Description: These lace-up riding boots are waterproof, insulated, and have enough tread for out-of-saddle trail and camping work. The leather upper is oiled for a smooth, easy-to-clean finish. The reinforced toe helps protect the boots (and your feet) from nicks, scratches, and sharp rocks. Available in women's sizes 5½ to 11.
The test: The boots were tested by The Trail Rider's Saddlebag Savvy editor, Heidi Nyland. She says she's attached to her Ariat ProBaby crepe-sole boots, and at first wasn't sure about switching to a lace-up style. But the idea of having a nonslip tread made the boots appealing to wear as riding and hiking boots.
"I tried two different sizes to test for a perfect fit, since I often wear a size up from my usual shoe size when wearing Ariat boots," says Nyland. "I wore the larger boots in the Colorado mountains near my home. They were comfortable when riding, but were a bit too big when I dismounted to help set up a trail course. However, the smaller pair was a perfect fit.
"To make sure that I could move my ankles and have room for circulation, I laced up the boots while my ankles were flexed, with my toes pointed toward my shins. By doing so, my feet ended up snug yet comfortable.
"I then wore the boots during a two-day riding clinic and while hiking in the hilly surrounding area. The boots withstood puddles and kept my feet warm in chilly temperatures. I was especially glad to have short boots when I found out that other clinic-goers suffered from leather-rubbing sores high up on their calves.
"Back at home, I tried the boots again while riding in my friend's dressage saddle. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the boots weren't too wide to fit in the metal irons, as are my crepe soles. The thin, foot-forming profile reduces bulk, but still provides enough support. In every testing situation, the lace-up boots scored an A-plus."
Contact: Ariat International, Inc., (800) 899-8141; www.ariat.com.