Unfairly, as it turns out, I took my eye off the Regatta ball a while back, having become accustomed to seeing the company’s jackets straining across the backs of the clinically obese who clearly had trouble stepping up a Lakeland kerb, never mind yomping over hill and dale for 20 miles.
They were the Keswick dog-walking jacket. The Penrith just-getting-something-out-of-the-car jacket. The Cockermouth nipping-to-the-shops jacket.
I always considered Regatta stuff to be cheap and sacrificial. The lower end of the specialist market. Not to be taken all that seriously.
So it came as a nice surprise at our GWA Awards testing event late last year when, lo and behold, Regatta had a range called Point 214 which actually looked very good. The jackets were well-made and certainly gave some of the more expensive brands a run for their money. For me, Regatta was the highlight of the awards. Most Improved, if you like.
So, because a certain unnamed person called Jodie (GWA’s admin) had requested clothing that was far too wee for me, I pounced on Regatta’s Ultra Max Low X-LT boots, prepared for something wonderful.
I stuck ‘em on my plates of meat, and… I didn’t like them. In fact I think I might have uttered a tiny swear in to my fifth mug of tea.
First off, I found the laces slippery. When I tied them up I didn’t have confidence that a single bow would hold all that long. The knot just wasn’t grippy enough.
The two pairs of lace hooks at the ankles were recessed (obstructed by either end of the ankle collar) and tight, meaning I couldn’t use one hand/one lace. I had to use both hands to get each lace in to its hook before I could tie them up. Fiddly.
Then came the aesthetics. The colours are fine – mainly two-tone grey with blue bits, including on the soles – and the whole design looks decent enough… until one went on my foot. The mesh over the toes wrinkled instead of staying taught and the sweeping lines over the top of the boot seemed to drift towards the outside rather than straight down the foot, making me look duck toed. Not surprisingly, it was the same for the other boot. The whole appearance just seemed too… budget.
Now then, I’ve waddled about in these like a good reviewer should, so let me tell you the good things before I hit you with my two other gripes.
For the most part, the Ultra Max Low X-LT’s are comfortable. Not slipper-like, but comfortable. They didn’t squeeze or nip anywhere, there was just the right amount of room and they felt nice and supportive around the ankle.
I can also verify that they’re waterproof, thanks to the Isotex internals, because I did a little puddle sploshing. In fact I enjoyed puddle sploshing so much that Mrs Muz ran out of excuses to tell wary passers-by and ended up just walking off. She’s no fun, that woman.
Speaking of technical specs, if you want a full run-down of weight-saving and shock-absorption details, I could just copy them from the Regatta website or you could save me the bother and take a squizz at it here
Right then, my other gripes.
See up there ^ where I mentioned comfort and said: “For the most-part”? Well if you take a look at Regatta’s website you’ll see the following: “Deep padded collar and tongue”.
The collar is certainly padded and does a good job. The tongue, however, is another matter. For starters it’s too short and if you tie the laces to the top hook they tie just below the top of the tongue, which has little meaningful padding to speak of, and put pressure on your… wotsit… you know – your thingummy… the bit at the top of your foot before it starts turning upwards in to your shin. That bit. In fact, so irritated was I on my maiden voyage with them that I took a footselfie (don’t forget where you heard the term first) while also taking the opportunity to show you my impeccable fashion sense. I’ve tried them with thicker, less-trendy hiking socks and it’s pretty much the same, I’m afraid.
And then there’s the soles of the Ultra Max Low X-LT’s. Regatta has shunned the default chunky Vibram offerings sported by so many other boots and has instead opted for self-branded ‘X-LT sole technology’.
Rather than hefty chunks of rubber at your southernmost point, these soles proffer piddly little spots of rubber and thicker, but shallow, half chunks around the circumference. They certainly – to me at least – don’t look up to the job of dealing with anything remotely challenging and I can imagine them wearing out much faster than usual because the rubber isn’t thick enough.
They don’t shed the mud very well either because the shallow little bits of rubber down there like to hold on to the clarts and keep it there, reducing grip.
Now don’t get me wrong – if you pay seventy five quid for a pair of walking boots you can’t expect to get the same spec as a £200 pair. Savings have to be made somewhere, and Regatta has done just that. These boots are okay for a casual wander around Windermere or up to Aira Force to throw sticks off the bridge, but if you’re planning to tackle Blencathra then you’d be wise to prise open your wallet a little further.