Welcome to EN’s Product Review series! Who doesn’t love shopping, especially when the object of your search is new gear for yourself or your horse? As an enthusiast of all products equine, I LOVE trying out new gear. Please join me as I narrate my personal journey of trying out all of the products featured. While I will make no recommendations, I hope you have fun reading about my many adventures of trying new products, and that hearing about my personal experiences helps you on your own quest for new gear. Go Shopping.
I’ve been oh-so-excited lately that signs of Spring are starting to pop up all over the place. We just had our last big (relatively speaking for this area) snow near the end of last week — yet today, we finally saw temperatures up in the 50s! The sun was out all nice & bright like, which just gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling on the inside.
The warm sun and gentle breeze just hinted at the fact that spring is just around the corner. I even found myself outside in just a tee and jeans at one point during the day. And it certainly brought a smile to my face to see my very first Robin fly by. Winter is a season of silent beauty, but I sure love to hear the cheerful chirping and singing of birds that return when the weather warms up a bit.
And of course one of my favorite days just has passed. You know which one I’m talking about: daylight savings time. Yup. There it is. That means that I actually have enough daylight to enjoy a ride after getting home from the office for the day. Because months on end of being relegated to riding just on the weekends is enough to drive any equestrian slightly crazy.
I’ve been holding out on you a little though; there is something about spring that I’m not super enthusiastic about. But I’m someone who takes the good and the bad together. Nothing can be perfect, so I’ll take things all together, and just as they are. I love the warm weather. The birds singing. The spring flowers. The baby animals everywhere. But I don’t love all of the rain.
Rain is certainly important – it is part of the ‘circle of life’ for lack of a better term. The ground needs it — we need a water supply, and it helps things to grow the spring flowers and bulbs. But also all of our hay fields here in Pennsylvania (including the one in my backyard). I’ll never complain about the rain. I’m just not thrilled about all of the mud.
One of the things that drives me a little cray-cray is getting wet socks. Ugh! I absolutely detest soggy feeling socks and wet feet. Which is probably one of the reasons that I wear boots pretty much all season long during winter. I can’t stand it when my feet are cold or wet – so, of course I’m not wearing flats out anywhere…that’s just asking for it.
But the ‘no flats’ rule kindof carries over into Spring as well. With lots of showers and rain, there are inevitably going to be lots of puddles that I must walk through. So I try to wear appropriate footwear, because I don’t want to be one of ‘those girls’ who has to dart around and daintily hop over every puddle that I see. I’m just not going to do it.
So what’s a girl to do. I keep wearing my waterproof boots through the elements, and I walk right through the middle of puddles without flinching. But with the warmer temperatures, rain boots are also an appropriate choice. As you will though, there is a choice in between these two options. I can pull on a nice pair of Wellington boots — or you might know them by the name of ‘Wellies’.
While I’ve always thought of Wellies as being terrific to wear in rainy and wet conditions, I never stopped to consider them as a boot that could keep my feet warm through the cold and snow of winter, and then into the Spring season. And all the while, my feet stay DRY. That’s why I’ve been wearing the Norse Wellington Boots from Gumleaf.
You might ask, ‘Gumleaf?? I’ve never heard of them before’. Which is simply because Gumleaf has been newly introduced to the United States, aka, ‘this side of the pond’. Gumleaf is based in Norfolk, and all of their boots are handmade with care in Europe. What’s more, is that the factory in which the boots are produced is also carbon-neutral – which makes me happy for the environment.
Gumleaf Wellies are also made out of 85% natural rubber, instead of a plastic feeling synthetic rubber – and I could really tell the difference when I picked up a pair to check them out for the first time at the AETA trade show. I’m jumping ahead of myself though … one of the other things that really stuck out at me about Gumleaf boots is that the insole of the boot is actually sewn into the footbed – so it won’t come out when you pull your foot out of the boot!
Comfort is also something that Gumleaf boots are able to speak to – if you allow the boots to speak for themselves, that is. The soles of the boots are actually designed so that they are comfortable to wear even if you are on your feet for extended periods of time. Which was illustrated to me when I was shown a Gumleaf boot that was cut in half. A cringe-worthy site, to be sure (what a waste of a boot!).
Except that the poor cut-in-half boot wasn’t really a waste – because, as was pointed out to me, the only reason that someone would cut a boot in half is if they really wanted you to see the inside. Which after seeing the inside of the Gumleaf boot, I whole-heartedly agreed.
For I had the chance to see just how diligently the insole was stitched into the boot AND how the sole was designed to compress and rebound in order to keep feet comfortable. So that poor half-a-boot really does serve a purpose, and act as an ambassador to it’s own kind.
Digging in and looking more specifically at the Norse boot, which is the particular model that I’ve been wearing, I’ll note that the inside of the boot is fully lined with 4mm of neoprene and they are also suitable for providing warmth during snowy and cold conditions. They also do have non-slip, deep tread soles. But one of my absolute favorite features are the air-cushioned heel and forefoot.
So while all of the features sound terrific – I find them to be absolutely fabulous to experience when the boots are actually on my feet. Jumping back to the AETA trade show, which was my very first encounter with Gumleaf boots – when I picked a pair up for the first time, I could feel how soft and pliable the rubber felt. And while it felt, pliable, I also noticed that it felt sturdy at the same time.
When I tried a pair on for the first time, I found that due to the generous sizing, I actually sized down one size from what I normally take (just something to note – this recommendation can actually be found on the website as well!). But after walking around a bit, I. Was. Hooked. The air-cushioned heels and forefoots sucked me in.
And in fact, it was brought to my attention that as I stood there talking about the boots to learn more about them, I was sub-consciously rocking back and forth on my heels. Just to feel the cushion and rebound effect…it’s actually pretty cool. Really cool, even. And even after this was brought to my attention, I couldn’t stop rocking back and forth. Because they were just that comfortable!
The other thing that really surprised me is that I was shown another pair of boots, in the Royal Zip style – I thought that they were a pair that was pulled right out of a box to be demoed for onlookers. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the boots are actually ones that have been worn for the past two years through fields and even worn right in the Finger Lakes in nearly frozen water. And they still looked new to me. I’m just saying.
I was (really) excited about the color availability as well – and was drawn to a pair of the Norse boots in RED. Yep, fancy red boots. So when they arrived, I was very excited to start wearing them all around while picturing myself as being the modern, sassy version of the Morton Salt Girl. Because those yellow boots needed a face-lift.
I can say that I’ve been wearing. And wearing. And wearing the Norse boots some more. Out here on the farm–through the puddles and even the snow, my feet are kept warm and DRY. No soggy socks here. I can wear them right through the stream, and as long as I don’t walk through an area where the water comes higher then the boot tops, I can stand there and stand there while my feet stay dry. So the next time that I’m going to go out on an XC course walk, guess what pair of boots I’ll be wearing.
The other funny side effect of wearing my Gumleaf Norse boots…apparently the red color is very eye-catching. It’s pretty funny to notice other people noticing my boots wherever I go. For when I wear them, I get looks. Lots of looks, in fact – and lots of compliments, along with inquires like ‘I LOVE your boots – what kind are they / where did you get them?’. Eye-catching, indeed.
Even after I’m on my feet for a good chunk of the day, my feet still feel comfortable when they are wearing the Norse boots. Not to mention the fact that the bright red color is just plain awesome in my book. But considering everything – the fact that the boots are handmade, the way that they keep my feet dry and oh-so comfortable, and the fact that I just LOVE the bright color…I am just really (really) fond of the Norse boots.
So much so, that I might need to add a different color (I do really like the blue too…). And even after all that I’ve put them through, they still look like they just came out of the box.
The Norse Wellington boots from Gumleaf are available through Butler Outdoor Gear – their US Distributor – and they come in three color options: red, blue or black. All three colors have a retail price of $190 a pair. You can find the boots here.
Go Comfortable and Oh-So Stylish Boots (that keep feet DRY). Go Gumleaf. Go Eventing.
And then GO check out this video of Gumleaf boots being made: