With the temperatures dropping and the weather becoming rainier, a pair of duck boots is in order.
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Today, this mid-height outdoor boot originally developed by L.L. Bean for hunting has grown past its practical origins into a preppy staple. With such styles gracing runway presentations, revisiting it is about time.
What are Duck Boots?
“Duck boot” tends to be used for any type of waterproof footwear featuring a ridged or lugged outsole. Yet, a true duck boot starts with a leather upper, insulated liner, a rubber outsole and foot covering, and a lace-up vamp.
You’ll see styles across men’s and women’s offerings grace the ankle or extend halfway up the calf.
Back in the ‘90s, your parents might have owned a pair – making them a certifiable dad shoe at the moment – but style wasn’t a top priority.
Instead, they were an all-purpose cold-weather shoe they could shovel snow in and stay warm, walk through puddles, and go about town on errands. That practicality still stands today.
About Duck Boots
Duck boots’ story is really more about how the L.L. Bean brand – again, another preppy cornerstone – came to be.
Creator Leon Leonwood Bean found that his feet often got soaked when he went out hunting, and took inspiration from early 20th century farmer boots.
For a more versatile, movement-friendly style, he stitched the rubber boot to a leather, work boot-style upper, and called it the Maine Hiking Shoe, which eventually became known as the Bean Boot.
Bean launched his eponymous company in 1912 to sell the amalgamation, and within decades, prep school students started wearing it as a part of everyday style.
Today, though, both outdoor gear and hiking boots have evolved significantly, making the duck boot no longer practical for these tasks. Instead, it functions as a multipurpose cold- and wet-weather boot that handles both city and some trail wear.
Why the Duck Boot is Back?
Practical pieces always have their place, so it’s not like the duck boot disappeared. Rather:
- They’re another ‘90s-style dad shoe. The proverbial family man of this period likely reached for this mid-height treaded boot to handle the type of weather we’re seeing now.
- Prep is back, both through aspirational channels – like TikTok’s “old money” and “dark academia” looks – and ironic, with streetwear and streetwear-influencing brands reworking familiar silhouettes by widening them, varying the colors, or adding in more prints. Call it “reactionary prep,” and everyone who’s been curious about double-breasted sweaters and Rowing Blazers now wants a pair of L.L. Bean duck boots. A solid Todd Snyder collaboration further solidified its grail quality.
- We’re wanting more from our clothes, and frankly, the duck boot fits in the narrative of tech fashion – pieces that look good and function just as well.
- They align with other trends we’ve been seeing, from work boots to lugged outsoles to quilted materials, ultimately making them a hybrid piece.
Our Recommendations for Men’s Duck Boots
Interested in a quality winter boot you’ll wear for the next few years? Dive into practical prep style with any of the following:
If you have to start somewhere, begin with the original. The Bean Boot shows why this style has been beloved by many over the decades.
Waterproof, triple-stitched construction keeps you steady on wet days with a treaded rubber outsole, while a leather upper eliminates a stiff sensation and easily tucks into your chinos.
Sperry’s own boat shoes have been a practical-to-prep staple, with treads designed to handle wet and dry environments. It only seems natural, then, to venue into the realm of duck boots.
The Saltwater proves its worth with a classic design – one with a slip-resistant rubber shell outsole with molded Wave-Siping™ treads – standing out with a textured leather upper.
A pair of duck boots seems like a logical progression for a work boot-centric brand like Wolverine.
The Torrent builds off that legacy through a mix of waterproof full-grain leather, vulcanized rubber, cozy fleece lining, lugs for even more traction, and an impact-absorbing design to lessen fatigue.
While a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts for a number of decades, Sorel has started getting the mainstream recognition it deserves more recently.
Everyday styles like the Cheyanne prove this, delivering a versatile form that goes beyond appearances with a waterproof leather upper, fully sealed seams, insulation, and a vulcanized waterproof rubber outsole with a herringbone traction pattern.
Looking to cut down on height? Lace up the gumshoe version of L.L. Bean’s classic Bean Boot. While the treads and protective properties remain, the shorter height gives it a loafer-meets-work boots vibe that’s more in line with a wardrobe of preppy staples.
Kamik’s Yukon 5 boot presents a classic appearance that blends waterproof properties with insulation and a versatile color scheme.
Here, the brand’s proprietary RubberHe foot shell blocks out moisture, while from the inside 3M™ Thinsulate™ keeps your toes toasty. The design’s topped off with waterproof leather.
Logically, expanding into other preppy pieces seems like the next step. G.H. Bass maintains its brand through clothing in this direction, as well as other footwear like the Mallard.
Like the Weejun, this is crafted as an everyday staple through a waterproof leather and rubber upper, internal fleece sock for warmth, and rubber treads.
Lands’ End constructs this duck boot like you’d expect, through a mix of waterproof leather and rubber, plus insulated lining. What’s different here is the mechanism.
Showing there’s room for variation, the boot stands out with a mid-height Chelsea silhouette. The result seems smoother and more fashion forward while offering a convenient pull-on mechanism in the process.