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Key features – Material: Rubber upper and sole; textile lining; Height: Ankle; Other colours available? Yes; Sizes available: UK 4-12
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3. You can be fined if you leave your engine running to defrost the windscreen
Polyurethane is used to make cheap synthetic rubber, a mainstay of budget wellies. It does a fine job of keeping the rain out and letting you stride through deep mud and puddles at festivals and while camping, but it’s not suitable for long-term use or hiking. Gore-Tex is a patented lining that’s 100% waterproof and completely breathable. It’s ingenious: the membrane stops water from getting through from the outside, but does allow water vapour (eg sweat) out the other way. As well as keeping your feet dry, this also ensures comfort by cutting down on clamminess and chafing. Fab stuff. Waterproofing . That’s what wellies are for, after all. All our recommended wellington boots are waterproof, although a couple do have fabric sections on their uppers and calf sections. So, while they’ll keep water off your feet, they’re not waders! For maximum waterproofness, go for a rubber upper and sole, and Gore-Tex lining.
Hunters are a classic for a reason. These tall, elegant wellingtons are comfortable and extremely durable – invest in one pair and they’ll last you a lifetime, which makes their steep price easy to swallow. In recent years they’ve become a bit of a fashion statement too, with myriad colours and pastel, matt and even glittery incarnations now on the market, making them as popular at festivals as they are on farms. The only caveat is that Hunters are very comfortable for narrow and regular feet: if you have wide feet you may want to look for a roomier model. Grip is almost as important as waterproofing if you’re intending to walk through mud. Dog walks in rainy conditions can be hazardous affairs if you don’t have boots with grippy rubber soles. The more nodes and bumps the soles have, the better they’ll be at gripping to a surface. That’ll make them more comfortable to walk in, too, because you don’t have to work so hard to stay upright! However, a narrower tread makes for easier walking on a hard surface. The very best wellies combine both types of tread.Neoprene is an insulating lining material for winter wellies. It’s soft, superbly waterproof, and very warm. A bit too warm for summer wellies, in fact. And it can get pricey. Fleece is a budget (and less waterproof) alternative to neoprene. For more information on fit as well as the different materials available, see the extended buyer’s guide below our roundup.
Comfort and support are also important unless you want your wellies to end up gathering dust in the loft. Look for a supportive sole that doesn’t over-flex, while also being flexible enough to not feel too “stompy”. These extremely cute short wellies from UK outdoor clothing company Joules offer fabulous style and quality for a great price. Their mid-calf cut and generous width make them perfect for wider calves and, with plenty of room to move, they’re brilliant for gardening. The rubber soles give great grip without weighing you down, and the wonderful pattern choices are guaranteed to cheer up the stormiest day.
If you’re simply after a pair of wellies to keep your feet dry and mud-free, there’s really no need to spend hundred of pounds on a pair of designer boots. The best material for the outer layer, lining and sole of your wellies depends on what you’ll be using the boots for, how much use they’re going to get, and how much you want to spend. Here are some of the materials you’ll encounter while shopping.