Boots 101

It takes 153 steps to make every single pair of Helm Boots, each one necessary in creating quality that will last generations.   



  • Leather is like a lot of investments in that you get what you pay for.  Not only will a quality leather develop a unique look and feel as it ages, there’s nothing more important to the durability of your product than the quality of leather.  Using full-grain leather, widely recognized as the best and highest quality leather, when taken care of properly, should last a lifetime.


  • Boot Leather - For the main part of every boot, we use full grain side cow leather, meaning that we only select the best part of each hide to be used on our products.

  • Cow vs. Steer Leather - With a focus on durability and comfort, we also exclusively use cowhides for our products, as the quality is un-matched with thickness and soft-feel. While steer leather can look shinier, it’s much thinner and less durable. 

  • Leather Lining – to increase the durability and comfort we fully line every product with leather.


  • Grain: The outside of the animal hide, the grain side, is typically de-haired leaving the grain exposed.

  • Full-Grain Leather: A leather that is minimally processed so that the grain retains all of its natural characteristics and imperfections. The grain is not buffed, sanded, or corrected in any way.

  • Pull-Up: A characteristic of high-quality full-grain leathers where there is a temporary lightening of color when pressure is applied. This is due to the natural oil and wax in the hide moving around.

  • Side Leather: Leather from an adult cow, the hide is split into two equal pieces along the backbone creating two sides to be sold. This is generally the most expensive piece of leather due to the consistency, quality, and thickness.



  • HORWEEN is located in Chicago and is widely considered one of the best tanneries in the world.  We use several leathers including their signature Chromexcel which is an aniline finished leather notable for its distinct pull-up and luxurious, oily hand. Horween is used for the majority of our boots, including the Muller, Marion Olive, Railroad Boot amongst others.

  • BERMUDEZ LEATHER  is a family owned tannery based in the Dominican Republic. Founded in 1940, this multi-generational family owned tannery has a long reputation of creating some of the world's best and versatile leathers, and by the 1990's had become a significant and trusted supplier to footwear brands in the U.S.A. and all over the world.



  • Chromexcel is a product from the Horween Tannery in Chicago, IL. It is one of their most famous tanning processes and comes from adult cowhides. It is very thick, waxy leather noted for its distinct pull-up, usually smooth in texture, and bright in color.

  • Balthazar leather is a product from the Bermudez Leather tannery in the Dominican Republic. Much like Chromexcel, Balthazar leather is hot-stuffed, which is a technique of forcing waxes and conditioners into the leather during the 28 -day tanning process. Balthazar leather is substantial yet with a soft temper, making it easy to break in while still providing exceptional longevity.

  • Rockford Leather, another product from the Bermudez Leather tannery, is also a hot-stuffed leather, much like Chromexcel and Balthazar. However, Rockford leather is infused with less wax and oils during the tanning process, giving it a slightly more matte finish.
  • Castello leather, another product from Bermudez Leather, is a beautiful article that skips wax infusion and instead is treated with specific oils to give the hide an even and uniform color and shine.

Boot Lasting at the Factory


A “last” is the solid form around which a shoe is molded. The fit of a shoe depends on the design, shape and volume of the last. The boot or shoe last must represent the anatomical information of the foot, at the same time giving the product the intended finished style and design. Lasts typically come in pairs and are from various materials, including hardwoods, cast iron, and high-density plastics.



Lasting is the process of molding the sewn-together upper of the boot onto the last. Depending on the process and machinery involved, this can take minutes or days. The shape of the last is what gives each boot its distinct shape and toe shape.

  • The 323 Last: Rounded toe similar to a classic American work boot – roomier toe box, average D width as well as EE width. Examples of this last shape can be found on the Muller, Railroad, or Marion Olive boots.

  • The 415 Last: Slightly rounded toe but more tapered than the 323- average D width as well as EE width. Examples of this last shape can be seen on the Zind, the Declan, and Lou.

  • The 405 Last: Wider more bulbous toe box – average D width as well as EE width. Examples of this last shape can be found on the Pablo Black or Pablo Brown


The welt is a strip of leather that runs the perimeter of the boot. Its primary purpose is attaching the outsole to the upper, but it affects more than just how these two pieces are attached. HELM uses one main method: the Blake Rapid (Stitch) construction. 
  • The Blake Rapid process is done with a worker operated machine. It provides a sole that is capable of being resoled and uses less layers of leather, resulting in what can be a more flexible boot. HELM also uses cemented construction where neither method would be functional, such as when the Raptor rubber sole is attached

 Helm Leather Outsole


  • MINI-LUG - Featured on many of our most popular styles, including the HollisMarion Olive and Railroad, the Mini-Lug is a customer favorite. The lug is the rubberized part that covers the leather sole and adds extra durability and grip when walking.

  • HARRIER – Also sourced from Meremac, the Harrier is made of the same material as the Raptor, but features a slightly thinner profile. 

  • FINE-LINE – The Fine-Line sole is composed of water resistant leather as well as a textured rubber panel across the mid-section of the sole. The rubber panel provides more traction while still maintaining a sleek and elegant profile. The Fine-Line is a customer favorite and is featured on several of our styles, including the Zind and Declan.