Tall boots are one of the big investments for competitive equestrians, and as such I think many of use seek guidance when choosing a brand. Not only do we want our boots to fit and look nice, but we want to know that they will last for more then a few months. I have heard absolute horror stories about many brands of tall boots falling apart after limited usage, and IMO that is just not acceptable. I have refereed to my DeNiro boots a few times, but I felt like it was time to do them justice with a formal review.
Style: Classic Long Riding Boots w/ laces and custom calf and height measurements
Color: Brown and Black
Cost: Excluding VAT and including shipping, approx $700-800
I originally purchased my black pair circa 2014. At first I only used them for shows, then I rode in them every ride for about a year until I purchased my brown pair (Spring 2016). Now that I have had my brown pair for a little over a year, I feel that I can somewhat speak to the longevity of the boots.
Where to buy?
I purchased both pairs of boots from Equiporium.co.uk. Before you do a Google search for them, read this. I was thrilled with the customer service when I bought my first pair from Equiporium, but when I ordered my brown pair approx 2 years later my experience was AWFUL. Long story short, Equiporium had changed ownership, and I will never order from them again. I had to contact DeNiro directly (they were incredibly helpful!) to make sure my order was being filled. My recommendation for ordering is to find a European website that offers DeNiro and doesn’t charge the VAT (value-added tax) for US customers. Or, go directly to the DeNiro website and contact them asking which distributor they would recommend. I always got a response within a day via email. There are of course US reps for DeNiro, but I found it to be cheaper to order from Europe.
The basic model (Classic Long), which is what I have, starts at about $485 (US price without the VAT), plus any “extras” (such as spur rests, spur guard flap at the heel etc). Shipping from the UK was about $100. Plus I had to pay approx an additional $120 for a custom template for my extra extra extra long legs. Matching boot polish, spur straps, etc are also optional extras. I think all said and done my pairs were $750ish each, but I can’t remember 100%. There isn’t usually an additional custom template charge, so if you aren’t a long legged freak you could get a better price.
Both pairs took about a month to break in. They weren’t super uncomfortable out of the box- just tall and needing to drop. Both my pairs are the same measurements, so 54 cm’s high, and both dropped about 2 cms to become the perfect fit. During the break in period I didn’t get bruises or sores or anything, they were just uncomfortable to bend my legs too much. I initially rode with the tops unclasped and unzipped about an inch, then I was slowly able to ride with them zipped up and clasped. I really like the clasp- it has an extra leather flap shaped like a horse that you put the zipper through. I imagine that the intent is so the zipper won’t come undone, although I’d never had that problem.
The leather on these boots is grain calfskin and is thicker then most of the market today. IMO, they are really made to last. The break in nicely, and don’t appear bulky, they just aren’t glove soft leather that will wear a hole in 6 months. The soles are “vibram” and supposedly they are tested for durability and sturdiness. I think they are quite comfortable and I do not mind walking around in them all day.
Size-wise I did order 2 different sizes between the boots. When I orginally ordered my black pair I was a little confused about Euro foot sizing and didn’t want boots that were too small, so I erred on the side of caution and sized up. I wear a US size 9.5 and ordered a 41. They are about a 1/2 size too big. Not noticeable to most, and don’t effect my riding by any means, just a bit roomier in the toe then necessary. For my brown ones I ordered a 40 and they are a perfect fit.
Wear from use?
Both my pairs still look basically new after a year of riding in each. I expect both pairs to last many years, as neither is showing signs of breaking down. Both boots only have the slightest rubbing from spur straps and on the toes, but nothing that doesn’t shine right up with a bit of polish. There is barely any wear on the inside, just slight darkening of the leather on the brown pair. For reference, I typically only ride one horse, and ride 3-4 times a week these days. Prior to January, I was at a closer barn where I typically rode 4-5 days a week. I do occasionally ride 2 horses, but not regularly. I generally take pretty good care of them, and try not to hose off horses or track through mud/water in them. I almost always wipe them down after each ride, so I do not let dirt build up on the leather and zippers. I have never used a zipper lube, I just try to keep them clean. I have never had a problem with any of the zippers.
My one main complaint is the boot trees they come with, LOL. They are the blow up kind, and 2 of mine have somehow popped. So really… no complaints from me. That being said, I have heard complaints from other people about them not holding up well, but I cannot speak to that. Maybe they had different styles or different leather or something. I cannot speak to the quality of the pre-made ones that SmartPak sells either. This is just my experience with my 2 semi-custom pairs that were made specifically for me.
What can I say, I am VERY impressed with these boots! I honestly do not think you can you get a better value. Semi-custom boots for under $800 that will last for many years to come is a pretty dang good deal in my book. I will certainly continue to order DeNiros in the future.