Russell Moccasin “TLC” Toe – Lace Hunter Custom Boot Review – $527-$655

When most folks hear me say, “I’m from Idaho”, the first image that they always seem to conjure up is potato fields, french fries, and tater tots. Well, alas folks, I’m here to tell you that Idaho is much more than just a spud field – especially North Idaho (yes, I also know that most people feel the urge correct me and say, “it’s Northern Idaho”…but, we say North Idaho here). We’re surrounded by mountains, forests, rivers, apex predators, and game of all kinds. Most of us who live here fondly refer to it as “God’s Country”. It’s simply gorgeous and just about every outdoor activity you can possibly partake of happens here, including hunting of all kinds. When we were introduced to the opportunity to review a pair of custom hunting boots from Russell Moccasin, we jumped at the chance!

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Like many Midwest shoemakers, Russell Moccasin began in the 1890s in Wisconsin during the booming logging days. W.C. Russell’s hand sewn boots quickly became sought after by locals, and was eventually purchased by former employee Bill Gustin in 1924. Gustin was an avid hunter and fisherman and expanded the product line for outdoorsmen, as well as offering a line of casual shoes and oxfords in the 1930s. The business is now led by Gustin’s son-in-law, Ralph Fabricius, who has preserved Gustin’s vision of hand-lasted and hand-sewn footwear for the outdoorsman.

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The TLC Boot is fully handmade and handlasted. Everything about this boot is thought through for the outdoors. It uses full-grain waterproofed leather, and comes fully leather lined. The TLC Boot actually has a triple vamp construction, meaning there are three layers of leather surrounding your foot. Needless to say, this boot is insanely waterproof.

The boot is constructed so that the counter (side panel) is extra long, and is very, very thick. This gives the boot extra ankle stability for rough terrain, and the cushioned collar helps keep the boot comfortable against the lower calf. The laces come about midway to the toe, giving you good control over the tightness of the laces on the foot.

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The TLC Boot is highly customizable, with options for everything from the leather color (the TLC Boot comes in five color options: Black, Reddish Brown, Tan, Chocolate, and Green) to the type of sole. You can choose how much insulation you want (and whether you want it on the whole boot or just the foot). You can add extra cushioning in the sole, or a reinforced toe cap for rough/rocky terrain. The boots come standard with a very hefty Claw Airbob sole, but you may also choose from several other Vibram soles, all of which are slightly heavier. An in-depth explanation of all of Russell’s custom options can be found here. They are extremely happy to work with customers to create their perfect boot, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

To order the TLC Boot, you have to send in pretty involved measurements of your feet.The process for tracing and measuring to have a pair of boots made is interesting and time consuming. But, the end result is well worth the modest amount of time you’ll spend providing the necessary information for your boots. You can even send photos if you have any irregularities (bunions, differently sized feet, etc.) and they will accommodate you. Your foot measurements will stay on file at Russell for 10 years in case you order a new pair or need repairs. And, I’m sure some of the thinking there is they are confident that once you order one pair of boots, you’ll find another reason to order some shoes or a different pair of boots. If you have particularly wide or narrow feet, you can even order your own last for a fee. All of this just goes to show just how much Russell wants to ensure that your boots fit you and your lifestyle perfectly.

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The TLC Boot is surprisingly attractive for such a functional piece of footwear. The tread is rather chunky, but I’m not afraid to wear these around town here in addition to hunting deer or elk up in the mountains. They’re easy to slip on thanks to a hearty finger loop on the back of the boot and lacing them is a quick, simple task. The footbed is extremely comfortable making them an easy choice for all day wear in rugged terrain. This past winter was a very wet, cold one here. I was consistently comfortable wearing these boots with just a medium weight sock thanks to the 200 gram Thinsulate that lined these boots. And, never once were my feet wet, in spite of trudging through snow all day. Up until this last season, I wore the same pair of hunting boots from another reputable company (at least 7 years straight). However, this year I consistently chose the TLC boots from Russell Moccasin. They’re super comfortable, look great, and keep my feet in great shape – even after miles of hiking.

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The Russell Moccasin TLC Toe-Lace Hunter Boots are very impressive. These boots are definitely an investment, but I’m positive that these will last me a lifetime,  as they can be resoled and repaired at the factory. Russell’s measurement and customization process was spot on. My boots are a perfect fit for me. These are a purpose built boot primarily geared at the serious outdoorsman. So, if you’re looking to upgrade boots to something that will swaddle your feet in style and comfort, I’d highly recommend you visit the Russell Moccasin website and check out their line of excellent footwear.

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