Thursday, July 4, 2013

Leaky Gul Knee High Paddle Boots

Recently, I did a post on how to keep your paddle boots from getting smelly. I'm surprised to see it has been a pretty popular post in my web stats reports. Even though it isn't the most alluring or pretty paddle topic, it is an important one. We're always wearing some kind of paddle bootie or boot. Most of us have many different types of paddle boots and booties for different conditions.

I also promised I'd call out the well-known maker (brand) of my knee high paddle boots because they leaked like a sieve at the soles from day one. I bought them brand new several years ago.

Brand new, my Gul knee high paddle boots leaked badly all around the rubber sole, filling my foot with water as soon as I stepped into even a few inches of water. The boots were useless and left my feet sitting in a pool of water. There are no holes in the boots. They were not left out in hot sun all day and they've never set foot in salty oceans, just lakes and rivers. The problem is the seal around the soles. 
When I went back to the paddle shop right after I bought them and said, "These boots leak like crazy", the store said, "Yeah, sometimes that happens. There's this goop you can use to put a waterproof seal around the soles."

The "goop" (a waterproofing sealant/glue in a tube) cost me $8. It was extremely toxic to work with, even outside with lots of fresh air. It was difficult and sticky to apply, made my brand new boots look awful, and the "goop" started to turn yellow and peel off the first paddle season. The glue didn't last and didn't stick well. The boots were leaky again. How can you return boots that are messed up with all this ugly "goop" around the soles?

With knee high boots, you can't easily remove them to evacuate the water inside the feet like you can with short ankle-high paddle booties. Short ankle booties are mostly good-weather summer booties and you've always got water in them unless you launch from dry docks all the time.

The reason we buy knee high boots is to keep our feet dry and warm when we step into several inches of cold water and paddle in colder climes! They also protect our feet and legs from unfriendly shorelines, scratchy plants, and biting bugs.

So I contacted Gul about the leaky boot problem. 

I asked Gul to compensate me for these boots, or to give me an equivalent exchange of gear. I think that's fair.

They are Gul paddle boots. Or, at least, that's what the "Gul" logo on them seems to indicate. But the people from Gul looked at the photos of the boots and politely said, "They don't even look like our boots. How old are they?"

I bought them several years ago. Because they leaked, I didn't wear them. They sat in my gear bag.

When Gul responded that sometimes stores sell off old stock, I responded, "Do you put best before stickers on your products like food? How am I supposed to know how old the gear is in the store when I'm buying it brand new?"

I should have returned the leaky paddle boots right after purchasing them. They shouldn't have leaked brand new. I shouldn't have been asked to apply goop to correct the problem with the leaky soles. That's the job of the manufacturer and the brand.

A paddle friend wears knee high paddle boots of a different brand and remarked, "My boots don't leak."

I'll be buying another brand of knee high paddle boots that don't leak. So buyer beware. I have other Gul products that function well, but not these boots. It's a name we think we can trust, but like so many companies, if the product is dysfunctional, you're on your own.

I'm disappointed and surprised by the poor performance and the response of the brand.

You may want to ask the store where you purchase your products before you buy, "Do these paddle boots leak at the soles? If they do, can I return them?"

If the store says, "Ummm, I don't know, or They can't be returned . . . " You'll know what to say, "Thanks. I'll be shopping elsewhere!"

Now my leaky Gul knee high paddle boots are only good for use as gardening boots on days when the grass is not wet and the ground is not muddy!
Happy paddle trails with boots that don't leak. Warm, dry feet are the best when conditions are cold or mucky. I paddle spring, summer, and fall in Canada's cool, cold, crisp waters and in other places where I really appreciate the protection and insulation of a good paddle boot.

Here's the link to the post on How to keep your paddle boots from getting smelly.

And . . . happy 4th of July, Independence Day!
The BaffinPaddler


  1. Sadly, the other important lesson is not to be a nice person and try the fix the store proposes. I have a few items myself that never worked, but I didn't return fast enough.

  2. Exactly. And the point of the post. I am still learning . . . the hard way. Hopefully this will save others the trouble :)

  3. Sorry to hear of you issues with GUL. I would recommend Chota Mukluks as a replacement.

    Safe paddling.

  4. Thanks. A brand I never heard of before. They look interesting and have dealers in Canada.