Hands-on Gear Review

Sperry Saltwater Duck Boot Review

Price:  $120 List | $95.99 at MooseJaw
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Trendy, comfortable micro-fleece lining, sufficient traction for flat surfaces
Cons:  Low weather protection, expensive
Bottom line:  A boot of high style with low practical weather protection.
Editors' Rating:   
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Shaft Height (from ground to top of shaft):  7.5 in
Weight (for pair tested):  1.90 lbs
Mouth Circumference:  10-11 in
Manufacturer:   Sperry

Our Verdict

The Sperry Saltwater Duck Boot is right in line with the classic duck boot look and brand appeal. Traditionally a marine lifestyle brand, this particular model seems to blend with the urban trend of undone laces. Scoring high style points, these boots unfortunately did not offer as much weather protection and traction as we would have liked. Although, the micro-fleece lining and overall fit did provide ample comfort. We like the UGG Shaye and Kamik Heidi as models that combine style and function with ease.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Sara Aranda

Last Updated:
Thursday
January 4, 2018

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The Sperry Saltwater Duck Boot is a short model from a well-known brand. Inspired by the classic duck boot look with a waterproof rubber foot box, the upper is constructed from rawhide leather with rawhide barrel tie lacing and rust-proof eyelets. Lined in micro-fleece, they are undoubtedly cozy. Other features include a side zipper and a non-marking rubber outsole with Wave-Siping tread. Due to a detached tongue and non-waterproof zipper, the overall waterproofing of the boot is the shortest of all the contenders we recently tested. In addition to low weather protection, the traction wasn't of superior quality on snowy inclines or slimy rocks during our river test.

Performance Comparison


The Saltwater Duck Boots in an icy river at the bottom of Dream Canyon  CO: being careful to not step too deep.
The Saltwater Duck Boots in an icy river at the bottom of Dream Canyon, CO: being careful to not step too deep.

Weather Protection


The Saltwater did not stand up as well (pun intended) against the elements as the others. The barrel laces and the tongue collected snow (and ultimately, water) over time. Since the tongue is detached, we found ourselves with melted water in the boot, which soaked into our socks. The side zippers are not waterproofed and allowed for water to seep through when wading. Despite measuring 7.5 inches from the ground, the effective shaft height against leakage is only 4.25 inches (at the base of the zipper). This largely leaves the rubber foot box to offer the only significant weather protection. For something a bit more protective but of the low-top class, we like the classic and bright Crocs Jaunt Shorty, or the cute, navy Joules Wellibob. Overall, the high models, like the Hunter Original, L.L Bean Wellies, and Helly Hansen Veierland 2 provided the best weather protection in our tests.

The style features of the Saltwater Duck Boots  such as the side zipper  detached tongue  and barrel laces did not provide as much weather proofing as we hoped for.
The style features of the Saltwater Duck Boots, such as the side zipper, detached tongue, and barrel laces did not provide as much weather proofing as we hoped for.

Comfort


The most notable comfort aspect of these boots was their micro-fleece lining. The footbed was also fairly cushioned with a removable insole, and the toe box was roomy. We did experience heel slippage, but the lining didn't create any hot spots. For all-day wear, there wasn't anything particularly remarkable, but our feet did not ache by the end. Weighing in at 1.9 lbs for the size 8 pair we tested, they were easy to carry around and pack. The rawhide upper is flexible and did not impede mobility.

The only real drawback was that they weren't easy to slip on or take off, as they required the use of zippers. While we liked the look of the barrel laces, they didn't seem to serve a function, as they were not long enough to tie in a bow. When we did try to tighten them, they came undone after a while, leaving the boot feeling loose and a bit big.

Style


Sporting a high level of fashion, the Saltwater was the most urban looking of all the boots we reviewed. With a dark rubber foot box, this particular model comes in four different color schemes: tan/navy, tan/dark brown, beige/black, and brown/olive. The first color mentioned in each scheme is the color of the rawhide upper and the second color is the rubber. We purchased the beige and black style but felt that the upper color is more a traditional grey than beige, with no hint of tan mixed in. The dark barrel laces and the subtle heel give a nice, feminine look. Overall they are cute and highly versatile with outfits. You can easily wear jeans over them, or in them, and you don't have to worry about looking too "rubbery" when wanting a shoe to keep your feet dry.

The very trendy Saltwater with their "loose laces" look.
The very trendy Saltwater with their "loose laces" look.

Traction


With Wave-Siping tread, the Saltwater performed well across all flat surfaces, no matter wet or dry, and even in the snow. However, with any incline, the traction did not hold as well, especially when we compared it to the exceptional traction of the Kamik Heidi, and even the similarly designed tread pattern of the Hunter Original Back Adjustable. We attributed this to the tread of the Saltwater being so shallow.

The Wave-Siping tread of the Saltwater Duck Boots was great for flat surfaces  but not so much on wet  snowy inclines.
The Wave-Siping tread of the Saltwater Duck Boots was great for flat surfaces, but not so much on wet, snowy inclines.

Warmth


With a thick lining of micro-fleece, these boots are warm; in fact, the Saltwater was one of the top performers in the warmth metric. Although the insulation was not as technical and rugged as the Bogs North Hampton, the Saltwater did a fine job maintaining heat above 35F or so. There was a loss of warmth over time in the snow and the icy river test, however, but that might just mean it's time to switch out your rain boots for winter boots. The Saltwater is warmer than most of the other models, and they became quite hot in temperatures above 6F; this means that you're more likely to have sweaty feet if you live in a warmer climate.

A closer look at the micro-fleece lining of the cozy Saltwater Duck Boots.
A closer look at the micro-fleece lining of the cozy Saltwater Duck Boots.

Fit


While Sperry offers whole sizes from 5-12, they only offer half-sizes up to 9.5. In retrospect, we think we should have gone with the 7.5 as opposed to sizing up to the 8, as our findings indicate they run true to size. The foot box is roomy, especially for the toes, but being slightly big, there is heel slippage. The circumference of this Duck Boot ranges from about 10-11 inches, depending on whether you can keep the laces tied. The height of the shaft rises to only just above the ankles, and the small circumference didn't cause any issues for us.

Best Application


Ideal for temperate climates and temperatures between 35-65F, the micro-fleece is a nice perk. General use would be our recommendation, like running errands around town, sprucing up a fall or winter outfit, or wearing around the garden. We wouldn't stray too far from the path, especially if it involves deep water. Fashionable and warm, we found ourselves pairing them with jeans often.

Value


Based in Massachusetts and manufactured in China, these brand-name shoes list for a cringe-worthy $120. For being such a short rain boot and with comparatively low weather protection, we do not believe the price is worth it unless you absolutely can not live without the style. Thus, if you value high style over all else, these boots certainly fit the bill. For something just as tall and half the price, we would recommend the Joules Wellibob.

Conclusion


These Sperry Saltwater Ducks Boots are a feminine approach to the classic duck boot. Unfortunately, due to the way they are designed, it seems to us that fashion outweighed functionality in this case. Due to the Saltwater being a low-top boot, weather protection was one of the lowest in the bunch. Nonetheless, they are very stylish and provide sufficient comfort for all-day wear.

The Saltwater Duck Boots in an icy river at the bottom of Dream Canyon  CO: being careful to not step too deep.
The Saltwater Duck Boots in an icy river at the bottom of Dream Canyon, CO: being careful to not step too deep.
Sara Aranda

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Most recent review: January 4, 2018
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