Tay Sport Muck Boot review

I mentioned in an earlier post today about my review of Muck Boots, so thought it was worth copying the most recent one here from Songofthepaddle.co.uk



Well as you may have seen here I have upgraded my Avon Muck Boots to a pair of Tay Sports. Once again I went to www.balnecroftcountryclothing.co.uk for both my initial research and eventually my order (see below for untangling the Muck Boot models). For the history of the Avon Muck Boots and my review of them see here. The general principals of why I prefer wellies as my outdoor footwear are covered there and apply to these boots just the same.



Why Wellies?
Lots of reasons. First the obvious, I want to keep my feet dry. Cold wet feet sap moral as well as being just plain uncomfortable. Wellies allow you to trudge through puddles, long wet grass and undergrowth while still keep your feet, as well as the bottom of your trousers, dry. For heather and heath country they are ideal. In these conditions normal boots are often fully immersed letting water in and soaking your socks.

They allow me to wade out a bit when launching the canoe as well as letting me get out the canoe without having to ram the shore. So if nothing else I am extending the life of my canoe as it is getting more soft landings.

Another benefit when camping is the ease with which you can take off and put on Wellington boots. When using a hammock this is a particularly welcome benefit. Swinging from a hammock and trying to undo laces and pull of a boot may not be a sport but it is at least an entertaining spectator event. With Wellingtons you can simply kick them off. When you wake and need to take that midnight pee the boots are easy to put on for the dash in the dark and simple to remove again when you get back. No more tripping over loose laces in the dark whilst both half asleep and with a full bladder adding a sense or urgency.


Why Muck Boots?
Simply because Muck Boots solve the problems that you usually get with wellies. What are the wellie problems? Cold, sweaty and uncomfortable.

The Muck Boots are not only not cold but are in fact among the warmest boots I have ever used. They achieve this by a number of methods. They have a foam booty which insulates the foot area and also makes the boot buoyant. The upper is made from neoprene and has a liner, which varies with model.

The inherent problems of getting sweaty feet while wearing an entirely waterproof knee length boot are dealt with by using a breathable, wicking liner. All explained in The Science Bit.

Comfort is also a result of a number of factors. The rubber in the boot is natural rubber which is more supple that the normal TPR or PVC on cheaper boots. The foam liner also helps as does the lining of the boot upper. Together they give you a warm and comfortable boot that is a pleasure to wear. Of course do not take my word for it. Try a pair if you get the chance and see for yourself.

Of course another reason for choosing Muck Boots is the quality of the construction. My Avons were well made and stood up well to the abuse I gave them. The Tay Sports are, if anything, better made and look like they will last even longer (NB my Avons are still going strong and currently been given a hard life by Driftwood)

Harking back to my reasons for wellies the Muck Boots are specifically designed to be removed “hands free”. The quote the blurb “The 10mm kick rim or pull tab makes it easy to remove, while the sturdiness and stretch of the CR-foam bootie makes it easy to step into the shoe or boot without having to pull it on”. So easy to remove while swinging in the hammock

Why change from the Avons?
Good question. The Avons would have done me for a long time and performed well enough that I had no cause to complain about them, however, I am one of those people who is always looking for improvements, even if they are only slight. I think I like to strive for perfection; my wife calls it something else



So given my obsession when I saw that Muck Boots had launched a range of extreme cold weather boots I was tempted right away. As I mention in the Avon review I tent to get cold feet. Paddling the canoe your feet are often in cold conditions and not being moved so not generating any heat. In these conditions it is not uncommon to get cold feet. Well I say not uncommon but it actually was uncommon in the Avons but it still occasionally happened in extreme conditions.

So first and foremost my reason to upgrade was to see if they were warmer, while still not being sweaty. I was also not keen on the camouflage pattern. Whilst not an issue on most trips it was not ideal for walking the dog in the park or anywhere else where you get smart alec comments from passers by.

I was interested to see how the “improved” tread would perform but this was not a major factor in the move.

Was it Worth it?
Yes but I suspect you want more detail than that.

Let us start with warmth. The Tay Sport bots are definitely warmer than the Avons. Surprisingly this was very difficult to notice. Because of the breathability of the boots you feet do not get sweaty or uncomfortable so your do not feel too hot. They do not feel cold either so how do you tell if they are warmer?

This took some time. I have used the new boots in a lot of conditions and never had cold feet. This could have been because of the improved insulation or it could have just been because it was not that cold. Eventually on a trip just after New Year we had a chance to compare. Russell (Warthog1981) was wearing his Avon Muck Boots and I was wearing the Tay Sport Muck Boots. It was a cold night and at one point Russell said his feet felt a little cold. My feet were still toasty warm in the Tay Sports and usually I would get cold feet before Russell so this would seem to prove the Tay Sports are indeed warmer. I have to point out that it was very cold and we were sitting around so in normal footwear we would both have had really cold feet much earlier on.

The fleece lining of the boots not only helps the heat retention but also makes the boots more comfortable when you have bare feet. Now I do not make a practice of wearing the boots without socks but as they are so handy to put on when you need to go out and get coal for the fire or check the chickens in the morning, I do find myself wearing them barefoot relatively often. The Avons were comfortable enough but felt a little plasticy on bare skin. The Tay Sports feel, well, fleecy, which they are.

I was concerned that the additional fleece lining would limit the ability to turn down the tops of the boots but this has not been the case.



Turning down the tops of the bots in warm weather greatly increases the surface area available to wick away moisture and keeps the boots dry in the hottest conditions. If you have managed to get the boots wet inside (an unexpected swim from your canoe, surely not) then turning down the tops of the boots and wearing them till they dry is the quickest way to dry out the boot. The fleece lining will tend to hold the water a bit of it does not have the heat from your feet to evaporate it. Wringing out your socks periodically helps speed this up as well.

The new tread is meant to be an anti clog pattern.



From my use that is certainly the case. The mud etc I had been stomping through just prior to the taking of the picture would have filled the tread of any other boot or show I own, including the Avons. I have yet to even partially clog the sole. This makes the boots ideal in muddy conditions as you retain your grip and the boot does not get heavier as you carry increasingly large amounts of mud about on your feet.

The comfort of the Tay Sport is at least a match for the Avon and still far and away better than any other Wellingtons I have tried. When I go on a trip I have only the Muck Boots as footwear. They do me while canoeing, round camp and for the late night toilet trip. Now this is not just an exercise in multi function weight saving. It is because for my use the Muck Boots are the best option for use in the canoe, as a camp boot and for the midnight dash.

So the Tay Sports have all the benefits of the Avons and perform better in some of the most important areas. So as I said, yes the change was worth it.

Are there drawbacks?
Again, yes, after all you can’t have everything.

The soles do not clog but they are not as grippy on slippy rocks or sheet ice. This is just the rules of the game. The solution to one problem compromises the performance somewhere else. Given that most of these boots will be used in muddy or snowy conditions the anti clog option is probably the better option. For use in ice the recommended solution is to use a set of YakTrax Pro. Not sure if these would help on slippy rocks but it might be worth checking for scrambling round rivers.

Like the Avons the Tay Sport are not the first choice for swimming in but my footwear for canoeing is not chosen for swimming. If I have fallen in I have greater concerns than my swimming speed. What would be a greater concern would be if you could not swim in the boots at all. Thankfully you can. In fact as they are buoyant they are actually quite good for rivers where you should always keep your feet up to minimise the risk of your feet getting trapped. Also thanks to the “hands free” removal you can kick the boots off while in the water if you really do not want them on.

The lug at the back is great for the hands free removal but can be an issue if you paddle from a kneeling thwart. This could catch on the thwart. I do not kneel very often in the canoe and when I do I am not using a kneeling thwart so not concerned about entrapment but it may be an issue for you.

The Tay Sport boots are probably marginally heavier than the Avons, which themselves are heavier than walking boots. Of course comparing wellies to walking boots is not a fair comparison. Comparisons to walking boots and gaiters would probably be fairer and in this case I do not think the weight difference would be that much.

Muck Boots are not cheap but even this is hard to be sure about. Sure there are cheaper wellies available but these are frankly not in the same class as the Muck Boots. I have heard of other boots that are able to compete with Muck Boots but these are in the same price range as the Muck Boots so for what you get the Muck Boots are, to my mind at least, great value.


The Science Bit
So if the boots are impervious to water how do they let the sweat from your feet get out? Lets have a look at the structure of the walls of the boots.



Lets look closer still



The fleece liner is at the top of the picture. The moist air from your foot can easily pass through this. It then passes into the void in the orange layer. Here the heat naturally takes the moisture up and out of the boot. Thanks to the neoprene and the foam boot the outside edge of the orange layer is not cold so no condensation takes place, at least not enough to be noticed.

As well as allowing the moist air to pass through the fleece layer actually wicks moisture away from the socks or feet helping to keep your feet drier.

Does it work?
Absolutely. It worked well on the Avons without the fleece layer and it is better still on the Tay Sport. Whether the weather is warm or cold, wet or dry with a pair of Tay Sports your feet will not know what the conditions are. They will be warm and dry.

When is a Tay Sport not a Tay Sport
Now much as I like Muck boot as a company they are not going out of their way to make the models easy to understand. So here is a quick pointer about the nearly Tay Sport options. The Arctic Sport is the same as the Tay Sport but is in black (the Tay Sport being in green). The Spey is the same again but this time in camouflage. The Tay is NOT the same as the Tay Sport. It is very similar but it lack the fleece liner and is more akin to the Avon but with the new tread style and the rubber comes higher up the leg. I suspect the Torray is the same as the Tay Sport but with full camouflage but I can’t be sure of this as I did not ask for this to be confirmed, I was getting confused enough already.

Conclusion
Well if you can’t tell by now that I love the Tay Sport Muck Boots you have not been reading very closely. They are not the perfect boot but I doubt any boot every will be. The perfect boot would be very close to the Tay Sport but it would be light as a feather and the sole would stick like glue to slippy rocks and ice. Still if any company is going to make such a boot my money is on it being the Muck Boot company because if they have not revolutionised the comfort and usability of wellies in general then they have at least done so for me.

So for the moment my search for my ideal Wellington is over. Of course I have spotted The Lune, a short boot by the Muck Boot company and can see times where it might be useful so my Muck Boot collection may not be complete yet.

So for those skipping to the end. Highly recommended.