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FOOTWEAR FOCUS ROAD TEST


Henry Harington discovers an alternative to the Welly.


I


t all began when a pair of posh Wellington boots I tested only a little while ago came to the end of the road: they started leaking and the sole came off the right foot – all somewhat prematurely for my liking and for the price of them. Without naming names my local farmer’s cooperative no longer stocks


that brand as they have developed such a poor reputation for longevity. The farmer’s cooperative sells a very large number of wellies: not just good old fashioned black farmers wellies with track like tractor treads for real farmers but posie (i.e. wellies to be posed in) wellies to be see in in pink or zebra pattern and, of course, for the posh farmers and visitors to shoots, or point-to-points, seriously high class wellies. So, I emailed my editor at Footwear Today and told her that I was on the look out for a new pair of wellies and could she recommend a make? “Have a look at the Chatham website,” she replied. I thought she must be mistaken. But, if your editor says look at a site, you look at a site. The last time I


looked at the Chatham website was when the company sent me a pair of deck shoes to road test. The Website is www.chatham-marine.co.uk which hardly gives a clue to Wellington boots! As expected I found a fine range of boating and other light recreational


shoes and boots. (Unlike the posh wellies, the boat shoes I tested from Chatham are still in fine fettle after much use). But then, quite unexpectedly, I found a pair of long boots: not wellies but tall leather boots not unlike riding boots.


Chatham’s Chargot Waterproof Country boots for Men stand out. When I


was sent a pair to test they ended up in my chaotic kitchen which is a cross between a horse tack room with low flying bridles hanging from beams and a Chinese laundry with wet washing and riding clothing steaming on the overhead clothes airer or from the back of doors. It is also the place we eat and entertain and what was striking was the number of people passing through the kitchen whose eyes were caught by the Chargot boot and made comments about their being “smart” or “cool” or “a bit posh”. A few years ago there were tall boots being sold at horse and agricultural


shows that became a Sloane accessory, a “must have”, for the Chelsea brigade. At the shows I recall a smartly dressed young Sloanes in tweed and twills standing in a children’s bathing pool to demonstrate that the half suede, half leather boots were water resistant. The Chargot boots are smarter than those and they are more practical. I have to confess that initially, when I first took them for a tour of the farm I was cussing that I was mucking up such great boots, but duty (and my


At last!


editor) called. Rather than sloshing around in the waves of mud this and last year’s weather has thrown at us, I had had the picture in my mind of myself posing at a shoot or point-to-point and outshining those in posh wellies. But, a quick splash with a hose after the walk and I could pose in them


among these best. The boots are not only made from waterproof leather but have a waterproof lining made with a unique breathable bamboo material (beware pandas chasing you through the countryside wanting to eat your Chargots!). Most sensible and practical, the full length zip is set in a gusset so that the only way water or mud can enter the boots is over the top. I wish my riding boots had such a device as when I am obliged to walk


home (my horse and I having had a difference of opinion about the direction in which we were to travel – and I lose), water enters the boots through the zip as I trudge through streams and bogs to get home. Of trudging, I can also speak with regard to the Chargot as it has excellent


padding and a cleated rubber sole that provide comfort and extra grip. I test many walking boots and they do not have the comfort or grip of the Chargot, and, being shorter, can quickly take on water. In a way it is obvious that someone should produce a tall walking boot – but until now I have never seen one. It is not only a walking boot, but a much more comfortable alternative to the modern Wellington boot. One must make the presumption that the Duke of Wellington’s original boot was leather rather than the moulded rubber or plastic in the black favoured by farmers or the green favoured by those who would like you to think they were farmers. If the Iron Duke had done much walking (and he didn’t – being more secure in the saddle than I) I am sure he would have chosen a pair of Chargot boots to stride the battlefields of Iberia and Belgium.


Details: High quality red brown leather , combines comfort with style. It has


the practicality of a technical, waterproof country walking boot, whilst fitting like a glove and boasting luxurious under-foot foam padding for utmost comfort. Features include a ‘sticky’ recyclable rubber sole for exceptional grip, a waterproof bamboo lining and a full length zip with button fastening. Available in sizes 6 -15.


Priced: £74.60 Trade, £179 RRP.


Contact: Tel: 0845 2700 217 or email: orders@chatham-marine.co.uk.


12 • FOOTWEAR TODAY


• FEBRUARY 2013


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