Model: Challenge Zip-Up Field Boots
Category: English Chaps/Boots/Helmets
Purchase: I bought these boots off eBay for about $250. I believe they cost about $350 from a retailer.
Likes: These boots are ridiculously comfortable! It's like riding in slippers. The soles are amazing, and the leather is so soft and supple, you have complete freedom of movement while wearing them. They break in almost immediately, and fit great. And of course, the zipper is a HUGE help, and anyone who has had to break in new pull-on boots can imagine! Also, the zipper goes farther down the heel, so your foot slips right in and out. I have a cheaper pair of synthetic tall boots where the zipper doesn't go down as far, and so I still have to jam my foot into the boots with force. With the Ariats, your foot slides right in like you're putting on sneakers.
Dislikes: I generally dislike the leather used, which is wonderful in that it is butter-soft and breaks in almost immediately, but that is also a weak point. The boot ankles dropped so much that now the boots are almost to short for me!!! Also, the leather is so soft is is easily damaged. For example, after wearing spurs with the boots (even with guards on the spurs), the boots are permanently marked. I'm always very careful with my boots, but I could see them getting scuffed or scratched up quite easily from things which wouldn't even cross my mind to be careful about if I wore them around a lot, and not just for riding. In the same vein, the leather will not acquire that mirror-like reflective shine that many people really like, no matter how much your polish and buff. They always appear pretty matte. Also, the "Spanish tops" are quite small, really just little bumps on the tops of the boots. I guess this is just personal opinion, but I like really tall Spanish tops.
Quality: The leather quality has already been touched on, but to recap it is amazingly soft and supple, and very comfortable to wear and break in. However, I worry about its resistance to scuffs and scrapes, and it won't shine up nice with any amount of buffing. The cut of the boot is great and fits the leg well, and the in-soles are really, really comfortable, all things which Ariat is very good at. The boots are well put together and appear as if the stitching and soles will hold up to hard use, another hallmark of Ariat boots.
Summary: These are really wonderful and comfortable boots, but there are some drawbacks, namely the leather. If you want super shiny show boots, you might want to check out a different type of boot (the Crowne Pro's, perhaps). If you buy a pair, be very aware that the leather may be easily damaged. Also, if you buy a new pair, be sure to allow for 1.5+ inches of drop in the ankle; although I ALWAYS wear a regular height boot, were I to buy another pair of Challenges, I would consider getting them in tall to accommodate the drop. However, as far as comfort goes these boots absolutely can't be beat. I can't stress enough how comfortable these boots are, and how much freedom of movement you have while wearing them. I guess I would suggest weighting your priorities before buying a pair of Challenges. I like them a lot, but had I known about the leather (easily damaged and matte color), I might have gone with the Crowne Pro's instead. Nonetheless, over all I'm still very happy with these boots (just not as happy as I thought I would be!)
Author: Christina K
Usefulness Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
2 reader(s) voted.
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