The hidden gem!
Boots, boots, boots, do we as shooters think about this subject enough? They carry us through the field, up the sides of mountains whilst keeping us dry and warm. They allow us to stalk and walk silently through thick woodland and craw the windswept hills no matter what quarry you are in search of.
There's a lot of different opinions when it comes to buying the best footwear. With a flooded market and hundreds of clever marketing ploys to try and part you with that hard-earned cash, its easy to feel lost. But let's peel back that marketing madness and go back to basics.
Firstly we need comfortable footwear all the other factors go out the window when your hobbling around a field like a new born calf, wishing your feet weren’t attached to your body. But how do we get this? Soft padded memory foam, or gel insoles maybe? Or maybe a thick pair of walking socks to keep your feet safe. Personally, I opt for softer insoles as I find they suit the shape of my ‘plates of meat’ better. There are lots of inserts available at a fair price, so my advice would be try a few and see what you prefer. New insoles can be a godsend, transforming your beloved but tired old boots, giving them a new lease of life.
Now we've got our soles, sorted let's move on to the next subject! What do we want our boots made out of? There's lots of options and opinions at this point, do we go for a rubber boot, we all know that this is probably the most waterproof but this isn't always the best option! As your feet sweat there isn't anywhere for that moisture to go and soon your feet look like they've swam the channel. Your skin becomes soft and this leads to blistering and there you have it, you’re back to looking like that calf again. The next downside is that rubber isn't as forgiving, often falling prey to the needle-like blackthorn or barbed wire rendering your boots holey (and I don’t mean in the religious sense of the word).
Next up is leather traditionally this is the gentleman’s choice a strong sturdy boot made out of the toughest of skins. But while it may be strong it has its flaws, namely through lack of maintenance which causes your boots to crack and in-turn leak. The other problem is unless you regularly dub your boots they become stiff and all of a sudden your wearing what feels like a bucket of razors. With regular maintenance you might have a pair of boots that will last you a life time but, if we are really honest with ourselves, have we got the time to be dubbing our boots every single time we put them on? Given the opportunity I know I'd rather spend an extra 10/15 minutes in the fields each day!
Once we have decided on what we're going to wear next it comes down to price. I hear too often how someone managed to get “an absolute bargain on their boots”, and within only a few months they’re leaping water like Bambi trying to avoid getting wet! With this in mind we still don't want to break the bank, remember more money in the bank equals more toys in that cabinet.
Personally I think spending between £150 to £250 on boots is perfectly acceptable. Sounds a lot but let's remember theses boots are going to carry us in all weathers and allow us to do what we do best.
This sounds all to confusing right?
So we're looking for a comfortable boot, that's half rubber, half leather, waterproof yet breathable and all for under £250. Now this is going to be hard right, like looking for a boot that doesn’t exist? Or is it? Here's the part where like all writers I tell you it is possible, and that I know of just the product. But this sales spiel sells itself.
Before I set down this path, I was very happy wearing my Harkila GTXs as I believed you would struggle to beat them. They're made by Harkila so they must be good right?
Then out of the blue a well-dressed Italian man walked through the door of the gun-shop. Like all shooters alike we began to talk about are hobby and passions. When the subject moved onto footwear instantly I believed I had the trump card here. So I stood there ready to draw my Ace from the deck. I wear Harkilas I said chest puffed out. He's going to struggle to beat this one I silently thought to myself.
Suddenly out of nowhere he responds with “Try my boots and tell me what you think?”
Wait he knows I wear Harkila right?
So the challenge is on, and what a challenge this will be. Two days later they arrived – the Dedito Moorland model. A boot made from a single lump of leather. Covered with perspiration and scratch resistant fabric, internally lined with SympaTex combined with Thinsulate. In English this translates to there really warm when it's cold, really dry when it's wet and just as comfortable as your house slippers. Sounds to good to be true? Well sit down make a brew because it's going to get better!
The soles are carved out of Vibram meaning there not slip and self-cleaning, no matter what terrain you’re on they will give you the best grip possible. But this isn't enough for Dedito. “If your going to do it, do it properly” they say!
There's a rubber cap on the front of the boots to protect your toes from any sharp objects, and an anti shock dampener in the heel to soften the contact between your steps and the hard ground beneath you.
All of this is fantastic but surely a boot like this is going to require a fair amount of maintenance to keep it at is best? However, don't worry Dedito has your covered on this one! The lace runners are made from rustproofed material and the leather somehow looks after itself! They’re 100% waterproof and even have a guarantee.
In the field
I've worn these boots now between seasons and they’re still as good as the day I unboxed them.
The leg strap has stopped me twisting my ankles more times than I can remember. And from the frozen fields of winter stalking to the long drawn out summer days when the sun is high in the sky. Through the floods of the Somerset Levels to the rocky Mendip hills the last thing I'm thinking about has been my feet. They still look like they’re brand new due to the scratch proofing technology, and still feel as comfortable as a pair of house slippers. In truth, the only real only negative, is that I don’t want to take them off! And that’s hardly a fault!
But how much does all this cost? Here's the scary bit; to get yourself a pair of hand made Itallian leather boots with all these great features incorporated, will set you back the sum total of 185 plus 8 postage from www.deditoshootingwear.com
But don't just take my word for it, we're talking about boots that earnt their own stripes last year when they won the 2016 'New Footwear of the Year' in the Shooting Industry Awards.