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Hands-on Gear Review
Hunter Original Back Adjustable - Women's Review
Cons: High cost, insulation
Bottom line: The best of the best, this model is a high-quality, stylish boot.
Reigning from Great Britain, the Hunter Original Back Adjustable earned the title as the best overall. This particular model is designed with the ability to adjust its boot opening, which allows you to customize the circumference to your liking, with an impressive range of 14-19 inches. The new winner of our Editors' Choice award, it provides top-notch quality and overall performance. The most significant drawback remains a bitter list price of $160. It's not a boot for all budgets, like the Kamik Heidi, which is an affordable mid-height alternative.
At the time of writing, you can purchase this model in five different colors, ranging from black to pink to navy. This award-winner provides molded construction, and the style is either highly aesthetic or of mixed feeling, depending on your preference. It wasn't as popular for our testers that fancied something more standard or techy, like our Top Pick winner, the Xtratuf Legacy.
RELATED REVIEW: The 10 Best Rain Boots for Women
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Hunter Original Back Adjustable is well-made and highly functional. We found no real drawback, other than the $160 list price, and the fact that they ran a little large in sizing. It's hard to argue against the top-notch quality of these boots. A mild-weather boot of tall shaft height, this boot offers all the fundamentals for prized rainwear. The natural rubber has a matte finish, textile lining, and is handcrafted from 28 parts—maybe this is why the price is so high? If you can afford it, there's no doubt in our minds that Hunter puts an exceptional amount of care and thought into their products. It had ample traction on the wet ground, snow, and even in slippery, wet grass. We're pleased to award it Editors' Choice for consistent ranking above the other models we tested. If you're a fan of a relatively narrow profile and molding, or the $160 price tag is out of your budget, we like the UGG Shaye.
The tallest in the fleet, the Original measures 16 inches from the ground. The waterproof, natural rubber Hunter offers provides some of the best weather protection, especially with the adjustable circumference.
Having this gusset allows you to cinch the boot opening close to your calf (or vice versa, if you require a wider opening), keeping out rain or snow that may otherwise find its way into the gap. The circumference ranges from 14-19 inches, and the rubber folds nicely in the back as you adjust. While they are a high scorer in the weather protection metric, the L.L. Bean Wellies and Helly Hansen Veierland 2 also offer superior weather protection that is a touch friendlier on your wallet.
We wore this competitor around town, in the snow, in the river, etc., and wearing them all day posed no discomfort other than the fact that they're tall enough to touch under your knee when sitting down. The rubber itself is soft and flexible and did not bother us as much as we thought it would, especially if you're wearing leggings or pants - as opposed to bare skin. Our feet were not overly tired by the end of the day, and while the footbed is rather narrow, the rubber is soft enough to flex with your feet and legs as you walk.
Weighing in at 3.58 lbs for a pair of size 7s, these boots weren't the easiest to lug around and pack, but they didn't necessarily feel cumbersome either. Running on the larger side, it was recommended through user reviews to size down if you require a half-size. They were easy to put on and relatively easy to take off as well, even with no hands. Unfortunately, these boots do not come with removable insoles, and the foot box is comparatively smaller than most, establishing a leaner look. If you have wide feet, this narrow foot box might not be as comfortable, and you'll want to make sure you try them on.
This model of the Hunter Original comes in six different matte colors: black, dark earth blue/ion pink, navy, hunter green, black grape/bright violet, and dark ion pink/ion pink. A few of these colors also mention their accent color, such as the overall dark earth blue rubber having a pink ion buckle. The style we tested was the black grape rubber with a bright violet buckle, although this "black grape" color is more purple than it looks in online photos.
Since they're so tall, we found it was challenging to fit pants into the boot, making these not as versatile as, say, the super short Joules Wellibob. However, if you're wearing skinny jeans and leggings, the look is quite cute. Some have expressed mixed opinions on the Hunter look with the buckle, preferring something more plain or sporty like the Bogs North Hampton. The fashion in which the rubber folds as you walk isn't the most flattering, but the aesthetic appeal is there, and the molding and subtle heel provide a feminine touch. Plus, they're from Great Britain. Who knows, wearing these might make you start referring to french fries as "chips". The Helly Hansen Veierland 2 also offers a tall, sleek design if that's the look you're after.
With a similar performance to the Kamik Heidi, the tread on these Hunters can be described as a "calendered outsole."
The design consists of long lugs with mini, shallow zig-zags, which surprisingly provided confidence in terrain such as snow, wet grass, inclines, and of course, across dry, flat surfaces. In the river test, however, when the rocks were slimy, the traction was that of any average boot. Overall, we were surprised to feel so confident when previous reviews found the traction to be a disappointment. This model is designed for general wear, and we wouldn't recommend hiking around in them. Regardless of their relative performance to others in the fleet, traction is not ideal for rugged terrain. However, for the average user, these boots will perform incredibly well in urban and suburban environments.
With no added insulation and a thin nylon lining, warmth was this award-winner's lowest score.
This metric helps determine how well each contender retains warmth in the snow, river, and throughout a casual day. The Hunter did not excel in colder temperatures, mainly in snow; these boots are just not made to withstand much more than rain over extended periods of time. Although the height of the shaft helped with exposure, the main culprit for heat loss might be the fact that the foot box is very lean and close to the foot, efficiently transferring your body heat through conduction. If warm insulation is a requirement, we'd recommend the Bogs North Hampton boots, or the cozy and plush micro-fleece of the Sperry Saltwater.
The Original can be ordered in whole sizes from 5-11. Without half-sizes, we dug through user reviews to gain insight. While the manufacturer states their boots run true to size, many users (and even Hunter) still state they may run large. Heeding this advice, we ordered a size down from the usual half-size our lead tester wears. We purchased a size 7 and were quite glad we did so. Our lead tester prefers a snug foot box to that of the baggier L.L. Bean Wellies Tall. We also own a larger amount of thin socks (versus thick) and were satisfied with a size 7. If you are the opposite and want to wear thick socks and are contemplating custom insoles, you might consider sizing up instead.
These boots are ideal for temperatures that never drop below 50F. Thanks to their height, exposure to the elements will be greatly reduced, though the lining is minimal. We recommend these boots for all things that involve typical rain boot use, such as summer or fall thunderstorms or a rainy shoulder season.
With a list price of $160, the Original are on the more expensive end. But the handcrafted and molded construction is rather appealing, in addition to being a highly weatherproofed and practical choice. If you can afford it, you won't be disappointed with the quality.
The Hunter Original Back Adjustable are made with fine craftsmanship in mind. With a classic rain boot look, matte color, sufficient comfort, adequate traction, and an adjustable circumference, it's hard to ask for much more. Well, maybe a discount.
— Sara Aranda
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