We compare four pairs of winter boots to put you in the know for the coming season.
There’s nothing worse in this world than being out on the bank with wet, cold feet. Okay, there is, losing big fish and fishing in the swim next to a 24-hour-a-day, relentless spodding merchant for example, but having to sit there with soggy feet that slowly turn your limbs to ice is not what you want, especially through the depths of winter. The answer? Investment in a pair of boots that will not only keep the temperature of your toes where you need it to be but will also ensure they remain dry at all times. To that end then, here we have four pairs of boots to suit your budget and look after your tootsies.
Boot Accessories –
Waterproof socks –
Your outer layer’s just one thing to think about; helping you keep your feet happy also comes down to sock choice. You could go for a swanky pair of merino wool hiking socks that’ll keep you warm and feel super-snug round your big size 10s, but if you want to crank things up to king of the swim level, we’d go for a pair of Sealskinz – waterproof, breathable and proper swanky.
You can only expect your boots to work so hard before they start to let water in, so looking after them is key to maximising their lives. One way of doing this – other than making sure you clean off all the muck, dog eggs and dropped munga you can after every session – is to keep them waterproofed by applying a waterproofing spray. This will boost your outer layer and help the material they’re made from work harder for longer.
Boot Bag –
Boot transportation can be an issue. The last thing you want is half the bankside mud stuck to your boots becoming infused into your car’s plush, shag pile carpet. You could go down the plastic bag route, but Aldi chic simply doesn’t cut it nowadays. Before you go planning a big shop at Waitrose for some high-class plastic luggage, have a think about what a lovely, specifically designed, easy to clean boot bag could offer… it’s how the other half live you know.
Test Bed –
We all know that the key to keeping your feet warm when it comes to boots is combining them with the right socks. As long as your boots are of a decent standard you should be okay – that’s if you’re not sticking them out of the bivvy to get snowed on in minus 6ºC conditions, obviously.
The critical feature of good winter boots then is that they can keep out moisture – a leaking boot will give you cold toes quicker than you can say trench foot. What we concentrated on for this feature then was each pair of boots’ ability to keep out water.
The consistencies –
To check out the capabilities of the boots, our editor donned one of each and immersed his foot in a tank of water. Each boot was kept there for a full 10 minutes to give them a proper run through, with the inside of the boot and the editor’s sock checked post dunk for any signs of leakage.
Water’s Edge Boots
Good, solid boots are the best way to describe the Water’s Edge from carp tackle firm Wychwood. Their no-frills design sees a waterproof leather and oxford (a tight weave material) upper on top of a very sturdy TPR (thermoplastic rubber) mid and outsole.
A water-resistant membrane means your feet should stay nice and dry, and with a tough eyelet lacing system that goes all the way up the ankle, you get plenty of support when walking across rugged terrain. The sole design also offers a lot of grip, again to keep you well in touch with the ground, whatever the landscape.
We’d put the Water’s Edge boots into the budget category of footwear at £53.99. For that money, you get a good pair of boots that should last a season or two of abuse if you look after them well.
They represent good value for money and look the part.
The insole doesn’t feel the comfiest and could lead to rubbing if you’re doing a lot of walking.
Having been in the tank for 10 minutes there was no sign of leakage anywhere.
Weight: 610g each
Max5 Polar Zone +
When it comes to fishing boots, these are the Land Rovers of footwear. For a start, they’re full-height field boots so you get the best ankle support possible. They’re manufactured to a high standard, with solid stitching throughout, and feel very well put together.
The main material in the boots’ construction is full-grain Nubuck leather that delivers a hard-wearing, water-resistant covering. This is backed up with an abrasion-resistant, polyester 900D waterproof fabric in realistic camou print, along with a breathable but fully waterproof HydroGuard membrane.
What we like is the solidity of these boots. They feel like tanks on your feet, bolstered by a really supportive inner sole and cushioning produced using Thinsulate material for extra warmth. The high design also makes you feel more planted on rough terrain – alongside the support of the rugged grips on the hard-wearing sole.
The downside of the design is obviously that they take longer to put on and take off, but the quick lacing system helps with that. The other downside is the price – they retail for £120. However, as always, you get what you pay for, and for boots that will look after your feet well, it’s worth parting with the cash.
Super tough, super comfy, super protective.
After a 10-minute dunking the boots, the ed’s sock and everything else that needed to be dry was.
Weight: 840g each
Jack Pyke is well known for its outdoor gear, and its boots come with a solid reputation. The Fieldman offer no-messing footwear that’s focused on the job at hand.
Produced from high-quality, full-grain leather, the boots feature a rubberised band that surrounds the outside, lower part, offering protection from the terrain and the elements. Everything is well put together with quality laces, stitching and lace eyelet system. We know because we’ve used these for a number of years with the only problem we’ve encountered being the waterproofing at the tongue, but that’s after a lot of abuse.
The soles are produced by Vibram (its Trek rubber sole) and offer superb grip and robustness, no matter what you’re treading on.
One of the best aspects of the boots, other than how well they protect you from the elements, is the comfort level. Featuring amply padded tongues and heels using Thinsulate technology, plus with good ankle support through the speed lace system, the Fieldman tick a lot of boxes.
As with the Prologic boots you’re looking way past the £100 mark for a pair, but they are a great investment that will pay you back over the long term.
Classic boots with loads of modern tech to keep you dry and warm.
The price might make you think twice.
As with the other boots, these were solid under the water pressure with not even a drop passing through.
Weight: 590g each
We’ve thrown an odd ball in here, but with good reason. The Skee-Tex boots have been around for years and garnered a reputation as ‘the’ Wellington-style boots for fishing if you want to keep your feet warm.
They offer all the waterproof advantages of a welly with a completely sealed rubber construction, but with added extras. The soles have a very chunky construction that offers loads of grip right from the front to all around the heel.
Although wellies are waterproof, they are not known for keeping your feet warm – but the Skee-Tex ones are different. Thanks to the technology in these boots they can regulate the temperature inside them right down to minus 50ºC. These have even been worn during Arctic expeditions, with world famous adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes saying: “These are the only waterproof boots I have worn in 18 years of expedition work that have kept my feet warm to minus 50ºC.” Praise indeed.
The boots come with an internal thermal liner that can be taken out to be washed. These can also be bought separately if you want to fit a new pair in there.
100% waterproof and extremely warm.
They’re not the nicest looking things to put on your feet.
As you’d expect from a welly, there was no leakage of any kind.
Weight: 1,380g each