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Duck Boots: Essential for Rain and Snow

When it comes to fending off wet conditions, it’s hard to beat duck boots. They’re a classic footwear option designed as a mashup, with a waterproof, rubber-shoe sole and shoe section covering the foot, and a lace-up boot shaft, usually made with a more flexible fabric that can reach up to anywhere from just over the ankle to midway up the calf.

Duck boots have been a rainy- or snowy-day favorite for years because they offer all the warmth, water protection, and grippy traction of a terrific boot, along with a comfortable calf and over-the-ankle fit that’s easier to move around in than a typical stiff and heavy snow boot. Thinking about getting a pair of duck boots for yourself–or for someone you love? These questions can help you find the right pair.

Q: Who can wear duck boots?

Duck boots were created as men’s hunting gear, which is why they stand up so well to moving in wet conditions. But their practical, almost preppy good looks have made boots for women and kids just as popular as men’s duck boots, and they’ve become a wet weather style icon, perfect for wearing with your best rain coat.

Duck boots are usually designed in traditional hues, such as dark blue, olive, and brown. But they also come in fun and funky colors, and can have prints like check and houndstooth on the calf as well.

Q: How do you choose the right duck boots?

When you’re selecting a pair of duck boots, it makes sense to start with the practical: insulated or non-insulated?

Non-insulated duck boots are an excellent choice for rainy days and even some snowy ones because, even without any added insulation, they’ll keep feet warm and dry to temperatures at and just below freezing. Adding insulation super-charges them to stand up against snowy, cold-weather conditions making them excellent snow boots. If you’d like to wear them in both the rain and the snow, consider purchasing a non-insulated pair that fits with enough room for you to wear warm socks underneath them.

But keep in mind that because duck boots are waterproof, they’re not breathable, which means that they’re incredibly warm. So insulated versions will keep your feet uncomfortably warm if you wear them when the temperatures rise beyond freezing–this is especially important to consider when you’re choosing kids’ duck boots that’ll be worn all day at school.

Q: What can I wear with duck boots?

Duck boots are perfect for wet commutes, but that doesn’t mean you always have to take them off when you get where you’re going. Because they come in classic colors and can be worn over or tucked under your pants, it’s possible to pair duck boots with a range of clothing options and create outfits with a crisp, go-anywhere style.

Fun looks for women include wearing duck boots with jeans or leggings and a thick sweater or tunic for a classic wet-weather look. But they can also be combined with warm tights and a cute sweater for a fun fall look, or with a funky, layered outfit that features a favorite summer dress that’s been layered with a sturtleneck for a more eclectic outfit.

In much the same way, men can dress their boots up or down–wearing them with jeans or dressier pants for a look that will keep them dry when they commute to the office, and ready for anything as they work through the day. The big fashion choice for men is whether they’ll tuck their pants into those boots, allowing their footwear to take a little more of the spotlight, or if they’ll wear their boots with pants pulled over them, covering the calf of the boot. Both looks work; it’s just a matter of personal preference.

And kids can be as creative as their imagination allows, wearing duck boots with their favorite kid’s dresses, or their warmest kids' jackets and go-outside-and play ensembles.

Q: How do I maintain my duck boots?

Duck boots are durable, and can stand up to years and years of wear if they’re maintained properly. Luckily, that’s easy. Simply wash the rubber section with a cloth and mild, soapy water. If the boot has leather accents on the upper, be sure to maintain it using a cleaner designed to protect the leather. If the boot has a removable footbed, remove it and wash it with mild soap at the end of each season. A quick wipe with a damp (not wet!) cloth can keep the inside of your duck boots clean, and loosening the laces wide and leaving the boot outside to air out on a mild, sunny day a few times a year can help keep the interior looking and smelling fresh. Store your duck boots with a mild cedar odor absorber to eliminate any aromas that might build up inside these air- and watertight shoes.

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