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.

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.)

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.

Thorogood Boots 1892 Tomahawk – $284

The story of Thorogood Boots starts with Albert Weinbrenner, the son of a German immigrant and cobbler. 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 working men of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1892, at the age of 27, Albert started his own cobbler business with partner Joseph Pfeifer.

Weinbrenner and Pfeifer quickly became known for their “jobber” boot. Today Weinbrenner Shoe Company is still based in Wisconsin and employs over three hundred people in the local area. Many of the boots they produce are sold under the Thorogood brand. Today we will be checking out the Tomahawk Boots in Loden Green.

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ABOUT THE 1892 WISCONSIN COLLECTION

Thorogood has become a staple in the workwear industry, but several years ago they debuted their 1892 Wisconsin Collection aimed for the casual wearer who wants the durability of a work boot.

The Tomahawk Boots were debuted in mid-2016 as part of this 1892 Collection, which was introduced as a throwback to some of the original work boots designed for the hardworking outdoorsmen of turn-of-the-century Wisconsin.

Each boot from the 1892 Collection is made with Horween’s Chromexcel Leather, constructed with a goodyear welt and nitrile cork sole. Each series is inspired by a different “jobber”: farmers, roofers, trappers, and more. We’ve reviewed two other boots from the 1892 Collection: the Dodgevilles and the Portage CXL Roofer Boots.

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The Tomahawk uppers are built with Horween’s Chromexcel leather in their Loden green color. This is a beautiful pull-up leather that still allows you to see some of the natural textures of the leather. (You can read a bit more about Chromexcel leather in our interview with Horween here.) Because CXL leather has a high oil and wax content, it scuffs and scratches easily. These marks are easily buffed out if you prefer, but I love the patina that Chromexcel gains with age.

The boots are Goodyear welted onto a Vibram sole. They have a very long lace bed and come up well above the ankles, tapering upward. I occasionally fold the tops down depending on what I’m wearing, and usually stop lacing them at the second peg.

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The Tomahawk boots are considerably simpler than the rest of the boots in the 1892 Wisconsin Collection. They have a plain toe and the only embellishments are the double and triple stitching on the panels of the upper. The boots are unlined and thus show some undyed leather along the seams of the quarter and the counter. There’s a rectangular tag on the tongue that matches this color, which adds to the vintage look of the boots.

The Tomahawks are made on a men’s #60 last and have a thick rubber sole. However, their simpler design lends itself well to a crossover boot as Thorogood does not make any casual boots on a women’s last. There are sizes available from 5-14, so it’s likely that a female wearer could find the right size. They do run a little on the larger side; I would say about half a size big. I usually wear a size 9.5-10 and got the size 9, which fits well even with thick socks.

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These boots definitely take some time to break in, as the thick, unlined leather needs some time to soften and form to your foot. I started out by wearing them for an hour or two around the house, and slowly worked my way up to a full day’s wear. Don’t expect to immediately wear them out for a whole day, or the back of your foot will regret it!

The Thorogood 1892 Tomahawk Boots are an excellent choice for both men and women, especially if you’re looking for something a little different than the usual brown boot. They’re American-made with some of the best leather around, and very reasonably priced at $284. These are boots that will last you a decade or more and are easily repairable. Check them out on the Thorogood website or purchase them online.

Danner Mountain Pass Boots – $350

The Danner Mountain Pass Boots, made with Horween’s Rio Latigo Leather.

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Bootmaker Charles Danner founded the Danner Boot Manufacturing Company in 1932, well into the depths of the Great Depression. When Danner discovered the booming logging trade in the Pacific Northwest in 1936, he moved his company to Portland, Oregon, where outdoorsman quickly began to appreciate the quality and durability of his boots, particularly their Shipyard Boot. The company continued to grow, and in the 1960s began to produce hiking boots that quickly became beloved in the outdoor community. Danner is now a global brand, and continues to produce about a third of their footwear line in Portland, Oregon. The product line now includes outdoor, work, and casual footwear for men and women.

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The Mountain Pass uppers are made with Horween’s Rio Latigo leather, a full-grain, combination-tanned leather that is finished with pigment-free aniline dye that allows the natural texture of the leather to come through. You can see with these boots that they have a very natural color with a waxy finish. This full-grain leather is very hardy and keeps a uniform color.

The boot is lined with water-repellant Dri-Lex fabric and fastened onto an ever-trusty Vibram outsole. They have  The shoe is constructed with a stitch down method, which means that the leather of the upper is turned outwards and stitched and cemented to the outsole. This allows the shoe to be lighter and more flexible, though not perfectly waterproof, but the boots’ lining and finish do a great job of keeping your feet dry and protected.

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MOUNTAIN PASS VS. MOUNTAIN LIGHT

When deciding on a pair of Danner boots, there are a few important things to consider. The Mountain Pass boots are a modernized version of the Mountain Light line that was debuted in the 1970s, and there are several important differences that potential buyers should be aware of. One factor that must be taken into consideration is the shank construction. The Mountain Pass has a bi-fit board construction instead of the fiberglass shank built into Danner’s older Mountain Light line. This means that these Mountain Pass boots (the subject of this review) cannot be resoled. However, the Mountain Pass boots are significantly lighter (about 25%!) and more flexible than the Mountain Light line. The Mountain Pass boots also have a padded collar for ankle comfort, while the Mountain Light Boots have a lower ankle with little padding.

The Mountain Pass line are extremely strong and durable boots, but once they are worn through, you will have to buy a new pair. This is definitely something to consider and it absolutely comes down to your boot weight preference and how much you plan to use your boots each season.

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These boots are very reminiscent of classic 1970s hiking boots, with their lace-to-toe construction, metal eyelets, and solid leather uppers. Of course, these days it’s almost impossible to mention Danner boots without bringing up the 2014 film Wild, which depicted hiker Cheryl Strayed hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995 in her trusty, red-laced Danner Mountain Lights. While these boots certainly experienced a resurgence in popualrity because of this movie, they have been a classic among backpackers for more than three decades.

The Mountain Pass boots are absolutely constructed with hikers in mind, but this look has been co-opted by Portlanders, Seattleites and other outdoorsy Pacific Northwesters who now wear them on a daily basis. The wide, braided-lace toe has become a popular look, so these boots can perform double duty as hiking boots as well as casual footwear in unpredictable Northwest weather.

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The Danner Mountain Pass boots are a lightweight, modern update on the classic hiking boot. Made in the USA with gorgeous Horween leather, these boots will be the perfect companion and reasonably priced.

Taft Clothing The Mack Boot Review – $260

When Kory, founder and owner of Taft Clothing, handed me The Mack Boot, he told me to “wear them hard.” For the last several weeks I’ve done just that, nearly every day, in a wide range of situations. These boots have taken all the beatings I’ve handed them with no problems, and drawn in a lot of compliments along the way. The Mack Boot is a high quality, stylish, and surprisingly affordable leather boot.

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ABOUT TAFT CLOTHING

Taft Clothing began in Provo, UT in 2014 with a Kickstarter project…for no-show socks! After high initial success with socks, they’ve since transitioned to a focus on their line of luxury, European (mostly very unique) shoes. This family-run business aims to disrupt the typical notion that you have to pay outrageous prices in order to get high quality. By completely cutting out the middle man, refusing to sell wholesale, and only providing products direct to consumer, Taft is able to provide shoes you may see on a store shelf for $600 for less than $300. There are, however, no compromises in quality – some of the finest materials and construction methods out there are used in Taft Clothing’s line.

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Taft Clothing enhances the direct-to-consumer personal touch with a few inserts in their packaging, including a personal thank you, short bios on some of the Spanish artisans, care tips, a Taft shoe horn, and dust bag.

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CONSTRUCTION

The Mack Boot is handcrafted in Almansa, Spain. Taft’s team of experienced leather artisans have made shoes for numerous high end shoe brands around the world.

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Both the brogue pattern upper and lining is made with Vachetta natural (read: untreated vegetable tanned) leather; cowhide for the upper and calfskin for the liner. The leather is hand cut, stitched with Gutermann polyester thread, and hand painted. These steps are clearly done with expert hands – each edge and stitch is immaculate, and the rich cognac coloring is gorgeous. Speed hooks are made of cast iron.

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The Mack Boot’s stacked leather outsole is Blake stitched to the upper for flexibility and comfort, and can be resoled. All leather is sourced from Italy’s Artigiano Del Cuoio tannery. Rubber inserts in the outsole provide traction and comfort in all conditions, combining the advantages of leather and rubber.

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FUNCTION

It’s only been several weeks since The Mack Boot and I were acquainted, but they already feel like old friends. On day one they felt fantastic, and after dozens of wears and plenty of abuse, things have just gotten better. The Vachetta upper and lining is soft enough to form to you, but sturdy enough to provide support. They’ve slowly molded to my feet and ankles and now fit like a glove. The reinforced heel and toe provide additional protection.

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I’m a huge fan of the speed hooks. They allow me to leave the shoes tied in most circumstances, just pulling the laces off the hooks to get in and out of the shoe. The tabs on the back of the heel make putting them on quicker yet (though they do occasionally catch my pants, too).

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I’m excited to see how well The Mack Boot continues to handle time, use, and all the situations I throw at them. So far, I’ve worn these boots to work, school, church, athletic events, camping, DJing, and more, and they’ve taken it all like a champ. Outside of exercise, I think the only thing that prevents me from wearing them is when the weather gets too warm – as would be expected for any boot, they’re best matched with pants and cooler weather.

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FIT

My 10”/25cm long and 4”/10cm wide (at the ball) feet typically end up in an American size 8 or 9 formal shoe or EU size 41, and Taft’s shoes run true to this as a 41 was the right fit for me. They’re a bit more snug on my toes than on my narrow heel.

CARE

After some intense jumping and lifting while DJing, a small amount of color bleed ended up on my socks. Taft suggests the use of shoe horns to keep shoes dry. A small insert included in the box has a few other care tips, as well.

AESTHETIC

The Mack Boot is incredibly versatile. In formal settings they’re brogue wingtips, in rugged situations they’re combat boots, and everywhere in-between they’re right in-between. In none of the situations I introduced them to did they feel out of place or fail to function well, nor did they fail to draw compliments!

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The hand painted cognac color is stunning, with hints of brown, red, and orange, depending on the light. As you can see, I couldn’t stop taking photos of The Mack Boot!

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CONCLUSION

Taft Clothing’s The Mack Boot is a fashionable, rugged, competitively priced shoe. Materials and construction are top notch, and the style shines in nearly any situation. Not only are you getting a phenomenal value product from a company that cares about its customers, but you’ll get a shoe that will last for years to come. I love my pair more each time I wear them, and highly recommend The Mack Boot.

Be sure to drop by Taft Clothing’s web store to see The Mack Boot and the rest of their unique shoe collection.

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Taft-Clothing-The-Mack-Boot-Review-260-16 Jack recommends The Mack Boot, too

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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ABOUT RUSSELL MOCCASIN

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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CONSTRUCTION

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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AESTHETIC & FUNCTION

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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CONCLUSION

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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Made in Wisconsin: See How Thorogood Boots are Made

The Weinbrenner Shoe Company (known primarily as Thorogood Brand) has been making footwear in Wisconsin since 1892 and in this factory since the 1930s. Their local ABC affiliate recently featured them in their “Made in Wisconsin” special report series, giving us a peek into the inner workings of an all-American shoe factory. You can see employees inspecting the American-sourced leather, cutting the hides, assembling the uppers, attaching the soles, and getting each pair ready to ship out.

WAOW – Special Report: Made in Wisconsin

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.

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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.

In addition to making sturdy workwear, their 1892 Wisconsin line is beloved in mens casual footwear. We’ve reviewed the Portage CXL Roofers and the Dodgevilles, and found them to be extremely well-made with an American heritage flair.

Timberland Women’s Savin Hill Tall Boots Review – $240

Well, the cold weather has come around, which means it’s time to break out the sweaters, jackets, scarves, and other wonderful wintry apparel. Of course, the best footwear to pair with these outfits is the beloved boot. I firmly believe that a nice pair of riding boots are an important staple for a woman’s wardrobe, especially if you live in a colder climate. Today we’ll be looking at Timberland Women’s Savin Hill Tall Boots.

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ABOUT TIMBERLAND

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 innovative 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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CONSTRUCTION & FIT

The Savin Hill’s uppers are made with full-grain leather. It’s thick enough to feel substantial yet supple enough to wear comfortably. It has a nice waxy sheen that looks great and adds a waterproofing element. The inside is lined with a cute mesh fabric and zipped up with a hefty brass colored zipper.

The calf circumference is 14.25 inches and is adjustable with a pegged gusset at the top. The boots fit true to size and fit comfortably with thick wool socks. The shaft height is 14″ which makes them slightly taller than similarly styled riding boots. I’m quite tall at 5’10” and these boots fall comfortably above mid-calf. I’ve tried on other riding boots that have looked too short for me, so the height is a big plus in my book.

Timberland Savin Hill Tall Boots 6These boots take a little bit of time to break in, so I’d recommend wearing them for short periods of time at first. The front of the ankle is a bit tough and takes some time to soften as well. After that, they are quite comfortable, with a removable padded footbed made from recycled plastic. **Side note: Timberland has a pretty impressive commitment to sustainable and climate-friendly manufacturing. You’ll notice a lot of their shipping and manufacturing materials are recycled or biodegradable. You can read more about that here.**

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AESTHETIC

The Savin Hill boots have the classic riding boot look with a few extra details to make them unique. The lighter colored stitching and the threaded detailing on the back give them a distinct look. The 1-inch leather wrapped heel and rubber outsole match nicely, and the big brass buckle gives it that iconic riding boot look. The rubber outsole provides decent grip.

The Savin Hills come in three colors: Tobacco Forty, Black Forty, and Wheat Woodlands, a light tan color. My Tobacco Forty color is a nice, rich cognac color. It has a bit of a distressed, marbled look, which I prefer because it hides scuffs well.

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CONCLUSION

Timberland Women’s Savin Hill Tall Boots are a great choice if you’re looking for unique looking riding boots that will last. Over the years I’ve had several similar pairs of boots from this price range and the quality of the leather on the Savin Hills is my favorite. These have a timeless riding boot look that won’t go out of style, and their sturdy construction mean you will get your money’s worth.Timberland Savin Hill Tall Boots 3

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Nicks Boots 6″ Roberts Boots Follow Up Review

“Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future…” Dang – was Steve Miller ever spot on with that line! 2015 has moved along at warp speed it seems. It’s hard to believe it’s late October already! So, what does that mean? It is just a sign that I’m behind on some follow up reviews. So, here goes an update on my awesome 6″ Roberts Boots from Nick Boots.

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These boots rock. There. I’m done.

Seriously, they do. But, let me expound a little bit. I’ve been wearing my Roberts for a little more than a year now. As I mentioned in my first review, the folks at Nicks Boots state that it takes 80-100 hour of using the boots to get them properly broken in. Since getting past that break in, these boots have become more and more comfortable with time and use. At this point, they are completely ‘molded’ to my feet and are definitely an all day boot. These are not lightweight boots. And, the heel is substantial too. But, that “legendary arch” works its magic and comfort rules.

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I did remove the decorative tongue insert. It’s just a personal preference – I like the way the boots look without them. These boots look fantastic and show virtually no wear whatsoever. That’s not for a lack of wear either. I’ve used these boots consistently this past year wearing them at least once, twice, or more almost every week.

It does take time to get a pair measured specifically for your feet. But, the time is well worth it along with the financial investment. The return is a pair of boots that you will continue to feel better on your feet each time you slip them on and are easy to maintain as far as keeping up their appearance. If you’re shopping for boots north of the $400 price point ($439 to be exact), you should definitely consider going the custom route with a beautiful, hard wearing pair of Roberts from Nicks Boots. If you’re in a rush, you can order a pair of stock built 6″ Roberts for $429. Personally, I’d spend the paltry $10 more and get a pair made specifically for my feet.

 

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Timberland Women’s Brookton 6-Inch Classic Boots Review – $120

Timberland boots are a beloved classic, formerly relegated to menswear only. We recently reviewed the Men’s 6-inch Premium Waterproof Boots, one of their most recognizable products. The Women’s Earthkeeper Brookton 6-inch Classic Boots have a similar aesthetic, but are a bit rounder and lighter.

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ABOUT TIMBERLAND

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 innovative 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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CONSTRUCTION & FUNCTION

The leather uppers are made of full-grain nubuck, with a tan sole and foam insoles. The biggest difference between the Brooktons and the classic men’s 6-Inch boots is the sole. The Brookton trades the hefty rubber sole for a lightweight EVA sole. This has its pros and cons. The biggest upsides are the boots’ weight and flexibility. These boots are insanely light while still being pretty sturdy and protective. The downside is that EVA compresses pretty quickly and isn’t going to withstand tons of wear. So far, though, they’ve stood up to the elements well.

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These boots take a bit of time to break in, so I’d recommend doubling up on socks for the first few wears. After that, they are surprisingly comfortable, with padding on the midsoles and heel, as well as a padded collar for a pleasant ankle fit and mobility. **Side note: Timberland has a pretty impressive commitment to sustainable and climate-friendly manufacturing. You’ll notice a lot of their shipping and manufacturing materials are recycled or biodegradable. You can read more about that here.**

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AESTHETIC

The Wheat Nubuck is the classic yellow color associated with Timberlands, with white stitching along the quarter to set them apart from classic 6-inch Timbs. They look great and go with nearly everything, especially skinny denim. The downside of this color is that they stain pretty easily. You can pick up a suede & nubuck cleaner pretty much anywhere, including on the Timberland website, and I’d recommend doing so if you like your boots to look pristine.

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The Brooktons come with two colors of 100% post-consumer recycled laces, in tan and brown. There are also two other leather options if you’re looking for a darker color. Dark Brown, with the same light color sole, and Black Nubuck with a cute grey and pink sole.

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CONCLUSION

So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the Timberland Women’s Earthkeeper Brookton 6-inch Classic Boots. They have proven to be a great choice for boots on the lower end of the price range. If you’re looking for a non-imported boot that can be resoled and last 5+ years, save up for a different boot and spend a couple hundred more dollars. If you’re looking for a classic streetwear aesthetic but don’t want to commit to a heavy sole, these are a good choice. The Timberlands are a very good price at $120, and you can often find them on sale. Casually, you’ll probably get a solid four years out of these boots, and their timeless look won’t go out of style any time soon. They’ll stand up to the elements and look good doing it.

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Timberland Men’s 6-inch Premium Waterproof Boots Review – $190

Timberland boots are one of those menswear items that have become an icon. Whether you’re a construction worker or Kanye, Timberland boots will probably fit into your aesthetic. From ladies’ footwear to accessories to luggage, Timberland has it all, but their Men’s 6-inch Premium Waterproof Boots are by far their most recognizable product.

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ABOUT TIMBERLAND

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 innovative 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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CONSTRUCTION & FUNCTION

Whether you’re wearing these for work or play, you’re going to want your boots to be durable and waterproof, especially considering the fact that they’re pretty heavy. The leather uppers are directly attached and are sealed at the seam so they stay waterproof. The hefty rubber sole is the most important part of these boots, giving you great traction and the knowledge that you’ll never wear through the sole. The only issue I’ve noticed is that the rubber soles can be a little squeaky!

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These boots are surprisingly comfortable, with thick padding on the midsoles and heel, as well as a padded collar for a pleasant ankle fit and mobility. They’ll also keep your feet warm, thanks to their built-in Primaloft ECO insulation, made from 50% recycled plastic. **Side note: Timberland has a pretty impressive commitment to sustainable and climate-friendly manufacturing. You’ll notice a lot of their shipping and manufacturing materials are recycled or biodegradable. You can read more about that here.**

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AESTHETIC

The Wheat Nubuck is of course the classic yellow color associated with Timberlands, but this Rust Nubuck comes pretty close, and has a richer color and texture. They look great and go with nearly everything, especially denim. The downside of this color is that they stain pretty easily, especially if you wear them as actual workboots. You can pick up a suede & nubuck cleaner pretty much anywhere, and I’d recommend doing so if you like your boots to look pristine.

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There are also quite a few other options if you’re looking for a darker color. Smooth Black, Black Nubuck, Dark Chocolate Nubuck, Black/Olive Hainsworth, and Chestnut/Navy Hainsworth, some with different color soles.

The laces are made of 100% recycled nylon. If you want to be really cool, you can leave them untied and flip the tongue out, but you have to be pretty stylish to pull that off. Either way, these are going to look great.

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CONCLUSION

So far, the Timberland Men’s 6-inch Premium Waterproof Boots have proven to be a great choice for boots on the lower end of the price range. If you’re looking for a non-imported boot that can be resoled and last 5+ years, save up for a different boot in the $375+ price range. The Timberlands are a good price at $190, and you can often find them on sale. Casually, you’ll probably get a solid three or four years out of these boots, and their timeless look won’t go out of style any time soon. And if you’re not totally convinced on the more classic Wheat or Rust Nubuck style, the other leather and sole colors differentiate themselves enough to look like a separate boot altogether. They’ll stand up to the elements and look good doing it.

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Hanwag Men’s Tashi Boots Review – $425

How many times have you heard someone say, “well, my boots are made from yak leather”? I can honestly say that, before this year, I didn’t know anything about yak leather. But now…not only do I KNOW about yak leather – I have a pair of awesome yak leather hiking boots from an great company called Hanwag.

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About Hanwag

This is the second feature from Hanwag here on BestLeather. Recently we published a review on a pair of hiking boots for ladies, which you can read here.

Hanwag is a German company that’s been around since 1911. They have a strong following throughout Europe and are seeing the brand successfully grow in the United States now. They’re dedicated to environmentally friendly processes, sustainable processes, and producing high quality products.

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Construction

As mentioned earlier, the Tashi Boots are made with Tibetan yak leather. The chrome free yak leather features an eco-friendly, sustainable technology used during manufacturing process. The leather is 2.2 to 2.6 millimeters thick. This leather is sourced exclusively from the Lhasa Leather Factory in Tibet.

"The Yak" by Nadeemmushtaque - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Yak.jpg#/media/File:The_Yak.jpg
“The Yak” by Nadeemmushtaque

Quick rabbit trail: Yaks are hardy animals that thrive in their normal 4000 meter, relatively barren landscape. The animal provides many benefits to its owners over its lifetime. When the yak’s hide is tanned into leather, it has a naturally raw texture, not uniform at all. This gives each Tashi Boot a unique character.

The boots are double stitched, feature a rugged resoleable Vibram sole, and are handmade In Germany with materials exclusively sourced within Europe.

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Function

This is the really fun part. I’ve worn out many different pairs of hiking boots over the years. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on functionality and performance here. To put it succinctly…these boots rock.

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They are comfortable and feel great on your foot. The break-in period is very slight…wear them a few short times around town and then you’re ready to hit the trail. One of the things I noticed about these boots is the shape of the sole. They naturally cause your foot to move properly (pronate…supinate). The soles create a fantastic heel to toe roll, which is ideal for long hikes and exploring on the trail.

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The thickly padded upper is appreciated for comfort, ankle support, and the safety it affords while on the trail. Lacing them up is easy and the one set of speed hooks is set down low, which is ideal and gives you a good pull and keeps your heel firmly in place. Also, the eyelets on the lower portion of the boots actually contain ball bearings…a cool little feature that allows the laces to move easily without wearing them out (it’s the little things, right?). The Tashi Boots are a great all around hiker and will keep your feet comfortable for many miles.

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Aesthetic

The Hanwag Tashi Boots have a traditional European hiking boot design, which I’ve always found to be pleasing to the eye. The texture of the yak leather is immediately noticeable and very cool. It is definitely unique…and I like it. The dark brown of the leather and the padded upper is a nice departure from the traditional lighter brown of many boots in this style. The interior of the boot is visually appealing too with the light beige colored thin leather lining.

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The dark brown yak leather, the thick white stitching on the sole, the rugged Vibram tread…it all makes me feel like trekking through the backcountry of Yosemite again. If only I had the time and resources to run off and do it.

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Conclusion

At $425, the Hanwag Tashi Boots are a significant investment. But, if you’re a moderate to serious backpacking or trail hiking enthusiast, you already know that investing in a great pair of boots is the best choice you can make. You won’t go wrong purchasing these boots. They’re a treat for your feet and will continue to keep you moving down the trail for many years to come. And…they’re yak leather! You’ll by far be the coolest person on the trail for sure with these on your feet!

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Red Wing Iron Ranger Boots Review – $319.99

The first pair of Red Wing boots I ever encountered were given to me in the summer of 1984. I was actually reluctant to accept them. You see, I considered myself a “certified ranch hand”, even though I was truly only a greenhorn at the time. After quickly wearing out several pairs of decent, traditional cowboy boots on the ranch, my boss gave me a pair of Red Wing work boots (I don’t recall the type). Being a Texas boy, I kind of scoffed at the idea of wearing them for cattle ranching. But, I slipped them on, worked in them for a day…and continued to work in them for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, I grew out of them – I certainly didn’t wear them out. They were seriously comfortable and rugged…enduring all of the harsh punishment I dished out at the time. That was my introduction to Red Wing.

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About Red Wing

From their website: “Around the turn of the 20th century a Red Wing, MN shoe merchant named Charles Beckman saw a local necessity for shoes specifically designed for the demanding work of industries such as mining, logging and farming. The rigors of these jobs required footwear, which was tough enough to outlast harsh working conditions, but Beckman envisioned a shoe that was also comfortable enough for the hardworking people who wore them. Beckman set out to develop work boots to fill this need and in 1905 he and fourteen investors opened a company that would change the market. Beckman named his company Red Wing Shoes, and thus a new standard for excellence was born.

Over one hundred years has passed since our founding and our commitment to producing only the highest grade footwear remains as unwavering as Beckman’s vision. Our products consistently perform in environments spanning from the Mideast oil fields to the Midwest corn fields. Red Wing boots protect workers in more than one hundred countries across the world, an accomplishment built by years of hard work, endurance and the promise to never compromise on our quality.”

The Iron Ranger Boots that I have the privilege of reviewing are part of Red Wing’s Heritage Collection. Again, according to their website, “our Heritage collection, which is made up of footwear that represents the American ideals of prosperous work and excellence. All the styles in the Heritage collection are designed and built just as they were fifty, sixty and even over eighty years ago and are all made using premium Red Wing Shoe Company leather from our very own S.B. Foot Tannery. They are handcrafted to the specifications, which made each style timeless when they were first introduced.”

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Construction

The Iron Ranger Boots are made using premium black harness leather from their own S.B. Foot Tannery. This is oil-tanned leather, which is used in many of Red Wing’s boots and shoes. Oil-tanned leather is extremely durable, which is a feature easily seen and proven with Red Wing’s 100+ year history. The boots are made using Goodyear Welt construction, the hardware for the eyelets and speed hooks is nickel, and the laces are long lasting taslan. The nitrile cork soles initially appear like they would be slippery – however, they are not at all. Cork soles are extremely durable and provide excellent traction on almost all surfaces. This particular style also features an eye-catching double layer toe cap and double stitching. Interestingly, the boots feature two different colors of stitching – the toe cap and seams around the laces and top of the boot all feature black thread while the rest of the boot has white stitching.

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Function

While anticipating the arrival of my Iron Rangers, I read comments from many different long time Red Wing wearers and was initially nervous about the break-in period. Perhaps I’m just not that ‘in-tune’ with my feet, but the break in period on my Iron Rangers was virtually nil. They were comfortable initially…but, they’re really comfortable now. I’ve worn these boots consistently and in a variety of situations. All day comfort is definitely an one of the Iron Ranger’s attributes.

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In spite of their 8” height, I do not have issues slipping these on without a finger loop or pull loop on the back. Perhaps it’s because of the angled top of the boot? I’m not sure. However, unlike some other boots of this size that also lack a pull tab on the back of them, these slip on easily and effortlessly.

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Aesthetic

This style’s original purpose was to serve Iron miners in northern Minnesota. All I have to say about that is, dang…those were some stylin’ miners! This boot has some serious aesthetic appeal. They’re rugged – but with that toe cap, you can dress ‘em up too. Personally, I think it’s a great style and for those of you who are budget minded when it comes to footwear, consider this boot as two pairs: your dress boot and your casual boot.

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I enjoy the black version of the Iron Rangers that I have now. These boots also come in Amber, Copper, and Hawthorne leathers too – all of which look fantastic. I would not hesitate to hit the “Add to Cart” button on any of those versions.

To keep my boots in tiptop shape, I also received Red Wing’s Basic Care Product Kit, which contains their All Natural Leather Conditioner, Mink Oil, Boot Cream, Brush, and Cloth. This is a must have kit if you plan to keep the leather on your Red Wing’s conditioned and protected. At $39.95, it’s a great kit and will service your boots well.

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Conclusion

You can’t go wrong in purchasing a pair of Red Wing Iron Rangers. The construction, fit, finish, and heritage behind the brand is all fantastic. In the realm of quality footwear, their price of $319.99 is a great value. You will receive a pair of boots that will be enjoyed for years, will continue to perform well, and will become a daily companion on all of life’s adventures. The Iron Rangers are definitely a great buy. So, which pair will you be ordering?

Hanwag Tatra Ladies’ Boots Review – $280

One of the greatest feelings in the world is getting out on the trail and breathing some of that fresh alpine air. But one of the worst feelings is getting halfway up the mountain, realizing you’ve got a blister forming, and knowing that the rest of the hike is going to be agony. That’s why it’s crucial to invest in a nice pair of hiking boots. Hanwag, based in Vierkirchen, Germany, has been making high quality outdoor shoes since 1921. We received a pair of their Tatra Lady boots to review, as well as a pair of Men’s Tashi Boots made with yak leather (keep an eye out for a review coming soon!). My wife immediately snagged up the Tatra Lady boots to test out and wear on a few hikes.

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ABOUT HANWAG

Hans Wagner opened his boot shop in 1921 in Vierkirchen, Germany, close to Munich. Wagner made a name for himself by producing high quality alpine skiing and touring boots. By the company’s 90th anniversary in 2011, Hanwag had become a staple in the hiking and outdoor sports world.  From their website:

“HANWAG boots and shoes are primarily made in Europe. Only a small number of our components require lengthy transportation. We make approximately 30 per cent of our collection (the double stitched and mountain boots) at our headquarters in Vierkirchen, near Munich. We have further exclusive production facilities in Croatia, Hungary and Romania. Our relatively limited transportation requirements help further minimize our environmental impact.”

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CONSTRUCTION

The Tatra boots are crafted with waxed nubuk uppers, lined with leather, and double-stitched onto a Vibram AW Integral sole. The leather is hard and waxy, but not crusty or plastic feeling. The upper, midsole, and insole rib are all genuinely double-stitched– you can see the flange on the edge of the midsole that proves that these boots are constructed extremely sturdily.

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The chunky Vibram AW Integral sole provides great traction while still being flexible enough to maintain a natural gait. Hefty metal shoelace hooks allow for a highly adjustable fit around the ankle, which has a medium-high cut.

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FUNCTION

These boots are immediately comfortable upon first wear. The perforated collar is attached to a soft, padded leather lining that keeps the foot stable and avoids rubbing. The insole is padded with Hanwag’s FussKomfort sole, which you can easily substitute or replace. So far, these boots have walked miles without an issue. Paired with a thick pair of wool socks, The Tatra will take you many, many miles in total comfort. They weigh 760 grams/1.7 pounds, which is on the heavier side, but the hefty sole and sturdy construction are worth it.

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AESTHETIC

The Tatra’s color is what makes this boot model so eye-catching. Hanwag calls the color Aubergine or Eggplant 82, however, in person the boots are really a bit brighter red than they appear on the website. The color is muted enough to be tasteful, yet interesting enough to stand out from the droves of brown hiking boots on the market. The upper has an interesting rounded cut that gives the boot a modern twist. The medium-high cut looks great while maintaining ankle stability. Hanwag Tatra Ladies Boots 1

CONCLUSION

Hanwag’s Tatra Lady boots are an excellent choice for the frequent hiker. Their stability and expert construction speaks well of Hanwag’s legacy, and their unique aesthetic sets them apart from other similar boots. $280 is a very reasonable price to pay for hiking boots that will last years on the trail. These are boots that you’ll want to take on adventures for years to come.

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Steve Madden Nathen Boots Review – $140

I like boots. They’re my preferred footwear for just about any occasion. My wife says I have a problem. Obviously, I disagree. Boots are awesome. Need something casual? Boots. Need to dress up? Boots. Need to go do some work? Boots. Need something waterproof? Boots. Going hunting? Boots. Going hiking? Boots. Get the idea? In my latest boot review episode, we’re going to be taking a look at the Nathen Boots from Steve Madden.

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About Steve Madden

Steve Madden has been an iconic footwear name for many years in the women’s fashion line. After such a successful 10 year stint there, Steve Madden Men’s line was launched. Starting as a primarily casual line, Steve Madden Men’s has evolved into a lifestyle brand. The desire is to give guys many options to wear their products for different aspects of his week – day to evening, work to weekend.

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Construction

The Nathen Boots are made in Asia will full leather uppers, cemented construction, a split suede lining, and synthetic sole. I’m not sure where the leather is sourced. The leather is soft and supple, stitching is even and nicely done, and the zipper and eyelets feature an antique brass finish.

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Function

Upon opening the box, several of my senses were very pleased. Initially, I was greeted by a delicious smell. If you’re a long time reader here, you’ve heard a few of us comment on the awesome aroma associated with certain brands and these boots totally remind me of that same, rich, aromatic leather scent. Upon holding these boots, I was immediately impressed with the leather. It’s very flexible and soft to the touch. Then visually, I was pleased with the build quality and styling of these boots. This is the first pair of boots I’ve had with side zippers and now, they won’t be the last pair I have. They are easy on and easy off. In fact, you can leave them laced up and just “slip, zip, and go”. Awesome.

Sizing (for me) is spot on. I usually wear an 11.5 and these are perfect. The low heel and traditional lug sole are all day long comfortable. And, there is no break in period at all.

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Aesthetic

As mentioned earlier, I almost always wear boots. When I get a pair in for review, I tend to get comments at client meetings, at church, and lots of other locations. However, to date these Steve Madden Nathen Boots have generated more comments and questions than any other pair of boots I’ve reviewed. Their eye-catching color, along with the brogue styling combines well to draw people’s eye to them. And, people like them…a lot.

The Nathen Boots do a superb job of allowing you to either dress up or go casual with this boot. They look great with dress pants, yet will also look fantastic with a pair of jeans.

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Conclusion

The Steve Madden Nathen Boots are a great deal for the money. Will they last for years and years? Depends on how often you wear them and how well you treat them. They’re certainly not a custom or high-end handmade boot. But, they’re also only $140…a price that most people can afford. And for that price you get a great looking pair of boots that give you lots of options on how you’re going to wear them. These boots are available in tan (color featured here), brown, and black. As a fashion footwear brand, Steve Madden Men’s has hit a ‘homerun’ with the Nathen boots. They incorporate good quality leather in a desirable style at a decent price point. The Nathen Boots are available from many different retailers such as Dillards, Macys, Zappos, and Amazon.

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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.

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.