Almost exactly a year ago I recommended these rigger boots. I’d been using them for about six months and had been pleased with their fit and function. They’d been warm enough in the winter, strong enough to protect my toes from a carelessly dropped full super and easy to get on and off.
I spoke too soon.
Sometime this spring the lining on one boot worked loose. When I tried to slip the boot off the lining remained trapped round my heel, necessitating some unbalanced hopping about while prising my heel free with my fingers. Now both linings have come adrift from the inside of the boot and it’s a real palaver to get the damn things off. They remain comfortable, safe and secure, totally waterproof and easy to get on. They’re just nigh-on impossible to remove again.
Until this season I’ve used a variety of beekeeping footwear. Other than for quickie inspections (using a jacket only) I usually wear a full suit and Wellington boots – waterproof, reasonably long in the leg, easy to tuck the beesuit into and, if you choose carefully, a grippy sole for wet grass or mud. Most recently these have been neoprene-lined Aigle boots. Although supremely comfortable they were far too warm to wear for summer inspections … with the beesuit suit tucked inside my feet and ankles would be soaked in sweat for the entire afternoon and they were a nightmare to remove if I needed to go in the house for the (inevitable) things I forgot. They were tight on the calves, which ensured they were completely bee proof, but this undoubtedly contributed to the overheating.
Stanley Rigger boots …
I purchased a pair of Stanley Rigger boots in the Screwfix winter sale, paying about half the list price (£60 at time of writing). They have thick dark brown leather uppers, are quite wide in the leg, comfortable enough to wear all day and have a sole with excellent grip. They are waterproof and – less usefully – have an oil, chemical and heat resistant sole (!). Importantly, when you’re as forgetful as I am, they are pretty easy to slip on and off. They are shorter in the leg than most wellies, but are easily long enough to tuck the beesuit into. When walking in long wet grass – the sort of thigh-high stuff that seems to accumulate more that it’s fair share of rain or dew – your calves will get wet, but some of my apiaries are so overgrown this used to happen in wellies anyway. Although the leg width is generous I’ve had no problems with bees getting inside. The sole is reasonably broad, but driving isn’t a problem.
Fat calves … ?
Note that the photograph on the Screwfix website of the boots ‘in use’ is clearly doctored (unless the wearer has spectacularly fat calves). Importantly – as I’ve recently discovered – these boots also have steel toe caps, so that when you drop a full super onto them from head height you don’t damage anything other than the box.