A different kind of boot review.


Boot reviews are not new to the ag blogging world. Lots of people write about products they use, myself included. When I was approached by someone at CountryOutfitter.com about trying and reviewing a pair of women’s boots, I said yes…naturally. It’s no secret that I have a boot addiction, and NEW FREE BOOTS are even better than NEW BOOTS. My boots arrived the day I got home from the #Agvodate “tweetup” (if you can call 3 people a tweetup) in Chicago.

No one can deny my boot addiction. This was my final project for my 3-D Design class in the Fall 2011 term. It was a "boot bucket list."

Now, a lot of the boot reviews I’ve seen online have been from working farmers and ranchers. I don’t farm, but I do tend to give my shoes a workout. I had high expectations for the boots I picked, for several reasons.

  • My boots are my “everyday” shoes. Unless I’m wearing heels for a special occasion, I am almost always in my boots.
  • My parents’ property is a mess of mud, as no grass has grown in following the construction of the house and the move.
  • I don’t own snow boots or rain boots. My boots are meant for all-weather.
  • I live on a walking campus, which means I walk. A lot. I can cover a few miles a day just going to and from class and work on a normal day.
  • They have to be fashionable. Duh.
  • They need a little touch of pizazz; something that makes them “pop” just a bit.
  • I had my needs fulfilled in the category of brown boots, so it was time to find a nice pair of mid- to tall-shaft black boots that could be worn with jeans or a dress.

With these points in mind, I selected a pair of black Justin Bent Rail boots. They’re square-toed and made of a nice soft calfskin. Because of the soft material, I didn’t have to worry as much about breaking in the ankle area and shaft like I’ve had to do with more firm leather boots. These specific boots have leather soles, which was a change from my usual rubber sole choice. (I liked the look, and had had a pair of leather-soled boots in the past, so I figured it was worth a change of pace.)

I had picked out several styles that seemed practical, made by well-reputed companies known for a decent product. The final selling point on the boots I chose was the stitching on the uppers; different shades of white, pink, and teal, standing out against a black background. I also liked the white piping at the side seams. Long story short, I saw these boots, and despite having several pairs picked out, I knew these were “the ones.”

A close-up of the stitching and piping on the uppers.

(The only thing that could have beaten out these ones would have been black boots with red and white stitching. However, I could not find a pair of black boots with red accents that fit what I wanted.)

The first real test of the boots came over the Christmas holiday. Christmas, in northern Illinois, is traditionally muddy and wet. We don’t usually get a good deep freeze until January, so it’s very rare that we have a white Christmas, or even a cold Christmas. True to my expectations, it was a muddy, soggy, wet, nasty Christmas. Living on a property that doesn’t have any grass or sidewalks yet means that going anywhere usually results in a muddy mess. Getting the mail required protective footwear, and because of where I park my car I was almost certain to have a nice thick layer of mud on at least one of my feet, if not both.

The Christmas holiday meant that we were consistently on the go, and my boots took a metaphorical beating from the mud. Despite that, my feet stayed dry and warm in these less-than-ideal circumstances. I’m pretty confident that these adorable Bent Rails would also do a fantastic job of protecting and insulating my feet in a working situation. October grain harvest can also yield conditions similar to those we experience at Christmas; damp and cold, but if the ground is just solid enough and the plants are still fit, you have to keep going.

I’d wear these boots just as confidently in a corn field as I helped with harvest, as I would in the muck and mud of our Christmas rush. Moreover, I’d also feel safe wearing them for animal-related labor, as I trust them to be watertight against manure and urine. (Although, these boots are “goin’ out” boots so if I can avoid getting them TOO stinky, I will!)

The next test came about when my “goin’ out” boots had their first “goin’ out” experience. My best friend’s 22nd birthday falls in late December. I volunteered to be the designated driver, and the evening called for a lot of dancing and running around. (I’d like to point out, I’m a horrible dancer. Like, the worst. And I danced anyway, because it’s fun, and I have very little shame, and my best friend wanted me to dance.) Anyway, I won’t divulge details of what else those boots had to stand up against that night, but they did they job. Very well. My feet, knees, and hips were not sore after a crazing night of adventures, which was refreshing as I have bad knees and hips. (I didn’t expect the boots to support me that well during a night of dancing, but they pleasantly surprised me!)

Now, I’ve had the boots here at school, and have worn them everyday for the first week of classes. After the dancing “tests” I had high hopes for their durability and cushioning during my long walks back and forth across campus each day. I was not disappointed. While these boots don’t necessarily have a fancy cushioning sole, they’re constructed in a way that just fits my gait and foot structure.

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Overall, I’ve been pleased with these boots. I’ve had only good things to say about them. While the test-run I’ve given them so far hasn’t exactly been the hardest one, it’s a pretty good representation of the work I’ll be putting these boots through. They’ve stood up to the life of a busy, on-the-go, always-moving college kid. And for now, that’s all I need in a pair of boots.

Final verdict: Justin Bent Rail boots are well-made, attractive, and easy to love. While I can’t speak to them as a work boot, I think they’ll be everything a busy working girl could want in a goin’ out boot, office boot, or everyday-wear boot.

Full disclosure: Country Outfitter, a retailer of cowboy boots, sent me these Justin black burnished calf boots to review.

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