Shopping for Tall Boots
From the equestrian era of basically two tall boot choices, Vogels or Dehners, I now don't see them in the realm at all. When I decided to get back in the irons, I pulled out my old (very old) Vogels from oh, 1984, I believe, and needless to say, they no longer fit. Pulling these babies on would have taken more than a dash of baby powder.
Riding in the 1980s, we schooled a lot in full chaps, and let me tell you how much I love the security of full chaps. The comfort and grip of leather all the way up your legs are definitely like riding with a security blanket. Today it seems as though people are not schooling in tall boots; they are schooling in half chaps. I decided that to buy a new pair of paddock boots and then a pair of half chaps would cost just as much, so I may as well get a pair of tall boots. That way, if I make it back into the show ring, I will not need to make another purchase.
Now living in a small cow town, we do not have a lot of tack shop options, so I turned to the world wide web and started shopping. After contacting Der Dau, I quickly realized that to get into today's custom baseline boot was going to be around $2,000.00. I decided to look at some of the stock boot options that were available. I found boots on both Dover and Smartpak. After realizing that Smartpak offers free shipping and free returns on sized items, I went with them. After doing my own measurements, I called Smartpak and was delighted with the customer service. Their phone staff did a fabulous job picking out options for me to try. I knew it was not going to be easy to find a fit. Thankfully I grew up in a show barn with trainers that were sticklers for turnout. So I knew I was going to be picky. Smart pack sent me three boots, the Ariat Heritage Contour II Field Boot that was just under $300.00, the DeNiro Salento Field Boot that ran right under $800.00, and the Parlanti Miami Field Boot that was $1000.00.
From foot to knee, I am typically a US 10.5 shoe size, and I have a very muscular calf with small ankles. I am not tall, but I know boots drop, and I did NOT want a boot that dropped to be too short (my biggest pet peeve). Now that I do CrossFit five days a week, my calves have become even more substantial, so I knew this was going to be a long shot.
I ordered the Ariats Heritage Contour II Field Boot in an 11 Tall /Wide, and the foot felt great. However, when I zipped them up, I could not unzip them fast enough. They were sloppy and had no contour at the top. They were not going to work for my body type. I put them right back in the box and shipped them back.
The Parlanti Miami Field Boot was quite soft, which was an asset for me. I wanted my boots to look like a custom fit, and this boot felt like it would mold to my foot and legs. My foot size is typically an EU 41, however with Smartpaks advice, I went with the 42 XLH, which was long enough in the foot but not too wide, and with my high arch, I had to wear them inside for several days before I felt as if they would stretch enough for my foot to be happy. I'm not going to lie; my left calf was a struggle to zip up, even with the elastic panel that ran up the back of my leg. I knew they would stretch, and I did not want a sloppy boot. I like them tall and fitted, and I felt that the Parlanti fit this way on my legs, but being a traditionalist, I was not real fond of the look of a panel on the outside and the shiny silver logo in place of a swagger flap, but I guess I could live with it if the fit were proper.
Unfortunately, the DeNiros Salento Field Boots were on backorder, and I ended up canceling the order, so I am unable to tell you how they fit or compare to these others.
I did end up with the more expensive tall shelf boot, but it was not because of the name and the popularity. It was because of the fit and the leather quality. Heck, I would have given up leather quality for proper fit but never fit for leather quality.
I have ridden in them a few times now and feel quite pleased with this boot. However, I wish I would have known about the Parlatni Outlet. If you are looking for a Parlanti boot and know your size, I would suggest going to the Parlanti website and shopping for a boot there. I could have saved at least $300.00 on my boots.
I never imagined being able to get into a stock boot; this would have never happened for me in the 1980s. Stock boots never seem to be a close fit, especially if you were not built like a manikin. So overall, I feel like I was able to find a good fit without going back into a custom boot.