Let us thoroughly break down the Hunter Wellies rain boots, arguably one of the most well-known rain boots in the world. Some people also refer to them as Wellingtons but wellies is the common terminology.
Hunter Wellies History
Hunter today is a famous British heritage brand associated with all kinds of rain gear, they are based in Scotland. Originally, they formed as a North British Rubber Company in 1856 so they’re over 150 years old. Ironically, the company was founded by two American entrepreneurs. Actually, they went to Scotland looking to produce vulcanized rubber boots and overshoes or galoshes and at the time, there was a patent held by Goodyear. Yes, the same Goodyear from the tires.
By WWI, the company produced about 1.2 million rubber boots for the British Army and it is said that the German soldiers envied them for the boots. It’s even said it was directly connected to the successes of the British Army because it helped prevent the trench foot in the trenches, it was cold, it was wet, and because of that, the feet of soldiers actually started to decay.
With rubber boots and wooden planks on the floor, soldiers were able to prevent that from happening. On the other hand, the Germans didn’t have the vulcanized rubber boots and so they suffered more on their feet. Of course, Hunter also produced rubber boots for the British Army in WWII but once the war was over, they had become more acceptable for public wear which was great for the company. The big advantage of the boots was that they were sturdy and very enduring. It was hard to cut them and so people who were used to rationing for food, clothing, and materials really enjoyed a sturdy boot that was hard wearing and would last them for a long time.
Today, the most famous rubber boot is the Hunter Wellies. It has been produced ever since 1955 and it still enjoys popularity especially with the country gentlemen in Britain, as well as people who would like to emulate their lifestyle. In 1976, the Duke of Edinburgh awarded a royal warrant to Hunter and the Queen followed in 1986. Obviously, it had an impact on British society and by the 80s, it became the quintessential British country boot and was part of every proper gentleman’s country attire.
In the following decades, the company changed hands a number of times and in the 2000s, it almost went bankrupt, however, some smart marketing people came in and decided to focus on the heritage brand as well as the fashion aspect and today, they’re once again very popular in Britain, as well as in the US, and around the world. Obviously, the number of country gentlemen is rather limited and so today, the target market for Hunter Wellies are gardeners, festival goers, or people who like outdoors a lot whether it’s fishing, or hunting, shooting, and all those kinds of activities.
First of all, they’re made out of vulcanized rubber, the same material that Goodyear originally patented. Generally, rain boots are either made from vulcanized rubber or from synthetic materials. While a synthetic rubber is very resistant to oils, chemicals, and fluids, it’s not resistant to puncturing and cuts, however, synthetics are usually quite lightweight and insulating and because of that, they’re usually paired with a more cutting and puncture resistant material on the outside.
On the other hand, natural rubber resists pretty much anything except petroleum and oil-based solutions that may have an impact on its longevity. It’s extremely resistant to cuts and punctures and on top of that, it offers slip resistance. Because of that, I think vulcanized rubber still today is a very good material for rain boots.
Comes With A Cheap Lining
The Wellies feature a very thin inexpensive polyester lining on the inside, it also comes with an adjustable buckle on the top but if you have big calves, the buckle sits too far up so it really doesn’t help you to adjust the size very much.
It has a nice treaded sole that provides a decent amount of grip as well as about an inch or two and a half centimeter heel. The rubber itself is quite comfortable.
Clunky & Inelegant
In terms of looks, they’re slightly different than what you can get at a home depot or an outdoor store but at the end of the day, they’re not that different. It also comes in green, I have the version in black.
What’s Great About Hunter Wellies?
Obviously, Hunter Wellies have a great brand history, their branding is nice, it comes to you in a beautiful box, it makes you feel important, has a little logo inside the heel, you can see the hunter brand on top of the boot. Also in my experience, it gets the job done and protects you from outside wetness and it’s overall quite comfortable as long as you don’t go in areas where it’s very cold because the polyester and the rubber don’t insulate at all.
Hunter Wellies Cons
- Rubber is inherently non-breathable so even though a rubber boot keeps out the water, it makes you sweat inside of your boot and so if you walk a lot, you may be just as wet if the outside water gets into your regular shoes.
- Vulcanized rubber will also have hazing over time so you have to clean the boots. They will look old, while some people simply don’t care, it’s something that’s not necessarily more attractive in a boot.
- The Hunter Wellies are quite large and so for most men, I’d say they’re overkill unless you live in the countryside where you stand in mud for more than a foot.
- Compared to other premium brands like Le Chameau from France, this rubber boot is not well insulated and will make your feet cold when it’s very cold outside close to freezing.
- The side adjusters are a nice addition to something you generally don’t find on most inexpensive rubber boots, however, they don’t let you adjust the width in the area where it’s most needed, especially for men with big calves.
- The front cap of the wellies have a kind of a wing cap that makes you look almost like you have steel caps in your boots even though that’s not the case.
So looking at all the materials in detail, Hunter Wellies is definitely expensive for what you get especially considering that other brands offer the same materials at a lower price point.
Are Hunter Wellies Rain Boots Worth It?
In general, I’d have to say no. In my opinion, for the average man, it simply doesn’t warrant the price because there are not enough scenarios where you’d benefit from this boot. If you’re in a countryside, it’s a different ballgame and a pair of rubber boots makes sense. If you’re not though, I think it’s simply overkill. It seems to me that the price paid for Hunter Wellies is mostly built on brand reputation.
So for $155, you get a fancy corrugated cardboard box with a little bit of history and a bright red interior. The boot itself has the Hunter logo at the bottom as well as the hunter logo on top. On the inside, you see that it has the Royal warrants as well as a field for your name and phone number in case you ever lose them, they’re so big that you will never overlook them. The boots are made in China from vulcanized rubber which is the same material cheap Home Depot boots use.
So I checked and you can find boots in the same material with the same lining in a very similar shape for around $40 and in terms of comfort, they’re pretty much the same. Yes, of course, you don’t get the cachet and the brand history with it but in my opinion, it’s not worth paying almost four times the price for that compared to other premium rubber boots like Le Chameau. I think the Hunter Wellies just don’t offer enough.
The Le Chameau Boots – A Better Option
The Le Chameau boots, for example, have different versions for around the same price or a little more for about $175, you’ll find a version that has a three millimeter thick neoprene lining which is the same material used for wetsuits when you go diving, for example, and it keeps your feet warm and absorbs moisture in a way. So I find that to be a much more comfortable boot. It also seems that the buckle on top is a little deeper and they even offer a version that is all leather lined. That being said, that costs five hundred dollars and it’s a different price range. Maybe we’ll make another video about that one in the future.
In recent years I’ve seen lots of women building outfits around their red or yellow Hunter Wellies. For men, on the other hand, I think it’s a lot more difficult and frankly, I’ve never come up with a good look that I was happy with.
Also, there many ways to deal with the wet weather. If it’s just a little bit of rain, regular leather shoes will be just fine. There are even suede leathers which have a durable water repellent coating on them so you can wear them when it gets really wet. If it’s pouring, rain galoshes are great if you wear business shoes regularly or even other shoes.
If you are a country gentleman or if you’d like to be in the outdoors and you walk in little creeks and mud, I think a pair of rubber boots is ideal but it’s up to you whether you want to spend $155 for the Hunter Wellies or about $40 for something comparable without the brand recognition. So personally for me, the Hunter Wellies are definitely not worth it.