Thursday, December 1, 2011

Comfort Rating of Boots

Those who have studied my cowboy boot collection or my motorcycle boot collection have noticed that I rate each pair of boots for their comfort (C), look/appearance (L), and for cowboy boots, how they sound (S).

Recently, I received an email about my "C" -- comfort -- rating. The question was:
I wanted to know about the C rating you have. When a boot has a low C rating, what makes them hard to wear for long periods? What gets uncomfortable about the boot? Is it they are too stiff? Too hard on the bottom of your feet? The insides are too rough (unfinished leather)? Just curious about your rating system as I am looking for comfortable boots that can be worn for a while without the torture!
My response:

Thanks for your message! I appreciate the inquiry.

When I give a pair of boots a lower comfort rating, I am expressing an opinion about the overall comfort of the boots when I have worn them after they are well broken in.

Some boots are my size, but still do not fit well. Some of the more uncomfortable boots that I own are used boots that I bought on eBay. Even though the boots were my size, they still did not fit right.

One would think that used boots would be comfortable, because they are broken in. However, I have learned that boots conform to the original wearer's feet and legs, and do not change when someone else puts them on. So if the first guy who broke them in made the footbed conform in a particular way to his foot, it could cause my foot to ache because the dimensions of my foot are different from his. If that happens, then I give the boots a lower comfort rating. Or, some old boots have narrower boot shafts than I require, so the boots hurt my legs by squeezing them.

New boots generally have a higher comfort rating. Particularly, boot makers are learning to install comfortable insoles and more flexible outsoles, which add to the overall comfort when the boots are worn for a long time. Also, some of my boots are custom made, and therefore they should be more comfortable because they are made to my size requirements. This is especially true for tall boots that I own, like those made by Wesco and Dehner.

Overall, the predominant reason that I may rate a pair of boots lower on my comfort scale is that the footbed is hard, inflexible, and there is not enough room inside the boot to install a gel insole. A good gel insole will make the bottom of my feet comfortable, but pushes the tops of my feet against the inside of the boot foot -- and thus makes the boots uncomfortable again. This happens mostly with some low-end commercial boot labels like Cowtown, for example. (But it also happens to me with
higher-end commercial boots made by Sendra, which makes a smaller-than-average area for the foot to fit into.)

Again, the comfort ratings are my personal opinions about boots that I own. I know guys who swear by the comfort of some brands of boots that have been uncomfortable to me, and vice-versa. It is a personal thing, and quite dependent on your own feet (arches, metatarsals, bunions, etc.)

So that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Life is short: wear comfortable boots!

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