Little did I know what an international, epic journey this would be! I tried other boots from manufacturers in Canada, England, the U.S., etc., but all of them were either so lacking in support that even adding my custom orthotics wasn't enough, or they were shaped in weird ways that made my foot problems worse. I was getting desperate, to the point that I was almost ready to shell out the bucks for the Acton boots again, even though I knew they would fall apart on me.
Finally, I stumbled across a posting somewhere in which someone was talking about Quattro boots, from Skellerup of New Zealand. My goodness -- New Zealand! Could it be, I wondered, that the perfect rubber boot had been secretly lurking in that remote little island country? I simply had to find out.
Well, I got my hands on a pair, and I am here to tell you that these boots are, quite simply, the best dang rubber boots on the planet. Yes, that is only my opinion, but having tried far too many from so many different places, I feel I have some reluctant authority in the matter. Just looking at these boots makes it clear that their designer is clearly someone who has a real understanding of the form and function of a human foot. Then you put them on and immediately feel that they have fantastic support without being stiff. And, if the high-quality insole isn't exactly what your foot needs, you can slip it out and put in your own orthotics, as I did. Can't do that with many others. They also absorb the shock of your step very well, even though the rubber of the sole is quite firm. Not sure how they do it, but they do. The tread is aggressive enough to give you a solid grip on challenging terrain, but the design of the grooves makes mud/manure kick out pretty easily.
One thing you do need to be aware of with these boots: They fit close around the ankle and are not designed for a wide calf. If you have a wider calf, as I do, you may be able to get away with the shorter boot, which I find plenty tall. I tried the higher one and it was just too tight on me, but the shorter one is much better. It is still a little tight trying to tuck in a thicker pant leg, but I have found a way to make it work. If you have average to thinner legs, this won't be an issue for you at all, but you still might find that the shorter boots are tall enough. I think they are 13", versus the taller ones that are 16".
The boots do come in various styles -- insulated or non and that sort of thing. I went for the non-insulated, but so far have found that they are plenty warm, perhaps due to the thin neoprene lining on the interior. I think they might get a little toasty in the summer due to the liner and the close fit on my chubby legs, but that's a trade off I'm willing to deal with for the excellent comfort they provide.
As for where to buy them, look online, but I was told by the manufacturer that the discounted boots carried by Sierra Trading Post (sierratradingpost.com) are an earlier version, and the newer ones should last 3x longer. I also asked the manufacturer about the fact that these boots, like virtually all the others, are made in China, and I wanted to know if the quality could be counted on. Here is their response:
"While many other brands make rubber boots in China (think LaCrosse, Muck, Bogs, XtraTuff, Servus, etc.), they don’t own the factories that these boots are made in, so they can’t control the quality. They may be able to make the boots look nice, but as you rightly point out what looks good doesn’t necessary last and that’s what you’re getting with these brands.
When we first looked at moving our production to China over 10 years ago we visited 14 different rubber boot companies but none of them would be able to manufacture the boots to the standard that we require which is ultimately what our users require. We then made the decision that we would invest in our own factory, with our own staff and keep making quality that our boots.
Yes, I still wish they were made somewhere other than China, but I'm trusting that these boots will prove to be as rugged as they seem. I am absolutely loving mine thus far! Let me know what you think if you get some.