Photos and Notes on Boot Development
Hope your holidays are going well! I know we've had some intense discussions for the last couple emails, so we'll take a higher-level view on this one with just some photos and a bit about the things we've been trying and noting in our boot prototypes.
Since the last 2 issues addressed one specific feature each, the timeline jumped around. Today's issue follows a chronology of our boot development, so you can see their evolution across all features.
If you haven't had a chance to read the last 2 issues, it would be helpful to check those out before reading this one, but it's certainly not necessary.
1- Why are we using a Flat Outsole on Our New Boots?
2- Why are we using a Synthetic Outsole for Our Boots?
Prototype 1: Black Trek Leather, Cement Construction, Hollow-Heel Outsole
Trial: What would the Primal Professional Fer be like, if it were a Service Boot?
- Better fit and performance. In a shoe, a roomy front must be balanced with a snug back. If it's just roomy all around, it flops. A boot that laces up your instep does this better than low-top oxfords can.
- Super versatile. I wore these to Coachella and put them through a good amount of stress, dancing in the desert for 3 days. Then I leave them for a day at the local cobbler ,and they're ready for a wedding the next weekend.
- Unisex! My wife and my mom are both stylish ladies who work in apparel and don't sugarcoat things when they talk to me. They both like the boots. Score.
Prototype 2: Black Trek Leather Upper, Goodyear Welt Construction, Leather Outsole
Trial: What would Goodyear Welt construction with a Leather Sole be like?
- More Rugged, in Fact. Prototype 2 was made with Goodyear Welt construction, which is sturdier than the Cement construction used on Prototype 1. Prototype 2 will outlive Prototype 1 by at least twofold.
- More Rugged, in Appearance. With the welt, the shoe has a slightly wider base that makes it look more rugged. And without the fake heel, it looks more athletic and aggressive.
- Less Comfortable. Fresh out the box, these boots were uncomfortable. After a week though, averaging about a mile a day of combined walking and running, these boots broke in.
- Leather Outsoles look nice. The color is more vivid and the texture is more natural.
- Leather Outsoles may not be optimal. They are slippery, vulnerable to water damage, heavy, stiff, less cushioned, and provide less groundfeel.
Prototype 3: Cognac Trek Leather Upper, Goodyear Welt Construction, Synthetic Outsole
Trial: What would Goodyear Welt construction with a Synthetic Sole be like?
- Synthetic Outsoles win. Compared with the leather outsole of Prototype 2, Prototype 3's synthetic outsole was less slippery, less vulnerable to water, lighter, more flexible, more cushioned, and provides greater groundfeel.
- Even More Rugged. The tread of the synthetic outsole, a bit visible from the side, adds to the ruggedness, both in fact and in appearance. I think it may be too luggy though, so I try casual outsoles with flatter treads in the next prototype.
Prototype 4: No. 8 Chromexcel Leather Upper, Goodyear Welt Construction, Synthetic Outsole
Trial: What if we used Chromexcel leather, Poron in the footbed, a boot last, and casual Vibram outsoles?
- Chromexcel feels great! It's thick, yet soft and supple.
- The color might not be the best. No. 8, an oxblood color specific to Horween Leather Company, looks great in their glossy and dressy Shell Cordovan leather. I would go so far to say that it's legendary. But color No. 8 on the oily cowhide of Chromexcel? More contentious. We'll be discussing leather in a later issue of our newsletter.
- There's less groundfeel. And I'm not sure why. We added a 1-2mm layer of Poron cushioning under the leather footbed, so it could be that. But we also used a different outsole, so that could be responsible too. We'll have to find out by asking for no Poron in the next prototype I request.
- They look more bulky. A "last" is a plastic foot around which shoes are shaped and crafted. Prototype 4 uses a last made for boots, whereas everything before used our dress shoe last. After Prototype 5, I think I prefer using our dress shoe last.
- We also used the above outsoles on Prototype 4. They wore well, but I wasn't a fan of either aesthetic.
Prototype 5: Natural Chromexcel Leather Upper, Goodyear Welt Construction, Synthetic Outsole
Trial: What if we used Natural Color Chromexcel, a pull tab, and more aggressive outsoles?
- Natural Chromexcel looks awesome! Natural means that other than the colors that come naturally from Chromexcel's tanning recipe, no additional dyes are added. You can really see and appreciate the beauty of a natural product here.
- Pull tabs definitely help! They give you something to pull on, when you're putting on and taking off your shoes.
- These outsoles look better. They just match the boots more.
As for performance, I'll be in the Sierra Nevada for a couple days. I'll be able to test out the above soles, Vibram's Newflex and Newporter, in ice and snow! The former is used by many huarache companies for their trail running editions, and the latter is used by Russell Moccasin for their Minimalist line. I will report back!
Thanks for tuning in!
Once more... Happy Holidays =)
Mountain Evan Chang