The Smart Prepper

Life is hard, it's harder if you're stupid – John Wayne


October 08, 2015

Best Snowboots For Winter

Being outside in the winter

South Dakota snow - need snowbootsThere are so many fun activities to do in the winter. I grew up in an old creaky house located in small town South Dakota. Some years we had several feet of snowfall. As a kid this is the greatest thing that can happen because it usually means having school closures due to the adverse weather. My brothers and I would often go sledding down giant hills of snow out in a parking lot or build some awesome snow fort by digging out holes in the already five feet of snow in our yard. My parents naturally worried about us going outside because the weather can get very cold and snow is just water – melt it in your shoes for example and you can get sick fast. They didn’t prohibit us from going outside by any means, but rather wanted us to be protected. We would always  have good quality waterproof snowboots, some type of jumper or snow pants to go with them, a warm duck down coat, and excellent gloves and head gear. I have gone outside in the winter with just my tennis shoes when I had to shovel the sidewalk. The snow accumulated next to my ankles and began to melt. This made my feet all wet and uncomfortable because the heat from my feet left faster with my feet being wet rather than dry. Dry feet equals warmer – remember that!

My dad is a great man. He loves to be prepared. In South Dakota you never know if you will get stuck in your car during a blizzard on the way to the nearest grocery store (the nearest grocery store at the time was over 20 miles from our house). We would always have winter survival kits in our cars. In this process my father also bought some of the most ridiculous looking winter snowboots. My brothers and I tease him to this day for his eccentric tastes. Be that as it may my dad knew what to look for in boots. Looking ridiculous is a price well worth it if the alternative is having frost bitten toes and having to have them amputated. Any of the snowboots I buy today follow the standard my dad has taught me. You need your boots to be warm, prevent snow from getting inside, and keep you dry from water on the outside.

 

Best snowboots for winter

When looking for a pair of snowboots there are several attributes that need to be taken into consideration. The following is a list my dad has taught me to keep in mind and then a couple of boots that I either have a pair, come highly recommended, or remind me of my dad.

  • Materials – It is difficult to determine the exact materials. If part is a polymer, it may be urethane, rubber, vinyl, or other such material. I do notice that if the part that actually touches the ground is a little flexible does help for traction. Really hard bottoms of boots can slip easier out from underneath you. Totally enclosed waterproof material keeps water out, yet will also keep sweat in. Can air circulate while walking? Some high tech materials like gortec can breathe somewhat and that can help. Your feet will be cold if the get wet from the inside also.
  • Construction –  Is the boot sewn, glued, or a combo of both. Today you cannot find any that do not use adhesive. They work. I have seen some of the adhesive’s hold an engine to a ceiling. Ice is a different animal all together. I have found that if the bottom is labeled slip resistant it does help, Lugs on the bottom may or may not help on ice. I have a couple pair of that slip over my boots that have ice spikes or cleats on them. It is good to have the lugs at angles and to have a little space between them, Think of snow tires.
  • Insulation – The thing I look for is how much insulation the boot has, especially below and above your actual foot area. Some cheap boots will give you foam at the top of the boot where you put your foot in but have just a thin layer around your foot, This will be cold. A leather upper works. Also think of buying a pair  thick socks (usually wool). I like to wear a liner sock over a wool one as the inner liner (usually made of part wool and synthetic and is thin) will wick away sweat away from your skin.
  • Comfort – This is determined on a case by case basis. You need to make sure the boots are comfortable for you.
  • Intent – There are two main types of snowboots. The first type you use as a cover over other shoes or boots.  They don’t have a great amount of insulation. The second type is a standard snowboot that you use by themselves.
  • Tread –  Tread is needed to keep traction in snow. Having lugs that will push down harder to interlock helps in snow.
  • Price – What are my other options (other snow quality shoes available) etc. Remember you do pay for what you get. Cheaper price can often mean cheaper quality materials.

 

October 07, 2015

Cheap Cowgirl Boots

Types of cowgirl boots.

Just like arguing over ford versus chevy, picking the right brand is something you have to do personally. Trying on boots is the only way you will know what style and fit you like and don’t like. In general cowgirl boots are an excellent type of shoe to have around your house. Leather boots are very durable especially if you take care of them. The best thing you can do for your boots is put Neatsfoot Oil on them. I have an uncle who spent his career as a power linemen. He often had very expensive leather boots and he wanted to make them last. He would periodically rub his boots down with the Neatsfoot Oil and then let them dry over night. Every time my uncle had to drudge through the snow or rain his boots would take a beating and again he would apply the oil. I asked him how much he think he extended the life of the boots by this one simple thing and he told me that his boots lasted three to five times what they would have done normally.  One of the benefits of having boots over a regular pair of sneakers or tennis shoes is the hard bottom helps them last longer if you are often having to hike over rocks or rough terrain. There are two main categories for cowgirl boots, western (or classic) and roper. The classic style have at least an inch heal and a cowgirl classic style will have a slightly larger heal than a cowboy’s boots. Classic cowgirl boots are taller than the roper style and classic boots tend to have a pointer toe than the roper cowgirl boots. In either of these two categories there are about four main brands – Justin, Roper, Ariat, and Tony Lama. These boots can go anywhere from $100 to $5000 for a pair. Some of them will last your lifetime. Picking a brand of shoe is like picking jeans over khakis. You just need to learn what your style is and embrace it.

Good quality cheap cowgirl boots

With everything you buy, you pay for what you get. However you don’t have to buy the main brand boots to look great. The following list is composed of very highly rated and yet still cheap cowgirl boots. See a style you like? Go ahead and check them out for yourself. Remember that you really should try on the shoes on before you purchase. If you absolutely know your size, you have read the reviews, and know that they are pretty spot on for the size then go ahead and just purchase the pair. Starting around $30 you really can’t go wrong.