While the rain we’re experiencing isn’t quite like running out and jumping into puddles, few things could be more comforting in this extremely rainy season than a pair of rubber boots.
Fashion designer Rhys Ripper says growing up on a farm, he found rubber boots so useful that he often ventured into just socks, track pants, and rubber boots. As long as you’re wearing rubber boots, he says, “you can run outside and feed the chooks or get some firewood” without worrying about the world.
But not all rubber boots are created equal. To literally avoid getting stuck in mud, there are a few features to watch out for.
The first thing to make sure is that your rubber boots have non-slip soles and a good tread. The tread is the first thing farmer Andrew Joy looks at when he evaluates a good boot. He says: “Trekking treads are preferable because they offer better grip and protection.”
The next thing to consider is the boot length, do you want Kate Moss to Glastonbury knee boots? Or easier to wear around the city, the ankle-high ones?
The first thing to think about is protection. Ripper says the knee-high rubber boots offer protection for the calves but also, most importantly, the pants. He says that “putting on pants is important” for fashion reasons (to show off boots) but also to “keep pants dry”.
The second is movement. A PVC or rubber knee boot can impair your ability to flex the ankle. One way to avoid this is to opt for shorter boots with neoprene sides. Joy says she wears a “mid-height neoprene style as it offers better maneuverability and is not as stiff against the leg”.
Knee-high boots can be difficult to put on and take off, and at times, this can compromise the fit around the foot. Michael Hatfield, from safety boot maker Bata Industrials, says you need to find the right balance between the boot that is large to fit your foot in but still tight enough for a comfortable fit.
Podiatrist Tanya Contis says fit is especially important, because if your boots are too loose “you’ll be prone to pinching your toes to keep your foot from moving,” which can cause painful blisters and corns.
When she thinks about fitness, she says, “Your feet swell during the day, so if your boots are comfortable when you wear them in the morning, chances are they are too small at the end of the day.” Other things to consider are the support and structure of the sole, whether or not it has adequate arch support and whether there is cushioning inside the shoe.
Contis’ preference is for ankle boots with neoprene lining. He says the length makes them easier to put on and take off and the lining helps keep the foot insulated. Both of these things are especially important if you are shopping for children’s rubber boots.
In terms of materials, rubber boots are typically made from PVC or rubber. Natural rubber tends to be more flexible and comfortable to wear than PVC, and is more durable, especially if it has undergone a hardening called vulcanization. However, rubber is also much heavier and more expensive than PVC.
Hatfield says PVC boots are most commonly used for protective clothing and can be equipped with features such as safety toe caps and anti-penetration midsoles to protect against sharp objects puncturing the sole.
Ultimately, the right pair of boots will depend on what you need.
The choice of the farmer
For protection, insulation, and flexibility in the mid-calf through the ankle, Joy recommends Bogs Classic Ultra Mid Farm ($ 149.95). The boot is lined with a lightweight, sweat-absorbing fabric and has been tested in sub-zero temperatures, so you can be sure your foot will stay warm and dry.
The choice of the podiatrist
Australian wellington boot designers Merry People have created an extremely versatile ankle boot. Contis says he has seen the Bobbi Gumboot ($ 149.95) worn on the farm and around town, and it comes in a variety of fun colors. If fit is your priority, this is a good option as these boots have arch support and a generous tread. They are also lined with neoprene for added warmth and flexibility. Plus Merry People has a super cute children’s range.
The fashion choice
Ripper recommends this sleek yet functional knee-high boot from Hunter (around $ 225). The style originated in England in 1956 and has been worn by everyone from Kate Moss to Diana, Princess of Wales. It is made of vulcanized natural rubber and is designed for rain. For something shorter, Hunter also makes a super chic, waterproof Chelsea boot.
The choice for children
Penny Scanlan makes these short rubber boots for kids ($ 39.95). They have a cotton lining, a non-slip sole and a toe guard.
The heavy-duty pick
The Bata Knee Length Steel Hooded Safety Wellies ($ 32.50) wear their features in the title. They are made of PVC, have a reinforced heel, a steel toecap and are resistant to oil and acids. In addition, they are produced in Australia.