This month, I have put a pair of Hunter Field Balmoral wellies through their paces. I have an odd interest in the history of the wellington boot, a history in which the North British Rubber Company, founded in 1856 and now known as Hunter, has played a major part. So, let’s cut straight to the ‘not a lot of people know that’ bit. The Duke of Wellington admired hessian military boots during his campaigns and engaged his bootmaker, one George Hoby of St James, to make some to an improved recipe. The first were made of leather but, later, they were fabricated in the 19th century’s new wonder material – ‘vulcanised’ rubber – to the patent of Mr Goodyear. À l’Aigle (To the Eagle) made them in France and the North British Rubber Company in these isles. Trench war in the 20th century did much for demand and, across the Atlantic, higher heeled wellington boots – still made of leather – were popular with cowboys.
Now, as for our boots, they follow in the great tradition of Anglo-French rubberware. Carefully re-engineered, they feature full neoprene lining, a snazzy waterproof zip, and bespoke NewFlex Vibram commando soles. They are not quite top of the impressive Hunter range – that honour goes to the leather-lined Sovereign – but they are a quality product and Hunter are very proud of them.
First impressions are of an uber-boot with sleek design and a stitched upper construction, not often seen in a wellie. They are comfortable, though quite heavy. The boots have a protective rubber rand and kick spur for ease of removal. They are made from a new soft but durable rubber compound. The test pair were dark olive, though they come in black too (UK sizes 3-14) – and have an RRP of £245. You can’t fault the styling. They are ideal for the shooting field. Functionally, a lot of thought has gone into them too; the zip impresses, as does the strap, and the sole. The Hunters are supplied with 3mm and 5mm insoles, too, to adjust fit and ease fatigue. Overall, a quality product made with an eye for style and detail.
RRP: £245 www.hunterboots.com