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How to Buy Used Boots

Boots are great for every occasion
Boots are great for every occasion
Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images

With the crazy, unpredictable weather Boston has been having lately, it might be time to invest in some boots. Purchasing boots doesn't need to be an expensive or unsustainable activity. In fact, used boots are a great alternative. Here are some tips for shopping for used boots.

What to Look For

Fit: A good cobbler can do many things, but making a pair of boots fit your foot isn't one of them.

Too Small is Too Small: I bought a pair of cowboy boots once that were a half-size too small because I thought they looked great and wanted to wear them for a gig I was playing. That was a huge mistake.

The Heel: Heels made from wood or leather are far better quality than those made of plastic or rubber, and thus far easier for a cobbler to work with.

The Last: Look for hand lasting over machine lasting. This is important for quality and fit.

Red Flags: If the boot exhibits any of these qualities, think twice about buying.

Sole pulling away from the shoe.

Tears in the leather away from the seam.
The lining is cracked, flaky, falling apart.
The boots are far cheaper than you expected.


Clean Them: Jerry Seinfeld has a bit about leather ideally being about to withstand all of nature's forces, just like the cow it came from. Unfortunately this isn't the case. It's important to brush dirt and residue off boots because they lessen the boot's water repellence.

Oil Them: Like human skin, leather dries out over time. To keep leather strong and durable, it needs to be oiled. Synthetic and natural compounds work equally well, although natural compounds darken the shade of the leather whereas synthetics do not.

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