Despite their somewhat unusual construction, duck boots have become a stylish and functional staple of the winter wardrobe. However, their sizing can be incredibly confusing to get right.
This is mainly due to many of the main duck boot brands not offering half sizes. In addition, there’s plenty of variety among different brands, with some running true to size and some definitely not.
While there’s no substitute for trying them in-store, this guide should help you figure it out if you’re keen on buying them online.
How Do Duck Boots Fit?
The classic LL Bean duck boots generally run 1 or 1.5 sizes large, while Sorel duck boots usually run a half size or 1 size large. Sperry duck boots tend to fit true to size.
This is based on the collection of data from over 100 size reviews submitted online.
Here’s a breakdown of five popular duck boot brands and suggestions of what you should do.
|Duck Boot Brand||Suggestion|
|LL Bean||Size down by 1 or 1.5 sizes|
|Sperry||True to size or size up by a half size|
|Sorel Caribou||Size down by a half size or 1 full size|
|Nike LF||True to size or size up by a half size|
|Sporto||Size up by a half size or one size|
Out of those five, Sporto is the only one that seems to consistently run a little small for most people.
The Sperrys looked at were the popular Saltwaters and Avenues.
Note that the Nike Lunar Force duck boots aren’t true duck boots but are “duck boot-inspired”. I’ve included them in the table as its sizing is often queried as well.
Also notice how there isn’t a definite “do this” or “do that” for any of the brands. You’ve generally got two choices for each of them.
There are plenty of factors that should determine whether you do one or the other.
For example, with LL Bean boots, should you size down by 1 size or 1.5 sizes?
The next section should help you make the decision.
Sizing Tips For Duck Boots
Consider all of these tips before choosing your duck boot size.
1. Consider Availability
Many brands don’t offer duck boots in half sizes at all, while some only offer half sizes up to a certain size.
This can make sizing difficult as it limits your options. LL Bean doesn’t normally come in half sizes at all.
However, if you’ve got to make the decision between sizing down by 1 or 1.5 (e.g. with LL Bean boots), in a way, it makes things easier.
If you normally wear a half size (such as 9.5 US), consider sizing down by 1.5 and going for an 8. If you usually wear a 10 US, consider simply sizing down by 1 and going for a 9, accepting the risk that it may still be a little large.
2. Consider Sock Size
The thickness of the socks you intend to wear with your duck boots is important. It could mean the difference between going sizing down by half, 1, 1.5, or even simply going true to size.
The thicker the socks, the more likely those duck boots are going to feel snug and that should influence your decision.
For example, this may lead you to go true to size on those Sperry duck boots instead of going true to size.
3. Consider Width
Duck boots also often come in different widths. For example, LL Bean boots run from size 4 to 20 (men) and have three different widths – medium, wide, and narrow.
It’s worth considering width before buying, especially if you’re buying a pair of duck boots with a hefty lining, as these can seriously narrow things up.
For example, LL Bean boots can come unlined, or with Thinsulate, Shearling, or Goretex linings.
Lined boots are great for keeping everything warm, especially in snowy conditions, but they do make sizing your boots even more difficult.
All you need to bear in mind is that the heavier the lining of your boots, the more likely it is to feel narrow, especially if you’ve got wide-set feet.
If you’ve got wide set feet or the boots are heavily lined, consider sizing up a half size more than what you would do with an unlined pair of duck boots.
4. Know What A “Good Fit” Really Is
Many people wear badly fitting duck boots without even knowing it. Consider these tips to really know whether you’ve got a good fit or not:
- Push the foot forward in the shoe with the laces untied so the toes press against the toe box. You should be able to stick one finger between the back and your heel.
- Lace the boots and stand up. You should be able to wiggle your toes freely within the toe box. If they feel squashed, they’re too tight.
- Start walking in the boots. You should feel barely any slippage at the heel.
- If you feel pain anywhere along the foot while walking, they don’t fit.
5. Try Kids Sizes If Necessary
This might seem odd, but certain brands offer very limited duck boot size options, especially in the smaller range.
For people with especially small feet, this can be frustrating.
But don’t be afraid to try kids’ sizes if necessary. As long as you’re careful to read the size charts correctly, you may be able to find the perfect pair.
As a bonus, they’re often cheaper as well.
6. Check The Return Policy
This is incredibly important. Despite following all of the tips and suggestions above, there’s always a risk that you choose the wrong size.
Duck boots are just notoriously difficult to size correctly.
So, check the return policy before you buy them. This is even more important when you’re buying them online as there’s even more opportunity for error.
Sizing Guide For Specific Duck Boots Styles
Here are some specific suggestions for those popular duck boot brands laid out in a little more detail.
LL Bean Duck Boots
LL Bean duck boots tend to run large and it’s generally recommended that people size down by 1 or 1.5 whole sizes.
A large part of your decision will end up being based upon LL Bean duck boots not coming in half sizes.
So, here’s a rough outline of what you should consider:
- If you usually wear a half size, go 1.5 sizes down.
- If you usually wear a whole size, go 1 size down.
Of course, you’ll need to take other factors into consideration as well – mainly the width of your feet and the thickness of the socks you intend on wearing with them.
However, sticking to those tips would usually see most people through.
LL Bean usually has a good return policy but it’s definitely worth checking in advance of buying them, given how notoriously difficult sizing can be.
They’re the original duck boots, however, and a great option if you’re looking for a sturdy, reliable, and long-lasting pair.
Sperry Duck Boots
Sperry duck boots tend to fit true to size, especially if you’re wearing thick socks.
Sperry duck boots are almost as popular if not as popular as LL Bean duck boots, but do come with their own sizing difficulties.
There is some variation in opinion among buyers when it comes to the sizing, but most would say that it either fits true to size or runs half a size large.
The classic Sperry Saltwater duck boot is a favorite, ideal for rainy conditions thanks to its water-resistant rubber shell and slip-proof lug sole.
Here they are on Amazon:
As with LL Beans, consider whether the Sperry duck boots are lined or unlined. For example, the Sperry Cold Bay duck boots come with Thinsulate lining.
This may lead to too snug of a fit if you’ve got wide-set feet and choose to size down. Someone in this position, in particular, would benefit from going true to size instead.
Sorel Duck Boots
Sorel duck boots tend to run large, with most people benefitting from sizing down either half a size or a whole size.
Sorel duck boots do have a (limited) range of half sizes available which does make sizing them a little easier.
In general, sizing your Sorels down would be a safe bet. This is true for one of the most popular Sorel duck boots – the Caribous.
The Caribou snow boots come in a waterproof nubuck leather upper with water-resistant construction. There’s a removable 9mm felt inner boot with a Sherpa-lined cuff.
The best thing about them is how stylish they look in both black and brown.
Sporto Duck Boots
Sporto duck boots generally run small and it’s usually better to size up by half a size, especially if you plan on wearing them with thick socks.
If you don’t intend on wearing them with thick socks, or you have especially narrow feet, you may be able to get away with going true to size.
Sporto is popular because they offer a more affordable alternative to LL Bean and Sperry.
Here’s a women’s pair on Amazon as an example:
They come with a similar water-resistant rubber shell and often an insulating insole as well.
Nike Lunar Force Duck Boots
Nike Lunar Force duck boots tend to run true to size.
OK – calling these true duck boots would be a stretch, but they are at the very least duck boot-inspired. They should more appropriately be called sneakers, but I’ve included them here because people ask about their sizing all the time.
Here they are on Amazon:
Out of all of the options in this list, the Nike LFs are the most likely to fit true to size, unsurprisingly.
How To Measure Your Feet For Duck Boots
Knowing whether or not a specific duck boot brand tends to run big, small, or true to size is fine. But if you don’t know your true size, to begin with, it doesn’t really mean much.
If you aren’t keen on getting your feet measured by a professional in-store using a proper Brannock device, try the following DIY method instead:
- Place your foot on a piece of paper while wearing the sock that you intend on wearing with your boots the most.
- Using a pencil, mark the paper where your longest toe ends, as well as the back of your heel.
- Use a ruler and measure the distance between these two points. You should be left with the length of your foot (in cm and inches).
- Then, use a size chart like this one to convert your foot length (in cm/inches) to a US/UK/EUR size.
There you have it. Hopefully, that was a pretty in-depth guide to duck boot sizing.
As you can see, there’s no simple answer given the variety of different duck boots out there (in terms of brands, linings, etc).
In addition, the shape of your specific feet needs to be considered, as well as the thickness of the socks you intend on wearing.
The information above should be useful when making your decision, however, especially if you’re buying online.
Just be sure to check the return policy before you do.