These Boots Are Made For Walking

These Boots Are Made For Walking

If you look closely at our logo, you’ll see the term ‘bootmaker’. You will also see a unicorn, but that’s neither here nor there. Rugged boots and shoes form the foundations of who we are as a company, and our history as a countrywear specialist continues to this day. 

Every journey starts with a single step, and there are a few factors to consider if you’re looking to invest in a pair of casual shoes or boots to traverse long distances. Luckily for you, I’ve outlined the most important ones to help you make an informed decision.

Fashion v. Functionality

I’ll start by saying that all of our country shoes and boots are made to be used for purpose – they are not ‘fashion’ items to be saved for best. Of course you’ll still look great, and will do so for years to come, but they are made primarily as hard-wearing pieces of footwear and will look after you regardless of what terrain you’re traipsing through. 

When you invest in a shoe or boot of quality, you’re putting your trust in a company that’s had over 135 years of practice in making footwear that will last.

Boots or shoes?

Generally speaking, our countrywear collection falls under two categories: shoes, which finish below the ankle (I probably didn’t need to tell you that) and boots, which can have as many as eleven eyelets and finish above the ankle. 

Personal preference obviously plays a part in this decision, but there are functional differences between the two. Boots offer good ankle support due to their height, which is especially beneficial if you plan on walking up and down hills. You’ll find some of our classic hiker boots also include padded top-linings and tongues for extra support on those difficult inclines. 

It goes without saying that boots will also offer a higher level of protection against mud and rain, particularly when combined with a ‘bellows tongue’, found on a few of our really serious boots and shoes. This is where the leather overlaps at the bottom of the tongue and connects to the facings, creating an extra level of protection if the puddles you’re splashing in are unexpectedly deep – it happens to the best of us.

Shoes are a more lightweight option, which can certainly be beneficial depending on where you live – if you’re a city slicker or fortunate enough to live in warmer climes than ours here in England, a shoe will give your feet more of a chance to cool off.

A shoe will also be a slightly less casual option. If your style leans more towards chinos and shirts as opposed to jeans and t-shirts, you may find a shoe works better for you; however, style is completely subjective, so don’t let me tell you what to do.



Why leather?

Regardless of whether you’re stomping through central London or rambling around the hills in Northumberland, your feet get hotter the more you walk. To cool off, your body’s natural response is to sweat – imagine how uncomfortable you’re going to be after a few miles if your feet are swathed in a synthetic non-porous material? Those particular shoes may very well be marketed as waterproof, but that works both ways; no water can get in, but moisture is also trapped inside. Bacteria will build, your feet will stink, and no one will want to be friends with you.

The only way around this is wearing footwear made from natural materials, as they allow moisture to escape. For the sake of your feet as well as everyone close to you, stick with leather.

Good quality leather is very hardy stuff – as long as it’s looked after, they offer a much more pleasant experience.

Leather variations

Across the country collection, you will see quite a few examples of grain leather, otherwise known as country grain or pebble grain. This is premium calf leather that has been embossed with the eye-catching grain effect, and serves a particular purpose: it does an excellent job at disguising creases and imperfections, lending itself brilliantly to hard-wearing shoes and boots.

You may also find a couple of examples of oiled leathers being used, specifically Chromexcel that we source from the Horween tannery in chicago. After going through a much more intensive tanning process, this leather is unparalleled in its water resistance; we’re taught in school that water and oil don’t mix, so using an oiled leather creates an extra barrier between yourself and the elements.

Whichever leather you end up going for, the way you look after it is paramount to its longevity, so give them your thanks by keeping them hydrated and polished.

To find out more about our Chromexcel leather, you can read a brilliantly written blog about it here:

Sole variations

For a proper pair of walking shoes or boots, I think it’s fairly unanimous that rubber soles offer the optimum balance of durability, waterproofing and grip. Within the range, there are plenty of variations to choose from and, aside from having different appearances, there are practical differences.

Footwear with chunkier treads, like our ‘Commando’ soles, offer the best grip in muddy terrain as it has the most surface area, greatly reducing the chance of you falling over and embarrassing yourself. Shallower treads such as the Dainite or Stud soles are suited to more everyday use, as well as excelling in rocky terrain. 

Checkout our handy Sole Guide

Welted footwear

You’ve probably heard me bang on about this far too often, but Goodyear Welted footwear genuinely has no equal when it comes to resistance. They are supportive, adaptive, hard-wearing and repairable; all ideal things to have when you’re looking at walking shoes.

Within our country collection, you may stumble across a variation called ‘Veldtschoen’. As well as being hard to pronounce, this is another step up in terms of water resistance as the upper leather is splayed outwards and stitched on top of the welt, essentially channeling water away from where the upper and sole meet. 

Another version which has similar properties is the aptly named ‘storm welt’. As the name suggests, the purpose of this lip of rubber running around the outside of the upper is to keep that pesky water out.

Time to step up?

If there’s one thing I have learnt from writing this, it’s that there are a lot of options to choose from. However, I hope this has given you a bit more confidence, not only in understanding footwear jargon, but in the knowledge that we’ll have what you need. Feel free to check out our website or wander into a shop to see what all the fuss is about.