If you are an avid hiker, finding the perfect hiking shoe is a never-ending quest. There is no one size that fits all!
This is because hiking shoes are usually optimized for different situations and conditions that you may encounter when you are hiking.
As such, finding the right shoes can feel a little intimidating. If you own duck boots, at some point you may have considered wearing them to a hiking trail.
I mean, they are stylish, waterproof, and are among the most comfortable shoes. So, with these features, I understand why you would consider them for a hike.
The question is; are duck boots good for hiking? The answer is no. Sure duck boots are great for muddy and wet conditions, but they are not the first choice when I think of hiking shoes.
They are not specifically designed for long hikes especially. You can wear them for short hikes, causal walking and just getting around.
In terms of long hikes, you might have to consider other options. This is because duck boots lack the breathability, traction, and ankle support that long hikes call for.
What are Duck Boots?
Also referred to as Bean Boots, duck boots blend the functionalities and features of a work boot and a rain boot. Tired of wet feet every time he was outdoors, Leon Bean decided to invent a shoe that would keep his feet dry while maintaining the functionality of an outdoor shoe.
In 1911, the duck boot was invented in Freeport, Maine and it has been around for more than a century. The boot is basically part leather and part rubber.
Duck boots have a rubber sole to keep the feet dry. The upper part is made of leather which helps the boot retain the comfort and flexibility of a regular leather boot. It is because of these qualities that the duck boot has continued to enjoy such a huge success.
While other brands have come up and produced the same style of boots, like everything else, the original duck boots still hold superiority.
Originally duck boots were meant to be used as hiking boots but that has changed over the years. They are excellent for short hikes and walks but lack the qualities that make a hiking boot worth the trouble.
But, why are they called duck boots? We are glad you asked. They are called duck boots because they are mostly used by duck hunters. Duck hunting involves traversing through muddy and swampy areas.
This associating with duck hunting is what led to the boots being referred to as duck boots especially when more and more companies started manufacturing boots using a similar concept.
Features of Duck Boots
Duck boots are very popular and you must have thought about owning a pair. Here are a few things I like about duck boots.
One of the best features that has contributed to duck boots being popular for so many years is the fact that they are very comfortable.
This comfort can be tied to the waterproof features of the boot. They do quite well in wet and muddy terrain thanks to the rubber part that prevents water from penetrating through the boot.
When you are in them, therefore, one thing you are assured of is that your feet will not only remain dry but warm.
One of the reasons why duck boots were invested in the first place is to keep the wearer’s feet dry throughout.
With duck boots, you can comfortably walk on muddy as well as wet trails without worrying about your feet soaking.
Hiking or even walking around in wet boots is never the most comfortable of situations. In fact, this prolonged exposure to wet conditions can cause un-reversible damage to the tissues and nerves of your feet.
Something else I like about duck boots is that they are very lightweight. You would assume that the make of a duck boot would make it bulky but it’s the complete opposite.
Easy to Clean
Isn’t this what we are all looking for in a boot? Duck boots are meant to meander wet and muddy trails which can leave the boot very dirty.
The last thing you need is a boot that takes too much effort to clean. The duck boot thanks to the make is extremely easy to clean. A quick spray with a hose should do the job.
Easy to Put On
Compared to other types of boots, duck boots are very easy to put on and remove. This is thanks to the spacious toe box that can be tightened by lowering the lacing.
Why Are Duck Boots Not Ideal for Hiking?
If you are thinking about unleashing your duck boots on the next hiking trip, don’t! Duck boots are comfortable, easy to put on, waterproof, and lightweight – all qualities you want in a hiking boot. They are however not built for hikes, check out some of the main reasons below.
Lack of Ankle Support
Yes, duck boots are comfortable but in my opinion, I feel like a good hiking boot needs to offer great ankle support. A majority of people rarely pay attention to the ankle support feature but it’s vital if you are to prevent injuries.
Duck boots only provide ankle support to a certain degree. The support is however not sufficient to support a long hike especially if you are targeting steep terrain.
With duck boots, the support is even weaker at the ankle area where the leather and rubber parts meet.
A good hiking boot should have more support as well as padding in these areas to ensure that the hike is as comfortable as possible.
They Lack Breathability
Duck boots are usually a blend of leather and rubber which makes the shoe extremely waterproof and that’s where the problem lies.
The fact that the boots are waterproof automatically means that they are not breathable. Any pair of boots that is not breathable will cause your feet to sweat faster.
When too much sweat builds up, it results in wet socks and feet which makes the shoes uncomfortable to walk in. Besides, this hiking in wet boots is ground for blisters forming on your feet which only adds to the discomfort.
So, can duck boots be worn during cold months then? It’s still a no. Why? Even during winter, your feet still need to breathe!
So, unless you want to endure painful blisters during the duration of your trip, duck boots are not the best option to go hiking in.
They Lack Traction
I know this might come as a surprise to many especially those who consider duck boots to have great traction.
Duck boots have soles that are designed to do well in muddy, wet, and slippery conditions, so yes, they do have traction.
However, wear them on dry and jagged terrain and you will feel the difference. Duck boots don’t have enough grip to handle rocky terrains, uphill climbs, and sharp rises during a hike.
As such, you are better off investing in a good quality pair of hiking shoes and keep the duck boots for wet and muddy areas.
They Are Too Spacious
One of the reasons why duck boots are considered comfortable is because they are very spacious. However, when you are hiking, this feature doesn’t do you any good.
Yes, they can suffice for short hikes but when you have miles and miles of trails to cover, your feet moving inside the shoe will end up causing problems.
Even little movements will lead to friction which will generate heat causing your feet to sweat or worse blister.
What About Sperry Duck Boots?
When you are considering a hiking boot, the Sperry duck boot comes in at a close second. But, is it ideal for long hikes? The Sperry duck boot follows the same concept as the traditional duck boot.
Sperry is well known for its iconic boat shoes- the Topsider. The company has been in the shoemaking industry for over 80 years and they are known for the comfort, quality, traction, weather protection, and style of their shoes.
Like the traditional duck boots, Sperry duck boots are waterproof thanks to the rubber part. The leather part is however not waterproof. It is water-resistant which makes Sperry boots ideal for marine outdoor activities rather than long hikes.
The boots are designed to get wet and though they are not fully waterproof, you never have to worry about getting your boots wet.
The water doesn’t do much damage to the boots. Instead, it only strengthens the leather and improves the aesthetic appeal of the boot.
Best Duck Boots Alternatives for Hiking
Since we have already established that duck boots are not the most ideal especially when you are going for long hikes, what are the alternatives?
These boots make for a great alternative because of their waterproof feature. They are made with Gore-Tex which is a waterproof and breathable fabric that features full-grain leather.
Their outsoles are 3D which makes for great traction in steep and rugged terrain as well as downward trekking.
As far as snow hiking boots go, these are the best. They are lightweight and optimized for extremely cold weather (-25F).
While the boots might feel too warm, they have the best traction when you are hiking during winter.
When you are not looking for a snow hiking boot, the Solomon X is a great alternative. The boot makes for a great hiking shoe that can also be used in cold conditions. They are however not meant for extremely cold temperatures.
The duck boot is a comfortable, stylish, waterproof, lightweight, and easy to clean piece of footwear which could make it seem like a good hiking shoe. The truth is, duck boots are not the best shoes to handle long hikes. They are however great when you want a boot that can handle wet and muddy conditions.
The leather and rubber parts make the boot waterproof enough to handle such conditions. The lack of traction, breathability, and ankle support means it’s time to consider other hunting boot options.