There’s nothing worse than feeling that cold trickle of water seeping in to your boot. It’s bad enough that it happens when out for only a few minutes, but what if it’s the beginning of a working day outdoors?
Perhaps you’re unlikely to get trench foot but that’s how you catch a cold. Therefore, this guide will show you the very Best Waterproof Work Boots For Men:
- Comfortable: Wolverine Legend Durashocks Carbonmax
- Made In The USA: Danner Quarry
- Made In The USA: Thorogood American Heritage
- Logger Boot: Carolina Elm Waterproof
- Rigger Boot: Dr Martens Work 2295
- Under $100: Caterpillar Threshold
You can use the links above to jump ahead. We’ll also briefly touch on waterproofing for boots and how you can make your new boots even more impenetrable!
Quick Buyer’s Guide
In a hurry and don’t have time to look at all the shoes that we featured in detail? Just use the Quick Buy Guide below to jump straight to the retailers. If not, you can keep scrolling to see more.
Made In The USA
Made In USA
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What Are The Best Waterproof Work Boots For Men?
You’ll often see Wolverine being mentioned at least once in our various boot guides and for good reason. Walking the fine line between affordable and premium quality, they’re a boot brand that offers one of the best experiences. Their work boots are no exception and we do love the Durashock Carbonmax.
The boots’ H-Plate suspension provides comfort thanks to energy return as well as shock-absorbing compression sidewalls. Furthermore, they’re made from waterproof full-grain leather with a “Waterproof Plus” breathable membrane. They also feature a nanotechnology CarbonMax safety toe for lighter and ergonomic protection.
You can opt between two-tone brown, dark brown and a tactical black. We’re particularly fond of the two-tone as there’s a bit of a colour pop.
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Another American brand that we’ve recently come to love is Danner. Having been producing work boots since 1932, Danner have a rich experience in providing the best work boots for men. These solid quarry boots are perfect for rugged work and are handmade in Portland, Oregon.
Featuring a Gore-Tex lining and triple-stitching, these boots are comfortably waterproof yet also allow the feet to breathe. A fibreglass lining also provides greater stability, which is enforced by their Vibram outsoles and 90° heel.
These particular work boots are only available in brown. However, it’s a stunning colour with a contrast stitching and orange laces for a real pop.
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Another USA-based brand, Thorogood has been produced by the Weinbrenner Shoe Company since 1892 produces its footwear from their Merrill and Marshfield, Wisconsin factories. These present themselves as an interesting alternative to either Wolverine or Danner.
How To Wear
Featuring a full ASTM standard rating, these provide complete protection for the wearing. Furthermore, they’re made using a storm welt, which is a more robust and waterproof variation of the Goodyear. Finally, the non-marking MAXwear outsole is equipped with a 90° heel for extra traction against slippery surfaces.
Only available in a Crazy Horse brown, these boots feature a light-coloured stitch for contrast as well as a moc-toe for added visual interest.
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A classic steel toe logger boot, the Elms by Carolina are made for the great outdoors. Their attractive design is made with practicality in mind thanks to the tall 90° heel for extra traction and stability when navigating lumber.
Equipped with a steel toe and triple-rib steel shank, these boots offer compression and impact resistance, which is ideal when logging. The welt construction is enforced by a Scubaliner waterproofing system, which also features a Taibrelle lining.
Funnily enough, the Carolina Elm also only comes in a Crazy Horse brown much like the Thorogood boots above.
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Inspired by the rigger boots that were first used in the UK’s North Sea, these utilitarian Docs are ideal slip-on boots for heavy duty work. The Smartmask insole and patented air cushion ensures excellent all-day comfort and wear.
As they’re effectively heavy duty Wellington boots, these offer excellent waterproofing as there are no openings. Furthermore, Dr Martens’ iconic stitching and renowned construction ensures that no water will seep through the outsole. They’re also ASTM approved with a steel toe for heavy duty work.
These boots come in Gaucho Volcano brown, Tan Greenland or Black Industrial Greasy. We’re quite fond of this Gaucho Volcano that’ll age nicely over time. However, the other options do look very tempting too.
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At an unbeatable sub-$100 price, these are excellent work boots in general. Furthermore, they come with a steel toe and comprehensive waterproofing. Interestingly, Caterpillar is a Wolverine-owned brand so you can expect that a similar level of expertise was involved in designing these.
ASTM approved, these boots also feature a waterproof full grain leather upper with a breathable mesh lining. You’ll also benefit from a cushioned footbed thanks to the ERGO comfort technology as well as the T1260 slip-resistant rubber outsoles.
Two colour schemes are available. One is brown, which features some black accents and the other is jet black save from the yellow Caterpillar logo. Whilst we prefer the brown, both are excellent.
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How Are Boots Made Waterproof?
If you’re reading this then you likely have had some professional experience with water. As a contractor or even DIY enthusiast, you soon realise how much of a pain water can be.
If there’s crack or weakness somewhere, water will find it. Similarly, leaks are a nightmare as where the water comes out is rarely an indication of where it seeped in. Whether you’re a builder, roofer, tiler or plumber, you know only too well the trouble water can cause.
And as someone who has to deal with water one way or another, it’s not just an obstacle for work causes mayhem for your feet. Therefore, proper waterproofing in your boots is essential.
In this part of the guide, we’ll talk about how boots are made waterproof and how they can be treated for extra resistance. After all, you can’t just coat them in PVC glue or silicone.
Sealing The Cracks
As you may have guessed, waterproofing is basically a question of sealing in the cracks to stop water leaking in. However, like any builder worth his salt will tell you, the surface needs to breathe otherwise humidity will build up.
Of course, this won’t come in the form of black mould or rising damp. However, it will cause sweaty feet, blisters and maybe even foot fungus!
Furthermore, boots are made to provide flexibility in key areas so that you can actually move about. Therefore, seams and stitching are a mechanical necessity for proper work boots.
Nevertheless, it used to be that the only true way to have waterproof boots was with seamless constructions similar to Wellington boots. However, these aren’t always practical and less than ideal in terms of protection.
Although leather is a naturally porous material, it doesn’t actually provide some water resistance contrary to popular belief. However, this is largely dependant on the quality of the leather itself and the way it’s been treated.
For instance, full-grain leather, which is sourced from the nearer the spine of the animal’s hide, has very tight fibres. These actually prevent water getting in more than, say, near the belly.
All leather shoes are treated one way or another. After all, this is what creates is final colour, shine and general appearance. Nevertheless, not all treatments are made with waterproofing in mind.
Furthermore, real water damage for leather doesn’t happen directly on its surface but on the edges of the leather where the treatment is less prevalent. Here, water can creep up inside the leather membrane and cause some real damage.
As you may know, leather tends to be susceptible to water damage because it can dry or crack after getting wet. Therefore, the challenge is preventing this from happening and treating it if it does.
ùEven with the best treatment on the external upper, it’s essential to have a second line of defence against water. This usually comes in the form of some sort of membrane that lines the boot and protects your feet.
These membranes should have two characteristics that help in improving water resistance. The first is flexibility so that the membrane doesn’t restrict movement.
Meanwhile, the second is moisture wicking. You’ve likely heard about this term when buying outdoors apparel. In short, moisture-wicking fabrics feature capillaries, which does allow the movement of liquid. However, these fabrics are essentially designed to force liquid out instead of in.
As such, the membrane will only allow moisture, or sweat, to escape the boot rather than letting water in.
One of the most common waterproof fabrics with moisture-wicking properties is Gore-Tex. You’ve likely heard about this hydrophobic synthetic fabric as it’s still the most popular solution since it was invented in the late 1960s.
Gore-Tex is essentially Teflon that’s been heated and stretched into a fabric. Its micro-structure features the forms of nodes that are interconnected by fibrils. The result is a structure that is 70% air and is able to repel liquid water yet allows water vapour to pass through.
DIY Boot Waterproofing
There are several scenarios in which you may want to waterproof your boots yourself. Firstly, you may have some older boots that have lost their water resistance over time. Otherwise, you may want to improve the waterproofing on a new pair of boots with a second treatment.
Another situation where you may want to waterproof your boots is that they weren’t waterproof to begin with. In this case, it may be hard to truly make your boots waterproof. However, you can improve their resistance with some treatment.
Nevertheless, the other scenarios are quite common and even recommended. This is because it’s important to maintain the water resistance of your boots as it’ll degrade after a while. By waterproofing new boots, it gives you a good head start.
Bear in mind, however, that boots will inevitably lose their water resistance as they get older. Although this can be remedied for a short while with treatments, it will eventually wear off completely.
Waterproofing Leather Boots
Traditional Dubbin is probably the best product that you can apply to leather in order to maintain its water resistance. This natural conditioner is usually made from tallow, oils and beeswax. That said, our favourite is the Everest Graisse Végétale Dubbin by Saphir and is a vegetable-based product.
As such, it creates a natural seal that will still provide some level of breathable membrane. However, unlike polish, it won’t give the leather a shine.
Applying Dubbin should consist of the following steps:
- Clean your boots as thoroughly as possible.
- Scoop a small portion of dubbin onto a cloth or rag.
- Rub sparingly over the leather until the uppers are evenly coated.
- Leave to air dry without any direct heat for an hour.
- Buff with a dry cloth to remove excess wax.
Sometimes dubbin can get hard when cold. If this is the case, use a hairdryer to soften it enough to be applied.
Finally, Dubbin is a relatively inexpensive product and can be bought on Amazon for as little as $10.
When waterproofing other materials such as suede, Nubuck or canvas, we recommend using a spray instead. If you’re in a pinch, you can even use WD-40 to waterproof boots. However, we’d refrain to use this on premium leathers and suede.
Having learned about the best waterproof work boots, check out some related guides if you’re undecided on what to get:
- Best Men’s Boots For Winter
- Best Work Boots For Men
- Most Comfortable Dress Boots For Men
- Best Dress Boots For Men
- Most Comfortable Men’s Shoes
"A great help, thanks! Really useful for someone like me who works outdoors in the construction business."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★