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Hands-on Gear Review
RK Waterproof Rubber Sole Review
Cons: Very uncomfortable for long uses, no cushioning
Bottom line: While these boots are extremely affordable, their lack of comfort makes them difficult to use.
Shaft Height (in inches - from bottom of sole to lowest point at top of shaft): 11.8
Lining/Insulation: Microfiber and heat reflective lining
Manufacturer: RK Safety
When we initially worked on narrowing 49 rain boots down to 10 pairs for testing, we wondered whether the more expensive boots were worth the extra money. These boots were $19, and the most popular men's rain boot on Amazon (they're now down to #4). We wanted to see: could a budget boot perform up to the same standards as boots roughly five times more expensive? After wearing the Waterproof Rubber Sole boots for over 20 hours, we can definitively say, "No." While they are fully waterproof and have average traction, their lack of an insole, their rigidity underfoot, and their inflexible shafts made them difficult to wear for more than 30 minutes at a time.
For only $26 more, we loved the Baffin Enduro, which still cost less than half the prices of other competitors, and easily took home the Best Buy award. If you're looking for better style, take a look at the Bogs Carson. If you want something for nasty weather, the Arctic Sport is a better option. And if you want something versatile and deliciously comfortable, read up on the Editors' Choice Bogs Ultra Classic High.
RELATED REVIEW: The 10 Best Rain Boots for Men
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The RK boots cost around $19, and are a mid-height rain boot that is sufficient for those who need very little out of their rain boots. These boots are completely waterproof and will keep your feet dry due to its moderate shank height. However, due to their stiff construction and lack of an insole, they are unpleasant to wear (as it constantly folded in and pressed against the top of our feet and our shins) for more than a half hour at a time, and we would find it difficult to recommend these boots to anyone.
The RK model did moderately well in our water resistance tests due to their 11.8 inch shaft height, which was enough for shallow creeks and deep puddles. This could be a useful height if they were better made, but we found that they were not tall enough to feel fully secure in wet conditions (like the Baffin Enduro), and not short enough to be comfortable for general urban use (like the Bogs Carson)
The RK model was the most uncomfortable boots in our test, due to their inflexibility, lack of an insole, and the constant pressure from the front of the shaft folding in against our ankles and shins. We found them unwearable for more than 30 minutes without a supplementary insole. With our own insoles, we were capable of wearing them on hard surfaces for over 9 hours, but we did not want to.
As soon as we had finished the mandatory testing, we did not wear these boots again (while we found ourselves happily putting on the award-winners - the Bogs Classic Ultra High, Arctic Sport, Baffin Enduro, and Bogs Carson for random errands and even for full eight hour shifts on our feet).
The RK scored low in traction. While they have deeply grooved outsoles, which help them grip onto mud and wet grass, we found that the rubber on the soles was not grippy enough to give us good traction on snow, and gave no traction on ice.
The RK contender was extremely thin, with no insulation whatsoever. The only boots with roughly the same rubber thickness are the Hunter boots, and they're made of high-quality natural rubber, which feels completely different than the RK's PVC compound. During the ice-water test, our bare feet were instantly cool and were uncomfortably cold within 10 seconds.
Our style consultants found the RK contender to be controversial. While they were generally rated low, two friends rated them second best in the test. So, depending on your aesthetic, you might like these. We did like the fact that they had reflective tape around the top of the shaft of the boot, but beyond that, generally found them aesthetically unimpressive.
Ease of Use
While both these boots and the Editors' Choice Bogs Classic Ultra High have functionally similar pull loops to help put them on, there's a world of difference between their quality. We suspected that the pull tabs on the RK boots, which were roughly sewn on, would easily rip off. We rarely felt the need to use them, as we found that the boots fit loosely enough that we could easily step into them without needing to use our hands. So ultimately, these boots were reasonably easy to use, though it was difficult to give them even a moderate mark due to their sheer discomfort.
The RK boots fit slightly wider than the other options and had roughly a 1/2 inch of wiggle room forward and back. However, they fit significantly differently volumetrically than the other boots, as their lack of an insole meant our feet constantly slipped around the shoes. With an insole, they fit slightly better but were still a loose fit.
It is difficult to find an application for the RK that would not be better handled by any of the other boots in our test. We could see someone liking these boots if their needs for their boots are extremely minimal. For instance, if someone wanted to use a rain boot to stay dry between the house and his car, then between the car and his workplace, where he would put on a work-appropriate shoe, these boots might be appropriate. But if he forgot his work shoes, he'd have an uncomfortable day.
For the minimal uses described above, the RK are worth $19. However, their lack of comfort limits their usefulness. They are extremely unpleasant to wear without an insole, and if you factor the cost of a supportive insole into the equation, these boots are no longer worthwhile. All the other boots in this test had insoles (even if there wasn't much to them) and this omission makes this boot unworkable for more than light use.
The RK boots, despite their decent traction and water resistance, were done in by their lack of comfort, stiff (and shin-jabbing) shaft, inflexible rubber, and loose fit. If you're looking for an extremely affordable boot, these might fit the bill, but otherwise, spend $26 more and get the Baffin Enduros — we promise you won't regret it.
— Richard Forbes
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