Dateline: 10 January 2016 AD
|This one doesn't qualify.|
I bought a pair of rubber boots a couple years ago at the local BassPro store. They looked like the boot above. I liked them a lot when I got them. They cost me around a hundred dollars. I don't wear rubber boots a lot but they are nice to have at certain times. I figured the boots would last me many years.
But two months ago I wore the boots to do some digging in a muddy part of my field, and my right foot got soaking wet. A closer inspection revealed that there was a 2" split in the back of the boot by my heal. The split wasn't due to any damage on my part. It just split open all by itself. The boots still looked practically new, but one was no good.
What do you do when you're digging a muddy ditch and your boot leaks? You work with a wet foot. And that's what I did.
A little while later a friend showed up to return the cider press I had loaned him. He was wearing a pair of old green rubber boots.
"How old are those boots you're wearing?" I asked
"I've had them over 20 years," he replied.
"Do they leak?'
"No. I've had to patch a couple of small holes but they don't leak."
Do you wear them much?
"Yes, I wear them a lot."
"Do you know what brand they are?
He looked but couldn't find any name.
Well now. It's just not right that an almost-new pair of $100 rubber boots comes apart like that boot of mine did. I went to the internet to do some research and found that my experience is not unusual—a lot of people are disappointed with the quality of rubber boots these days. Rubber boots are simply not holding up like they used to.
Further research on the subject brought me to the conclusion that the reason why the typical rubber boots being sold these days don't hold up like rubber boots used to is that they aren't made of rubber. They are, instead, made of injection-molded thermoplastic, a.k.a., synthetic rubber.
Now, I'm here to tell you there is a big difference in the durability of synthetic rubber as opposed to genuine latex rubber. I know this better than most people because I sell Kent C-25 chicken plucker fingers that are made with natural latex rubber. The fingers I sell are a lot more expensive than the synthetic rubber plucker fingers everyone else sells. But the fingers I sell last a very long time before they break. Here's an excerpt from an e-mail I recently received...
"My husband and a friend built a turkey plucker last year and our friend got a different finger than the Kent C-25 one we used on our Whizbang chicken plucker. The other brand of fingers are a year old and we plucked 20 turkeys last week, and 16 broke off. We have been using our Whizbang plucker with the Kent C-25 finger for over six years now and haven't lost one..... and we process about 400 chickens a year!"
That right there illustrates the difference between synthetic rubber and the real thing. And there isn't a doubt in my mind that it holds true for rubber boots as much as it does rubber plucker fingers. (By the way, my Whizbang plucker is now 17 years old, has plucked thousands of chickens, and not a single finger has broken... yet).
So, with a true appreciation for rubber boots that are made of real rubber (unlike my $100 BassPro boots) I searched the internet some more...
I thought traditional Wellington boots (commonly known by the name Hunter) from the UK would be what I wanted. But it turns out that Wellington boots are no longer made in the UK. They are made in China, and the traditional quality has apparently plummeted. My assumption is that they must not be made of natural rubber.
Then I thought of LaCrosse. They have a reputation for making good rubber boots. They certainly look like good boots. But they say their boots are "made with more natural rubber than most other boots."
Well, that marketing jargon tells me pretty much nothing. Most other boots are made with no natural rubber. LaCrosse is playing semantic games. That doesn't set well with me. If their boots had any respectable amount of natural rubber they would be saying so.
Then I found two long-time rubber boot makers in France. Aigle and LeChameau. Both companies have been in business for a a very long time. They say their boots are made with natural rubber, and their boots were highly rated by people who owned them.
This YouTube movie shows how Aigle boots are made. This YouTube movie shows how LeChameau boots are made. Those two videos show rubber boots being crafted, piece by piece, using real rubber.
Even if you are not in the market for a new pair of rubber boots, I'm pretty sure you will enjoy watching those videos.
In my next blog post I will tell you which kind of boot I ended up getting, and where I traveled last November to get them.
No, I didn't go to France. :-)