When it comes to wildland firefighting, gear matters. You depend on your gear to help you do your job, keep you safe, and stay comfortable for hours on end. There isn’t a piece of gear that works harder than your wildland fire boots. Firefighters spend hours on their feet and need to be able to move quickly over difficult terrain. The last thing they need are boots that pinch their feet, cause blisters, or slow them down. It’s more than a matter of comfort; their safety and the safety of those around them can depend on it.
That’s why so many wildland firefighters depend on handmade boots. This ensures they are getting the fit they want and the function that they need. We offer a great selection of custom fire boots in our online store so you can get the right size, style, and features that you want in a great pair of boots. Still not convinced that custom boots are right for you? Here are some of the benefits you should keep in mind.
Three Big Benefits of Custom Boots
They last for years.
When you invest in a pair of custom wildland fire boots, you are purchasing a pair of boots that are going to last you for years. It’s not uncommon to hear of a firefighter who has been wear his boots for a decade or more. That’s because custom boots can be rebuilt and repaired as needed. The manufacturer or a skilled tradesman can correct any damage that’s been done to the boots and keep them in perfect working condition for years. That means once you make the initial investment, you’ll have a pair of work boots that you’ll be able to depend on for most of your working life.
They help prevent back and neck pain.
Firefighters spend a lot of time on their feet; this isn’t a job that you do sitting down. Because of that, having the right footwear is essential. Without it, you can start to experience leg, knee, neck, and back pain that can get worse over time. Your entire body depends on the support of your feet. If you don’t take care of your feet, they can’t take care of the rest of your body. Custom boots properly support your arch, correct your gait, and help you body move in the right ways to prevent pain and discomfort.
They are made to fit your feet.
Boots that come off of the shelf are made to fit the average foot. The problem with that very few of us actually have an average foot. Most people actually need different widths, require different heel heights, or might require more or less arch support than what’s available on the shelf. When you get a custom boot, the fitter will carefully determine the measurements that your feet need in order to ensure you get a fit that’s perfect. When you buy custom, you can also dictate other features like a composite toe cap or the color of the leather. In the end, you have quality craftsmanship in a boot that was literally made for your feet.
The Process to Get Custom Wildland Fire Boots
When you decide to purchase your custom boots, you’ll need to do so while giving yourself plenty of lead time. The process of getting your feet measured and making the boots can take several weeks, if not several months. That’s because the fitter will want to ensure that your boots are absolutely perfect for your feet, so it might take several fittings and rebuilding the boot a number of times to get it just right.
The boot fitter will know what measurements are necessary to create a proper boot fit. Some of these measurements include the width of your foot behind the ball, measurements of your instep, your heel, ankle, and various locations along your calf. Why the calf? Measurements of your leg are just as important as the measurements of your foot; that’s because wildland fire boots will need to come up your leg at least 10 inches, meaning they will cover a good portion of your shins. That fit should be just as good as the fit in the feet. A fitter will measure both of your feet and legs, as there are likely to be differences between the two (most people have two different sized feet!).
How you get fit for your boots will depend on how and where you buy them. If you purchase them online, then you may end up taking your own measurements at home and calling them into the maker. The best way to do it, though, is to visit a professional, experienced boot fitter. The Supply Cache offers in-person boot fitting in our store Monday through Friday, though we recommend that you call ahead to make an appointment.
How to Break in Custom Boots
Some first-time purchasers panic when they get their handmade boots because they aren’t as comfortable as they thought they’d be the first time they put them on. This is totally normal. You’ll need to break in your boots in order to really experience the comfort and support of a pair of handmade boots. The high-quality that’s used to create your boots will eventually mold to your foot and leg, becoming the boots that you’ll want to wear all the time (even when you aren’t out fighting fires!). Here are a couple tips to help you break them in:
- Use leather oil. Oiling the leather when you get them can help make the material softer and more supple, giving it stretch and bend in order to mold to your feet. There are a lot of products on the market. The staff in our store can make a recommendation based on your boots.
- Wear good socks. Make sure that you wear the socks you’ll wear the most often when you are breaking in your boots. Good hiking socks make of wool or a blend are the best option. Thin socks can rub and cause discomfort, so invest in quality socks to go with your handmade boots.
- Wear them all the time. The more you wear your boots, the faster you’ll break them in. It really comes down to putting in the time in them. Wear them around the house and walk in them as much as possible. Before you know it, slipping on your boots will be like putting on your favorite slippers.
But Is the Cost Really Worth It?
Yes. A million times, yes. Don’t let the price tag scare you off from investing in a great pair of boots. They’ll pay for themselves the first time you wear them to a fire. They will keep your feet comfortable, not to mention the rest of your body, and can help you find a little extra endurance throughout the day. And because handmade boots can be rebuilt, you can get repairs done for a fraction of the price of new boots and keep wearing them for years and years. Break the cost of a pair of custom boots up over a decade; suddenly they seem like a bargain!
Talk to any experienced wildland firefighter and they’ll tell you that spending the money for a quality pair of boots is well worth the investment. Trust them! They know what they are talking about and once you’ve owned a pair, you’ll be singing their praises, too.
Ready to invest in a quality pair of wildland fire boots? The Supply Cache has them. Check out our brands online and make an appointment to meet with our custom boot fitter today.