Rocky’s Ranger Series Boots Review by Kevin Gardner
A hard day in the field is a hard day indeed, and the worst of those days can be compounded dramatically when you’re footwear is less than adequate. I have seen many highly anticipated outdoor excursions reduced to pain and discomfort by the selection of the wrong boot for the environment. Equally so, it has been written and repeated by many before me that a key to any successful day afield , as it pertains to footwear that is, rests in having broken in the product well before the longs days need was upon you. It bears repeating that slowly breaking in any boot is the most valuable piece of advice available after the cash register spits out the receipt, but it all starts with a good selection in the first place.
Orange is not a color that I am wild about. Not only am I not wild about it I could pretty much do without it as a part of the color spectrum all together, but orange was the color of a reputed quality pair of boots I was admiring some gazillion outdoor foot miles ago in a sports shops clearance area. The sales associate relayed the story to me that these particular pair of boots, made by Rocky, were reduced to the “get-em out of here” section of the store because of an apparent bad dye lot on the leather. The boots were supposed to be brown, as even the description on the box had indicated, but even in the best of lighting they looked a dark shade of orange. The model of the boot was the Ranger series by Rocky. They actually fell in the category of work boot, but the design and weight seemed to have a Rocky Mountain trail boot written all over them.
Once I was able to get past the color of the boot (less than half price can get you past color I have found) and actually put them on, they sang of comfort, lightweight and durability. The feel of having the material in contact with every part of the foot and ankle, yet not feeling tight, sealed the deal on the sale. I too preach the word of not having a tight fitting boot that robs the circulation from the foot and contributes to cold feet, so this appropriate amount of pressure and just the right boot height to deliver the additional ankle support I was seeking met the criteria all the way around. The contact was there with the material, but not in a compromising/compressing way.
Spending as much time as I routinely did in the mountains at that period in my life, 70% being confined to trails, I had always been a fan of the traditional hiking boot design that came just to the ankle joint or slightly above. It was the 30% of the time off trail that was in some of the toughest and most inhospitable terrain that kept me wishing on occasion for better ankle support with a higher boot. The encounter of unexpected snow or times when a modest snowfall had occurred, the ankle high was a bit lacking as well, so the trade over to the 6” boot was a practical yet internally struggled decision.
Years later, and a conservative estimate of over 1,000 foot miles of hard and rugged terrain, hiking, guiding hunters, fishing trips and even a little actual traditional work, the sole of that orange pair of Ranger boots finally separated, but still held on till the end of a tough trip guiding. I had actually taken only minimal ridicule over the years about the color and that was largely from folks whom I had pointed the fact out to and of course my wife who had to hear me grumble about ‘orange ass boots’ while I laced them. She often said “if you hate that color so much, get some new boots” to which I would only respond with a penetrating glare and an estimate of her level of sanity. So much was she aware of how I felt about the performance of the Rock Ranger that when I sent her a link in an email where I had found a new pair of the 6” series, she never hesitated for a moment in replying with approval to buy. When something works this well, you stick with it.
Classified as a work boot, the Ranger is actually a cross-over boot in the Rocky lineup. Based on its design and features, it can stand the work day and transition to the field, hanging tough in the nastiest of terrain. While not a snow type boot or categorized in the “performance” category, this boot is truly a three season go-to product. Here are the specifications as per Rocky on the Ranger series;
Rocky Ranger waterproof work boot is made with a Gore-Tex waterproof construction. It is built durably waterproof and highly breathable, this fabric is a microporous membrane structure, which means no external moisture (rain, snow, sleet, or puddles) can penetrate the fabric, but internal moisture from perspiration can easily evaporate.
An additional key comfort feature of Rocky Ranger is its contoured removable insole that provides direct underfoot cushioning.
Another key feature of the Rocky Ranger work boot is its high quality oil resistant rubber Vibram outsole for durability along with its right angled heel breast to aid in ladder rung climbing circumstances such as encountered by railroads.
In addition to meeting the highest ASTM F2413-05 Impact & Compression standards, the Rocky Ranger also complies with its Electrical Hazard standards. This type of work boot is made with insulating bottoms providing secondary electrical hazard protection to those areas dealing with open circuits under dry conditions, but can also be worn in work areas requiring only basic protective toe work boots.
· Electrical Hazard
· Goodyear welt construction
· Guaranteed waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex fabric
· Steel Toe provides solid protection in the toe area
· Vibram® outsole
Note: This specification is relative to the Rocky Ranger stock #6224, which is actually an 8” version of the same boot described in the article.
It appears that evolution has been good to the Ranger line over the years within the area of materials advancement. While I am not sure all aspects of the technology from the boot I bought a few years ago are exactly the same as what is available today, those materials have only gotten better. The 6” Ranger is no longer available through the Rocky website directly; however the 8” is available and comes in a steel and non-steel toe version according to those on behalf of Rocky public relations. The Ranger is a staple in the Rocky line up and if you are contemplating a boot purchase in the near future, I would recommend giving the Ranger the opportunity to show you versatility, performance, support and value. These boots sell for around $170.00 full retail, so some better deals are out there on them if you are thrifty and do a bit of research.
I was able to find a 6” Range new-in-box for less than half of the retail price. I think this boot has performed over and above expectations with the needed ankle support, grip and toughness need by the professional hunting community. And if your job requires a work boot, the Rocky Ranger is a two-for-one you wouldn’t want to miss.
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