I'm a good story

These boots were made for ruining my life

After suffering from debilitating depression for a long time, things have hugely turned around for me. An influx of writing opportunities of have fallen into my lap, male attention is on the rise and my sister is alive. There was about a month there where I was hard-pressed to find something to bring me down. And then my rain boots fell apart.

I should warn you that this is probably going to sound materialistic, petty and first-world problem-y. Because it totally is. And if you’re not interested in fashion and branding, stop reading or read and then make fun of me in the comment section. I need to get this out.

I live in Vancouver, a city that sees something like 86 days of sunshine a year. If I’m going to invest in rain boots, they have to fulfill certain criteria because they are going to be my second skin.

Firstly, my rain boots must protect my feet from getting wet. Secondly, my rain boots must be easy to slip on and off since I’m going to be wearing them all the time. Finally, my rain boots shouldn’t make me look like a wittle girl about to go splash in some puddwules, all oversized and dumb looking. So it certainly helps if they look sleek and tall on me.

My Hunters have fit those simple criteria for the last two years. I wore them so much, they became my identifier. People would see me on the street, walking my dog, with my big red headphones and bright red rain boots. They were part of my uniform. I have worn them at least three times a week since first bought them. We are in love.

So when I came home from a rainy dog walk recently, only to find my feet damp and cold, I was thrown off. (Is there a more uncomfortable feeling than wet feet? Oh, wait I know… making out with someone who kisses like a reptile.) I inspected my beloved rain boots. They were cracked. My heart sank. These cost $150. That’s a lot of money to spend every two years. Eeeeh, I shrugged. Five minutes later, I was online, looking for a new pair. I really liked the metallic ones.

Instead of buying another set of boots off the bat, I contained myself and I decided to see what would happen if I contacted Hunter to complain. I’m usually too lazy and jaded to make an effort to complain about things but I wanted to see what would happen, especially since these boots were such a big part of my life. Several months earlier I had a lovely experience with UrbanEars, the Swedish makers of my fantastic headphones which I use everyday for work. After the cord of my pair started to fray, I wrote them a heartfelt note about how much I love their product (and their country.) I asked them how long they were intended to last (I was outside my warranty) and what I could do so it wouldn’t happen with the next pair.

Someone name Karelene was kind enough to write back, saying she was touched by my email and if I had my receipt and warranty, would see what she could do for me. I imagined Karelene as blond and attractive, like most Swedes are, with a warm smile and an inviting manner. I was tempted to see if Karelene would invite me to their offices to meet her in person, since I wanted a good excuse to visit my mother’s home country and make friends with attractive foreigners. I couldn’t find my receipt, but felt good when I went and bought another pair, knowing that they went out of their way to make me feel good as a loyal customer. (Man, this is starting to sound like a mom with a lot of time wrote this.)

The same can’t be said for Hunters. When I and wrote them an email, someone named Wendy wrote back a response that was canned and uncaring. I imagined Wendy to be miserable and lacking the glow that Karelene had. Her hair probably hid her face. She basically told me since I was outside their one-year warranty, they couldn’t do anything. When I dropped the “I’m a writer” threat, she still didn’t care. She was probably too busy eating lunch at her windowless desk. It felt empty, and didn’t give me the same feeling that Karelene’s response did.  When I wrote back asking Wendy to give me three good reasons I should invest in another pair if they’re going to fall apart in two years, she never wrote back. I really wanted to stay loyal to their brand – what with all their cute colours and their tall, slender fit and the fact that they’re hands down my favourite pair of rubber boots I’ve invested in since I moved out West that make me genuinely happy – but I couldn’t. Wendy and Hunters clearly didn’t care about me. I couldn’t feel good giving them my hard-earned, yet easy to unload, cash.

While stoned on a day off during a recent trip to Toronto, I went into Get Outside and started chatting the ear off a really sweet sales person about my boots and how consumed I’ve become over the fact that I can’t bring myself to buy another pair. To my surprise she was totally sympathetic.

“Twenty years ago, you’d buy a pair of rubber boots and they’d last a lifetime,” she said. “Two years is not long enough to justify spending $150. I’d raise a stink if I were you.”

I smoked more pot and thought about how disposable everything’s become. How if I bought a pair of nice non-rain boots for $150 and they only lasted two years, I’d be equally as consumed. (Remember, everything’s going my way at this point in my life, so this is the stuff I am getting consumed over.) Why do record players from the 70s still work but my nearly three-year-old iPhone is turning into a piece of shit? What else could I do to get this unsettling, consumer-consumed feeling out of my system?

I just spent 1000 words telling you all about it. I suppose that’s a start.

Hi reader. All I’m looking for is recommendations on cute and functional rubber boots that aren’t Hunters. Feel free to leave a message in the comments or email me at write@eliannalev.com

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1 Chris { 06.14.12 at 2:20 pm }

Unfortunately $150 for 2 years isn’t, these days, much of a cost for a boot so I’m not surprised they didn’t really give a shit. Having said that the quality of the product really went down when they moved manufacturing out of the UK. The biggest problem with rainboots in Vancouver is that rainboots aren’t winter gear. Wearing rubber boots close to 5C stresses the rubber since it’s always getting really cold and then rapidly heating up when you come inside. That’s a problem here since our winters are always around 0-5C so they get worn a lot when it’s probably too cold for them. Especially a soft rubber like Hunters.

This is probably the most mature comment and/or post I’ve ever left so I better fix that: cunt, cunt, cunt.

2 anon { 06.15.12 at 7:55 am }

If I were to invest in rubber boots again, I wouldn’t buy Hunters anyways. The branding is too ubiquitous, and too Vancouver specific. I would probably buy these (http://loefflerrandall.com/LRProduct.aspx?ProductID=236&CategoryID=68) or their taller sister. You can find them at The Block.

3 Katie { 06.15.12 at 8:05 am }

These changed my life: http://www.ilsejacobsen.dk/?pid=1

4 Aunt Sheila { 06.22.12 at 1:42 am }

Anon: too Vancouver specific? Founded in Edinburgh in 1856 and available worldwide.
Mlle Lev: das some bullllshit. I appreciate Chris’ answer though. You see Wendy! THAT’s how it’s done. I complained to Huggies that their extra dry diapers leaked and they were kind, asked for my address to send a voucher….they never delivered. Hug THIS Hughies!

5 Elianna Lev { 06.22.12 at 7:37 am }

I can see what she means about Hunters being Vancouver specific. They are a big thing here…everyone has them. It’s kind of like a uniform. Which is why I feel like now’s the right time to move on from that horribly uncaring brand. Fuck them AND huggies.

6 Catherine { 08.30.12 at 1:38 pm }

Have a look on Amazon.co.uk and you will see many tales of woe regarding Hunters. We don’t get the extremes of temperature that you do in Vancouver, at least not usually in the South East of the UK and since 2006 ,when the manufacturing moved to China, the quality of the boots have suffered.

7 Elianna Lev { 08.30.12 at 9:22 pm }

I wonder if their shitty customer service is strategic. It will certainly catch up to them.

8 Nadia { 09.05.13 at 7:52 pm }

I found this article because I wrote on google “rain boots vancouver”. And I find it hilarious and totally true, I’m new to Vancouver, BUT I’m not gonna spend $150+ in rain boots.
Sorry for the bad customer service, any way, most of those people are more sour than sweet.

Love 🙂

9 Stephanie { 09.19.13 at 3:57 pm }

Get Aigle boots, they’re pricey like hunters, but there’s over 150+ years of experience behind them, and they’re all hand made in France and tested to be fully 100% waterproof. The colours aren’t as bright as what I’ve seen with Hunters, but they have the same tall, slim fit. Aigles are also made with volcanized rubber, the same material as Goodyear tires. 🙂 If you want to know where to get some in Vancouver, I know locally based Plenty sells them.

10 Jane { 10.01.13 at 10:03 am }

OMG I was just perusing craigslist looking for NEW GLOSS HUNTER BOOTS and hating myself for even considering it such a thing! I’m in Metro Vancouver and thought enough was enough with shite boots that are never waterproof enough and thought my only option was Hunters. Then googled RAIN BOOTS AS GOOD AS HUNTER and came across you! Thanks to the comments, I can love myself again for not having to lemming out and resort to masstige Hunters.

11 Nic { 10.14.13 at 7:33 am }

I’m wearing my THIRD replacement pair in just over TWO years and noticed they are cracking after just 11 days very light wear, that’s right 11 days! Currently waiting for Hunters to get back to me…

Thanks for this post it made me smile through the frustration!

12 Sara { 11.06.13 at 4:57 pm }

I, too, came across this thread after googling “rain boots vancouver”. I was just about to fall into the Hunter trap (thinking they must be good if so many people “in the know” wear them) when I read this. Elianna, what did you end up buying?

13 Elianna Lev { 11.06.13 at 6:13 pm }

I ended up with Aigle, which have proved to be incredibly good quality though I got chunky ones. They’ve since released sleek, more fitted styles, which I wish I’d bought instead. The colours aren’t as good as Hunters but the quality is far superior. http://www.aigleboots.com/

14 LoAnne { 02.15.14 at 1:37 pm }

Yep, havinging a nice snowy, slushy winter in NYC and my Hunter’s are have just decided to start leaking.I do allot, yes allot of walking and it’s gonna be painful.I hate to shop.

15 Jessica D { 03.12.14 at 6:23 pm }

I’m surprised no one suggested Kamik. The Jennifer is a fantastic boot, and it comes in a variety of colours. Their other styles have beautiful prints and colours and have varying shaft heights. They cost half what Hunter wellies cost, and everyone wears wellies, it’s hardly original. They can be recycled at Kamik. They have a removable footbed. Best part? They’re made in Canada.

16 Jennifer { 03.15.14 at 1:28 pm }

Try Sperry (as in Top-Sider). They’re still not cheap – on sale on Zappos they’re still $50-60 and they last 1-2 years for me in NYC. So, they’re at least better than your run with Hunters. I have really wide calves and have a hard time with boots, and Sperrys juuuust fit, so I had to go with them.

17 Christine Bennett { 03.27.14 at 4:09 pm }

I must try these Aigles. I bought a pair of Sperry rain boots at the Bay and the sides have holes in them after three months. They were marked down to $24 from $78, but still…

18 d { 03.28.14 at 7:11 am }

I was just about to splurge on Hunter’s thinking they must be better quality than the $30 jobbies I annually shell out for but I will NOT be moving ahead with that plan now. Thanks for this post.

19 Kathy { 05.23.14 at 10:44 pm }

I had the same problem with Hunters. Sub standard products and appalling customer service. Now made cheaply in China. I did my homework and bought a pair of leather lined Le Chameau. Saw Kate Middleton in them and they looked so good. So I decided to give them a try. They are amazing….utter bliss….so comfortable…can be worn in hot and cold temperatures. Ive even worn my without socks in 12 inches of snow. They really are the very best you can buy. All my friends are converted and have bought a pair from the Le Chameau range. They wouldn’t wear anything else now. I just love love love my Le Chameaus!

20 Rosa @ FLUTTER FLUTTER { 10.15.14 at 12:58 pm }

Love the comments! They are helpful, since I’m in a similar boat! Just discovered that my Tretorn’s had tears all over them, and was considering replacing them with Hunter’s… until I read this! THANKS!

21 Leslie { 01.31.15 at 2:58 pm }

My hunters (sandhurst carlyle tall riding rain boot) lasted one year. The seam near the toe has separated and the ankle area has cracked. I did not start wearing them daily until a few months ago. Up until then, I wore them maybe once or twice a month. I am very disappointed …

22 Michele { 10.17.15 at 9:21 pm }

So glad I read your post. I though Hunter’s were supposed to be the best and j am willing to spent the loot for something that lasts that I can garden I’m and walk about town. Live in No California – not much rain but expecting El Niño and want to be ready. Had a pair of Hunter’s in my Nordstrom shopping cart and thought I would have a look at the world of wellie’s. Good thing I did. Looks like they are another brand that WAS great and got bought out shipped to China and all quality is gone (i.e. Brooks Brothers, Lands End, LL Bean, Sperry, etc). Going to buy the la chameau boots. Thanks and screw Huggies. I was a Pampers Test baby myself. That’s right!

23 Cedar { 01.12.16 at 5:53 pm }

Yep, was a color choice away from buying Hunters and now will be looking at Aigle, Kamik, Ilse Jacobsen and Le Chameau. Way to go Hunter Rainboots! You win the award of the day for having shitty online reputation management. Thanks for the heads up Elianna!

24 Beck { 02.13.16 at 9:21 am }

I’m surprised no one mentioned LL Bean. Whether you get the classic Bean boot (American made) or their wellies, or Bogs or another brand through them, they guarantee their products.
This is from their site:
“Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise. We do not want you to have anything from L.L.Bean that is not completely satisfactory.”

I’m torn between Kamik (made in Canada) or Bogs, but I’m leaning toward Bogs because of Bean’s guarantee.

25 Beck { 02.13.16 at 9:34 am }

Also, here’s Bogs guarantee:
“Your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed to ensure that every pair of Bogs you purchase meets the high standards that you expect. If they do not, just return them for a replacement or a refund. We stand behind every pair of Bogs that walk out the door. Guaranteed.”

26 Brian { 02.24.16 at 11:17 am }

Thanks for posting this… I am having the exact same problem with my boots in Toronto. Unfortunately, I’ve only used them a dozen or so times over the last 1.5 years, and they’re cracking! But I’m out of warranty. I’m trying to write an email to Hunter about it now, but my lengthy complaint won’t fit in their stupid little online form. Can I ask if you have an email address I can send to directly? Like an info@ or a support@ or something like that? I’m sorry about your experience, I hope you’ve found more reliable boots since!

27 Julie { 04.13.16 at 6:31 am }

Just noticed holes in my Hunters from 4 years ago. It sounds like I got lucky with their lifespan, although I angrily looked for their warranty online. Of course I found the 1-year “warranty” and then this blog post. I am so glad that this comes up because I want word to spread about Hunters and the better alternatives. I considered complaining to Nordstrom where I originally bought them, but I don’t want another pair. Elianna, thanks for a relevant and timely (even after 4 years), well-written story.

28 Christina Rush { 05.11.16 at 7:59 am }

I agree – DO NOT BUY HUNTERS!!! In less than 2 years – JUNK!! Let’s put them out of business…..boycott – spread the word! First, these boots are way too expensive. I got mine as a gift. I have had a pair of Aigle for several years. They are still in excellent condition.

29 Candace { 06.06.16 at 6:09 am }

I’m in the same boat, only mine are less than two months old. It has been very tepid in temp where I live, and it barely even rains. I just bought these because they’re cute and comfy, and I liked the idea that I could wear them any day of the year and into the woods where my sons and I hike quite frequently.

I’ve worn these MAYBE 30 times. They’ve suddenly got a huge rip in the inner ankle near a seam. I’ve called their customer service but they’re closed. I’ll be calling back when they open, but I have a feeling i’ll get the same BS from them since I opted for the “Original Tour” in “tall” style and their stupid warranty specifically excludes them from the warranty!

Had I know their warranty didn’t even cover this style for A DAY, I would not have purchased them, but it didn’t explicitly state that until the very bottom of the online page dedicated to their ridiculous policy.


30 Candace { 06.06.16 at 6:11 am }

Oh, and they were $190 before shipping. Almost $200 for a pair of un-warrantied, falling apart after 60 days, pieces of C-R-A-P.

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