Winter in the north is a bitch. In terms of smart and effective outerwear, an alarming number of men I observe are ill-prepared. I don’t know if it comes from lack of thought or some hyped sense of virility, but these same men are also felled by colds, flu and other debilitating winter ailments that negate the “I’m too tough for hats, gloves, heavy coats and boots” idea. When it’s 10ºF with snow on the ground, a fleece zip-up and sneakers don’t cut it.
One of my favorite and most reliable shields against the season’s merciless savagery is the rubber rain boot, also known as the “Wellington” boot. Though they’re not technically winter wear with their thin and uninsulated construction, they provide total waterproof protection. In fact, it is their lighter construction that makes them more valuable, since I can wear them in colder or warmer weather, giving them a trans-seasonal versatility. When it’s warm, I wear them with regular cotton socks; when it’s cold, I wear them with thick, wooly, warm winter socks. Simple.
My Wellingtons of choice are the original tall rain boots from Hunter in England. Based on Hessian boots from early 19th century Germany, the boot is still the same iconic design as the Original Green Wellington that was perfected by Hunter in 1956, which is still made from 28 parts on the original last. Their flexible but tough waterproof construction comes with a woven nylon lining, a cushioned footbed and the signature Hunter tread.
You can find them on the Hunter website or on Amazon, which means free shipping if you have Prime. They’re around $150 and worth every penny. As for the warm socks for the winter (which should also be tall, over-the-calf socks), I’m partial to the cold weather boot socks from Carhartt. They’re super warm and very comfortable.
When it comes to winter and its brutal extremes, it doesn’t pay to mess around. Check yourself before you wreck yourself, and get the proper gear. (Check out my piece on winter coats.) The Wellingtons are an essential part of my arsenal, and I can’t live without them.