it’s that time of year again…

…The time of the year to revive your favourite pair of fall/winter boots, or for those with a little saved up this year, go out and buy a new pair!

As they did last year, Cougar teamed up with 50 bloggers to try out some of their new styles.  Last year, I reviewed a pair of red rain boots that I didn’t really love.  I never did update my post about those boots, but Cougar was nice enough to send me a different pair – Regal rain boots (which are still for sale this year!)

Cougar Rain Boots in Regal (stock photo)

I’ve been wearing them a LOT – rain boots are a HEAVEN SEND for city dwellers.  They were especially useful during those crazy spring slush/hail/rain storms in Montreal, but I’ve worn them around in Toronto as well.  The only downside to them were that they were incredibly heavyMy pace was considerably slower in those boots, and after about 5 minutes, my ankles and lower shins would hurt from having to support the weight of the heavy rubber soles.

So when Cougar contacted me again this year, I was skeptical – one pair of heavy boots is enough for me – but intrigued by their new styles.  Cougar prides themselves on creating boots that keep your feet dry and warm, but don’t compromise on style.

Portico Brown (stock photo)

This year I opted for the Portico boots in brown. [Random tidbit: Portico refers to “a structure consisting of a roof supported by columns at regular intervals, typically attached as a porch to a building.”]

They seemed like a good combo between the warmth I need during the fall and the protection I need in the winter.  They’re suitable in the rain, but not strictly rain boots.

When they arrived, I was pleasantly surprised! The construction of the boots was impressive (unlike the red boots from last year!) and I liked that despite having a similar rubber sole to the Regal rain boots, the Portico boots were much lighter weight and less of a burden on my wimpy ankles.

The outer material of the Portico model are suede for the upper body and “montana” leather (I have no clue that means) for the foot.  The stock image from the company site makes it seem like the leather foot is a much lighter shade than the suede, but in real life, that’s not the case.  They are comparable in shade – it’s simply the texture difference between suede and leather that reflects light differently, so the leather foot area may seem lighter.

1) Nearly indiscernably shade difference between the boot’s upper body and the boot’s foot. 2) Note the perfect alignment of the boot tongue – because it’s stitched in!

But the materials aren’t the only things that reassure me that these are quality made boots.  If you can see, the boots are laced up, which means that in slushy or snowy weather, moisture and precipitation can easily seep into the boot.  HOWEVER — the boot tongue is actually stitched into place in order to keep your feet dry!

However, my sister (who always complains about how her muscular legs can never squeeze into boots) did mention that because of the stitched in tongue, she wasn’t able to loosen the laces enough to allow for her leg + jeans fit comfortably into the boot.  [On the other hand, she did mention that she thought she “looked cute in them.” (her observations, not mine!)]

I have the opposite problem: boots are sometimes too loose around my calves, but the laces on the Portico model do help tighten the boots up.  [NOTE: The laces are more aesthetic than functional –  a zipper that runs from the ankle all the way to the top is the primary way to take the boots on/off.]

The only real problem I encountered with the boots are that the stiff suede material is not very forgiving when it becomes bent (i.e. at the ankle).

A pain in the (foot's) neck.

The creases created around the ankle by the simple act of walking cut into my feet, even through my socks, and I have a scab on each ankle from the abrasions.  I know that this is a common problem when breaking in new shoes, but I’ve never had this problem with my other leather boots – this was definitely a case of the stiff material not being pliable enough.

Another issue of note, is that these may keep your feet warm, but they have a tendency to overheat, almost to the point of discomfort.  I recommend carrying a pair of flats in your handbag if you are going to be in a heated building all day.

Verdict: I am definitely going to be reaching for these boots often this season.  Their neutral colour, functionality, comfort, and style make them a practical choice.  The Portico model retails for around $250 CAD and can be purchased at retailers across Canada.

i wanna know…

Well actually, Cougar Boots (not me) wants to know what you think about their products, especially after reading my post about their rainboots.

If you fill out THIS SURVEY a $2 donation to the Red Cross will be made!  Even if you didn’t have much of an opinion of the boots, at least fill out the survey and consider it your good deed of the morning (I say “morning” because 1 good deed/day is a little paltry, no?)

It will literally take you 60 seconds to fill it out.  The Red Cross could use your help, especially with the cholera outbreak in Haiti and the continuing struggles of hundreds of communities around the world.

Thanks everyone!

splish splash

If you follow me on Twitter, you would know that last week, I received a package filled with goodies from Cougar Boots, a Canadian shoe company. They’ve recently completely re-branded themselves into a cool, hip boot brand.  If you think you haven’t heard of them before, you really probably have.  Their old logo is instantly recognizable (and unfortunately, in my head, completely associated with all-too-functional-sans-fashionable winter footwear).

Old Cougar Boots logo

New Cougar Boots logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

The revamp of their brand included a serious upgrade to the style factor of their shoes.

Anyway, when I got the package I was SUPER excited!  All I had to do was wait until it finally rained and/or snowed in Montreal!  That took quite some time.

However, today, it finally rained, and I was ready to boot up.

The model of rainboots I received is called Tibet, and I chose the fire-engine red colour, because I think I have enough black boots.  Besides, who ever said that rainboots were for serious outfits?  Rainboots in general are a lot more fun than your average footwear.

My only concern was that I would look a little bit like a clown wearing these shoes.  Luckily, they aren’t super clown-ish because of the narrow width of the shoe, but the rounded toe does look deceptively clowny.

For example, this is what went down when I asked my friend what he honestly thought of my boots.

“They’re nice,” he replied.

I asked, “You don’t think they make me look like I have clown feet?”

*pause* “Well, now that you mention it…”

I got a small smattering of compliments throughout the day wearing these, but what stood out the most to me was a this comment: “They look good on you.”

I’m not saying that everything looks amazing on me, but what I’m trying to emphasize is that these boots are not for everyone.  The woven “sock” overlap gives it a little bit of an urban hipster look – a style that not everyone is keen to mimic.  Fortunately, this is a look that fits in perfectly amongst the milieu of young people in Montreal.  In short, I would wear these to class, but never to work.

Throw on a pair of leggings, and these are perfect for a rainy fall or spring day.  I would only suggest wearing these with leggings or skinny jeans.  The short length of the boot neck doesn’t allow for a clean tuck of a bootleg cut pant.

I had a lot of mixed feelings about the quality of the boots.

They are incredibly well made with respect to keeping one’s feet dry, warm and comfy throughout the day.  The company’s claim is that these boots are guaranteed waterproof under normal wear for up to 6 months.  In addition, they claim that these boots will keep you warm and comfy up to -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit).

The rubber is super sturdy yet pliable, so it doesn’t hurt when you bend your ankle, and the soles will take a long time to wear down.  Plus, they aren’t heavy (one thing that I HATE about cheap rain boots).  And although it hasn’t dipped down to 0 degrees yet here in Montreal, the boots kept me warm but not overheated, even though I was indoors most of the time (read: no sweaty feet – SCORE).

But when you look closely at the shoes, it becomes obvious that Cougar Boots kinda glazed over the details.

 

The left boot form has been cut entirely differently from the right.

In the above photo, you can see that the left boot has been cut to have a sharp point on the toe, whereas the right boot looks like it was cut by a right-handed person using a pair of left-hand scissors.  It doesn’t affect the waterproof/warmth performance of the boots, but it does look really sloppy and kinda like the boots fell off the back of a truck.  My sister just asked me whether these boots were made in China, just from this picture.

What you see when you roll up the woven "sock".

Underneath the woven “sock”, the boot neck has obviously been cut by hand.  Rather sloppily at that.  The black markings from the factory remain on the red rubber, and the neck wasn’t cut into a perfectly straight edge.  I should also add that the “sock” on my left boot already has an unraveling thread.

So I’m kind of at an impasse with these boots.  They make a big statement when I wear them, so I have to plan my outfits accordingly which is a little bit fussy for a pair of rubber rainboots.  But at the same time, they’re so comfortable.

Are they worth the $75 CDN?  Maybe.  If you’re ready to commit to hipster-style red rubber boots.

For more awesome styles (that I would have loved to try out) from Cougar and to find out where you can buy a pair, check out their fun hipster-friendly website!