Busy sporting agent James Dent puts the new Ariat Catalyst VX Defiant boots to the test and is delighted to find them comfortable straight out of the box

credit: Archant

As a shooting agent, I spend somewhere between 80-100 days in the field each season, not counting my own personal days spent picking-up and stalking. These outings take me all over the country, to a variety of terrains, in all weathers – from the unforgiving heather-clad moors of Scotland to the soggy and slippery downs of Wiltshire and everything in between. So it stands to reason that I need a decent pair of sturdy, comfortable and hard-wearing boots to see me through.

This season, I have been testing the Catalyst VX Defiant 10” GTX 400G boots from Ariat. Those in the equine world will probably be familiar with the Ariat name and excellent reputation, but the brand has only recently branched out into the shooting market – and I, for one, am glad it did.

The first thing I would mention about the Catalyst VX Defiant 10” GTX is that they were comfortable straight out of the box. No evenings spent clomping around at home trying to break them in.

Their first outing was to the grouse moor for a full day’s shooting and the waterproof leather upper was incredibly supple from the word go. The boots didn’t rub anywhere – and in fact, they still haven’t, after months of wear. The 10” model, with locking cleat at the ankle, also offered excellent ankle support, which is crucial on the uneven ground of the grouse moors.

credit: Archant

One of the problems I’ve often found with wearing wellies all day, all season, is that they end up making your feet sweat, because they aren’t breathable, meaning your feet get cold. These boots have a waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX membrane as well as a temperature-managing X-STATIC layer for odour protection, which means this is no longer an issue. No more drying out wellies on the radiator for me! The 400g Thinsulate Ultra insulation also kept my feet warm on the few bitterly cold days we’ve had so far.

There is also a special technology that protects, stabilises and supports your foot, while articulation at the ankle allows for forward/backward movement, all of which means the boots are easy to walk in, yet remain rigid in the side-to-side plane for stability. The Vibram sole offers good grip, traction and durability, while the protective rubber rand prevents scuffs and scratches – again, I found this very useful in heather or thick scrub.

Built on an anatomically contoured last for a true fit, other features include a high rebound PU midsole to dissipate impact, a moulded TPU heel cradle and a premium leather collar and tongue lining. I can’t say how each of these affected the fit and feel of the boot specifically – all I know is that they are the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn, offering excellent stability, warmth and performance. I really cannot fault them.

I can’t comment at this stage whether they will stand the full test of time, but so far I have no reason to believe they wouldn’t.

The Catalyst VX Defiant is also available in a shorter height of 8” and without the 400g insulation for warmer days.

Sizes: 7-12

RRP: £319.99 (8” version: £299.99)