Tall Boots, Field Boots, Dress Boots: Ready to Wear or Custom. What you need to know. October 11, 2016 16:18
Tall Boots, Field Boots, Dress Boots (which ever you choose to call them) Ready to Wear and Custom. Why do boots cost so much and what you should know before buying.
In a world where everyone wants instant gratification, it’s no wonder riders no longer want to be faced with the daunting task of breaking in their field boots. Gone are the days of boot pulls, baby powder, boot jacks and our all time favorite of asking your friend and / mother to turn around, put your boot in between their two legs while you used your other leg to push them away from you with the end goal of pulling off your boots. All of that was a lot of work, aren’t we lucky some clever person thought why not add zippers to tall boots?!
Since then, we have seen tall boots, field boots, dress boots (what ever you wish to call them) change drastically while maintaining their original classic style. Many boots look the same and therefore the equestrian community often doesn’t take the time to look closer and see the finer details. Most tall boots are expensive, whether they are ready to wear or custom. They start at $250 and can go well past $4000; the sky is the limit when you start adding specialty leathers such as croco, crystals, your country’s flag, your initials, etc!
Let’s take a closer look at what makes a boot last and compare ready to wear to custom boots and see what’s best for different riders:
The old saying goes ‘You get what you pay for’ and when it comes to boots and saddles this couldn’t be more true!
Leather.Leather is the most significant item in the cost of footwear; over the past few years the price of leather has skyrocketed and has become increasingly hard to source. In 2013, the price per hide jumped over 17% and, in 2014, soared over 9%. There is no stop of price increases in sight. The tanning process also adds to the price. Many high-end leathers can take up to two years just to tan! The higher quality the leather, the longer your boots will last. If you live in a wet climate, consider going with Water Buffalo leather. It is the toughest of the tough and is already used to soaking in water!
Soles. Over the years, most shoe and boot manufacturers have cut corner after corner to cut down on labour time and material costs. Many boots will have a glued sole, which will eventually come unglued after medium to extensive use. When you pay a premium, you should get a stitched sole. This is usually pretty easy to spot. Turn the boot over and see if there is leather stitching through the sole. Quality soles are made out of a combination of thin fused leather layers protected by natural rubber tread and heel. If you look closely at a quality pair of soles, you can actually count the number of leather layers. To cut costs, many manufacturers have stopped using leather all together and replaced it with rubber or even plastic soles.
Zippers. Yes that’s right zippers… YKK is what you are looking for here. They are the best and they will add to the longevity of your boots. Now don’t be hasty, zippers do break, this is often unavoidable but there are a few culprits that contribute. If your boots are way too tall, the zippers will bend and break. If your boots are way too tight, yes they will eventually give up. If you are rough with them, they will not last. There are features that help zippers last longer which are hard to notice without having a closer look. Things such as inset zippers, elastic siding, leather heel protector flaps and tops.
Elastic. Elastic siding along the zippers can make all the difference if you opt for an off the shelf boot instead of a custom boot. The elastic allows the zippers the extra room they need to work, they make the leather fit more snugly around your leg. The quality of this elastic is what you are after. If the quality is low, you will end up with saggy elastic and ultimately saggy looking boots. If you get a custom boot, you don’t necessarily need the elastics because the boots are made to fit you; however, many people opt for it because it does add some give for those days when we need a little extra room!
In our opinion Parlanti has mastered both the ready to wear (Denver and Miami boots) as well as their Parlanti Custom line. Is our opinion biased? Yes, of course it is! We sell Parlanti Boots, BUT we sell Parlanti because they are the best and we stand behind everything that we sell.
The two boots are for different customers even though it may seem temping to buy off the shelf because they are less expensive and there is no wait time. If you are an amateur, pleasure or young rider the ready to wear boots make sense. They will most likely last you at least a year and hopefully more if you take good care of them. They are also a good option for young growing children. If you are riding every day you might want to consider spending the extra money and going for custom boots. They will most likely last you three times longer than off the shelf. Why? Because they have the highest quality leather, soles, zippers, etc. and this is what you need to ensure your boots last. If you are a professional, riding every day, multiple horses, we suggest going with custom boots. You will be saving a significant amount of money in the long run.
As always, if you have ay questions, please contact us