This is the first of what will hopefully be a regular thing going forward. Product reviews! The plan is to offer a bit of in-depth information on both new and classic items so potential customers won't be buying blindly based on pretty pictures and standardized feature lists. This Rocky boot had a few intriguing design aspects that made it a good candidate for our first review.
My immediate impression is that this is a pretty good looking work boot. It is a rather simple design that is minimal on decoration, but with an excellent looking profile. The sole is thinner than that of the rest of our work boots, which contributes to the casual wear appearance. The safety toe is very nearly invisible to the eye, seeming to add no bulk to the toe and not being marked by the telltale edges that normally show where the toe cap ends. The leather is a dark oil-tan with pronounced grain. To the touch the leather is flexible, but sufficiently heavy to stand up to the abuse a boot like this would almost certainly see. Overall the boot is quite light weight and the sole is very flexible.
The heel of this boot has a design that is quite unlike anything else we carry. It has a solid plastic heel base, which is normally a good thing as it offers increased stability and structural integrity over a layered sole construction that uses one of a number of foam-type materials as the middle layer. This one is somewhat different in that it has a one piece sole that extends all the way across the heel to serve as the heel cap. It's an interesting design that should not have any drawbacks in terms of durability and still allows the heel cap to be replaced in our store should that be necessary. This design could even have some advantages when it comes to climbing ladders due to the added grip the front facing rubber layer provides.
This boot has a real welt that is sewn to the boot, but that welt is not used to attach the outsole. Rather it appears that there is a midsole sewn to the welt which the outsole is then cemented to. This type of cemented construction has it's benefits and drawbacks, but the presence of a genuine welt should ensure that instances of sole separation are extremely rare. Rocky has a generally good track record in that regard.
You can see that there is no stitching in evidence on the outermost layer of the sole. This is how we drew the conclusion that the sole is cemented to a midsole that is in turn cemented and sewn to the welt. The tread on the sole is not aggressive, so this boot shouldn't be prone to tracking dirt indoors. The sole is apparently made of fiberglass infused recycled rubber. I can't offer any comment on the effect that will have on traction or wear at this time, but the consistency and apparent "grippyness" of the rubber seems on par with Rocky's other offerings. I predict no negative effects from this construction, and it should set the minds of environmentally conscious buyers somewhat at ease.
One thing we're excited about around here are the quality of the insoles rocky has been putting in their boots of late. These consist of a breathable cloth layer on top, with layers of memory foam and soft urethane rubber beneath. They are comfy! My experience with selling boots with these in them is that the customer has an immediately positive reaction as soon as they try them on. I can only say that you'll have to try them to understand.
Here we have the Rocky expansion seam. This technology is designed to allow the shaft of the boot to expand as the boot is pulled on and off, conceivably reducing the effort required. This is a similar technology to Ariat's U-turn system, which also uses elastic, but in the rear of the shaft rather than integrated into the side seam. Both systems seem to work well and are surprisingly not prone to tearing or wearing out as I thought they might be when I saw them for the first time. We have been carrying Rocky boots with this technology for the better part of a decade now, so I can say with confidence that it works and it does not represent a failure point in the construction of the boot. It should be noted that this elastic insert does NOT affect the waterproofing of the boot, as that is accomplished with a waterproof liner inside the boot.
Finally we have Rocky's VP waterproofing system. Shown above is a picture of the inside of a boot with the insole removed so you can see how the waterproofing system essentially is a liner or "bootie" that forms a waterproof barrier inside the boot. There are various layers of material inside that perform various functions in the system, but suffice it to say that it functions as a one way gas permeable membrane, allowing moisture to leave the boot while simultaneously blocking it from entering the boot. It also allows for some ventilation through microscopic pores in the waterproofing layer. This kind of technology has a specific drawback. Mainly the fact that additional layers will always increase heat retention, something that will not usually be welcome in the hotter months. Still, if you work around a lot of water for long periods of time, the benefits may outweigh the drawbacks in your case. I mostly would just like people to understand that with boots, you can usually have waterproof OR cool, not waterproof AND cool. To get one you have to give up the other. This isn't a choice that is specific to Rocky, but rather it is the case with every brand industry-wide.
And there you have it! Our first review is complete. It is my opinion that this is a very good offering from Rocky. Includes a number of features that I commonly hear requested from customers: The thinner "western" sole, nearly undetectable composite toe cap, Deep memory foam cushion insert, and guaranteed waterproofing. I believe we will sell quite a few of these. If you want to try this or any other boot we stock, feel free to drop in to the store. Alternatively, you may order a pair from this website where these and several other styles are already available for purchase with free shipping!