If Mr. B and I have learned anything by this point of farm living, it’s that good footwear is everything. When you live on the extremely hilly land that we call home, having the right pair of winter boots can mean the difference between getting out to enjoy nature and being stuck inside during inclement weather.
This year has been particularly wet and soggy, which means we’ve each needed a pair of warm, waterproof boots with excellent traction to keep our feet dry and to help us traverse the steep inclines of our property that have turned to mud and mush with the season’s above-average rainfall. We got out and tested three brands of winters boots to see how they would hold up against the rough terrain and deal with the unpredictable weather all too characteristic of Kentucky.
His: Bozeman Tall
The Bozemans fell right in the middle between the Kamiks and the Muck Boots in terms of sturdiness. They allowed me to walk, stand, and hike up or down hills without any uncomfortable rubbing. They kept my feet warm and were durable with their thick rubber, very similar to the Kamik’s, but overall, they were a little less stiff and thus a little more comfortable. As with the other boots, water getting inside them is not an issue, and traction is excellent on all types of ground. They also sported a heel-kick feature to make them easy to kick on and off while standing.
Hers: Crandall Tall
My favorite part of these boots is the characteristic Bogs “boot handles” (for lack of a better term) that help you slide them on and off with ease—something that’s important to me for my on-the-go lifestyle. Of the three boots, these were the only ones that had a noticeably soft inner lining, which felt rather luxurious. What they boasted in flexibility, they lost in perceived durability, though they still have great traction and are a great choice for traversing the slippery slopes of our property this season. They run a little large, too, which is great for those really cold days when you need to double up on socks.
The Bushmans are heavy, giving me a sense of great durability, but it comes at the cost of slightly less comfort. I did notice a hotspot when walking, particularly up steep hills, due to rubbing on my ankle. Although something I could get used to over time, I’d probably opt for a different pair of boots if hiking a lot of steep hills. On the counterpoint, the stiffness also adds quite a bit of support, sort of like a low shinguard. While splitting wood, I really felt like I could have taken a good whopping from an unlucky wood trajectory without too much yelping. These boots have some seriously thick rubber! Of course, that means they are plenty warm, and even if you’re standing in freezing cold water, you won’t notice for quite awhile. It would take a somewhat loose leg pant (such as Carhart’s or snow pants) to be able to pull the pants over the boot. Normal corduroys or jeans would not reasonably fit over the outside of the boots.
If you’re looking for a sturdy shoe, the Evelyn won’t disappoint. I’d even go so far as to say it’s a bit stiff upon the first several wearings, but over time, they do break in and become more comfortable. They’re extremely versatile boots, good for trekking through wet winter snows but, due to the ankle height, will take you into the spring gardening season. I even find I can get away with wearing them into town for work or errands on days when the weather requires footwear with a little more traction—you won’t slip in these boots, whether the terrain is snow-covered fields or ice-covered concrete. Do be aware if you order these boots online: They seem to run a little on the small side, so you may want to order a size larger than you typically would.
His: Arctic Excursion Mid
The Arctic Excursions are nice and lightweight. They are also pretty flexible, and thus, a little more comfortable to spend a long day outside, walking up and down steep hills or just working in the garden. They are great in rain or snow, and they walk across a creek without any real sensation that you are even standing in water. They also worked well for me because I like to do a lot of work in corduroy pants. With normal leg corduroys I could choose to tuck my pants in, or I could pull my pants over the outside of the boot when I wanted to prevent debris from entering while weed-eating or chain-sawing. These boots also have a handy heel-kick feature that makes them very easy to kick on and off with ease without the need to bend over.
Hers: Tremont Wellie Tall
These boots really stood the test of this year’s crazy winter. At knee height, they kept my legs and feet nice and cozy when it was in the teens and snowing, but they also held their own during the ceaseless rain and springlike temps. The soles have great traction, and the the slight heel helped me climb our properties hills without loosing my footing—especially when the grassy slopes turned to straight mud. They come in the cute Blue Meadow design, which add a touch of style and femininity to the hard work that accompanies winter chores, but best of all, they are extremely comfortable. The one downside: If you’re trekking through any brush that contains burrs while searching out firewood for chopping, you’ll likely find yourself picking the debris off the fabric tops of the boots. Fortunately, that’s a trade-off I can live with.