Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Inexpensive, good traction
Cons: PVC rubber smells bad, loose fit, thin insole, uncomfortable
Best Uses: Work boot for extremely dirty jobs
If there is an odd product out in this review, it's the Tingley General Purpose Knee rain boot. None of the boots we tested really compares to this one. It's a heavy boot made of PVC rubber, and it comes at a very cheap price. It has decent traction on the soles, though it lacks any insulation, making it a poor choice if you find yourself in a cold climate. Additionally, one of the first things we noticed when we pulled the Tingley General Purpose out of its packaging was the intense smell of PVC rubber wafting out of the box. During our testing period, we discovered that if you need a rain boot for a dirty job, this is the best option because of how easy it is to just hose off. And since it's so inexpensive, it's not a big deal if it gets covered in unmentionable sorts of waste and filth. However, if you aren't working in gut-wrenching conditions, check out the Bogs Classic High - Men's, our Editors' Choice winner.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Tingley General Purpose is a durable rain boot made out of PVC rubber. It's one of the heaviest products we tested, but it also has one of the highest shafts, allowing you to wade into streams, or walk through mud pits without worrying about the depth. Unfortunately, it's designed with work rather than style or comfort in mind, and it's pretty obvious.
The Tingley General Purpose doesn't look like it would be very comfortable, and it's not. Our main tester found that the rain boot fit quite loosely. The rubber around the heel stretched after being worn only a few times, which made it more difficult to keep on our feet. Additionally, it doesn't have a liner to help wick away moisture, and after a half an hour of using it on warm days our feet felt sticky with sweat. We also found that the lack of a liner meant that when it was in contact with our skin, it felt like it was going to rip out all of our hair. The insole is one of the thinnest and poorest of all the products we tested. We definitely would have liked some more cushioning and support in the footbed. If you want a comfortable model, check out the LaCrosse Hampton or the The Original Muck Boot Company Chore Mid.
This product has the third highest shaft off all the pieces we tested, measuring in at 16.75 inches from the bottom of the sole. Our testers found this to be a great if you're going to be wading through mud or water whose depth may be dubious. However, despite the advantage of having a tall shaft, the model fits loosely around the calf, leaving a large gap for water and debris to enter. If you need a tall rain boot that has a small gap at the top, check out the Le Chameau Vierzon which has buckles to cinch down the top of the shaft to your calf or the Kamik Icebreaker that uses a lace around the top of the shaft to close the gap.
Although models without liners have their place in the summer season, this model doesn't have an insulating liner or a liner merely to add some comfort. When we tested the Tingley General Purpose in some cold mountain rivers we found that the frigid water was able suck the heat right through the PVC rubber almost instantly. On a hot summer day, the cold penetrating through the boots feels nice, but most of the products we tested that had liners are able wick away moisture. If you're out in warmer weather, this model simply doesn't breathe as well as its competitors and collects moisture easily.
Our testers think that this model doesn't have much to offer in the way of the style. We think it looks like the type of rain boot you'd find on the feet of fisherman walking around a wharf or workers spraying don the floor of a slaughterhouse. We don't think that it's a very good looking boot to wear out on the town for the sake of fashion. The most stylish products we tested include the Tretorn Skerry, the Hampton, or the Hunter Original Short.
This model's rubber soles have a simple design that offers little traction in dirt, mud, and loose soil. Shallow grooves that cut across the bottom of the tread aren't deep enough to really dig into loose earth. However, when we tested them out on slippery surfaces, such as rocks on a stream bed, we found that the sole had enough surface contact to cling to the rocks and smooth pavement. The thick sole, however, makes it difficult to feel what it is you're stepping on, which can result in misjudging the security of where you step, and potentially cause you to stumble and fall.
Ease of Use
This pair is one of the heaviest we tested, weighing 5 pounds and 12 ounces. Putting them on is simple because of how large the circumference of the shaft is at the top, but unlike the Hunter, or the Bogs Ultra Mid Rain Boot, there are no straps or pull tabs to help pull them on. We also noticed that if you're not wearing socks, or your pants bunch up, the feel of the PVC rubber against the skin is extremely uncomfortable. The feeling is even worse if the inside of the rain boot gets wet from either being submerged in water, or because your feet sweat in them through the day. Not to mention that footbed stretches and becomes loose as it's used, making it feel like it's going to slip off your feet. For a product that is lightweight and significantly more comfortable, check out the Hampton.
As we've said above, the fit of the Tingley General Purpose is very poor. It is shaped more like a generic symmetrical mold than an asymmetrical footbed. This is pretty apparent as our feet slid around inside the boot and it became just as much of a mental effort to keep it on as it was a physical effort. The rain boot feels like it just hangs off the top of our feet as we step. Of all the products we tested, this is one of the worst fitting. If you want a model with a snug fit, check out the Bogs Classic, or the Hampton.
The Tingley General Purpose rain boots are best suited for working in environments where you may encounter the kind of filth that you don't want to get on your feet or on an expensive pair of neoprene boots. Essentially, it is the prime example of a work boot designed with drudgery in mind. We found multiple online reviews where they had been used for tasks such as farm work and work in slaughterhouses. If you need something more for style and pizzazz and not necessarily work, check out the Skerry or Hunter Short Boot.
At $30, the Tingley General Purpose is the cheapest of all the products we tested. If you need a work/rain boot that you wouldn't mind putting through the worst sorts of dirt and grime, this is the model for you. You won't worry about ruining the PVC rubber, and a hose easily takes off the worst filth that can collect on them. However, they lack insulation and comfort, so unless you are finding yourself in the dirtiest of dirty jobs, you may be better off spending the extra cash for a pair with some cushioning, lining, and stylish appeal. The Kamik Icebreaker is the best performing product and it has an inexpensive price tag, which is part of why it comes highly recommended.
The Tingley General Purpose offers decent waterproofness for a very cheap price. If you want a product that you don't mind ruining, this is a great choice. However, it fits poorly, and the tread isn't versatile enough for off-road use. Not to mention that the boot is very uncomfortable, and has a lingering smell of industrial PVC rubber. And they aren't very stylish at all; in fact they are a bit of an eyesore. But at $30, if you need a beater pair of rain boots for working in fields full of cow pies, then these are a great choice.
Tingley Economy PVC Knee Boot, $25.
Tingley Better Grade PVC Knee Boot, $40.
Tingley Premier PVC Knee Boot, $60.
— Jared Dean
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Most recent review: August 24, 2014
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