on 30 December 2011
I have never been keen on wellies, but so far these are really good. I have worn them on some wet & muddy hill walks and they have fantastic grip and are comfortable. Annoyingly my socks fall down when I go uphill, so I have to wear long socks for 'proper' walks, but it doesn't happen on the flat or going downhill. I think it's a problem with most wellies anyway.
My only gripe is that the colour called 'Bronze' is really dark green with some brown trim. The photo didn't show up well on my computer so I bought them thinking they were brown. I'm not too bothered by the colour and they are covered in mud now anyway, but some people may mind.
on 21 March 2013
After writing my scathing review about Hunter Balmoral Neoprene boots I have been asked by a couple of people to comment upon the boots I bought instead - these Aigle Unisex Vario Paracours boots. I have only done so now that I have had them for some five months over a busy and revolting British winter - it is only too easy to gush over a nice new shiny product straight from its packaging.
These boots have marked the end of my quest for a decent welly boot - a mission which proved to be a lot longer and more difficult than I could have imagined .
Let me cover off a few things from the start. First - I used to love Hunters and now I don't, for the reasons set out in more detail than is healthy for a man of my age and position in my aforementioned review. Second - I decided against getting neoprene-lined boots because of my fear that the neoprene would compress and / or wear away prematurely with a lot of walking and / or they would be too warm for the summer. However, I have never owned a pair of neoprene boots (the Hunters were immediately returned) so I am talking out of my hat in this respect. Third - to the uninitiated, "Aigle" is French for "eagle" and is pronounced "aye-gluh". So says a colleague of mine, so any arguments take it up with her but be warned - she's a lawyer and she's French.
Both my wife and I have a pair of these boots. She has the colour which the sellers describe as "brun". I don't know if "brun" means "sort-of browny-bronzy" in French - I'm not referring any more rubberwear-related questions to my colleague in case she gets the wrong idea - but that is the colour of these boots. It's not a typical brown, but it is (to my eye at least and indeed my wife's) quite a snazzy colour. Mine are "green" - again, not a typical green like your classic Hunters, but a slightly darker and bluer hue and again rather natty. They apparently also come in "black" which I assume is very much a black colour - I don't know because I have never seen a pair of them.
These boots come right up to the knee - well, MY knee at least; if you are a long-legged model or a freakishly gangly chap they might not come up to yours. There is a nice trim / bead at the top edge of the boots and the sole looks substantial and modern without being ridiculous. The soles on my green boots are a browny colour, providing a subtle colour contrast. This colour contrast is less on my wife's "brun" boots. The gussets on the side of each boot actually work, unlike a lot of other wellies I have seen. "Gusset" is not a terribly nice word, but that it apparently what they are called. They are a sort of pleat in the boot which if you are being kind allows people to walk more easily when they are loosened, can be tightened to keep out cold and to generally look posh; and if you are being unkind allows people with boat-like feet and / or large calves to crow-bar themselves into them. Without wishing to do either myself or my wife down, I can assure you that the gussets on these boots fulfil all of these functions. Each gusset has a proper nylon webbing strap with a proper lever-release ABS buckle, so it can be quickly and soundly secured at any length - these buckles seem to me to be heavy duty and built to last. Hunter gussets tend in my experience to be pretty useless, particularly as the straps soon work loose in their buckles. But don't get me started again on Hunter boots. The Aigle gussets seem to be very well constructed and seem likely to remain completely watertight for a long time. The strap has the word "Aigle" woven into it and the end is finished off with a rubber protector, which all adds to the quality feel and look.
My boots have been very thoroughly tested this winter. I have walked many miles at a time in them through masses of tangled vicious brambles, through numerous puddles, brooks and rivers, across all kinds of terrain, along roads and tarmacked paths, over rocks and through long wet grass and deep snow. I have been up to their tops in thick gelatinous mud more times than I care to remember and on a number of occasions they have been snagged up against barbed wire (as my wife likes to remind me, I have always had difficulties in getting my leg over). I have chased pheasants (legitimately) and have been chased by bulls and frisky cows (mostly illegitimately), towed unwillingly across fords and fields by a dog with far too much energy and saddled by having to carry home my young son who has too little. In light of this I am ashamed to say that I have not cared for these boots as well as I normally would have, but in fairness as you can see I have been busy. Nevertheless, they have not let in a drop, and the only sign of any distress is a tiny bit of wear on the back edge of the heel.
In the meantime, my wife has popped to the car and back and taken the dog out a couple of times when the weather has been OK in her boots. Needless to say they look like new, and she has more friends than I do.
I would point out that the first thing I did when I got these boots to prepare them for the winter was to install a pair of Sorbothane soles - these are very warm, tough, long-lasting and provide a significant amount of extra cushioning during walking. They cost about £10 - £15 and I would heartily recommend them. I also of course wore two pairs of thick socks. With this lot, my feet have remained nice and toasty, even when having to stand about for a bit. The idea is that I will ditch this lot in the summer so my feet do not overheat when wading to the office during the UK summer deluges (next British evolutionary step - gills). By way of guidance I have size 9(UK) feet and I had enough room for the insoles and thick socks in my size 9.5 Paracours, without rattling around ridiculously without them.
I must confess I had some doubts about the robustness of these boots when I first got them. The rubber compound of which they are made is soft enough that the tops tend to bend over when you are not in them. But the walls of the boots are thick. This makes them possibly a bit heavy for some who might want to walk a long way in them (though personally I don't find this a problem) so you might want to try a pair first. This softness of course makes them very comfortable - no unforgiving bits pressing into your foot, etc.. They are lined with a sort of soft nylon browny-orange material which seems to be standing up pretty well to wear so far.
I am also very impressed with the traction of these boots. Now, I cannot say that I have field-tested every boot on the market, but they are a lot more grippy than any other welly boot I have ever owned and indeed seem to provide similar traction levels to my Meindl hiking boots. No impromptu Fred Astaire impersonations while walking down muddy slopes for me. I have seen comments in other reviews on these and other wellies that they do not provide sufficient ankle support. This is silly. Of course they don't. They are wellies. If you want ankle support, wear decent hiking boots. If you want ankle support and to keep the rain out, wear decent hiking boots and decent gaiters. If you want decent ankle support and the ability to wade rivers up to your knees or above, then you are looking at stockingfoot waders with decent wading boots to go with them. Expecting wellies to provide ankle support is like expecting to be able to use an umbrella in Wales - you will end up with a sprained ankle and an inside-out piece of tangled rubbish respectively. Having said that, I personally think that the (not insubstantial) sole is pretty ridged for a welly and it does provide a surprising amount of underfoot stability when going over rough terrain. They are certainly thick enough to stop stones making life uncomfortable for the soles of your feet, even without the sorbothane insoles. However, like most wellies these boots have soft uppers and offer no material impact protection to your toes or upper foot - if you kick the dog in them you will limp all of the way home to the sound of mocking doggy laughter (no actual animals were harmed in the making of this entirely hypothetical scenario).
I personally really like the overall look of the boot from a general fashion perspective. The Aigle emblem on the front is classy looking and a lot less brash than (to take an entirely random example) the rather stark white one that Hunters have. But far more importantly to me, they work. They do what I personally need welly boots to do - all of the above activities without discomfort, leaking, cracking, splitting, the heel wearing down or being ludicrously expensive. Not much to ask, really.
Having said that, these boots cost a fair bit of cash. The ubiquitous green Dunlop wellies cost a lot less. What extra do you get with the Aigles? Well, the Aigles look a lot nicer, are a lot more comfortable and come right up to the knee. However, the Dunlops are tough as....well...old boots and people tend to throw them out because they end up smelling so bad rather than because they wear out or fail - if anyone pinches them from the porch of the fishing lodge or the porch of your music festival tent or you manage to ding them on barbed wire, you aren't going to cry. It depends on what is important to you I suppose. For me, these Aigle boots provide the functionality, durability and looks that I want at an acceptable price.
Hope all this helps someone.
on 21 September 2012
I believe in the old saying 'buy cheap buy twice', and, after vowing to not buy another pair of expensive but flimsy Hunters, I decided to go for these Aigle boots after reading the positive reviews and I'm so glad I did. The minute I put them on I could feel how sturdy and well made they are. Looking after horses, I always found my Hunters to be 'flappy' around the ankle, and VERY slippery in wet conditions. These Aigles are a dream - supportive, grippy and with a substantial sole too - I'm about two inches taller with them on! No rubbing either - I've worn them for general non-riding horse duties (I wouldn't ride in wellies anyway) and on a couple of long walks and they have been very comfortable. The adjustable calf fitting is brilliant, as I always find long boots (be they wellies or smart boots) difficult to fit because I'm quite muscular in that area. All in all, very pleased, and I look forward to many years happy wearing!
on 6 December 2010
I've worn Hunters for years, but they just don't make them like they used to. So I wanted to find a pair of wellies that still looked elegant, but also had decent treads and would last a long time. These boots are fantastic! They're really comfortable, the treads are great - so there's no slipping about - and they're much warmer than Hunters too. And, most importantly, they look smart too! real value for money I'd say.