The most traditional type of outdoor footwear must be the Wellington Boot, as even today, especially when conditions dictate, they’re worn by outdoorsmen and hunters of all disciplines. Simple because they’re the optimum choice if shooting in very muddy, wet or boggy conditions and for the airgun hunter they’re the recommended choice when operating around the farmyard and/or inside barns.
Buckle Or Zip
Those of a certain age will know a wellie was once a wellie. In other words, you bought a basic pair of pull-on design, often of a thick rubber material that wasn’t very forgiving or even that comfortable. However, they did serve and fulfil the major reason for wearing them. Now, the trouble was if you got stuck in heavy mud and/or a boggy area you could easily have the awful ‘foot in the air wellie left behind’ experience. One that often left you with a saturated foot and leg or at worse you’d go sprawling only to get even wetter and dirty as you retrieved the ‘stuck’ wellie.
Now at the time, many (myself included) didn’t know that certain designs were available that helped the wellie fit better – these were the type that had buckle strap fasteners at the side with gusset and later we saw the zipped style hit the scene.
Obviously, which type to choose is not only a matter of personal choice but your physique because if you have ‘large’ calves’ then the buckle fasten type are the ones to go for but if zipped suit - then they’re less prone to snagging when moving through tall dense undergrowth due to the flush-fit design of the side fastening.
Neoprene - The Alternative
As well as different styles of wellie there’s also the choice of ‘material’ used in construction and the major one in Wellingtons is the use of Neoprene.
Interestingly, Neoprene was the first-ever successful synthetic rubber created back in the early 1930s. It’s now so widely used it’s not only found in the marine industry (wetsuits et al) but even high-street modern-day fashion.
Its usefulness for footwear is because of its benefits that include amongst others a very high resistance to impact, tear, abrasion, weather and water plus it’s stretchy resulting in it being very comfortable when worn. It also retains the structure and gives added warmth. Ideal for those who require a snug-fitting, warm, durable and very flexible pair of boots.
Choices, Choices, Choices…
As you’d expect Jack Pyke have all the bases covered - the more traditional are the Ashcombe Gusseted and Ashcombe Zipped. Both have a 3mm thick Neoprene (there’s that material again) lining giving extra padding and full waterproof assurance. and they stand on what the company term a ‘High Grip’ rubber sole. They also feature removal lugs at the heel for ease of exit, and the quality of rubber used is durable, strong and has a hunter ‘friendly’ matt finish to prevent quarry alerting shine.
The Ashcombe Gusseted will appeal to many as they adjust to fit snug to the upper calf using the ABS buckle-fastening top strap. The ‘expanding’ gusset behind is of course waterproof. The buckle is easy to open yet very secure when closed so it won’t slip along the strap as you walk.
The Ashcombe Zipped have a full-length waterproof side gusset which fastens by a weather-resistant YKK zip. When the heavy-duty zip is pulled up, both sides of the rubber ‘follow it up’ and small over-flaps cover and protect the closure from the elements plus keeping out mud and dirt from ‘clogging’ up the fastener.
The Neoprene range consists of the standard and an Evo version which both boast all the features of the Ashcombe’s including having the same lining, removal lugs and style of the outsole.
However, the difference is these are structured so that virtually the entire top two-thirds of the boot is made of a high-quality Neoprene. The other third is manufactured from durable rubber and is cleverly configured to allow proportionate strengthening sections to rise up front and rear. Plus, there are narrow but full-length strips that reach up from both areas mentioned previously to the very top to give extra support to the more forgiving upper.
Another very redeeming design feature is the tougher rubber lower gives way to the very flexible Neoprene upper at just the right point to allow for a superb level of flexibility without compromising on the protection offered from the elements or terrain.
They give a level of flexibility and unrestricted ease of movement that’s hard to find in a standard Wellington boot and it’s a model that’s already proving popular with the active hunter and many outdoorsmen.