I was first introduced to Hi-Tec’s Para Boot back in the summer at a trade show. They had a big display of them which was certainly eye-catching, but I walked away (having completely failed to get the attention of anyone on the stand) wondering what the hell they are for. They look unique – like the shoe that met a sticky end in Who Framed Roger Rabbit has spent too long in a fetish club – but are they the first of a new breed of boot, or just a bit of an experiment by Hi-Tec?
I’ve just had to watch a video on Hi-Tec’s website to work out exactly who the Para Boot is targetted at, and apparently it’s everyone from Dog Walkers to Festival Goers. It is, according to the video, a fusion between a welly boot and a walking boot. Great! Now I get it… Hi-Tec, say that in big letters on the webpage guys because the Para Boot’s message is as muddy as the field around here this week.
Anyway, it wasn’t me who did the test on these rubber wonderboots, but rather a watersports enthusiast named Josh who kindly sent us his review:
These sounded like a promising option as a river boot so I contacted Hi-Tec with my thoughts and they were kind enough to send me a pair to try out!
Firstly, I love them! They work like wellies; warm dry feet on land, and easy on. But, unlike wellies you can tighten them and they don’t flop about, (or eat your socks!) and if you do end up in the water you’ve still got something solid on your feet. They are the best bits of wellies and lace up boots with none of the negatives.
In terms of fit, they are a bit large. Even after getting a size smaller than normal they were still roomy enough for water to slosh about, so try them on if possible to make sure you get a good fit. I’ve since put an extra insole in and voilà no more slosh!
Despite this roominess, and the river’s best efforts to whisk them away, they showed no signs of coming off any time soon.
The chunky sole felt really stable on rocks and loose shingle and even the slimy banks of Nottingham’s national water sports center failed to give them the slip!
I really liked them for gorge walking and rafting. Cavers could really appreciate them too.
The boots I have are very bright yellow and despite my best efforts to muddy them up they are still dazzling to look at. They do come in red and a more subtle olive green colour too if you’re fashion conscious.
I’ve really enjoyed testing them, and since they arrived have been my first choice when I step outside.
The Para Boot has an all-rubber construction and is lined with Neoprene, so it acts like a wetsuit boot to keep your foot warm when it’s wet. With their fairly low ankle a large puddle may well cause ingress so that’s good to know. They also feature Hi-Tec’s Ortholite insole which is anti-bacterial to minimise the stench of dead otter which always seems to be a risk with sweaty rubber shoes.
The Paras are fitted with a very chunky Vibram sole that features massive lugs to bite in to mud, and a kick-bar so you can take them off without using your hands.
SUMMARY: The Para Boot is a cross between a welly and a walking boot with cartoon looks and caricature chunkiness. Will it set the world on fire? Probably not. But does it work as a wet-environment boot which if comfy and does what it says on the tin? Yes. With what can only be described as Marmite-type appeal – love it or hate it – we can only recommend that you go and check out a pair in the flesh. Expensive for a welly.