After spending over two weeks stuck in customs, my Pioneer boots finally showed up on Monday!
Technically these are semi-custom. All Pioneer boots are made to order, but I am pretty average size and was able to order a size combination from their standard size chart – 39 foot, A height (tall), +4 calf (the biggest calf option they offer in stock sizing, so if you need bigger they become full custom). I went off of their size chart and my own measurements, hoping they were both right.
I chose to order from Equizone, since a) they had one of the best prices b) I’ve ordered other things from them in the past and had good experiences. They’re based in Germany, so it was maybe a little bit riskier if they weren’t right, but they also do a TON of these boots and I’ve yet to hear anything negative about the company. The model I liked most, the Atena, came with a patent leather top, which I don’t really care for. I emailed to ask about other options for the top and their customer service people were helpful in narrowing down my options and giving me the price differences for each. I will say, there aren’t any good swatches for all the Pioneer options online. They have little ones that are hard to see, so I did the best I could to scour the internet for pictures but ultimately just had to go with my gut and hope it all looked good together. In the end I decided to go with the darker brown leather, black sole, and brown lace top. The final price was 365 Euro all in, since Equizone has free shipping on purchases over 270 Euro.
My order went in on April 10th, and my boots left Germany on their way to me on May 14th. Considering they had to submit to order to Pioneer, then the boots had to be made and shipped from Italy to Germany, then prepared to be forwarded to me, I thought the turnaround time was very quick. The shipping from Germany to my door took almost as long as making the boots did, thanks to customs.
I chose the Atena because they were a soft, close-fitting dress boot. I like the clean slim look and those seemed to fit the bill. The outside panel was said to be made in “stretch leather”, which I didn’t really fully understand until I got them. The outside panel is literally elasticized leather. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
I’m pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of the boot. For the price I kind of expected a lower end leather, and while they aren’t as nice as my Tuccis (which, to be fair, cost 3x as much), they’re pretty darn nice. Nicer than the similarly priced Ariats or Ego7, for sure. They seem well-made, with some nice details like a double position spur rest and a rear zipper guard at the ankle. The zipper is a little bit small, and there’s no tab on the zipper pulls, so zipping them up the first time was a little challenging. If they were super tight I would probably have concerns about the longevity of the zipper.
The foot feels a touch smaller than my Tuccis which are the same size, so if you’re in between sizes I might size up in the foot. The calf and height seem totally spot on with the size chart, and fit perfectly. Like for real, they fit like custom. That outer elastic panel definitely helps with that, it molds the whole thing to my leg. The first zip was a little difficult, and I wasn’t able to get them all the way up until the ankle broke in a bit, but once they did it was like magic. For new boots they’re quite comfortable, no rubs or blisters anywhere despite lots of walking.
Aside from that outer stretch panel the rest of the boot is a regular leather, not super thin but not super thick. I’m optimistic that they will wear pretty well, but we’ll see over time. Overall I’m super pleased with the ordering process and how the boots turned out, especially for the price. So far they’ve exceeded expectations. Pioneer has about a bajillion different boot and leather and color options and you can customize literally anything you can imagine. Considering how affordable these things are, this could be the beginning of something dangerous…