Which Wellies Are The Best? (Hunter Vs Aigle Vs Le Chameau Vs Cheap Rubber Boots)

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My dahlings! As you well know, I’ve expressed my warm feelings towards Hunter rubber boots more than once. Actually, I happen to think rubber boots are excellent footwear when it comes to rain, mud and even snow (if paired with the right socks).

You might argue with the above, especially if you live in the city, but don’t get me started about normal rainy days, countryside (and I’m not talking about horse riding, just normal dogs walks, school runs and small errands)! Fact is, rubber boots were pretty unknown to me until I bought a pair for the eldest boy – he was around 2yo and he had a real hobby from running off – path. Needless to say that at the end of the day he wore a second outfit, made of mud. His feet – dry and warm, though. And all that because he was wearing rubber boots.

Noted. After that, each of our kids received a trusted pair of rubber boots when the walking – age came. Mom and dad ensued. This year, doubling my quest for the perfect pair of city casual boots, I wanted to buy a sturdy, reliable pair of rubber boots also for cold winters’ moist as well as quick errands across city puddles. As such, I normally turned to Hunter. Because, let’s face it, we rarely say ‘wellies’ without implying ‘Hunters’.

Hunter wellies rubber boots

‘Wellies’ – come from ‘wellington boots’, a specific type of boots replicating the Hessian 18th century military boot. The wellies, made popular by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington who was a passionate hunter, were initially made of leather. That until Charles Goodyear invented the rubber’s vulcanization some 50 years later and there begun the rubber’s road to wellies success. The ever – busy countryside population was happily returning home after a long hard day’s work with dry feet. Hurray! During the WWI, the British Army fought heavily in boots made by the North British Rubber Company (yep, today’s Hunter Boot Ltd) and by the end of the war, everyone was familiar with the Wellington boots.

You know I love a good history lesson every now and then. For the sake of accuracy. Let’s forward things to present days: in 2006, the Hunter Rubber Company was placed into administration, and then restructured. Although they started making serious profits, in 2008, Hunter relocated its production in Europe and the Far East, also leaving out the vulcanization process in the said move. Serious financial growth ensued but Hunter slowly and steadily lost its original customers and purpose. Hunter boots became fashionable and less reliable.

The Hunter label now reads Made in China and not Made in Scotland anymore and you’re most likely to have your Hunters leak through their first year of wearing. I’ve done my homework, I can assure you of that, and country attire specialists don’t swear on Hunters anymore. Because you can’t count on the original Wellies anymore. (sad, sad face)

Aigle rubber boots

What was I to do? Give up the quest for the perfect rubber boots? Nope, that’s so not me! I went deeper into research instead. Naturally turned to Aigle boots. A French rubber boots company just as traditional and long lasting as Hunters. Except they kept it in the family. Also, many of the disappointed Hunter clients became Aigle rubber boots owners. However, the kids had a pair of Aigle boots (each) and not even after a year, the rubber split inexplicably. As gorgeous and as catchy their catalog images may be, I still have doubts regarding Aigle’s boots.

Aigle rubber boots 2012

Another brand towards which Hunter wearers flocked is Le Chameau. Equally a French label, just like Aigle, Le Chameau swears on excellent workmanship and advanced technology all designed for the country passionate who likes the nature. And you’re rightfully questioning the ‘traditional Scottish rubber boot company’ (aka Hunter) when the very Kate Middleton, now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is wearing Le Chameau (Vierzon) rubber boots (and more than on one occasion)!

Kate Middleton Duchess Catherine wears Le Chameau Vierzon wellies

Now I’d like to close this piece by asking you what your experiences with rubber boots are. Chances are I wouldn’t have been so thorough in my research if I had to buy a regular pair of rubber boots under $10. But when I intend to spend a lot more, I expect to get a lot more from my purchase. Living up to the Hunter hype may just be a wrong expense. Turning and choose either Aigle or Le Chameau (or any other brand I’d like you to share if you’re familiar with the wearing & tearing experiences) requires proper thinking and evaluating (a pair of Le Chameau Vierzon Lady goes for an almost $200 price tag – and that buys me a lovely pair of Fryers too).

Why they don’t have a testing option in place? Like for cars – test your wellies before buying them? I know, it’s a lot to ask for, but so is trust. A three – figures price tag doesn’t automatically translate in confidence and quality. Although I wish it did, Hunter proved me wrong! Especially when I go by the philosophy: ‘buy less often but more quality’. So please, help a lady in wellies – distress! (all the images come from Hunter, Aigle or LeChameau)

41 comments

#1 Ellington on 11.01.12 at 9:15 am

I have a thing for Hunter Wellies but maybe that is the Brit in me speaking. :)

At the moment I am so LOVING this pair by Hunter! : )

But in second place my next favorite brand are Tretorn!

They come is a wonderfully array of colours and I like the short length of them. : )

#2 kpriss on 11.01.12 at 9:26 am

how could I ever forget about Tretorn? Love them as well!

(actually, Hunter was also my choice of heart, but I dug into it because I really wanted both comfort and quality and found out pretty upsetting facts about Hunters… Let’s say they’re good for fashion purposes?)

#3 Riana on 11.01.12 at 10:58 am

What’s not Made in China, Taiwan etc. Burberry too!! Left many people in the UK, Wales unemployed and in misery. Look around in your home. Most of it is made by the new slavery. And that’s the reason….ah, never mind….

#4 Kathryn on 11.02.12 at 8:00 am

Aigle, hands down! The true original rubber Wellies and quality and comfort are way above par. I suggest you try the Parcours model, you are going to love them! Mine go on 16 years and look as if they could easily do another 20!

#5 kpriss on 11.02.12 at 8:03 am

Oh, wow! Thank you Kathryn! I was a bit hesitant, given that my kid’s Aigle’s (these ones here) split in less than a year, really with no pressure or particular incident… Now I’ll take the Parcours option into serious consideration as well!

Thanks again!

#6 dbrook on 05.01.13 at 2:04 am

I would also Aigle as hand made in France with over 160 years experience making them. Le Chameau is not made in france anymore and made in Morroco and have heard quality has slipped + also Hunter is mass produced in China and quality is poor

#7 Victoria on 04.01.14 at 3:28 pm

Late in the game, but I have to say, I had my fair run with rain boots. I bought an expensive pair (over 50 dollars for me) and while it looked good, the rubber cracked and water seeped in within months of moderate wear. I was upset that I wasted money thinking that the quality of the item matched its price, so I tried again, I bought a cheaper rubber rain boot from a retail store (under 20 dollars) and it actually was better than some fancy fashion name. The rubber was sturdy and the style was basic with a nice, simple color (duck yellow). I wore it for all of my college career and always came out with dry feet, as well as compliments from the guys because of the bright sunshine yellow color. Now, since I am a bit more ‘grown up’ I had to find a practical and more presentable pair of rain boots, so I bought the Aigle Start Boots in Brown (over 100 dollars). This pair of rain boots look like leather, but is actually rubber, so it does the trick in keeping water out. The slim profile and riding boot inspired style is much more sophisticated than say, bright yellow. I get compliments all the time and shocked faces when I tell them the boot is actually rubber. It is amazingly more comfortable than my other rain boot because it is more structured and fitted. I still use my trusty yellow rain boots when I am doing garden work, going on a quick walk, playing with my niece and nephews, etc. but I commute in the city, go to work, and “dress up” with the Aigle boots. I would say give it a try, if you are still looking for rain boots.

#8 kpriss on 04.01.14 at 11:13 pm

Thank you Victoria!
Your experience is always a valuable addition, regardless of when you’re adding your comment! <3 I love it that you explain both sides of the story and I myself have a sturdy pair of cheap black rubber boots for garden work or 'field days' but city walks require that extra layer of 'chic' utility wear won't ever provide. So now I've narrowed down to Tretorn and Aigle (although I still count my kids' Aigle negative experience - just like your first pair of boots - they cracked with no reason and therefore they joined the junk pile).

#9 Ann on 04.02.14 at 8:07 pm

My hunter boots sprung a lead after about 30 hours of wear. They are junk. At $125.00 a pair, I would expect them to last just a bit longer. They are now made in China. If I had known that, I would not have purchased them. Shame on Hunter as they will do nothing.

#10 kpriss on 04.02.14 at 11:06 pm

Thank you Ann for coming forth with your (unpleasant) experience! Hopefully more will learn from your mistakes and, maybe one day, so will Hunter, returning to the high-quality product they once fabricated!

So what did you buy next? To replace the Hunters?

#11 susan on 04.13.14 at 7:32 am

Thank you for this post. The information helped so much because I am in need of a new “hunter” replacement. I experienced breakdown before the 12 mos. And the company had no interest in helping me. Several letters, calls etc…and now I understand why. I will try the companies that you recommended. Again, thank you.

#12 susan on 04.13.14 at 7:41 am

keep in mind that I just inquired about the Le Chameau and was told depending on the style, they are made in different locations. Will call to see which ones.

#13 kpriss on 04.17.14 at 11:51 pm

I’m happy to hear my story was helpful, Susan!

When – and if – you’ll find a replacement for your rubber boots, please share your wearing experience, it would be helpful to find out firsthand what a former Hunter customer is opting for nowadays!

#14 Ivan on 07.03.14 at 10:05 am

I’ve been a satisfied wearer of Le Chameau wellies and waders since 2006 at least. Never regretted it – the boots I bought back then are still going strong, and I have bought quite a few pairs. None of them look likely to wear out any time soon or fail prematurely.

Anything made by Hunter from late 2008 onwards was made by the Beijing Patcus factory in China, and poorly made at that. Avoid like the plague. The label is no longer British anyway, as it is owned by an American private equity group which is only interested in maximising profits. If you need to wear them frequently, as I do, don’t expect Hunters to last more than about six months.

#15 Dave on 08.25.14 at 1:50 am

I’m about to delve into the world of wellies and have found this really helpful.
Didn’t know about Hunters being made in China.
Looked at Aigles and they do look so nice but the price!!!!!!!!!!!
I’m going for it so just hope I get what I pay for.
Thanks for all comments – so helpful.

#16 Elle on 09.25.14 at 11:34 am

This is from Aigle’s history on their official website–
“95% of Aigle’s collection is still handcrafted in France, benefiting from the company’s unsurpassed knowledge in the vulcanization process of natural rubber and its unconditional attention to detail.”

Which model did you order for your kids? I chatted with a Zappos customer service rep today to find out where the children’s Pedrix and Woody Pop models are made. He told me, “Our records show the origins of Pedrix are unknown and Woody Pop is made in China.”

I’m really frustrated. Why is it so hard to find quality products nowadays? Le Chameau does not have a children’s line, and all of the negative Hunter reviews have put me off. Does anyone have any other brand recommendations?

#17 kpriss on 09.25.14 at 11:54 am

Hi Elle! I’ve had the equivalent of Lolly Pop Pomme except they have other prints on.
Honestly, Elle, I would recommend Tretorn. Although I haven’t tried them myself, I have a.. feeling they’re really good! – we can still trust our motherly instincts, right?

If anything, please come back and share your experience!

#18 Olly on 10.10.14 at 6:56 am

I have had my Cameaus for 5 years and can walk up to 70miles a week in them. They are super confortable from day 1. 5 years later the heel has worn down, and I’ve worn a hole through the toe. This has nothing to do with the quality, just excessive use. I’ve just replaced them with Aigle Parcour ISO 2 OPEN’s. I honestly cannot find any difference except they are £100 cheaper. Hunters etc split as they are not natural rubber boots…more like a plasticky type of stiff rubber substitute. Natural rubber is soft and durable. I must point out of not tried the leather chameaus, as in my mind the 5mm neoprene lined (with full zip) suited me better.

For the record, I am wearing my Aigles today, and having done 3miles in them, they are as comfy as an old pair (of toastie) slippers!

#19 Rene on 10.20.14 at 2:40 pm

I’ve had my Le Chameau fur lined rubber boots for the past two years and I’ve trudged through foot-deep snow, floods and everything else that the New York City’s rough winters have thrown my way (especially the 2012-2013 winter season). Not once did water leak or get inside the boots. They are sturdy and gorgeous. People usually think it’s leather instead of rubber. They are also very light and the insoles are well cushioned. I’ve had plantar fasciitis and my Le Chameau boots were the only ones I wore during the worst part of the inflammation. I just bought a second pair in another color. They are much lighter than Hunter boots, and they’ve been indestructible. I think you’d have to put these boots on fire or take a pair of scissors on them to take them out of commission.

#20 Marjolijn from Amsterdam on 10.23.14 at 11:55 pm

I just love my Nokian rainboots as the weather can pretty ugly as well in Amsterdam. Nokian boots are Finnish (and manufactured in Finland), and I believe that the boots are handmade. They boots are very light and theu are the most comfortable boots I have ever worn. I have the black Loose Leg boots and I even wear them under a dress or skirt because they look like leather! You also receive a nice dust/travel bag for your boots.

Also a nice recommendation: raincoats of the Danish brand Stutterheim.

#21 Marjolijn from Amsterdam on 10.23.14 at 11:58 pm

Forgot to mention: Nokian also has cool, warm and comfortable boots for children.

#22 Jake Gerber on 12.05.14 at 2:01 am

I’ll preface this by saying,when I saw Hunter Wellingtons selling a boot that look liked something a p!mp would wear , I knew there was no hope for integrity left. Jimmy Choo ? Must be a joke ,but apparently not. You have to see these boots to believe it. If the Anglos don’t get their act together ,the Grench and rightfully so,will have the market cornered on what any quality control there is left.
These Chinese knock offs with the Hunter name care a disgrace, but the only thing these clowns care about is the button line.
Has it never dawned on these bottom feeders that some people may be willing to pay a premium for a premium product that will last at least ten years .
I wish I could post pictures in my response here. I did post on Facebook ( Jakob Gerber. San Francisco ) … If you dig through all my terrible photos,you’ll come across three pair of green Wellies.
Bought the first pair 1974 ,I think they were 20 pounds AT MOST,then again that was forty years ago.
Since then I have been caught in a London storm a couple of times,unprepared and bought another pair and then another . I bought the last pair in Oxford in 1980.
Every pair is still as good as new. Granted, I don’t wear them everyday ,but San Francisco has the worst climate in the USA ,hence I do wear them at least four months a year.
Huntington must be proud. The first p!mp designer to become wealthy at the hands of garish imbeciles
( the queen must be loving this. Wellingtons with buckles and embossed alligator pattern. )
If I don’t get feedback from this post,I’ll be amazed.

#23 Fiona on 03.28.15 at 6:29 pm

I too have had hunter wellies completely crack and fail as well as leak from the bottom of the heel. I have heard great things about the Bogs brand and may compare with brands listed here.

#24 Parcours on 07.10.15 at 10:07 am

Hi All, a little late here lol Anyway, for Aigle boots, depending on model, they are made in China. All of their kids line are made in China. The very popular Malouine boot is made in China, anything printed is made in China. All of their equestrian boots are made in China, they were made in France then Eastern Europe and moved to China for obvious economics reasons.
Now, everything made in France (the most popular models) which represent the company’s backbone are of absolutely outstanding quality. The difference between these and Chinese made products is not because of location, simply manufacturing processes and the rubber used. All made in France is from Natural rubber.
The # 1 way to check is when handling the boot you can see right off the bat how the natural rubber boots are soft, supple, the almost feel a little greasy !! Smell also sets the difference. The natural rubber ones, almost no smell, the cheap stuff smells like tires ( see Hunter boots)
A lot of R & D also goes into the designs of their outers and soles. They are expensive, yes absolutely. If maintained will they last you a lifetime, Yes !!
My 2 cents

#25 Patsy on 09.02.15 at 5:41 am

Hi; What an interesting comparison!
I had Hunter’s which lasted me well over eight years, but I found the flat heel if I was walking for any distance in them caused me problems with my heels.
I now have Aigle Benyl Iso’s (made in France) which are an absolute dream owing to their slightly raised heel. I have absolutely no problems walking all day in these most comfortable of wellington boots.
I would highly recommend them!

#26 Carrie on 09.06.15 at 9:07 am

Huge thanks for writing this article and opening the conversation! I too own a pair of $225 hunter boots that leaked after one season of light wear. I’ve been looking to repair the leak but sounds like there’s no point throwing any more money at them! Please keep sharing insights on quality fashion and supporting companies that still value quality!

#27 kpriss on 09.06.15 at 9:41 pm

Thank you Carrie! The story came from the very same place as yours – wanting to find and enjoy quality products! I’m happy you found it useful, it’s definitely my motive for trying to find more products that need to be placed under the honest-scope :-) having your positive feedback means everything to me!

#28 Margeory on 09.22.15 at 8:06 am

I have no idea which ones my Grampa used to buy but he lived in them. I seem to remember him patching them too. Had the same pair for years and years. And when I was a kid I had a nice pair. They were kind of squishy. Ones now for kids are super firm and give rashes around the hard edges from lots of wear :(

Who makes good real rubber kids ones

#29 Mary on 10.17.15 at 8:06 pm

Le Chameau fabric lined are made in Morocco, the leather lined, in France. I have the leather lined and they are not only comfortable but indestructible. Prepare for sticker shock but if you live in the upper midwest they are a fashion work horse and quite stylish.

All others have lasted maybe a year, two at the most, and forget Hunters. My Chameaus (I did buy them in France but Zappos has the same thing/same price)? YEARRRRRS.

#30 Salonge on 10.20.15 at 6:21 pm

So KPriss, did you make a decision? Aigle, Le Chameau, or a cheapie?? I’m in the same boat and I’m leaning towards Le Chameau.

#31 kpriss on 10.20.15 at 11:24 pm

Actually Salonge I was really close of getting a glorious pair of Le Chameau as I concluded, with the help of everyone who contributed to this story (thank you for your amazing comments and testimonies!) that they were the most reliable wellies right now! And then I received a pair of Aigle Chantebelle rubber boots as a gift and I’m testing them as we speak, to see how they hold on. So far so good, but if I were to choose, Le Chameau Vierzon leather lined black rubber boots would be my choice!

#32 Evelyn on 11.18.15 at 8:05 pm

Love the boots in the first picture right side..black with gold and white. What brand are these?

#33 kpriss on 11.25.15 at 2:07 pm

Those are the Hunters Evelyn! Hunters Union Jack :-)

#34 Kendra on 01.02.16 at 2:30 pm

Le Chameau!!! I bought a pair $200.00 price tag almost 5 years ago and they look new. I’ve worn them at the horse ranch, for playing in the snow and of course rain. Mine are lined and have kept my feet and legs super warm. I’m glad they are still owned and operated in France and haven’t sold out to the east. Hunter is just a fashion statement and no longer synonymous with quality.

#35 Shery on 02.24.16 at 2:16 pm

Aigle are quality, Hunter overpriced crap NOT for field use High Street chuck-away fashion only. Tigar best value by far using the former equipment from Hunter’s now defunct UK factory. Tigar also contracted boots for Barbour, basically what Hunter boots used to be before the factory was sold.

#36 kpriss on 03.18.16 at 9:04 am

Thank you for bringing them to my attention Faith! I (too) love their ‘field tested’ gear reviews and I think they have a very objective approach, therefore I trust their output.

#37 Eileen on 03.21.16 at 12:29 pm

I have two pairs of Ilse Jacobsen, one in red tall lace-ups and one in dark teal ankle height and love them – they are super comfy. I’ve had the red one for almost 8 years – the only thing is that the sole squeaks. I don’t know if anyone has had that happen to them too? For kids, Stonzwear makes all-natural rubber boots in bright, fun colours. My daughter has the purple ones and loves them.

#38 kpriss on 03.21.16 at 1:22 pm

I was really unfamiliar with the brands you reminded Eileen! But I will definitely check them out now! Thank you! And thank you for your feedback!
(later edit: I just visited the websites and I looove Ilse Jacobsen’s stuff! So minimalist and the colorful high heel boots are so wonderful, young and fresh! Definitely love them! As for the kiddies stuff – everything with color and quality always wins my heart!)

#39 Lydia on 04.11.16 at 12:42 pm

Has anyone tried brands made for riding, like Ariat or Muck Boots? L.L. Bean also makes kids boots and there is a line of kids boots called Western Chief but i think they are plastic

#40 Zoe Bennett on 08.20.16 at 1:52 am

I always had Barbour boots when I used to wear wellies alot 20yrs ago. Now ive got a dog decided to buy another pair they last 4 months and split. I was shocked as they were expensive. I took them back and received another pair only for the same to happen again again. This time I got my money back. I did look at the French boots and Hunter but decided on the original Muck Boots. They are brilliant.

#41 kpriss on 08.22.16 at 10:09 am

Thank you Zoe! So sad to hear about your unpleasant experience with Barbour! Yet this is a valuable lesson for me as I was looking to Barbour for a jacket and now I don’t feel sure it’s a good choice anymore… It’s hard to accept that what was once a reliable value is not the same anymore and I think only sharing our experiences can guide us!

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