How to Find (& Maintain) the Best Boots For Tree Service Professionals

with Tracy Cline

Having the right footwear can make all the difference between a great day in the field and a miserable one. But how do you find the right pair of boots, ones that will keep your feet dry and comfortable, while protecting you from injury and making it easier for you to do your job?

Don't worry! We've got the inside scoop on finding the perfect pair of boots for tree workers right here on the Tree Care Business Show. And I bet there will be a lot of topics that are new to you or will help you up your footwear game!

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Having the right footwear can make all the difference between a great day in the field and a miserable one. But how do you find the right pair of boots, ones that will keep your feet dry and comfortable, while protecting you from injury and making it easier for you to do your job.

Don't worry! We've got the inside scoop on finding the perfect pair of boots for tree workers coming right up on the Tree Care Business Show! On the show, brought to you by Tree Care Marketing Solutions, we explore business insights for the tree care industry with leading experts.

[00:00:00] Monica Hemingway: Joining us today is Tracy Cline. She's the Forestry Brand Ambassador for HAIX North America. She's been with the company since 2009. She was previously their Midwest sales manager. And not only was she responsible for her own sales territory, but she also did a lot of training around footwear certification and footwear safety in the forestry industry. So welcome Tracy. It is a real pleasure to have you here today.

[00:00:27] Tracy Cline: It's absolutely a pleasure to be here. Thank you so much. I appreciate you having me Monica.

[00:00:33] Monica Hemingway: Great. Well, you know, before we get into boots, I have a question for you that I think a lot of our listeners are probably curious about. The company is spelled H-A-I-X. How do you pronounce that?

[00:00:46] Tracy Cline: You'd be surprised how often we get that question. It is actually pronounced “hikes”. Like you're going hiking. The name is actually part of Xaver Haimerl, who started the company. And we took Haimerl as part of his last name and Xavier and put it together for HAIX.

[00:01:07] Monica Hemingway: Okay, that explains it because it’s not a real word.

[00:01:11] Tracy Cline: No, no, it's our word.

[00:01:14] Monica Hemingway: Okay. So HAIX. So, tell us a little bit about the company itself. It's relatively new in footwear for tree service in North America, right?

[00:01:26] Tracy Cline: Correct. It's a little less known in the U.S. Market currently, but HAIX is a major footwear manufacturer worldwide. We're a German company. Unlike a lot of other companies, we actually manufacturer our own footwear. We started in 1948, as a private manufacturer for other brands. For example, we made product for other people and they would put their name on it. But as of the 1990s, we came out and said, okay, we're going to have our own branded footwear. And, just so you understand...what markets we hit, it's not just forestry, but workwear, police, fire, EMS, and huge military contracts around the world. Just a little tidbit, we are the largest fire-boot manufacturer in the world.

[00:02:13] Monica Hemingway: Oh. So, if something awful happens and our house burns down, the firemen and firewomen are probably going to be wearing HAIX boots?

[00:02:20] Tracy Cline: Absolutely.

[00:02:22] Monica Hemingway: All right. Well let's hope for no fires. No more fires.

[00:02:24] Tracy Cline: Yeah, no fires today! No fires.

[00:02:28] Monica Hemingway: So now you make a wide range of boots for different industries.

[00:02:36] Tracy Cline: Yes.

[00:02:36] Monica Hemingway: Focusing specifically on the forestry industry, if we're looking at boots, safety is obviously going to be a primary concern for a lot of people. But there are also things like durability, versatility, comfort is going to be a big one. So, let's leave safety for a moment and look at durability. If someone's looking for boots and they want them to last more than just a couple of months or a season, what should they be looking for?

[00:03:02] Tracy Cline: Yeah, that's something that we do get a lot of questions about, obviously, because people spend a lot of money on footwear, especially in the forestry industry... the boots aren't cheap, let's just face it. Some of the things that I always recommend people to look for, and personally that I look for, you need to look for the quality. Many times that has to do with how it's constructed. It has to do with the hides. For example, with HAIX, we use, bull hide leather. That's different than other manufacturers who only use a cowhide. What makes that different? The bull hide leather is a little tougher and stiffer. So, while it might take a little bit longer to break in, it's going to last longer. It resists abrasion and punctures much better, and it keeps shape and rigidity; and what that does not only lends itself to the longevity of the product, but also good ankle protection and things of that nature.

[00:03:59] Monica Hemingway: Okay, so you're initially compromising comfort, maybe a little bit to get that durability over the long-term.

[00:04:08] Tracy Cline: That's correct.

[00:04:09] Monica Hemingway: Are there boots that are made out of different types of material other than leather?

[00:04:14] Tracy Cline: Yes, in the marketplace, you'll see some different things. I've seen everything from rubber boots, with a Kevlar lining, for example, for cut resistance. I've also seen, a lot of boots where they use the female hides. The issue with the female hides is that while they are less expensive to manufacture, they tend to become very weak in their structure. Because cows can get pregnant, the hide expands and contracts more than bull hide. And what happens is your boot will wear out more quickly because it loses its shape and rigidity.

[00:04:48] Monica Hemingway: So, for durability, you really should be looking for bull hides, not cow hides?

[00:04:54] Tracy Cline: Correct! And as of to date, we're the only ones that use the bull hide in the industry.

[00:05:00] Monica Hemingway: Okay. So that's definitely a reason to look at HAIX boots.

[00:05:05] Tracy Cline: Absolutely.

[00:05:07] Monica Hemingway: Now, in terms of maintaining your boots, you've got a great pair of boots they're made out of bull hide. How do you ensure that they're going to last as long as possible? What can you do?

[00:05:16] Tracy Cline: Yeah, sure. Now this was a tricky one because in the field, my guys and gals never take care of their boots like they should.

[00:05:24] Monica Hemingway: I don't think any of us do really.

[00:05:27] Tracy Cline: No. And, you know, we think it's a work boot and we come in and we just throw them by the door or whatever. And we go in the house, we put them on the next day and we don't think about them. But truly, if you think about footwear in general, if you're wearing leather boots, it's no different than the skin on your hands. You definitely want to make sure that you give them some TLC by just wiping them clean with a little warm soap and water. Take a brush to them occasionally. Just wipe them down, be cognizant of that, especially in the winter time when you're also dealing with salt in certain regions of the country. And you know, just treat it, think about it, like your hands. They get dry, they crack, you know, keep them nice and moisturized. For example, we will have a certain type of leather treatment for ours that we sell with our product (and other companies do this too).

[00:06:20] Monica Hemingway: Right. That's what I was going to ask. Like you put moisturizer on your hands. Is there some sort of treatment for boots? And should you do that?

[00:06:27] Tracy Cline: Every so often. It will extend the life of the product for sure. Just overall checking everything, checking the seams, the soles, make sure that your sole wear is where it needs to be. Just like tires on a car, you want to make sure that you check everything from time to time, and that everything is in good working condition before you go out.

[00:06:50] Monica Hemingway: And I guess that ties into safety as well. So, if the soles are really worn or you're seeing cracks at the seams and things like that, the boot might not be safe for use.

[00:07:03] Tracy Cline: That's correct. The thing is, is you want to check everything. Anything from the sole construction to delamination, things like that, that's where the sole will separate from the shoe.

Luckily, our technology, the way we build our product, it stays intact. But many people will use a sewn-on boot construction, and those completely fall apart. Because those threads are actually on the ground and they're being worn through. You'll see, it's very popular in the forestry market.

People use them like the typical logging boot with the big logging yield those things tend to be sewn on and they can just come up while you're working. And some of them that are glued, if it's not done properly, they will delaminate and then your feet will get wet ... you got water coming inside. So, there's just a whole list of problems they don't want.

[00:07:57] Monica Hemingway: I know I've glued soles back onto boots to keep them going for just a little bit longer. It's not a good long-term fix.

[00:08:07] Tracy Cline: And then another thing too, that we're very cognizant of, is the liners inside the boots. For example, we actually have fixed the liners into the midsole of the boots we're manufacturing.

So, what happens is they don't pull out. So, you're going to maintain that waterproof membrane properly. It's going to keep the feet dry. And cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter months.

[00:08:36] Monica Hemingway: That was one of my questions - what should you look for? I mean, if you're working in a very hot climate versus say up north in Canada in the winter. I was just in Edmonton, it was 40 below!

I don't think too many people were doing tree work, but if you were wearing boots in those conditions, that liner in the midsole, is that going to help keep it warm?

[00:09:00] Tracy Cline: Well, what it does is correct. And it's going to assure that it's going to stay in the boot.

The other thing I'll tell people is so critical and nobody really thinks about it, but it's socks.

Many people want to go to one of the big box stores and buy a six pack of socks for five or ten bucks and wear them. It’s absolutely the worst thing that you could do. When you wear, for example, a cotton sock, think of a towel. And when you get out of the shower, it holds moisture. So, think about that moisture being held inside of the boot.

If it's summertime and you’re sweating, you're getting hot, that can lead to a lot of foot problems, like fungal infections, not to mention odors and things like that. In the winter time you get hot and clammy and you get that cold bone chill. So, what we recommend in the footwear industry from our perspective is a merino wool blend sock. And yeah, I know thinking of wearing a wool sock in the summer is like, what are you crazy? But honestly, I wear our short athletic socks working out in the summer. And it's the only thing dry on my body when I go to take everything off. It's a natural fiber just like on an animal. So, it pulls the moisture away from the foot. It keeps you nice and dry and warm in the winter and it keeps you cool in the summer because it pulls the sweat away. So, socks are super important.  Not just boots.

[00:10:29] Monica Hemingway: So, the investment is not just the boots, it's the socks that go with it. And together they make a complete footwear package.

[00:10:37] Tracy Cline: Yeah, absolutely. If you're going to buy a $400 pair of boots and need to get a certain amount of time out of them, you also want to invest in the socks because otherwise you're going to lose some that breathability.

[00:10:53] Monica Hemingway: And that was actually one of our other questions - what is a good quality boot? How much should you look to spend to get that?

[00:11:03] Tracy Cline: Well, this is a tricky question because just because something has a really big-name brand doesn't mean that it is of the highest quality. With every consumer, whether it be in the footwear industry, clothing or whatever, just because it has a good name, doesn't mean the quality is there. So, you don't always get what you pay for.

Things you should look for again, look at all the seals and the seams in the boot and check where it's made.

Our boots are made in Europe. We source every part and piece from Europe. We don't buy from any third world countries, we don't use anything from the Asian market. So, check where it's made, how it's made. You can also check reviews online, of course, just like anybody else would just before you make that investment.

Also, the biggest thing I tell people is to try it on, try the boots on no matter what. Because, what's also is important is the proper fit. So, if you're going to spend this kind of money, try the boot on, because every boot manufacturer, though they're supposed to be an industry standard, it isn't like they all fit the same way. I've got three different size shoes in my closet.

[00:12:17] Monica Hemingway: Right.

[00:12:18] Tracy Cline: So, make sure you try the product on. And make sure there's no heel slip in the back that can cause some blisters. So that's important. A good fit on a product is absolutely important.

[00:12:31] Monica Hemingway: So now that you've mentioned it, boots don't all fit the same way. They might be the same size, but you get into a different manufacturer, you get into a different style, you get into a different boot for different purposes. A lot of people still buy online. So how would you know which size you should be getting if you're buying it online?

[00:12:52] Tracy Cline: Yeah, that's a very good question. Just for example, with our company, we have different lines of boots for the logging industry, everything from a machine operator who doesn't cut trees all the way up to the person that uses a chainsaw all day, everything from just a standard safety toe shoe to a class one, class two cut protection.

All of those boots are different for different segments. As we kind of touched on quickly earlier, what I would tell you is that, for example, with our plastic logging boots, they all run big. So, we make a notation and our distributors will make a notation on their website that says, "Hey, these HAIX boots, for example, run a half size too big, please order a half size down." It’s just because of the way they're made and the nature and the style of the boot. Whereas one of our class one cut protection boots runs true to size; because for different applications, different boots do fit differently.

So, I would say, make sure they've got a good return policy, exchange, read the reviews online and/or try to find a local source to try the boots on and do it that way.

[00:14:09] Monica Hemingway: So, with fit, aside from size, you mentioned one thing, you mentioned heel slippage. What other things should people be considering when they're trying to figure out “does this boot really fit me?”

[00:14:22] Tracy Cline: Absolutely. Some things that are really important to think about as you get proper footwear for a working boot, is it's a little bit difficult to tell where your toes are at because they have safety toes, right? You can't do the old mom thing and try to see where your toes are at right? So, what we have installed in our boots as a specific type of insole that has a line at the toe that says perfect fit. So, if your toe goes over that line, you know to go half size down, or if it goes above it, you need to get a half size up.

[00:14:56] Monica Hemingway: If your foot is in the boot, how can you see it? How do you know?

[00:14:59] Tracy Cline: Well, all of our insoles are removable and washable, which is fantastic. You take the insole out and I know you probably can't see this here, but it'll say 'perfect fit' and there's a little line. So, you have them take the insole out, step on it, put their toes there, and voila, it tells you exactly where you're at. Because the one thing you don't want to do, is get the wrong size boot. And if you don't have that handy-dandy insole with maybe other brands or whatever, it’s a good thing to think about.

If your toes, even one toe is hitting the end of your boot then it is too small. Because what can happen at that point? You can get hammer toes, all these different problems.

[00:15:37] Monica Hemingway: Like lose your toe nails.

[00:15:39] Tracy Cline: Yes, you need to be able to make sure you can wiggle your toes freely inside the toe box of the boot. If not, it can cause bunions later on. A lot of foot problems…

So, make sure you've got good width, you can spread your toes. Don't just try the boots on. Put them on, stand up in them. Because when you stand that's when the foot starts to splay, so then you get a real, true idea of how it feels on.

[00:16:05] Monica Hemingway: And how about lacing them up or tightening them? How tight should you do that? You know, if you've got maybe a narrower ankle, can you just cinch down on that thing and it's still a good fit or is that not going to work?

[00:16:21] Tracy Cline: No, actually that's a very good question and something that we incorporate and some other manufacturers do as well, but that's something that we really take to heart in our boots.

We have what's called a two-zone lacing system. So, what you can do is you can cinch the bottom part. Say you have a wide foot and you have a narrow leg. You need this wide foot so you can spread out. Then use these lock off places, and then you can tighten the ankle as much as you need to, or vice versa. If you've got a very narrow foot, these are available in different widths as well.

But if it's still got too much slack in it, you can tighten this up, lock it off and loosen this part in case you have like a thicker leg. It is important to do that. And also, it'll keep your foot steady. If you lock it off, it'll keep you from moving forward when you're going in different terrain.

[00:17:15] Monica Hemingway: Right. Great. That certainly makes a difference because everybody's built differently.

[00:17:21] Tracy Cline: That's right.

[00:17:22] Monica Hemingway: So now what about when we've got people in different roles? Some people climb, some people are ground workers. They're going to need different kinds of boots. And for all of our climbers out there, I know that finding a climbing boot is really difficult sometimes because what you want when you're spiking up a tree is going to be kind of different than when you're walking out on a branch.

So what kind of considerations should you be looking at for climbers versus ground crew, different roles within the industry.

[00:17:58] Tracy Cline: Absolutely. So, the one thing that you want to think about is, if you're strictly climbing and that's all you do, there are boots out there that are just designed for climbing.

You need to make sure you've got enough space, whether you're climbing with straps and ropes, or if you using gaffs or spikes, you know, the ones that you put on that lock into the tree. You have to make sure that they've got a spot to clear that at the bottom of the sole. There are a couple of brands that specifically do that.

Our boots are multipurpose actually. So, you can go from groundwork to climbing in the same boot. But if you want something strictly just for climbing, you can do that too. For groundwork, you want to make sure that you've got great comfort, that you have a waterproofing system so your feet stay dry while you're working.

You want to make sure that there's a nice arch support or that it's built anatomically correct. And that's something that we are really big on is an orthopedic fit in all of our footwear. Because you're talking about on the ground 10 to 12 hours a day versus in a tree hanging out climbing, so that person's going to need a different boot.

You know, different for different comfort levels, different types of work, so to speak, versus the guy that's running a machine. Like if they're running the skidder, something like that, they might just need a safety toe shoe. So, in that instance, they've got a wide variety they can choose from, but just make sure it meets the ASTMs certifications.

[00:19:34] Monica Hemingway: Okay, so that's going to be an important point. It sounds like there really isn't one boot for all purposes. Really, you need to think about what you're going to be using those boots for, and then purchase something that's appropriate for that rather than trying to force it.

I know I've talked with a lot of climbers who are saying they're using spikes, climbing spikes and the sole isn't stiff enough or the shank isn't stiff enough in there. And that hurts when you're trying to climb all day.

[00:20:07] Tracy Cline: Correct.

[00:20:08] Monica Hemingway: So, you really need to look for different boots or shoes for different purposes.

[00:20:34] Tracy Cline: Correct. We're pretty, fortunate though at HAIX being so high tech in the footwear world that all of our forestry line, they're all designed for climbing and/or ground work. You can do both. That's kind of a nice feature because we do include the shanks, the multiple arch support. So, you can go from climbing all day long in a boot from us to going straight to groundwork; or you could even go drive a truck.

Then we also have a class one and class two cut protection. We make more of a lightweight or versed boot. And then we go to a class two cut protection, which has an additional level of Kevlar for chainsaw protection.

So while yeah, you can buy boots for different things, we do make some all-in-one type of boots that will do that.

[00:21:05] Monica Hemingway: All right. You mentioned a couple of things there with different levels of cut protection. So, let's talk about safety. What are the important safety features in a boot, how's that going to protect you?

[00:21:18] Tracy Cline: Okay, historically we've seen chaps. People are starting to wear chaps now, or more cut resistant pants. So back in the day, people would just wear a hat or a pair of glasses and a pair of jeans and you see them out, or they're not wearing glasses or a hat and they're just out cutting away. And we still see it today.

But for professional people that are working for companies that have safety measures in place, you're going to see everything from chainsaw pants, jackets, shirts. And a lot of people have not given it a lot of thought that you need chainsaw protection in a boot. But the fact of the matter is, if you drop something or you have your foot on a log you're going to cut, your foot is right there, right where that saw is.

So, we are definitely at the forefront of that in offering these, not just a leather boots. Because in the past, people just wore leather boots to cut with and they still do to this day. But with all of the safety things in place, and the market is changing quite a bit to go more pro safety.

We're a little bit ahead of the game with our class one, class two cut protection. It's super important. I mean, if you're doing some light arborist work, maybe the class one is okay for you. But if you are doing heavy, like if you're bucking and you're doing all of these things, you really need to consider a class two company.

[00:22:48] Monica Hemingway: So, what's the difference ... class one, class two. What's in the boot that makes them different?

[00:22:53] Tracy Cline: Sure. So, what it is, it's a piece of a Kevlar material. And it depends on how many layers of it there are and with how many seconds, how many rotations per second, it can withstand a chainsaw. So, one just has a different rotation per second than the other.

For people, just as an opinion; our class one, for example, has a carbon fiber toe. While carbon fiber does greaten the crush test in the lab and meets and exceeds ASTM, if you're going to drop a chainsaw, if you're doing heavy chainsaw work or ground work, we would always recommend the class two, because you have a steel toe and steel with a chainsaw is going to bounce.So, it's just a higher level of safety. So you've got two levels of Kevlar with the steel-toe. It's pretty much the best you're going to get.

[00:23:46] Monica Hemingway: We always hear about injuries from dropping things. So, if you get a 400 pound log dropped on your foot, what kind of protection can a boot provide for that?

[00:23:59] Tracy Cline: Oh, it's amazing what a boot can do. Even carbon fiber or steel, the crush or crash impacts these boots have (and not just ours, it’s just an industry standard), it's incredible what they can stand.

There's always this debate, carbon fiber versus steel-toe. We can debate about that all day long. There's difference of opinion. The carbon fiber is exactly what it says, it's fiber. So, it's just going to give when it gets hit, and over time that can break down. Steel, the steel is there. And you can bend that steel if it gets hit hard enough, but with a chainsaw, in my professional opinion if you’re doing a lot of chainsaw work, I would go with a steel toe.

[00:24:47] Monica Hemingway: Now, one of the questions around steel toes - it's metal. If you're in a cold environment, doesn't that get cold?

[00:24:56] Tracy Cline: Very good question. And we get it almost daily. It can at times get cold, yes. But, what I will tell you is going back to the proper socks and things like that again… We sell, all over the world. In my market, which includes North America, which obviously means Canada, we sell so many of our forestry boots into the Canadian market with no complaints with regards to the transfer of the cold. Now, does it happen? I'm sure it does. But, I think it's not at a level where it's alarming.

It is metal. It is going to conduct cold. But also the way that we design the inside, it's going to give you a little bit of protection there from the cold. And also with wearing the right socks, not having that moisture inside the boot is not going to carry that and transmit it as well.

[00:25:51] Monica Hemingway: So, it sounds like the key once again is the right socks.

[00:25:56] Tracy Cline: Yes. The right socks. You have to understand too sometimes, dependent on the weather, they're not out cutting. It depends on how cold it is. So, it's very rare. In the years that I've been in the footwear industry in general, about 25 years, you really only get complaints when it's super cold. So again, good socks.

[00:26:19] Monica Hemingway: And I think you'd get complaints in super cold weather regardless of what you're wearing.

[00:26:23] Tracy Cline: Yes, but what's also important too, is we insulate in the foot bed. So about 70% of your heat and cold exchange from footwear when you're wearing it, comes from the bottom of the shoe, not the upper.

People will ask, "how many grams of Thinsulate or how much insulation is in your boot"? Well, it's not insulated in the upper because it doesn't need to be. It's got the multiple layers of Gore-Tex, which keeps it dry. Dry keeps you warm and comfortable.

Also, the insulation here at the foot bed is super important. You'd be surprised at how many footwear manufacturers do not insulate on the ground level, but it's like the uppers. You'll hear guys complaining that they're sweating in their boots. It's too hot. It's because they don't need all the upper, they need the bottom level.

[00:27:10] Monica Hemingway: Okay. So maybe we can go back to earlier when we were talking about comfort and we were talking about working in different conditions, hot, cold, wet - the word Gore-Tex never came up. So, I'm wondering if we can revisit that question about comfort for different weather or temperature conditions and what to look for.

[00:27:32] Tracy Cline: Yeah. So, one thing that I will tell you is that HAIX is the biggest user of Gore in all of Europe. We only use Gore-Tex, it's the best in the market. It is the top. If you purchase boots that do not use a Gore-Tex membrane, and this is not a plug for Gore, this is just my professional opinion, since 1995, working in footwear... Gore is the only one that's going to have the maximum breathability.

If you put your hand inside of a plastic bag, it builds up moisture and it has no way to escape. So, you're essentially sticking your foot in a plastic bag if you get something with a generic waterproof membrane. If somebody says it's waterproof and you don't see this Gore-Tex tag, you're more than likely going to build up a lot of moisture. You're going to get hot in the summer and you may get cold and clammy in the winter. Gore is the most breathable membrane on the market. So, something else to look for when you're buying your boots, look for that tag. It's going to make a big difference in the long run.

[00:28:36] Monica Hemingway: All right. So just so I'm clear, these boots are made out of leather and Gore-Tex together?

[00:28:42] Tracy Cline: Correct. Our leather is a hydrophobic leather, which means it's water resistant. But once you drop that membrane behind it, it makes the boot completely waterproof. It is watertight. There should be no water getting into that boot whatsoever.

And just because you use a Gore-Tex membrane, if you don't manufacture the boot right, doesn't mean it's going to work. But the way that we manufacturer with the liners fixed into the midsole, everything works properly. If you make what's called a bootie construction, which looks like a sock construction inside of the boot, over time as you put the boot on and off, the liner comes out. But that's not possible in the way we manufacture.

So, those are just things to look for. The materials, where are they made, and how are they made. Do they have an orthopedic fit?

Leather heel counters, for example. We don't use plastic here. Wver time as you wear leather, this is going to cup around the back of the heel, like a baseball glove effect, and give a custom fit around your heel. If you have plastic back here and you're jamming your foot in and out, that plastic breaks, it cuts you in the back of the foot and the boots are garbage basically, you have to throw them away.

So, it's the little details such as that… Also, look for the warranties on boots, refurbishing options, those are other things to look for as well.

[00:30:03] Monica Hemingway: What would be a good warranty? How long should we expect?

[00:30:41] Tracy Cline: In the HAIX, we offer a one-year warranty on our product.

Now, what I will tell you is that in the forestry industry, these guys are lucky to get three, six or nine months out of their boots. That tends to be the magic numbers. But I've got guys coming up to me saying they've had their HAIX going on two years and over, which is unheard of in our industry. Especially since these guys are so hard on boots. I mean, we sell boots that firemen wear, and the forestry guys are harder on their boots than boots that we see going in and out of fires. I'm not kidding. It's amazing. A guy walks up and says “these are three months old.” And I think they're wearing a five-year old pair of boots. It's just the nature of the business. They get destroyed very easily.

But what I will tell you, as far as longevity, the HAIX boots really stand up. I've not seen any other boots standup as long as ours.

[00:30:59] Monica Hemingway: Okay. Wow. That's really something. Earlier, you mentioned refurbishing boots. What does that involve?

[00:31:10] Tracy Cline: Okay, so what we offer is a program, it's a company called NuShoe. It's at They are a company that's an authorized HAIX repair center for our boots.

It's too expensive to send them back to Germany to be refurbished. So, say for example, you get this boot and you rip an eyelid off in six months or a piece of stitching were to come loose or something. You can actually send this off to be refurbished, it takes about two to three weeks. It's in San Diego, California, and they will correct anything that's gone wrong with the boot. They will call you beforehand to let you know. If you let some things go too long, it can't be repaired though.

The only caveat is on this particular model, our class two, we use the Vibram sole. The company Vibram is an Italian company. A lot of people say I wear a Vibram boot, well, it's not a Vibram boot, it's a sole. They make everything from a cheap one to a very high-end sole. They will not give us replacement soles for these boots.

So, with that being said, could you go to a local cobbler and have a new sole put on these boots? You could. Now with our class one protection boot that we have, we designed the sole on that boot so that could actually be refurbished.

So, for $55, you could have the treads redone. And for $75 you can have the complete boot reconditioned, which means new insoles, any stitching, laces, anything like that will be replaced, deodorized, polished, and sent back to you like a new pair of boots.

[00:32:47] Monica Hemingway: It sounds like a pretty good deal for 75 bucks when you consider new boots run on average $400 or so.

[00:32:54] Tracy Cline: Yeah, it is. That's another advantage to some companies out there that offer that, and we're one of them.

[00:33:04] Monica Hemingway: Does NuShoe work with other manufacturers as well?

[00:33:08] Tracy Cline: They do work with other shoe manufacturers. I can't speak to whether or not they work with some of our competitors in the field. That's something they would have to check into. But I know they work with Birkenstock and things like that. So, there's some other name brand places that NuShoe works with, but sometimes your local cobbler can work on things as well.

[00:33:29] Monica Hemingway: True. Shop local, as they say.

[00:33:32] Tracy Cline: Yes, shop local. That's right.

Actually, if you're looking for boots, that’s the best place you can find them. You can always check with your local forestry suppliers. We have some major companies such as things like Sherrill Tree, Tree Stuff, Arborwear, just to name a few of the big ones that offer our line. They also offer some of the other lines as well, for forestry. If you have an interest in HAIX specifically, feel free to give me a call and I'll be glad to direct you to the place to go to try them. Or, if we're going to have a trade show in a local area to have you stop by and see us. We're always at TCI EXPO every year and some other shows throughout the year. My cell phone number is (859) 629-1377. You can always check us out at You can also, send me an email at

[00:34:39] Monica Hemingway: So, thank you, Tracy. That was really, really informative. I hope some of our listeners or readers get in touch with you. If they wanted to know where trade shows are so that they could come and see you, is that also going to be on the Haix website?

[00:34:54] Tracy Cline: Absolutely. So, if you are curious if we're going to be in your area, feel free to go to our website, check out our trade show lists, and look and see where we're going to be.

If you don't see something, but you're still interested in taking a look at our product. Just give me a shout. I’ll be glad to direct you in the right way. Or maybe I'll just happen to be traveling through your area at some point. And if you and your company are looking for a demo or something like that, I'm also open to come out to do that as well.

[00:35:22] Monica Hemingway: I'm sure some of our listeners are going to take you up on that offer!

Thanks everyone for joining us on this episode of the Tree Care Business Show! Where we looked at how the perfect footwear can make all the difference for you and your crews. You can find more details about this episode on the TCMs website at You'll also find all of our other episodes right there on the website. Thanks again for joining us. And we look forward to seeing you again, next time.

In This Episode

Here's what you'll find in this episode:

0:00 - About HAIX (how to you even pronounce it?!)

2:36 - Durability and the difference between boots made with cow vs bull hides

5:07 - How to extend the life of your boots

9:05 - The importance of using the right socks (and which to choose)

10:53 - Boot prices and indicators of a high-quality boot that's worth buying

12:31 - Buying boots online - what to look for

14:10 - Indicators of good fit and how to tell if your boots fit properly

16:05 - Lacing your boots and how that affects fit and comfort

17:22 - Different roles = different kinds of boots

21:47 - Safety issues, crush protection, cut protection, Kevlar vs carbon fiber vs steel

25:29 - Wearing boots in cold weather without freezing your feet (where should boots be insulated and where does it not make any difference?)

27:55 - Which boot materials and types of construction make boots most comfortable in different temperatures and weather conditions (hint: look for Gore-Tex!)

31:16 - Warranties for tree worker boots

32:12 - Refurbishing your boots (don't buy new if you don't have to!)

35:52 - Where to get more information about HAIX boots or try them on


HAIX® North America Inc.

Tracy Cline
Forestry Brand Ambassador
2320 Fortune Dr, Ste 120
Lexington, KY 40509
Phone: 859.281.0111
Toll-Free: 866.344.HAIX (4249)
Fax: 859.281.0113
Mobile: 859.629.1377 |
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