Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Comfort of Snakeskin Boots

Someone entered a question into a search engine which landed on my website. The question was, "how comfortable are snakeskin boots?"

And the answer is...

... it varies. The comfort of a boot to a guy's feet is determined by what is on the inside of the boot, not the outer skin. Perhaps the person who asked this question didn't realize that. Or, perhaps he did and thought that different manufacturers of snakeskin boots may be more comfortable than others.

I will address the question both ways.

Well-constructed cowboy boots will have an insole made of materials that provide comfort to the foot -- usually a cushion comfort pad made of composite materials. The boots will also have a steel shank that is embedded in the sole of the boot. That shank adds support (particularly good for high arches) which makes the boot more comfortable to wear. The inside of the boot's foot will also have enough room for your foot to spread out -- it happens naturally when you walk and apply weight to your foot as you move along.

Boots feel uncomfortable when your foot cannot flex as you walk, or if it feels as if you are walking on rocks. A boot's supplied insole should be thick enough to provide some cushioning to the bottom of the foot. Further, if the boot's foot is sized appropriately for your foot, there should be enough room to insert an added insole, such as Dr. Scholl's gel insoles. These insoles add significantly to the comfort of the boot.

Notice in this description, I am talking about what is inside the boot -- not the outer skin that is visible to you and others who look at your boots. Comfort of a boot has nothing to do with the outer skin.

It is the manufacturer of a boot that makes a big difference in the comfort. I have described how I rate comfort of boots in a previous blog post, here. My ratings are my own observations. I have observed that cowboy boots made by Lucchese, Dan Post, Nocona, Justin, and Tony Lama, are comfortable. Boots made by Acme, Cowtown, and Sendra, for example, are not (to me). But a word of caution -- each person feels comfort in different ways. Just because I listed a manufacturer (or not) on this blog about comfortable boots should not be taken as an absolute. I do not describe anything about certain manufacturers because I do not own any boots made by them -- Laredo is an example.

Generally speaking, look for these features in a cowboy boot. Each feature adds to comfort and quality:
  • Pegged soles
  • Steel shank in the insole
  • Sewn-on, not glued, soles
  • Ample room inside the foot to add an additional insole if you want
  • Flexible outsole (that is, the bottom of the boot)
  • Wide enough calf circumference for air to be able to circulate around your lower leg (so the boots do not feel hot.)
  • Not previously worn -- used boots conform to another guy's feet, then harden that way. You may or may not find used boots comfortable. It varies.
To summarize, snakeskin boots are -- or are not -- as comfortable as any other boot. It's not what is on the outside, it is what is on the inside that counts.

Life is short: know and wear quality boots.

1 comment:

onlybootedmanintown said...

I agree with everything BHD says here.

I think too what the questioner was asking implicitly was if snakeskin is difficult to care for. Yes, it can be. Snakeskin can be a real pain in the ass. It can tear, curl, and break if you look at it funny. I buy boots regularly on ebay, but will not as a rule buy snakeskin boots used, no matter how hot they are, because you never know how well the owner has taken care of them. They need to be conditioned on a regular basis (with exotic conditioner) and NOT allowed to dry out. I had one pair of SS boots that were extremely comfortable, but they were old and kept tearing in the weirdest spots. I finally sold them. Still looking for a replacement pair!