Are Duck Boots Good for Hiking (the PROS and CONS)

Duck boots are stylish, comfortable, and waterproof. At the first glance, you may think that these three features are the only ones you’ll need on a hiking trip. But it’s not what you think. So, are duck boots good for hiking, or is this a myth?

Duck boots are not fit for hiking. There are multiple reasons, but the most prominent ones are the lack of ankle support, low breathability, and bad traction. That being said, you can still wear them for short hiking trips; there are some valid reasons for that too.

We’ll talk in detail about all the aspects of the issue, but first, let’s see what duck boots are.

By the way, as an Amazon Associate, I earn when buying qualified products through links on my site.

Are Duck Boots Good for Hiking

4 Reasons Duck Boots Aren’t Practical for Hiking

If anyone told you that duck boots work for trekking, there’s a high chance they haven’t walked more than 3-5 miles in them. Here are 4 good reasons why you should opt for a different type of boot for hiking.

1. Lack of Breathability

Duck boots are waterproof, which automatically means they’re not breathable. The lack of breathability causes the feet to sweat fast, which can cause blisters later on. Also, walking in wet socks isn’t the most comfortable feeling while hiking.

Are duck boots suitable to wear in winter hiking, then? The answer is still no. Even in the cold weather, your feet will need to breathe. So, they aren’t the best option for long hiking trips, unless you want to go home with blistered feet.

2. Lack of Traction

Duck boots are known for their excellent performance on snow. So, how is it that they have no traction? Well, for starters, snow is considered easy terrain; it’s only slippery. The fact that duck boots perform well on wet surfaces doesn’t mean they’ll be the same on rocky ones.

Trekking mountains are too steep and too dangerous for duck boots; these surfaces will need a pair with good-grip soles. That’s why you’ll find traction listed in almost all hiking boots.

3. Friction

Duck boots have generous space inside for your feet. This means more comfort for you, but it also means more friction. And we all know this equals blisters. Therefore, duck boots won’t work for long hikes. You may not feel any issues on short hikes. However, walking for more than 5 miles in these boots ought to do it.

Comfort is essential on hiking trips. So, always make sure every article of your clothes meets your standards, even your boots.

4. Lack of Ankle Support

A lot of people don’t pay much attention to the ankle support, although it’s vital for preventing injuries. It’s also the feature that distinguishes hiking shoes from hiking boots.

Ankle support limits the movement of your ankle, which prevents potential ankle injuries that may cause you to cut your trip short. Duck boots don’t have ankles support, so they’re not a viable option for hiking. You’d be better off with a pair of traditional hiking boots.

4 Reasons Duck Boots May Be Acceptable for Short Hikes

If they’re your only choice, duck boots can work for short hikes. There are actually 4 good reasons to go for them.

1. They’re Comfortable

Duck boots aren’t as stiff as hiking boots. That’s why they’re comfortable to wear for a long time on smooth terrains. Their soles are also less rigid. Therefore, they’ll be enough if you’re going on a short hiking trip. You’ll be saved from the hassle of lugging around a pair of heavy hiking boots.

2. They’re Waterproof

The fact that duck boots are waterproof is one of the main reasons people love them. Imagine stepping in a water puddle without getting your feet wet? This is the dream!

If you expect to encounter water a lot on your short hiking trip, a pair of duck boots will be a nice choice.

3. They’re Convenient

We all know the drill of getting back from a hiking trip. You rush to clean your whole outfit from mud and grime, which includes the boots. Hiking boots are hard to clean because of their rugged materials. On the other hand, duck boots are fairly easy to clean, thanks to their smooth leather front.

On top of that, duck boots are easier to put on, courtesy of their spacious interiors. They also have laces, which enable you to tighten them afterward.

4. They’re Lightweight

Heavy hiking boots may be the worst aspect of hiking trips. They’re heavy to provide more protection, yes, but that doesn’t mean lugging them around is delightful. The thing about duck boots is that they’re lightweight, and not as bulky as hiking boots. So, they’d be a practical option for short trips. Plus, they’ll be easier to store in a backpack.

Are Duck Boots Good for Hiking

What Are Duck Boots

First things first; what are duck boots? Hearing their name, you may imagine a pair of tiny boots fit for a duck. While that’s obviously not true, you’ll see that the concept doesn’t stray far away from ducks.

Duck boots were invented by Leon Bean, which is the reason they’re also called Bean Boots. Leon aimed at creating a pair of unique boots that combine the style of casual shoes and the practicality of work boots. He did this by designing a trendy leather exterior and topping it off by a flexible rubber sole. This resulted in the remarkable shape of duck boots that we know today.

The leather looks fashionable, and it provides flexibility for the feet inside. Meanwhile, the rubber soles protect the feet from impact, and they offer a solid grip on slippery surfaces. That’s why duck boots are an ideal choice for outdoor activities in winter.

As for the naming, it’s because of the boots’ association with duck hunting. Hunters saw them as a great option for this outdoor activity because they’re waterproof and slip-resistant. This resulted in the new official naming, instead of Bean boots. Companies also adopted the concept and created new shoes under the same name.

Okay Then, What Should I Do with My Duck Boots

We know what you’re thinking, your duck boots are now a waste of money, sitting at the back of your wardrobe. But that’s not true. The fact that you can’t wear them for your next hiking trip doesn’t mean they have no use. They’re perfect to wear in winter conditions, such as rain and snow.

For starters, duck boots are ideal for outdoor activities. If you’re going fishing, hunting, or camping, a pair of duck boots will be your best friend on the trip. They’re highly comfortable, which makes them fit for these kinds of trips. Plus, they’re lightweight and easy to put on. So, they’ll save you the hassle of enduring a pair of stiff boots.

Duck boots aren’t only fit for outdoor activities, they’ll also add style to any outfit you match them with. You can wear them with a pair of utility pants for a trendy look, or you can match them with a summer dress and a leather jacket for a rugged look.

Alternatively, you can wear them with a pair of skinny jeans. They’d also go perfectly well with a pair of cropped jeans. Needless to say that they’re a pretty addition for almost all winter outfits.

How to Choose a Pair of Hiking Boots (That Aren’t Duck Boots!)

Now that you have to get a pair of hiking boots for your upcoming trip, here are some useful tips that you should keep in mind before buying.

Pay Attention to the Size

When you’re buying a pair of regular shoes, you don’t pay much attention to the size. You just put your feet in. If it fits, here’s the credit card!

But that’s not the case with hiking boots. There are three important things to check when you have the boots on: the width, the toe space, and the arch length. If the boots fit perfectly, but your toe feels jammed, then it’s not right for you. The same goes for the width and the arch.

Bonus tip: If you have a flat foot arch, avoid getting boots with a high arch.

Don’t Forget the Socks

Most people won’t give thought to socks when buying a pair of hiking boots. Although, when you think of it, you won’t ever wear them without socks. That’s unless you’re a fan of smelly feet. So, it’s one of the aspects you should consider before buying.

For example, if you wear cotton socks, you’ll need a breathable pair to avoid sweaty feet. Additionally, if you wear extra thick socks, you’ll need your boots to be a bit spacious to avoid overheating your feet.

WANDER Men's Cushion Crew Socks 3 Pairs Athletic Running 8-13 Socks Men Cotton Sport Wicking Work MIRMARU M204-Men's 5 Pairs Multi Performance Outdoor Sports Hiking Trekking Crew Socks (Blk,Char,Olive,Pur,Brown)

Go for a Brand You Tried Before

Hiking boots can be tricky to buy. The wide array of brands available may delude you into buying a pair that’s not right for you. You may also find it uncomfortable, even if it has high ratings in all the essential features.

That’s why it’s better to go with a brand that you’ve tried before, if possible. That way, you’ll ensure that you’re getting a reliable product.

Try Different Lace Styles

How you tie your boots can be a huge contributor to the comfort it provides. When buying your boots, try different lace tying techniques to ensure that the boots stay comfortable in all cases. We recommend that you try a tight knot first. If the boots become unbreathable and too tight, then the size isn’t right.

A Pair of Duck Boots You Should Consider

If you’re looking to buy a worthy pair of duck boots, the iconic Sperry Top-Sider would be wise to consider.

It features Adaptive Wave-Siping soles that ensure stable traction on slippery surfaces. Not only that, but it also has a thermal lining inside to keep your feet warm during cold weather. On top of that, the leather on the exterior is waterproof and sealed.

An Alternative for Hiking

If you dismissed the thought of buying duck boots, you’ll need a sturdy pair of hiking boots for your next trip.

The Zamberlan Men’s 1996 Vioz is a nice option to consider. It’s made of waterproof Gore-Tex that’s breathable and durable. Plus, the 3D soles provide enough traction for rough terrains.


Hiking trips aren’t the right place to take risks, especially with footwear. A bad pair of boots is enough to ruin your trip. Even if it doesn’t, it’ll cause you discomfort, and it may result in blisters. So, make sure to get the right pair of hiking boots. So, to answer the question “are duck boots good for hiking”, the answer in most cases is NO! Keep the duck boots for your next hunting trip!


Peter is a software developer who loves to take every opportunity to go outside that he can get. Peter grew up going on long backpacking excursions with his family every Summer and now enjoys staying at the beautiful Texas State Parks and swimming in the amazing Texas Rivers.

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