Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Favorites, Part 6: Muck Boots.

I recently had the opportunity to try out a pair of Muck Boots, courtesy of Muck Boots Online.

Now, I've become very picky about footwear. I'm willing to spend extra for a good fit that will last. I don't like buying shoes, breaking them in, and having them fall to pieces on me. Also, my feet are, um, unconventional. Okay, they're mutant. (I know many people have a second toe longer than their big toe, but how many have a middle toe longer than their big toe too? And with that troubling visual, let's just move on.) I'm also hard on footwear. Anything that lasts longer than a year on my feet is doing pretty well.

Even so, I feel like a bit of a ringer on this review, because I already have a pair of Muck Boots. And I'll tell you right now, I love them. After almost four years around the homestead though, they are showing their age a little. Oh, they're still perfectly functional, but after a lot of climbing over fences, walking through brush, catching livestock, and climbing into a rusty gravity wagon full of moldy corn to clean it out, they are getting slightly ragged. The exterior layers are torn in places, and they tend to flop over rather than stand up (which just makes it a little harder to slip your feet in if your hands are full).

The new boots are different from the old boots in two ways: First, they are a slightly lower cut. My old chore boots come well up on my calf, where the new ones are cut more like snow boots. Second, the old boots have the tougher rubber covering only up to the ankle, with the lighter wetsuit-like material higher up. The new boots have a rubber outer shell most of the way up.

My hope was that the lower cut with more tough outer rubber would be more durable, and easier to get on and off. Now this is kind of asking a lot, because the old boots are easier to get on and off than just about any other footwear I have. That's one of the things I love about Muck Boots. They're like putting on very tall slippers. There are no laces or anything, and the inside material is fairly slippery, so they pull on with little effort. But if you're wearing jeans with taller boots, there's more to tuck in. I also figured the rubber would not snag on cattle panels or thorny shrubs as much.

And both of these things seem to be true. The only disadvantage of the new boots is that the tougher exterior makes them a little less flexible and a little less breathable. The breathability is not a huge deal, since they are shorter. And the reduced flexibility only matters when I put them on with shorts. (I know. I'm a fashion trendsetter.) Instead of bending with my legs, the more rigid boots slide back and forth across my calf, causing a little friction discomfort after a short while.

So now I wear the softer, taller boots with shorts (watch for this look in Milan next spring), and the shorter, tougher boots with jeans. This actually works out pretty well, because if I'm doing anything that might involved getting scrached, scraped, or nicked, I'm probably wearing jeans anyway. If I just want to mess around in the garden, or not have to worry about stepping in a menagerie of manure, mud, and muck while checking on the animals, the taller boots work better anyway.

I'm only going into this level of nitpicking so you get the whole picture and can fit the boots to your needs if you consider buying some. For my needs, if I had to pick only one pair, I'd probably go with the new pair of mid-height Muckmasters, mostly because I think they'll hold up longer.

There are several things I love about Muck Boots in general. One I already mentioned - they slip on "like buttah." I can almost always put them on hands-free, just by stepping into them, which is great if I've got my hands full or gloves on already, or whatever. I can take them off hands-free too. But through some deign magic, they don't ever think about coming off when I'm walking around.

Second is that they are waterproof. With no laces or seams, there's no place for the water to sneak in. (They're also bouyant. Ask me how I know...). I'd be happy to wear them walking through water, mud, snow, manure, or any other questionable small farm ooze.

Third is they are surprisingly breathable. I expected them to be more like old rubber Duck Boots, but they seem to do a good job of wicking away sweat, or moisture sneaking in around the top.

And finally, they're just comfortable. Much better than work boots for me.

As for Muck Boots Online, their customer service was great. I ordered a pair of size 11's, but after I got them I thought 10's might have been better. (Muck Boots don't come in half-sizes.) So they sent me another pair to try, along with a return shipping label. I ended up keeping the first pair, as I decided that slightly loose is much better than slightly tight. Quick and appropriate response is all I could ask for from a customer service standpoint.

I'll just end by saying that I hope I always have a pair of Muck Boots sitting by the door.




At 7/21/2009 10:15 PM, OpenID helwen said...

I love my Muck boots! They are more expensive than some other boots but they fit well and perform well. I have hard-to-fit feet as well, so boots that don't cause me pain get my vote. They even have arch support!

I got mine at the local hardware store, where they had several brands available to try on.

Heather G

At 7/22/2009 8:28 AM, Blogger Stone Fence Farm said...

Bunions here. Love my Mucks. As long as I am moving around, they are pretty warm in the winter. If I had lots of livestock I would lust after the Arctic Boot.

At 12/01/2009 1:18 AM, Anonymous henry said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8/14/2010 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have the cheapy rubber (hub calls 'em shit-kickers) from the farm store. But in the winter, if you take bread bags and wrap them around your feet before putting them on, they hold in the warm from your body perfectly. $10 every other year... I'm too cheap for fancy muck boots.



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