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The Wild West is alive in Justin Original Workboots: Gear Review

The author in her Justin Boots chopping wood.
The author in her Justin Boots chopping wood.
Steve Mullen

Justin Original Boots Rugged Tan Cowhide

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Justin Original Workboots—the name alone evokes images of cowpokes driving cattle across the badlands of Texas. To hold a Justin boot in your hand is to hold a slice of American history. In the late 1800s the Chisolm Trail saw millions of cattle moving more than 800 miles from the Mexican border in Texas to Abilene and Wichita, Kansas, to balance out supply and demand. Cattlemen needed sturdy boots for the long and rigorous journey that wouldn’t fall apart. In 1879 H.J. Justin’s customers, the cowboys riding the trail, spread the word, carrying “fit kits” developed by Mrs. Justin, which contained a tape measure and instructions for measuring feet. The cowboys took measurements so they could obtain the custom fit boots that were as comfortable as they were reliable. So there’s a little Wild West and frontier attitude in every pair of Justin Original Workboots, many of which are still made in America. The styling, workmanship and materials are still top notch and a pair of these boots is destined to last a long, long time.

Justin Boots capture the spirit of the American West
Steve Mullen

Up and down the Sierra are remnants of the frontier past in ranches and farms where cattle are still driven, horses are broken and pigs and chickens root around. And spreading out into the Central Valley and Coastal Ranges are plenty of farmers who spend their days tromping through bogs, furrows and rough country or clambering in and out of combines. A good work boot is essential for farmers and ranchers. But how about the rest of us? People who like the Justin Boots "attitude" are people like George Strait, Nolan Ryan, Tracy Byrd and Terri Clark, country stars who show off their Justin Boots on and off stage.

I’ve been testing a pair of women’s Rugged Tan Cowhide Workboots, part of the Stampede Collection, and from the moment I pulled them on I kept getting irrational images of me mounting a trusty steed (I don’t ride horses) or going to the rodeo (the county fair is but a distant memory) or working on a farm (not likely). My stately flock of hens had to suffice, the closest I was going to get to a farm. That frontier spirit that suffuses the boots is inspiring and I found myself wishing I had a reason to wear them, other than style, but fashion would have to do.

In looking at the multilayer Stabilization Comfort System I could see why the boots felt so solid—the multi-density insert, performance storm welt, shock absorbing heel pad, cushioned insole, steel shank, dual –density midsole and oil- and slip-resisting, abrasion-resistant outsole makes for a lot of different materials. They are waterproof, too, and the thick leather feels rich and luxurious. The stitching is impeccable and the stitched design on the upper is attractive. If you need that sort of thing they are also have the ASTM electrical hazard rating. It’s not hard to believe that there are over 100 steps involved in making a pair of Justin Boots. It is surprising that 16 square feet of leather is required.

I wear a size 9 and I did notice that the boots are on the stout side. Standing next to my dainty city boots there is a noticeable difference in heft, accentuated by the square toe, though they are plenty comfortable—it’s just that they are a sturdy work boot, not a thin fashion boot. The leather loops at the top of the upper aid in slipping the boot on, and once on it feels secure and will accommodate a thin sock. Fitting a boot can be tricky but the folks at Justin Boots have developed a video to demonstrate key points to focus on.

Justin Boots supports sports and entertainment figures that create the fabric of country western life by promoting established and up and coming music, rodeo and other stars such as Casey Weston and Drake White in their JustinAmerica program. In the “Share Your Boot Story” community pages of the Justin website you’ll find all sorts of inspiring stories, like the one about how Justin Boots saved one guy from nipping dogs, four-inch cactus spines and leeches in Madagascar. That’s when you want the sturdiest boot possible.

Justin Original Workboots have held a storied place in American frontier history, but by maintaining their high standards of quality and workmanship and evolving stylistically with the times they are as current now as they ever were.

Product Information:

Justin Original Workboots: Rugged Tan Cowhide (Stampede Collection)

Purchase online for about $135, at Cavender’s

Disclosure of material connection: I received a test sample from Justin Original Workboots but the opinions expressed are solely my own.