While Dunlop does have specific walking boots available, ranging in price from just over 100 euros to 150 euros, I have been stubborn and bought a pair of work boots at a much lower price level. And since my first experiences were quite positive, a second pair followed recently. In this article I will give a review of these 2 pairs of boots, which have been in use for a while now.
Both boots are made of Dunlop’s own proprietary blend of PVC. While the material might come across as basic in the green boots, the black ones show the versatility of PVC boots with the front being ribbed, the back and top being textured, and part of the sides having a beautiful glossy shine. This diversity in surfaces is possible due to the production process. Where rubber boots are created by gluing layers of smooth rubbers around an aluminium last, PVC boots are made with an injection molding machine which injects molten PVC into a small space in the shape of a boot. The outer surface of the boots will be the mirror image of the texture of the mold, and almost anything is possible.
Compared to natural rubber, PVC is relatively durable and easy in maintenance. Its chemical propensities make it resistant against acids, salts, bases, fats, and alcohols, meaning there is no need to thoroughly clean your boots after use to avoid discoloration or damaging the integrity of the surface. PVC is also better resistant against sunlight and cold temperatures, making storing your boots easier. In general you would expect a pair of PVC boots to last longer, and stay representable longer, than a pair of rubber boots. Giving your boots an occassional wash is still recommended for a clean look, and it can just be a fun activity as well.
In general the PVC is flexible enough to turn the tops down and the smell is quite limited, especially compared to a pair of brand new rubber boots right out of the box.
The biggest test of the quality of these boots will be time, as waterproofness is implicit with rainboots. Previous pairs of rubber and PVC rainboots started to crack due to the repeated stress on the material with each step, so only with wearing them regularly I can see how these are holding up. I have high hopes for the black Acifort Ribbed boots as the soles are extremely sturdy, and in combination with the steel toecaps, there is limited stress on the material with each step. The Acifort Heavy Duty boots have a more flexible sole, and miss the toe protection, resulting in the boots being folded more around the feet with every step probably making them crack sooner.
Regarding design there is actually a lot going on with these boots. Instead of plain and boring smooth boots there are shapes and lines which bring these boots to live during a closer inspection. Most of these design choices have a functional background, but as I don’t use these boots as workwear that is completely lost on me. On the green boot there are thick PVC lines over the nose and around the ankle bone protrusion of the feet, which are supposed to protect these more delicate points from impacts. Similar lines are visible on the front of the black boots meant to protect the shin from impacts.
Both boots have a contrasting color making them stand out more. In the Acifort Ribbed boots the color is red which indicates they are safety boots with a steel toe cap and steel incorporated in the soles of the boots for protection of your feet when you step on something sharp. The Heavy Duty boots have a yellow line near the bottom of the boots setting them apart from other basic green work wellies and making them an interesting combination with yellow rainwear. I must admit this little features was what persuaded me to the purchase.
I normally buy my rainboots a bit oversized, as I want them to fit with thick socks in the winter and have a slight phobia of my little toes being pinched in a pair of too-small boots. The Acifort Ribbed boots were actually a comfortable fit at size 42: easy to get in and probably a bit too big but since there are steel toecaps I cannot press down in that area to find out where my toes reach. The Heavy Duty boots are the same size, but feel so much bigger. Of course putting them on is a breeze, but when I lift my toes up I notice a good 1-2 centimeters of space in the front unused. By itself that’s no disaster, but it happened several times already that I got slightly stuck in some mud and I need to tread carefully to not leave them behind. A size smaller would have been better, two sizes would probably still be fine. Do keep this in mind when ordering a pair: unlike fashion boots the sizing is quite large already so instead of ordering a size up, you rather order a size down (or possibly even 2).
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
With “fashion rubber boots” easily costing over a hundred euros, and walking boots from Dunlop starting at 100 euros, these boots come across as a rather good deal with prices around 35-50 euros a pair. While they lack special soles that prevent you from getting tired, or a snug fit to keep them on when you get stuck in some muddy puddle, they are not holding me back from a 5km daily walk through nature.
Availability will differ per country, and especially the Acifort Ribbed boots will be harder to find. The Acifort Heavy Duty seem like a standard model often available at pet- and agricultural shops. I ordered mine at the website of a Dutch gardening center for only 35 euros.
Let’s be frank: these boots are workboots and that’s what they look like. The oversized model of the boots combined with the colors make them hard to combine with a fashionable dress for some Friday night partying. I like that look myself a lot, but will not use these boots for anything but quiet walks in muddy terrain. And even there I’ve got remarks about them already, with fellow dog-walkers remarking I got some “serious boots” now. Its all fine with me, I am not going out there to score a modelling contract.
Overall these boots do perfectly what they are intended for: keeping your feet dry in dirty and wet circumstances. These boots will probably last a long time, are relatively cheap, and actually have some redeeming qualities with their design in case you do not compare them to fashion boots.
I am personally very happy with my purchases and really enjoy having 2 pairs available when I go out. The feeling of wearing these boots is completely different, with the black ribbed boots being heavy and stiff, giving a feeling of invincibility and toughness, while the green ones feel lighter on the feet and flop around more for those days I hope not coming across anybody during my walk and just wear a pair of baggy sweatpants already.
In my view work wellies are kind of underappreciated: too many people go for overly expensive fashionable big-brand rubber boots while a much cheaper pair of Dunlop’s could have created a much more interesting combination. If you do want to look a bit fashionable, you will need to wear them unapologetically: let them stick out, don’t cover them up with wide or long pants, and own your choice. The most attractive quality is confidence!
Just an extra warning, the black Acifort ribbed boots feel heavy when wearing them due to the stiffness of the sole. They weight in at 1,245 grams per boot, only 165 grams more than the green Acifort Heavy Duty boots, but wearing them for an hour+ walk felt like an exercise the first few times. Or in a more positive light: they offer a great opportunity to tone your butt.