Dateline: 11 January 2016 AD
|In my creek, with dry feet.|
In my previous blog post I explained that rubber boots these days are not as durable as rubber boots used to be, and the reason for this appears to be that most rubber boots these days are made using a synthetic, thermoplastic, so-called rubber, as opposed to more durable natural rubber. Then I told you about two long-established companies in France that still make rubber boots using natural rubber.
I decided that I would get either a pair of the French Aigle rubber boots or LeChameau rubber boots. Both are available from online sellers. But the European sizing concerned me. I wanted to actually see the boots and try them on.
The Aigle boots appealed to me a bit more than the LeChameau, but they both seemed pretty much the same. I saw that the LeChameaus were sold by Orvis. I have never been to an Orvis store but I knew there was one in Rochester, NY, which is a couple hours west of me. Then I learned that there is an Orvis store in Manchester, Vermont.
Manchester is east of me a few more hours than Rochester. But Vermont is special to me. I hiked the Appalachian Trail there when I was a teenager, and went to the Sterling School (now Sterling College) for a year.
Marlene and I had our 30th wedding anniversary coming up in late November, and I hadn't taken any vacation for all of 2015, so we decided to just drive to Vermont.
It was a short, multipurpose vacation. In addition to checking out the boots at Orvis, we visited the Window Quilt workshop, the Vermont Country Store , and King Arthur Flour. It was a good time
The Orvis store was something. We walked in and first looked at a table of men's plaid dress shirts. Marlene said "These are nice shirts." Then I turned over the price tag... $130. We recoiled from the table in unison.
Orvis has absolutely beautiful, high-quality clothing. It's the style of clothing I like. But it is shockingly expensive. If the shirts were $30 each (or even $40), I might have splurged and bought one. But I'm in the wrong socio-economic class to be buying clothing at Orvis. Boots, however, are different...
A little further into the store, a man asked if we were looking for something in particular. Well, as a matter of fact, we were hoping they had some LeChameau boots? His face lit up and he took us to the LeChameaus.
I tried on a couple pairs of the leather-lined Chasseur. Size 43 fit best. The Chasseur is very nice. Price: $400.
I did not buy the Chasseur. I couldn't justify it. The British Royals can (and do) wear leather lined LeChameau rubber boots, but they're filthy rich. I'm a commoner.
Having done my research, I knew the LeChameau Vierzon boot, with jersey lining, was only $200 a pair. The Vierzon doesn't have a long side zipper (a nice feature) like the Chasseur, but I can manage without that. I just want a natural rubber boot that will hold together and keep my feet dry for years to come.
Manchester Orvis did not have any Vierzons in stock, but the Orvis Man (Dale Robinson—a downright nice guy) was very helpful. He called the warehouse (in a southern state) and found that there was one size 43 in stock. He ordered the pair for me, and they showed up at my house a few days later.
Within minutes after their arrival, I had my LeChameau boots on and headed to my field to work on digging a ditch (more about this in a future blog post).
My LeChameau boots are comfortable. They are not as heavy on my feet as the Bass Pro boots that prematurely failed me. They are not insulated, which means they are more of a spring and fall wet-weather boot, not a winter boot.
On the downside, they don't look quite as manly as the camouflaged BassPro boots I had. But I didn't buy the boots for their looks as much as I did for their durability and longevity.
I expect the boots will get a puncture or two in the years ahead, but that isn't a problem. Natural rubber can be patched easily and securely.
Is it good economy to spend $200 on a pair of rubber boots when I can get other rubber boots for $100 (or less) elsewhere? Well, if these boots last as long as I hope and expect they will, I'll consider them an economical purchase.
Specifically, I'm hoping they will last at least 10 years. That would be 5 times longer than the $100 BassPro boots. And if that proves to be the case, even the $400 leather-lined Chasseurs would be a good value.
A couple of interesting sidenotes...
1. It turns out that the Vierzon boots are not made in France. They are made in Morocco. I think the high-class, leather-lined Chasseurs are still made in France. Also, if I understand correctly, some of the LeChameau footwear is now made in China.
2. Dale Robinson (the Orvis Man in Manchester) told me that the only real problem they've had with the natural rubber boots is that they do not hold up to chicken manure. Apparently, a chicken farmer bought a pair and continual exposure to high-ammonia chicken manure deteriorated the boots. I raise some chickens but I'm not concerned since I don't deal with heavy concentrations of high-ammonia chicken manure. Still, it's a good thing to know.
So that's the story about my search for a good rubber boot. So far, I like my LeChameaus. If there are any new developments with the boots, I'll let you know.
|Stained Glass at VT Orvis|
(click for larger view)