Magnus Apler of Swedish boot brand Arxus talks to Gun Trade News about what to look for when buying – and selling – boots for shooting.
UK distributor Hammond Sporting launched its range of high quality rubber boots from newly acquired partners Arxus at this year’s CLA Game Fair. Interviewing Magnus Apler, the engineer behind the brand, we found out just how much of an uncompromising attitude you need to make and sell boots…
Why boots? What attracted you to them in the first place, as opposed to clothing in general?
A good pair of boots is, in my opinion, the most important item of outdoor equipment. When your feet are comfortable, your enjoyment of the day is increased. From the very first day, my aim was to develop the ultimate rubber boot. If I can provide the wearer with a stable, comfortable, long-lasting and good looking boot, it will help me to show people how irreplaceable a pair of high-end rubber boots can be.
Footwear sellers tend to quote a lot of technical features at the potential buyer. What features will really make a difference to those who wear them for hunting and shooting?
The most important part of a boot is to achieve good stability and as much support for the feet as possible. If you wear a ‘weak’ boot all day, your legs and spine will become tired and stiff. A boot with insufficient insulation will quickly become uncomfortable on a cold day. With the right support, stability and insulation, you will find that at the end of the day you remain comfortable and less tired. A boot made of a minimum 2mm-thick natural rubber will provide performance and long service.
The internal comfort is a very important part, as this is the first opinion that the buyer will form when trying on the boot. Good ground clearance and insulation provided by the sole and inner boot lining are also essential. A retaining strap that runs around the whole boot shaft, together with a metal clamping buckle that cannot open itself, is also the best way of providing support. If you are wading through high water, this can stop water coming in over the boot top.
The sole design is vital: To achieve a non-slip sole for a variety of terrains, an X-grip pattern with a hardness of rubber neither too soft nor too hard is ideal. The sole needs to be a minimum of 5mm thick at the thinnest point to provide protection from standing on sharp objects. A sole that spreads outwards slightly when walking not only provides optimum grip, but also absorbs shock. All buyers appreciate an attractive design, and for hunting and shooting it is important to have the right tone of green. A pair of good-looking boots with practical design features makes the wearer feel more self-confident, and good boots are for many people more important than the rest of their outfit.
You’re obviously an engineer at heart – do you find this helps you come up with technical solutions others might not have thought of? In general, what’s your approach to product development?
When you think constantly about boots as I do, you will on occasion find new ideas that have not been tested before. It could be a range of things, such as design, technical detail or a new kind of usage. For me, it is a part of daily life. Sometimes I see something in the environment that then develops into a new idea for Arxus boots. It is not unusual for me to wake up in the middle of the night with a clear idea for a new design or technical solution. I immediately put this idea down on paper and then test it on my computer the next morning.
From a trade angle, what are the advantages for dealers stocking Arxus?
Arxus has developed into a leading brand in Scandinavia, where the climate can be cold and wet, just as in the UK. Although new to the UK, the range has evolved with the benefit of my experience of over 30 years as a boot engineer.
Not only do Arxus boots fulfil all the criteria as mentioned earlier, but the range consists of nine styles containing many unique features which set a new standard in build quality, comfort, performance and durability, backed up by a two-year warranty.
These styles offer a completely different look to other manufacturers’ boots. Some of our ranges, for example, have Swiss-made ‘easy running’ rear zips, which not only set them apart visually, but are immensely practical.
The dealer can also make an excellent profit margin, and will receive a first-class service from UK distributor Hammond Sporting. A common frustration among dealers is the fact that many customers today use their retail premises as ‘fitting rooms’, where they choose their style and size of boots, and then disappear to buy elsewhere online at a lower price. This will not happen with Arxus, as not only are we very selective in choosing our retail partners, but we monitor online Arxus pricing to ensure that our RRP is being adhered to.
Do you think that there are still technological advancements to come in footwear? Or are boots more or less as good as they’ll ever be?
To accept no further development is to take a backward step. To replace natural rubber as the ideal field boot material is, I believe, very hard to do, as its characteristics ensure that it is best for this purpose. I am, however, constantly striving to make improvements where I can, and customer feedback is a vital part of this process. I believe that with Arxus we have the best range of shooting boots on the market today.
Arxus boots are distributed in the UK via Hammond Sporting. Contact John Hammond on 07765 465174, firstname.lastname@example.org, or go online to