What Is A Duck Boot? Styling Tips & When To Wear

What Is A Duck Boot? Styling Tips & When To Wear2018-11-16T11:52:49+00:00

A duck boot is a waterproof boot, sometimes insulated for protection against snow, made with a leather / rubber upper and rubber sole to keep water out, thus keeping your feet dry and warm in inclement weather.

In this guide, you’ll learn about duck boots as well as discovering the Best Duck Boots that we recommend:

  1. Sorel Cheyanne II [Classic Duck Boot]
  2. Duck Boot: Sorel Caribou [Insulated Duck Boot]
  3. Johnston & Murphy XC4 [Premium Duck Boot]
  4. Sperry Avenue Duck Boot [Affordable Duck Boot]

If you’re interested in a particular pair, you can use the links above to jump ahead. Otherwise, scroll down to learn more about duck boots in general.

Sorel Duck Boots Walking In Snow

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Quick Buyer’s Guide

You can use the convenient menu below to head straight to the retailers if you’re currently on the market for duck boots. Otherwise, scroll down to learn more about this type of footwear as well as the boots that we feature.

Classic

Sorel-Duck-Boots-Blue

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Insulated

Sorel-Caribou-Wool-Boot

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Premium

Johnston & Murphy Thompson XC4

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Affordable

Sperry Avenue Duck Boot

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What Are Duck Boots?

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Best Duck Boots To Buy Online

The following section of this guide will take a brief look at some of our favourite duck boots that you can buy online. You’ll see options for all seasons as well as a range of different budgets.

1. Sorel Cheyanne II [Duck Boots]

Sorel-Duck-Boots-Blue
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Overview

Our favourites remain Sorel’s Cheyanne duck boot. While not as effective in the coldest environments, they’re light and perfect in heavy snow or rain. As such, they’re a more versatile choice for those who need protection from the elements.

How To Wear

The new and improved Cheyanne II is made using a seam-sealed waterproof construction as well as Nubuck leather. While not as insulated as the other duck boots featured here, it still has a 200g lining.

Best Colors

Lots of new colours are available for the new Sorel Cheyanne duck boots such as Chipmunk tan, Nori green as well as Quarry grey. However, we do miss the blue colour that used to be available with the old model.

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2. Sorel Caribou [Insulated Duck Boots]

Sorel-Caribou-Wool-Boot
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Overview

Perfect for those harsh winters, Sorel’s Caribou boots can withstand temperatures as low as -40°F / -40°C thanks to a rich lambswool lining. With an added duck boot design, they’re also waterproof as well as insulated.

Key Features

You can also enjoy the extra insulation offered by the removable 9mm ThermoPlus felt InnerBoot on those particularly harsh days. Furthermore, the AeroTrac non-loading natural rubber outsole allows for all-day comfort despite stomping around in thick snow.

Best Colors

We prefer the brown pebbled leather Bruno colour. However, you could opt for the grey black Tusk colour instead.

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3. Johnston & Murphy XC4 Duck Boot [Premium]

Johnston & Murphy Thompson XC4
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Overview

For a more premium duck boot, we’d turn to the impressive XC4 by Johnston & Murphy. Although we’re more familiar with the brand’s dress shoes, they also excel at practical footwear.

Key Features

Made from full-grain leather with waterproofing and a seam-sealed construction, these warm duck boots also feature a sheepskin and Thinsulate lining. Furthermore, there’s a multi-density rubber outsole for shock absorption while the memory foam insole offers extra comfort and cushion.

Best Colors

Although only available in brown with a black rubber toe, the uppers are full grain leather, which makes for a much more elegant boot.

4. Sperry Avenue [Duck Boot]

Sperry Avenue Duck Boot
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Overview

A truly waterproof duck boot for less than $100? Thanks to Sperry, you don’t have to break the bank with their budget-friendly duck boot. While these don’t perform as well as the options above, they’re great for occasional snowfall or wet weather.

Key Features

Expect uppers made from leather as well as a warm thermal insulation lining. These boots also feature a razor-cut Wave-Siping rubber outsole, which provides a form grip on particularly slippery surfaces.

Best Colors

While we like the amaretto brown with its distressed effect, you can instead opt for either black or suede tan.

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Bespoke Unit Duck Boot Infographic

What Is A Duck Boot - Bespoke Unit

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Where Do Duck Boots Come From?

Maine has a strong shoemaking tradition here in the United States, and the duck boot was born there.

L.L. Bean is the original maker of the duck boot, although they use the term “Bean boot,” as is their right. Leon Leonwood Bean, the company’s founder and namesake, developed the boot in 1912 as a waterproof shoe sold to hunters. It was perfect for trudging through damp woods.

What started out as a small Maine-based operation turned into a nationwide mail-order business, which eventually became an international retail presence. The boots are still made in Maine.

L.L. Bean isn’t the only brand that makes duck boots, however. There are many that make similar versions that are quite well-made, and we’re happy to share our favorites below.

Sorel In The Snow

How To Wear Duck Boots

A duck boot is a waterproof ankle-to-mid-height boot, typically with leather uppers and rubber soles and toe boxes. The toe shape resembles a duck’s bill, hence the name. They were originally made by L.L. Bean as a hunting boot but nowadays have been made by countless other manufacturers in wide arrays of colors, materials, and styles.

Formality

Duck boots are inherently casual, as is any outdoor-wear. Stick to pairing these with jeans or snow pants wherever possible.

With that said, if you wear a suit to work and your commute has been wrecked by a huge storm and you don’t own overshoes, wearing duck boots while keeping your shoes in your bag is something we can make an exception for.

Check out how Paul is wearing his duck boots below. This is exactly what you want to be doing.

Sorel Boots Collage

Seasonality

Weatherproof boots are understandably limited in terms of seasonal wear, but only if you live in a temperate climate. If you’re reading this in, say, Antarctica on a research base, you can wear these anytime.

Actually, you’ll have to wear something warmer, but that’s neither here nor there.

  • Spring: No on boots, but yes on rainproof shoes
  • Summer: These aren’t appropriate for summer, and rain shoes will make your feet sweat like crazy. Wear overshoes instead.
  • Autumn: Definitely yes.
  • Winter: That’s what these boots are made for!

Want to learn why duck boots are perfect for the snow? Read our dedicated duck boots for now guide!

It’s worth noting here that L.L. Bean boots have seen a “fashion” resurgence in recent years, and we’ve witnessed many a young whippersnapper throwing them on with tapered sweatpants or slim jeans in sunny weather. We advise against this using the same logic that says don’t wear a trench coat when it’s sunny or take your sunglasses off indoors: you clearly don’t need them, and you look foolish wearing them out of their intended context.

Thinsulate Tag

Final Thoughts On The Duck Boot

If you live in a place where the weather gets ugly, you should own a pair of duck boots for sure. As a rule, we suggest considering footwear purchases as investments, and a duck boot purchase is no different. You want to buy one pair and have them for many, many years, so buy the best quality you can afford.

Buy duck boots whenever you can. You don’t have to worry about whether they’re your fifth or tenth shoe or whatever because they’re so specialized. Just have a pair before the weather goes south for the winter.

What Next?

Having now explored the duck boots for men, consider checking out some of our related footwear guides:

Duck Boots Guide
Reviewed by David Y., on .
"Finally! Been wanting to pull the trigger on duck boots for a while - so glad that I did with the recent snowfall!"
Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★

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