Things to Look for When Buying Leather Boots

Tuesday Bote - February 1, 2021


Oliver Cabell SB1 Blacks spell the difference between an ordinary Joe and a man of good taste and distinction


Boots have been part of men’s wardrobes since the earliest centuries of human civilization. They result from refinements made to the crude deer-hide or cattle-hide footwear worn initially by nomadic tribes in Scandinavia and Northeastern Asia. 


However, the quality of leather boots is what sets one apart from the others. Admittedly, very good leather boots are expensive because the craftsmanship and quality of the materials used for them ensure their longstanding durability.


So what exactly does one look for when buying leather boots?

Leather Boots: A Cultural Phenomenon

Culturally, boots are part of the longstanding images we have for masculinity. We associate them with the hunting boots of European lords or the rugged work-boots of cowboys and lumberjacks. 

However, boots have evolved with the times, along with their symbolism. Denizens of the punk era favored the edgy look of the solid black boots. Even the most benign-seeming of urban warriors of any gender have a pair of sturdy leather boots in their shoe racks, seeing the versatility of that particular shoe in rough weather as well as the strong and resilient image they project.

Leather tannery for Oliver Cabell Boots


Leather boots, in particular, have a perennial appeal because of the practical side of their nature. As footwear, they are highly prized for use in cold weather and in rough terrain. The thick soles; the construction that wraps the leather around foot, heel, and ankle; and the sturdy lacing ensure that the wearer’s feet are kept safe from harm and kept unencumbered while moving.

What To Look For In Leather Boots

Oliver Cabell Mock Black is made with both Italian and Spanish leathers – a quality that amps up its sophistication.


Core Materials Matter


When it comes to any kind of footwear, the core materials always matter. In this case, you can easily measure a shoe’s quality based on the leather used to make it.


The very best boots are made with what is referred to by cobblers as full-grain leather. This is taken from the topmost layer (to put it biologically the epidermis) of an animal’s hide. Since it is made from skins exposed to the elements, it is considerably tougher so this type of leather is considered the most durable.

Oliver Cabell SB 3 Stone Roughout Boots made from England full-grain leather


On the next rung down is corrected grain leather wherein the tanned skins are buffed to remove the coarseness of the surface. It is a process that is commonly used on uneven textured skins like bison, buffalo, and goat. If buffed properly, corrected grain leather is comparable to full-grain leather in terms of workability and durability. However, some leather-workers tend to over-buff the leather; this makes the texture plastic-like and the skin is too thin for comfort. It also looks different: badly worked corrected grain leather looks like latex.

Oliver Cabell Wilson Boots in French Mustard


Any sensible boot-buyer would do well to avoid the last types of leather on the list: bonded leather and genuine leather. Bonded leather is made from a mish-mash of scraps held together with an adhesive, rolled out, and cut. Genuine leather is the worst of the lot; similar to bonded leather, it is made by layering sheets of low-quality leather, binding them with glue, then painting or dyeing the finished material to even out the color. Both these materials are used for much cheaper footwear and the quality leaves a lot to be desired.


Other Factors to Consider

However, leather is just one factor you need to look at prior to buying a pair of boots. There are a few more things to consider before you decide on a purchase.


You need to look at the boots’ construction, such as how they hold up to unfavorable weather or terrain conditions. Also, consider the level of comfort a wearer gets out of them while standing, walking, and running.

The Oliver Cabell Wilson Waxed Rustic exudes a timeless elegance even in the most rugged situations


It’s All About Sole


That is: the outsole. Not all rugged-looking boots have soles that you can walk in the rain with, tramp through either snow or sand, or hike up difficult trails with. In fact, a number of luxe or bespoke cobblers offer boots with leather soles that are good enough for walking on concrete pavements and office floors but will probably not work if you belong to the fishing and hunting set. 

Oliver Cabell Mock Boots in Brown with a White Vibram Morflex outsole


Ideally, outdoorsy types should track down boots with studded or ridged rubber outsoles. These allow you to keep walking on all but the wettest or most slippery surfaces; a safety measure especially during the colder months. Want to go a more traditional route? Ask around for cork-soled boots.

Check the Fit


Sure your boots may look good, but they will do you no favors if you can’t walk properly in them or, worse, you end up hobbling at the end of the day. In years past, bespoke cobblers would make shoes and boots to the exact measure of a customer’s foot; before the pandemic, we could also go and fit several sizes to check if we’re comfortable with the boots we’re buying. These days, with many boot companies heading online, the prudent thing to do is to measure the length and width of your foot carefully. Then, cross-reference it with the size charts posted by your purveyor of choice online.

Does it Have a Shank?

They say that the devil is in the details, and one critical element of boot-making tends to be overlooked: the shank. This part is a strip of steel (or, in the case of travel-worthy shoes, fiberglass, stiffened leather, or wood) put between the boot’s inner and outer soles. It protects the sole of your foot from being punctured, in case you step on a nail, a rock with a jagged edge, or a thorny branch in the woods, and also helps keep your boots’ shape over the years.

Oliver Cabell SB 1 in Brown comes with full-grain leather, tough outsoles, and a shank


Maintenance is Key

Taking proper care of your boots ensures that you get to enjoy wearing them for years. Soles, in particular, need to be replaced before they get too thin or too smooth. You can have this done by a professional cobbler or shoe repair service. On a more regular basis, good leather needs good care. Therefore, you should invest in an Oliver Cabell Leather Kit. This kit has a stiff-bristled brush, Premium Shoe Cleaner, and leather conditioner to keep your boots pristine and ready for action.


Need Stylish and Durable Boots? Consider Oliver Cabell

Give lower quality cleaners the boot and give your boots some expert TLC with the Oliver Cabell Leather Kit, which has everything you need to keep them in top condition


Suppose you’re looking for excellent boots either for elegant urban wear or for roughing it in the great outdoors. In that case, you can be sure that Oliver Cabell will have an elegantly designed pair to suit your lifestyle and personality.

Made according to the highest possible standards for craftsmanship and sustainability, Oliver Cabell boots are an excellent choice.