Wellington boots may have conjured up a vision of dull, black, shapeless boots in the past, linked with farmers not fashionistas – but now a decent pair of wellies can be as stylish and sleek as they are practical and hardwearing. Thanks in no small part to the Hunter brand, Wellington boots are now just as likely to be seen on the school run in the winter months, as they are tramping through the countryside with the dog or on a wet beach walk.
Here, we select our top wellies for men, women and kids, as well as advising how much to splash out for a decent pair and how to stop your boots splitting once you’ve made your choice.
See more: Hunter welly sale: snap up a pair of these classic wellies at a sale price
Hunter, which was founded in 1856, has built up a reputation for high-quality, long-lasting Wellington boots over the past 160-odd years. The British brand holds two Royal Warrants of Appointment to HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, and its iconic boots with their distinctive red-edged, white and black logo are instantly recognisable.
Hunter’s Original Tall Rain Boots have been a core of the brand since they were first introduced in 1956, but buying these rain boots certainly doesn’t mean you’re getting an outdated model – these will never go out of fashion. They currently come in 13 different colors and are vegan-certified.
Perfect for wet weather conditions, the boot is hand-made from natural rubber and vulcanized for superior protection. It features the Hunter Original tread pattern and a comfortable polyester lining.
The Original Tall Rain Boots have a leg height of 14.76in and a calf width of 14.88in based on a US size 7, with a 1.18in heel. With its height coming up to the knee on the average wearer, you’ll get complete protection from muddy feet or legs, whether taking a stroll in the forest to watch the changing leaves or taking the dog for a beach walk.
British clothing brand Joules is synonymous with rural living and working. Tom Joule set up the brand in 1989 and initially sold his range of clothing, which married the practical and functional with bright colors and style, on a stand at a country show in Leicestershire.
These patterned rain boots will definitely cheer you up on a rainy day and help you stand out from the crowd, whether at a muddy festival or on the farmyard.
They’re available in 10 hand-drawn patterns – we particularly love the brown leopard version – and are built from hardwearing natural rubber to ensure they last year after year after year. The boot opening measures 15.25in, and the back gusset is adjustable, so you can get the perfect fit for your legs. The boot measures around 13in from the arch, with a 1in heel.
Le Chameau Women's Vierzonord rain boot is ideal for rural life, but will look just as stylish on the school run or around town on a rainy day. The brand, established in 1927 in Cherbourg, France, is a favorite of Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, so you’ll be getting a wellie with the royal seal of approval.
Hand-crafted since 1965, the rubber boot is famed as the first with an adjustable, waterproof gusset. It features a tightening strap and snap-fastening buckle for a secure fit around the calf, so you should be guaranteed a comfortable fit. Meanwhile, the fast-drying neoprene lining cushions feet while keeping them warm and dry.
Neoprene, which was originally used for diving suits, is an insulating material that prevents body heat from dissipating; these boots are comfort-rated for temperatures as low as -15°C.
As these are designed with all-day use in mind, Le Chameau has added a dual-density Cross sole to absorb shock, while the abrasion-resistant outsole gives you shoe-like comfort whatever the ground conditions.
As well as its classic Tall Rain Boot, which is one of our picks for women, Hunter makes a shorter version with a mid-calf height. The Men's Original Short Rain Boot has the iconic design of the original Wellington boots but scales it down for a versatile, comfortable style that as suited to a rainy day or wet beach walk as it is a jaunt around town or on the school run.
Each boot is handcrafted from natural rubber, before being vulcanized for superior protection. Just like the women’s boot, it has the Hunter Original tread pattern and comfortable polyester lining to keep your feet snug and dry on cold days.
The Original Short boot is 10.83in tall and the calf measures 16.22in based on a US size 10. It comes with the same adjustable side buckle and distinctive red-edged, white and black logo as on the tall boot, and is also vegan-certified.
French brand Aigle has been in business since 1853, but our choice of its Parcours 2 boot is much younger and launched in 2012.
This hand-made boot has a tri-density chunky rubber sole and shock-absorbing cushion, designed so you can walk further without fatigue, while the shaping around the ankle keeps your foot securely in place. The design features an adjustable strap and gusset, so the boot fits your leg perfectly. It also looks incredibly stylish, with the appearance more akin to a knee-high leather boot than a wellie boot.
The Parcours 2 boot is crafted mainly from natural rubber and is lined with quick-drying polyamide, to keep you dry in the wettest conditions. It may be pricey, but we think its sleek look and long-lasting quality build are worth the money.
Oregon-based brand Bogs is located in exactly the right place to understand what is needed from a great wellington boot, hailing from the land of lumberjacks and dairy farmers, a place that is often wet and cold.
Bogs has built up a reputation for excellent boots at decent prices, and it’s one of our picks for kids thanks to the fun designs and attractive price point – why spend hundreds of dollars on your little one’s wellie boots, when they’ll outgrow them in a year?
There are several colors and designs to pick from, but we’ve gone for the Bogs Rain Boot Glitter, which should encourage even the most stubborn wet weather-averse girl to go out and splash around in those puddles. They’re fully waterproof, made from soft and flexible rubber, and have DuraFresh natural bio-technology to help eliminate odors.
The boot is 9in tall and measures 9in around the calf. We particularly love the handles on either side of the boot, which means even young kids can put their boots on and take them off themselves.
Western Chief has a similar wet-weather background to Bogs. Founded in Seattle in 1891, the firm began making boots suited to the tough weather conditions during the Alaska Gold Rush and has since moved on to offer a range of quirky and fun rain boots for kids.
There are far too many tempting styles for us to pick just one, but we’d definitely recommend the Lighted Rain Boot in the design best suited to your little one. Whether it’s trucks or polka dots, purple or black, you’re sure to find the perfect boot.
The Lighted version lights up with every step your child takes, while a slightly more expensive model comes with a strip of LED battery-powered lights around the outside of the shoe.
The boots are 7in tall, and have rubber handles so young kids can more easily get them on and off by themselves.
How much should you pay for the best Wellington boots?
While you can pick up a pair of cheap wellies for as little as $10 from discount stores, it’s definitely worth paying more to get higher quality and longer lasting boots. Paying upwards of $100 will ensure you’re making a long-term investment in a pair of Wellingtons that will last years and years, won’t get holes in the soles from cheap materials, and will keep your feet warm and dry.
Are Hunter/Le Chameau Wellies worth the money?
For these two brands in particular, you’re paying for the name and heritage of the company, as well as the build quality. However, as someone who has owned the same pair of Hunter boots for around five years with little signs of wear and tear, we’d definitely recommend splashing out on an established brand like Hunter or Le Chameau if you can afford it – with wellingtons, you really do get what you pay for, in terms of comfort, durability and style.
What kind of Wellingtons does Kate Middleton wear?
The Duchess of Cambridge’s Wellington boot of choice is a Le Chameau Vierzonord – as featured in our selection for women above. HM the Queen favors British brand Hunter, however.
Why do Wellies split?
Wellington boots can unfortunately split along the sole, the side or at the back, or the outer layer can start to peel or get holes in. This can either be due to not taking proper care of boots after wear – for example ensuring they are fully dry inside and out; or poor design or quality of materials.
If boots are left outside or in an uninsulated room, the rubber will shrink and grow with the temperature change from day to night, which could cause cracking. Store boots upright or hanging upside down on a boot rack in an insulated room to prevent splitting. Using a rubber conditioner can also help prolong their life.