Boots can get expensive. American made boots can get REALLY expensive!
But right now, the American Bates Model E29502 RAT boot is going for an unheard of price.
Tricked out with the latest technology, the non-intimidating military grade hot weather style is made with high end material and American workmanship…
AND with a coupon code at the right retailer, people are scoring a pair (or ten…) between $69 and $35 shipped.
What’s the catch?
Yes, there is one. Actually two.
Originally designed for the Marines in exceedingly challenging terrain and environments of Afghanistan, the USMC “RAT” stands for Rugged All Terrain Mountain Combat Boot.
Somewhere along the line, these boots suffered from quality control issues that lost Bates its contract with USMC to Danner. But not before massive quantities of first-quality boots were apparently manufactured and made their way to the civilian market, to which we can owe this pleasant surprise.
In short: USMC’s designer and/or manufacturer challenge is our gain.
Before we get to the other “con” lets talk features.
Keep in mind, $35 will hardly get you a pair of Chinese Nikes at K-mart. These boots do NOT remotely belong in the same category. The laundry list of serious design elements one can, (and should) pay for are worth a lot… were not the supply of the boots so outrageously high compared to demand.
Aside from the main “special feature,” (which would be the price), the boot boasts a boatload of valuable design elements.
Specifically the Bates E29502 offers:
Premium full-grain leather uppers, topped with breathable, tear-resistant 1,000-denier nylon,
Vibram® 360 outsole with advanced lug design with Dri Ice™ technology to remain flexible and traction-ready even in extreme cold
Polyurethane-coated leather reinforcing over heel and toe
Speed-lace system for quick, secure fit
Highly durable moisture-wicking lining
Quick-draining medial vent holes
Fiberglass shank for solid support and protection
MADE IN THE USA.
The Fit, Feel & Finish (A Pro/Con Review by Mr. Quality):
So honestly how do they feel?
Good at first, for a while anyway…
Clearly these are made for a man on the go who needs lightweight, yet durable support. They feel almost like tennis shoes as far as weight, yet are strong and protective. The cushion is great.
While I generally prefer a lower top, I can appreciate the extra protection that this tall boot offers.
The fit is true to size.
Some may wonder why the tongue is so large. It accommodates blousing for soldiers. For ordinary wear however, it doesn’t make a difference. I don’t notice the “extra” tongue, as the soft leather folds right up and is quite comfortable.
The materials have held up and we didn’t experience any “falling apart” issues at all.
When we tested ours they did rub my heel, requiring moleskin (but that’s a problem I have with most boots).
Over time they became increasingly uncomfortable and I quit wearing them (in favor of some Rockies).
But many people have had the opposite experience, as evidenced by many positive reviews from repeat buyers online.*
NOTE: As you shop, be suspicious of any E29502 labeled “seconds,” “second quality” or “D” for “defective,” (noted in the number E29502D), any first quality boots (E29502A) are supposed to be just that: first quality Bates boots. Regardless of the contract, the Bates boots Bates did right, should be fine.
Ours were E2950A, and as I said, they never hinted at falling apart.
Do I Really Need A Combat Boot?
Whatever the use, the qualities that make a good boot good are almost universally shared.
These just happen to have more “high tech” features than a typical work boot, all while costing 1/8 to 1/2 as much.
Ordinary sneakers wear out (especially on concrete) but boots tend to last, and last. Toe caps and upper offer superior protection, and when boots come as light-weight and breathable as a tennis shoe, the trade-off unquestionably lands in favor of a boot.
Work, play, prep. Whatever you keep them for, boots are the way to go.
Now, while these may not have worked out for me, they were an undeniably good value price-wise.
Under a pair of slacks or jeans these tactical boots actually looked like classy shoes as well, making them great for casual outings (as long as they aren’t caked with mud and grease…).
Take them out for a Walmart run or a visit to the in-laws… or a less treacherous week long survivalist journey in the wilds of Alaska…
Wearing this kind of gear in public may cause you to feel as if you’re ready for an expedition, and you are. But to the average city Joe and Jill walking by you wont really look like it.
Covered with a pant, no one will have any idea what’s strapped to your feet. The Bates boots look just nice ordinary tan suede shoes.
No strange rangers here.
The color is also great for hiding dirt.
While these didn’t quite work for my husband’s feet, and over the long run became very irritating in spots, for many people they appear to feel great, and at $35 we can hardly complain.
We’ve spent cringe-worthy sums of money on boots over the years. When an American product surfaces for this price, its nice to be able to stock up for rotation, especially if its a good fit for your foot. Which is why we’re writing about it now, for those of you to whom that would apply.
Thousands of Bates’ USMC RAT boots were produced, and thousands can be bought. But once they’re gone, that’s it. $300 boots priced at $35 wont last.
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