Good Gear -- Boots and Overshoes
March 2, 2021 Equipment
Mucking around is a part of any good photo adventure. And it's best done with the right gear.
When I was a kid, I couldn't pass a puddle without exploring it -- sometimes around the perimeter, sometimes up to my ankles in it.
These days, I'm more serious about my mucking around. That calls for some serious footwear. Whether I'm standing in calm water, stepping into a flowing stream or slogging through mud, the adventure is made possible by a good pair of tall rubber boots.
These Muckmaster Gold boots by Muck Boot Co. let you navigate wet and muddy places with ease.
I like Muck Brand Boots for my adult version of puddle exploration. Above I'm wearing their Muckmaster Gold boots. They are built much like the top-selling Wetland model and are nearly identical to the Muckmaster Tall model, but they're handled by only a few farm and ranch stores at a reduced price (see Rural King for a substantial savings).
They are sturdy, well-made and water tight. The soles are rugged and the insoles are comfortable all day. I wear them with wool socks over thin, polypropylene wicking liner socks. To accommodate the thick socks, I found a half-size larger boot fit me fine.
The Muckmaster Gold's tread pattern is the same as the Wetland's. It's designed to grip in the mud, but not collect it. The reinforced shank adds support and stability. The rubber overlay of the Muckmaster rises higher than most models to protect your shins from brush and branches. And the breathable, waterproof neoprene upper can be rolled down to accommodate slipping your foot inside, tucking in your pant legs or for cooling off your calves. A finger loop on the collar and a toe grip on the heel make it easy to get these boots on and off.
I've worn these boots in all seasons through water, mud, snow and slush without a care. And I've stood in icy puddles and frigid streams for long stretches without my toes complaining about the cold. They stay warm, dry and comfortable even after wearing the boots all day. And these boots move with you every step instead of against you like all-rubber boots do. See a quick video here.
When I'm traveling light, I pack NEOS 15-inch Adventurer Overshoes when I know I might get my feet wet. I wear them over my hiking shoes and only pull them on when I need them. Their soles are tough; the tread grips well in mud, sand and snow; the 500 denier Cordura nylon uppers are water tight; and they have a velcro strap at your ankle and an elastic draw cord above your calf for adjusting the fit.
My size 10 1/2 low-top Merrell hiking shoes just fit into the size Large overshoe. It's best to check the chart on the NEOS website when you select a size.
Like the rubber boots, these overshoes are water tight, so I can walk through water, mud and snow or stand in puddles, streams, ponds and surf when a good composition calls for it.
Plan ahead for how you'll handle your wet or muddy boots and overshoes once the day's adventure is done. I carry several plastic bags for them. For the Muck Boots, I bring two heavy-duty trash-compactor plastic bags and two plastic shopping bags. A shopping bag goes over each boot before it's slipped into its own compactor bag. For the NEOS Overshoes, each one goes into its own shopping bag, then both bagged boots share a compactor bag.
When it's possible, rinse the boots before you bag them. Whether in a stream or under a faucet, get as much muck off of them as you can, so they are ready for the next adventure. In case I find a hose on a spigot at a campground, gas station or rangers station, I carry a hose-end sprayer in my tool bag as a convenience.
I would have missed some of my favorite photographs of watery scenes if it wasn't for waterproof footwear. Other images were possible only when I could traverse water, mud or wet sand to get to them. I'm thankful for the times I was ready to muck around. I won't get into the scenes and subjects I've missed when I wasn't clever enough to bring along my boots.