems certainly help, they can be tiring if worn for 12 hours a day or more. Anything that reduces weight usually also reduces fatigue.

This is the aim of the composite toe in the Wolverine Overpass Wellington boot. Wolverine calls it CarbonMAX, which uses carbon fiber “nanotubes” to create a honeycomb structure that is lighter than steel, thinner so it gives the toes more space, yet still meets ASTM safety standards for jobsite footwear. A polyurethane sole also helps weight reduction. It has deep lugs that are slip-, oil-, and abrasion-resistant. The arch of the boot has a nylon shank for better foot support.

Construction is designed to maximize flexibility. Wolverine calls it Contour Welt. It is based on the industry-standard Goodyear welt that interlocks the sole and upper for durability, but with this boot bends more easily. Some Wellington work boot reviews have called it almost sneaker-like.

While the upper is the expected full-grain leather it too is very soft, and, as a result, the boot doesn’t need breaking in. Heel and toe areas are reinforced for added protection from bumps and scuffs. Inside, there’s a breathable waterproof membrane, and an Ortholite cushioned footbed that molds to the shape of the foot to prevent rubbing.

It’s fair to say that not everyone likes the orange accents on the sole, but these are work boots, not fashion accessories. Slightly oddly, although most sizes offer an extra-wide option, there are few wides. The difference is only ¼ inch, but it is unusual.

Best for Walking: Thorogood GEN-Flex2 Side-Zip Wellington Boot

Best for Walking

Thorogood GEN-Flex2 Side-Zip Wellington Boot Thorogood

Why It Made The Cut: The Thorogood Wellington boot is shorter than most, with good flexibility that makes it easy to walk in. It has high levels of comfort and offers outstanding safety.

Key Features

  • Material: Full-grain leather
  • Sizes: 7 to 15 (including wides)
  • Height: 8 inches


  • Excellent safety standards
  • Good comfort
  • Made in America


  • Not insulated
  • Zip may eventually let in water

Thorogood’s is an employee-owned company that has been making work boots since 1892. Like everything they make, the Thorogood Wellington is handcrafted in the USA by union tradespeople.

We chose these as our best Wellington work boots for walking for a number of reasons. Much like many good hiking boots the shorter shaft gives good freedom of movement, and less potential for abrasion than a tall Wellington. The full-grain leather has been oiled to make it more supple. The GEN-Flex2 sole offers both high flexibility and great traction on a variety of surfaces. This is ASTM-rated for both slip resistance, and electrical-hazard protection. The lightweight composite safety toe also meets ASTM standards, and gives plenty of toe space. The heel has polyurethane reinforcement to resist twisting.

Inside the Thorogood Wellington boot there is a moisture-wicking liner, and waterproof membrane. An EVA foam insole absorbs shocks and adds comfort. The heavy-duty YKK side zip makes the Thorogood Wellington boot easier to get on than most. However, while it doesn’t let in water initially, it could be a weak spot eventually, and we have seen reports of leaks in older boots. The only other negative is the lack of insulation, making thermal socks a good idea for winter wear.

How We Made Our Picks

I was born and raised on a farm. Everyone I knew had a pair of Wellington Boots as soon as they could walk. Although I now live in the “big city,” I still have a pair of low-cost PVC Wellies that are good for gardening, and have been handy on the odd occasion when the street has flooded during a storm.

To supplement my own experience, we researched all of the leading Wellington boot brands, their current lineups, and the latest materials and processes being used to make them.

The buying considerations at the top of the page had a major impact on our picks. They are key to performance and durability. We also worked to find as many different types of Wellington work boots as possible, so we had something to satisfy as wide a variety of needs as possible.

Price was also a factor. While we tend to shy away from cheap Wellington work boots that are usually poor value in the long term, we did try to find quality examples to suit a range of different budgets.


Q: Why are Wellington boots called that?

Wellington boots were made popular by the Duke of Wellington, a British soldier who fought in India, and the Napoleonic wars. They were originally a leather riding boot, but the demand for cheaper versions resulted in them being made of rubber. In the UK, Wellingtons are still normally rubber or PVC, whereas in the U.S., leather versions are now more popular.

Q: How much do Wellington work boots cost?

How much Wellington boots cost does vary considerably. Good Wellington work boots molded from PVC are the most economical, and run from around $30 and up. Quality leather Wellingtons are a much more complex construction, and can be anywhere from $100 to $250.

Q: Are all Wellington boots waterproof?

All PVC Wellington boots are waterproof, as are most made from leather and synthetic fabrics. In our opinion protection from wet and muddy conditions is a key feature with Wellington boots, so each of our recommendations is waterproof.

Q: Do Wellingtons stretch?

Wellingtons don’t really stretch (or shouldn’t if they are good quality), though some leather boots will often offer more freedom of movement, and comfort after an initial breaking-in period.

Q: Should you buy Wellington boots a size bigger?

Whether you should buy Wellington boots a size bigger often depends on the manufacturer. Some will suggest going up a half-size or a full-size from your normal shoes for the best fit. Sometimes customer feedback can also provide useful guidance. Historically some people would buy a size bigger to allow room for thick socks. Today, many Wellington boots are already insulated, and thanks to advanced materials winter socks are no thicker than ordinary ones.

Final Thoughts

The Timberland PRO Powerwelt Wellington boot has a wealth of features that will satisfy users from many different trades. Given the high quality, it is also among the best for long-term value. The Dunlop Chesapeake is a cheap Wellington boot that is hugely popular not just because of the low price, but because it keeps feet dry no matter how wet or muddy the conditions.