User Review: Esatto Men's Classic Hiker
Source: bought it new
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. I really hoped this was the solution to my problems - they certainly cost a lot.
Bottom line, I would not do it again. Don't know why there are good reviews here—maybe they have a lot of money and their feet feet are not really unusual in the first place, or they don't hike more than a couple miles, but I don't get it. I have zero confidence these guys know how to fit a boot, yet they charge 3x the going rate for store-bought!
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 with hopes of an upgraded review. 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. (I give him kudos for offering, and I really am thankful for their effort, though I have no way of knowing how much they had to do with the original entity that they are successor to. You acquire a company, you acquire their debts as well as their assets, you know.)
They measured and said they would rebuild the boots, though I expressed my doubts that anything less than starting over would fix the problems. They (Alex and Vitaliy) assured they could fix the problems; that they had to fix a lot of boots made by this last guy to rebuild the company's reputation (though it was indicated Vitaliy had made boots for the firm for some time under the previous ownership - not sure who really made my pair). 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. Gotta say I appreciate the effort but didn't like the tone of the message. At first impression, they really did do a lot of work to rebuild the boots, trimmed them up, they looked much nicer. There was more room in the lower heel, and, once again, I had high hopes - except for that pinching in the Achilles area (?). I'd have to put a couple miles on them and get back to them.
But they basically lengthened the lower heel and thus moved the problem up to the Achilles tendon area, now we're chasing the problem and now they're worse than ever (pinched Achilles tendon turned out to be really bad, probably crippling in the long run per expert advice). Unwearable for any length of time, more pain.
When I wrote Alex and told him the bad news he never responded (sent pictures of my feet after a day of wearing around the office). No response. Though this is a little subjective, I would guess they wrote me off and hoped they'd never hear from me again. I had hoped (and, so did Alex, I'm sure!) that I would be able to update their rating here- I would have liked nothing better. Unfortunately, I have to say what a waste of $800 and years of pain trying the "fixes" that only made things worse. Alex is a young guy, and, from someone with 25+ years in customer service for successful firms, I only hope he will understand that it does no good to promise what cannot be delivered.
To Alex: it also cost me a lot of money, also scar tissue, blood, time, etc. Trips to the Enchantments and Robin Lakes where I was physically unable to carry on due to messed up feet caused by these boots! I'm not a rich man, just one with hard-to-fit, now permanently scarred feet. Five years wasted with expensive experimentation for boots that now have the propensity to cause permanent, crippling damage. Seems you might be more concerned with the money, time it cost to fix them, and good reviews, than fixing the problem, whatever it takes, including making new boots from scratch, which might have been cheaper for you. End of story, you did not fix the problem, only created new, worse ones.
I don't wish to be rude to Alex, but I don't want someone else to go through this. My advice: If you buy from these guys (I don't recommend it if you have unusual feet and actually put hard miles on your boots) and the boots don't fit right the first time, do not waste valuable time and scar tissue having them try to fix it like I did. Demand they remake them from scratch or refund your money right away. I have 0 confidence they know how to fix a boot for an unusual foot. You're better off with the technology of a modern boot with the guidance (and fitting ability) of a good boot-fitter, in my opinion after this experience.
If you're a normal (not rich) guy that hikes and backpacks with feet that are hard to fit, look elsewhere.
Where to Buy
The Esatto Men's Classic Hiker is not available from the stores we monitor.
You may be able to find it new or used at one of these sites:
Or you may want to check for a dealer list or direct sales on the Esatto website.
Retailers: Do you sell this product? List your site here.