A few weeks back I recieved a pair of structural firefighting boots from Black Diamond Boots who was a co-sponsor of the FireEMSBlogs.com meetup at FDIC in Indianapolis. They are well know for their Boot Girls. You can meet them and try on the boots for yourself in Baltimore July 22-24th at Firehouse EXPO.
I’ve had a fair variety of different boots over my 16 years of pulling these things on, from basic rubber boots as an Explorer Scout, to heavy duty duty boots and all leather turnout boots. These X-Boots look nice and have a few special features that I liked. It also has one feature I did not like, but more on that later.
Let’s talk about the evaluation period.
I used these boots on a total of 11 shifts.
In those shifts they experienced 2 fires, dozens of medical jobs and a few MVAs. Whenever partaking in a ladder drill, I made sure to volunteer to climb and lock in. Whenever on a medical I carried the chair/patient and footed the gurney, used the boot to elevate the board for taping, you get the idea. I tried to get them into every possible situation I could encounter during the trial period.
The X-Boot is a leather/kevlar/rubber combination boot that when worn is very comfortable. Even as a new, stiffer soled boot, it was more comfortable than I expected. The sizing is also great, with my 11.5 feet staying in the 11.5 boot. We all know when walking down an alley at a fireground pace a loose fitting boot is annoying and you get that clop clop feeling as the boot slightly hangs on your foot, heel loose.
The X-Boot has a 3 point heel lock feature that may lend to this problem being eliminated, but I can’t feel anything “grabbing” or “holding” my heel in when I walk. It just feels better than other boots I have worn.
- NFPA standards are met or exceeded by this product and they did just fine in the fire environment and were very easy to clean afterwards.
- Locking in on both straight and extension ladders was no different.
- Crawling and performing other fireground tasks was also very similar to other boots I have worn.
A feature I think I would like after a few years is the extra material on the top of the toe. My current boots are torn up from crawling and footing gurneys, even this additional 1cm of rubber is huge in the long run.
Built in pull up loops replace the more common straps to pull the boots on, but I prefer the straps and have never lost one yet. The reinforced material to accommodate the handles causes the one drawback I found with these boots. When donning, the boots go on fast and slick. When back in the dorms, the wide opening and reinforced profile make it difficult and time consuming to pull the pants back down around the boots. To test this, I borrowed a larger pair of turnout pants to see if it was just my gear, but even a larger set was difficult to pull down. When running multiple building alarm, MVA and fire calls it got frustrating, but I’m willing to put up with it for the better fitting boot.
In the end I would recommend this boot to anyone looking for a comfortable fitting turnout boot. The list price of $249.99 is more than reasonable for this product.
If that is more than you are willing to spend, you can try a smaller version:
My rating for this product is 3 1/2 out of 4 helmets.