If you read this blog then I am sure you have picked up on my wading boot woes over the last couple of years especially, and to be perfectly honest I’ve had a gutful of some not remotely cheap items of specialist footwear designed for use in water simply not lasting anywhere near long enough for a multitude of different reasons - so a couple of months ago I took myself off to Sports Direct in Plymouth to see if I could find an alternative………..
And I found these Dunlop Dakota Mens Safety boots above for the princely sum of £25, although I see that they are going out at £20 on the Sports Direct website. I shied away from regular hiking boots because I wasn’t prepared to pay very much money on my experiment, and to be honest I was about to leave the shop until I twigged that it might be worth a look at their safety boot section on the ground floor. I had taken in a sock that I would wear in my waders, together with a neoprene sock, and whilst the shop assistant must have thought me a little odd, in no time at all I was sorted out with a pair of size 13 Dunlop Dakota boots - bear in mind I wear a size 11 shoe, but I was right to go for the two sizes over as my feet inside waders fit perfectly into these boots.
OK, the laces snapped after a few days of water based use, but I’ve got some of that rather clever and cheap paracord stuff here that is the most perfect lace replacement material, so it’s no great hassle and I’ll know for next time. I’ve given the boots a couple of months of regular fishing use, and that includes nearly a couple of weeks of my guiding work over in Kerry which is some tough stuff on wading boots. I washed them in freshwater once because they were going to sit (still wet) in my car for a week when I was away on holiday with my family, but otherwise they go fishing with me and then they live outside until I go fishing again.
There’s a bit of rust showing around the eyelets, but so far these cheap as chips boots are doing absolutely brilliantly. They’re very comfortable to wear, much lighter than most of those almost ridiculously heavy wading boots, and to be honest they are working pretty much perfectly as a pair of wading boots. Sure, they don’t have drainage holes like most wading boots do, but in reality it matters not one single bit because there’s only so much water that can actually get in anyway when your foot is inside them.
The only slightly annoying thing was that I couldn’t get my regular Orvis PosiGrip studs to bite properly into the sole (and I’m not sure the soles on the boots are quite thick enough around the balls of my feet to stop that length of stud coming up through anyway), so thanks to some advice from an angler I know in Portugal, I went for a set of SupaTracks 1100 studs (tip dia. 2.2mm, length 7.9mm) - I paid £15 for twenty of them, delivered as well. I wasn’t sure if they might move around a bit in the soles of these boots, but they must be some clever studs because they haven’t moved at all, and if and when these Dunlop boots fail on me I’ll simply remove the SupaTracks studs and put them in my next pair. The grip is on all sorts of surfaces is excellent and because the studs don’t screw deep into the soles of the boots there are no issues on that front.
Anyway, if I take into account that I’ll get a lot more use out of the studs then I am getting pretty close to being pretty damn happy with using these cheap as chips Dunlop Dakota safety boots as a pair of wading boots. I said to myself from the off that if I got three months out of them then that would be me and (expensive) wading boots finished, and considering that unless conditions go completely to pot I’ll be out after bass until at least the middle of January, these cheap boots are going to get their three months of regular use. Let’s say I do get three months out of them and then they decide to fall apart, well £25 on a pair of boots for that length of time would be fine by me. I see no reason why they won’t make it until after Xmas, indeed they may well carry on just fine for a lot longer, but whatever does go and happen, this is me hoping that my wading boots woes might be over. I will report back in due course........