Avon Muck Boot Review
There has been a fair bit of discussion about footwear on the forum. When the subject was first raised George suggested trying Muck Boots. It took me a while to get past the old " wellies will drag you to the bottom" wife's tale (in the water wellies filled with water are no more heavy that the material of the boot itself, the water filling them makes no difference to your weight in the water).
Still being the tight so and so I am I got a cheaper pair of Ron Thompson wellies that looked similar so I was not out too much money if they turned out to be a bad idea.
From the first time I used the Ron Thompson wellies I was a convert to wellies as the footwear of choice in an open canoe and this style with the close fitting neoprene upper, particularly.
One benefit of wellies is that you get to keep your feet dry when you get in and out of the canoe. This also means you can be kinder to your canoe. Before wellies I tended to ram the shore to try and get up onto the shore so I could step out on to dry land. This obviously was hard on the bottom of the canoe. Now once I get close to shore I can simply step out into the water, keeping your feet dry, and pull the canoe ashore.
Another advantage is that they are very flexible so if you are kneeling when you paddle your foot can flex more than if you were wearing walking boots. I mention walking boots as I generally canoe to get to places to explore so my footwear must be appropriate for both the canoe and walking on shore. I am not one who is keen on changing shoes every time I get out of the canoe.
I have not yet swum with either the Ron Thompson or Muck Boots but George tells me that he has and the close fitting top means they do not catch the water too much when you swim and also they tend to retain the same water in them so they are not too cold. I have no reason to doubt him and it sounds reasonable. I will find out for myself when the weather gets better and will update this review.
So for the above reasons I was happy with the Ron Thompson boots but they had a couple of shortcomings. The Ron Thompson boots had a pretty thin sole which was fine in the canoe but not very good for walking any distance on shore. They felt like walking in your slippers. The other issue was that they were not particularly warm. You could wear thick socks but even then they were still cold and if your feet were warm the sweat tended to build up and you ended up with damp feet.
Enter the Muck Boots
So now that I was convinced of the benefits of wellies I decided it was worth investing in a pair of Muck Boots. I decided to go for the Avon . These are camouflaged but this was not really a selling point for me. My interest was in the boots being warmer than the alternative, less sweaty and a better walking sole. The Tweed that George uses looked very similar to the Ron Thompson boot so I was concerned that the sole of this may be too soft too. The Tay and the Derwent both looked a but heavy and inflexible so the Avon seemed the logical choice.
I shopped around and the best deal I could find in the UK was from www.balnecroftcountryclothing.co.uk. There customer service was good and within no time I had the boots.
These boots were clearly in a different league to the Ron Thompson boots. It almost goes without saying that these boots had all the same plus points as the previous ones. Dry feet when paddling. Flexible sole etc.
So how did they perform in the other areas? In short, excellent.
The first test I gave the boots was a 3 mile walk. They were comfortable and warm. The walk was over a mixture of rough ground and footpaths. It was still pretty cold with some snow on the ground. At the end of the walk my feet were in fine condition and toasty warm. So tick off good and sturdy for walking.
Next test was a paddle for the day out on Loch Lomond. I had the boots on from when I left the house till I got home. About 9 hours in total. The boots performed well in the canoe and kept my feet warm and comfortable the whole time.
The muck boots have an insulated shell of CR-foam built into them so that your feet are kept warm without having to resort to thick socks. There is of course the risk that your feet could get too warm. In these circumstances you can simply roll the top of the boots down to let some of the heat out. You will notice that the lining is bright orange. This is to make you more visible in a hunting situation. Again not something I needed but worth a mention.
Also the orange lining is made up of a material that has loads of tiny strands holding the layers apart to create a gap to allow your feet to breath. It also allows the moisture generated to travel through this gap and out of the boot. After the nine hours the boots my feet were still dry so it certainly seems like the lining does what it is meant to.
You'll be glad to know I did not cut up the boots to get the picture of the section of the lining material. You get a small sample with the boots to let you se how it is made up.
Well first if you have not considered wellies as footware when paddling an open canoe I am telling you now it is a good choice. If you are going to use wellies in your canoe I can strongly recommend the Muck Boots, specifically the Avon but I would expect the quality and manufacture of the other models to make them pretty much as suitable.
I am actually so taken with the Muck Boots that they will probably replace my walking boots in many instances. As well as keeping my feet drier they are warmer. When camping you need to put your footwear on when you need to answer nature's call during the night. Pulling on a pair of wellies is much more convenient than trying to do up a pair of boots. Since with the Avon I have boots that are warm and sturdy enough for my outdoor use I am not loosing anything by using them in place of the walking boots.