Monday, February 2, 2015

Walking in a Winter Wonderland is Better with the Right Boots

I said something about not having much snow a couple weeks ago then boom, there's white stuff everywhere. We can't change what the weather will throw at us but we can be prepared with the right gear. You'll find that good winter footwear will easily transition from saddle time, to barn chores, to shoveling snow at home.

Your hardest working items should be your bigger investments so while you can get decent winter boots on the cheap you may want to consider expanding your budget to get you the best quality. Fit is also very important when choosing a winter boot. The footbed needs to be sized right for your foot and it needs to be supportive. Walking on snow and ice is tricky enough so you need to make sure your feet and ankles have the best possible foundation. The boots I've picked out will also look darn good while doing it too.

Horze Parma Thermo $55.00

Horze makes the best introductory winter boots out there. The Parma Thermo are meant for snow, mud and all kinds of yuck. They have very thick lug soles, are waterproof from the ankle down and include an inner faux leather patch for grip in the saddle.  These boots are very adjustable in the calf and ankle thanks to the four velcro closures and lace front. They're also fully lined for warmth and you can hose them off to clean up. I don't have experience with their durability year to year but at this price you can have a new pair of boots every winter.
Horze Parma Thermo

TuffRider Tundra $65.00 - $99.00

These boots by TuffRider have a warm and fluffy full fleece lining and a leather look synthetic outer to give them a traditional look with just a bit of winter detail.  There's some great features incorporated in these boots too.  The tongue and upper is connected by a neoprene panel to provide flexibility in the stirrup.  These boots give you a nice stretch gusset at the back of the calf to accommodate your breeches or your jeans. The Tundra boots also feature a wear patch on the inner leg, a spur rest,  and small reflective strips at the back of the ankle. They don't claim to be waterproof but they wipe down with a damp cloth nicely. I see these boots around the barn I ride at so I know they're getting the job done.  SmartPak also has these on sale for a pretty big discount right now.
TuffRider Tundra

L.L. Bean Shearling Boots $200.00

When I mentioned spending more for quality I said it with these boots in mind.  L.L. Bean makes great stuff and they stand behind it forever with an amazing return policy.  If you're looking for a short winter boot that's more of a paddock style put down the tack catalogue. These boots are waterproof, have great traction, and were built to be the ultimate winter boot. This particular style is the upgrade to the standard Bean boot featuring a high quality shearling lining and super soft tumbled leather. Just like the other boots in this line they feature a steel shank, rubber bottom and excellent hand stitching. They're so comfortable, toasty warm and will do the job for many years. Make sure to pay attention to sizing when ordering as they recommend sizing up if you wear thick socks.
L.L. Bean Shearling Boots

Ariat Bromont  $300.00

If you're looking for a winter boot that's appropriate for the show ring Ariat has you covered. The Bromont wraps thin and toasty Primaloft insulation in a classic leather package. This boot features a full length rear zipper with stretch panel, spur rest, and removable gel footbed. Another nice touch is a suede wear panel on the inner calf for added grip. While they're one of the higher priced winter boots out there they're also the most slender profile.  These also shine up wonderfully so if you or your kids show IEA or foxhunt these would be an excellent investment.
Ariat Bromont
Mountain Horse Stella Polaris $200.00

My personal winter boot search came to an end when I purchased the Mountain Horse Stella Polaris boots. I wanted a synthetic boot that could handle being hosed off, had great traction, and had a bit more personality than a traditional riding boot. Truthfully, I wanted something fuzzy and snuggly and this boot has that in spades. They feature a full faux fur lining which makes this boot oh so warm.  The footbed and ankle is very sturdy thanks to the slightly wider tread area and the long elastic strip on the outside of the calf makes this boot very accommodating to different sizes. The quilt on the outside keeps the insulation from drooping and the textured synthetic on the inside is nice and sticky. (They will squeak in a synthetic saddle though so heads up if you're going out in the Wintec or Tekna.) The quality of zipper on these boots is also great. It's a thick YKK zipper with large plastic teeth that are a breeze to keep clean and they zip up easily every time. These boots also feature the reflectors on the back of the ankle for visibility.

I affectionately refer to these as my monster truck boots. I have walked into muddy pastures where you sink calf deep in muck and my feet stayed dry and the hose took care of the clean up. They've been through a Polar Vortex, ice storms, countless snowy dog walks, and even made a few trips to the office. Out of all the equestrian products I've purchased in my lifetime I would put these boots in my top 5. I cannot say enough good things about them.
Mountain Horse Stella Polaris
Finally, it is well documented that the wider shape of the toe on a winter boot can easily get hung up in your stirrup so please make sure your irons are large enough to accommodate your winter footwear or go up a stirrup size.

Next week I'll be reviewing the Piper Full Seat breeches by SmartPak. Until then, happy riding!

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