It's time for a new pair. After what I think has been about 8 years (or nearly that, anyway) my relatively inexpensive Red Head (Bass Pro) snakebite boots finally need replacing. They're lace-up + zipper style and are still in decent condition overall, but the slider for the zipper (I actually had to look that up to see what it was called) on the left boot broke off when I was trying to zip them up this past Sunday for the last day of deer season, rendering them unusable. Lucky for me that it waited that long to fail. In any event, I really liked the boots. They were comfortable, provided great support, kept my feet dry in even calf-deep mud and water and held up well enough for my use. My only real gripe with them was that the zippers were a bit persnickety, and would occasionally (though not that often) hang both directions...requiring a bit of finagling to get them to finish (un)zipping. The thing is that I don't want to give up on the lace+zipper combo because it allows for both a perfect fit and easy on/off without having to re-tighten and tie/untie the laces every use.

So, why not just get a new pair of the same boots, or at least the closest thing in the current Red Head lineup? Because based on all of the online info (reviews and such) I've been able to find, their quality has gone significantly downhill since I bought mine, and pretty much nobody has anything good to say about them.

So...what says the hive on recommendations for a replacement pair? Snakebite protection is a must, as I often hunt areas where cottonmouths are occasionally encountered...and once in a blue moon, areas with rattlers. Being waterproof is another, as hunting season has also become the rainy season the past few years. I'm also very fond of the side-zip feature. I'm pretty easy on soles, as I'm not hiking any rocky areas. I just need something that will not fall apart, grip fallen logs and the like and protect my feet from any locust tree thorns I might step on. I'm open-minded when it comes to budget, so long as I'm getting what I pay for and what I'm paying for is what I need.

OK, spend my money.

ETA: I'm currently looking into Irish Setter's "Vapertrek" and LaCrosse's "Venom" boots. Both seem to have the features I want, with street prices of around $199 (I can live with that). But reviews are all over the map, depending on which site you're viewing. The biggest theme I'm seeing is people claiming that many boots advertised as "waterproof" are anything but. That's distressing, if true, as my budget Red Heads actually did a good job of keeping my feet dry even in swamp-like conditions.