In the bygone equestrian era, choices for tall boots were limited to Vogels or Dehners. However, times have changed, and those options seem to have faded away. When I decided to return to the hunter/jumper world, I unearthed my trusty old Vogels from 1984, only to discover they no longer fit. Slipping them on required more than just a sprinkle of baby powder.
During the 1980s, full chaps were the go-to gear for schooling, and I must admit, I cherished the secure feeling they provided. The leather encompassing my legs offered both comfort and grip, akin to having a security blanket while riding. Nowadays, it appears that people prefer schooling in half chaps rather than tall boots. Realizing that buying new paddock boots and half chaps would cost just as much, I decided to invest in a pair of tall boots. This way, if I eventually returned to the show ring, I wouldn’t have to make another purchase.
Living in a small cow town with limited tack shop options, I turned to the vast realm of the internet for my quest. After reaching out to Der Dau, I quickly grasped that acquiring a custom baseline boot in today’s market would cost around $2,000.00. Consequently, I explored some of the stock boot options available, stumbling upon choices at Dover and Smartpak. Ultimately, I opted for Smartpak due to their enticing offer of free shipping and returns on sized items. Armed with my own measurements, I contacted Smartpak and was pleasantly surprised by their exceptional customer service. The phone representatives expertly guided me through the available options. Aware that finding a perfect fit wouldn’t be easy, I remained picky, grateful for my upbringing in a show barn that stressed the importance of impeccable turnout. Smartpak sent me three boots: the Ariat Heritage Contour II Field Boot (just under $300.00), the DeNiro Salento Field Boot (around $800.00), and the Parlanti Miami Field Boot (priced at $1000.00).
Typically wearing a US size 10.5 shoe and possessing muscular calves with small ankles, I knew finding an ideal fit would be a challenge. Furthermore, my CrossFit routine, five days a week, had further enhanced the size of my calves. With these factors in mind, I embarked on this journey with skepticism.
I began with the Ariat Heritage Contour II Field Boot, ordering an 11 Tall/Wide. The foot area felt comfortable, but when I attempted to zip them up, I couldn’t remove them fast enough. They were loose and lacked the desired contour at the top, rendering them unsuitable for my body type. I promptly returned them, placing them back in their box.
Moving on to the Parlanti Miami Field Boot, I found them to be pleasantly soft, a desirable characteristic. The boots seemed as though they could mold perfectly to my feet and legs, emulating a custom fit. Typically wearing an EU 41, I followed Smartpak’s advice and selected the 42 XLH, which provided sufficient length without being too wide. Due to my high arch, I wore them indoors for several days to allow them to stretch and accommodate my foot comfortably. I won’t lie; zipping up my left calf was a challenge, despite the presence of an elastic panel along the back of my leg. However, I knew the boots would eventually stretch, and I didn’t want a loose fit. I prefer tall, snug boots, and the Parlanti satisfied this preference. As a traditionalist, I wasn’t particularly fond of the panel on the outside or the shiny silver logo in place of a swagger flap, but I was willing to accept those design details if the fit remained appropriate.
Regrettably, the DeNiro Salento Field Boots were on backorder, and I ultimately canceled the order. Thus, I cannot provide any insights into their fit or how they compare to the other options.
In the end, I ended up selecting the pricier tall shelf boot. However, my decision wasn’t based solely on the name or its popularity. The determining factors were the fit and the quality of the leather. While I would have compromised on leather quality for the right fit, I would never sacrifice fit for the sake of quality.
I have since ridden in my chosen boots several times and am delighted with them. However, I wish I had known about the Parlatni Outlet. For those seeking Parlanti boots and aware of their size, I recommend visiting the official Parlanti website for potential savings. Personally, I could have saved at least $300.00 on my boots.
In the 1980s, I never fathomed the possibility of finding stock boots that would suit me. They were rarely a close fit, especially if you didn’t possess a manikin-like build. Overall, I feel fortunate to have discovered a well-fitting pair without resorting to custom boots.