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Our pick: New Zealand made Boonies Kaimai waterproof boots

It’s been a long time since I’ve owned a real all-purpose boot, so I was excited when I was given the opportunity to test out the Kaimai boot from Kiwi footwear company Boonies.

First impressions after opening the box confirmed I was in for a treat. These boots have a great classic look about them with the natural rubber toe box complete with ribbing and straight-to-the-point full height flat lacing, but it is clear that modern touches have been added too. The sole is nicely contoured for comfortable walking on hard surfaces and the upper/collar is made from a nice stretchy neoprene for amazing ankle comfort and resistance to debris slipping in.

Brand new Boonies boots, just begging to get muddy! Note the high quality of the tread – hence the ability to really stick to wet, slippery surfaces. 

Slipping the boots on for the first time, I was impressed with the easy lace movement (smooth, well-sized eyelets and space to get your fingers under the laces if needed) and the forgiving stretch of the neoprene upper. The boot felt like it would need barely any break-in and there were no weird protrusions or seams inside to irritate your foot. Instant comfort!

The fit:
Since these are meant to be a sort of all-purpose boot, Boonies recommends you buy them a bit big. I would say that the sizing is accurate overall and the ~1/2 size “bonus” that I got felt about how I’d expect. Being on the North Island I don’t have a lot of super thick socks, but I put my thickest pair on and took them for a bit of a bush walk. The boots are definitely bigger than I’m used to and would benefit from even more sock-packing, but I must say these do wear well as a large boot. They are not nearly as clumsy-feeling as other loose-fitting footwear I’ve worn and I do think that Boonies’ recommendation to err large on sizing is sound advice (though I do still wish they made them in 1/2 sizes!). Arch support is moderate, fit is relatively wide, and insole cushion is generous and feels very high quality.

The performance:
I have not yet put these through the wringer so can not comment on long-term durability, but if my observations on the build quality are correct, these should last a long time and put up with a lot of hard use. Not mountaineering hard, as these are definitely not hiking boots, but stuff like farm, garden and yard work, hunting, 4-wheel driving, and even sloppy snow/slush winter conditions is where you’ll really see these shine. To me they seem like an optimal boot for typical coastal NZ winter conditions, but possibly a bit on the warm side for the far north. They’ve gripped remarkably well in the sticky clay I walked through and stayed bone dry when submerged well past the laces in a stream.

Left: Giving the boonies the grip test in mud. Right: Submerging the boonies in water. They passed both test with flying colours and stayed bone dry inside.

Conclusions:
I really love how this boot looks and feels on my feet and find myself slipping into it for quick excursions outdoors when the weather and/or ground is soggy. It’s easy to get onto your foot with the stretchy neoprene upper and ample pull loop at the back of the cuff. Full rubber boots aren’t for everyone but if you know you’re looking for a no-nonsense easy-wearing utility boot that washes down easily at the end of the day and will keep your feet comfortable and dry, give these a good look. Just be sure you’re OK with having a big boot if you’re in between sizes.

Keen on a pair? Pick up your Boonies boots here. 

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Colin Frater

WayWiser Co-founder & COO