Pros: extremely comfortable, supportive and robust boot. Fully waterproof and adjustable. Excellent fit with ordinary socks. 5mm neoprene lining keeps feet lovely and warm even on the coldest of days. “Grippy” soles make for a sure-footed walking experience whatever the conditions. Reflective tape on the back a nice touch to help you get seen in twilight.
Cons: Functionally I haven’t found any yet. I suspect the neoprene may prove a bit warm for extended summer use. Aesthetically my only gripe is the gold lettering of the “Groundhog” stamped on the side of each boot.
Price: From €99.99 from specialist Irish wellington retailer Oh My Welly
Rating: Highly Recommended
Rockfish is a British wellington company based in Cornwall that has been producing high-quality boots designed for the outdoor lifestyle since 2012. The Groundhog is a supremely comfortable, well-fitting neoprene wellington ideal for the wildlife enthusiast and suitable for all manner of outdoor tasks. It is comfortable to wear all day, provides excellent support for walking and superb grip thank to its unique cleat design.
Check out the Rockfish Groundhog on the Rockfish site here.
Rockfish Groundhog Wellington Boot: Full Review
Wellingtons are an essential piece of wildlife-watching kit when you live in Ireland. With our unpredictable weather and invariably soggy ground wellies tend to be the footwear of choice most days… and even when I’m not wearing mine I’ll have them in the car “just in case”.
While you can pick up a perfectly functional pair of wellies for very little outlay, if you’re planning to spend a substantial amount of time in them it’s worth investing a bit extra for comfort, durability and support. That’s exactly what you’re getting when you buy the Rockfish Groundhog.
I’d never heard of Rockfish boots until I was contacted by Susan at specialist Irish welly retailer “Oh My Welly” in the run up to Christmas about the possibility of featuring them in our Wildlife Christmas Gift Guide. I mentioned that I tend not to recommend products I haven’t tried in person on the site, so Susan put me in touch with the manufacturer, and they sent a pair of their Groundhog boots in for review.
I’ve been wearing them as my main wildlife-watching footwear for the last couple of months, and I have to say I’m suitably impressed. The Groundhog is a very comfortable, very capable all ’round boot.
Rockfish Groundhog wellies come with a black rubber outer that extends from the sole to between a third and half way up the boot. on the bottom half of the to 1/3rd to 1/2 way up the boot. The top half of the boot is exposed neoprene coated in 4-way stretch nylon fabric in either olive green or black (we had a black pair for review).
The contrast of different materials makes for a very striking boot, and the 5mm neoprene is extremely flexible, light and pliable. There’s also an adjustable rear gusset and calf-fastener, so getting the boots “just right” for you is easy. Chunky soles with impressive looking grips complete the package.
It all adds up to a boot that looks like it means business. The only thing I wasn’t so keen on was the gold lettering spelling out Groundhog on the side of each boot. No problem with the white Rockfish logo… but the gold lettering is, I think, a step too far.
Slip your feet into the wellies and you’ll find they’re a snug yet comfortable fit — and are fine with standard socks. No winter woolies or special welly socks required. The sole is contoured to fit your foot, and has plenty of padding, the footwell (is that what you call it) is flexible enough to be comfortable (driving in the wellies is no problem), yet firm and sculpted enough to offer plenty of support while out walking on difficult terrain.
All in all putting the Groundhog on your feet is a pleasure, and makes you feel like heading outside to put them through their paces… which is always a good sign in a welly.
In the field
Out in the field the Rockfish Groundhog is an exemplary performer. I’ve been wearing this pair of wellies for everything from leading wildlife tours and bird guiding to squelching through estuary mud with a gang of primary school children, to mucking out our chickens and fording and impromptu flood outside the house.
They kept my feet warm, dry, and comfortable throughout.
The deep cleats in the sole offer excellent grip, and the padded, contoured foot well is flexible, yet still offers plenty of support for extended periods of walking. In fact I had no trouble hiking all day in the Groundhog boots without experiencing any undue fatigue, rubbing or chaffing.
Wading through icy streams in the middle of winter and squelching through stone-cold estuary mud presented no problem in terms of warmth — the 5mm neoprene does its job admirably. The estuary provided another test: would I lose a boot to the sucking, oozing mire? There were a couple of times when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to move my foot, but at no point did I feel that I was going to lift my foot clear and leave my boot behind… which is a great testament to the fit of the Rockfish wellies.
My only real concern after using them extensively in the field is whether or not they will be wearable in the middle of summer. The insulating properties of the neoprene are wonderful in a winter boot — but as the weather warms they may prove a little too toasty for comfort. I guess only time will tell… but let’s be realistic: this is Ireland, so chances are they’ll be wearable far more often than they’re not.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed putting the Rockfish Groundhog wellies through their paces, and while €100 may seem like a lot for a pair of wellingtons, the Groundhogs are extremely capable, wonderfully comfortable and certainly look the part. I mentioned earlier that if you spend a significant amount of time wearing wellies it’s worth investing a bit more to get that extra level of comfort. Add to that the fact that these Rockfish boots feel made to last, and on balance you won’t go far wrong with the Groundhog. I’d heartily recommend them to anyone looking for a high-quality all-round boot for wildlife watching and other outdoor activities… or even just walking the dog on soggy evenings.
I’d like to thank the folks at Rockfish for submitting their Groundhog boots for review on Ireland’s Wildlife.
NB. Ireland’s Wildlife has no specific affiliation to any optics or gear manufacturer and all reviews on the site are completely independent and objective. If you’re an optics or gear manufacturer and would like to submit your product for review on the site please drop us a line using the contact form and we can take things from there.