What are Rain Boots?

Paulla Estes

Though many of us grew up with a pair of rain boots in the coat closet for those spring days when the puddles needed stomping, many of us are unaware of their rich history. While the many yellow and black pairs that lined our elementary school classrooms might have made for frustrations when it was time to go outside, we forget there was a time when they simply did not exist.

The roots of rain boots can be traced back to 200 years ago in England.
The roots of rain boots can be traced back to 200 years ago in England.

Rain boots were originally created less than 200 years ago, in early 19th century England. Arthur Wellesley, the First Duke of Wellington, wore Hessian boots, which were tall, tasseled boots for men, brought to England by the Hessians. The popular duke instructed his favorite shoe maker to modify the boots a bit, removing the fancy trim and making them a bit more form-fitting; the boots became known as Wellingtons or "Wellies" and became the fashion rage among well-to-do English men. In 1853, after learning of the creation of rubber, Hiram Hutchinson introduced the first rubber Wellington boots to farmers in France. The boots were an instant success, saving field workers from coming home each day with wet and muddy feet.

Rain boots are designed to prevent feet from getting wet.
Rain boots are designed to prevent feet from getting wet.

Today, Wellington boots have impacted the style of boots around the world. Rain boots are now waterproof and made from either rubber or other man-made equivalents. GORE-TEX®, one of the latest materials used for boots, is completely waterproof.

While Wellingtons are usually knee-high, rain boots are also available low cut, just above the ankle; or high cut, all the way up to the thigh. Wellingtons were originally made in simple black rubber, but today they are popular in a variety of colors, with solid green, solid yellow, and black with red or green soles being the most popular. Multi-colored boots and those with designs, patterns, or polka-dots can now be found in every color of the rainbow.

Though the name implies use only in inclement weather, rain boots are useful for more than a rainy day. Snow, mud, and chemical waste all require waterproof boots for protection, dryness, and warmth. Many boots are made with inner liners of flannel or other warm materials for use in cold weather. Gone are the lines of yellow and black boots in elementary school classrooms. Today, every child in class may have a completely different look, thanks to fashion variety combined with the traditional style.

Rain boots help keep feet dry during winter weather.
Rain boots help keep feet dry during winter weather.

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Discussion Comments


@plaid - That is too cute and so funny! It is crazy how kids can get attached to something like rain boots. There is a brand, also, called kidorable rain boots or something to that extent and their rain boots are just so, so cute! My son probably wouldn't go for them at this point, but I would easily buy them for my nieces. I might even steal your idea of making fake rain puddles just to get some good pictures in.


@wecallherana - We bought some ladybug rain boots for our toddler at Target the other day. It's funny because it's turning to Fall and you wouldn't think they would have them out until after wintertime. Sometimes we "make" puddles to let her stomp in because she loves those things so darn much!


Rain boots still give kids now that fun feeling of going out and stomping in the puddles on rainy or warm Spring days. Toddler rain boots are super cute, too. We just bought some for our daughter from Target and she loves them. The best part is that rain boots are relatively inexpensive and come in handy in places where it rains a lot like Washington or when hurricanes strike in Florida... not that we let the kids play in hurricanes.

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