Esatto Classic Hiker
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $599
Alex made me a pair of dress shows that fit my feet, and they are my favorite shoes.
They fit me perfectly and the sole is just the way I like them, which is unusually thin. That's been impossible for me to find because my shoe preferences are admittedly unusual. But Esatto is the first place I'll go the next time I need a pair of shoes. The material and the craftsmanship are also just terrific.
Price Paid: $800
After years of foot pain and blackened toenails from off-the-shelf boots not made for my wide-toe and narrow-heel feet, I reluctantly laid out the 800 bucks for custom boots after being assured that they could be built to withstand my usage: rugged trail often with 50 pounds of gear and hopefully stiff enough to attach some crampons for the occasional snowfield traverse when necessary.
Well, they were definitely stout — very heavy (heavier than my Koflach double-plastic mountaineering boots) — overbuilt, probably — and not pretty. However, I didn't buy these for fashion; there was a luxurious amount of room in the toebox for once and I had high hopes.
The problem — even after substantial break-in — was not in the toe area with this pair. These boots turned my heels to bloody hamburger every time after about 4 miles of moderately steep terrain. I used bandaids, moleskin, duct tape, you name it. Alleviated but never cured.
I sent them back to David twice after marking the problem areas per instruction (each time using them for over a full season, letting my heels heal and trying again). Each time it's taken 3 or 4 months to get them back from Esatto. The problem has not been resolved. I even had an eyelet pop out of the upper and had to be replaced (on a boot that costs this much??).
I'm somewhat embarrassed to say this is the most expensive footwear mistake I've ever made. $800 got me two years of painful experimentation and scar tissue. Life's too short and these boots are too expensive.
In one phone conversation, David Smith said (despite the careful measurements) the heel transition is basically "eyeballed" in these custom boots. David has been a nice guy, don't get me wrong, but this has gone on way too long without resolution and I just cannot recommend these boots for any serious hiker/backpacker with problem feet like mine.
(Finally found a bootfitter at REI with similar feet to mine who pointed me to a pair of Zamberlan Civettas. Buying a size larger than usual and with some expert stretching in the right areas I finally got a boot that fits better than anything else I've used for well under 300 bucks. Went back and bought another pair as soon as I could and hopefully will not have to go through this again soon.)
The "new owner" Alex saw this review and asked me to give them another shot. I said only if I could be measured in person, so I drove the couple hundred miles to their place, which is an outbuilding next to Vitaliy's (the guy who actually makes the boots, some relative to Alex) house where apparently they upholster car seats or something too.
They measured and said they would rebuild the boots and assured they would fix the problem; that they had to fix a lot of boots made by this last guy to rebuild the company's reputation. After a month or so they sent them back to me. Alex made sure to let me know it "cost him a lot of money to fix" them. There was more room in the lower heel but they basically lengthened the lower heel and moved the problem up to the Achilles tendon area and now they're worse than ever (pinched Achilles tendon is not a good thing). Unwearable for any length of time, same story, more pain.
When I wrote Alex and told him the bad news he never responded. I guess they wrote me off and hope they never hear from me again. I had hoped (and, I bet, so did Alex!) to be able to update this to a review of excellent. Unfortunately, I have to say what a waste of $800 and years of pain trying their "fixes". (Can't help but suspect that Vitaliy was the one who built these f****ed up boots in the first place.) Hey, Alex, it cost me a lot of money, also scar tissue, blood, time, etc. I'm not a rich man, just one with hard-to-fit feet.
My advice: If you buy from these guys (I don't recommend it, especially if you have unusual feet) and the boots don't fit right the first time, do not waste valuable time and scar tissue having them try to fix it. Tell them to remake them from scratch or refund your money right away. I have 0 confidence they know how to make or fix a boot for an unusual foot.
BTW, certain reviews here look like they were posted by those with an interest. Just sayin'.
Price Paid: $899 boots
For years I have suffered from foot and ankle pain. After a particularly painful trek across the Southern Alps of New Zealand I finally ordered a pair of your hiking boots.
The results were nothing short of phenomenal! Not only was my foot and ankle pain gone but the boots required almost no break-in, amazing. I should have done this years ago.
Recently I ordered a pair of your Rugged Walkers. I like them so much that I am ordering another pair to use as my every day shoe. Not only do the shoes fit perfectly, the workmanship is first rate.
You certainly have my vote. Keep up the good work!
Use: rough trails, rough bushwhacking
Break-in Period: 2-3 months!
I've had my Esatto boots for two summers now and I can't say enough good things about them!
After years of hiking long distances with my toes pinched from boots that were sold as 'Wide' (HA!!!), I broke down and committed the money to these handmade boots, hoping that finally I would not be in pain after a hike.
When they arrived, I admit I had to laugh. My feet are very short and very wide — especially at the toe box, so the boots, though handsome, look like Hobbit Boots. I put them on and fell in love. At last, all of my toes had room. My feet could move in a natural motion.
These boots are not of the 'fast and light' variety. They are tough, rugged, durable and, the only drawback, a bit heavy. They actually took a couple of months of hiking to truly break in and move due to their dense, solid sole. But, if you are a hard core hiker, with feet that don't fit in store bought boots, please consider taking the plunge and purchasing from these guys.
I hike 'off trail' in Alaska. Through willow and alder, onto scree and talus, boulder fields, sharp granite...and these boots support my feet in an unhindered fashion. No wear on the soles yet, the leather remains water resistant even in Alaska's rainy wet hiking conditions.
I ripped one of the eyelets out bushwhacking through alder, sent them back for a repair. The guys fixed them with no questions or problems and sent them back quickly with no charge.
Bottom line: Excellent company, wonderful workmanship, truly the best thing you could ever do for your feet if you love to hike and climb.
I'm only giving a 4.5 because they ARE heavy compared to store bought boots. I'll never be without them.
Use: short trail hikes to cross country with heavy pack
Break-in Period: 1 month ( ? )
Price Paid: Too much
After many successful years of Vasque and Salomon hiking boots, I tried some Garmont boots which did not fare well with my foot. So feeling like .. "what the heck" I decided to purchase some "custom made boots."
Short version ... and a "good" break-in period, one short trip (12 miles over a few days), and two long trips (around 40 miles each over 5 days) I continue to get both heal and ball of foot blisters.
I've called Esatto (never do get a live person just have to leave a message) and wrote an e-mail.
The boots are pretty!! However, either something went amiss in the measuring process or (which I think is the case) they are only "semi custom," which means, in my mind, if you have different measurements on each foot, he can furnish you different sizing for the respective feet.
However, the left foot boot was (again) either built wrong or just a generic boot that did not fit.
As I cannot get any response out of Esatto, I may just send the boots back to him and see what happens. And, in the meantime, I've ordered a pair of Lowa Baffins to try out.
FEBRUARY 28, 2008 UPDATE:
This is an update to my earlier post.
A potential Essatto customer read my post and mentioned it to the owner.
The good news is that immediately after that conversation, and the owner's reading of my post, I received both an e-mail and a voice mail asking that I contact him so that he could fix the boot. We subsequently talked and I am returning them so that he can try and rectify the fit.
I will keep you all posted as to the outcome. In the meantime, it is great to know the benefits (and power) of the Trailspace web site .. !!
MAY 22, 2008 UPDATE:
David (the owner) completely reworked the boots, even changed the sole out .. at no charge.. And, was (obviously) very interested in trying to make me a "Happy Customer".
I rec'd the boots the other day ... new sole / polished / and all.
The true test will come next month when I take my first "long" hike.
Update: July 1, 2008
Update to my first posting:
Again, Escatto responded to this posting and made some mods to the boots to fix my problems. Hopefully, I'll be able to put 5 stars on these boots .. at the end of August.
Test # 2 and 3 completed:
2) Day hike with @ 10 lbs load . 16 miles R/T .. Excellent !!!!
3) 4 day Hike .. with @ 50lbs load (one day layover) Again .. Excellent!!!
So, at the risk of jinxing your fixes … So far .. perfect!
Next BIG / ultimate test .. 7 day 50 mile PCT hike with @ 55 lbs .. If they hold up on this trip .. WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks again for the mods .. sure seem to be working well for me
Where to Buy
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