How We Tested Rain Boots

By:
Richard Forbes
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Monday

Lead reviewer Richard Forbes takes a pair of boots for a spin in Lake Washington  where he's working on his rock-skipping game in between gear reviews.
Lead reviewer Richard Forbes takes a pair of boots for a spin in Lake Washington, where he's working on his rock-skipping game in between gear reviews.

Our testers have spent over two years working on sheep, cattle, and vegetable farms across the world, and as a result they've experienced just about every condition you can find. They've spent long days standing on concrete, docking lamb's tails in New Zealand, slogging through the ankle-deep mud to build a rammed earth home in Argentinian Patagonia, and washing vegetables in 15-degree temperatures in northeastern Maine.

In order to determine which boots would be best for such miserable conditions, our testers designed a series of tests to put the boots through their paces while not fundamentally damaging their own feet. The most casual tests involved wearing rain boots on any and all adventures throughout the entire Seattle fall, which began with balmy (sweaty) 60° temperatures and ended in feet of snow and 20° temperatures up at Snoqualmie Pass.

However, our testers also tried to specifically test these boots in controlled environments.

To test comfort, they wore the boots on concrete for 5+ hours at a time (the longest test was the Kamik Icebreaker for 14 hours straight).

Behind the scenes on a pretty unpleasant immersion test
Behind the scenes on a pretty unpleasant immersion test

To test water resistance, they stood in the Puget Sound for over 2 hours in 35 mile an hour gusting winds and 25° temps (with wind chill).

To test traction, they ran up and down muddy hills and intentionally slipped around in snow and ice.

Sometimes the best way to test for water resistance is to jump straight in...
Sometimes the best way to test for water resistance is to jump straight in...

To test insulation and warmth, they immersed each pair of boots in ice cold water until the cold seeped into their feet.

To test for ease of use and fit, they put these boots on and took them off repeatedly, and cleaned them all with hoses and recorded which cleaned up the fastest.

And to test for style, they recruited (male and female) friends to independently rank each boot according to its looks. Since these rankings often contradicted one another, we mainly concluded that everyone has a different fashion sense.

Are these boots extremely stylish or not? These were the most controversial boots in the test.
Are these boots extremely stylish or not? These were the most controversial boots in the test.

These tests were conducted through the fall throughout Seattle and the Cascades. Once we were done testing them in the real world, we measured them with scales and measuring tapes, then wrote up everything we found.
 

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