Mini-Review: TuffRider Sport Dress boots

Normally I don’t like to review things until I’ve had it long enough to know how a little more more about durability, but I’ve had a lot of people ask me about these boots since Dover has them on sale right now for $99. They’ve been on sale for a while but it seems like supplies are starting to dwindle, so I’ll do my best to give you my first impressions now and then come back around later and comment on how they hold up over time. Sizes at Dover are becoming limited… there are some on Amazon as well but starting at more like $130.

There’s a pretty long thread on COTH about these boots, and from reading through it I saw that most people recommended ordering a half size larger than normal. I’m glad I saw that, because normally I wear an 8, so for these I ordered an 8 1/2 and they’re barely big enough. I wouldn’t be able to wear thick socks, but they work with thin or regular thickness. I also think they’ll stretch out a little bit more in the foot (they have a little already) and give me a bit more room. But – I definitely recommend to order a half to full size larger than you normally wear.

The calf size is more true. Several people on COTH said they run huge, and while I do think they’re a bit generous, there’s also a lot of elastic on these (a front panel AND a back panel). So, sure you can get a smaller size and they will zip up just fine, but you’ll also be putting a lot more pressure on the elastic – which IMO is a bit thin and flimsy. For the sake of longevity, I personally wouldn’t want to do that. I measure spot on what the size chart says for Regular width, so that’s what I got, and it zips up perfectly with very little stress on the elastic. When I first got them they looked a bit big in the ankle but once I rode in them and they molded to my legs, that cankle look went away.

Some people really hate the look of the elastic running of the front… I personally don’t mind. If these were my show boots I might hate it (especially if I did the hunters) but for schooling I don’t think it makes any difference. It’s a unique feature that I haven’t seen before on other boots, and we all know how much I like innovation, so for that I give them props. I also really like the design around the instep – mine is a bit high so a lot of dress boots are uncomfortably tight across that area, but the design of these seems to really take the pressure off the top of the foot.

These boots have a few other features that make them a little different as well. The first one you notice, as you’re putting them on, is a padded tongue that goes between the back of your ankle and the zipper. This is a constant problem area for me so I really appreciate this feature, and so far it has worked great. These boots are extremely comfortable to wear. I even mucked stalls, fed, and did waters last night in them because they were the most comfortable shoes I had with me.

Another interesting feature, which is very useful albiet a bit of a PITA, is the zipper keeper. I really have no idea what it’s actually called, but that’s what I’m calling it. On the strap that runs across the back of the knee and snaps to the other side, there are two layers of strap. The bottom one has a little rectangular hole in the leather part to thread the zipper through so that it stays put while you’re riding. These boots are so thin and soft that if you don’t secure the zipper through it’s keeper, they tend to come unzipped as you’re riding. So to prevent that, you stick the zipper through it’s little rectangular hole…

Pull the bottom strap across and lay the zipper down flat…

Then snap the top strap over it to keep everything in place.
Yes, that’s an annoying step. No, it’s not quite as annoying as I thought it’d be at first. Once you do if a few times it gets pretty simple. Unless you forget to snap your boots up before you put your gloves on, then it is suddenly damn near impossible to stick the zipper in that little hole and you hate it. So… don’t do that.

Durability wise, like I said these are very thin and soft (think Parlanti thin) so I don’t expect to get many years of life out of them. Then again, they were $99. Overall a good buy for schooling boots, and I’m pleased with the purchase so far.

Cons:

– I hate the rounded toe. Really hate. A bit of a square would make such a big difference and give these a much more elegant look.

– There are no height options, so if you’re very short or very tall, these might not work. I’m pretty average size (5’5″) so they work well for me, although if I’m being picky I’d like another half inch of height.

– The slight annoyance factor of the zipper keeper. Granted, it’s a pretty smart way to solve a zipper problem, and it shows attention to detail in the design, but it’s still kind of annoying.

– The thin soft leather is going to make these less durable than other boots.

– The elastic is a bit flimsy. If you put a lot of stress on it, I wouldn’t expect it to last long. The quality of the materials in general isn’t high end (obviously, given the price point) but I don’t see any issues right off the bat, or obvious construction flaws.

Pros:

– The price. $99 for a pair of tall boots? Sign me up.

– While I said that being soft and thin is a con, I also think it’s a pro. That’s why these boots required absolutely zero break in time. The feel is fantastic.

– I really think these have a very well thought out design. That little padded tongue in the back of the ankle is pure genius. I want that in ALL my boots. Ditto how the instep is cut.

– Comfort. I could wear them all day every day. The fact that I chose to do barn chores in them instead of tennis shoes speaks volumes.

– They look nice. The fact that they mold to your leg makes them really flattering on just about anyone.

Basically, if you buy these looking for a nice-looking schooling boot that is very easy on the budget and comfortable to wear, you’ll be pleased. If you buy them thinking you’re getting a nice show boot, or something hard-knocking that will last forever, you’ll be disappointed. That said, if they changed to a square toe and upped the quality of the materials a bit, I’d buy another pair to show in and ditch the Monacos in a heartbeat.

17 thoughts on “Mini-Review: TuffRider Sport Dress boots

  1. I do prefer the TuffRider Baroque tall boots…Im in the UK and they seem to be better quality leather and only took a day to wear in…..they fi well and they do them in larger sizes for us boot wearing males…x

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  2. Really jealous now, Dover doesn’t have them in my size! I’ve been looking for a good pair of leather boots to school in so I don’t have to keep using my show boots.

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  3. I’ve actually wondered if I could cut the zipper cover snap thingy to make a hole for the zipper pull on my Ariats, so that design is pure genius to me. I mean I love when I realize my neon yellow donkey socks have been on display for the last half of my lesson, but seriously the zippers need to stay up.

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  4. damn it i can see money oozing out of my account. I love my tredsteps donatellos but dont use them for every day riding due to the fantastic steal i got on them last year at the Dover tent sale (it is coming up again next weekend in Hockessin Yay! 🙂 for 100 bucks. I love them and they fit like custom but i would love to have some boots to ride in to stop the half chap/jodphur habit.

    HMMMM even at 130 they are probably worth it..off to google 🙂

    thanks again Tack ho!

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