As a life member of the NRA I’m certainly aware of the many types of products they have “branded” with their name: clothing, insurance, etc. But when I walked through the Gold Hall in Vegas and saw a booth with a big “NRA Boots” banner, I had to do a double take. NRA Boots? It got better: NRA Socks as well. Ultimately, and obviously, this is a product line that isn’t manufactured by the NRA but is branded by them. I received a T&E pair and have been wearing them for the past couple weeks. Up front I didn’t think I’d like them because they are side-zip boots – and anyone who has read my evaluations knows I don’t care for zipped boots. These gave me a different feeling:
So I got the boots in the mail – a pair of 8″ height. In the photo you can see that these boots are available in 8″, 6″ or 4″ (top to bottom) and look pretty good. For some reason, in the past couple of years, duty boots have become more stylish. Personally I think this has to do with the CDI (chicks dig it) factor, but I’m just as happy as the next guy to wear boots that don’t look like they’re military issue. I got my boots and, as with all boots, knew that I had to adjust the laces to fit my foot. Since these were side zip boots and I expected them to loosen up over the period of a few days of wear, I laced them extra snug. Not so as to cut off the circulation in my foot, but I wanted to really feel them all the way around.
What first struck me was how comfortable they were. Now, I know that everyone has different feet and what I find comfortable many of you reading this may not. But these boots came as close to tennis-shoe comfort as they could get, given that they’re leather and nylon uppers with boot soles. Having recently learned about taking my time breaking in new boots (see last week’s recreational review) I figured I’d wear them four a few hours for a couple of days before trying to spend an entire day in them – or doing any serious hiking in them. What I discovered was that, five hours later (that first day) they were still pretty comfortable. The laces hadn’t stretched or loosened at all, so on the second day, I didn’t lace them quite as tight.
Some four days later, having worn them every day, I realized a few things that surprized me since I’m not a side-zip boot kind of guy:
- I hadn’t had to relace the boots to tighten them. I had only had to relace them to loosen them.
- After that couple of days of wear, they were quite comfortable. I had no red “wear” marks on my feet at the end of the day.
- Although I was wearing them snug, my ankles didn’t feel trapped or strained by the uppers.
- I had worn size zip boots for several days without complaint.
For me, that last one was the biggy. I’ve never liked side-zip boots. Every pair I’ve ever worn, at some point in the first few days of wear, have loosened up as the laces stretched or the leather was broken in or whatever. I haven’t had that issue with these boots yet… and it’s been a couple of weeks now.
Made by Coastal Boots… branded by the NRA… actually sold by Snap-On, these boots really surprized me. I fully expected not to be wearing them anymore after the test & evaluation time period… but I think I’ll keep these out. They’ve proven pretty comfortable.
Retail pricing I’ve found puts them in the $100 per paid category. Do some searching on the Internet and I’m sure you can find them cheaper.
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