Jul 2, 2014
Over the past fourteen years or so I have owned a lot of different brands of boots: Magnum, Rocky, and 5.11 to name a few, and even a pair of boots I found at Walmart called Brahmas that I used as a spare set for a winter or two. A couple of months ago though, I found what might be the worst pair of boots that I have encountered.
One of the benefits of my new job is I am issued just about every piece of my uniform that I wear. We get shirts, pants, a belt, jackets, and even boots. It is very unusual coming from the private sector where I had previously received just shirts and was left to fend for myself for most of the rest of my uniform. My 5.11’s that I was issued when I got hired were about a year and a half old and were starting to look a little sad. Admittedly, I don’t take as good care of my boots as I probably should but in the past, if I had gotten a year out of a pair of boots I was pretty happy with them.
As a replacement for my boots, I received a pair from a brand called HAIX, which apparently is a German company. Full disclosure, I only wore these boots for about ten days before going back to my 5.11’s but the experience that I had was less than satisfactory. Here is what I thought of their Airpower R1 model.
Fit: Although I had been fitted by a “specialist” who sized me once at our headquarters, these were by far the most uncomfortable boot that I had ever put on. It was not a width issue or anything like that, the pain that I experienced was actually in my heels which ran up the back of my calves. At the end of the day, my feet flat out hurt. I could not wait to take these boots off.
Functionality: The zipper down the center of the boot is an interesting feature. I found, however, that you pretty much needed an engineering degree to tighten the laces on the boot. They run laterally up each side of the zipper and feed through the side of the boot as well. Even when they were tight I felt like I had a limited amount of ankle support.
Break-In Period: While I only wore the boots for just shy of two weeks, most who I talked to said that the boots needed about two months of wear time to get them to the point that they were wearable but still uncomfortable.
Price Point: As I stated earlier, my boots were issued to me. After doing a bit of research on their North American website, I found that these boots retail for a staggering $245. I personally have never paid more than about $150 for a pair of boots. It makes me wonder how an EMT working on an EMT’s salary could afford them.
Final Thoughts: From talking to some other people that I work with, many seem to be polarized with whether they like these boots or not. Interestingly, many who liked the boots were people who had feet on the smaller end of the scale. Those who had problems with them had bigger feet. My size 13’s definitely fit into that category.
Shortly after I put these boots aside, I posted a review on the company’s website. Two weeks later an admin replied stating that the “arch support system. . . can be uncomfortable to those who may have flat feet. In addition, the built in arch support may require a slightly longer break-in period.” For a $245 boot, that seems a bit inexcusable to me personally. If you are going to advertise a boot as an EMS boot, one should be able to put it on and hit the streets with full functionality. Even when talking to those who have smaller feet, that does not seem to occur.
I also sent an email to their customer service department. They offered to send me insoles and told me that “the boots should break in after about 3-4 times wearing them.”
After ten days of wearing these boots I was back to my 5.11’s and very happy to be doing so. Obviously, everyone can make up there own minds about these boots. I know for a fact that there are some who disagree with my opinion already, but if I had to make a choice with my own money, I would buy two pairs of 5.11’s with my $245 and call it a day.
Buyer beware on this one, folks. My recommendation though is to stay as far away from them as you can.