Are Duck Boots Good for Hiking? (Based on Our Experience)

Duck boots are some of the best types of footwear for keeping your feet warm in cold or wet conditions. What makes a pair of duck boots so unique is that they combine features from both hiking shoes and hiking boots.

The design sports the shaft of a hiking boot with laces but has a shoe-like section that covers the foot, along with a shoe-like rubber sole. Traditionally, duck boots have been used as hunting boots, but are duck boots good for hiking as well?

In this article, we’re going to talk more about what duck boots are, some popular styles of duck boots, and explore the pros and cons that make these types of footwear good or poor choices for hiking.

Quick Summary 

  • Duck boots are a cross between rain boots and work boots and are designed to help duck hunters manage cold weather.
  • L.L. Bean boots and Sperry duck boots are among the popular brands for hunters or outdoor enthusiasts who wear duck boots.
  • While they excel as hunting boots, not all duck boots outperform traditional hiking boots, despite having features that would make them ideal for some winter trails.

What Are Duck Boots?

a pair of comfortable duck boots that keep feet warm and feet dry

Duck boots can either be ankle or mid-calf footwear that’s best suited for winter activities, such as hunting.

Duck boots were originally made in 1911 by Leon Bean, a Maine fisherman, after needing a solution to his feet constantly getting wet when outdoors.

The term “duck boots” comes from the fact that they were primarily used by hunters, especially duck hunters, to chase and capture various types of waterfowl.

Nowadays, they can be worn for things other than hunting, including dressing up in a stylish fall or winter outfit.

Since they combine elements of hiking boots and hiking shoes, duck boots are incredibly versatile and comfortable. The bottom portion of the boot, which has a rubber sole, allows you to navigate damp and slushy grounds without losing your footing.

Combined with the waterproof leather upper, which is more flexible than what you’d find on some other boots, duck boots manage to give you agility comparable to some trail shoes.

Can You Hike in Duck Boots?

Brough these shoes in my last hiking trip and they offered good ankle support and ankle protection

You can hike in duck boots, but not only are they limited to hikes in the colder seasons, but they can’t manage the 5–10-mile hikes that can be done with a typical pair of hiking boots.

As mentioned previously, their main purpose is hunting. However, if you did end up using them for other outdoor activities, then camping would be a good idea.

Keep in mind, though, they don’t do well with climbing steep terrain.

Additionally, the laces only extend to the upper part of duck boots, lacking lower shoelaces on the rubber section. This gives the sensation of an uneven fit around the foot, especially since the rubber section of the boot is made wide to compensate for a lack of ventilation.

If you’re planning on hiking less than 5-miles on a simple nature trail, then they will do just fine, despite not having the appropriate support or stability features, among other things. Otherwise, we wouldn’t recommend it.

What Are the Most Popular Duck Boots Brands?

L.L. Bean Boots

L.L. Bean Boots
L.L. Bean Boots

The L.L. Bean duck boots are designed with durable, waterproof full-grain leather and triple-needle stitching.

The toes of the boots are rounded and spacious with slightly elevated heels, and even though the laces only cover the leather uppers, the boots stay secured around the ankles.

With the comfortably shaped foot and metal shank to add stability and support, L.L. Bean boots are some of the best duck boots on the market.

Another good feature is that this brand uses what’s called a “Thinsulate” lining, which acts as a thin fleece layer inside the boot.

It provides warmth and comfort in the winter without feeling like it’s suffocating the foot. Delve into our article to find out if Bean Boots make a good choice for hiking.

Sperry Duck Boots

Sperry Duck Boots that won't give you feet wet on your next hiking trip
Sperry Duck Boots

The Sperry duck boots are similar to L.L. Bean duck boots, having the same durable and waterproof uppers.

However, whereas L.L. Bean duck boots tend to have mid-calf designs, Sperry brand boots seem to go only slightly over the ankle.

Another notable difference is that Sperry duck boots are made with suede leather and wool uppers.

Since Sperry boots can be made with wool, this gives them a softer appearance and makes them even warmer than classic leather boots in cold weather.

They keep the classic rubber bottoms and soles that most duck boots tend to have.

However, they also include side zippers in addition to laces, giving you multiple ways to adjust their fit.

Advantages of Using Duck Boots for Hiking Trips

1. Insulation

Duck boots are stitched together with tight seams to prevent any cold air from coming through the boot. They’re also lined with thin fleece layers, which keep heat around the feet, even when traveling through snow.

For winter hikes and camping, they can sometimes be more effective than some low quality hiking boots.

2. Waterproofing

The uppers of duck boots are made with a water-resistant coating, which can stand up to mud, snow, and rain and keep your feet dry.

Since water resistance is different than having something like a Gore-Tex liner sewn into the inside, the boots can’t handle being completely submerged, but they’re perfect for conditions where water is a common trail hazard.

4. Break-In Period

Duck boots from most brands don’t have a very long break-in period. Whether they’re made with full-grain leather, suede leather, or wool, duck boots can be worn without feeling stiff or limiting your movements.

From our experience, they’re flexible enough to feel natural and comfortable around your feet without leading to discomfort or blistering.

Disadvantages of Using Duck Boots for Hiking

1. Traction


Duck boots usually have non-marking rubber outsoles, which are made to perform well on slippery surfaces.

The outsole gives you a firm grip on wet surfaces without the concern of falling, which is good to have on trails that you wouldn’t be able to hike with other types of footwear.

While this is true, that same traction does poorly on dry and rocky surfaces.

It also doesn’t do well when sticking to steep elevations, reducing its overall performance in mountainous regions.

2. Ankle Support

Even tho you don’t necessarily need ankle support when hiking, this is something to also consider.

Unlike classic hiking boots, which have padded collars for additional support, duck boots don’t have the same cushioning. Despite covering the ankles, duck boots won’t be useful when climbing steep terrain or hauling heavy pack loads.

This is even more noticeable where the leather upper meets the rubber section of the boot.

3. Breathability

Duck boots lack breathability due to the seam-sealed design of the leather uppers. This is because they’re meant to be used mainly in the winter when you’d want to seal out cold air and snow.

Unfortunately, this means that in the dry and hot seasons, your feet will become sweaty when hiking. This lack of ventilation prevents duck boots from being worn year-round.

4. Fit

A traditional hiking boot has laces that run down the top of the boot and slightly over the forefoot. However, the laces on duck boots only run down the leather uppers.

Whereas hiking boots allow you to tie your laces to have an even grip around the ankles and feet, duck boots reduce the range that the laces cover, stopping them at the lower rubber section of the boot.

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What Are Duck Boots Good For?

hunting wild ducks
Courtesy of myri_bonnie @ Flickr

Duck boots are good for winter excursions, such as camping and hunting. However, keep in mind that they are still reliable work boots when out in the fields.

Alternatively, they can also be used as fashion accessories in casual settings as seasonal footwear.

Since duck boots are made to perform exclusively in cold conditions, there’s no need to wear them for the other half of the year when it’s warmer outside and your feet need more ventilation.

So, their uses are limited, but duck boots have a lot of utility for the short time they’re able to be worn, down to their traction in snow and rain, their insulation, and flexibility.

So, Are Duck Boots Good for Hiking?

Overall, no, we do not recommend duck boots for your next hiking trip. Duck boots may be able to serve as decent walking boots on winter trails, but their soles aren’t made for a real hiking trip or inconsistent elevations.

Additionally, whereas regular hiking boots can be worn all year round, duck boots can only be worn at specific times. Even then, duck boots aren’t designed to compensate for pack loads, trail debris, rock climbing, and the possible scuffing and hard impacts you might experience on a trail.

That said, buying a regular hiking boot would be better since they’re all-purpose and even have features that allow them to substitute for duck boots in some cases.

This is why, we recommend you invest in some quality hiking boots. Here are some of our top-rated hiking boots for 2023, where you will find out which hiking footwear would be the best fit for you!


Can You Wear Duck Boots All the Time?

You cannot wear duck boots all the time. However, in the colder seasons, they can be worn for casual activities outside of hunting. Keep in mind that the insulation may make the boots warmer than you’d like in some instances.

Are Duckfeet Shoes Good for Walking?

Duckfeet shoes are good for walking. The footbed is comfortable and soft, and the arches are cradled just enough to prevent pressure from building when on your feet for long periods.

Is It Ok to Hike in Duck Boots?

It is OK to hike in duck boots if the trail you’re hiking is simple and mostly flat. Duck boots don’t have the traction to give you a firm grip on steep hills or the padding to cushion your feet for too many miles.

Are You Supposed to Wear Socks With Duck Boots?

You can wear socks with duck boots, it’s even recommended to do so for cold conditions. The forefoot is spacious enough to allow a sock to be worn without feeling too tight or stuffy.

Christina Utz

Christina Utz

Christina Utz is a professional writer, mountain addict, and hiking enthusiast. She successfully finished a rock climbing class and a wilderness survival course, and by the age of 24, she hiked more than 1800 miles and finished over 260 different trails! Her expertise in hiking and outdoors helped numerous people to fulfill their adventurous spirit!

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