You know, the longer I write these equipment reviews the more I have to challenge my own restrictions. I've never been a fan of side-zip boots - but a previous pair I was sent to test changed my mind. I've never been a fan of 6" boots... but now I've gotten a pair from Altama and felt duty bound to wear test them so that I could report on them. I put them on the first day fully expecting to hate them simply because I'd never liked 6" boots. Well, my mind has been changed a bit. I still prefer 8" boots but I was pretty happy with these Ortho-Tac X6 boots. Here's why.
First you need to understand that I hadn't requested these boots. When I talked with the Altama rep at SHOT Show we had looked at the Panamoc shoes for me to review. Sure, we talked about boots but anything of a 6" height - due to my pre-existing prejudices - wasn't even discussed. So my first thought when I got the box from Altama was, "Hmmm... wonder what this is?" Then I opened it and found these 6" boots and cringed. My prejudices were still in control. But, this is what I do so the next day I was lacing them on. That first day I wore them around the house and out to do simple chores. They were comfortable enough that the following weekend I decided to wear them on a short hike (about five miles in a mixed dirt / field / sand terrain.
After wearing them for the hike I assessed how my feet felt and had to admit to myself that these 6" boots were not only not bad but they'd done a good job of supporting and protecting my feet while providing adequate support to my ankles. Then I had to have the debate with myself: Was an 8" boot height really necessary? (Answer was no on that one) Why did I like 8" boots so much? (Answer was because that was what I'd always worn) So was there anything wrong with 6" boots or these in particular? No matter how much I thought about it, attempting to find a complaint, I couldn't. When I decided that I'd keep them for future wear I sat down to polish them. Like all new boots they took a healthy layer of Kiwi to bring up but they accepted and have held the shine pretty well. I'm debating the challenge of spit-shining them but haven't gone there yet.
So, subjectively I was pleased with them. Objectively, how did they compare? Into the published material I dove.
The Ortho-TacX 6" is part of the Ortho-TacX family of boots. Also available are the:
- Black Ortho-TacX 8"
- Black side-zip Ortho-TacX 8"
- Black Waterproof Ortho-TacX 8"
- Tan Desert Ortho-TacX 8"
According to the published material the sole pattern is "Vibram Ananasi". When I researched that I got more information about how the sole is constructed then the pattern. In fact, there appears to be more than one Vibram Ananasi pattern. The key points about such soles are that they offer both sole and side support to the foot and the outsole sheds dirt and mud easily.
The upper is primarily leather with some mesh vented areas on either side. The lining is supposed to wick away moisture and be "breathable". The outsole is non-marking as well as slip, oil and acid resistant. Now, it can be difficult to find oily surfaces or acid-covered surfaces, so testing that resistance is difficult at best. The soles proved not to be slippery on wet smooth pavement - which many boots soles will skate on. The non-marking part matters quite a bit if you find yourself on floors that need to be waxed and kept shiny (sound like any place you're familiar with?). I couldn't get these boots to mark my kitchen floor no matter how hard I tried (and I'm thankful my wife didn't catch me trying).
So, while I went into this wear test prejdiced against 6" boots I ended up happy with them and glad to be putting them into my boot wardrobe. MSRP is $129.99 but some quick searching will find them for you at a slightly lower price. If you like 6" boots, then these are an excellent choice. If you don't... suck it up and try out a pair. You might end up as surprised as I was.