4 Biggest Mistakes To Avoid When Shopping For Men’s Leather Shoes

Leather shoes are popular among folks who work hard and need shoes that protect their feet. However, some individuals avoid buying shoes made of pure leather since it’s more expensive than synthetic materials. Yes, it’s known for being expensive. But their advantages compensate for their price.

Pure leather materials give you breathability and durability that makes your shoes custom-fit for comfort and protection in any style.  These shoes are often available in specialty stores with reference from the Bespoke unit’s ultimate guide to find your perfect style and fit.

Some Types Of Leather Shoes Materials

  • Soft Leather
  • Suede
  • Nubuck

Shoes are said to reveal a man’s tastes. They represent his social, political, ethnic, and cultural background. Some say that shoes express hidden languages of wealth, power, and class.  Men who value their social standing always have particular tastes for their footwear.  Shopping for a good pair of shoes is always a challenge, especially those made from pure leather.

Today, many online specialty shops offer good leather shoes with many styles and make to choose from.  Whether it’s for casual or business wear, choosing the one that fits is never easy. Some men stock on style and make because they like the first pair they got from the same brand.  

Shopping for shoes that are perfect for your use and stylish comfort is never easy.  You can go to bespoke stores of a good maker and have your shoes custom-made. It’s where you can choose the type of leather before they make the shoes that’s perfect for you. 

You can also visit specialty stores known to have great products to choose from, have the shoes fitted, and walk a few steps with them. Always remember your priority is comfort for extended wear, any time of the year.

Never make the mistake of shopping and buying the wrong ones.  They’re just a waste of your money and precious time.

Some Mistakes To Avoid When Shopping For Men’s Leather Shoes  

 

  • When You Buy A Uniform Kind

 

Some gentlemen find it too much of a bother to shop for shoes.  The most straightforward remedy for them is to buy two or more shoes of the same make, style, and size that they found comfortable. They thought that it was wise to do so. 

However, the problem is that it looks like they are not changing shoes every time they wear one after the other. So, if you find it hard to shop, go to the same brand and find differently styled or colored leather shoes for the same comfort and price.

 

  • When You Buy The Wrong Size

 

Thinking that it’s wise to buy shoes way bigger than your actual size is not applicable to adults. It’s okay for Moms to purchase kids’ shoes bigger than their sizes since kids’ feet grow fast. A month would make you wonder whether the shoes shrank or if you bought the wrong size.  

But when you reach 20 years old, adults’ feet stop growing. Your shoe size then remains constant. You should not buy the wrong shoe size because it will hurt your feet. Blisters are caused by friction while walking if your shoes do not fit properly.

Blisters on the back of the foot are most common when you’re not wearing your actual size, especially when using leather shoes. Your feet will be sweaty walking or standing for a long time, and it will cause heat, tearing, and blisters on your feet.  

Having stylish and comfortable leather shoes will be defeated if you buy the wrong size.

 

  • When You Buy Shoes With Damage

 

Leather shoes are a bit pricey if you want the most durable and comfortable ones. Checking the insides and checking for damage is a must when shopping for shoes. After spending a long-time shopping for your perfect shoes, it’s too much of a bother to go back to the store and belatedly complain about their state.  

Before paying for them, you should always check your shoes for blemishes or flaws. When buying for yourself or your kids, make sure the shoes are in good condition.

 

  • When You Buy Based On Other People’s Preference

 

Some men indulge in branded leather shoes because a friend was wearing them and looked good. This assumption may or may not work for you. You and your friend are not alike in all aspects.  

It’s best to ensure the necessity of comfort while wearing a pair of shoes. Instead, you can shop at the same store where your friend got his shoes. A shop selling good branded shoes certainly has a wide array of choices for your style and needs.

Buying leather shoes solely for the sake of the brand and style would defeat the purpose of safeguarding your feet. At the same time, shoes should provide you with comfort while walking or wearing them for long periods. The same is true when purchasing shoes for your children.

Brown full grain leather shoe in front of wooden display in men shoes boutique store.

In A Nutshell

Shopping for the perfect pair of shoes can be a difficult task. It’s necessary to focus on your choices. Considering the information and tips provided in this content, your shopping experience for comfortable and well-fitted leather shoes may be possible today.

Goruck Shoes Review: Ballistic Trainers & MACV-1 Boots

I’ve been a fan of Goruck for years, their bags (Commonly referred to as rucks) have gained a legendary reputation for their durability and sleek looks. I was really excited when I discovered they now offer footwear just as tough as their packs. Read on as we take a look at the Goruck Ballistic Trainers and MACV-1 Goruck Boots.

Construction

If you’ve ever had the good fortune to handle a Goruck pack, you’ll be pleased to notice the same bullet proof feel in both the Ballistic Trainers and MACV-1 Boots. The Ballistics feature 1680D Cordura uppers and a triple compound rubber outsole. Metal eyelets for the laces and 2 inserts depending on your arch support needs.

The MACV-1 boots reviewed have a full grain leather upper but are also available in suede. They also have metal eyelets with speed hooks for fast lacing. The high traction outsole is rubber and the midsole is a lightweight eva. 

Function

The MACV-1 behaves like an athletic shoe with the support of a boot. Usually I feel like Frankenstein in a new pair of boots whereas these felt already broken in. Support in the ankle was adequate without sacrificing too much mobility when crouching. The tread pattern was just aggressive enough for the trail without feeling clunky on pavement.

The Ballistic Trainers are what I like in a gym shoe, simple and stable. The flat low drop on these made me feel more connected to the ground. Usually I go barefoot when squatting or deadlifting, but found I could keep these on and still feel stabilized through my lifts. Short distance running wasn’t an issue but I probably wouldn’t use these for prolonged jogging. 

 

Aesthetic 

I’m not really a fan of the overly “tacticool” look, and  thankfully Goruck was able to keep the aesthetics simple. The MACV-1 Boots have a very clean, unobtrusive vibe. They pair well with jeans, chinos, cargo shorts…you name it. The low profile outsole gets the job done, without being boastful. 

I really dig the Ballistic Trainers. In a world of foamed up outsoles that look like you stepped in glue and walked through a marshmallow patch, I appreciate the sleek, no nonsense look Goruck presents here. The brown gum bottom contrasts well with the black uppers. It’s a gym shoe that pretty much states, “I’m here to train, end of story.”

 

Conclusion 

I was very excited to test out the Goruck Ballistic Trainers and MACV-1 Boots in this review. They do not disappoint and live up to the Goruck standards set by their famous packs. I would have liked to have seen them made in the states given the price point. The durability and build on both shoes is impeccable and a great alternative for someone jaded by contemporary footwear.

Hockerty Custom Leather Boot Review -$195

We’ve reviewed a lot of great footwear. Seeing a plethora of great designs by talented artisans is always a treat, however dabbling in designing your own boot is something I’ve always wanted to try. When we found out that Hockerty Custom Leather boots lets you do exactly that, we had to give them a try! There are literally hundreds of combinations and the process is a blast, read on to see for yourself if this is something you would like to try.

Construction

When you custom order your boots, you have a wide array of materials to work with. There’s options ranging from Italian Calf Leather, Waxed Leather, Suede Canvas, etc – I selected the Italian Calf for the leather and canvas for the panels.

I really like the contrasting look. Stitching was tight and I enjoyed seeing double reinforced threads along high stress areas. The turnaround time on custom boots is around 15 days.

Function

These boots are fairly comfortable right out of the box. You do need to break them in a bit, but it’s a more pleasant process than the shear test of will some brands require. The support in the ankles is adequate and the insole has some cushioning. The tread pattern offers a tacky grip but I do wish there were outsole options as well. 

Aesthetic 

I really like the look, where as you, the reader might not. That’s the beauty of Hockerty’s boots, you are the designer. I feel these came out very faithfully as to how they appeared on the website’s design interface.

The pattern is eye capturing and a great conversation starter. When I tell people I designed the boots, I usually get a few surprised responses. Next thing I know I’m explaining how they can design a pair for themselves!

Conclusion 

I personally had a blast designing these boots. The sheer multitude of different styling options will have you actively engaged in creating the perfect boot. Quality, fit and feel were all on point and the price makes Hockerty’s Custom Leather Boots a real contender in the high end footwear market. 

 

Birchbury Bramford Minimalist Shoe Review – $99.00

Disclosure: We are a professional review site that receives compensation from the companies whose products we review. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed are our own.

Minimalist footwear has really caught on in recent years. Zero drop heels, wide toe boxes and less padding have encouraged people to take a more natural approach to walking. However, a lot of the options are fitness oriented so finding a more casual option has been difficult. That’s where the Birchbury Bramford Minimalist Shoe’s come into play. If you’re looking for a minimalist shoe that doesn’t look like it gets shot out of a Nerf Gun, read on. 

Construction

The Birchbury Bramford’s are made from American sourced full grain leather. They have a thin padded insole and rubber outsole with a wave contoured tread pattern. Stitching looks clean and tight.

Function

The Birchbury Bramford Minimalist Shoe does take a little getting used to, especially if you’re not familiar with zero drop heels. Most modern shoes have a wedge of cushioning in the heel and places your feet at a slant. The Bramford has a thin, even layer of light cushioning across the footbed so your foot sits in a more natural position. The toe box is wide enough to let your toes wiggle and move. I can best describe these shoes as wearing a glove when compared to wearing mittens. Your foot does a little more work and you can definitely feel the ground, but in a good way.

I really like the elastic laces. These are basically slip on shoes and it makes taking them on and off a real pleasure. These make for excellent travel shoes, they have a small footprint (No pun intended) and stow away easily into an overnight bag or backpack.

Aesthetic 

The Bramford is a very simplistic shoe in nature and it lends well to a classic design. Clean and unobtrusive lines make this a shoe you will have little difficult in pairing with just about any outfit. It also comes in black. 

Conclusion 

After using the Birchbury Bramford Minimalist Shoes, I’ve really come to love the easy feeling they have on my feet. There was definitely a learning curve, so to speak from years of wearing highly padded footwear. My feet feel more pliable and strong, because they need to work. The look and feel of the shoes is nice, but the price is a bit steep. Decent quality and a great look make this an option one might consider when looking for a low key minimalist shoe. 

Ashbury Skies Bendy Shoe Review – $149.95

Disclosure: We are a professional review site that receives compensation from the companies whose products we review. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed are our own.

If there is one thing I learned from this year amid the pandemic, it is to buy American made goods. When everything was sold out, it just showed how vulnerable we were. After my wife’s Toms died (Thank goodness because it looked like Forrest Gump ran from Nevada to Kansas in them) I learned about a company that not only places emphasis on the planet, but manufacturers their shoes in sunny California. Read on in our feature of the Ashbury Skies Bendy Shoe Review.

Construction

The Bendy comes is available in a wide array colors. The model reviewed is in Denim. The uppers on the Bendy are made from Italian sourced leathers produced in a ethically responsible tannery. The cushioned footbed is made from slow recovery eco foam. The accordion style outsole provides for optimum flexibility. These shoes are made in California.

Function

Ashbury Skies Bendy shoe really shines as a go to travel shoe. Anytime we’re out, if my wife isn’t wearing them, then she has them in her bag. We were recently on a trip to Philadelphia and had an extensvie walking tour of the historic district. It was a sweltering day and my wife and I had flip flops on. Needless to say within an hour our feet were pummeled. My wife took her Bendy’s out of her bag (They’re very compact for travel) and slipped them on and was intstantly trotting from the Liberty Bell to the Museum of Art while I suffered in silence. Never have I envied women’s shoes so much.

The cushoned foam is very plush and will form to your foot. The result is a very comrotable “rebound” when you walk, almost like little springs are at work. Even riding a bike was no issue. 

Aesthetic 

The denim colorway looks really cute and contrasts nicely with the white outsole. Although we feel you do have to keep them really clean to maintain that fresh look as the slightest mark seems to stand out on the bright colors. The exterior is very soft and these make for a perfect summer or fall aesthetic. Bendy’s come in multiple colorways so finding the perfect pair should be a breeze. We love the carefree looks the Bendy exudes and often find after trying to match shoes to an outfit, the Bendy never seems to be at a loss. 

Conclusion 

Simply put, we love The Ashbury Skies Bendy Shoe. It functions as an excellent travel shoe that exhibits great versatility and all day comfort. The price point is definitely a hurdle. However, the eco friendly-made in America attributes make this shoe a feel good purchase. 

White’s Boots MP Service Boot Review – $579.95

Up until recently, I wasn’t aware of White’s Boots. As someone who handles and reviews leather products on a regular basis, I was frankly embarrassed I somehow glossed over them. It wasn’t until a collaboration project between White’s and Triple Aught Design that I discovered a boot company that quite possibly makes the finest boots available. After some heavy research, I needed to see what the company was made of. Enter White’s Boots MP Service Boot.

About

White’s Boots has been around a long time, they actually predate the Civil War. Originally started by a father son team, White’s specialized in logging boots. Originating in West Virginia and finally settling in Spokane Washington, the company has been constantly producing high quality boots since 1853.

Construction 

This boot is made almost entirely by hand. From the sewing to the welt, a skilled craftsman built these piece by piece. The leather is sourced from the famous Horween leather tannery. The Chromexcel is a you guessed it, chrome tanned leather. I definitely prefer chrome tanning as I feel it handles the elements a little better than vegetable tanning. This is a 6” boot, and while the model reviewed is the brown version, White’s produces this in a handful of other finishes and colors. The soles are Dainite lugged and the boot features a toe cap. 

 Function 

For me, the largest roadblock with new boots is the break in process. Chances are if it’s a high quality boot (i.e Red Wing, Wolverine 1,000 Mile, etc) you’re going to have some discomfort initially. Yes, the MP Service Boots are no exception. Thankfully the leather is very supple and forgiving, so they mold to your feet a little quicker.

If you’re having trouble deciding what size you are, White’s has a brilliant foot sizing system in place. They will mail you a template, simply trace your foot wearing your boot socks and take a few quick measurements with the provided tape and mail it back. White’s will then recommend you a size, or if you’re a mutant – they can make a boot to fit you!

The Dainite Sole was new to me, usually I have Vibram soles. The Dainite is a softer sole with a large lug pattern. I definitely think they’re more comfortable and offer a sleeker profile than the half lug Vibrams, however if you’re the type who is off the trail, you’d probably want to consider these soles a little more closely.  Paired with a thick wool sock, these boots work nicely in moderately colder climates, the gusseted tongue keeps out excess moisture and debris.

The fact that I can resole these later on is an added bonus. Arch support is great, and I found prolonged periods of standing to be unexpectedly tolerable. Think of these boots as an around town footwear option that can handle the occasional contingency.  

Aesthetic 

I would argue that you’d be hard pressed to find a better looking boot that can handle a multitude of scenarios with as much adaptability that the MP Service Boots offer. Jeans, Chinos, etc – You’ll be solid. Horween leather is superb and I suspect these boots will take on a brilliant patina with time.

  The waxed laces mesh well with the boot and definitely hold a knot better than traditional leather laces, although I would have liked to have seen metal aglets on the end that matched the lace keepers. The problem with White’s Boots – they make practically every other boot look flimsy and cheap. Now that I’ve experienced true American craftsmanship, I can’t simply pick up a pair of boots at DSW. 

Conclusion 

There is no question these are one of, if not the finest boots you can buy. The only real question remaining is if you can justify the cost. For the work boots made by Whites, I’d say it’s  no brainer. For a casual/lifestyle boot, it begs serious consideration. Just be careful, because once you try a pair on and handle them, almost everything else will feel subpar. White’s Boots MP Service Boot looks just about perfect, and once you get past the first few painful of weeks of breaking them in, you’ll have companions for life. 

Redwing Heritage Beckman Round Boots Style No. 9016 Review – $349.99

Boots are definitely the quintessential footwear choice for men, in my opinion. Delving into the world of boots can be daunting though, especially for the first time shopper. Hiking, work, casual and the list goes on. I think I may have found the best option that can handle a little of all of it without necessitating several purchases. The Redwing Heritage Beckman Round 9016 seems to be at home on the job site as well as the office.

Construction

There doesn’t seem to be any vulnerable spots on this boot, everything is double or triple stitched.

The Beckman’s are available in several finishes, reviewed are the 9016 – in Redwing’s signature Cigar Featherstone Leather. This is a very smooth, somewhat glossy leather. The full grain hide is thick yet supple, much more so than the Iron Rangers I have. A Roccia styled sole is attached to the bottom and features a lugged design. As with most all Redwings, they feature a Goodyear Welt which of course means this boot can be resoled. The laces are waxed cotton and we see metal eyelets adding reinforcement along the gusseted tongue.  All of this goodness is made in the USA.

Function

Expect some stiffness at the outset. You can always throw in some foam insoles, but this will ultimately hinder the leather sole from molding to your fit.

You’ll hear this from Redwing owners time and time again. There boots need to be broken in, the case was almost painfully obvious for me out of the box. If this is your first pair, I strongly suggest you get a proper fitting at a Redwing store or take a measurement using a Brannock device. They should fit somewhat snug, so they can stretch with use. I will say that these were almost impossible to get on without a shoe horn, it was snug to a fault and I think the gusseted tongue should have had more play in it. These boots are like baseball gloves, the more you wear them in, the better they perform. The lugged outsoles perform well and offer a tactile connection with most surfaces. The gusseted tongue keeps out rain and debris as well.

Do yourself a favor and order a shoehorn when getting these boots. You’ll thank me later.

Aesthetic

The Beckman’s are a bit more on the dressy side mostly due to the polished finish. That being said, the simple yet classic look seems at ease anywhere. The honeyed brown hues seem to mesh with almost any pant without overpowering your outfit. The quality exhibited (3 different workers have to approve every shoe before it’s shipped) in these shoes just seem to make them pop.  Even my wife who seems to routinely walk up to the wrong car in the parking lot with her keys, noticed these boots. That speaks volumes.

Conclusion

The Redwing Heritage Beckman Round is a classic boot with top notch American made craftsmanship and pride. The 349.99 price definitely requires some consideration, although you can shop around and find them cheaper, plus the ability to resole will probably make them more cost effective over time than more disposable footwear. Despite the initial hangups in the breaking in process, these boots will only grow better with use.

Ace Marks Wingtip Oxford Cuoio Antique Leather Shoe Review — $320

I had to wait a year for these shoes.

First, I measured my feet with the charts from the site. Then I made my purchase. Ace Marks has a unique business model, which I’ll explain below, but the bottom line is that they don’t warehouse their shoes, so it took a few months before my order was fulfilled.

When the shoes arrived, they fit on my feet, but they felt too snug. Fortunately, Ace Marks has a no-hassle return policy, and they even covered the return shipping. (Just make sure you only walk on carpet during your trial run.) Unfortunately, that meant I had to wait a few more months.

When the second pair arrived, half a size larger, they also felt too snug! I was shooting for the Goldilocks zone—I wanted these to be the perfect fit! So I bit the bullet and returned that pair too.

Fortunately, when there third pair arrived, now a full year from when I began, they fit perfectly. What’s more, my Ace Marks Wingtip Oxfords turned out to be well worth the wait.

 

Breaking in the Leather Soles

This is the first pair of leather-soled shoes I’ve owned.

When I finally walked out the front door, the tiny rocks on the sidewalk pressed into the leather. I could hear the crunch as they ground into the soles. I actually cringed when I felt the micro-tearing. It felt like walking on stained glass, crushing a work of art with each step. (That’s how beautiful the leather is.)

I’d also crossed the point of no return(s), which gave me a little panic attack. At first I thought maybe I’d gone too big, because they had a little play in them, but then sitting in a leather lounge chair and working on my laptop for an hour made me think they might be a little small! It was stressful. I also got a blister on my left heel from wearing them. (Word to the wise: Don’t wear them for an evening out for the first time; give them a couple one-hour jaunts first.)

Now I’ve had them for a couple months, and I feel confident that I got exactly the right size. I just had to break them in a little to realize it. The leather started out stiff, but now it has taken shape, and I can wear them all day, no problem. They’re actually quite comfortable. The wear made a slight crease in the vamp too (a couple inches from the tip), which made them look barely not as good but made them feel WAY more comfortable.

As for the soles, they now look a bit rougher, as you’ll see in the pictures, but they have more texture and sound softer while walking on concrete. They’re also great for dancing—you just glide across the floor wearing them.

 

Taking Care of Them

I wore them to a concert, and when we came out it was raining! This happened a day after my shoe aficionado friend told me never to get them wet. Water makes them more susceptible to wear. It also dries the oils out of the leather. Fortunately, one time didn’t seem to hurt.

I also bought a pair of lasted cedar wood shoe trees from Ace Marks. These help the leather retain its smart shape whenever you’re not wearing them. Shoe trees also wick up the moisture that the leather absorbs from your feet, which increases the longevity.

 

A Well Sourced and Well Crafted Aesthetic

The two people I trust most about shoe fashion gave me opposite advice: One told me my shoes were a classic design that would never go out of style. The other told me to wear them often because they wouldn’t be in style for long. I’m certainly hoping the first is right so that my investment has a long lifespan. I guess time will tell. So far I’ve been getting a lot of compliments.

Every part of the shoe is imported from Italy, 100%. The factory is run by 4th-generation Italian artisans who are basically professional painters. They hand-dye and hand-burnish every pair. Some do more burnishing around the broguing (the pattern of punctured dots) and others less, which means your pair will be unique.

Matching your belt and shoes is crucial, so I also bought a belt from them, and the belt matches my shoes perfectly. They also ship one-size belts, which means I got to be part of the crafting process. I measured and cut off the excess length, punched new holes for the buckle, and then reattached it.

There are two basic shoe-stitching styles. Most shoes use a goodyear, which has a corked bottom, and the stitches are visible on the side. Ace Marks uses the blake flex, which hides the stitching in a seam on the sole (which you can see in the pictures). This makes it look sleeker, more refined. This also adds to the flexibility and comfort, letting it bend more at the ball of the foot. It’s a small thing that adds a lot more comfort.

 

The Business Pitch

I first contacted Ace Marks in 2017, and back then they were a five-person team (bigger, though, now I suppose). I spoke with Julian, who said to me, “We believe luxury is for everybody.”

The company started with a Kickstarter. That means a group of customers bought the product before they were manufactured. This process gathered specific data on the necessary quantities of each style, color, and size, which let Ace Marks manufacture the exact number required without excess, and they still follow that model to an extent. This saves them warehousing expenses (which is why I had to wait so long to get mine—well worth it). And the direct-to-consumer model cuts out middle men. All these savings are then passed along to the customer. You’ll find shoes of the same quality from competing brands for twice or even three times as much.

They also have a buyback program. So for $50, they’ll buy back your used shoes. These go to a charity called Career Gear, designed to help people to rejoin the workforce. These are people who need dress shoes and will use them to fit into new roles.

 

Conclusion

Julian told me, “Don’t be fooled by our price.”

When he encounters doubters online, he dares them to give Ace Marks a shot, which, considering their easy return policy, is not even a gamble. He says once people try them, they end up coming back for multiple pairs.

The Ace Marks Wingtip Oxfords are some of the coolest shoes I’ve ever owned, and I’m already considering which style to try next.

 

Red Wing Heritage Weekender Chukka Shoe Style 3322 Review – $229.99

I’m a pretty laid back guy in terms of style, but when I found myself in the dairy isle sporting sweats and sliders while shopping, I figured it was time to upgrade a bit. I did the usual; substituting v-necks for tees, chinos over jeans, etc. Where I really struggled was over footwear. I  just really like the comfort and ease of gym shoes and didn’t want to go down the casual Oxford route. After some research I happened upon Chukkas, a kind of boot/shoe hybrid that was lightweight, casual and most importantly didn’t have neon blue mesh logos. I’m a fan of American made products and with their legendary boots, I decided to try the Red Wing Heritage Weekender Chukka.

Construction

The Weekender Chukkas upper is made from Red Wing’s Copper Rough & Tough Leather. This leather is oil tanned. This gives it desirable properties such as being water, stain and perspiration resistant. It also showcases a more natural look and feel because less finishing materials have been applied. The stitchdown construction means these can be resoled as well. Metal rivets reinforce the shoelace holes, but are hidden from view on the shoe interior. A Texan board is used in the shoe’s interior. The cushioned insole features Redwing’s proprietary Comfort Force impact absorption system and a polyurethane crepe outsole. Shoes weigh one pound each.

Function

The Weekender Chukkas are advertised as ready to go with no break in needed. For the most part this is true, the leather is very supple and flexible. The outsole is also pliable. I almost would have preferred a more stiff leather as I find the initial discomfort of breaking in stiff leather is worth the custom mold to your feet. I followed Red Wing’s suggestion and ordered a half size down, and the fit was pretty accurate with medium thick socks.  Interestingly enough, while the shoe needed no break in, the laces definitely need some coaxing. They were stiff and didn’t hold a knot well. This issue slowly mended itself though as the laces relaxed.

These shoes are definitely more comfortable than a pair of boots. I can walk several miles no problem, and prolonged standing is a breeze. These are definitely becoming my stand ins when I would normally reach for boots.

Aesthetic

The Chukka design is pretty universal among shoe manufacturers. With a lot of companies producing a visually similar product, the big differences lay in the small details. Red Wing’s craftsmanship sets a bar that most companies can’t come near. There is triple stitched panels where others use one or two. The shoelace eyelets run on the interior of the shoe for a cleaner look.

These can pretty much go with any jeans/chinos/khakis you can throw at them. Unless you have your hem above the ankle, they’ll look like full fledged boots. I love boots, but I’d definitely prefer the comfort and ease of the Chukkas almost any day, so wearing these is a great way to get best of both worlds. They have that timeless look and just exude quality.

Conclusion

For $230 dollars, you could probably buy 3 pairs of Chukkas from your local mall. However, the motto “Buy the best, only cry once” comes to mind with the Red Wing Heritage Weekender Chukka. Top notch construction means no surprises and the fact that they can be resoled, might make them the more economical choice long term as well. Great looks and comfortable, you can’t really go wrong with them so long as you get the proper size.

Ridgemont Heritage Boot Review – $169.00

I was browsing the hiking boot selection at the mall recently and just couldn’t find a single boot that looked good. Some had too much going on. Foam sidewalls, mesh panels, confusing acronyms along the heel, does it mean anything? I’m a traditionalist and like a classic, well done design. That’s how I found out about the Ridgemont Heritage Boots, a new take on a vintage style.

Construction

The uppers on the Ridgemont Heritage are a combination of waxed and oiled leathers. The collar is a waxed canvas. A hydroguard membrane provides water proof properties. The tongue is gusseted to keep out debris and liquids and the real rubber outsole features a mild lugged platform. Metal hardware secures the laces and we see double stitching along some of the high stress areas. Boots weigh about 1lb 5oz each. The midsole features an EVA cushioned footbed.

Function

My main problem with boots is accessibility. Sometimes just the premeditated thought of getting them on has me reaching for my shoes. I was relieved when the Heritage boots didn’t put up a fight in this regard. The tongue is flexible and the speed hooks allow for a quick and easy off and on experience. These boots are more comfortable than a pair of dedicated hiking boots, but less comfy than a pair of shoes.

This aspect kind of challenges you on when to wear them. If you’re going on a light hike with some friends, and going to lunch after – these are perfect. Your feet won’t be overwhelmed on moderate trails and you won’t walk into Chipotle looking like  Bear Grills. These boots are waterproof as well, so they’re great in wintertime and since the design is smooth and uncluttered they clean up pretty well. I really enjoy not having to pack a pair of sneakers when I go from the city to nature and back to the city.

Aesthetic

I’m a believer in the K.I.S.S  (Keep it simple stupid) principle. The Ridgemont’s are clean, unobtrusive and don’t pretend to be something they’re not. I’m really digging the laces and will probably get a red pair soon to really capture the vintage hiking vibe. They look good in jeans as well as shorts. They’re not particularly striking, but I don’t think they’re meant to be.

Conclusion

Ridgemont’s Heritage Boots do a good job at bridging the sneaker to boot gap in terms of convenience. The $169 price tag is pretty much ballpark with similar products. I wasn’t totally awed by them, but I also wasn’t disappointed either – and that’s what you need sometimes.

Red Wing Heritage Iron Ranger Boots Style No. 8085 Review – $319.99

Even though I review quality gear on a regular basis, I am by no means a guy who likes to have doubles and triples of something. I prefer to get the best I can within my means and take care of that investment. When my old boots finally kicked the dust, I wanted something with heirloom quality and a timeless design that will look as good in 2099 as it did in 1929. It was a pretty easy choice, The Redwing Iron Ranger Boots.

Construction

The Copper Rough & Tough Leather is sourced from S.B. Tannery in  Minnesota. It’s a oil based tan that yields a water, stain and sweat resistant finish. Redwing recently upgraded the soles to Vibram 430 mini lug. You still get the same sleek side profile, but enhanced traction. Nickel eyelets and hooks house the laces, and a Goodyear welt ties it all together. These have a steel shank (typically a steel plate that provides structure and support to the boot sandwiched between the soles) Each boot weighs about 1lb 12oz. We see triple stitching along high stress areas and raw grain leather on interior.

Function

As one who handles a lot of leather goods, I know you got to give a little to get a little. You can’t just slip these on and go hiking. They’re stiff, tight and firm. When breaking in boots, I’ll usually just throw them on while going out for a few errands, then give it a day. After a few weeks of moderate wear they’ll start to conform. The rumours are true though, these boots run large. I typically wear a size 10, and opted for a 9.5. The width is great and will stretch, but I still have a good half to three quarters of an inch play in the toe. This doesn’t really bother me as are snug and I’m not tripping. If you’re ordering online, I’d recommend ordering a full and half size down, and just returning the pair that doesn’t fit as well.

One of my serious concerns with the Iron Rangers were warnings from previous owners about the cork outsole performance on slick surfaces. I’m happy to report that the Iron Rangers have a new Vibram mini lugged sole that has great grip. In the winter, I insert a shearling sole into these boots, and paired with some thick Merino socks you can pretty much tackle any cold weather activity. The gusseted tongue does an excellent job at keeping out water and debris as well.

Aesthetic

This style’s origins have roots in Minnesota’s iron mining history. Originally produced to withstand the insane work environments of the miners. Probably the most notable feature on Iron Rangers is the dual layered toe cap. I really appreciate the look it provides. The Copper Rough & Tough Leather is for me, hands down the best looking color you can get these boots in. The warm, golden hues really pair well with any pants you throw at them. If this makes sense to you, I really believe these boots are the ugliest the first day you get them, and then they just keep getting better looking after each use.

Conclusion

There’s a reason Redwing Iron Rangers are unanimously regarded as one of the best boots around. The proof is in the pudding; top quality materials and expert craftsmanship. You can find boots that cost twice as much, but you’d most likely not be getting much more return. With the ability to resole, I could easily see wearing these boots for the next decade.

Wilcox Shiloh Leather Boots Review — $190

Man, these are beautiful boots.

They’re the Shiloh boots by Wilcox, which came wrapped in blue velvet, and rightly so.

But it gets better. The first time putting them on, they felt great. I mean it–my feet were loving them from the get go! It surprised me. I feel like that never happens.

So they’re surprisingly comfortable, and they look amazing–that’s a killer combo.

Company

Peter was a kid on a motorcycle trip headed south–in a rebellious Che Guevara style, I imagine. On this ride, he went into a cobbler’s shop in Guatemala and found a pair of boots he just loved, loved so much, in fact, that he wanted to get some for his family and friends. That wish transformed into an epiphany, and all the sudden he was planning to start a boot company. After a lot of hard work, Wilcox launched its first product in 2014.

Today, with the exception of the footbed, the materials are all sourced from León, Mexico, a city famous for its artisan leather footwear.

Aesthetic

Supple.

That’s the word for this leather. It’s chrome-tanned, full-grain, with a wax finish, and feels soft to the touch. Really soft.

I wanted a slightly more formal look, so I got the Shiloh model, which you’ll see in the pictures. It’s a plain toe with no broguing. Wilcox also offers a cap-toe version (the Fairfax) with broguing (which are decorative perforations along the seams). Both styles come in the brown you see here and also in a charcoal black.

You know, I’m raving about this boot, but I feel like I need to offer some negative feedback or you won’t believe what I say. So here’s one thing I’m wary about. The leather, as I said, is super soft. You can actually make a mark on it just by rubbing it with a finger. Because of this, I’ve worried about scuffing them. But Peter, the owner, says that’s a feature, not a bug, and that I should be excited to have boots with individual character. So there you go.

As another fair-play note, the welt split apart leaving a gap on the left boot. You can see it really well in the photo below, but it’s not as noticeable on the ground, and I didn’t even bother contacting Wilcox about it.

On a personal note, I’ve been wearing mostly zero-drop shoes (no heels) for so long that it was fun to add an inch to my height. The Shilohs made me feel literally taller and bolder.

These boots can do about anything too. They’re nice enough to go with casual slacks, but they look even better with jeans. And they’re rugged enough to go tromping through the snow in. (The laces rise high enough that you don’t need to worry about moisture getting in, but they’re not insulated, so grab your wool socks.)

Comfort

The interior is lined with a surprisingly soft calfskin leather. Yep, calfskin. It feels like a glove for your foot. It’s awesome. Your foot rests on an athletic insole with a memory-foam footbed below that–one of the reasons this boot is so comfortable. And there’s cork at the central part of the sole, which will slowly conform to your foot more and more over time.

The E-width seemed to fit exactly right. Well, almost. For the first couple days, my pinkie toes rubbed a little, but they’ve been good ever since.

The boot is built with a Goodyear welt, which shows the stitching around that top lip (the welt) and along the bottom of the sole as well (though on the Shilohs you’ll only see this bottom stitching between the rubber parts). Also, the welt on these is bold yet not too pronounced, which is a nice look. The 360-degree stitching means it goes all the way around the perimeter (not just part way). And the Goodyear method makes them easy to resole, which adds to the longevity. (If you’re the curious sort, look up “Goodyear welt” on YouTube.) The bottom line is that it’s a durable, water resistant way to build a boot.

The layering and stitching makes the sole pretty stiff, particularly at first. That should in theory be a downside for comfort, but, as I’ve said, mine have felt great from the first time I put them on. And for me, that stiffness actually makes them feel tough–the thick tread gives you a solid platform for going across uneven terrain.

Conclusion

Wilcox’s Shiloh boots have a beautifully simple design, they’re made from quality materials, and they deliver comfort that still surprises me.

I’ve received tons of compliments on them. They also happen to go with nearly every outfit I’ve got, which is another huge plus.

In short, they’re a remarkable pair of boots I’m excited to rave about.

Olukai Hāmākua Poko Leather Shoes Review — $130

Most days, I come home from work, and the first thing I do is take off my shoes. But–I’m not kidding you–I don’t do that with my Hamakua Pokos from Olukai.

Yeah, seriously. They’re so comfortable that I don’t feel the need to kick them off at the end of the day. For me, that’s rare.

And while they’re the perfect shoe for looking and feeling chill, the leather also looks great, which keeps them from looking overly casual. And the quality craftsmanship makes them ready for adventure as soon as you cinch up the laces.

Company

The Hamakua Poko shoes are named after a mountainous region on the Big Island of Hawaii, and the Hawaiian culture is central to the Olukai brand. Each of their shoe designs, including these, are centered around the ocean lifestyle, which means they’re rooted in both comfort and durability.

Personally, I was drawn to the Olukai brand for two reasons: Most of their shoes are zero-drop (no heel) and many of the designs have a fairly wide toe-box. They’re also known for their drop-in heels. Once I got a pair of these shoes, I was pleased to discover the excellent build quality, and I’ve become a fan of the brand (these are my second pair of Olukais).

Construction

Despite the fact that they have laces, I want to call the Hamakua Pokos loafers. Or you could call them slides thanks to the drop-in heel. Whatever you want to call them, they’re comfortable. They’re made from top-grain nubuck leather, which is soft and sort of velvety to the touch. The leather is hand-sewn, and the seam design gives it a bit of a moccasin style.

Mine have worn well so far: I’ve walked 30 or so miles in them (but admittedly haven’t done any rugged or dirty terrain). The soles are pretty thick, and while that adds durability, mine took some breaking in. They were stiff at first and didn’t flex much as I walked, which caused a little chafing on my right achilles tendon. But after a couple days it was smooth sailing.

The insoles are made with a polyurethane gel wrapped in microfiber. They feel great to walk in, and these insoles are also removable and washable (which makes wearing them barefoot much more feasible). Combining that with the wide footbed, they call it “the perfect environment for you foot,” and I have to agree.

The outsoles are made with a thermoset rubber process, which casts a liquid into a die to create the distinctive shape. The sole itself is made of a combination of synthetic and natural rubbers which have never left a mark or scuff on any surface that I’ve walked on.

Aesthetic

My friend Cameron told me that in Thailand it’s rude to show someone the bottom of your shoe. So it would be a bummer to wear these there because the bottoms are one of the coolest features. Similar shoes from competing brands have soles that wrap up around the sides and back, creeping up beyond their bounds, which I personally think is really ugly. The Hamakua Pokos do the opposite. The leather actually wraps under the tread–as if it’s retaking lost ground, which is the way you want the battle to turn, in my opinion. It’s a sweet design–or dank design, as one of my friends called it.

Before getting them, I was curious how the leather on the bottom would wear. And as you see in the picture below, it has gotten a little scratched from gravel and rocks. But the leather is dark enough it’s hardly noticeable. More importantly, the stitching that holds the leather onto the sole is holding up well. Not yet sure how it’ll hold up over the course of a year or more, but so far so good.

I did encounter one negative aspect. My fashionista sister gave these shoes a snooty look because they weren’t trendy enough. Aside from her, I’ve actually gotten a couple compliments on the shoes, but mostly people tend not to notice them at all. I guess that’s fine for an easy-going shoe like this.

Mine are the dark wood/dark wood style (which means dark leather for upper/lower), and that’s what you see featured in my photos. Olukai has a few other styles to choose from though, which you’ll see on the site.

Conclusion

Olukai’s Hamakua Poko shoes are a relaxed style and are built really well.If your feet have been asking for an easy going sort of shoe, these are probably the the ones.

Truth is, I’ve been wearing mine too often. Like even when I ought to be wearing something a little more dressy. But I just can’t help it. They’re so dang comfortable.

Although I’m not an islander (far from it, in fact), I respect the culture and the accompanying attitude.

And I love these shoes.

 

Shamma Warriors and Shamma All-Browns Leather Sandals Review — $85 and $70

Have you ever thought, “Dang, are my feet sexy enough to be on the internet?”

I have.

And although I’m not sure of the answer, here they are: my feet sporting some sweet new sandals—the Shamma Warriors (latest design, nylon straps) and the Shamma All-Browns (classic design, leather straps).

These aren’t just any sandals. They’re minimalist running sandals, designed to keep you as close to barefoot as possible.

I christened mine one early Wednesday morning on a sidewalk up the street from my house. I ran a few uphill interval sprints, and the Warriors lived up to their name.

I do believe they are the next best thing to barefoot.

Construction

I was impressed with these from the moment I opened the package. They’re very simple, but each piece is sourced from high-quality materials. The leather feels great, and it makes for an awesome texture to stand on. (Except they got a tad slippery in water.)

Due to the sparse design, they’re very lightweight. If you’re traveling, you can bring these as an extra pair of footwear without an extra thought. That aspect is a big deal for me. They’ll also save you packing a few pairs of socks.

Shamma sandals are constructed with Vibram soles. The Warriors, the thinnest type, are 3mm. You’ll notice in the pictures how easily they bend. I like that. The All-Browns, the medium type, are 7mm, which is still thin compared to most shoes. Shamma also sells a third, thicker type that I didn’t test. Personally, I love the barefoot feel of the Warriors. If you’re planning on heavy (or spiky) terrain, you might go up in thickness. I once hiked the Canadian Rockies in a pair of Vibram Five Fingers, and the Warriors feel comparable. You’ll connect with the earth when you notice the nuances of the terrain beneath your feet.

I wore my Warriors at Cobble Beach, OR, which is a bit like a ball pit, only it’s filled with smooth gray stones. It felt like a rough foot massage, which is to say good. My toes splayed in a more natural movement as the ground shifted beneath me.

Functionality

When I ordered, I found their sizing guide to be perfect, so use that. (And make sure you tell your printer not to shrink the page to fit—another mistake I made.)

After that first early morning sprint, my feet bottoms felt a little raw. Also, on my right foot only, the strap between my toes rubbed a little. After a couple days, my feet broke in the sandals and everything felt great. If these are your first minimalist shoes, plan some extra time (more than a couple days) for getting used to the feel.  Also, if you’re hiking on sand or unstable ground, you’ll likely get things caught between your foot and the sole–huaraches work best on solid terrain. Just something to be aware of.

When they arrive, they’re not assembled, and I made the mistake of trying to lace them intuitively. (I’m a technical writer who knows better than to read the instructions.) That was a mistake, and I had to undo all my work. However, assembling them wrong taught me the benefits of the right way, and I can affirm to you that, yes, it is better. They stay on better, and the straps wrap in a way that feels right. I won’t recreate the steps here, but here’s a link to their lacing guide so you don’t get lost.

One downside on the All-Browns is that the heel strap still slips down, even after a month of adjustments and breaking them in. It’s just hard to make an adjustment in one place and have it flow into three different segments of the leather. This is no big deal if you’re mostly lounging, but if you’re covering ground, it’s annoying to stop and pull the back straps up. The Warriors, with their updated straps, fix the snugness problem. And it’s a cinch to loosen them up when you’re relaxing. In other words, you’ll benefit from Shamma’s latest iteration.

I did wonder whether the straps being on the ground would cause them to wear through, but so far I haven’t put in nearly enough miles to answer that question. So I talked to Josh, the owner, (who’s a genuine person, by the way, as you’ll see in his YouTube videos), and he said that the foot’s pressure is central, not on the sides where the laces are, so it’s mostly a non-issue. Customers occasionally send in their sandals to be resoled, and even fewer for new straps. Basically, you’ll likely wear out the sole first.

Aesthetic

As far as looks go, the All-Browns do have the upper hand, what with the leather straps. And as you put them together, you get to trim the leather as the final step. There’s something satisfying about finishing the manufacturing process yourself. I liked that.

My little sister is my style consultant. I trust her expertise and her international fashion experience. She said she’s seen this style of Y-strap mostly on more feminine designs. I told her I’d seen pictures of Jesus wearing a huarache running sandal like this. That’s where the conversation ended. Bottom line is, if you’re male, these may push you toward metro and/or hippie. I’m okay with that. I love the simple design. (Another option is to order an extra SKU from Shamma called Power Straps, which give the sandals a more brawny look and, as a bonus, enhance the sandal performance for more strenuous and lateral activities.)

I think of these like Chacos but more minimal and with zero-drop (which is key)—plus leather for some extra panache. I wear them for outdoor adventures rather than as a fashion statement. Still, the simple design is cool.

But I took all these photos so you can give the final opinion.

Conclusion

I like both these pairs of sandals.

But I know you’re wondering which one I like better. If I could only pick one, I’d go with the Warriors. They’re the more recent design—they’re easier to adjust, and so they fit to your feet better. However, if you care less about utility and more about style, the all-leather straps on the All-Browns look great. They’re still functional, but they won’t stay as attached to your feet as the newer models.

Also, you need to decide which of the three thicknesses to get. Personally, I love the thinnest (the Warriors). But it’s a matter of how barefoot you want to feel. If you prefer to err on the side of caution, go with the middle thickness.

I was also asked why I’d pay $85 for these when flip-flops are so cheap. My answer: There’s no comparison. Shamma sandals are designed with minimalist runners in mind. They protect your foot, stay on tight, and still keep you tuned to the ground. If that’s what you’re looking for, this is an easy investment.

As close to barefoot as possible.

 

Mohinders City Slippers Solid Review – $165

I’m no stranger to the awesomeness that is Mohinders. I reviewed their classic City Slippers 2 years ago and aside from my belt, they were probably my most used leather piece. The slip on and go functionality quickly won me over. When I moved this year to the east coast and forgot to pack them, you can imagine my dismay. However, they’re back with the Mohinders City Slipper in Solid, and I’m excited to give them a go.

Construction

The City Slippers are constructed from water buffalo leather. Locally sourced botanical tanning agents free of chemicals are used in treating the leather.  The cavani style of weaving brings the upper and natural crepe sole together. The Mohinders branding can be found on the inside heel. The footbed is firmly padded. The slippers are made by hand in India by a group of skilled artisans. Seriously, go on the Mohinders website and check out the bios of the men behind the shoes. 

The Cavani weave replaces typical stitching and is a lot more durable than thread.

Function

Let me state one thing right away, the City Slippers are stiff out of the box.  I could barely get my foot in.  This wasn’t my first Mohinder rodeo though, I knew I had to work at them a little. After about 2 weeks of somewhat uncomfortable wear I was rewarded with a very good fit that stretched to the exact dimensions of my foot. This may be a turnoff for some, but it’s worth the effort.

I’m not a traditional sandals guy and I loathe flip flops so the City Slippers offer a great compromise. They stay on your feet well and offer above average comfort from a leather slipper.  They’re great for warm weather outings and the slip on/slip off functionality will win you over in no time.  Great for the beach as the solid leather covers your foot and keeps small rocks and other debris out. This model lacks the breathability of it’s woven brother but I prefer this closed toe design.

Perfect for lazy Sunday afternoons.

Aesthetic

These are good looking slippers. I almost dislike referring to them as slippers, lest images of bunny shoes and Isotoners come to mind. The clean, uncluttered design makes these babies instant classics. I’ll admit, the original Mohinders took some getting used to stylistically for me. I liked these right out of the box. Paired with seersucker 7” inseam shorts, Oxford with rolled up sleeves and you’re doing damage! They’re stylish which too in a way can limit them. I definitely wouldn’t wear them with gym shorts or cargos, but this is America and you can if you want. The leather will darken and take on a more golden hue as they wear in, I really like this and enjoy the character they develop as I use them.

Conclusion

If you can get past the pricing, I think the Mohinders City Slippers are a great summer footwear option. They break the tired mold of flip flops and offer a more versatile wearing experience. The company’s efforts in making this an ethically sourced product are admirable as well.

Lems Shoes Russet Leather Boulder Boots Review — $140

It’s pretty fun clomping through the snow in a new pair of boots.

I got these babies just as some major storms were sweeping over Utah. And being a reviewer, I was eager to test them in the worst conditions. So on my walks, I aimed at the biggest drifts and snowpiles. Sometimes I’d sink up to my knees. It was tons of fun.

And I’m happy to say the Russet Leather Boulder Boots from Lems Shoes proved themselves worthy.

Construction

First, let me give you a caveat.

Lems has an unconventional philosophy—a philosophy that impacts design and performance. And if you don’t buy into it, you probably won’t like wearing these boots.

See, Lems believes a shoe should fit the natural shape of a human foot—that means the toebox is wider than other shoes. Lems also believes a shoe should enhance what the foot does rather than alter it—that means these have no heels (i.e. “zero-drop”), which helps preserve the body’s barefoot gait. And last, Lems believes in minimalism—that means a thin, lightweight sole, which keeps you close enough to the earth to feel what you’re walking on. I happen to be unconventional (or hippie) enough to buy into this philosophy. And I love these boots. (If you’re curious but unconvinced, you might check out Born to Run or search YouTube for “Principles of Natural Running.” If you’ve never done athletic barefooting, know that it takes some getting used to. Muscles unused in a regular shoe will get activated in a minimal shoe, which means soreness in new places. Something to think about.)

The Boulder Boots are made with 1.8 mm full-grain leather that has a sleek finish. I was a little worried the leather might feel cheap and second-rate, but I’m glad to report that they’re good quality. The interior plaid lining is made from 100% cotton. The souls are air-injected rubber, which is surprisingly lightweight. Seriously, when you pick them up, you’ll be caught off guard if you’re expecting the weight of a thick rubber sole. They’re only 11.5 ounces! (Which makes them great for travel.) They’re so thin, in fact, that you’ll notice a huge difference when walking on concrete. They’ve kept me off my heels, really shifting each footfall to the front of my foot.

Functionality

Although they’re minimal, I’ve worn my Boulder Boots out in snow for extended periods, and with wool socks they kept me nice and warm. Just make sure to lace them tight so snow can’t get in. I haven’t yet tested them in extreme temperatures, so that experiment is up to you. (I consider them more of the fashion product anyway.)

Oh, and by the way, when I wasn’t wearing wool socks, I did notice a little moisture from melted snow getting inside, which I suppose could be fixed with waterproofing spray. The bottom line is that they’re not waterproof and probably wouldn’t be great slogging through puddles.

I’ve gone hiking and have even done some sprinting in them, and I love they way they move and shift with your foot. They’re super flexible, which leaves your ankles plenty of mobility.

Aesthetic

I loved the look of these boots straight out of the box. However, that was my personal opinion, and I actually worried other people might judge me for not having heels. (Yes, really.) Then I started getting compliment after compliment, and I’ve started to walk a little more proudly.

When you step forward, the toe of your back foot bends. This has created some slight ripples in the leather above the toe. You can hardly see it in the pictures, but if I were to change something about these boots it would be to smooth those back out. It’s not a dealbreaker, but maybe something for the shoemakers to consider when making the next version, if there even is a fix with leather this light.

Lems ships their Boulder Boots with two pairs of laces. The russet style comes with gold laces, which are kind of flashy, and a pair in a more conservative chocolate brown. I actually like the look of both, depending on the occasion. And speaking of colors, Lems makes the Boulder Boots in a raven-black leather, as well as several canvas hues too, so check those out on their site. There’s definitely something for everybody’s taste.

But I leave the final aesthetic judgement up to you…

Conclusion

The Russet Leather Boulder Boots from Lems Shoes have a roguish look. They’re lightweight and minimal. And while I don’t necessarily recommend them to everyone, you should consider them if you think organic is a good thing. Or if you want your gait to be as natural (barefoot) as possible. Or if you care about walking in style, ha ha.

I’m personally a huge fan of mine.

(P.S. If you’re still on the fence, Lems has a generous return policy, and, FYI, you’ll pay about $8 in return shipping if you change your mind.)

CP Slippers Tan Leather Slipper Review – $31.50

It’s always enjoyable to review an item a bit off the beaten path of leather products, so I jumped at the chance to review CP Slippers Tan Leather Slippers. Simple yet well done in both design and construction, this fine leather footwear is great for cold winter nights around the home.

About CP Slippers

Having lived in Japan for two years and come to love the country and culture, I was thrilled to discover that CP Slipper’s inspiration originated there. During a trip to Japan in 1981, CP Slipper’s founder (grandfather of current owner Oscar) discovered the Japanese tradition of removing shoes at the front entrance and replacing them with slippers. He then began making simple slippers from a single piece of premium leather, and that tradition continues today, over 30 years later.

Construction

While incredibly simple, construction of the Tan Leather Slipper is solid. The single piece of soft, Napa calfskin is cut and shaped around a mold before being stitched. Stitching is thick and uniform, well navigated around the somewhat tricky edge created from the mold. Edges aren’t burnished, but are well cut and smooth.

Function

Using nothing but leather for slippers is certainly a unique idea, and it’s both novel and functional in practice. The soft, smooth feeling of the leather on your feet is delightful. Since it’s just a single piece of leather, it molds with your feet quite nicely, and only provides minimal cushion, allowing you to mostly walk naturally with just a hint of added padding. I noticed a slight adjustment in my gait as I adjusted to having them on my feet, but I got used to this. My favorite part is that it keeps your toes warm. It can be too warm, but since it’s just the front of your feet it isn’t too bad.

One thing to expect is that dirt or spills on the floor will absorb and stick pretty easily to the soft leather. If you mostly walk on carpet this likely won’t be as big of an issue. Remember that natural leathers need to be protected from water and cared for.

Aesthetic

Like the construction, the look of CP Slipper’s products is very simple. Truthfully, I’ve gotten some funny reactions when others have seen these! I’ve been asked what they are and heard comments about how overly-simple the design is. Personally, as a leather lover, I think they look great. While not a typical design, I know these will mold to my use and develop a great patina. CP Slippers offers several other dyed colors as well.

Conclusion

If you’re a fan of both slippers and leather, you’ll like what CP Slippers has to offer. Your toes will stay warm as you enjoy the soft leather gently protecting your feet. The simple design and construction leaves little to be desired, the price is very reasonable, and the leather should last a good while if well cared for.

Viberg Color 8 Chromexcel Service Boots

Hello everyone! I’m new here to the BestLeather crew but I’m a leather enthusiast the same as everyone else with a special place in my heart for footwear.

Many companies have their take on the service boot, but the Canadian company Viberg is widely known for their impeccable interpretation of it. Viberg has many different models of the service boot and this particular pair that I’m going to be reviewing is from Blue Button Shop.

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About Viberg

Viberg was founded in 1931 by Ed Viberg and has been family owned and operated into the present day by 3rd generation family members. Viberg is based in Victoria Canada and in the last 5 years has expanded their work boot line into the fashion market. They use top of the line materials from leather sourced from Italy and US tanneries, Swiss hobnails, and Vibram soles.

Construction

Viberg’s fashion line of service boots are mainly constructed using a stitch down method of manufacturing. While they do use a Goodyear Welt on some of their footwear they are known for their use of the slightly more unique stitch down method.

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This particular pair is built on their sleek 2030 service boot last using Horween color 8 chromexcel leather, structured perforated cap toe, 8 antique brass eyelets, and British Dainite out soles.

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For anyone unfamiliar with Horween’s chromexcel it is an excellent oily pull up leather that ages and develops a patina that is hard to match. It can be prone to loose grain at times but my pair appears to be free of that entirely and is creasing beautifully. Scuffs and scratches wipe away with your finger or light brushing of a horsehair brush.

Outside of nit picking minor scuffs from shipping the boots are immaculate. The Horween leather uppers are thick and substantial, stitching is immaculate, and the presentation from Blue Button Shop is excellent.

Fit and Sizing

As is the case with most boots, Viberg’s on the 2030 last run a half size larger than Brannock sizing and possibly an entire size larger than what one would wear in sneakers. My feet are a slightly wide 8D on a Brannock device but not quite an 8E and this pair in a 7.5 fit great with thin to medium weight socks. If I wanted to wear really thick socks I would likely have to size up to an 8. For reference I wear a 7.5 in Red Wing Iron Rangers, a 7.5 in the Alden Barrie last, and an 8.5 in most sneakers unless they provide wide sizes.

Look and Feel

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The color 8 Horween chromexcel is an elegant deep eggplant color with red undertones that comes through in sunlight. The Dainite sole keeps the silhouette lean while providing a suitable amount of traction while being hard wearing and make the boots wearable in inclement weather.

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This particular pair of boots pair well with both denim and chinos. They work well for me both on the weekends and in my business casual setting at work. These are not my first pair of Vibergs so I knew what to expect, but everything about these boots checked all the boxes I wanted. They came with a pair of black and brown waxed round laces and I’m not sure which I like more at this point.

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The price tag for Vibergs is a large step up from other service boots like Red Wing but there is an aesthetic they provide that can’t be found easily elsewhere. They are much sleeker and slim than other boots in the fashion work boot space and that’s a large part of the cost. Viberg’s pattern and high quality combined create a truly awesome product.

Conclusion

If you can tolerate the price or are a footwear fanatic like myself, you can’t go wrong with Viberg. They make boots and shoes in an astounding number of leathers and construction methods so there is bound to be a makeup that you’ll fall in love with, either from Viberg directly or one of the many stockists.

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Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots Review

A quality leather boot can be a lifelong possession, even a generational heirloom. To endure the rigors of abuse the boot must be made from the toughest leather, sewn well, and very comfortable. How well does the Wolverine 1000 Mile Boot stack up to 2,640,000 footsteps?

Construction

The first impressions are of the thickness and suppleness of the Leather. It is Chromexcel leather from the Horween Leather Company, which supplies a lot of high quality leather. This leather is treated for 23 days with a variety of oils which makes the leather age with patina quite nicely. The feel of the leather is supple and substantial. By feel alone the boot conveys an attitude of durability and quality. High quality, check. For a $340 MSRP I would hope so…

The thread holding the boot together is white marine grade thread, the same type used in sails and Saddleback Leather products.

With some boots you get inexpensive laces, with the 1000 Mile Boot you get waxed laces made from short-weave cotton. They will not be disintegrating any time soon. When they do some different color laces may add an appealing level of colorific contrast. Another option are Leather Laces.

Leather soled boots tend to encounter a contradiction in purpose because of their rugged construction and yet their lack of traction and dislike of water. No doubt this is a consideration, but the application of high quality wax from Obenauf will waterproof and protect the leather. Having your cobbler install a Vibram Rubber Half Sole is also an option for increasing traction. With proper protection these boots will stand up to intense physical or liquid abuse (as will all quality leather).

If you need good traction from your boot and you want the characteristics of the 1000 Mile Boot then investigate the Red Wing Beckman, it has a rubber sole and is slightly cheaper. However, the Beckman does not have the Chromexcel leather which is an important selling point for the 1000 Mile Boot.

Aesthetic

It is not an unduly bulky boot yet by no means is it feminine in proportion. The 1000 Mile Boot does not quite compare with the dramatic style of the Alden Men’s Plain Toe Boot Brown, it is quite acceptable in it’s understated functionality. As an onlooker commented:

It has the look of being custom or handmade but still has consistent quality. It isn’t a combat boot or a work boot, it’s an everyday boot.

You have two color choices, black or brown. Both are stunning. Black provides a nice contrast in color in the sole and body of the boot, not to mention the rest of your attire. Interestingly, the black boots can be worn formally if shined properly. Brown goes well with anything and always looks manly.

For conditioning the leather Horween recommends plain Neatsfoot Oil for their Chromexcel leather.

Best Leather Conclusion

These are spendy boots, perhaps too much so for the limited functionality (water and traction). However, if you normally keep dry and value their awesome quality this may be the perfect daily boot for you. Just don’t go logging in them.

You can find them new on Amazon. Make sure you read the one year cleaning/conditioning article on them.

Updates to this Review

Update: As it turns out, maybe not so well: http://www.bestleather.org/wolverine-1000-mile-boots-six-month-checkup-uh-oh-sole-separation/

Update: After a year of use, this is what they look like as I clean and condition them.

Timberland Men’s Newmarket Boot Review

When fall approaches, there is no combination more classic or comfortable than chinos and boots. This combination works in both casual and professional settings and qualifies as a staple in any stylish man’s wardrobe. A contender for this autumn wardrobe staple is Timberland’s Newmarket Ankle Boot in brown full grain.

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Timberland can trace its roots all the way back to 1920s Boston, where Nathan Schwartz began his career as an apprentice stitcher. Schwartz and his family grew the company and, in the 1950s introduced an injection-molding technique that allowed them to waterproof their boots. In 1973, they introduced the “Timberland” brand, and the rest is history. Timberland is now a huge clothing and footwear brand that operates stores worldwide. Their company headquarters are in Stratham, New Hampshire.

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The Newmarket Ankle Boot is made with a full grain leather upper in a ruddy brown color. The leather is contrasted with a black woven cotton panel and a cream colored rubberized foam outsole that tapers from heel to toe. The outsole is attached with a differentiating tan cemented layer. The construction of these boots is nowhere comparable to that of a Goodyear welt or similarly constructed shoes. However, these land in the $100 dollar range, and the quality of the construction is proportionate.

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The stylishness of these shoes is definitely their strong point. The moc toe design on a foam sole is very on-trend. The brown leather and black fabric details make the shoe very versatile. The Newmarkets feel at home in many situations, whether it be a casual night out or an average day at the office. They look smart without being overly formal, and complement a range of pants styles.

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Out of the box, the boots have no issues with fit. They aren’t stiff or uncomfortable, and there’s no real break-in period. They have no padding along the ankle, but the top of the uppers are mostly fabric and do not rub or become sensitive.

The laces have four eyelets followed by two hooks that continue up the tongue of the boot. The flat-woven laces are somewhat difficult to thread through this hardware. I ended up changing the laces to a simpler round lace because the flat laces took too long to tie.

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The Timberland Newmarket Ankle Boots are a comfortable, stylish buy, and at $100, the price is right (even less on Amazon for certain sizes). Definitely plan to change the laces to a thinner, rounder type that will fit the hardware better. They won’t last you forever, but you’ll get several seasons out of them and look great doing it.