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Gear Guide Boot Buying Guide, OutdoorPlaces.Com

 

 

OutdoorPlaces.Com Boot Buying Gear Guide - Construction - Materials

 

Synthetic

Split Grain

Nubuk

Full Grain

 
Synthetic

Synthetic materials on boots come in a wide variety of types and quality.  Ranging from simple nylon materials found on sneakers, which offer little in the way of waterproof protection or durability, to Gore-Tex which affords the best possible waterproof qualities, with durability and breathability.  Light synthetic materials are fine for Trail Runners and Technical Scramblers, while Gore-Tex is ideal for trail shoes.  Synthetics vary greatly in price, with simple nylons being very reasonable, to Gore-Tex which will tip the scales as very expensive.

Split Grain Leather
Split grain leather is when the leather hide after treatment has been split, like a layer of cardboard and the inner part of the hide is removed.  Lighter and more breathable than full grain leather or nubuk (suede) leather, it is not as durable and even when treated affords less margin for waterproofing.  An acceptable choice for Trail Runners, Technical Scramblers, and On Trail boots, but not advised for more rugged conditions.

Nubuk Leather (suede)
Nubuk leather or suede materials are full grain leather that has had the outside abraded or sanded to give it a supple feel and look.  Typically this is done to hide cosmetic blemishes in the hide material.  More durable than split grain leather, buy the nature of it's rough surface, it hides minor abrasions well.  However the expanded surface area by the soft outside surface reduces it's ability to repel water.

Full Grain Leather
Full grain leather simply means that the full hide is used and the surface, other than standard tanning and dying has not been sanded, and the inner part of the hide was not removed.  Full Grain Leather is the most expensive of the natural materials because the full hide is used, and the hide quality is finer than Nubuk or suede.  It is the most durable, offers the most waterproof capabilities of natural material (Gore-Tex is best) and will last the longest.
 

OutdoorPlaces.Com Boot Buying Gear Guide - Construction - Soles

 
Generally speaking soles are made from a wide range of synthetic material and have a variety of tread patterns, depths, and lug design for giving traction to you on the trail.  No specific tread design is superior to others.  If you are going to be hiking in muddy conditions, wide gaps in the lugs and tread pattern will help prevent clogging with mud, negating your traction.  Conversely, those who take an extreme view on Leave No Trace, may feel that a deep lug pattern is too damage to a trail.

Things to look for in a sole are reinforced heels (for long life), a flexible mid-sole (bends at the middle) for comfort, a protective rand that extends from the sole over the toes of the shoe for additional waterproof qualities and to protect boot the boot and your toes from rocks and abrasion.  Finally, boots that have "sealed" mid-soles, that is a protective covering along the line where the sole attaches to the upper, affords a higher level of waterproof ability and protects the boot material at a vulnerable spot where the leather comes out wider than the sole, and is exposed to the potential of getting cut.

Cemented Welt Soles
The welt is where the sole is attached to the uppers.  Cemented welts use adhesive to hold the sole to the boots.  Modern adhesives have advanced greatly and are extremely reliable.  Because a quality boot offers a sealed seam around the perimeter of the sole, it has a natural waterproof ability.  Cemented welts are relatively easy to repair at a quality shop.  Cemented welts are also much lighter than stitched welts.

Stitched Welt Soles
A stitch welt is when the sole is sewed to the upper.  Anyone who has in the military will remember the stitching at the base of their combat boots that would tend to trap black shoe polish and took some initial skill in learning to work around.  Stitch welt boots until recent improvement in adhesives was considered the mark of quality.  Because they don't have a continuous seal around the sole of the boot, it is a potential entry point for water, and the exposed stitching is more liable to be cut or wear out.  However, stitch welt boots are very easy to repair.  Some manufacturers will use both techniques and cement a stitched welt.
 

Deep Wide Lugs For Traction

Protective Rand Over The Toe

Sealed Mid-Sole

Stiff Sole For Heavy Loads

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