Boot Stompin' Tuesday - How to Tell a Good Boot from A Bad One

               There is something about cowboy boots. Is it the romantic, mysterious ensemble they stink of? Or is it that they make us feel on top of the world and frankly we cannot function without them?
                How many times have you excitedly and patiently waited for a pair of cowboy boots to hit retail stores only to be disappointed by quality or fit? The leather is dull and cheap and the stitching is even crooked. Will the heel come off? Will they fall apart? Are the comfortable to rope in and can you step off your horse without your feet hurting? If you’re looking to get your money’s worth while buying a great pair of boots, look no further! Here are some pointers we tend to overlook to help you determine a good boot from a bad.

Fit.  As we know, cowboy boots do not fit like regular shoes. Measure your foot. A good pair of boots will shape to your feet. From the first time you slip your foot in, you will instantly know if they are the right fit!  Your boot should easily slide on your foot and not bind. Your legs should be comfortable at the top of the boot. You should be able to wiggle your toes. Don’t just buy a pair that kinda fits. This will lead to regrets of purchase, waste of money, and possibly losing a toe nail or extreme discomfort.  Pay attention to the shape as well. Boot toes come in different cuts and sizes. Boot toe shape first; looks and color second!

Look at the stitching. Are the stitches uneven or loose? Are they centered or do they look sloppy and just thrown together? Bad stitched boots are not even worth the thought of your money no matter the price. If they have gaps or holes where water and dirt will creep in eventually they will fall apart; you will just consider them “cheap” boots that you didn’t pay very much for. However, next time you buy boots pay attention to every single stitching whether it be art or merely the structure of the boot.

Leather – A good pair will feature full-grain leather. By examining the surface, you will be able to determine the quality. They will feel like real leather and have a color and tone, not to mention smell that cheaper “corrected-grain” leather doesn’t possess. Cheaper boots will typically start falling apart at the toe or tearing off at the sole. They will scuff and tear due to lack of durability. With cheap boots holding factors like synthetic chemicals and leather that doesn’t breathe, the leather will not form to your feet causing discomfort. You can feel cheap leather vs. quality leather to the touch.

Are the soles leather or rubber? Leather soles are slimmer and more elegant, appropriate for dressy occasions. They also are slick providing easier dismount for goat tying, calf roping, and even cowboying. Personally, leather soles are the way to go. They are durable, last longer, and are safer. Your spur usually sits better on the heel as well. There are concerns in wet conditions taking into account that the leather may possibly disintegrate quickly. Leather give the options of being re-soled endless times, unlike rubber which reaches its life span when the soles wear away. Make sure the inner soles are padded and designed for long-term wear and comfort especially when riding.

Check the heels. How do they feel when you move them? Are they wobbly or secure? Unsecure heels will break and can cause injuries.

Don’t buy boots that aren’t made out of leather. Other materials such as vinyl’s, plastics and canvas-type fabrics, simply won’t last. They need to be able to withstand spurs and spurs straps rubbing, horses stepping on your toes, and jumping out of the way when a hot momma cow is on your trail!

Remember to pay attention to the length they have been on the shelf.  Make sure that the hardware or any part of the leather has not tarnished or corroded.

Don’t be worried about trying on as many pairs as you want! You need to find your perfect boot. Handmade custom boot makers are the way to go! Paul Bonds, Caboots, Liberty, Rios of Mercedes, Anderson Bean, and Rocketbuster are just a few companies that will be more than happy to give you satisfaction and a great experience. Quality and durability will be well worth the price of handmade boots, not to mention custom designing and fit and a result of badass pair of boots!

What do you think? What is your favorite brand or styles?