Built with slip-resistant Chevron outsoles, the Xtratuf Ankle Deck Boot is sturdy and lightweight. They provide the classic comfort of the brand but now with added Xpresscool™ features, a more breathable and antimicrobial liner. The short shaft rises just above the ankle with a wide, 11.75-inch circumference, which, for some reviewers, feels too giving and allows for heel slippage. Nonetheless, this competitor is easy to slip on and off and is complimentary with a variety of pants and socks. Designed with a fairly simple style, they are casual yet still performance-oriented.
Xtratuf Ankle Deck Boot Review
Cons: Overall weather protection, heel slippage
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Our Analysis and Test Results
With a cushioned, removable insole, the Xtratuf boot is lined with Xpresscool, a fairly breathable and antimicrobial neoprene. The rubber upper is not the classic waxy, treated neoprene of the brand's namesake boots and is instead a more sporty, casual option. Marketed as an athletic lifestyle pick, the manufacturer makes sure to distinguish design purpose by stating, "This boot is constructed with hand-layed rubber, therefore it's not a commercial grade boot." Still, performance is still the name of the game. The slip-resistant Chevron outsoles are as sticky as ever. We found the main drawback to be in the fit around the heel and ankle, which, due to the relatively wide shaft circumference at such short stature, means heel slippage, a sensation of bagginess around the foot, and potential blisters if not sized properly.
With a true height of 6.25" as measured from the floor for the pair we tested, weather protection is average. Rain will still get to the lower leg and the risk of submersion while wading is much higher than boots with taller shafts. Regardless, for the casual trip to and from locales or activities done on across wet surfaces, having a shorter boot can be quite convenient and less cumbersome. The wide mouth, however, leaves a significant gap in front of the lead tester's shin, which is more prone to swallowing rain, snow, or other undesirables. For us, this and the baggier fit are the main reasons as to why it did not win any awards.
For this metric, the Xtratuf scored as one of the best for comfort. With a cushioned insole, soft lining, thick outsole, and overall low weight, our feet were never left tired at the end of the day. The flat outsole provides additional comfort due it to lessening pressure points on the ball and heel of the foot that may otherwise exist with a traditionally stacked heel. All the more, there is room in the footbox for thicker socks, and the short shaft flexes easily with the leg. The manufacturer states this model having a "female" fit and yet there is significant heel slippage for us despite the footbox being true to size (and admirably comfortable).
A neat feature and, in our opinion, a great alternative to cutting holes into the shaft, is the addition of loops sewn to the front and back. This makes carrying them easy without compromising the waterproofing. Although, we found that carrying them for long periods of time is tiresome for the single finger that fits into the loop. This is of low concern, of course, since most people aren't going on long walks with boots hanging from their hands.
We feel the matte black and white design for the pair we tested is reminiscent of the classic Converse shoes, which can be seen as either fun, sporty, or rather plain depending on your preferences. We like the simple molded design for its unassuming nature, which can be easily paired with a variety of pants and outfits. Being so short and wide at the mouth also eliminates the fuss that comes with having to stuff jeans into taller boots. While the finger loops are practical, we do feel that having two might be superfluous, notably the one in the front. The front loop often rubs the shin and is rarely used for picking up since we are used to other types of boots having loops at the back.
Having more surface area without a raised heel gives this Xtratuf model great traction across a variety of wet surfaces. Even on a wet slide, we were confident we wouldn't slip during our tests. Often, having no heel lends itself to a more performance or work-driven shoe, eliminating the hazard of a heel catching on anything. Though, no heel typically means that the tread pattern can't be very deep, which, for more rugged and grimy terrain, these boots do not perform as well as something akin to traditional hiking tread. On the other hand, having shallower tread helps prevent debris from getting stuck and causing discomfort. The Ankle Deck boot performs best across flat surfaces, of course, but still scored above-average when wading in a creek with slippery rocks.
For this metric, the Xtratuf proved to be a rather warm shoe, scoring on the higher end of the spectrum. The Xpresscool liner, while aiding in breathability and overall dryness, still insulates the foot really well. When standing in a creek for several minutes, we hardly noticed the temperature of the water at all. This is great for colder environments and activity around water. For hotter days or while sitting around, our feet definitely started to sweat. We found that the lining seems to breathe the best when we are actually moving around. Too, having a shorter shaft helps vent the shoe when it's warmer.
Xtratuf offers whole sizes 5-11 for this model. For the ones we tested, we ordered a size 8 since our lead tester is a 7.5, which sizing up comes as a recommendation from both customer reviews and the manufacturer. As previously mentioned, the footbox itself feels true to size for us and provides room for thicker socks, but it is the shaft itself and the space around the heel that feels too wide. In tandem with the flexibility of the shaft, heel slippage is pretty prominent for us. This diminishes overall tact and potential comfort in the end, which we acknowledge is hard to customize for everyone. For long-term walking and activity, the fit isn't as preferable as the leading ankle-height competitor, Bogs Sweetpea.
Manufactured in China, this short boot is one of the more expensive ankle options we've tested. While it's characteristic of the reliable work-oriented brand, more affordable options do exist that are of similar quality. If you figure out the right fit and spend a lot of time in colder, wet environments but don't want a tall-shafted boot, then we do feel the value is worth it.
If the Xtratuf Ankle Deck Boot were slightly taller and leaner at the back of the footbox, they'd knock the competition out of the water. With high function and practical style, they are sturdy, flexible, and favorable in overall comfort.
— Sara Aranda