Kendal & Hyde Company Goodyear Welted Boots Review – $350

Boot reviews have become an important staple of what we do around here. When we had the opportunity to dialogue with Kendal Liddle, one of the founders of Kendal & Hyde Company, and the opportunity came up to review prototypes of the boots they’re currently offering through a well-received Kickstarter program, we jumped at the chance.

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About

Kendal & Hyde is new to the boot arena, but not new to creating stunning leather products. This duo – located in Salt Lake City, Utah and San Francisco, CA have a serious dedication to creating heirloom quality leather bags, belts, and small lifestyle accessories but saw the opportunity to go one-step further. The company wanted to begin building boots and help people in the process. They started brainstorming ideas to make peoples’ lives better, and came up with this: “For every pair of boots we sell, we will make and give a pair of shoes to a child in need in a developing country.” You might be thinking that this idea is way too unoriginal, but that is not the point. The shoes they will be making are actually long-lasting sandals that may be used by multiple children. This is a much better investment than shoes that wont last a child more than a year. To ice the cake, the sandals will be made from up-cycled rubber from landfills and high-quality, water-resistant durable leather,

To read more about Kendal & Hyde Company’s sandals and the humanitarian efforts, head over to their Kickstarter page. Purchasing boots allows you to contribute as much as you’d like to these efforts, help determine where the sandals will go, and gives you access to future developments. BestLeather appreciates and respects their desire to provide practical solutions to issues that affect everyday life for children around the globe.

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Construction

We received a total of four boots on Christmas Eve – a full pair of brogues along with a single boot in black and brown of their classic Doughboy. In our conversation on the phone, Kendal admitted that he’s a bit of a “leather snob” (that’s his own description…I didn’t make that up). All of their boots are constructed from full-grain leather. The grain is the outermost surface of the hide. It’s considered the strongest and most valuable part of the hide and the best leather for anything that needs to be durable.

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Their boots also feature Goodyear welted construction. Here’s a great summary of that process taken directly from their Kickstarter page: “Goodyear welting is the traditional way shoes have been made for centuries, but it’s named after the guy who invented a machine that could do the stitch that previously had to be done by hand. (He coincidentally was the son of the guy who invented vulcanized rubber, as in Goodyear Tires, as in what we are using for our boot soles.) Even with a machine, it is a hard and labor-intensive way to make shoes, but it is far superior to the cheaper and more common practice of just gluing a preformed sole to the shoe upper.”

In addition to Kendal & Hyde’s humanitarian mission, they’re also devoted to conducting an eco-friendly basis. In adherence with that dedication, they’ve decided to use tire sidewalls as the final outsole choice. It’s an excellent choice in that it recycles the material, provides long wear, and good grip for the wearer. The boots we received are prototypes and as such are not the finished products. However, these are some darn good looking prototypes! Again, reflecting on our conversations and emails with Kendal, he indicated that several things will change or be upgraded in the final production versions:

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“As mentioned the boots I sent are prototypes. This means the stitching is a little rougher than it will be in production. I have a few final tweaks I will be making before production, but most revisions do not show in photography and will go unnoticed by all but me, but I consider them improvements. The heel and the ankle profile are the only obvious revisions.”

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The points that will be changing in production are:

  • less hairy thread
  • minor nuance in the stitch pattern will be changed so there is parallel stitches instead of overstitching at the stress point
  • lower heel
  • thinner rubber on heel
  • the leather will be turned under at edges for a cleaner finish
  • the plain version will also be storm welted
  • the laces will be waxed and have metal aglets
  • the ankle will be a little narrower (heel and ankle like the below)

In looking over the prototypes we received and examining them with the improvements listed above in mind, the final production pieces should be stunning.

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Function

Due to the fact that these are pre-production prototype boots, we were not able to receive pairs of these boots in our size to try on or use. Consequently, there isn’t a great deal to be said about the functionality of the boots. However, we can speculate a few things based on previous experience with boots of similar design and build:

  • These are full lace up boots and do not have a tab or finger loop to aid in pulling the boots on. This will mean you’ll probably want to get a good shoe horn or you’ll need to unlace the boots somewhat to be able to slip them on easily.
  • Having waxed laces with metal aglets will certainly be beneficial in lacing them up quickly.
  • Due to the type of construction, these boots should be “out of the box comfortable” and not require a long break-in period. The boots feature multiple inner layers of varying degrees of softness. Even when sliding a hand down in the boot and pressing down on the insole, you know your feet will feel great once you slip these boots on. With the cork addition, they have a bit of a Birkenstock sandal feel to them (which, if you’ve never worn a pair of those sandals, is a fantastic thing).

BestLeather is supposed to receive a couple of pairs of production boots in our sizes, so be looking for full reviews on them in the coming months. We look forward to getting them on our feet and fully testing them out.

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Aesthetic

With their arrival on Christmas Eve, we’ve been able to put these boots in front of many of our friends and family. “Gorgeous – beautiful – classy – stylish – functional sophistication – can I take them home?” These are all things we heard about these boots. Fortunately, we still have them and no one absconded with them. However, we know they were tempted…big time.

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Tim’s impression: Out of the box, I could immediately tell that much thought had been put in to the sourcing of high quality materials and into the construction of these boots. The detail on the full brogue is stunning. The classic, plain toe doughboys exude a superior look and feel. All three boots look fantastic, look like they’ll hold a polish well for years, and will wear well for a very long time.

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TJ’s impression: The first thing that came to my mind was this, “These aren’t the final production pieces?” I was blown away with the perfection of these boots. All the colors were smooth, the WWI themed construction was refreshing and appreciated, and it was obvious that time, passion, and extreme attention to detail was used in the boot’s construction. These are boots I would wear for years, and while we have not yet been able to test their durability, they look absolutely promising. I am undeniably eager to get some final production boots.

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Conclusion

There are only a few days left in the Kendal & Hyde Leather Boot Kickstarter. Use some of that money you received as a holiday gift and get a pair or two of these boots ordered for yourself. There are several great reward packages available that include a great pair of these boots along with some other Kendal & Hyde swag and the ability to send a pair of footwear to a child in need. Start the year off right…giving and receiving. We look forward to reporting more on these boots as time goes on…stay tuned.

Florsheim Marlton Wingtips Review – $170

Florsheim got its start over a hundred years ago in the Windy City (Chicago). Surprise! An American luxury shoe brand does exist in this market flooded with Italian companies.  Founded in 1892 by a father-son team, it is one of the oldest American shoe brands still in business. For any company that lasts over a century, there must be a market draw that keeps business ever improving and expanding. Some companies find their niche in exclusivity, while others expand into the mainstream. Florsheim went with the latter, expanding into a name brand giant throughout the middle twentieth century. Now a household name, Florsheim is an established American brand with as much heritage to tout as many English and Italian brands. I got my hands on the Marlton Wingtip, a traditional offering from the Limited Collection.

FUNCTION

The fit is initially a little tight, and a bit awkward to step into at first. Breaking in tight shoes with as rigid heels as the Marlton has, my gait must have looked a little strange for one or two days as the leather adjusted to my stride and heel roll. In order to keep a tight oxford-style shoe from warping at the heel, make sure to use a shoehorn. Although they can immediately seem like a superfluous accessory, a simple shoehorn can add years to the life of your shoes. They eventually settled in quite well after the initial discomfort. In fact, these wingtips are now among the best fitting shoes I own, being on the level of my classic Vans skate shoes. However, for some with more dramatic heel roll the height and chunkiness of the sole might be a little dramatic to walk in comfortably. This is not to say that they lack comfort. They feel buttery and comfortable while still being firm, and the insole has a padded insert that also improves the feel.

CONSTRUCTION

A reasonably thick leather sole is goodyear welted with a rubber heel to provide traction. The outsole is thick and seems somewhat durable, though not recommended for rainy days without a rubber sole insert (these can be added by any cobbler for a small fee). Thin calfskin surrounds most of the upper, along with three sturdier suede contrast pieces. Suede around the top of the vamp allows for flexibility where the foot normally bends and warps a completely calfskin or cordovan shoe. Though the calfskin portions seemed at first questionable in thickness, they are resilient and thick enough to maintain the facade of the shoe. Still, I would question the integrity of the upper after a couple years of use. This level quality is well yoked with the price point even if a far cry from twenty year use material, which is nearly the maximum lifespan of any pair of oft-used shoes.

AESTHETIC

Undoubtedly the strongpoint of the shoe, a beautiful design, lends itself to a great reception from anybody who sees them. From a lineup of my personal collection, my family picked them out as either the best or second best looking. They are clean and slim, so as to remain modern and classic at the same time. The wingtip detailing and suede accents are definitively classical elements; you might see them on a Kentucky Derby attendee or Wall Street city slicker in the early twenties. The thin sole and thin profile keep them from looking like an outright anachronism though, and the balance is quite nice.

CONCLUSION

At $170 the Florsheim Marlton Wingtip is a well priced shoe. Not a steal, but a well priced investment that would likely last its wearer many years if properly maintained (use shoe trees, invest in a shoehorn, keep the leather polished and conditioned with a balm or lube, and avoid wearing them in the rain or snow). With a classic look and attractive detailing, this comfortable wingtip is a good choice for anyone looking to attend a derby – or Monday at the office – in style.

Rossi Boots 4002 Mulga Soft Toe Bushwalking Boot Review – $219 AUS

I’ve got a thing for boots. It should come as no surprise since this is the fourth pair of boots I’ve reviewed in the past couple of months. I am excited to have the opportunity to work with Rossi Boots. This is the first Australia-based boot company BestLeather has featured. To date, I’ve been extremely pleased with the Rossi Boots 4002 Mulga Soft Toe Bushwalking Boot.

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About Rossi Boots

Rossi Boots hails from Adelaide, Australia. Since 1910 they’ve been making boots. They have over 50 different boot styles.

“If there’s a bigger value than family at Rossi Boots, it’s our belief in uncompromising quality and value for money. No short cuts. It’s as simple as that. Only time-honoured, boot making craftsmanship combined with the finest materials will ensure each boot is built to work hard and play hard. And beyond expectations.”

After dialoguing with Jayne-Anne from Rossi Boots, we decided to review their Mulga Soft Toe Bushwalking Boots.

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Construction

When I inquired of Jayne-Anne about the construction process for the Mulga Boots, this is what she said, “It’s a pretty simple boot without a lot of bells and whistles to speak of. Classic and honest with a focus on durability.”

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The boots are constructed with what they refer to as a “claret” colored kip leather. Kip leather is 20% lighter and tighter grained than conventional steer hide. As a result it is more pliable, easier to break in, and still retains superior tensile strength. The eyelets are rust proof. The sole is rubber and features a classic hiker style tread. There is a steel shank embedded in the sole to provide rigidity and support.

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The construction appears to be solid and the boots are well finished. The stitching is even and doubled up in many different areas on the boots.

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Function

If you read any of the reviews on sites where the Mulga can be purchased, you’ll quickly come to the conclusion that it’s a well-loved boot. After wearing them for the first time it became quickly apparent to me that I would grow very fond of these boots.

Since receiving these boots, they have become my daily, go-to boots. I’ve worn them more than any other pair of boots I have currently. They are easy to put on and take off. They lace up quickly. They look great and feel fantastic on my feet.

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Aesthetic

The reason I put claret in quotes earlier is because I’m not sure I agree with that color designation. Claret is usually thought of as a deep purplish-red color (similar to red wine). While I can see some hints of that, I’d rather keep it simple and just call it a nice, dark chocolate color. Whatever word you choose to describe the color, one thing is certain…I like the way they look.

Rossi-Boots-Mulga-Bushwalking-Boots-3Even though they aren’t a “standout” in fashion or design, they get commented upon frequently. Their classic design and slightly thinner profile in the toe box area simply combines to create a bit more of a unique appearance than other standard hiking style boots.

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Conclusion

If you’re located in the US, like I am, and can get a pair of these boots, then do it. You won’t be disappointed. These are popular boots in many different countries around the world. And, they should be equally popular here in the US. They’re built well, feature a solid appearance, and are definitely a comfortable, daily wear boot.

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Sizing is UK based – so please remember that and refer to the sizing chart should you plan to order a pair and are used to US footwear sizes. Currently I am unaware of a US-based online or brick and mortar retailer who carries the Mulga Boots for Rossi. While there are online companies selling other Rossi Boots here in the states, the Mulga is mysteriously absent. All of the online retailers I’ve found that sell the Mulga Boots are located within Australia. When ordering, you may find the boots for much lower prices than the retail price listed here in the review – but, be prepared for some hefty shipping charges too. So, do your homework and find the best deal possible. And, if you’re a US-based retailer and you’re looking to add a new brand to your arsenal…talk to Rossi and please, add the Mulga Boot to your site.

At $219 Australian (approx. $189 US), I consider the Rossi 4002 Mulga Soft Toe Bushwalking Boot to be a great buy. They’re unique, stylish, comfortable, and made from excellent materials by a solid, reputable Australian company. I look forward to reporting on these boots again in a few months to let you all know how they’re wearing.

Oak Street Bootmakers Black Dainite Trench Boots – $462

The trench boot, sometimes known as the “Pershing boot,” was a combat boot used in World War I by British, American, French, and Belgian forces, made for the cold mud of trench warfare.

The 1917 Trench Boot was an adaptation of the boots American manufacturers were selling to the French and Belgian armies at the beginning of World War I. In American service, it replaced the Russet Marching Shoe. The boot was made of tanned cowhide with a half middle sole covered by a full sole, studded with five rows of hobnails. Iron plates were fixed to the heel. It was a great improvement, however it lacked waterproofing, leading to trench foot.

WWI-Soldier-with-Trench-Boots-Resized In January 1918 the Chief Quartermaster for the U.S. Army met with a board of officers at American Expeditionary Force Headquarters to make recommendations in order to improve the footwear of soldiers. The findings of the board were sent to General John Pershing, who approved the proposed changes. Shortly following, the improved 1918 Trench Boot, also called the “Pershing Boot,” was first issued to personnel. It used heavier leather in its construction, and had several minor changes from the 1917 Boot, including a thicker sole and improved waterproofing. – Adapted from Wikipedia

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About Oak Street Bootmakers

George Vlagos, founder and designer for Oak Street Bootmakers is the son of a cobbler. By an early age he was apprenticing in his own father’s shop where he learned the craft of shoemaking. Now George passionately seeks to preserve the heritage of fine shoemaking through exquisitely designed, expertly crafted shoes. Their website mantras are “Handcrafted in America – Designed for Longevity”.

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Construction

Oak Street makes a wide variety of attractive shoes and boots. In my initial discussions with George, we decided to review the Oak Street Bootmakers Black Dainite Trench Boot. This is one well-built boot! It features:

  • Black Horween Chromexcel Leather
  • True Goodyear Welt Construction
  • Dainite Soles
  • Stacked Leather Heel with Dainite Toplift
  • Calfskin Vamp Lining
  • Full Leather Laces

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These boots are fully re-craftable and they’re made in the USA. If you’re a regular here at BestLeather, you already know our thoughts on Horween’s Chromexcel Leather. It’s highly durable and an excellent choice for a boot given its high sheen. This is the first pair of boots or shoes that I’ve worn with Dainite soles or heels.

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Here’s a little snippet from Oak Street’s website about their construction: “Built on our Elston Last – a unique last providing exceptional fit and shape. Developed to embody the character of Chicago, the Elston last is engineered specifically for the trench boot providing the comfort yet durability demanded of the every-man.”

Function

There is a bit of a break-in period with a boot constructed with a Goodyear welt and so much leather. So, be sure to plan on wearing these for short periods of time the first few outings you don them on your feet. After a few dates with my wife, church visits, and excursions to client offices, I had these boots right where I wanted them. Now, I can wear them all day without issue. In fact, they are now very, very comfortable.

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Another thing to note about the Trench Boot – they have eyelets all the way up. This means that you will need to lace and unlace them each time you take them on or off. It’s a little time consuming, so just plan ahead. I also found that since these boots do not have a heel loop, it’s easier to slip them on using a shoehorn.

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Oak Street’s boots seem to run true to size as the fit was spot on for me (I generally wear a size 12 and the boots I received in size 12 fit perfectly). The sole and heel are comfortable and provide excellent traction. After reading a little about the Dainite sole and heel, I took a bit more notice of the fact that they truly don’t pick up dirt or rocks, yet still maintain good contact feel, and are non-marking.

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Aesthetic

Have you seen the pictures? (Oh that’s right, you only come here to read the words.) These boots are stunning and look fabulous. This is going to sound like I’m describing a sports car, but here goes: The Oak Street Bootmakers Black Dainite Trench Boots feature clean lines, smooth finishes, carefully crafted curves, and an excellent combination of materials.

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The contrast of the deep black Horween leather and brown color of the sole’s components combine to create a very appealing look. Someone inevitably comments on these boots every time I wear them. Every. Single. Time. I’m sure that the other versions of their Trench Boot will garner the same attention. However, I’m partial to this black pair – I think they’re fantastic.

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Conclusion

The Oak Street Bootmakers Black Dainite Trench Boots should be considered a Buy It For Life item. Initially that $462 price may sting a bit, but only a bit….because you’ll quickly find that these handcrafted boots are well worth every penny and will truly give you a lifetime of comfort and style. The Oak Street Bootmakers Black Dainite Trench Boot pays tribute to a time tested design that has been around for almost a century and is sure to remain popular for many decades to come.

Shoe Passion #591 “Double Monk” Shoe Review – $281

These shoes smell delicious. I’m not sure why that still stands out to me but the pleasure of their aroma is notable. It reminds me of a sweet woody smell with a factory twist. Though it seems strange to say the flavor is distinctly German. Dubbing themselves “The Berlin Shoe Brand,” SHOEPASSION is one of few German shoe manufacturers still making classics. Their heels are still produced in the recently featured Rendenbach factory from traditional designs and attached to contemporary shoes that feature modern technology. The “passion” poured into their craft is clear in their lovingly constructed website chock full of information and guides to selecting and maintaining shoes, a passion that is true to the company’s name. Zeal for product however is seldom enough to justify a $280 price tag, but a shoe like the #591 double monk-strap can stand on its own merit.

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SWORDS MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER

CONSTRUCTION

They are suitably well built. Monk straps shoes are formed in a similar manner to derbys meaning that the last is separated into two parts where the eyelets would be but are here covered with the strap. Flexible and well shaped, the strap is a sturdier alternative to laces and additionally strengthened by the use of metal buckles. These two buckles are attached to the shoe with pieces of elastane so as to allow the shoe to function as a slip-on at will – a course of action I cannot recommend if you lack a shoe horn with which to put them on.

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The sole is thick, all of the seams are clean and seamless as well as subtly double stitched for strength and the goodyear-welting is solid. Box calf leather covers the shoe, which is thinner than a shell cordovan, but also pliable enough to be more forgiving. Included in the packaging for the shoes is a pair of rubber vibram sole covers which a cobbler can put on for around ten dollars. This offers extra waterproofing and an extended sole life, which is a good idea for a three hundred dollar shoe.

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FUNCTION

Monk straps are generally less popular than derbys and oxfords and are therefore still somewhat of a rarity in America. They do have something alien to them, perhaps the strange process of fiddling with two straps rather than a set of laces when donning or removing them. This takes a little getting used to but eventually the process of removing each strap from the buckles is a cinch (faster than a pair of laces, in fact).

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As aforementioned this style is intended to be a slip-on which is not quite as seamless a process. Without a shoe horn attempting to slip monk-straps on and off would ruin them; it is still a bit dangerous with the horn. The weight of the shoe is the greatest inconvenience and left my surprised feet like overworked oxen at the end of a few days. Solid box-leather shoes with such a thick sole were not surprising with their weight though it should be taken into consideration if your intention is to wander city streets for longer than a couple hours.

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AESTHETIC

The dark brown of the last is a deep rich color featuring an artificial toe-cap patina and complemented by well chosen silver buckles that add to the sleek appearance. The cap toe proves a good choice for the target aesthetic of the monk-straps breaking up the length of an otherwise long toe. These are not considered formal footwear but semi-formal a few steps below patent leather oxfords and such. In this niche, #591 can be worn with a variety of jeans, slacks, and even the right shorts; good pairings abound with a good looking shoe, which is something that stretches back to the origins of the dress shoe.

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Even within the confines of staple dress shoe versatility the monk-strap is a unique shoe, one of its strongest points. In any group, even one of well-dressed men, the double monk-strap is still capable of standing out (a task considerably more difficult for its derby and oxford cousins.

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BestLeather CONCLUSION

At €219 ($281) SHOEPASSION’s #591 double monk-strap is among a wave of more affordable luxury shoes, comparable in quality to the American made Allen Edmonds. That much being said they still performed above my expectations. Though soft these are a reasonable option with a strong sole and good physical design that is aided greatly by how well they are constructed . A little heavy after extended periods of wear and difficult to slip on and off there is still enough charm and comfort (assuming they fit well, take UK sizing into account when purchasing a pair) in the laceless design to merit an investment in a pair of these German luxury shoes.

For more products from SHOEPASSION visit: http://www.shoepassion.com/

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Dr Martens 1460 ForLife Boots Review – $180.00

On April 1, 1960 the first pair of Dr. Martens boots hit the pavement in England. In 1964, Pete Townshend walked out on to a stage to perform with a new band called The Who wearing a pair of 1460 boots. Townshend’s affinity for Dr. Martens boots became well-known during those days. Teens around the world saw him, listened to The Who’s music, and took note of the boots. And as they say, a legend was born – Dr Marten’s boots had been introduced on the world stage and the world embraced them.

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About Dr Martens

The Dr. Martens brand has been an iconic player in the leather footwear world for many decades now. While there is still an association with the rebellious “angst” of youth, the boots, shoes, and clothing developed over the years by Dr. Martens has persevered and made its way into just about every niche of society. Yes, Dr. Martens boots were and still are associated with various youth sub-cultures – but, you’re just as likely to see a young (or “well-seasoned” aka old) professional donning a pair of DMs these days too.

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Construction

Take a couple of minutes to watch the DM video on their construction. Notice all of the handwork that takes place in addition to the machines used. High grade leather – tough, heavy gauge thread – Goodyear welt – and some unique construction components all merge together to create an attractive, very comfortable and long wearing boot.

In addition to DM’s use of high quality leather, they’re well-known for their AirWair soles, which was born out of a partnership with a German duo in the late 1950s. The AirWair sole is an air-cushioned, extremely comfortable to wear sole that is oil resistant, offers excellent long term wear, and great traction.

Function

I received a pair of Dr. Martens ForLife 1460 Boots in Dark Brown. Out of the box, these are the most comfortable boots I’ve worn. For full disclosure, I’ve owned several pairs of Dr. Marten shoes, boots, and sandals over the years. The 1460 boots have not disappointed – they are comfortable from day one and you can wear them all day, every day.

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The Dr. Martens ForLife 1460 Boots feature a lifetime guarantee (hence the moniker, “ForLife”). That’s right…they will repair or replace these boots for as long as you own them. Another nice feature is that they include an extra set of laces and a container of DM’s Wonder Balsam, which is a concoction of coconut oil, lanolin, and beeswax. It comes with an applicator sponge making it easy to apply the balsam to your boots in order to keep the leather conditioned and protected for years of beauty and durable service.

As previously mentioned, these boots are comfortable. The leather is soft and supple and the AirWair sole cushions every step. Truly, you’ll enjoy wearing them.

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Aesthetic

The Dr. Martens ForLife 1460 Boots come in four classic colors: black, DM black, dark brown, and oxblood. My dark brown pair are ideal for my personal style. I can wear them with jeans and they look great. Or, I can wear these boots with khakis and they’re dressy enough to not look out of place in more, slightly formal situations.

One of the things I have always liked about the shoes, boots, and sandals I’ve owned from DM is the stitching. It’s thick, heavy duty, and exudes a certain rugged durability that I appreciate.

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Dr. Martens boots grab people’s attention too. On countless occasions while out and about, I’ve had friends, and even complete strangers, comment favorably on this pair of boots.

My only complaint – and this has been long-standing with DM’s and other boots of this same style – is that I have to unlace 3 or 4 eyelets in order to slip them on. Picky, picky, picky…I know. Yes, that’s incredibly minor in the grand scheme of things, but I had to mention it. I would be a mess trying to get ready in the morning if I had to put on a pair of DM’s boots that have 14 eyes to lace up!

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Conclusion

The Dr. Martens ForLife 1460 Boots are an incredible buy at only $180. Solid construction from quality materials, out of the box comfort, and a lifetime guarantee for that price? Maybe you should order a few pair…

One more thing to note: if you ever find yourself in London, do visit one of the five Dr. Martens stores. Personally, I think the store in Covent Garden is the best!

Update: 11 Months Later Review

I missed doing a six-month follow up review on these boots and I’m about a month early on an official one year review…but, I wanted to get this update on the Dr. Martens 1460 FORLIFE Boots out there for our readers.

These boots have been a consistent ‘go-to’ option ever since they arrived last year in July (my initial review for the Dr. Martens 1460 FORLIFE Boots was published on September 6, 2014). The boots continue to wear well. Actually, they show hardly any wear at all. They have molded perfectly to my feet and I can wear them all day long, multiple days in a row, and my feet feel great the entire time.

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The attached photos were taken just this past month and, as you can see, they’re still looking fantastic! There are a few scuffs here and there, but nothing that a good cleaning and treatment with the Wonder Balsam won’t cure (which is included with any purchase of Dr. Martens FORLIFE products).

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I look forward to many more years of great use with these boots. And, I wouldn’t hesitate at all to purchase another FORLIFE style from Dr. Martens. Finally…I do plan to update again on these boots in time. So, be sure to check back. Thanks!

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Thorogood 1892 Wisconsin Collection Portage CXL Roofer Boots Review – $305

The Thorogood 1892 Wisconsin Collection Portage CXL Roofer Boots, made by Weinbrenner Shoe Company of Merrill, WI. That’s a mouthful of a name for a pair of boots. But, these boots are just as substantial, if not more so, than the name they carry.

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About Weinbrenner Shoe Company

Iconic American success stories are awesome and the story of Albert Weinbrenner, son of a German immigrant and cobbler, holds true to form. Albert began his apprenticeship at age 13 working for his father. By his early 20s, in his spare time, Albert was designing work boots specifically for the trade jobs his friends had around Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1892, at the age of 27, Albert started his own cobbler business with partner Joseph Pfeifer.

Weinbrenner and Pfeifer enjoyed immediate success – becoming well known for their “jobber” boot. Today Weinbrenner Shoe Company is still based in Wisconsin and employs over three hundred people in the local area.

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Construction

Here’s the quick hit list on what the 1892 Portage Collection Boot is made from and how it’s made: double layered Horween Chromexcel, triple stitching, Goodyear Leather Welt, and Nitrile Cork Outsoles. These boots are built to last – forever.

According to Richard Martens, International Sales Manager for Weinbrenner, the original Portage Roofer boots were designed specifically for men who spent their days on roofs. The laces extend forward, closer to the toe than conventional boots. This was to allow more flexibility since roofers were bent over frequently. The side panels of the boots featured a double set of leather reinforcement panels to provide stability while working. These design elements have been carried over into the modern version of the Portage Roofer boots and create an extremely robust, durable boot.

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Function

Again, in my conversation with Richard from Weinbrenner, I was given a casual, but totally honest, warning that “you’ll earn the right to wear the Portage boot”. He was definitely correct. These boots have two layers of leather and triple stitching – they’re a wee bit stiff when you get them. It takes a little time to break them in properly. Yes, you definitely earn the right to wear the Portage boots every day. I have to admit, there were a couple of points where I was tempted to try an aftermarket insole, thinking maybe a swap would help. However, I pulled the “stock” insole out and it was immediately apparent that the insole was not the issue. It’s deeply padded and features a thick, cushy heel cup. So, I stayed the course…a wedding, a couple of trips to church, an evening out with my bride, and suddenly the boots were “there” – I had them just where I wanted them…comfy and ready for full, daily wear.

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Once you have the boots loosened up and fitting your feet well, you’re in for a treat. Simply put, this is a very comfortable pair of boots to wear. They slip on and off easily with the 3 lace hooks up top. The sole of the Portage boots is made from Nitrile Cork. These are the first boots I’ve ever had with that type of outsole. Initially, I was a little worried about slippage. However, that is not an issue at all. Nitrile Cork is extremely oil and grease resistant. The sole on the Portage boots features a fine grain and offers superior traction and long term wear. And, once the boot has been broken in, the outsole is very comfortable.

Aesthetic

Look at the pictures – these boots rock. Their styling is very different from most of the other boots you’ll see out there. While the original Portage boots may have been designed as “jobber boots”, today they exude style and class. They look good in almost any situation. And, people notice them. I’ve had many occasions where people commented on these boots. The uniqueness of the lace pattern is probably the first thing people notice. Add to that the Horween Chromexcel and the heavy duty, triple stitching and you’ve got a recipe for some seriously stylish boots.

The boots on their first full day excursion. Very comfortable!
The boots on their first full day excursion. Very comfortable!

The only thing I’m not completely sold on yet is the laces. Yes, that’s a seriously minor thing to pick on but, I’m just being honest. While I like the color contrast they offer to the brown leather, I wish they too were leather. I may invest in a pair of lighter tan colored leather laces and see if that does the trick.

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Conclusion

At $305, the Thorogood 1892 Wisconsin Collection Portage CXL Roofer Boots are a serious bargain. Yes, I said bargain. In the realm of quality, leather boots $305 is definitely a deal. They’re made in the USA, sport hefty construction, use Horween leather, and offer excellent style and durability. You can’t go wrong buying a pair or two, or three of these boots. Just remember that break-in period and plan accordingly.

Longer Lasting High Quality Leather Soles – Rendenbach

This is a sponsored post by SHOEPASSION.com.

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The name Rendenbach enjoys worldwide recognition, synonymous with extremely comfortable, high-quality manufactured leather soles. Founded in 1871 by Joh. Rendenbach Jr., this traditional company has always used the same, centuries-old production method to create first-rate Rendenbach soles—namely, pit tanning. This special tanning method is not only environmentally friendly, but also guarantees the unsurpassed quality of Rendenbach soles.

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Rendenbach soles – traditional and exclusive quality since 1871

Over 140 years have elapsed since Johann Rendenbach Junior founded his eponymous, Trier-based leather factory in 1871. In the beginning, Rendenbach’s great-grandfather and grandfather delivered breathable, sturdy Rendenbach soles to upscale shoe factories and shoe repair workshops. The one-of-a-kind quality of these soles led many renowned shoe manufacturers to demand their own, customized designs.

Now in the fourth generation of family ownership, Rendenbach is currently run by the founder’s great-grandson, Hanns Rendenbach. He continues the tradition of the Rendenbach sole in Trier, Germany’s oldest city. As before, the secret of the Rendenbach sole still lies in traditional pit tanning; few manufacturers can perfectly execute this classic craft.

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high-quality natural products

The renowned pit tanning method is essential to the production of a high-quality Rendenbach sole. Inside roughly three metre deep oak pits, vegetable tannins are combined with soft leather fibres. In keeping with tradition, Rendenbach only uses first-rate leather hides and obtains the tannins exclusively from natural sources. The special tanning formula contains oak, spruce and mimosa bark, as well as the Mediterranean valonea fruit. These natural products make Rendenbach soles especially skin-friendly.

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Before the Rendenbach sole is complete, it undergoes a series of preparatory steps: the leather is oiled with vegetable fats, gently dried, rolled, and cut. This intricate, environmentally friendly process pays off; it’s reflected in the extremely high quality of the leather, as well as the solidity and sustainability of the Rendenbach sole.

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The Advantages of Rendenbach quality

The Rendenbach sole not only guarantees natural water resistance and a stable form, but also an incomparably high level of wearing comfort. Rendenbach soles are distinguished by their light weight, their ‘air-conditioning’ effect, and their natural, elegant grain pattern. These traditional leather soles are completely biodegradable, fulfil the requirements of the German Medicinal Products Law, and are ISO-9001 certified.

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Each of the models in our exotic men’s shoe collection is fitted with a high-quality Rendenbach sole; after all, a first-rate leather sole lays the foundation for every exclusive men’s shoe.

OluKai Mea Ola Leather Sandals Review – $120

OluKai is a California-based footwear company founded by Hawaii Native Bill Worthington, who first began selling island-inspired leather sandals in 2006. It maintains strong ties to the Hawaiian community while focusing on environmentally friendly practices both in Hawaii and California. Each product is given a Polynesian name with Mea Ola meaning “creature.”

OlukaiMeaOlaSandals6 CONSTRUCTION

The Mea Ola is constructed using the “Wet Sand Principle.” Like a foot sinking into wet beach sand, the sandal is made to cradle the foot with use. It boasts a biomechanically engineered anatomic footbed with a deep heel contour to support and align the foot. The toe post is hand-sewn with metal rivets and the straps are full-grain leather. The lining is synthetic pigskin with a neoprene backing and the midsole is compression-molded EVA wrapped in full grain leather. The outsole is also wrapped in full grain leather and made with 30% recycled materials with non-marking natural latex gum rubber traction pads. All leather is sourced from environmentally conscious ISO-14001 certified tanneries while manufacturing is done in Asia and Mexico.

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FUNCTION

Built by a company dedicated to the waterman and ocean lifestyle, these leather sandals fulfill their job. This sandal can handle any situation from the beaches of Hawaii to the concrete jungle of New York City. It is water-resistant but not waterproof and the traction pads maintain a steady grip regardless of weather. Compared to my previous pairs of more “popular” mainstream leather sandals, these sandals do not warp or color bleed onto your feet. Although OluKai is all about comfort, it takes a while before the tough construct of the sandal is actually broken in. Eventually your foot will create its own personal impression and sink into a bed of comfort, but expect a blister or two first.

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Give it some time and the leather will reward you with a custom fit around your feet

AESTHETIC

It’s ok to judge this book by its cover. The Mea Ola leaves no aesthetic detail behind. From the handsewn canoe lash whipstitch detail to the laser etched artwork, every nook and cranny is carefully designed onto a polished-high quality leather bed. If the Dark Java color is not for you, there are four other color options to choose from.

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BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

The OluKai Mea Ola Sandal is one of the highest priced leather sandals and not for the casual beach-goer looking for quick comfort at bargain prices. It takes some time to break in and requires some maintenance and care, but they will reward your feet with long lasting comfort and luxury style.

Allen Edmonds Dalton Wingtip Dress Boots Review – $395

Allen Edmonds is a Wisconsin-based shoe company which has produced shoes for over 90 years for Americans to enjoy. It is one of fewer than 10 American shoe companies who still produce their dress shoes domestically and is arguably one of the best upscale shoemakers worldwide. Although the stores tend to be located in busier metropolitan areas, everyone can purchase directly from their online store which has live assistance, an interactive fitting guide, and demonstration videos to help you make an informed decision.

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CONSTRUCTION

The Dalton is the product of 212 steps in the shoemaking process. It is built on the welted 511 last, perfect for the average shaped foot with a slightly fuller toe area. It runs true to size. The leather upper is calfskin and the sole is made of butyl double leather. There is a sturdy pull tab for easy slipping in and out.  This boot also comes with more lives, since it is eligible for the legendary Allen Edmonds recrafting service. Recrafting prices range according to the level of service but bring your shoe back to near-new condition. Everything from the soles, welting, cork layer, and laces can be replaced and the uppers refinished.

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FUNCTION

The Dalton works well as a daily casual shoe. By using the company’s online interactive Shoe Fit Guide, you can easily determine the exact size and width of your shoe to maximize your comfort and use of these boots. The boot is lightweight enough for casual walking and day to day activities. For avid golfers, a custom golf sole can also be installed for an additional $50. The firm heel area may eventually start causing discomfort in those whose professions require standing or walking all day. This is no work boot and would not be ideal for harsh weather or environments which would inevitably damage the leather uppers and sole.

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After a long day of travel, you’ll still want to keep these boots on.

 AESTHETIC

The Dalton is built for those looking to convey sophistication with an edge. It has a classic wingtip blucher with brogue and medallion design which will elevate any casual outfit. Although it is called a “dress boot,” it is ideal for a blazer and jean combo but is too casual and bulky for a tailored suit. The lace color can be changed to the owner’s preferences but finding waxed laces at a minimum 48’’ length can be difficult. A quick Internet search will show that the vast majority of owners are quite satisfied with the surprising comfort of these boots.

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Customize your boots with some color.

BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

The Allen Edmonds Dalton Wingtip Dress Boot is a well priced upscale leather boot which should be a staple in any gentleman’s shoe closet. Words don’t do it justice when you can just stare at it. Instead of choosing the boots, you will be choosing clothing to match. Don’t forget to put aside some of your budget for cedar shoe trees and an eventual recrafting as you will want to keep these boots forever.

A Review of the Forest Heights Piedmont Boot from Danner – $285

Portland, Oregon is a hub for all that is cool. As Fred Armisen would say, “The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland.” People wear flannel shirts, tights jeans, big glasses, gauges, the lot. It is a timeless casually classy look. Leather is everywhere you look — Leather wallets, leather pants, leather jackets, leather iPhone cases, leather bags, leather, leather, leather, leather, and, finally, more leather. The most prominent of all of these trades are boots — Portland is a leather boot city. And that is where Danner comes in.

I have been wearing the Forest Heights Piedmont boots from Danner for about a month now and I am thoroughly impressed. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on Danner and an article on my first impressions of these boots. If you want more information on the company or on my first impressions, please check them out!

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construction

The Forest Heights Piedmont Boots, named after the west hills of Portland, are handbuilt in Danner’s Portland factory. They are constructed from Horween leather which is welted to a Vibram 232 mini-lug outsole using a Goodyear Welt. They are built entirely by hand by a team of craftsman — it is said that over 100 hands will touch your boots before they leave the Portland factory. That is insane, considering how huge their production is. This is not a boutique boot company, this is an enormous, global boot company and to have that kind of craftsmanship standards is beyond astonishing.

Check out that traction! 45 degree mossy slope and holding strong.
Check out that traction! 45 degree mossy slope and holding strong.

These boots are built solid. The Horween leather is gorgeous and tough and, combined with a Vibram sole, means that these boots are built for the everyday adventures of Urban Explorers. And because they are welted(stitched) together, the boots are not going to come apart if you wear them day in and day out. The combination of leather welted to Vibram is pretty spectacular. You get the classy aesthetic of a welted leather boot with the usability/traction of a Vibram sole, not to mention it is much more durable than a glued sole.

Vibram 232 Mini-Lug soles. Solid performance on trails and in the city.
Vibram 232 Mini-Lug soles. Solid performance on trails and in the city.

aesthetic

Just a note — men who wear classy leather boots with straight cut jeans are 78% more likely to attract a mate. And man, do the Piedmonts fit this bill. I have not seen many boots as classy and beautiful as the Piedmonts. The tan leather on the black sole is a timelessly classy look, yet somehow slightly rugged in these boots. The outsole is very low profile, which gives it a classy look, even though it is much more functional than your average leather sole boot.

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The leather, with each step, will wear and conform to your foot. In other words, after a few weeks of wear, the boots will look worn. Which just adds to the cool aesthetic. It gives the boots a rugged look, which is much appreciated.

The aesthetic is one that would not be out of place in an office setting, just as it is one that would not be out of place on the Wildwood Trail or a walk up Burnside in a Portland mizzle. These are a great combination of style, class, function, and durability.

function

I have been wearing these boots for about a month straight now. In that time, we have had snow, rain, and sub-zero temps. It has been a harsh month as far as inclement weather goes and the Piedmonts have stood up to all of it.

The combination of leather with the Vibram sole does not just look good; rather, it creates a weather-resistent boot capable of walking through puddles and snow banks alike without any issues. The major crestfall of a leather-sole boot is that there is limited(if any at all) traction and that it will have problems if you walk through a puddle. This is where Danner comes in — The Piedmonts, with their Vibram sole, will grab onto snow and mud and will not allow water to permeate into the boot. Dry feet are happy feet.

Though they are quite weatherproof, I would still recommend applying a waterproofer (preferably a natural brand, such as SnoSeal or Otter Wax) to increase the leather’s ability to repel water. This will help protect the leather as well as give you a drier foot in the long run.

A test of both OtterWax and Horween leather, my treated Piedmonts are quite water resistant.
A test of both OtterWax and Horween leather, my treated Piedmonts are quite water resistant.

These are an unlined boot, so they are not exactly warm, but I haven’t had any problems with longer excursions in the cold — Just throw on a good pair of woolies and you are set!

As with any quality leather product, there is a break in period. I have been wearing the Piedmonts for a month or so and they are pretty well broken in — Well, enough to where they are extremely comfortable to wear for an entire day. But, I can see them continuing to wear with me as I wear them.

The Piedmonts are true to size.

BestLeather Conclusion

There is an ample supply of classy looking leather boots out there, but few have the durability of these Danner’s. I am impressed by these boots. They have stood up to a three hour muddy romp through the woods, puddles, snow banks, 13+ hours on end of wear, and no problems at all.

Water beading up -- a testament to OtterWax and Horween!
Water beading up — a testament to OtterWax and Horween!

And the break in period is great for an unlined pair of full grain leather boots!

For $285, you are getting what you pay for. An excellent, beautiful, classy, well-built, and quality pair of boots that is as functional as it is great to look at. A great boot to wear in the city, a great boot to wear on the trail, a great boot to wear in a snow storm, you cannot go wrong with a pair of Danner Forest Heights Piedmonts, a boot for the urban explorer.

Check the Piedmonts out on Danner’s website!

If you have a pair of Danner boots, please share your story below!

RSVP – Helm Boots is Having a Party Friday Night, 28 March

Come see the folks at the HELM store – 900 East 6th Street in Austin, Texas – this Friday. Try on new styles, see some old styles on sale and have a cocktail from Juiceland. It’s a great way to start the weekend.  RSVP on Facebook – follow them while you’re over there!

They are announcing the new styles for Spring ’14: The Dash in Gray & Chestnut, The Phillips in Copper and the Lotzer in Teak.  Shop online or in their East Austin store or just give them a call 512.609.8150. They will be happy to introduce you to these new, versatile boots.

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Danner Forest Heights Piedmont Boot – First Impressions

A full review on the boots will be finished soon, after I wear them for a few weeks, but I couldn’t help giving you guys a little taste of what the Forest Heights Piedmont boot from Danner are about.  

The Piedmonts at the coffee shop. First wear.
The Piedmonts at the coffee shop. First wear.

Danner is based out of Portland, Oregon. (If you would like to read more about their company and their philosophy regarding quality, please check out my article which goes into much more detail regarding the company.)

out of the box

They are a handsome boot.
They are a handsome boot.

My first words were, “Damn, these are beautiful.” No question about it — the Piedmonts are a beautiful pair of boots.

I put them on and went to the coffee shop — my normal routine. I am used to the break in process of leather boots and the Piedmonts are no exception. You can expect some blisters for the first few days — but stick with it! After just a week or so of wear, they are already broken in and are my everyday shoe now.

Double stitching and braided nylon laces make these boots tough and useable in many situations.
Double stitching and braided nylon laces make these boots tough and useable in many situations.

Right out of the box, they feel solid. The leather is supple, the laces are strong, the eyelets are simple and good looking, and the sole is a good piece of Vibram rubber, which is renowned for both durability and traction. I was impressed the moment I felt them.

Goodyear welted sole. This is much more durable than a glued sole.
Goodyear welted sole. This is much more durable than a glued sole.

I have worn them for three weeks now and they feel great. I treated them with Boot Wax, a natural leather sealant from another Portland-based company, Otter Wax, to protect them from the weather here. As you know, weather in the Pacific Northwest can be unpredictable and is usually wet; Boot Wax, full grain leather, Vibram soles, and Goodyear welting means the Piedmonts are good for most conditions found in the wild, wet, and beautiful PNW. They are almost fully broken in, as well, which is a good sign.

If you have a pair, what did you think when you first pulled them out of the box and onto your feet?

 

All About The Types Of Leather Use In Shoes – Type, Thickness, And Grains

Unlike other objects made of leather, like furniture, coats, purses and so on, the majority of shoe leather is stretched over a last (a wooden or plastic form in the general shape of a foot) to create the shoe upper. To do this the leather has to be within a certain range of thickness. And, certain types of leather define the type and quality of the shoe. Lets dig into what leathers are ideal for shoes.

Types of Leather Used in Shoes

One of the most preferred leathers for dress/business shoes is calfskin. Because calfskin comes from a calf it has a tighter grain and fiber, and is thinner and lighter than cow hide; this makes for better shoe leather. Other types of animal leather include:

  • Kidskin (from goat)
  • Pigskin/Peccary (from pig)
  • Cordovan Shell (from horse)
  • Bovine leather (cow hide / calfskin)

Those are the most common types of animal leather used in shoes.

Types of Animal Leather Used in Shoes

but you also have more exotics leathers such as the following:

  • Buffalo
  • Elephant
  • Kangaroo
  • Ostrich
  • Alligator
  • Crocodile
  • Lizard
  • Snake

Reptile skins tend to last longer and need less care than animal leathers, but they are also more expensive.

Where is Leather Used in Shoes?

A high quality, all leather, shoe uses leather in the following places:

  • The outsole of the shoe (the part that touches the ground)
  • The insole of the shoe (the part your foot rests on)
  • The lining of the shoe (between your foot and the upper)
  • The heel of the shoe (as in stacked layers of leather to create the heel)
  • The shoe upper (the rest of the shoe, excluding the items above)

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Leather Thickness

Shoes that are not all leather may have rubber soles, insoles made of various materials, and heels made of wood, rubber or plastic. I would suggest going with all leather if you can, with the exception of perhaps rubber soles – if you need to stand in cold wet environments. Leather thicknesses is measured in ounces of weight to thickness in fractions of an inch:

  • 1oz = 1/64
  • 2oz = 1/32
  • 3oz = 3/62
  • 4oz = 1/16
  • 5oz = 5/64
  • 6oz = 3/32
  • 7oz = 7/64
  • 8oz = 1/8
  • 9oz = 9/64
  • 10oz = 5/32
  • 11oz = 11/64
  • 12oz = 3/16
  • 13oz = 13/64
  • 14oz = 7/32

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A leather outsole on a man’s shoe is around 12oz in thickness on average. A leather insole is typically around 14oz in thickness to accommodate the welt. A shoe upper is around 5oz on a typical dress/business shoe, The lining is about 1oz.

All of these thicknesses can vary due to leather type, welt method, and shoe style. For example Italian shoes tend to be sleeker and therefore use thinner leather in the soles and uppers to achieve the look. Soles that are Blake stitched or bond welted don’t require as thick an insole as Goodyear welted shoes.

The quality of the leather used in a given line of shoes is determined by the grade of leather the shoe manufacturer purchased to make the shoes. The leather on a shoe upper is typically grain side out leather, but shell cordovan has no grain, waxed leather is used inside out (flesh side out), and suede leather has had the grain removed entirely. Leather that has blemishes in the grain are often buffed (sanded) of the grain side to remove the blemishes, which then requires the grain to be corrected.

About Corrected Grain Leather

Corrected grain leather is sometimes referred to as bookbinder leather. If the grain has not been corrected it is referred to as full grain. One of the final stages of tanning leather is applying the color and finish (although chromium tanned leather can be bought in the “wet blue” state” it comes out of the tanning process in). The high quality leather is typically aniline dyed, which saturates the color completely through the leather. The leather won’t have a coated feel to it. The leather is also pressed under high pressure to give it some shine, and a very thin coat of clear or colored acrylic is applied as a final finish, in most cases.

Some shoe manufacturers may also add an additional clear or colored finish coat. In the case of corrected grain, the pressing and acrylic finish is also where the corrected grain is applied. Because of this, corrected grain leather will have a thicker finish than non-corrected grain, and may also be a little shinier. Corrected grain finishes can range from a simple smooth surface to faux animal skin and pebble grain. Corrected grain leather is typically lower grade leather, simply because the grain and aniline dye would be covered up if done to a higher quality leather. And, the thicker the finish the poorer the leather quality can be. There are exceptions to this rule of course; for example: some pebble grain shoes/boots can be made of good quality leather, but it is hard to tell because of what the finish covers up.

The best way to tell if a shoe is made of corrected grain leather (actually, leather that has a corrected finish on the grain) is to flex the shoe. The finer the creases the more finish on the shoe (the greater the correction). Shoes come in all types and qualities of leather, so it helps to have an idea of what you are really buying. Another of the biggest indicators you can use for determining if a shoe uses corrected grain is price. Quality costs good money. Yet another way is to look at the shininess since corrected grain leather has a much thicker layer of acrylic.

Hopefully this article will give you some things to consider when you are you are looking to buy a shoe.

This is a guest post from Glen Tippets, the owner of the shoe care company, GlenKaren Care Products. You can learn more about his naturally made products at glenkarencare.com.

Wolverine Courtland 1000 Mile Boots – Introductory Thoughts

These Wolverine Courtlands offer style and ruggedness in a boot package which is often reserved for logging and dropping heavy things on your feet. For the sharp dressed man or woman with a penchant for the rugged yet subtle style and more protective functionality of a boot, this is a worthy option. Here are a few initial thoughts on this boot after exercising it for a month in a wide variety of situations. Of course, a full exhaustive review will be forthcoming.

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classy boots!

This is a classy boot which works with a large variety of styles. You can dress it up with some polish, wear it casual, or dress it down for this new style of leaving your boots untied in a careless hipster manner (which I do not understand, “I am so cool I don’t even tie my shoes!”). You can wear it with a nice pair of jeans or chinos and look sharp. The Chromexcel leather from Horween presents and wears well shined or unshined thanks to it’s wax impregnated texture. Chromexecel is expensive leather, consequently it also contributes to the higher price of the Courtlands. It is an ideal wearable leather for this application.

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good comfort

Some of the cheaper leather boots lack a decent cushion or arch support for your well used feet. Not so here. You get a thick goodyear welt (which provides good waterproofing) and a cork sole. After a month of heavy use, walks exceeding four miles, and plenty of on and off road trekking I still find the Courtlands impressively comfortable.

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leather soles vs rubber pads

This is my second pair of 1000 Mile Boots from Wolverine. The first pair had leather soles that I later regretted buying because of their limited traction and extra wear when exposed to water. Here in the pacific northwest hiking up a mountain in the rain is not uncommon and the restraint on use was annoying. Not to mention they needed a new sole much quicker than I expected because of the water I did expose them to. These rubber soled Courtlands are a good spring and summer boot here in the NW, not so much a winter boot. Traction on ice is still dicey with the Vibram rubber pad.

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These boots have a pad of textured rubber instead of an all leather sole and this provides some benefits over the leather sole. They are quieter, they have better (but still not as good as a full sole) traction, they have better longevity. However, the rubber pad is still held on with a heavy thread and glue that can wear out with use in water so it is not entirely an all weather boot, it is a most-weather boot. Overall, very nice boots and quite suitable for frequent use if you mind the limitations on water exposure and traction.

More to come!

Check out Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots here.

How To Work With Wax Bloom On Chromexcel Leather

This is a syndicated post from the blog of Helm Boots discussing how to capitalize on the white waxy coating Chromexcel boots can get.

Chromexcel bloom

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So you’ve had your HELM Boots for a little bit. They’ve probably made you happy and maybe you’ve gotten some compliments. Then all of a sudden you go to pull them out of the closet and hey… what’s that white powdery stuff on the leather? It doesn’t appear on all of HELMs leathers but the boots that use Chromexcel from Horween (the Ben – pictured, the Marion Olive, The Sam Navy, The Railroad and The Reid Brown) will probably show it at some point. Chromexcel leather is notoriously fatty and waxy. It’s what makes it so desirable and pliable and durable and lux and long lasting and… The Horween tannery adds a lot of oil and wax to the leather during the tanning process. Sometimes this oil and wax and grease will migrate through the leather and react with air on the surface to crystallize and that’s what causes the Bloom or Spue to appear. It will look like a powdery or chalky substance on the surface of the leather. You can see it in the above pic at the top of the shaft and around the lace eyelets. The amount of wax used in tanning along with exposure to high temps, humidity, air and light all contribute to Bloom.

Helm Boots Chromexcel Bloom Article2

Bloom can be removed just by a simple brush with the horsehair brush or a rub with a shoe cloth. Our Ben Sample at the HELM Office Bloomed this month and we buffed it to a high shine with our horsehair paddle brush and nothing else. You don’t generally need to add anything to these Chromexcel leathers as they are so nourished already during the production process.

Learn more about the famous chromexcel leather HERE.

Do you have any photos of Chromexcel leather blooming?

Conditioning / Refreshing Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots With Lexol Leather Cleaner And Obenaufs Conditioner

These boots haven’t seen conditioner for months. Shame on me. It’s about time they get some attention. I figured I would document the process photographically so you can see the transformation and effect produced by the products. Continue reading “Conditioning / Refreshing Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots With Lexol Leather Cleaner And Obenaufs Conditioner”

Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots Six Month Review – Uh Oh! Sole Separation!

My Wolverine 1000 mile boots have been lovely up to now. You can read my initial review here. I have worn them quite a bit for daily use. They have been comfortable and have even gone on a few hikes. Hardly 1000 miles of walking. The leather upper is in fantastic shape.

But.

I glanced down and the sole is separating! I’m not quite sure how this could happen on such an expensive pair of boots. You would think this would NEVER happen on a pair of boots labeled “1000 Mile Boots.”

I emailed customer service so we’ll see what happens.

If you are wondering why they seem so white-ish it is because I just walked through some dusty sand.

Update: the email back from customer service.

Good morning TJ,

Thank you for your email regarding your Wolverines footwear.  Unfortunately, Leather outsoles do not typically last as long as a rubber outsole (especially on today’s modern surfaces). If the leather outsole gets soaked through, it will accelerate the breakdown of the material.  We do generally recommend that either taps, topey, or a rubber outsole be put on the boots to prolong the life of the sole.

At this time, we do not have a repair program for the footwear but do recommend a local cobbler.  The boots are a true welt construction so the repair is relatively easy.  Once you do have them resoled, please send me a copy of your receipt and we will be happy to reimburse you for half of your repair costs.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions !

Wolverine Consumer Relations

So it seems that if you truly want boots that will last 1000 miles you are going to need something else. Bummer. These are beautiful boots. It’s nice of them to pay at least half the cost. I think I’ll put Vibrams on.

When I asked what soles they recommend they responded with this…

Good morning,

We do not have a certain brand of rubber soles that we suggest, however typically shoe cobblers will have a selection of various rubber soles. You will find that a rubber sole will last longer than a leather sole since the leather soles will wear down much more quickly when exposed to wet/rainy conditions.

Thank you,

Wolverine Customer Relations

I’m a little sad that the leather welt sole has limited use and can’t handle water. Whatever. Everything has pros and cons.

IMG_0667 IMG_0669 IMG_0672 IMG_0664 IMG_0665 IMG_0666Have you had any issues with your 1000 Mile Boots?