XTRATUF Legacy Series 15" Review
Cons: Heel made us worried about our ankles, no insulation
Manufacturer: Xtratuf Boots
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Our Analysis and Test Results
With good weather protection, traction on wet surfaces, and comfort underfoot, these boots are a good option for those who will be spending a lot of time in the water. But unfortunately, the more time we spend in sloppy conditions, the more the grooves in the inverted outsole picked up rocks or got filled with material. And while the soft latex on the top can be rolled down to help the boots dry (and to ventilate the feet), we found that the rubber often bends in and jabs at the shins.
With a 15.1" shaft height, this model is the fourth highest boot in our review — tall enough for most applications. We feel very confident walking in water in these, even if it's deeper water with small waves.
The Legacy boots have the second thickest insole, and their tall heel also provides an impressive amount of support and cushioning. Ultimately, these boots are workable for over 8 hours at a time with the stock insole. Thicker insoles are too much with the higher heel, though they're still comfortable enough. We wish there were a little less heel, though, so that the feet stay a bit lower to the ground. It almost feels like you could roll an ankle in these, as the heel is quite narrow.
We had some issues with the softer latex neoprene folding in and pressing against our shins and the tops of our feet, though it did allow us to roll them down and vent our feet when they got hot. Additionally, due to the snug fit in the ankle and the extreme flexibility of the neoprene shaft, these are impossible to step into (as they constantly collapse). Instead, you have to balance to pull them on, and they often get stuck on the heels. They're also finicky to get off and require you to grab them by the heel and twist them off. Larger circumference, stiffer boots are easier to get on, which we tend to prefer.
XTRATUF boots go a completely different direction with traction — their outsoles are inverted, so instead of studs, there are only grooves. As XTRATUF boots are primarily for fishing, we assume this design is intended for slick boat decks, but we were impressed by how well they held onto other surfaces too. We found that they did not do very well on wet grass or ice, but they gripped mud and snow adequately. Over time though, the grooves tend to fill up with mud and ice and don't seem to hold as well as boots with studded outsoles.
The Legacy boots we tested are uninsulated and are only 1/16th" thick. Without thick socks, we found ourselves getting pretty cold in these boots, and during the ice-water test, our bare feet got uncomfortably cold almost immediately (within 30 seconds). Do keep in mind that these boots come in an insulated version (down to -10 degrees F), so if you like the rest of the features, this shouldn't be a dealbreaker.
The Legacy model is almost actively anti-fashionable, with its unique rubbery brown aesthetic. However, our style consultants like the look, and in Seattle, we see people wearing these all winter with a wide variety of clothes. Don't expect to get away with wearing these without commentary, but they can look good when paired with the right outfit!
There's a ½ inch of room forward and back, and very little play left and right for our size 12 D-width foot, so these probably measure in at a true D-width. And due to the snug fit in the ankle, even when you lift your foot, your feet are still touching the bottom of the boot. That being said, there's not a lot of room in these boots for larger volume feet.
As landlubbers, we think other boots are better for the price, but we don't have any clue what sort of conditions anglers are facing up on the Alaskan seas. We did read some reports that quality fell off in 2012 when manufacturing moved to China, but through all our testing, we saw no evidence that these boots would wear out quickly. Our friends who have them all get at least two or three years of heavy use (though they do occasionally have to be aqua-sealed in the heels, which can rip through after a lot of use).
From what we understand, XTRATUF boots are the unofficial fishing footwear of Alaska, and as such, they're designed for a wholly different set of conditions than we test for. We prefer other boots for our primary use on land, but these boots are a good option, so long as long as you're not looking for insulation. They're a good height and feature out-of-the-box comfort, with solid traction, and our fashion consultants thought they looked good too. And if you get these boots, you'll get lots of friendly Alaskans saying hi!
— Richard Forbes