Why spend rainy days with soggy feet, when you could keep out the damp with a pair of waterproof boots?
Whether you need something smart for the office, a stylish shoe for social occasions, or an all-terrain walking boot, there’s a waterproof option out there to fit your lifestyle.
There are a couple of different ways footwear can be waterproof. The simple, traditional method is to use naturally waterproof or water-repellent materials, such as rubber or leather, and many waterproof boots still use these materials to varying degrees – especially wellies, the rubber boots named after the practical-minded Viscount Wellington, Arthur Wellesley. These days wellies come in lots of different styles, including low- and mid-height models, which are well-suited to everyday use.
Smart leather boots can be waterproof or merely water-resistant, depending on their style, construction and material specifications. Leather is naturally porous (otherwise how would cows sweat?) which means that untreated leather does get wet and will let moisture through, despite offering a pretty good level of water resistance. However, some leathers can be made effectively waterproof by using chemical treatments during their manufacture.
One of the most commonly waterproofed categories of footwear is, of course, hiking boots and walking shoes. Since the 1970s, these boots have often been made with waterproof membranes – an impermeable layer built into the fabric of the boot – with many using membranes from the leading specialist, GORE-TEX, although some brands now have their own patented systems for keeping out water.
How to choose the best men’s waterproof boots for you
Lifestyle is arguably the most important factor when choosing a pair of waterproof boots to suit your needs. What are the conditions and situations you tend to encounter day-to-day? Depending on what you do, you might need relatively formal footwear that’s suitable for the workplace or social occasions. While, if you often find yourself walking off the beaten track in more adverse weather, you might prefer something more rugged, like a hiking boot.
It’s also worth considering the level of waterproofing you require. While all boots marketed as waterproof should be impervious to water, other factors, such as the cut of the boot, will affect the likelihood of water getting to your feet. Generally speaking, a higher-cut boot that can be tucked into a trouser leg will offer the best protection, while lower-cut boots and shoes will provide alternative benefits, such as a lighter weight or neater aesthetic.
Some Brits will require more robust waterproofing than others simply due to the rainfall in their location. Areas like Wales, the Scottish Highlands, and the North West of England receive far more rain than places like East Anglia and the South-East, so someone in Cardiff is geographically predisposed to wetter feet than someone in Cambridge.
You’ll also want to think about price. A good pair of waterproof boots will cost more than a similar pair without waterproofing as they often require the use of specialised technologies, like waterproof membranes, or techniques to ensure the seams are watertight. With this in mind, you should expect to spend more than your usual boot budget on a waterproof pair.
Finally, be aware that ‘waterproof’ and ‘water-resistant’ do not mean the same thing – waterproof boots should be fully impenetrable to water, whereas, after a certain point, water-resistant boots may let some water in as they get wetter. If you need completely watertight footwear, make sure they are being sold as ‘waterproof’ before you buy.
How we test men’s waterproof boots
Waterproof boots will typically be worn during a wide variety of weather conditions, from the cold, wet and snowy depths of winter to fine, hot summer days. With this versatility in mind, we tested the waterproof boots featured in this guide in a wide variety of weather conditions, as a warm summer turned to a wet and windy autumn. Of course, we tested each pair of boots on rainy days, so that we could properly assess their waterproofness.
There were other factors, besides how dry they kept your feet, to consider during testing. We also considered comfort and temperature regulation – two key factors for everyday use.
This guide is designed for readers looking for a pair of waterproof boots that can be worn in everyday situations as well as for walking in the wilds. With this in mind, we considered the aesthetic of each pair, and how well they might work with an outfit you could wear in the office or on a night out.
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The best waterproof boots for men in 2023
1. Ariat Wexford Waterproof Chelsea Boot: Best smart waterproof boot
Price: £160 | Buy now from Ariat
Rugged enough for a country stroll, yet smart enough for a job interview, the Wexford is a brilliantly versatile boot.
We were particularly impressed with the quality of materials and the finishing on the Wexford. The boots feel really robust, while their full-grain leather is particularly soft and easy on the feet, requiring very little breaking-in, if any.
The Wexford is waterproofed through the combination of a specially-treated leather outer and an internal waterproof barrier, which seemed to work a treat in our testing. For full protection against the elements, just be sure to wear trousers that cover the tops of the boots.
Key details – Waterproofing: Waterproof PRO™ construction with waterproof leather and an impermeable barrier; Materials: 100% leather; Style: Smart country boot
2. Hanwag Blueridge ES Walking Boots: Best waterproof hiking boot
Price: £164 | Buy now from Alpine Trek
For the wearer who wants a fully fledged pair of hiking boots for their urban adventures, the Hanwag Blueridge ES would be a great pick.
This boot is stout, stable and hardwearing, while its smart-yet-sporty aesthetic, and moderate dimensions, help bridge the gap between outdoor functionality and suitability for work and socialising.
We were also impressed with the Blueridge ES’s waterproofing. The Perwanger leather and waterproof membrane dealt brilliantly with rain showers, and even held up to an accidental dousing with saltwater when our reviewer wandered too close to the sea.
Key details – Waterproofing: PFC-free HANWAG EcoShell membrane, water-repellant Perwanger leather upper; Materials: Leather & synthetic; Style: Mid hiking boot
3. Scarpa Mojito GTX Waterproof Sneakers: Best smart waterproof sneakers
Price: £137 | Buy now from Alpine Trek
Curveball! They’re not a pair of boots, but these waterproof shoes from outdoor adventure specialist Scarpa might have everything you need.
The Mojito GTX combines street-ready style with excellent waterproofing, courtesy of GORE-TEX technology. We loved the look and feel of the soft suede uppers, and found the shoes to be remarkably comfortable both at home and on the go.
An unusual advantage of the Mojito GTX is that the laces run almost all the way down to the tip of the toe, which means you have fine control over the fit – by adjusting the laces, our tester was able to sculpt the shoe snugly to his foot shape.
We also found the Mojito GTX to be a particularly warm shoe, relative to its cut and weight. While in terms of waterproofing, the only downside is the relatively low collar height, which leaves the ankles exposed.
Key details – Waterproofing: GORE-TEX, water-resistant suede; Materials: Leather/synthetic; Style: Sneaker
4. Muck Originals “Duck” Lace-up Leather Short Boots: Best waterproof boots for comfort
Price: From £137 | Buy now from Country Attire
Combining the unbeatable waterproofing of high-quality wellies with a super-soft leather upper, the “Duck” from The Original Muck Boot Co. is an inventive gem of a boot, ideal for use in variable conditions.
These boots are incredibly comfortable. The memory foam footbeds are soft and supple, and the moisture-wicking fabric on the insides of the boot helps to keep feet moisture-free.
With their country-casual style, these boots would be ideal for a muddy ramble, and perhaps even the subsequent visit to a local pub. Equally, they make a great, easy-on option to wear in the garden or on the allotment.
Key details – Waterproofing: Waterproof leather and rubber body; Materials: Rubber and leather outers, synthetic inners; Style: Wellington boots.
5. Columbia Men’s Peakfreak II Mid Outdry Walking Boot: Best waterproof casual walking boots
Price: £125 | Buy now from Columbia
Light and airy, strong and grippy, the Peakfreak II Mid walking boot is the perfect casual walking boot to wear day-to-day. It delivers some of the robustness of a hardcore hiking boot, but in a lightweight and street-friendly package.
Our reviewer found the Peakfreak II Mid comfortable and well-ventilated, and, even after a long day of walking around town in mixed weather, the boots stayed cool, dry and pleasant to wear.
We were particularly impressed with the ‘Adapt Trax’ tread on the soles of the Peakfreak II Mid, which provided excellent grip on a variety of surfaces.
Key details – Waterproofing: OutDry waterproof construction; Materials: 100% polyester upper and lining, 100% POE midsole, 100% rubber outsole, 100% PU footbed; Style: Casual hiking boot