How We Tested Rain Boots for Women
Throughout the Fall season, we tested and traveled with the ten boots purchased by OutdoorGearLab. The majority of testing took place in Yosemite National Park and the lead tester's home in Colorado. From varying mountainous landscapes and canyons, to the shoving of all the boots into one duffle bag, to the very comfort of home, these contenders became an interesting part of daily life over the last two and half months. Through rain, snow, and cold temperatures, we tested in canyons with rivers and our own buckets.
One of the most fruitful test methods was of side-by-side comparison, such as lining them up and measuring all the technical specs or taking them one by one, one right after the other, through walkabouts in the snow, up the hill, or into the ice-covered river of Dream Canyon. Another main method for testing was simply wearing them all day no matter the errands or tasks. We even wore them while watching movies and practicing the piano. The lead tester even took the boots with her to Illinois over Thanksgiving, mainly to utilize the bathtub space she knew she'd have access to. She had them sit in shallow water for four hours, checking for leaks in the soles, notably where they met the upper rubber, and thankfully found none.
Many of the metrics we broke down into smaller categories, such as the metric for comfort. We individually scored boots on all-day wear, fit, weight, mobility, and the ease of putting them on and taking them off (with no hands). These more specific measurements helped us create a chart to which we averaged all the scores for an overall comfort rating. Since these scores are whole numbers, we often had to round up or down, which ultimately yielded boots ranking the same, even when they performed very differently under specific circumstances. Averages, of course, only provide so much input. For more detailed results on each boot, refer to the individual reviews.
For the traction metric, we made a similar chart, breaking down and scoring performance based on how each boot did in snowy/icy conditions, in a river environment, on dry surfaces, and on a wet, grassy incline. Purposefully trying to find points of slippage without risking injury was an interesting task, especially in the snow and in the river, but we tried our best to be as consistent as possible. We encountered a variety of flat surfaces such as gravel, rock slab, dirt, and of course the urban asphalt, concrete, and linoleum tile.
For warmth, performance was scored on how well the boots kept our feet comfortable in the snow, the river, and throughout the typical 50-75F day. We also paid attention to whether or not the boots made our feet sweaty after a day of wearing them with warmer temperatures. Weather protection and style were the only metrics we did not break down into smaller categories for more meticulous scoring since weather protection is largely correlated to shaft height and style is highly subjective. However, we did ask friends to aid in the scoring of style, to which we compared our own rankings to theirs and tried to average as much as possible.