“ Brand: Graceland / Type: Boots „
Last winter was particularly bad for me with the hammering we had here in Wales with the weather. Most people think Wales is all about constant rain and we do get a fair share of it, but we aren't used to a great deal of snow, especially in the valleys where it can be inches deep as little as five miles away and barely a flake on the low ground. But the winter of 2010-2011 was a bad one with not just the higher ground suffering from blizzards; even in the cities it was deep underfoot. Not just that but living in a side-street between two hills I couldn't get out to the shops for days at a time and when I did it was with my old walking boots on.
That was fine for most of the time since once stocked up I decided to stay safely indoors, but when I had to go out I felt like an old lady, tottering around with my walking stick and thick boots more suited to hill walking (which I originally bought them for). Visiting my daughter In London was a nightmare I swore never to repeat, but fortunately this year's weather wasn't as bad. However, I wasn't going to put myself through that worry again. Short of becoming a recluse I couldn't see a way around the problem without spending a lot of money on boots I'd hardly ever wear.
I have arthritis and also a balance problem which makes walking sitting and standing hard to do although its possible with a little help. I can't go from standing to bending though, I have to sit down and try shoes on so I plan my route well in advance. Since I am always on a tight budget I don't have the luxury of trying all the footwear outlets, it has to be a few shops that I know might sell what I need. I'd tried Deichmann's the year before and had bought some comfortable shoes there, so I had a look online to see if they sold the type of thing I was looking for. The choice was excellent but I knew from experience that I have to try shoes and boots on and if possible, walk up and down the length of a road in them.
I'd done this before and the staff had been so friendly, watching my bags as I walked the length of the store to get an idea of what my feet would feel like in the shoes. They had also taken in what I'd said about getting something to suit my own problem feet, not what they thought would suit a woman my age. That is really important for me to feel I'm not over the hill as far as fashion goes. So I noted down a few of the boot from the online site and went into the town center and straight to the branch.
What I was looking for seemed impossible. I'd expected to have to get the best for my money and if they didn't look that good then I'd have to buy one pair for traveling and one for really bad weather. Okay, there are many of the snowshoes shown in leaflets and catalogues, but they rarely fit well and are either too heavy or too flimsy. I tried a few pairs of heavy flat-heeled boots on and they felt very heavy on my feet. Then I went for the calf-length boots and the ankle ones as well. Some of these seemed suitable, but they didn't look much. I also found the flat heels also had flat and thin soles, they wouldn't last me five minutes.
One of the staff suggested a Snow boot and since I'd never heard of one before I thought she might mean something for hill walking. She explained they had a certain style of boot that had been made especially for wearing both in the snow and still look fashionable. I must admit to feeling doubtful but I was willing to try anything by then.
***The Snow Boot***
While I don't think these would stand up to blizzards, the look and the feel of them pleasantly surprised me. The first thing I noticed was how incredibly light they were to pick up. This is because they are made of a padded rubberized outer with polyester lining throughout the boot. The outer also has a strong, yet light all in one sole and heel, rather like a Wellington boot but more attractive. The boot looks like it's been stitched in places and that adds to the look and gives it a streamlined appeal. The top of the boot has a fur-collared top that is there for added warmth but more, I feel, for style. A side zip goes from the bottom of the boot, just above the shoe-line and stretches to the top. It's quite hard describing that as the boot has a sculpted all round pieces that fit neatly let allows for plenty of movement inside.
If you consider it as similar to a trainer but with an addition reaching to the mid-calf then you should know what I mean. This duality is what makes it so suitable for me. I've always found I can't get my size 6 feet into a boot without a lot of tugging and this is something I can't do. I wouldn't be physically able to put it on. Even with this boot I found it a little tight to start with but it's something I've got used to by now. I can also wear it with tights on or with socks. With the inside allowing for stretching and then fitting back into place, it really does feel and look adaptable.
When I first tried it on I was given the choice of white or black. I thought black would go with more things but since I was buying it to wear in bad weather then I thought I'd choose the white. To be honest it looked different to most boots and I wanted something to stand out. Initially I was tempted to tuck my jeans or trousers into the boot, especially when I'm wearing it in the rain. It stops the bottom of my jeans getting wet. I did worry that I might stretch the boot doing this but so far it's made no difference at all. I quite like the look, but if it's worn on a pleasant day then I'll wear it with the legs covering the boot. I think it's purely a matter of taste.
Well, would you believe it, so far it hasn't snowed enough to test this out, but I've had plenty of rain and mud to try them out. I wore then up to London in October and with the wet autumn the park was muddy. I'd only taken one other pair of comfy shoes so wasn't going to get those muddy. Since the boots are easy to wash or wipe down it doesn't make a lot of difference. I'd just add a word of caution, the soles are meant to grip and this does mean that they get mud in the treads. I presume this will happen with snow and ice but then it will be a bonus. I did have to get the mud out with a scraper, but this happens with Wellingtons.
The great thing about the boots is the fact you can wear them out in the rain and keep your feet dry, yet still look and feel stylish. I wouldn't feel out of place going into a pub or restaurant and we did have a meal out while I was visiting. I've yet to try them in heavy snow, but since they act like Wellingtons in rain then I expect they will be fine for light to medium snowfall and warm enough for icy pavements.
I have been concerned with balance, but I wouldn't try to walk far in very icy weather. I have felt really safe wearing these on wet pavements and that's a test in itself for me. For people who don't want to change shoes in bad weather I think these boots are fantastic. I paid £24.99 for mine and they are still the same price. Obviously they are selling well. One thing I'd say is try on different sizes as these are made by Graceland and the sizes are very generous. I take a size 40 (6) in the shoes but the boots are very roomy in that size so I tried and bought a 39 (51/2) and these are still comfortable.
I'd certainly recommend these, as at that price I wouldn't expect more than a season's wear, yet I think these will last a few years yet. Now I can't wait for a snowfall to really put them through their paces!
Since writing this we've had some snow, but not enough yet to make a full trial so I've left the above stand. I did go out in sleet and the boots were fine, just like walking in rain, but I could feel the tread griping the pavement.
Thanks for reading.
This review may appear on other sites under different names. I always use my surname on each review ©Lfuller2012