A new breed of ‘walking wellies’ offers an alternative to traditional boots for wet weather walking. Walk magazine put two of the leading boots to the test…
Ramblers groups walk all year round, regardless of the weather overhead or conditions underfoot. But regular walkers will know that at this time of year, paths and trails can become muddy and boggy.
The traditional footwear option for winter walking has long been a pair of waterproof lace-up boots, perhaps with gaiters to see off the worst of the mud and prevent moisture seeping over the tops of boots.
Wellies are of course an alternative – their longer length, lack of laces and rubber construction makes them impervious to water, not to mention easier to clean after a muddy walk. But the perennial problems with walking in wellies for sustained periods are lack of comfort and breathability, resulting in hot, sweaty feet and pressure points that lead to blisters or sore heels and toes.
In recent years, an increasing number of Ramblers have been taking on low-level walks wearing a new type of boot, which marries a grippy rubber outsole with a neoprene upper. Inside, the boots offer proper walking support and a breathable lining. So after hearing more and more positive reports about these boots from members, walk magazine thought it high time to test them for ourselves.
Muck Boot has been around since 1999 and was one of the first brands to pioneer the concept of the ‘walking welly’. They make a range of footwear, ranging from working boots for farmers to boots designed for gardeners and general outdoor leisure. All Muck Boots carry a 100% waterproof guarantee. We picked two great ‘walking wellies’ that seemed ideally suited to rambling along muddy paths…
Muck Boot Men’s Edgewater II multi-purpose boot
£80, UK sizes 4–13
Described as a ‘multi-purpose boot’, the Edgewater II is the latest version of one of Muck Boot’s most popular men’s styles.
+ In terms of fit and feel, first impressions were excellent. These boots hug the feet and lower leg without feeling tight around the calf (a criticism levelled at the previous model), and they’re easy to slip on and off. On test, the boots proved completely waterproof. In addition the neoprene upper was surprisingly breathable, while the boot’s air mesh lining was very effective in preventing hot, sweaty feet. We had some concerns about the grip that the unusual-looking tread pattern would offer, since it is unlike any we’ve seen on a traditional hiking boot, but in practice it proved very efficient, holding even on slippery, muddy slopes. We didn’t lose our footing on test, and best of all, squelchy mud was channelled out from under the sole, preventing the boots from getting clogged and caked with mud.
- The boots are designed for a variety of uses, which includes a variety of low-level walking. We wouldn’t wear them on rocky terrain or scree slopes, since although very stable, the rubber construction does not have the stiffness of a dedicated hiking boot.
VERDICT: For most winter walking conditions, not to mention the threat of rainy April showers, these boots are a real winner. They’re waterproof, easy to clean and comfortable even when covering long distances – we walked 12 miles on test without experiencing any soreness or chafing. The Edgewater IIs are also sturdily constructed from high-quality materials. Our only caveat would be the price – at £80, they’re the same price as lower-end walking boots. However, if most of your walking involves low-level paths and cross-country routes, then these boots would be a sound investment.
Muck Boot Women’s Wetland premium field boot
£90, UK sizes 4–9
The Women’s Wetland boot is a premium field boot with a calf-high rubber rand and a neoprene upper.
+ This is a boot specifically designed for women, so the moulded rubber outsole is contoured to fit the shape of the female foot. The stretch-fit top-line binding is tighter than on typical wellies, which effectively hugs the calf and stops chilly draughts. It makes the boots really warm in cold weather – ideal for those who get cold feet – but the stretch neoprene upper is also very flexible while remaining completely waterproof. On test, we found them to be very comfortable even on long walks of more than 12 miles. As expected, they were also completely waterproof.
- Although markedly better than most conventional wellies, these boots do feel ever so slightly clompy. The rubber outsole is very secure and durable, but fairly heavy – women who are used to walking in lightweight boots or trail shoes will notice the additional weight of the Wetlands. They were slightly tricky to get on and off due to the calf-hugging top-line binding, which seems to create a sort of suction effect!
VERDICT: Solid-performing boots with a really rugged construction – these are boots that are built to last. They provide excellent protection for the lower foot and ankle, and in terms of comfort they are light years ahead of traditional wellies. The trade-off is that as a result they feel slightly clompy, and some may find them heavy on long walks.
Tried and tested
“These are a great option for winter walking … I wear them on a 5-mile dog walk, 7 days a week and have worn them on day walks of 15+ miles. I wouldn't wear them on scree or rocky terrain but under muddy conditions they come into their own and are so much less faff than lace up boots and gaiters. They are as comfortable as trainers, really warm and have no laces! What more could you want?” Peter Mathews, Herts Ramblers