Product Review: Rancourt Acadia Chukka Boots

This review was a bit of a bummer to write. I really wanted to like these boots. The TL;DR version of this review is that Rancourt’s customer service is amazing but the product itself was severely lacking. Let’s get on with it.

I purchased the Rancourt Acadia Chukkas in April of 2020. My goal was to fill a gap in my wardrobe. Basically, I wanted a versatile, go-anywhere boot that I could wear casually most of the time but would also look fairly respectable when paired with a rough sport coat. A boot I could also wear in most seasons. The Acadias seemed to fit the bill. I had read about the Rancourt company on countless style sites and loved the idea of supporting an American, family-run business. Handsewn leather boots made in Maine at a good price? How could I go wrong? I was very excited to purchase these boots.

They arrived and I immediately dropped them into my regular footwear rotation, which translates to: I wore them all the time. This was at the start of the pandemic and my son needed to get outside and play. Let me tell you, I have logged many hours and countless miles in these boots, as you can probably tell from the pictures.

Unfortunately, after about a year and a half I decided they just weren’t cutting it and I have completely stopped wearing them.

Fit – I have a hard foot to fit when it comes to shoes or boots. I don’t have much of an arch. My heel is narrow and my forefoot is wide. But with the Acadias, I always kind of felt like I was wearing high heels. The wedge sole was rather thick at the heel compared with the front which caused my foot to slide into the toe. This caused my big toe to rub constantly which ripped up my socks and dyed my foot orange when the boots were wet on the inside (which was always considering they were unacceptably sub-par in wet conditions…more on that below). The jamming of my toes also caused concerning numbness after wearing the boots for longer than an hour or so. Given how thick the sole was at the heel, I always felt a little like I was in danger of rolling my ankle.

Notice how thick the sole is at the heel even after a great deal of use.

On a more positive note, the footbed of the boots provided a comfortable level of support on hard surfaces (unlike my infernal Red Wing Iron Rangers). After a week or two of wearing boat shoes on a summer trip, it felt good to wear boots that supported the bottom of my feet.

Construction – The materials of these boots are beautiful. The leather is thick but quite soft. I also loved how it was a bit waxy which really showed off all the creases and scuffs, which I think adds to the appearance. I don’t recall any pain due to the stiffness of the leather, so there wasn’t any sort of traditional “break-in” period. They were good to go right out of the box. Another nice aspect is the leather laces. They are beefy indeed but, while stiff at first, quickly soften.

Unfortunately, the praise ends there. The biggest flaw with these boots is their complete incapability of handling inclement weather. Not even “inclement”. A “mere suggestion of inclemency” is more like it. And that’s not much of an exaggeration.

The first time I wore the boots in wet weather was one of the many times I took my son out to play. It was maybe a month after I bought the boots and the weather could most accurately be described as “sprinkling”. My son and I crossed the parking lot of our apartment complex en route to the field. As I opened the gate at the end of the lot I noticed my socks were all cold and squishy. How could this be? I was walking on concrete. I didn’t step in any puddles and there was hardly more than a mist in the air. Indeed, the miniscule amount of water that touched the top of my boots towards the toe had made its way into the boot.

I thought this must be some sort of error in production so I contacted Rancourt customer service and explained the issue. They initially responded by saying that the boots are not inherently waterproof and will let some moisture in if exposed to large amounts. I explained how mild the weather had been at the time of the incident and expressed incredulity that a pair of leather boots would be incapable of handling even a modest amount of rain.

They apologized and offered to take the boots back to examine, and potentially fix, them. Since it was the pandemic and I didn’t have a printer for a return label, they snail mailed me a label which I was able to use. Upon inspection of the boots, they told me the issue could be from ill fit, as they noticed how the boot was being pulled closed upon tying the laces. I responded that, while I admit my foot is difficult to fit, I did not believe that was the root of the problem, as the water was coming in at the toe box.

They informed me that they were adding reinforced stitching to the area in question. When I received the boots I also discovered they had replaced the leather laces with brand new ones. Not something I requested, but a nice gesture nonetheless.

Throughout the entire process Rancourt was open-minded, responsive, and went above and beyond in an attempt to fix the problem. Given the time they devoted to me, I imagine they ultimately lost money on these boots. They showed me that they are a dedicated and customer-centric company that stands behind the integrity of their product. It is unfortunate, however, that the problem they tried earnestly to correct still persisted.

Even after getting the boots back the issue with the water never went away. I stubbornly continued to wear the boots since I wanted so much to like them. At one point my wife asked me why my feet were all orange. “Oh, it’s from those boots”, I told her. Finally, in September of last year we brought my son to his weekend soccer practice. I strode about 10 steps into the field which was covered with a light morning dew. Immediately: cold, wet socks. To make matters worse, I noticed that the sole in the front was coming apart after less than a year and a half of use. That was the straw, as they say. I put the boots in the back of my closet and pulled out my generic, made-in-China, glued work boots I’ve had for years. They actually keep my feet dry, which felt like a luxury at that point.

I really wanted to like the Acadias. But it wasn’t like I had some sky-high expectations which the boots couldn’t hope to match. These boots wouldn’t match anyone’s reasonable expectations of what a boot should do. A boot that makes me feel unstable on my feet that lets in water like a Croc? Very unfortunate.

I still want to give Rancourt the benefit of the doubt, though. My issue with the Acadias could simply be a one-off thing. As I said, I was thoroughly impressed with their customer service. It is a company I want to patronize. At some point in the future I will contact them to see if I might have some better luck with some of their other models, but I don’t feel comfortable simply pulling the trigger on another purchase and hoping for the best.

In the meantime, I have a pair of boots I’m looking to sell if anyone is interested.

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