Reviewed by: CAPT. MIKE SCHOONVELD
There are dozens of brands and styles of boots tailored to the needs of outdoorsmen and women. They come in two basic categories – pull on and lace up. From there a boot shopper can branch into into insulated or not, waterproof or not, various styles and degrees of traction built into the soles and other details; but still, the main branches are pull-ons or lace up.
I’m not quite sure about which category best fits boots, like the Ravine model from Irish Setter with the Boa Lacing System. My feet slide in and out of the pair I tried out for this review like they slide into and out of a pair of carpet slippers. That’s important to me since I’m a believer that outdoor comfort begins with a firm foundation. If my feet are warm, dry and comfy, I can deal with most situations from the ankle on up. If my feet are cold, sweaty, cramped or achy, there’s no way to keep the rest of my body comfortable.
So I drive to the lake wearing sneakers, then especially in March, April and May – still winter months on Lake Michigan – I dress in layers, top and bottom, to cope with frosty mornings which can become tee-shirt warm by midday. Layering on and off pants and bibs is best done with boots off.
Slip on boots work, but don’t provide the ankle support needed if you want your boots to double as hunting, hiking or work boots. Lace up boots do the job, but require lacing, threading, and knot-work each time they go on or off.
The Boa Lacing System replaces the boot laces with a coated, stainless steel cable and an easy to operate dial at the top of the boot. Slide foot in, turn the dial and the cable-laces draw tight. The laces will never untie or come loose but when it’s time to remove the boot, pull out on the dial and the wire “laces” spring free. The Boa System has been around for twenty years – mostly used on ski boots and medical bracing. It’s just now being put on other outdoor footwear.
The nine-inch high, Ravine model boots are waterproof but breathable and contain 400g PrimaLoft Gold insulation. Important to me, they come in extra wide sizes as well as regular fit. Widely available at retailers as well as numerous online outlets. Check them out at http://www.irishsetterboots.com.