It’s that time of year again. We’ve loved our warm, dry walks, enjoying the sunlight and the longer, lighter days – and maybe even a few days at the beach with little more than flimsy flip flops on our feet. Now, however, winter is now well on its way, with hints of what’s to come in the Autumn showers and darker nights, so it’s time to get the wellies and waterproofs out again.
Winter walking presents several challenges – wet, muddy, snowy or icy – the days from November through to February (oh, who are we kidding – more like March or April. Or even May…) can be any or all of those things. Oh, and let’s add some wild wind as a bonus.
Footwear to copy with the season
Trainers are many dog owners’ walking shoes of choice, and a good quality pair can do a good job, offering lightweight comfort and support as well as a good grip. However, that grip is not usually up to the rigours of ice and they’re simply no defence against ankle deep mud or drifting snow. Save them for the spring – or the gym.
Traditional rubber wellington boots can be a better option – a hardy tread and longer length to protect against those deeper-than-expected muddy puddles. Readily available and often inexpensive – and now with some really smart and sought-after varieties (try Joules or Hunter if it’s a good quality fashion statement you’re after) in an array of colours and styles. However, unless you spend a little more on lined ones, or on two pairs of purpose-made ‘welly socks’ they don’t offer much in the way of protection against the cold. Cheap ones don’t usually last very long either…
You may already have a decent pair of walking boots if you’re into long hike-type walks in proper countryside – ideally waterproof, with robust ankle support and a cope-with-any-terrain grip which should ensure you stay upright on even the thickest frost and ice – however, they’re not overly helpful in knee-deep mud.
An option to cover all bases
So, you could buy all of the above and rotate accordingly, or, have a look at Country boots – or in equestrian circles, ‘yard boots’ – which can combine the best of all worlds. Knee length, waterproof, comfy enough for walking an entire cross-country course and with as good a grip as a dedicated walking boot, these will keep you warm and vertical – invest in a good quality pair and they will last you several winters, too.