The Best Casual Boots for Men and Women

September 08, 2017

  • by
  • Jessica Tegerstrand
  • Peter Reese
  • Emily Applekamp

As the weather gets colder and leaves change and fall, it’s getting time to hang up your sandals for the winter and pull on more seasonally appropriate footwear. While you won’t want to hike through deep backcountry snow in these casual boots, they’ll keep your feet warm and protected walking around town or on moderate trails, through fall leaves and winter slush. For heavier duty snow and winter boots, check out our Winter Boots buyer’s guide.


Photo Credit: Emily Applekamp

Active Junky tested models from the best boot companies to help you choose a pair to be your fall and winter companion. Read on for our top picks for both men’s and women’s best casual boots, and don’t forget to sign up for Active Junky for exclusive deals and cash back on your gear purchases.

Boot Brands Reviewed

 Men's Boots  Women's Boots
  Altra   Ahnu
  Bogs   Helly Hansen
  Chaco   Merrell
  Forsake   Teva
  Oliberte   UGG
  Wolverine  

How To Choose the Best Casual Boots

The boot models we’ve included in this guide are not heavy duty boots you’d take snowshoeing or winter peak bagging (see our Best Winter Boots guide for those models), but these boots still include features like weather resistance, traction and some street style. Focus on these questions to help you make your decision.

What kind of weather are you up against?


Photo Credit: Dan Rhodes

Do you live in a climate where all four seasons in a 24-hour period can be the daily norm? When sunny days turn to downpours on a regular basis? If so, we recommend you look into water resistant or full waterproof models. Quality materials like leather with GoreTex lining and taped seams will help to avoid soggy feet. Our favorites? Merrell Sugarbush for women and Forsake Clyde for men.

How much warmth do you need?

In the same vein, what temperatures will you experience? Are you in an area where winters sit around 60 degrees? Or are you anticipating single-digit walks around the town? For colder weather, especially areas where blizzards are common, look for boots with linings, like the women's UGG Kesey, or you can always buy boots a half size up and pull on thicker socks. For insulated models, have a look at our Winter Boots buyer’s guide.

How much traction do you need?


Photo Credit: Dan Rhodes

Are you hoping to wear your new kicks throughout winter? Will you be navigating icy sidewalks or wet pavement? Make sure to look for boots with a more aggressive tread and sole materials that brag about their slip resistance. Most brands offer their own proprietary sole material with varying degrees of tread.

Editor’s Picks for Best Casual Boots

Best Men’s Casual Boot: Bogs Johnny Chukka Boot

Best Street-Ready Men’s Boot: Forsake Clyde

Best Women’s Casual Boot: Merrell Sugarbush

Best Street-Ready Women’s Boot: Ahnu Chenery

Universal Attributes

Each boot was evaluated against five major attributes we considered when testing. We then selected one key attribute in which each boot excelled, listed below in each boot review.

Comfort: Whether you are relaxing in a lodge or walking for hours on varied terrain, your feet should not be setting off any painful alarms.

Warmth: No one wants frozen toes during a snowstorm or sweaty feet during a warm autumnal stroll; we consider which boot is right for which climate.

Weather Protection: Wind, rain, puddles, and snow are not unique to times of adventure, so we test how each boot stands up to the elements.

Traction: Slipping is never pleasant. Sticking power helps mitigate injuries, improve performance, and avoid an embarrassing encounter with the ground.

Style: A personal preference, but there are certainly boots that lend themselves more towards office settings or date nights than navigating muddy trails.


Photo Credit: Dan Rhodes

Bogs Johnny Chukka Boot – Men’s

Bogs johnny chukka boot main Bogs Johnny Chukka Boot $104.62 - $106.95

Best Men’s Casual Boot

Johnny Chukka Boot is one of Bog’s lifestyle models, but implementing performance elements such as a waterproof leather upper. At the same time, the more relaxed feel has all the time in the world for bocce, the latest hop-crazy brew fest or wandering along a casual trail. The chukka-style boot looks great at the office or paired with jeans for a night out.

Pros: Waterproofing is a major bonus here, with Johnny’s full-grain and seam-sealed leather upper. The max-wick lining breeds all-day comfort, with an OrthoLite footbed below to dampen the impact of the dense, slip-resistant lugged rubber outsole. In between, count on dual-density EVA to pave the way. Active Junky rates the Bogs Johnny boot line highly, with lots of admiration thanks to the Johnny 5-Eye version that laces solidly.

Cons: Weatherproofing means that these boots can handle wet conditions, but they’re not a great choice for bitter cold winter days.

Best for: Confident everyday wear in most weather conditions; multi-use including light hiking

Key Attribute: Weather Protection

Merrell Sugarbush – Women’s

Merrell sugarbush main Merrell Sugarbush $197.96 - $202.50

Best Women’s Casual Boots

These Merrells pay homage to the outdoor lifestyle, but still bring a lot of comfort and style to the mix. Constructed of waterproof leather that is fully sealed, these women’s boots don’t let anything creep in even in the harshest conditions. Great traction, stiff construction, as well as mid-range cushion while walking, Merrell built a boot that pulls back just before you would call them hikers and delivers enough style to bridge the gap to street style.

Pros: Merrell Sugarbush boots are a little more substantial and a bit more rugged than other casual boots we reviewed. Made with waterproof leather, they are well sealed and boast an integrated tongue, making them incredibly resistant to water incursion even while submerged. A Vibram sole provides traction over a large variety of terrain. These Merrell boots are well constructed with multiple layers of varying EVA, including a cork layer that really helps with shock absorption and comfort. Merrell added an antimicrobial agent to the breathable lining, which does a lot to reduce odors.

Cons: The thick, quality leather used means you are looking at some heat build-up, so these are not the best choice for warmer conditions.

Best for: Bringing a little trail style to the street; casually hitting your favorite trail

Key Attribute: Weather Protection

Forsake Clyde – Men’s

Forsakeclyde5 Forsake Clyde $92.15 - $116.96

Best Street-Ready Men’s Casual Boot

Credible on the trail and in-control on a longboard commute, Active Junky testers loved these compelling waterproof boots. Forsake Clyde combines quality material from top to bottom, heel to toe, and wraps it up in a package that looks more like a skate shoe than a casual boot, which is part of what we loved about it. The other part was performance. From street to trail, Clyde is a conversation starter, and testers put them to the test through mud and slush.

Pros: These men's boots boast more than just style. They’re packed full of features that also make them top performers. An open cell PU footbed cushions your foot and helps fight odor with an anti-microbial treatment, and moisture wicking mesh lining helps keep your feet dry if they're prone to sweating. On the outside, you’ll find suede and full-grain leather with water-repelling treatment for a fully waterproof boot. Underneath the lug pattern and outsole material provide exceptional traction – don’t be surprised if you see these casual boots trekking up a mountain.

Cons: As can be expected with fully waterproof shoes, these boots are not as breathable as other boots we tested, so not the best idea for warmer days.

Best for: Combining fashion and function; comfort on cooler days on pavement or trail

Key Attribute: Style

Ahnu Chnery – Women’s

Ahnu cheneryblack Ahnu Chenery Starting at: $158.36

Best Street-Ready Women’s Casual Boot

The Ahnu Chenery takes its inspiration from the footwear of woodland firefighters or burly lumberjacks, but gives it a feminine twist. Ahnu took many of the features from the Montara, one of their top-rated hikers, and gave it a makeover that allows Chenery to fit seamlessly into an urban environment. Multiple textures, detailed stitching, and rich materials make these women’s boots a visual showstopper. Ahnu paid attention to detail for both performance and styling. Consider going up a half size if you tend to teeter on the edge of sizing.

Pros: These Ahnu boots are incredibly comfortable, with an Aegis antimicrobial-treated memory foam footbed cushioning your feet, while an internal steel shank provides lots of support. A mixture of waterproof, full-grain leather with water-resistant suede adds visual interest, and the rubber outsole has a cute floral pattern that provides enough slip-resistance to keep you feeling sure-footed. These Ahnu women’s boots excelled in an urban environment, offering excellent support during long hours on our feet while still being stylish enough for a casual-chic night on the town.

Cons: They don't provide a lot of warmth, and the traction is lacking enough tread to not feel super secure on rough terrain.

Best for: Being on your feet all day, from fall evenings out bar-hopping to hosting a local event and on to the after-party

Key Attribute: Comfort

Altra Desert Boot – Men’s

Altra mens desert boot main Altra Men’s Desert Boot $84.45 - $96.76

With roots in running, Altra knows how to translate anatomy into efficient motion. With the expanding line of casual footwear that includes a previous tester favorite (the Instinct), the Altra Desert Boot gets styled with genuine leather on top of a Zero Drop platform in this worthwhile leather casual boot. Cushioned and ready for extended standing along with serious stepping, there’s no reason to sacrifice support and performance for comfort and style. These boots have it all.

Pros: Key in Altra’s footwear is the Zero Drop, which promotes a natural step and gait, and the wide Footshape toebox allows for natural toe splay, both making for a comfortable fit and form. Premium leather makes the upper with a dual layer EVA mid-sole and Altra’s FootPod outsole with lugs strategically placed below foot pressure points. The chukka-style in three colorways are subtle and stylish.

Cons: These boots are not weather proof, nor do they have any insulation for colder days. The tread is also not dramatic enough for rugged conditions.

Best for: Everyday casual style, travel and transitioning to most work situations

Key Attribute: Comfort

Chaco Yonder – Men’s

Chacos yonder main Chaco Yonder $111.13 - $167.16

Whether you’re plodding through winter slush or heading off trail to stroll through fall leaves, Chaco Yonder men's boots can handle it all. This hiker-inspired casual boot won over Active Junky testers for both style and comfort. Sizing runs large so order a full size smaller if your feet are narrower, one-half size for wider feet.

Pros: Testers loved the full grain leather upper complete with weather protected waxed laces. The leather upper is durable and the outsole is rugged and non-slipping so these casual boots can handle moderate trail conditions and even a wander away from the beaten path. The knit-lined Luvseat footbed cradles your foot and can be removed if necessary. The style balances well between work boot and hiker that looks just as at home in a casual setting.

Cons: While the leather upper is durable, these Chaco boots are not weather resistant, nor do they have any insualation for days when the temperature drops.

Best for: Aggressive casual and travel wear; all-day comfort with the Luvseat footbed

Key Attribute: Comfort

Oliberte Gando Boot – Men’s

Oliberte gando 1 Oliberte Men's Gando Boot $90.16 - $94.16

The Oliberte Gando is a stunning example of intentional manufacturing focused on ground-up social impact. The first-ever, Fair-Trade Certified footwear maker, Oliberte continues to emerge as a source for economic good as well as style excellence. While over-the-ankle is not everyone’s look, testers laced up proudly – and comfortably – thanks to a goat leather lining. Vegetable tanning further ensures a better future for the planet. The company recommends sizing down a bit, as the sizing runs big.

Pros: Featuring premium leather uppers, these casual men’s boots are waterproof with wax coated laces to protect the pair from inclement weather. The crepe rubber outsole is lined with parallel jagged ribs for traction Active Junky testers applauded. Comfort is key with this pair of Oliberte boots. The Gando features a water-based insole with heel stabilizer to cradle and support your foot.

Cons: These casual boots are not insulated, so won’t be a great a choice for severe weather. As mentioned above, they run large, so consider a full size down.

Best for: Comfort and traction in shoulder seasons and mild winter days

Key Attribute: Comfort

Wolverine Kilometer – Men’s

Wolverine kilometer main Wolverine Kilometer $92.00 - $124.78

Available in black or brown, Kilometer’s design is inspired by Wolverine’s work boot patterns and is just about the most classic styled casual boot we tested. Manufactured in the U.S., Kilometer is a solid reason to give Wolverine leather boots a wear as the weather turns from late summer to crisp fall. Active Junky testers wore this men's boot a size down from normal footwear (due to narrower feet) and recommend a half-size drop to take full advantage of the 6” tall, five eyelet and two loop design.

Pros: Though this boot definitely lends itself to lifestyle over rugged performance, that doesn’t mean it isn’t packed with quality materials. A full rubber outsole provides traction in slick condition, and the full-grain leather continues to wear even better than Kilometer’s rugged finish hints. Lacing here is sure and holds well. While unlined, Active Junky appreciate the ability to select socks based on conditions.

Cons: While the leather is rugged, the rest of the boot is not meant for serious punishment like hiking. They also will not keep your feet warm in harsher conditions. “Casual” is certainly key here.

Best for: Upgrading your urban game; finding a new direction for casual and weekend outings

Key Attribute: Style

Helly Hansen W A.S.T 2 – Women’s

Helly hansen w a s t 2 Helly Hansen W A.S.T 2 $118.76 - $135.00

Ever wish your favorite tennis shoes could roll right into the wet winter months with you? Helly Hanson was nice enough to take all the things you love about sneakers and morph them into a boot. Lightweight and flexible while still warm and dry, these women’s boots are a unique entry into the market. The fit is true to size and both fit and finish are top notch.

Pros: The W A.S.Ts performed incredibly well in tests that required longer stamina. Over long distances and time periods they retained comfort and didn’t overheat. Active Junky would rate its traction in the mid-range: somewhere between rugged boot and classic sneaker. The midsole is comfortable and the padded ankle cuff is flexible, but snug. Just like sneakers, they hug your feet and don’t give you that clunky boot feeling.

Cons: The W A.S.T 2s utilize waterproof leather with good resistance to water, but the boots aren’t fully sealed so they don’t tout full waterproofing.

Best for: A long day on your feet on serendipitous evening racing between adventures despite the weather

Key Attribute: Comfort

Teva De La Vina Low – Women’s

Teva de la vina low main Teva De La Vina Low $123.16 - $134.96

Sleek styling and sturdy construction, these women's boots perform just as tough as they look. While Teva is most known for their less-is-more water sandals, they have been increasingly delivering quality footwear in other categories. Case in point, the De La Vina line of boots that boast high quality materials, solid design elements, and the technical perks necessary to compete in the realm of rugged winter boots—the  De La Vina Lows are great casual boots with a bit of an edge. If you intend to wear thicker socks, we recommend going up a half size, but they worked well for our testers with thin to average sock sizing.

Pros: Construction of waterproof leather and canvas lining give these casual boots a sturdy feel. And the rubber outsole has amazing purchase as you travel over slick sidewalks and rocky creek beds. The water resistance is solid, but with a fairly wide opening at the calf, a downpour might be a bit of a pain. They slip-on and zip-up with ease making these great for running out quickly. The sturdy construction offered support over the miles, but also enough cushion in the insole to make the miles comfortable.

Cons: The only waterproofing weak point is the zipper, but it takes a lot before it starts to let water seep in. The wide calf opening may also be a con for some women.

Best for: Turning up your tough factor; kicking around dirty campgrounds, dusty gas stations, and even a sticky dive bar or two

Key Attribute: Traction

UGG Kesey – Women’s

Ugg kesey main UGG Kesey $143.96 - $148.80

UGG is known for its classic boot that basically looks like a super plush and comfortable slipper built up to boot height, and tweaking it just enough to exist as footwear suitable for public consumption. The UGG Kesey women’s boot is the next iteration in the evolution of that undertaking. It not only passes as fashionable footwear, but excels in style and performance. It melds a huge amount of comfort with weather protection, and dresses up your winter wardrobe. These boots are a bit narrow, so those with wider feet may want to go up a half size.

Pros: These are great crossover boots, performing well not only in day-to-day activities, but also for weekend excursions out on muddy trails. The Spider Rubber soles didn’t appear to be very rugged at first glance, and while we wouldn’t suggest taking these on any long treks, they were certainly grippy enough to tackle wet, slippery surfaces. And you don’t have to worry over puddles as these boots are fully waterproofed with sealed seams. We trudged ankle deep through an icy stream and there was no infiltration whatsoever.

Cons: These boots are warm, and maybe too warm on milder fall days. The slightly narrower fit may not work for wider feet.

Best for: Keeping cozy while looking chic at the office or trudging through streams on weekend excursions

Key Attribute: Comfort

 

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