Xtratuf Ankle Deck Boot Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, comfortable, nice lining
Cons: Low flood height, heel slippage
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Our Analysis and Test Results
With a cushioned, removable insole, this 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 its design purpose by stating, "This boot is constructed with hand-laid rubber, therefore it's not a commercial grade boot." Still, 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. This was exacerbated by the wide shaft circumference, which meant substantial heel slippage, a sensation of bagginess around the back of the foot, and the potential for blisters if not sized properly.
With a shaft height around 6.25 inches, as measured from the floor, weather protection is on the lower end of the spectrum. The flood height is slightly shorter, closer to 5.75 inches due to the dip in the shaft at the sides, and the risk of submersion while wading is much higher than boots with taller shafts. Regardless, for the casual trip across wet surfaces, having a shorter boot can be quite convenient and less cumbersome. The wide mouth does leave a significant gap in front of the 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, this pair scored high and is one of the best for comfort. With a cushioned insole, soft lining, thick outsole, and overall low weight, our feet were never tired at the end of the day. The flat outsole provides additional comfort due to fewer 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 foot box for thicker socks, and the short shaft flexes easily with the leg. The manufacturer states this model has a "female" fit, yet there was significant heel slippage for us despite the foot box length being true to size.
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 of the shaft. This makes carrying them easy without compromising any waterproofing.
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 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, and, 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 does help prevent debris from getting stuck and causing discomfort. We feel they perform best across flat surfaces but are above-average when wading into a creek with slippery rocks.
This pair proves 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 general activity around water. For hotter days or while sitting around, however, our feet definitely started to sweat. We find that the lining seems to breathe the best when we are actually moving around. Too, having a shorter shaft and wide circumference helps vent the shoe when it's warmer.
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 and unassuming nature, which can easily be 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.
This brand offers whole sizes 5-11 for this model. For the boots we tested, we ordered a size 8 since our lead tester is a 7.5, and sizing up comes as a recommendation from both customer reviews and the manufacturer. As previously mentioned, the foot box itself feels true to size and provides room for thicker socks, but it is the shaft itself and the space around the heel that feels too wide. Heel slippage was pretty prominent for us. This diminishes overall comfort in the end, which we acknowledge is hard to customize for everyone.
Manufactured in China, this short boot is one of the more expensive ankle-height options we've tested. While it's characteristic of the reliable work-oriented brand, more affordable options do exist that are of similar or better 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 was made slightly leaner at the back of the foot box, to provide a snugger fit, they'd more likely knock the competition out of the water. Still, with high function and practical style, they are sturdy, flexible, and favorable for lots of rainy day activities.
— Sara Aranda