tall waterproof boots for NYC winters, with minimal greebling?
January 23, 2016 11:36 PM   Subscribe

After postholing my way through some lovely meter-high snow banks today, I'm in the market for a pair of waterproof boots. What styles (or specific models) would you recommend, and why?

- I rarely walk more than a mile or two at a time, maybe three or four miles total most days, and almost always on pavement.
- I want to them tall enough and waterproof enough to ford those puddles that form at street corners, but they don't need to be truly waterproof, like fisherman's waders. I'm guessing that mid-calf is the minimum height. Well-polished leather would probably be waterproof enough, except...
- They should not be damaged by road salt. So I guess that means all rubber, or at least half-rubber like a Bean boot?
- Aesthetically, I like my shoes dark and featureless, no skeuomorphic straps or chunky tacticool rubber or big bright logos. But that's the least important criterion.

If you're going to recommend a specific model, I'd like to keep it under $100.
posted by d. z. wang to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Bogs are not exactly gorgeous, but they are comfy and keep your feet dry. Lots of styles to choose from, including plain black. (Also several less-plain blacks.)
posted by ktkt at 1:24 AM on January 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

I just wear rain boots when there's snow on the ground here, with thick socks underneath for added insulation. I got a nice dark-colored pair from Century 21 for pretty cheap. I bought them the day my theoretically-semi-waterproof-leather-boot-wearing foot plunged into a six inch deep slush puddle.

Snow boots just aren't really right for NYC, because we only ever have snow for like 24 hours, after which we have puddles of slush for days and days and days. You gotta prioritize waterproofness over absolutely everything else.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:34 AM on January 24, 2016 [7 favorites]

My experience with so called waterproof snow boots is that it is NOT a good idea to deliberately walk through huge slushy puddles.
posted by brujita at 1:41 AM on January 24, 2016

You can always get a set of gaiters for the snowbank part.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:41 AM on January 24, 2016

I grew up in NYC and my kid lives there now. Our never-sacrifice-fashion-for-comfort advice* is definitely do the rain boots with thick fleece socks as needed but the magical secret ingredient to add is UGG soles. Oh, the magic of Ugg soles. They turn any boot into warm little foot pillows and they're especially great to wear in the spring without any socks to keep your toes cozy on their teeny sheepskin pillows.

1. Any rain boot.
2. Fleece boot socks.
3. Ugg soles.

*patent pending
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:05 AM on January 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

What does greebling mean?
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 6:09 AM on January 24, 2016

posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:37 AM on January 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

In the middle of last winter (which was a difficult one for me weatherwise) - I bought a pair of Sorel boots. I got them through one of those discount shoe websites and most likely paid around $100. Rubber foot - leather upper - plenty warm. They're heavy though so I only break them out for days like today.
posted by rdnnyc at 6:55 AM on January 24, 2016

7 slushy winters in New York and agreed with above that in the winter I just put Hunter fleece boot socks inside the knee high rain boots that I wear the rest of the year.
posted by greta simone at 7:00 AM on January 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

I like Tretorn. You can probably get them for cheaper on other sites, but here you can see all the options. They're very comfortable and I wear them on days when I walk 5ish miles in NYC.
posted by the twistinside at 7:11 AM on January 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Bogs. Specifically, the McKenna leather rainboot. It's gone up in price since I got my pair in 2012, but if you consider it an investment, it's a bargain. I am a small woman, and wanted a safe sturdy waterproof boot. These are the boots you are looking for. Mine look as good now as the day I got them. They are totally waterproof, and the leather is bonded to a thick foamlike substance. They are cushiony and flexible, have some heft and excellent traction. I wear mine to hike in the woods, which is going up and down hills, wading through streams, and some climbing. The mud rinses right off. They are black leather outer, not a shiny polished leather, but a more textured surface. They have a nice buckle detail across the top of the instep and another at the top of the shaft, that is adjustable. They are a little biker in how they feel, but I have worn them to work on occasion, and they are my go to footwear in the worst weather. I have no doubt that these boots will last my lifetime, and then some. (There are some other Bogs waterproof styles that are more feminine; check out the amazon reviews.)
posted by LaBellaStella at 8:43 AM on January 24, 2016

For everyone saying they put thick socks into unlined rain boots, how do you make the boot fit with both thin dress socks and thick fleece socks? Or are the boots too big the rest of the year, and you accept that your feet will slip around a bit? Maybe just use them for the commute and bring other shoes to change into?
posted by d. z. wang at 9:31 AM on January 24, 2016

I've been pretty happy with the Arctic versions of Muck boots. They are above your price point but they keep your feet warm and dry during the winter. I'd bring other shoes to wear inside at work, the boots are definitely functional and not aesthetically great.

The reason I mention them despite their not entirely fitting your criteria is that they are definitely salt-resistant. I spend time putting salt on sidewalks at work and it is so incredibly destructive to shoes and these have worked marvelously. Anything cloth or leather will be destroyed or at least damaged by salt almost instantaneously.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:50 AM on January 24, 2016

Seconding Sorel; I bought a pair of Caribous last year, and they handily got me through the 2015 Boston Snowpocalypse. They're the waterproofest boots I've owned, comfortable (if heavy) and pretty easy to get on and off.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:00 AM on January 24, 2016

I have a north face pair and they are fantastic for wading through those slushy curb puddles.

The secret, I think, is No Laces.

As for road salt concerns, wipe them with a damp paper towel/cloth when you get inside. Have them cleaned in the spring.
posted by bilabial at 10:20 AM on January 24, 2016

On preview. I only wear this pair of boots in the snow, so concerns about which socks I can wear in them the rest of the year are moot. Yes. They take up a ridiculous amount of NYC real estate.

I love them and they are worth it.
posted by bilabial at 10:21 AM on January 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Boggs with a neoprene upper will serve you well. They are pretty warm on their own. You may want to add a Superfoot support in there as sometimes they feel too flexi on the bottom. The neoprene upper is very flexible for being waterproof, so, you can easily tuck your pants into them to keep things dry. This is what I typically wear as a winter boot in Juneau, AK, which, while not quite as cold as NY winters, is still plenty damp and cold.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:14 PM on January 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Wirecutter has a very in-depth group review of winter boots - Men, Women.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:45 PM on January 24, 2016

I like the Bean boots with thick wool socks. I work in a casual office so sometimes I leave them on all day and sometimes I change into my work shoes I keep in my desk. The fact that they only have rubber on the bottom part is nice because it doesn't look like you're wearing rain boots inside and your feet can breathe a bit more. So yeah, I feel like the Bean boots were made for the slushy streets of NYC!
posted by hyperion at 4:29 PM on January 24, 2016

I'll second the Bean Boots. Yes, they're now the Hot Fashion Item (still?) but they're actually legitimately practical and useful for miserable weather like this. I've stood in multi-inch deep slush puddles and come out perfectly fine. I went for the model with the Thinsulate lining, too, so my feet stay toasty warm, too.
posted by SansPoint at 5:40 PM on January 24, 2016

yup, Hunter wellies with a warmer pair of socks. You can get good deals on Ebay.
posted by sideofwry at 8:38 PM on January 24, 2016

Thick felted wool insoles inside of tall sturdy rain boots. The insoles are the key - they keep your feet warm, make the boots comfier, and wick away sweat (which is otherwise a problem in keeping feet dry inside waterproof boots). I categorize my NYC snow and rain experience into pre-insole-discovery misery and post-discovery comfort and happiness. ;-)

I previously had pricey Tretorn boots that lasted an age, but my current pair of boots are from Kmart. Hunter seem well regarded. My insoles are these:
posted by blu_stocking at 10:03 AM on January 25, 2016

Also about your question about thick socks - I do generally buy rain boots to fit looser than regular shoes. If they fit snugly they're pretty uncomfortable to move around in! Even in the summer I try to wear thicker terry-cloth-like sports socks with them...
posted by blu_stocking at 9:18 PM on January 25, 2016

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