By Mike Kirby
Published Tuesday, September 18, 2012
| From the November 2012 Issue of FireRescue
When you hear the words “station boot,” many people probably think of the standard military-style, lace-up boot—and many people prefer that style over anything else. But I recently tested the Haix Airpower R5 slip-on station boot and discovered that it fit and performed just as well—if not better than—your standard lace-up station boot.
Right away, I noticed the Airpower R5 had a sturdy build with a smooth design, and it had some weight to it due in part to its steel-toe construction. Haix boasts its “German engineering” approach to all of its products, hence, perhaps, my first impression that it was an extremely durable boot. But the R5 also comes with a high-quality, slip-resistant sole and Sun Reflect leather, which adds to its sleek look and helps prevent overheating of the feet when worn in high temperatures or hot weather.
When trying on the boot for the first time, I noticed that it features elastic side gores for easy donning and doffing. The foot opening was also large enough to easily slip the boot on and off, yet your foot doesn’t slip out once the boot is on your foot. The large pull loop seemed very sturdy; it doesn’t seem as if it can be torn off or pulled off easily. Basically, it’s the perfect place to grab the boot and hoist it up in a hurry, which is especially important during a rapid transition from your uniform to your structural PPE or getting out of bed in the middle of the night. Although it’s a minor issue, I did notice that with the loop positioned on the back of the boot, my pant leg seemed to get caught on it and bunch up frequently. This may be different for different wearers, of course, depending on pant length.
I also noticed that the R5 was a bit heavy and stiff at first, but both of those observations changed after wearing them for a short amount of time. The boot loosened up quickly, which made it very comfortable.
Another element that added to the comfort level: The boot hits just above the ankle, so Haix constructed a padded upper area inside the boot to prevent abrasion or uncomfortable rubbing on the lower leg—a key detail for people who wear their boots all day and require a certain amount of flexibility in their footwear.
To test the Airpower R5, I wore them during shift work (station duties, inspection duties, preplanning, EMS response and training) for a few days in a row, in varying weather temperatures and conditions, and in a variety of routine situations encountered around the station. After wearing them a couple of times, I discovered that they do take a few days to wear in. My feet were sore at first, because of the newness of the boot, but as the boot relaxed and the leather stretched a bit, the soreness went away.
The boots are also flexible, water-resistant and held up well to exposure to water, dirt and plenty of wear. Plus, the size I ordered fit well, proving that their sizes run true to actual shoe size.
Overall, the Airpower R5 is an ideal station boot because it’s not only water-repellant, enabling me to wear them comfortably all day long without changing socks, but also because of their pull-on design, which makes it extremely easy when transitioning from station wear to PPE, and when getting out of bed multiple times in the middle of the night.
Sidebar 1: Haix Airpower R5 Station Boot
- Durable, sturdy design
- High-quality leather keeps feet cool
- Extremely easy to don and doff
- Padded upper area to prevent abrasion
- Good grip and feel when walking
- Initially stiff, but break in with wear
Haix North America
2320 Fortune Dr., Suite 120
Lexington, KY 40509
Tel: 859/281-0111; 866/344-HAIX
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