I love rain. There’s nothing quite like that first pitter patter of raindrops in spring to make me feel like the long, cold winter is finally behind me. It makes me want to get out of my hibernatory cave and finally go outside, makes me feel brand new, and makes me… really re-evaluate what to wear so I don’t get drenched up to my knees! Ah, the beautiful season of “What did I just step in?!” is finally upon us, and with it comes the season of shopping for rainy day shoes.
One of my lesser favorite things about rain is that it seems to arrive exactly when I’m unprepared. I came upon this exact dilemma while on a weeklong visit to Boston a few years back. Stranded far away from my waterproof winter boots, but unwilling to break the bank on an impulse buy, I decided to walk into the nearest shop and buy whatever I could find to keep me dry for the afternoon. That fateful day, I wandered soggy and irritated into a perfectly nondescript shoe store to emerge with one of the greatest companions I’ve had over the past five years – a pair of Hunter Original Short Rain Boots.
During my springtimes of rainy-day bliss, I’ve come across some truly spectacular, and sometimes even stylish, varieties on the rain shoe – everything from dainty rainy day flats sold at JCrew to high heeled rain boots and boot-sneaker franken-shoes for the casual rainy day run. But nothing has come close to the quality and versatility of my Hunter boots.
Ultimately, the one true test of any rain shoe comes when you lay eyes on the first classic post-downpour, endlessly deep puddle-ocean of the season. I’ve found that my flats don’t make me feel very confident approaching these, and I’ve even had to chase a loose shoe downstream once or twice in particularly bad storms. This is exactly where having your entire calf surrounded by a safe cocoon of rubber comes in handy. The Hunter boots themselves are composed of 100% rubber on the outside, making them completely waterproof and immensely easy to clean and upkeep. And, Hunter also offers a handy line of care products for those of us interested in keeping our boots buffed to shiny perfection! On the inside, the boots are lined with a soft polyester to keep your feet from making that annoying rubber-on-skin squishing noise as you step, and to add an extra touch of comfort.
The Hunter brand itself began as the North British Rubber Company in 1856, creating a variety of rubber products at fairly small scale until the onset of World War I, when the company became renowned for their indestructible boots which were commissioned by the War Office to be crafted for British soldiers fighting in the trenches. The sturdy boots went on to be used again during World War II. The manufacture of the Original boot, designed for superior comfort and fit, began in 1956. Today the Original boots are still assembled on the same last upon which their fore-boots were brought to life nearly a century ago. Each shoe is handcrafted, and Hunter even offers a 12 month warranty protecting against manufacturer defects.
The boots’ solid, one inch heel is equipped with a high traction sole that keeps you from slipping while you’re running to catch the bus or walking down that muddy slope in your yard, and the entire shoe is far thicker than the rain boot replicas you can find at places like Target for a fraction of the cost of the original. Essentially, this shoe, for $140, will last you half a decade at least. And you may cry when it finally breaks.
These days, the iconic boots come in a vast array of colors and even levels of gloss, from bright orange-red to tamer forest green, and conservative go-with-anything grey. Some variants on the classic also come with a buckle in the back for adjusting to fit the calf; for the classic Original boot, the buckle is more of a fashion accessory than anything else, but still adds a nice touch of utilitarian style to my otherwise fairly playful boot. The added detail work of the rubber is also a treat, even more so because it was added by hand!
To add even more configuration options, you can purchase either Tall (16 in. shaft height) or Short (10 in. shaft height) boots to match your height or style preference. If you’re below 5’6” like me, you may find that the Tall boots make you look like you’re 12 and borrowing your mom’s shoes, which is why I went with the Short variety. But hey, you can really go crazy with these options! Many years ago, I bought a turquoise pair which isn’t offered currently, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed I’ll see it back one day.
Nearly three years ago I moved to beautiful, sunny Palo Alto, away from my comfort zone of permanent rain in Pittsburgh, and my little Hunter boots sit unused in the closet for most of the year. But, for those of you who have that post-winter pitter patter to look forward to, go make the most of it for me! And if you’re looking to get really serious about fun, or maybe just survival, in the rain, give a pair of Hunter boots a try – they’ll keep you dry and looking stylish for years to come.