26 Oct 2016
Muckster Boots and Mudbusters: a review
Earlier this year I was sent a pair of wellies to try out. Naturally, as a gardener, this was a thrilling prospect as my old and very loved pair had been pushed into service one season too many and had cracked along the seam where my foot bends, allowing the elements access to my socks. Nothing worse than wet socks on a cold day, even if the ancient but beloved wellies have a cool Orly Kiely print. (They weren't posh, they were beautiful, courtesy of the now-defunct guest designer ranges of the camping shop where purchased.)
I loved those old wellies so completely that I seriously considered trying to fix them with a tent repair kit (as you do) but somehow never got around to it. So they sat at the bottom of a cupboard for the past few years while I searched for a suitable replacement. Top of the agenda for a new pair, after the cost factor, was a neoprene lining. Why? Because, as with wetsuits, neoprene will keep your tootsies (and other extremities) warm and dry regardless of the weather. I'd discovered this as my old pair had a gorgeous orange neoprene lining. Mmmm, cozy, even in snow and ice.
The new pair had to be comfy too, without one of those silly and impractical heels, with a non slip sole and fit for purpose. Enter the Muck Boot. I'd given serious thought to these a couple of years ago - yes, the search has been that long - but convinced myself these were for mucking out (makes sense, no?), i.e. the horsey brigade. But this year along comes a pair endorsed by the RHS which puts them firmly into gardening territory and very well they fit there too.
I was sent the ankle boots (the boots are also available with a taller leg) which are better for movement than my previous knee high rubber wellies; I'm tempted to buy a taller pair of Muck Boots for winter as the uppers are made of flexible neoprene and therefore fabulous for the walker's calves that I've been blessed with. As soon as I slipped them on I was won over. Oooh, so comfy. They have a shock absorbing inner sole, flex-foam insulation and breathable air mesh lining - which all adds up to all day comfort. This has been a boon time and again since I've been known to garden for eight hours without a break, especially up at the allotment, and my feet were just as fresh and perky at the end of the day. They're lightweight as well, something I'm grateful for when I've been on my feet for a while. In fact one day I forgot I was wearing them and went straight from the allotment to the supermarket. Hey, colour me stylish.
I put the boots through their paces on a long country walk up in the Chiltern Hills, accessed by a very muddy bridle path. In a dry summer this wouldn't have been a problem but it had been raining heavily the day before. In some parts the options were to slither up the bank or wade through inches of mud. These are situations where the boots coped splendidly; yes, they were caked in sticky mud but my feet and, more importantly, socks were dry and I simply hosed the boots down at the end of the walk as they're entirely waterproof.
The boots are marketed as having a 'self cleaning and high traction outsole'. The high traction I can attest to but I found that the claim to self-clean worked only in part. After a day digging on my enriched but clay-based soil, I felt the need to pop the boots into a bag for storage as there were remaining bits of mud embedded in the sole, even after a short walk home. Okay, so that was on days when I didn't rinse them at the end of the day - who does? In the time honoured tradition, I took them off at the door and left them there.
So what I need is a boot scraper. I saw this tree the other day and thought it would make an excellent boot scraper; tiny problem, it's nowhere near home.
Luckily, I've since discovered a marvellous piece of kit for boot cleaning - simple and effective, I've been trying out the Mudbuster. It's basically a one-size fits all footwell with plastic spikes - fill with water, stick your boot in, do a little dance around on the spot and the mat does the work of cleaning for you - sides as well as soles. Brilliant. I wish I'd had this when my son was younger and played football every weekend; on the other hand, I think it could still be very useful for post-festival trainers (as well as gardening!). Not for me, I hasten to add, but for my festival going son - you can see from this photo that one size fits all!
My thanks to the Original Muck Boot Company who gave me a pair of RHS Endorsed Muckster II ankle boots to review. They are available from the company's website here.
My thanks also to Pennine Manufacturing who kindly sent me a Mudbuster to try out. Mudbusters can be ordered direct from Pennine via the phone number on the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org The unit retails at £10.99.
You Tube video of Mudbuster mats in action here.