January 2022 update: Looks like Huckberry has knocked almost fifty bucks off these things for the time being. No word on when this sale ends? Still ships and returns for free.
Duckboots are more function over form, but the good folks at Huckberry have taken a big swing at crafting a multi-use, good looking duckboot. These are certainly more contemporary than your average mallard inspired footwear. But, does it stand up to a roughing on the trail and in the wet? I put them to the test in advance of their fall release to find out if this all-weather hybrid boot is worth your hard earned coin.
A unique take on the classic duck boot details, but no less capable. Quack Quack.
Without question, these are one of the most visually unique duckboots available. The overall aesthetic screams trail boot, despite the ducking on the toe, than the classic wharf hopping New England aesthetic, and they’re built like a trail boot too. The upper is leather, on leather, on leather, on leather. Four distinct leathers, in fact. The star of the show, certainly, is the rubberized leather mudguard, capped on the toe with duckboot detailing. The “ducking” – this author’s term for stitched duckboot detailing, similar to “brogueing” – is a 5-clawed raised pattern, accentuated with matching stitching. Rather than the typical rubber mudguard, Huckberry opted for a a large, waterproof, single piece of leather wrapping from toe to nearly the heel, where it’s capped by a heel piece of the same material. These are hefty cuts of leather. Outdoor durability calls for heavy-duty, quality natural materials, and Huckberry applied them aplenty here. More on durability later in the post.
No flimsy uppers or ankle breaking heels here. Full support all around.
Quality materials, quality construction. Impressive.
The leather feels, I’ll call it “winterized” – for heavy outdoor use. The mudguard is connected to the rest of the outer upper via a double-stitched nubuck leather in a slightly thinner cut. Make no mistake, though, these are still thick cuts. The ankle area is highlighted by a suede rim in a darker brown. The inside of the collar uses a plush black leather matching the winterized leather mudguard below. One feature I adored on this boot is the subtle gusseted tongue for added water-proof protection. It folds neatly and protects against water. These pieces on boots can often be cumbersome and uncomfortable, or at the very least, noticeable. Not here. It’s done right.
A little fuzzy flourish.
As good as the upper materials and construction are, the midsole is the special sauce to making this a true take-it-anywhere boot. THICK stable foam cushioning supports the foot for the full day of hiking, or whatever outdoor pursuit may strike you. Narrow footed fellas may want to opt for thicker socks, as this shoe accommodates a larger foot with a wide platform. Not only does this aid in the all-day comfort, but it provides safety in stability. Wider bases create more ground contact and in turn, a more sure-footed feel. Huckberry slapped on a Vibram outsole for even more safety in wet conditions, so your foot will be safe and secure when the weather turns wet. The midsole and outsole are chunky, as befitting a shoe with all-weather ambitions, so don’t confuse this for a heritage style workboot. First and foremost, this is an outdoor ass-kicker. The stylized approach is an added bonus.
Stability in spades. Grippy Vibram outsoles provide sure-footed safety in wet conditions.
These are outdoor ass-kickers.
Huckberry recommends going true to your sneaker sizing, and my experience aligned with their recommendation. I wear a size 10 in sneakers, and these size 10 boots fit like a dream. Of course, your mileage may vary. A wide base provides a comfortable, roomy, fit without becoming sloppy. There is more room in the toes than in your average sneaker, but that’s part of the duckboot design. The larger toe volume provides room for airflow, as well as thicker socks, to keep your foot warm and comfortable in colder temperatures. This is how Leon Leonwood Bean (what a name) intended the boot to function when he designed it in 1912, and I imagine Huckberry had this in mind when crafting their own variant.
Two colorways this time. A modern almost all black, and the more traditional brown/tan.
Because it’s built to be a high-functioning outdoor boot, this beast feels built to last. It’s difficult to say for certain without a follow-up post in 6 months, but after a first hike in these Huckberry’s (Huckberries?), I’m confident in the material and build quality. I did a short, light hike in these and my feet felt almost as fresh as they do when I hike in my Danner Mountain 600’s, a true hiking boot. The one area the Huckberry duck is lacking a bit is flexibility. The chunky outsole that provides such great durability, comfort, and grip, doesn’t flex much, but that is fairly standard for a boot of this type. With all-weather hybrid products comes certain tradeoffs. Huckberry does a phenomenal job in managing those tradeoffs, and the overall package provides significant bang-for-your buck. Take these apple picking, hiking, walking the dog, or running an essential errand in the rain, snow, mud and muck that’s coming. And soon. This boot can take it all.
Hybrid boot, indeed.
About the Author: Jason P. spends his days working in the creative marketing department of a big telecom company. He also does a bit of real estate investing on the side. He believes in curating a timeless, classic wardrobe with subtle modern touches for today. He and his wife love hiking with their dog and shopping at local small businesses and antique stores when they travel. Jason is a practitioner of muay thai and traditional boxing, and his favorite drink is a hoppy New England IPA.