Dr. Steve Peters, a Best Horse Practices Summit presenter and collaborator in the new site Horse Head, reviews a pair of Boulet boots. The boots were handmade in Saint Tite, Quebec. Read more about Boulet here.
Last month, I opened the box containing my first ever pair of Boulet boots, Grizzly Mountain Packers. I’d known about this family-owned Canadian boot maker for years, but being rigid in my choice of boot makers meant I’d gone with what I’d known time and again. I’d also never worn a pair of lace-ups. I guess I thought packers just weren’t for me.
Taking them out of the box, I saw that the leather was high quality, soft and pliant. Could such a beautiful boot hold up to what I planned to put them through? They felt just a tad snug initially, but simply walking around the house helped form them to my feet.
While my usual buckaroo boots feel very loose around my skinny calves, these packers gave me the feeling of a hightop athletic shoe. They would turn out to provide great ankle support.
My goal was to try my best to get a blister or two and find the weaknesses in these new boots. I stepped outside to slosh through mud, feed the horses, and followed that with a long hike with the dogs. In southwestern Colorado, a hike can involve snow, mud, rocky ridges, and scrambling over boulders. Unlike my slick, leather-bottomed cowboy boots, these boots have an acid-resistant, rubber sole that gave me good traction climbing over rocks.
The next day, I laced them on first thing. After horse chores, I staffed a booth at a local trade show (lots of standing). I also did quite a bit of walking around the town of Durango. These boots felt very well-cushioned with an insole that kept my feet dry.
After more hiking and time horseback, I took them off only before crawling into bed. My socks were dry and had a nice aroma. The boots actually have been treated with a sanitized deodorant.
The next day was horseback. The rounded toe helped me to find my stirrups and the horseman’s heel is what I like. We ponied a group of horses to a pasture and unsaddled our rides.
Another long hike with rock scrambling and I noticed that these packers were even more comfortable than my hiking boots. I’ve been bucked off and left some distance from home in the past, enduring the Walk of Shame in uncomfortable cowboy boots. At least my feet would be happy, if it happened in these Boulets.
When night falls, I usually change into well-worn moccasins to read and relax. But my packers were still feeling good. The leather had formed to my foot and held up to all the punishment I could dish out. I still could not get a blister no matter how I’d tried.
Despite snow and mud over several days, these boots looked as good as they did coming out of the box. Boulet’s reputation is impressive, but I was nonetheless astounded by their durability and comfort. At 59 years old, I can’t believe that I have gone this long without trying a pair. When I spend a week packing in the Weminuche Wilderness, these Grizzly Mountain Packers will be on my feet.