- the quality of being loyal to someone or something
- a strong feeling of support or allegiance
Loyalty is what I have shown the Blundstone boot company for a majority of my life. Living “Down Under” for eight years as a child and having an Australian mother has also ingrained a sense of divergent nationalism. Sending some of my money back that way has kept alive a feeling of kinship with my childhood home, but lately I feel cheated.
Despite hiking thousands of miles in Blundstones and defending my boot of choice to naysayers over the years, the last couple of pairs have crapped out. The soles on this last pair lasted less than a year before they wore down, started crumbling, and then the toe gave out. My last pair did the same. This is in stark contrast to the several years of use I would get out of a pair ten years ago.
Apparently, Australian boot quality is not high on the list of U.S. news reporters. Late to the party, I recently found out that the quality control went to hell when Blundstone shipped manufacturing over to Asia a couple years ago. This all jives with my experiences with the last couple pairs. http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/iconic-aussie-boot-disintegrates/story-fneszwgd-1226651268219
But as luck would have it, that fateful day, deep within my research induced mania, I found another 100% made in Australia boot that has now filled my needs.
Enter Redbacks. Not the deadly spiders that I was taught to fear as a kid, but Redback boots. www.redbackboots.com/ecommerce/footwear/great-barrier-puma-brown.cfm $168
Before I delve into the finer points of these boots, I will first tout the benefits of a lightweight, no-laced existence. At least a dozen Rangers and friends across the country now sport this style of kicks thanks to my anti-lacing propaganda. If your department or agency requires a polishable leather boot and you wished you could wear running shoes, then this is your boot. Sit back, relax, and let me describe a world without laces…
1. No laces means easy on and easy off, which means you won’t track mud in the house. No laces = no mud = happy spouse.
2. No laces also mean you won’t lace them too tight, constricting blood vessels and causing cold feet. Alternatively, your feet sweat about 2 cups per day and that is absorbed by your socks. When your socks get wet, greater conduction and reduced insulative value means your feet get cold. Easy on and easy off means that changing into dry socks is a breeze. No laces = dry socks = warmer feet
3. Lightweight and tough. A extra pound on your feet is equal to five on your back, and these boots are light, 2 lbs 12 oz. for the pair. Not too shabby for a leather boot. A pair of Danner Mtn. Lights, a common boot in the ranger ranks, weigh over a pound more at twice the price. I can hike farther, faster, and harder in this style of boot than my heavier boots. Need scientific proof, here is a great article that has the facts. http://www.fjaderlatt.se/2009/11/weight-on-your-feet.html
4. Faster break in time. The polyurethane mid sole is more like trail runners than boots. A couple days and they will feel great.
5. Ankle support comes from strong ankles and a good heel cup. If I put braces on your legs, would they get stronger?
6. They are damn comfortable and the reason most people convert. Here is an exploded view of the construction: http://www.redbackboots.com/rbtech.cfm
7. I wore trail runners a lot in my first season hoghunting because they were lightweight at around 2 pounds. These boots offer a good compromise of weight, water resistance, and protection for off trail travel that the trail runners do not for only 12 more ounces.
8. In regards to hunting, I like to think of them as moccasins with updated soles. Fexible and offering better sensitivity than a regular hunting boot is better for stalking and walking on top of logs. I would put the sole right in the middle between vibram shanked boots and trail runners, flexible, but stiff enough for hard abuse.
Warning: If you wear these boots, expect admin personnel and supervisors that fear ankle snapping, off trail travel to curse your “slippers”, but smile knowing that Australia was colonized by convicts and misfits, and you are wearing outlaw boots. That deviant bloodline that courses through my veins has weathered years of taunting, only to watch my army of laceless brethren grow.
The con’s: Heavier than trail runners and they can get pulled off in knee deep mud if you aren’t careful.
A lot of co-workers have questioned me in disbelief over the years that you can go where I go in these boots. Off trail in the Smokies is tough, and tougher on boots. My day usually starts out scrambling up this..
and a whole lot of climbing through this..
Up mountains, down mountains, sidehilling, across creeks, and in the snow, bushwhacking life is tough on my boots. Here are the brand new Redbacks after the first week before I treated the leather.
In the last three weeks, I have put over 100 miles on the Redbacks, a majority of that being off trail. It took about two days for them to break in and feel like my old boots. I have crossed creeks, falling in once, and have been impressed with their water resistance.
Most impressive is their aggressive tread, which is more substantial than my old Blundstones.
Leaving an imprint of a deadly spider in my tracks is definitely a bonus.
There you have it. I am glad to find a replacement lightweight, quality boot that fills my needs. The fact that some of my hard earned money makes it all the way back to my childhood home, makes it one better.
Are these boots right for you? I don’t know. Everyone’s feet are different and boot choice is very personal, but at least you know why I choose to slip them on everyday. Check back in a couple months and I will review them after another couple hundred miles.
Redback offers the same boots in black and a safety toe version as well. Make sure you read the sizing info as Australia is on a different system. I wear size 11’s, so I ordered a 10 in Redback UK size and they fit great.
US Distributor: http://www.redbackboots.com/
Redback Australia: http://www.redback.net.au/home.html
If you are LE, firefighter or first responder, shoot Darcie an email and tell her I sent you Darcie@redbackboots.com