said that a good pair of boots is THE most important piece of outdoor gear
that anyone can own. If your feet are tired and sore at the end of the day,
that certainly tells you something i.e. namely that your footwear isn’t
properly protecting your feet from the abuse of your environment or perhaps
your footwear is actually abusing your feet because of poor design, flimsy
materials, or cheap construction. As we well know, if your feet are tired, so’s the rest of your body.
outdoor environments are almost as varied as the number of snow flake designs
falling out of the sky on a November evening. Consequently we have to take
into careful consideration all those diverse environmental factors when we
choose a pair of boots to ensure the equipment is up to the need.
most unappreciated environments for boots is plain, old, every day use. You
know what I mean i.e. going to the range and walking out to the 200 meter
line, working in the back yard when the grass is sopping wet with dew, going
to work, climbing up on the roof to install that new TV antenna, repairing the
wooden deck in the back, splashing through the rain or slush puddles in the
supermarket parking lot, and just doing all the 101 things that we do outdoors
during the normal course of life. What I’m talking about here aren't hunting
boots (which are really a very specialized type of footwear) but rather boots
that are both comfortable enough for everyday use and yet still plenty tough
for rough conditions from time to time.
Specifically, I’m going to discuss a pair of waterproof chukka boots
(model G6133) made by Georgia Boots, part of their “Field Light”
series. Now Georgia Boots is one of those old time boot makers
that’s been making high quality footwear since you know who was a
corporal. Outdoor people in the know, have been using Georgia Boots
for a long time now because of their design, quality of materials,
and just plain toughness. But choosing a boot maker is just the
first step in the process of selecting a boot to fit our needs.
Let’s look at some basic criteria that we should consider before
plunking down our hard eared cash and starting a multi year
relationship with a set of footwear.
- If at all possible you want to choose a boot using a Goodyear
welt design. So what’s a welt, and who is Goodyear? Well, I can answer the
first question but I’m not sure about the second. A welt can either be a band
of leather, rubber (Goodyear?), or composite material that’s sewn around the
bottom edge of where a boot’s upper body, inside liner, and insole come
together. This fastens the three separate pieces of a boot’s top part
together. The outer sole (the tread that hits road) is sown to bottom side of
the welt. The welt basically functions as a foundation, joining the upper and
lower parts of the boot together. Boots that have a Goodyear welt are more
expensive because there’s more labor involved, but there are advantages. For
one, this arrangement provides the strongest type of boot construction
available, which means the boot is going to be tough and durable. This type of
construction also furnishes the best lateral support, thus providing a very
stable walking platform. As an important added bonus, the sole can be replaced
when it eventually wears out, as opposed to boots where the sole is glued or
molded on to the upper. On those boots, once the sole wears out, the whole
boot has to be thrown away whether it needs to be or not.
- Cowhide leather is still the best for an outer material. It’s
very strong, durable, and fairly inexpensive. Kangaroo leather is actually
stronger than cow hide and is very lightweight, but it’s also more expensive.
Cordura nylon is also very good. It’s lightweight, fairly strong, is low
cost, easily colored or patterned, and requires no break in. However, it can
be abraded in rocky, sandy, or other environments. That’s why you’ll often see
a leather toe guard on many Cordura boots.
- This is the liner in the boot that your feet rest on and so is
very important to comfort. The best is a orthotic type which is molded in
three dimensions to fit the shape of your foot rather than being just a simple
flat, thin, foam, pad. It should be thick, and made of polyurethane, which
will never bottom out. It also provides an extra layer of insulation against
cold seeping in through the sole of the boot. Insole liners can be easily
pulled out of the boot and replaced if needed. Get replacements from the
manufacturer, not the drug store.
- This material is also important to comfort as this is where the
sides and top of your feet come in contact with the boot. Some expensive boots
use a leather liner which is good looking and smooth, however leather will
absorb moisture, and bacteria will eventually grow, producing odor. Cambrelle
nylon is best as it is smooth, comfortable, long lasting, and will wick
moisture away from your feet.
- the best is the “Gortex” type waterproof liner. It allows the
boot to “breathe” and keeps water out. Next best is leather that has been
treated with silicone and where the inside seams have been sealed with latex
You also want to be sure that the
thread used for stitching is nylon which won’t wick water into the interior of
the boot the way cotton thread will.
- Vibram rubber is probably the best because of its durability. If
the bottom of the sole has lugs, they shouldn’t be too close together as
they’ll get packed with mud or small stones making walking difficult or
- standard eyelets are still the best but they’re slow in lacing
up. Chinch hooks are good in that they’re tight in the corner of the hook and
so the lace will be held in tension while you’re tying the knot. They’re also
fast in lacing things up. Lacing hardware should be reinforced on the inside
of the leather to insure it won’t be pulled out after extensive use.
- tongues have a tendency of slipping off to the side after some
amount of walking. On the other hand, a gusset is a kind of tongue that’s
attached to the boot at both the bottom and at the two sides as well, so it
can’t slip over. A gusset will also prevent water from entering a boot from
over the top if you should step into a deep puddle.
- These days, all good boots will have a padded collar around the
top to prevent chaffing. Soft leather is the best. Soft plastic is the worst.
It’ll eventually harden, crack, and break.
- a shank is a flat piece of material that runs inside the boot
from under the arch of the foot to the heel. It provides impact protection to
the bottom of the foot as when running over rocky ground, or if you should
step on a hard projection of some kind. Doing so could bruise the bottom of
your foot. The shank can be made of many materials. The best is steel, or on
some expensive boots, carbon fiber. Wood or fiberboard shanks are to be
avoided if possible but they’re better than nothing.
- cotton is very good for holding a knot but will abrade and
eventually break. Leather looks cool but will also be prone to rot and
stretching when wetted. Nylon is strongest and will wear the best of all.
OK. So now
you know more than anyone on your block about what to look for when to
shopping for a pair of double duty every day boots that could be occasionally
used in a rough field environment. So how do the Georgia Boot Field Light
chukka’s measure against these criteria? Let’s take a look.
Georgia Boot G6133 Chucka
say, these are my every day boots now. Thanks to the foot conforming
polyurethane inside liner, they’re very comfortable, so wearing them for
extended periods is no problem. Additionally, the Goodyear welt design makes
them a very strong boot that I really wouldn’t have any hesitation in taking
into the field during most of the year. Best of all, whenever they get muddy
or dusty, I just hose them clean. No fuss. No problem. These boots retail for
around $120 but you can often do better on the internet. Just go to the
Georgia Boot’s web site (Georgiaboot.com) to find on-line retailers or do a
Google search. If you’re not absolutely sure of your boot size, it’s best to
go to an in-store retailer where you can be properly measured and try on a
couple of sizes for the best comfort. You can go to the Georgia Boot web site
for this information as well.
Goodyear welt, repairable.
Outer Material -
top grain saddle grade cowhide, treated for waterproofing, Cordura detailing.
Insole Liner -
removable, polyurethane, orthotic, non-slip.
Inner Liner -
Cambrelle nylon moisture wicking mesh.
breathable waterproof liner, treated leather, nylon stitch.
Outer Sole -
Vibram Gummite with shallow lug pattern.
- three sets of eyelets & two sets of cinch hooks. All hardware
reinforced with steel washers. (Don’t wear to the airport unless you like the
sound of alarm bells and want to meet new people with guns.)
an unusual combination of soft leather on the outside and Cordura on the
padded, waterproof Cordura.
Bottom line -
if you’re wearing those thin nylon “athletic” styled shoes, you might want to
consider upgrading. They just don’t have the strength, durability, and long term
comfort that we need in today’s tough world. You and your feet deserve something
better. Try some Georgia Boots. You won’t be sorry. BTW, they also make boots
and other footwear for the ladies and kids as well.