What makes a pair of rubber boots worth over $400? The ones from France's Le Chameau are not your ordinary wellies. For one thing, each pair is handmade by a single boot maker from start to finish using only 100% natural rubber, which provides superior resilience and elasticity compared to synthetic rubber. Besides forming an excellent barrier to water, natural rubber offers a high resistance to wear, cutting and tearing, and results in a much better fit and a more comfortable boot all around. They're also lined with the highest quality full-grain, glove-soft calf leather which prevents that clammy feeling and heat buildup other rubber boots are prone to. Many models also feature a full-length proprietary waterproof zipper making them extremely easy to put on and take off, while the soft but aggressive tread grips almost any surface.
Of course Le Chameaus are also damned stylish; they recently appeared in our Fall Sporting Style feature starring the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and while gaining popularity with connoisseurs here, in Europe they're the hunting boot of choice for everyone from royalty to gamekeepers and as much a part of estate shooting as a bespoke shotgun. In 1927, M. Claude Chamot hand-crafted the first pair of Le Chameau boots in his factory in Northern France. It takes nine months of intense training to become a Le Chameau boot maker. Unique skills and techniques are passed down through generations, from master boot maker to apprentice, ensuring that each pair of boots is created with the same care, quality and craftsmanship as in M. Chamot's day, with the benefit of modern technology of course. Under normal conditions a pair of Le Chameaus will last for decades, making the best boot money can buy well worth the price.
Gallery: Le Chameau
The classic olive green Chasseur hunting boots are our favorite, but a range of models is available for both men and women. There are special versions for cold weather and even some fur trimmed ladies' models in interesting colors. On a historical note, these type of boots are known as Wellingtons or wellies after a softer, closer-fitting style of cavalry boot originally designed by the first Duke of Wellington, who had the first ones made of leather in the early 1800s. They were not made of rubber until the 1850s when Charles Goodyear invented the vulcanization process for natural rubber. You can check out a video of Le Chameau boots being made here.