Claire bought me these boots because she was tired of seeing my typical summer out-door working attire of shorts or combats, worn-out Chameau wellies and rugby shirt.
When I needed to run into town, or we popped into the pub, or dropped by the local river-side cafe after walking the dogs, she felt the look was just a bit too far down the mad farmer road for her.
So, come Christmas day and I find myself unpacking a pair of Dubarry Kildare boots. The idea is that they will still look ‘cool’ when slipped on to do all the above mentioned things and could become my staple for around the garden and field jobs, when I’m in and out of the house all the time and need boots I don’t need to unlace each time.
The makers claim; ‘The Dubarry Kildare Country Boot is an easy to wear, mid-height, pull-on waterproof boot. Shock-absorbing soles and a breathable soft leather exterior with a comfortable elasticated leg panel and finger pull, make them ideal for dog walking on autumnal days or for a quick dash into town.’
they don’t make great claims for them, to be fair.
So, they don’t make great claims for them, to be fair. they are intended as a casual easy-on, mucking-about in the country boot, rather than a hardcore, full-on, field boot for days up a Scottish hill or tramping through clear-fell, rough-shooting.
My first impression was “God, these are tight”. I immediately checked to see if they were the right size. They were; an approximate UK 10 (European 45) according to the box. After a bit of deliberation and wearing them in the house for an hour, I decided they had to go back - they are now the only footwear I have in a European 46 and the fitting feels narrow even in this size. So, if you buy some, buy a full size bigger than you would in anything else.
The shape of the boot allows for pushing the foot in but as they are not elasticated or flexible, the leg has to be wide, right through the ankle, leaving the foot tight for size at the front and prone to slackness around the heel and ankle. It takes some getting used to. All this with ‘normal’ socks rather than thick, woollen, shooting socks.
I have been wearing the boots around the field, while feeding sheep and walking the puppy every morning. The field is wet and muddy and walking takes us through boggy ground and up some steep undulations but this is standard rural parkland, not hard-going.
the sole flexes every which way when traversing sideways up a hill
First impressions, once the fit is accepted and put out of mind: the sole looks and feels sub standard for a country boot. It is thin, providing little cushioning and it has no rigidity, so the sole flexes every which way when traversing sideways up a hill or encountering rough ground. It has neither the depth of material wellies provide nor the solidity of a properly constructed leather boot, like, for example a Hoggs of Fife ‘Rannoch’ boot.
Neither is there any insulation in the foot bed, even on a mild winter’s day, cold from the wet ground is felt in the sole of the foot immediately. The leather uppers feel light and thin, they are supple but they do retain their shape and hold form well enough (so far). They certainly look smarter than wellies!
Waterproofing seems sound, I have been paddling through sodden grass with perhaps two inches of water sitting on it and feet remain dry.. They rinse-off easily and I have taken to wiping the leather with a Renapur-impregnated sponge when they are dry, just to keep them smart and water resistant.
My verdict? These would be fine for my old life, living in London and occasionally needing a pair of boots to walk around Hampstead Heath on Autumn afternoons, or to put-on to go to the cafe when we get a dusting of snow.
They will certainly be useful here in Shropshire, as something kept by the back door to slip-on and off when fetching wood or quickly taking the dog out.
I may even use them as my early-morning boot on shoot days, when I want something a bit smarter to wear at the meeting point before properly booting-up to get stuck into the shooting.
They are not a serious country boot in my opinion.
They could even work as a shooting boot early in the season, when the ground is not too muddy. However, I really don’t think the sole is good enough for long periods of standing on even modestly rough terrain. I want a more secure fit and a stronger, thicker sole.
I think, all other matters put aside, the boot would be 50% better as an all-rounder if Dubarry invested a bit more thought and material into the soles of these. They are not a serious country boot in my opinion.
Still, they look quite good and I’m sure I’ll find occasions when they fulfil a need. The sticking point? They cost £275, which is not cheap. Do they represent good value? No. Are they a solid all-rounder? No. If these boots were a four-wheel-drive vehicle, they would be a Nissan Quashquai; fine for the suburbs but not the real deal.
ONE YEAR ON...
A year later and I have been very pleasatly surprised by these boots. Not only have I worn them all summer as a gardening and walking-the-dogs boot, in which roles they have proven comfortable, protective and light, I have worn them shooting and they have served well.
Quality seems good, I rub them over with Renapur every month or so and they have remained in good shape. The soles have worn well and they look like they will continue to be serviceable for teh forseeable future.
They may not have the depth of grip or protection of a full wellington boot but they are a good half-way house between a lace-up boot and a wellie, being easiy to slip on and off but light and comfortable in warm and cold weather.
I was scepical about these but I have been proven wrong. They are good boots and my habitual and constant wearing of them proves their worth.
We appear to have reached the end of the useful life of these boots. Walking the dogs one morning I noticed I had a wet foot. The sole had split on one side and the goretex failed to keep the heavy dew outside the boot.
They still look to be in good condition - the leather is sound and comfortable and the soles still have plenty of grip but, apart from being useful summer in-and-out boots for the garden, they are done for.
The construction does not allow for replacement sole fitting, like most modern products I suppose the makers assume we will be happy if we get three years out of a new pair of Dubarry boots.
They lasted from Christmas 2020 and became leaky in April 2022. I admit I wore them hard but that is what country boots are for.
Would I buy another pair? They proved a firm favourite in that I wore them a lot and they coped with gardening, shooting, light forestry and dog walking.
In terms of comfort and utility - they are very light and easy wearing, so 'yes'. In terms of longevity, I'd expect a bit more so 'no'. I'm now in a quandry as to with what to replace them.
Dubarry offers a re-sole service. The replacement sole they fit is not the sale as the original and is altogether thicker and higher. It costs £95 per pair. I'm contemplating it.
Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on (modified )