When I opened the box on these little beauties, I was reminded of a pair of German Para boots that I had a number of years ago. They feel and look robust and that is exactly what they are. These boots coped with everything I asked of them: boot runs, tabs and a cheeky couple of days in the Peak District exposed them to a fair degree of punishment in mainly cold and wet weather.
Ive obviously been spoilt a bit in recent years as these boots took me by surprise at how much breaking in they required. The leather is quite stiff and aching feet were definitely the order of the day for quite a while. However, once they are broken in, they are comfortable and supportive. The fit is different to what I am used to; I asked for (and was sent) my usual 9 Medium. These boots are a good fit except for the toe box which is a touch narrow for me and that on my short legs, these boots feel quite high (they are 18cm/7). Playing with the laces helped and, as ever, the moral of the story with boots is try before you buy if at all possible!
As I said above, once broken in, these are very comfortable boots. The soles absorb shock very well and have excellent grip in mud and snow. They dont get clogged up with mud at all (and I did try!) and are good on other surfaces as well (eg wet tarmac, wooden gym floors, accelerator pedals). The upper is predominantly leather and very weatherproof, keeping out water (both rain and groundwater), sleet, snow and all the general rubbish that we have had of late. The GTX and leather worked well in wicking moisture away from my feet and it is robust and showing no damage at all yet (despite my efforts) and I felt pretty secure wearing them. They have a plastic toebox fitted which is very rugged and protects the feet well. Also, the footbeds that came with the boot are excellent (and are the first that I have not taken out and thrown away). They are comfortable and come with an additional half-thickness set to ensure a good fit.
Running and tabbing in them was very comfortable. They feel light on the feet and are easy to run in. Carrying weight made no difference to this and they are one of the better boots for tabbing in that I have used over the years.
The lacing system is very good but, until the leather breaks in, it doesnt seem to run very freely. Now Ive had the boots a while, they are much better and the speed lacing is pretty effective. The eyelets dont run down the boot as far as I like and are also slightly further apart than I care for. I freely admit that this is personal preference but it did take some adjusting to.
There are only two downsides with the boots themselves and neither a significant show stoppers. The first is that these are not a winter boot; they are a leather and GTX affair with no thermal lining of any sort. Testing them in the winter weve had was a bit brisk on the toes and Id recommend these boots to be worn from early spring to late autumn. Secondly, the leather strip that runs down the inside of the boot to protect the Achilles tendon does an excellent job and is very comfortable; once you start sweating, it absorbs moisture and is quite slow to dry.
The reason why it has lost points on the value for money stakes is that, as far as I know, YDS are not yet going to bring this boot out in brown which means that a lot of us wont be able to wear them at work in the near future. £140 is a lot of money for boots youre not allowed to wear or will have to risk dyeing.
That said, these are a good three-season military boot. They are light, robust, weatherproof and comfortable. They handled everything with ease and came up smiling every time. They do take some breaking in but it is well worth the effort.