The 6 Best Gardening Shoes, According to Our Testing
Gardening shoes are essential for protecting your normal shoes from getting ruined while gardening. The best gardening shoes can handle dirt, water, and mud thanks to their waterproof materials, and offer traction so you can traverse uneven surfaces in your yard with ease. And of course, they should do all this while remaining comfortable.
There are several different types of gardening shoes to choose from, so to help you narrow your search, we tested 15 gardening shoes in our Lab and evaluated them on quality, comfort, durability, design, and value. Our top pick is the Sloggers Waterproof Comfort Shoes, which our tester found to be sturdy, easy to clean, and surprisingly affordable.
Read on for all of our top picks and learn how to choose the best gardening shoes for your needs and lifestyle.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall Gardening Shoes: Sloggers Waterproof Comfort Shoes
- Best Waterproof Gardening Shoes: Bogs Patch Ankle Garden Boots
- Best Tall Gardening Shoes: Xtratuf Salmon Sisters Legacy Boots
- Best Gardening Clogs: Amoji Garden Clogs
- Best Gardening Boots: Evercreatures Ankle Garden Boot
- Most Versatile Gardening Shoes: The Original Muck Boot Company Muckster II Mid
Overall, we recommend the Sloggers Waterproof Comfort Shoes for their durability, which is due in part to a thick sole and waterproof construction that allows for working in wet environments and uneven terrain. They are also easy to clean, made with up to 50 percent recycled materials, and come in plenty of fun patterns.
Our Testing Process
We tested 15 gardening shoes in our Lab and in the real world, assessing them on quality, comfort, durability, design, and value. Our first set of tests involved our testers wearing the shoes for over an hour while doing moderate yard work tasks to measure the quality and comfort of the shoes. These tasks involved standing, crouching, kneeling, and walking on uneven ground or over rocks. If the gardening shoes we tested had ventilation holes, we asked our testers to rate the breathability of the shoes.
After doing a variety of gardening tasks, the shoes were examined for damages and signs of wear. We then washed the shoes to see how easy they were to clean and noted whether they needed additional attention after being hosed off. Once we finished these tests, our testers rated the overall value of the shoe for the price, as well as whether or not they would recommend these shoes to fellow gardeners and if they would wear them outside of gardening. We gathered all of this information and used it to come up with the best gardening shoes.
How to Shop for Gardening Shoes
Most gardening shoes are made with waterproof materials such as rubber and EVA, or ethylene-vinyl acetate, which is also water-resistant. Not only do these materials keep your feet dry, but they also make them a lot easier to clean. Unless the shoes have a removable insole, all you have to do is wash them down with a hose and let them dry outside. If gardening shoes do not have either of these materials as the primary material in the shoe, especially rubber, they will be harder to clean and will likely break down more overtime.
There are three types of gardening shoes to consider: clogs, short wellies, and boots. Clogs are great for people who want something that is lightweight and easy to slip on and off. Clogs also often have ventilation holes that allow for breathability, something that you won't get with short wellies or boots. One downside to clogs is that because they have an open back and sometimes ventilation holes, water and dirt will get inside, which may be irritating for some people. As such, these are great for the casual gardener or someone trying out gardening for the first time.
Short wellies are great because they completely cover the foot yet are short enough that your legs are given room to breathe. Tall boots offer the greatest level of coverage and are best suited for someone who lives in wet climates or who frequently works in messy gardening situations. However, the con with boots are that are not breathable, and may become uncomfortable to wear on warm days. Plus, for the agile gardener, they may feel bulky to wear.
More Gardening Shoes to Consider
Crocs Classic Clogs: These famously comfy shoes are so lightweight that our tester said that "you barely notice you're wearing shoes." Even though our tester ended up wearing them for over six hours with ease, they did note that the big holes gave dirt pathways to get inside.
Naturalizer Marianne Loafer: These are excellent for people who want gardening shoes that look like everyday footwear. Although our tester found these to be "extremely comfortable and have good arch support," they noted that these are not waterproof and would not hold up well in dirty or muddy gardening environments.
Questions You Might Have
Do I really need to buy separate shoes for gardening?
Unless you want to completely ruin your normal shoes, then yes, you do. One of our testers told us that they actually tried using basic tennis shoes while gardening and ended up ruining multiple pairs over time. Working with plants and getting deep in dirt, soil, and mulch, especially when mixed with water, is not the kind of environment your normal shoes were designed to survive in. Gardening shoes are, so by buying them, you may actually be saving money by not having to replace your regular shoes when they get ruined while gardening.
What's the best way to clean gardening shoes?
Garden shoes are incredibly easy to clean. Since so many of them are made of waterproof materials, all you really need to do is hose them off and leave them out to dry. However, make sure that you remove the insole, if it is removable, and wash and dry that separately. You can do that with plain soap and water.
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Rachel Center, a product reviews home writer for Real Simple. We researched the best gardening shoes and tested 15 of the most popular options in our Lab, evaluating them on quality, comfort, durability, design, and value.
What Is Real Simple Selects?
Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn't an option. If that's the case, we test the product just like we test anything we buy, but we also disclose that we received it for free to be as transparent with you as possible.
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