Farm welly boots on test – which is the best buy?

The wellington boot might be a farming institution, but how much thought really goes into replacing your worn-out rubber workwear?

Some stingy wearers refuse to fork out more than £20 for something seen simply as a means of preventing nasty cases of trench foot, while the more lavish among us will happily throw the fat end of £200 at the best money can buy.

To get a better idea of the winners and loses in the welly war we raided the shelves of Mole Valley Farmers, Robinsons and Countrywide to collect a mix of boots.

Of course, our selection isn’t exhaustive and there’s certainly scope to spend more if you wish – Le Chemeau and Hunter spring to mind – but our motley crew of boots are those designed for work.

As usual, the test is by no means scientific – our views are wholly subjective – but it should give a good idea of how each one shapes up.

See also: Six best-selling impact drivers on test

Test results at a glance

 

Bekina Steplite X

Caldene Westfield

Dunlop Purofort

No Bull safety boot

Dunlop Acifort

Hunter Argyll

Dunlop Pricemaster

Quality

7

8

7

4

5

8

2

Grip

9

8

5

5

5

3

5

Fit/blisters

9

8

4

2

4

3

4

Warmth

8

9

7

10

3

2

3

Price

£46.67

£55.99

£44.99

£45

£20.50

£45

£8.99

Final score

33

33

23

21

17

16

14

Bekina

© Jonathan Page

Bekina Steplite X

Final score: 33/40

Quality A surprisingly good quality finish for a plastic boot, with no dodgy seams and a flexible leg section that almost matched the rubber-made Argyll. Reinforcement up the sides strengthens the leg section. 7/10

Grip Great grip with soft rubber lugs and deep tread crisscrossing underneath to cling to surfaces better than web-swinging superhero Spider-Man. The sole is also very flexible which helps gain traction on uneven surfaces. Spurs on the back help get them on and off. 9/10

Fit/blisters Decent arch support, a shaped foot-bed and heel-hugging cup at the back make the equally priced Argylls a laughing stock. They also out-score the second-placed Dunlop Puroforts by a distance and come with a choice of insoles for a snugger the fit. 9/10

Warmth Foamy material on the inside provides far more insulation than the Argyll. 8/10

Value Cracking value compared with the rest. The Bekinas are a solid, all-round work boot and make the others look like a bit of a rip-off.

Price £46.67

Caldene boot

© Jonathan Page

Caldene Westfield

Final score: 33/40

Quality The dark horse of our line-up is neoprene-lined but not built for all-out farm work. They have a quality feel, but the natural rubber is unlikely to stand up to solvent abuse quite like some of the others and they are angled towards leisure rather than work. The lining started to peel from the top of the boot and reports from the shops suggest a fair few get returned due to splitting. 8/10

Grip Decent tread depth and a pretty pliable sole provides good purchase on slippery surfaces, though it’s not quite as soft as our first choice – the Bekina. 8/10

Fit/blisters The Caldene is a more sensibly priced alternative to the Le Chameau boot and plenty of padding under foot makes them just as comfortable. A garter around the calf allows wearers blessed with stick-thin pins to tighten things up around the leg. 8/10

Warmth Heaps of neoprene insulation provides polar-bear-like insulation and beats most work boots when it comes to out-and-out warmth. No chilblains here. 9/10

Value A bargain compared with the £170 Le Chameau and far more comfortable and warm than pretty much everything else on test. Definitely worth a punt.

Price £55.99

Dunlop Purofort boot

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Dunlop Purofort

Final score 23/40

Quality The Puroforts are made of higher-grade, softer materials than some of the cheaper options, which makes them more supple and fairly comfortable to wear. The silky fabric interior – not dissimilar to the Bekinas – also benefits comfort, but little rubber tails like you would expect on a tractor tyre hardly shout top quality. 7/10

Grip The tread pattern under the ball of the foot is shallow and the sole is solid, so grip is a bit disappointing. The Puroforts claim to have a steel toe and midsole, but with little noticeable extra weight it can be nothing more than a slither of tin. 5/10

Fit/blisters The fit is almost as disappointing as the Argylls. A lack of any sort of heel cup sees the foot slop around and the bottom of the boot ends up dragging along the ground. They are also loose and short of shape around the angle, which encourages socks to slip off. 4/10

Warmth The inner material provides a certain degree of insulation and the maker claims to they’re some of the warmest about. Realistically, they come in just above average. 7/10        

Value Better value than the No Bulls, but still a little steep for our liking.

Price £44.99

No Bull boots

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No Bull safety boot

Final score: 21/40

Quality A peculiar boot that looks better suited to a novelty Father Christmas fancy dress kit. They are constructed from a foamy material that makes them feather-light but very poor fitting. 4/10

Grip The foamy sole is made of the same material as the rest of the boot. It’s semi-flexible but provides better grip than expected given the depth of the tread pattern. There’s also a big spur on the back helps when pulling them off. 5/10

Fit/blisters Loose fit and inflexible leg does the No Bull’s fit score no favours and means they crease in weird places and dig into the shin. The liner shunts around in the shapeless body, though the lining is soft so the blister risk is low. A reinforced toe should offer some protection from clumsy cows. 2/10

Warmth Unbeatably warm, thanks to the removable corduroy-topped sock and the insulation qualities of the foamy outer. 10/10

Value The No Bulls are the welly version of Crocs. They are grossly unfashionable, but if you’re simply after something that keeps your feet warm and dry then they’re actually a strong bet. Fit and shape are weak points, but they can still do a job.

Price £45.00

Dunlop Acifort

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Dunlop Acifort

Total score: 17/40

Quality The heavy, stiff Aciforts keep the water out, but that’s about it. They’re better quality than the Pricemasters, but the finish is unremarkable and the tough plastic material has no insulation qualities at all. Reinforcement around the ankle and ribbing on the toe should help see them through a few hard winters. 5/10

Grip Grip is middle-of-the-road, but the painfully hard sole failed to loosen up with age. 5/10

Fit/blisters A distinct shortage of cushioning means the flat, jarring sole gives the feet, knees and hips a hard time. On the bright side, their tough design means stones and sharp objects rarely penetrate the soles, but the steel toe also makes them heavy. 4/10

Warmth With no foamy texture or lining in sight they were one of the coldest boots we tried. 3/10

Value At a smidge more than £20 they look like a snip compared with the Argylls, but it’s worth remembering that the lack of cushioning could cause discomfort long-term.

Price £20.50

Hunter Argyll

© Jonathan Page

Hunter Argyll

Final score: 16/40

Quality An old-school rubber boot that has a flexible body and a tidy finish. They come from Hunter’s work range and have more of a hand-made feel than the rest. 8/10

Grip Traction is the biggest let-down and the sole is so solid and slippery that you may as well be skating around the cow shed in bowling shoes. The shallow tread and a shortage of surface area in contact with terra firma means things don’t improve with age, and the sole wears down pretty quickly on abrasive surfaces, too. 3/10

Fit/blisters The straight cut from the top of the calf to the heel means the foot tends to slide up and down while walking and will eventually work your sock into the boot toe. However, it’s not all bad news – the slippery internal material avoided blisters and the rubber outer makes them super flexible. They are also more cushioned under foot than all of the Dunlops. 3/10

Warmth Icey cold in winter weather – the thin rubber and lack of lining means they’re always going to struggle against foam or neoprene-lined rivals. 2/10                 

Value The Argylls are a well-made, classic work welly. They look the part, too, but were a big disappointment – the equally-priced Bekinas were warmer, comfier and grippier.

Price £45

Dunlop Pricemaster boot

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Dunlop Pricemaster

Final score: 14/40

Quality The basic, slab-sided design doesn’t pull up too many trees but it is what you would expect for a few quid. Unfortunately, our pair had a pinprick hole that let water in – they won’t all seep, but it’s a pointer to the quality of the boot. 2/10

Grip Traction is bang average, but better than the stiff-soled (and far more expensive) Argyll. 5/10

Fit/blisters The bargain boots provide a better fit than expected thanks to a defined heel cup that wraps around the Achilles tendon more effectively than the steeper-priced Dunlops. However, the sides are shapeless, and the soles cushionless, so they are not the sort of thing you would want to be trudging about in all day. A small spur helps get them off at the end of the day. 4/10

Warmth No lining and zero insulation, so wear an extra pair of socks if it is chilly. 3/10

Value Straight out the bargain bucket. All-in-all they are pretty good value – cheaper and more comfortable than some of the pricier options and perfectly fine for the occasional wearer.

Price £8.99