Time Tested: Six months
I’d wanted a new set of boots for use in the woods for a while and spent several weeks looking around at different options. I turned up an array of options from military style boots through to the good old wellie boot, but the majority of boots didn't seem to meet my needs at a price I was willing to pay.
With several boots already in the large pile of shoes that accompanies a growing family of four (of which 20% no longer fit anyone); it helped to have a specific task in mind for them. My hiking boots were good and sturdy but a low top and not wanting to trash them with all the kneeling down and trekking through the undergrowth helped keep them in the occasional use pile. My work boots lack support but are warm and waterproof, so my criteria was waterproof, sturdy, good grip and all at a reasonable price.
I tend to look at a range of equipment suppliers from bushcraft, military, outdoor and work wear to find the item I think best meets my need and recently found that equipment designed for hunters is a good source of reasonably priced, hardworking gear. I was pleasantly surprised when I found the Jack Pyke Hunters boots on Amazon at just under £100.
I often struggle with fit on shoes, having both a wide foot and a high instep, so Amazons easy returns appeals as it saves issues trying to return items if fit is an issue. There seems to be a variety of sizing when it comes to UK sizing and I know that a size 46 fits me perfectly (UK 11 seems to vary between manufacturers from 45 - 46) and after checking the Jack Pyke website and Amazon reviews on the fitment, I ordered my regular size 11 and the boots fitted perfectly when delivered.
After six months of use my experience with these boots has been excellent. The boots are very supportive when clambering over logs, provide excellent grip when dragging branches and cuttings on loose ground. The full grain leather upper and a waterproof and breathable liner have shrugged off the worst of a British winter without issue. The boots are still flexible enough for me to drive in, which saves time changing shoes when I arrive at the woods, and the high rand on the front protects them well from scuffs and helps when cleaning off the mud at the end of the day. At no point have I had wet feet and despite several muddy areas of my woods, the high tops and sturdy construction have kept me dry throughout. The lacing system is especially well thought out with small pulleys allowing the laces to be quickly tensioned and the smooth running should hopefully reduce the chances of broken laces.
Summer may prove to be too hot for these boot as they are well insulated and they have kept me warm on several cold nights. Sitting round the fire with a spot of Honey Jack, i've not found cold feet to be an issue, so not having to toast my feet near the fire to stay warm has been one less thing to worry about. The high tops and speed laces come into their own when slipping out of the hammock or bivvy for those night time breaks, and slipping the boots back on in the morning always feels like a pleasure with such a comfortable and warm boot.
The vibram soles offer a solid grip but i've had mixed luck with vibram as the soles begin to wear, finding them slippery on wet rock so i’ll be watching to see how they cope. i've also noticed that several bushcraft stores now also carry Jack Pyke gear so clearly i’m not alone in spotting this brand and I’ll been looking forward to testing these further over the summer months.