I am late with this review, but it has just been so busy with everything going on this time of year. But, the delay has given me some extra time to really get familiar with the new Black Diamond X2 boots. I mean, I tried these boots in just about every situation you can imagine.
They tout this new gel insert for comfort, so, I took off in them for a little run thinking they would be great for that.
They protect your feet from water and ice, so I used them during some SCUBA training.
I played basketball in them and even tried that new toe cap protection on the soccer field. I just wasn’t getting the feel for them.
Finally, I had the opportunity to wear them for some live burn training at the academy. During these days the instructors are on our feet all day. There is a rotation in and out of the burn tower, but we are active most of the day and these boots were on my feet the entire time, excluding lunch.
A short time after that, I had the opportunity to wear them at FDIC 2011 for the HOT class that I attended, Truck Company Essentials with Mike Ciampo and the Brotherhood Instructors. Needless to say, I was on my feet all day again.
Having the opportunity to really wear these boots has given me a very strong opinion about them. By far the best pair of structural firefighting boots I have every worn. And that is no BS!
I am going to give it to you straight here from a firefighters perspective.
First, I ordered a size that is the same as my running shoe. They offer three different widths, I am a medium and was more than pleased. The boot feels like a shoe or duty boot with just a little extra space. The boot doesn’t slip, but when I’m on my feet all day or in the summer, my feet swell a little bit and this boot allows for that or for an extra pair of socks in the winter.
Wearing them all day was like wearing a pair of duty boots. Sure, they are a bit larger and bulkier, but they don’t feel like a pair of bricks are tied to you. I was really surprised how light they were. I do a lot of running and I love light shoes, for what they are built for, firefighting, they are extremely easy to wear.
I really liked that they are easy to pull on and off. The large opening allows easy and fast donning and the canvass back does not irritate my calves when I am on my knees or bending. At first they were a bit stiff, but after breaking them in, they are more flexible than other boots I have worn.
Having done instruction for many years, being in any fire boot can be very hard on your feet. I have come away from very long days in my boots only to have really sore feet when it was all over. This makes the training difficult due to being uncomfortable. I can honestly say that these boots did not provide the same results.
Being on my feet for two 8 hour days had absolutely no adverse affects on my feet. They really got it right with the Ortholite Footbed. As I said, I am used to wearing running shoes on a regular basis and I like soft, light shoes. Now don’t get me wrong, these are not running shoes, but they do provide some comfort right where you stand.
I have two cons to admit to. One, the ankle protection is very stiff. Over time this started to loosen up, but at certain times the stiffness of the ankle can cause some irritation, especially on the outer part of the ankle.
The second con would be, like Fire Critic stated, it is made in China. I know in my department there is a strong desire and move to buy only American made products. At times this is difficult at best, not just for fire boots but for all our purchasing needs in regards to station wear and PPE. I don’t know if that is a consideration, but I think it would go a long way in the American fire service.
My general opinion is that these boots are well worth the price tag, which is reasonable. I will continue to wear these boots and would have no problem recommending them to friends and colleagues. However, I would not recommend them for running, soccer, basketball or SCUBA diving. But, they are great for fighting fires and operating on emergency scenes.
I also want to thank Black Diamond Boots for the opportunity to review their product.
As always, train hard, stay safe and wear good boots!