Back at it again, and under the radar with a few gear reviews. Might as well test out some stuff while holding off on the writing for a bit, no?
Blauer, the well-known manufacturer of duty gear (shirts, jackets, pants, etc.) for fire/EMS and law enforcement, has released a new line of footwear this spring.Â They were kind enough to contact me and ask if I’d review a pair, and of course I said yes!
I selected the Blitz 8″ waterproof duty boot (MSRP is $179.99). I was a bit torn initially about whether or not to go withÂ an 8″ boot, as I thought it might be a bit muchâ€”but all in all, I was very pleasedÂ with my selection. I’ve owned countless pairs of the “usual” six-inch-high work boots; this time,Â I decided to go out on a limb and see if the technology that Blauer has incorporated into their footwear could turnÂ something outside my comfort zone into a satisfying experience.
First things first. I wore these boots for a month in place of my usual duty footwear, while working my regular shifts (and a few trades here and there) in Southeast Washington, D.C. From previous stories on this very website, I can attest that anything I wear for even a few tours in DC is going to get pretty beat up, and see some interesting circumstancesâ€”the months of June and July were certainly no exception. But the Blitzes took it like champs, and don’t even appear all that much worse for wear!
All-black, full-grain leather, and waterproof thanks to an inner membrane, the Blitz pairÂ weighs in at 1498g / 3lb 5oz.Â They certainly don’t feel like just over a pound and a half per boot, especially considering that my usual duty uniform includes almost four pounds of footwear, and that these are 8″ high boots. For something that comes almost halfway up my shins, these boots are light and agile.
From a fit perspective, I actually had to request a second set in a wide size, as they run a bit narrowÂ (for me, at least). However, they do appear a bit narrow when viewed head-onâ€”I would much prefer a wider boot, for both aesthetic and stability purposes. Eight inches of lacing will ensure you never roll an ankle, for sure, but there’s something to be said for a wider platform upon which to be scrambling around on. Never mind that narrow boots look a little… *ahem* …feminine?
Speaking of lacing, Blauer’sÂ jumped on the Boa bandwagon! Boa is a company based out of Steamboat Springs, CO who pioneered a new lacing system for (what are now)Â dozens of applications, from snowboardingÂ to motocross. I actually was already familiar with Boa’sÂ braided-steel-and-ratchet-wheel system from my involvement with cycling (the major players in the cycling shoe gameÂ were projected to release 39 models of shoes for 2014 that utilize the Boa tech). So this isn’t some newfangled widget, it’s tried-and-true.
I found it convenient and intuitive enough to get the hang of “operating” the Blitzes, hahaâ€”the biggest boon that I found wasÂ that instead of unzipping anything, I just had to grab the wheel on the tongue and pull, and the boots damn near came off themselves. They loosen immediately all the way down to my instep, so there was no delay if I hadÂ to get dressed quickly in the back of a fire engine. One note about the closure system, thoughâ€”the ratchet wheel is LOUD. At work, I quickly learned to shuffle outside the bunkroom before I decided to tighten everything upâ€”theÂ krrrrt, krrrrt, krrrrrrtÂ of the Boa wheel (more than vaguely reminiscent of an exaggeratedÂ socket wrench) echoed like crazy off of the nighttimeÂ cinderblock walls, earning me more than a few strange looks. Sorry, fellas!
Tread pattern was plenty grippy, even through oil, transmission fluid, sawdust, water, blood, mud, and even a dropped quart of melted ice cream (don’t ask). I imagine that they’d be just as effective in snow, although I’ll have to wait to try out anything actually frozen. The heel cup was great at gripping the back of my foot when lugging gear or patients up hills, and I found myself comfortable in them all day without even thinking about them (which I find to be a good trait in a boot, if I can forget that I’m wearing it). Even in the recent muggy heat wave, I found the BlauersÂ to be quite breathable, even for a waterproof boot. I mean, I’m going to sweat in anything I wear in these temperatures, but at least I didn’t find myself with trench foot at night when I could finally take them off.
In summary: I doubt I’ll be using the “fence-climbing grooves in the toe” that Blauer advertises for their footwear anytime soon, but overall I like these very much.Â My only major complaint is how narrow they appearâ€”other than that, I’d most definitely consider one of the Blitz or Clash models for when my current work boots wear out. The Boa system is more than just a novelty (although I did get a few “what in the @#%& are you wearing?” from the guys); it actually doesÂ uniquely snug up to your foot each time you tighten it, so I think Blauer made a great call there.
Overall, I’d rate themÂ an 8.5/10.Â They were more than adequateÂ for everything that needs to be done while at work, and they do so in a comfortable and light package. No rolled ankles, no slippery slopes, and no “new-shoes” blisters (they felt very close to broken-in from Day 1).
Many thanks to Blauer, and specifically my contact Brandon, for being so helpful and for affording me the opportunity to test these out!