The Best Types of Leather Boots and How to Care for Them

The Best Types of Leather Boots and How to Care for Them

HELM Worn Boots

When it comes to footwear, there are no shoes more stylish and versatile than leather boots. Leather boots have been the go-to footwear option for years, and they pair just as well with a t-shirt and jeans, as they do with formal pants and a blazer. They're a high-quality footwear option that offers long-lasting comfort, style, and use.

It's important to know though that not all leather boots are created equal. And with so many leather boot options available, it can be hard to know if you're picking the right ones for you. In this article, we'll cover the different types of boots and top brands so you can rest easy knowing you're strutting the streets in your best boots.

Different Types of Shoe Leathers

While leather boots can come in different shapes and designs, what really sets them apart is the leather they're made of. Leather is a catchall term as it encompasses an array of skins, tanning methods, and treatments. Here are the most common shoe leathers you'll find:

Roughout Leather

Roughout leather is the underside of a hide's grain, so the grain remains intact. It's a thick, full-grain leather that wears well and doesn't require a lot of maintenance. This boot is a popular military and mountaineer boot and offers a slightly more dressed-down style.

Veg-Tanned Leather

Veg-tanned leather is leather that was made from a tanning process involving vegetable matter and tree barks. It's stiff, naturally colored leather, although this leather naturally darkens over time. These boots are great for casual wear, but they can shrink and become brittle if they get wet.

Collection of Leather Goods

Pull-Up Leather

Pull-up leather options have been heavily waxed and oiled, and their colors usually lighten when you pinch or pull-up on the leather. It's a low maintenance option that ages well because it absorbs scuffs and scrapes. These boots are a great casual shoe option that can be paired with business casual or everyday looks.


Suede leather uses the flesh side of the skin like roughout, but the skin has been buffed and sanded, which makes it thin and delicate. Suede is a lightweight, preppy material that works well for summer and early fall fashion. It's important to know, however, that the texture of suede makes it a sponge for dirty and water, so proper care is required.
In general, most leather products will have the leather quality stamped on it. There are three types of leather quality: genuine leather, top-grain leather, and full-grain leather.
Declan Tan

Genuine Leather

Genuine leather is the cheapest and lowest quality of the three leather types. It's usually found in belts and other leather products in a low-price range. This leather is usually made with several layers of leather that have been bonded together with glue.

Top-Grain Leather

Top-grain leather is the middle ground quality option for leather. It's used in most purses and also used for smaller leather goods like wallets. It's made by splitting a piece of full-grain leather and then sanding away any imperfections. It's not extremely durable or long-lasting, but it has a great finish color.

Full-Grain Leather

Full-grain leather uses the entire grain of hide, with the imperfections and toughness of the original leather. It's known as the best and highest-quality leather option, but it is significantly more expensive than the other two leather types. But it lasts a long time, so it's often worth the investment.

Leather Close Up

Where Does the Leather Come From?

Most boots use calfskin leather because it has a tighter grain and fiber than cowhide. Other types of animal leather include:

  • Bovine leather (cowhide)
  • Cordovan shell (horse)
  • Pigskin (pig)
  • Kidskin (goat)

It's important to know that shoes often use leather in the following places:
The outsole of the shoe

  • The insole of the shoe
  • The heel of the shoe
  • The shoe upper (the rest of the shoe)

When exploring boot options, consider what parts of the boots are leather, what leather quality they are, and how they've been made.

How to Take Care of Your Boots

Leather boots are a financial investment, so it's important you take proper care of them to ensure long-lasting use.

Railroad and Blackrock

Waterproof Your Boots

Leather is extremely susceptible to water damage, so if you don't waterproof your boots they'll stain, crack or wear out quickly. You should go about and buy waterproofing spray or wax leather sealant like Otter Wax, use it on your boots, and then let them dry overnight. And if your shoes do get wet, simply wipe them down, lay them flat, and let them dry overnight.

Clean Them Regularly

If you want to keep your shoes in good shape, make sure to clean them regularly. To do this, simply wipe your shoes with a damp cloth to clear the grime. If they get dirtier, just make sure you clean them immediately to avoid stains.

Boot Care

Store Them Properly

If you want your boots to last a long time, you need to store them the right way. You should keep them in a room-temperature space that isn't exposed to constant sunlight. If you don't, the boots' color could fade over time and the leather could shrink.

Final Thoughts

Leather boots are an investment, but a stylish and long-lasting one. By following these tips, tricks, and best practices you can find a pair of leather boots you love and use them for years to come.
Have you purchased a pair of boots recently? What's your favorite thing about them? Let us know in the comments!

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