For the highly anticipated launch of Living In Chippewa Boots Season 2 I decided to kick-off our monthly boot discussion at a 1,200-acre duck club, an hour north of Seattle, Washington on the Snohomish River. This historic flood plain located between Snohomish and Monroe, Washington has slowly been restored to its wetland glory by a small but ardent group of watefowlers and Ducks Unlimited supporters.
Anticipating this winter hunt I reached out to Billy Lovell, my good buddy and R&D guy at Chippewa, to inquire about the Arctic Boot. This was my first real need for a boot sporting a genuine lamb shearling liner and wool polypropylene felt insulation. So, imagine my surprise and hesitation when Billy suggested the 9” Arctic Golden Tan Nubuc. “Nubuc,” I said? “Yes, nubuc,” said Billy!
The idea of walking into a private duck club, whose membership included numerous heads of industry, made me pause slightly. I mean, I’m the kind of guy who loves rich brown leather, thick woolen garments and things manufactured out of waxed canvas – traditional outdoor garb. Not boots commonly seen in urban fashion or on the feet of Hip-Hop artists.
That’s when Billy showed me the light – and it was golden wheat! The unique colored nubuc was in fact the original waterproof boot back in the day. I’m sure there is some debate on exactly when it was developed, but I am confident this boot was born out of utility decades before it found a home in today’s fashion. I love the fact that those lines are routinely blurred.
I’m told that before today’s popular waterproof membranes appeared in our outdoor footwear the best you could hope for were silicone impregnated leather boots. Since heavily oiled leather simply wouldn’t accept the siliconea softer, dryer leather was sought. Nubuc rose to the occasion. The combination of the golden wheat color and “waterproofness” soon became eternally linked.
Once I heard the full explanation I was sold. In part because I needed a warm boot guaranteed to repel the mud and the muck, but also because the true history of this leather had been revealed. Hunting the Snohomish River flood plain was perfect. We hunted numerous potholes that dotted the river bottom. Not quite dry ground, but not knee deep in the water either. The marsh had been cultivated with corn and wild blackberry, creating food stores and cover for waterfowl and black-tailed deer, an idealic waterfowl scene.
In the end, the hunters had great success with the ducks and I had some interesting boot history to share with our hosts.