Yup.... boots. Not a gun, nor a reloading tool, nor even a silly idea about shooting practice from under the range bench (that one is coming later...). This gear review is about boots.
Before I wax eloquent about footwear like some silly fashion commentator, allow me to explain how this post happened...... I'll just veer off into blog history and philosophy for a little while here.
Carteach0 came about a few years back as an outlet for occasional scribblings regarding shooty topics we all know and love. It was never expected to amount to anything except a fun pastime. Most especially, it was never intended to become a full blown shooting blog festooned with ads and 'compensated' reviews (if such really do exist). There are enough shooting sport magazines out there already doing that, and we have Gun Blast, Down Range TV, and any number of other places we can visit to catch up on industry offerings. I always held that advertising would be refused on Carteach0, and it would just be me talking with some friends about a hobby we all love.
Everything that appeared on Carteach0 was something I did, bought, tried out, played with, or worked out on my own. Like many shooting enthusiasts, I am a tinkerer, and I love to share that fun. My suspicion was that accepting advertising might change how open I can be about my opinions, and that accepting products for review would be no better. Not that anyone was breaking down my door to advertise here, or hand me new toys to write about.... but enough requests came along that I had to think about it more than a few times. The thirty thousand folks a month who stop by here every month might have something to do with that; More, I'm sure, than any writing ability of mine.
Well, that may be changing, grudgingly, a little bit. I've been invited with some other bloggers to attend a seminar at BLACKHAWK! next week (Yes, that is how they write it, with big letters and an exclamation point). It's a few days of drinking their beverages, eating their BBQ, shooting with Todd Jarrett, ...... and looking at their products.
I'm not glossing over the fact that this is advertising for them. There are no illusions here. For the cost of hosting some folks for a few days and treating them pretty darn well, they hope to get some good writeups and make some goodwill in the shooting community. That said.... it's a darn nice invite, and we are taking them up on it.
Now, therein lies the rub. I'm kind of old fashioned in a lot of silly ways. By my notions, once I am their guest it would be rude of me to speak poorly of their gear. Also by my notions, it would be wrong to put my name and approval on gear that I don't feel is up to snuff. That could possibly leave me in a position where I would have to simply say thank you after accepting their grub, and pass on writing about their toys if I didn't feel they were quality made or well designed. That would make me feel a bit of a heel.
So.... needing some new boots.... I decided to go ahead and order some new Blackhawk footwear BEFORE I go to the blogger event. I paid full retail from a vendor (on Amazon) who had no connection to the company. Yes, I needed new boots... but mostly I wanted to preview something Blackhawk sells before I go there as a guest.
It's like this... if the boots were junk, I was planning on passing up the invitation to visit Blackhawk as their guest. My ability to speak freely about my sport and hobby is worth more to me than a few days in a nice hotel and some free BBQ with Todd Jarrett.
Okay... since that explanation is out of the way, I'll speak to the boots.
Now, some folks who stop in here know me, and know I'm a teacher by trade. In fact, I'm a tech school instructor keeping fifty high school seniors at a dead run all day. That bit of joy has me doing a measured average of three miles a day on concrete floors, nine months of every year, most of it pretty fast paced. To say I am rough on boots is not correct. It's far better to say boots can be very, very, rough on me. There is little harder on the feet, legs, and back than spending strenuous days working on concrete floors. Good boots are not just nice, they are a life saver.
Back when I could buy them around here, I bought Red Wing work boots. Pricey, but simply the best there were. Since the local Red Wing store sold out to some folks I just don't care to do business with, I moved over to high quality hunting boots from Cabela's. Those suited me for years, generally giving me a solid two seasons out of each pair before replacement. Pricey, yes, but the well built hunting boots handled the work load and kept my feet happy, healthy, and pain free.
The Blackhawk boots had some big.... well.... shoes to fill.
The last few days I have been wearing Blackhawk's 'Warrior Wear Desert Ops' boots to work. Heavy fabric and leather padded uppers, and heavily cleated vibram soles, but somehow put together in a package that's lighter than the Cabela's hunting boots. While I was reticent to order boots untried for fit on-line, the first time I put these on I was quite surprised. After a few days, a few miles, and several hard kicks at steel bathroom doors to catch teenagers attention, I will report what my feet said at the end of work today.....
Yup, comfortable as all get out. No fatigue in my feet or legs, and my back is happy as well. I have intentionally been changing my pace, bouncing around a bit, and trying to challenge the support these boots give my feet and ankles. So far, not a single complaint. The steel support in the insole is very evident, as the boots fully support the instep without that 'wood block' feel some footwear has.
To put it bluntly, I felt more like a prize fighter than a Frankenstein's monster while I was wearing the Blackhawk boots.
It's way too early to report on how these boots wear, or how they handle back country hiking, but that will come with time. For now, I have a choice on what to wear for my hard, hard work day ahead. It's the Blackhawks I'll be putting on tomorrow, and the others can just wait till I need them again.
(Oh.... I paid $119 with free shipping. Come on folks, anyone can beat suggested list on anything!)
Update: Nine months in, and I have worn these boots every day of it..... till last week. One of them just plain disintegrated. Inside lining fell apart, and one side of the upper grew spontaneous holes through the structure.... big ones. A call to Blackhawk got me a return number, and if they deem the fault to be manufacture related, I get new boots. Maybe. After I ship them back on my own dime.
Two things stand out about the call to Blackhawk. The nice girl said the boots had a years warranty.... IF I bought them before August. No mention was made of what kind of warranty they have if bought after August. Also, she filled in the model of boot without me saying anything (Desert Ops). Either she is a darn good mind reader, or they are getting enough calls that she just assumed.
We shall see how their warranty plays out.....
New boots arrived on our doorstep, and I have been happily wearing them since. Not only that, but I was contacted by Blackhawk to make sure I was happy with them. Does service get better than that? Hard to say.... but I'm satisfied.
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