The wellington boot was customised and popularised by Arthur Wellesly, 1st duke of Wellington. The original model was the Hessian or the army boot, and its revamping meant a softer fabric – calfskin leather, lower hills and a closer fit. For footwear, the success of the rubber vulcanisation process meant the end of the wooden clogs and the manufacturing of the first rubber wellington boots in France by the company nowadays known as Aigle. The welly boot is now as fashionable as it was in the early 19th century, being the preferred choice for gardening, walking in the rain or jumping around at festivals. Since wellies provide long life value, choosing a pair needs to be done sensibly. We have compiled the present guide to help you choose the right pair, depending on type, lining and the activities you intend to use them for.
These are the classic boots, extremely versatile and offering great protection against rain and mud. Here are a few things you may want to consider:
Whether tall or short, this is the standard lining that most welly brands opt for. They are fully waterproof, though not insulated, come in great colours and patterns, and are ideal for festivals and walking in the rain. They can be customised easily by adding your own insole and offer plenty of space for thick or welly socks. Suitable for: festivals, walking, gardening
Neoprene is known to have great insulating properties. Not only does this type of lining enhance the internal fit of the boot (thanks to the padding properties), it also offers thermal comfort, making the welly a suitable alternative to a winter boot. Some companies like Muck Boot make extensive use of the neoprene, offering top insulation even in freezing temperatures – as low as -20 °C. Suitable for: winter, hunting, fishing
This is usually hardwearing, and can be entirely flat or with a low heel and an orthopaedic fit. Some models have a cushioned sponge insole for added comfort and insulation, while others have a thick textured sole for an optimum grip.
If you want to wear your wellies in winter as a waterproof boot, make sure the texture on the sole hasn’t worn off, which might increase the risk of slipping accidents.
Most wellies have an external buckle which is used to adjust the width of the calf. The neoprene ones lack this buckle, but are highly flexible, while snug and stylish.
If you’re not going to jump in a puddle of mud, short wellies will do their job just as fine. They are easier to put on and off, and they are simply ideal for walking the dog or doing the gardening.
The wellibob is Joules’ ankle welly that works as a stylish rain shoe. Some models are fleece lined, offering great insulation and making a great stylish shoe on a rainy day.
The general rule is that after you’ve worn your wellies you should let them dry out and then store them in a cool, but dry place. If you want to give them a wash, use cold or lukewarm, soapy water, or you may want to opt for special cleaning products. Never store them away if still wet and never expose them to direct sun as a way of getting them dried quicker. This will have the opposite effect of damaging the rubber.
Hunter boots are known to perspire a whitish coating which is a natural process. The shine of the boot can easily be restored with a special boot buffer. Olive oil is also said to help restore the boots’ natural moisture, although the official recommendation is that of using specialised products.
Overall, as a rule of thumb, give them an occasional wipe with a soft cloth.
Do not use your wellies as storing space for any wet socks – this will increase the chances of mould formation which will damage both the rubber and your feet.
If you’re not using your boots on a regular basis, try to store them in a welly bag, in an aired room. You may as well fill them up with unused newspapers - this will absorb any moisture and odours.