Designing your own Cowboy Boots can seem like a daunting task, but armed with the right information, this creative process can be fun and exciting! To begin, we like to start with an overview of the boot anatomy. By reviewing this, we can ensure that we are all on the same page when discussing your next pair of Paul Bond’s.
The most important aspect of the boot anatomy is realizing that you can customize absolutely everything about your boots. Of course, there are the basics like the toes and heels, but guess what, you can get even more granular by changing up the piping, side welt, and even the scallop.
Step 1: Leather Options
Most people like to begin by picking out their leathers and color scheme. As you can see below, we have a wide variety of leathers to work with.
Selecting your leather, style, and color way can be a tricky process. It is important to keep in mind that no two leathers are identical. Therefore, because our boots are handcrafted specifically for you, we can not guarantee that the color, grain, and consistency will match exactly to our catalog options, or other photos. This is what makes your custom boots one of a kind!
The two most basic leathers are Calf and Kangaroo which can be used both on the vamps and tops.
Types of Calfskin:
Basic calfskin cowboy boots are a great place to start because they are durable, affordable, and come in a wide variety of colors. Additionally, you can opt for a matte or high shine finish.
Rough out is created simply by turning the calfskin leather inside out. Many people like to think of this like suede. Some rough outs are “harrier” than others, the choice is yours!
French Wax Calf is used on all our working cowboy boots. This leather is actually a rough out material with a layer of burnishing wax. This wax is used to protect your cowboy boots from all the elements a working cowboy fights every day – water, dirt, mud, and brush.
Italian Finesse Kangaroo is the kangaroo of choice for Paul Bond Boots. It has similar characteristics to calfskin yet it is lighter in weight and better suited for dress boots. It is also great for tops with extensive inlay work. Keep in mind, kangaroo is slightly more expensive and has a tendency to scuff if you are not careful.
Bullhide is available in both matte and gloss finishes. It is popular among the more durable leathers due to its wide range of color options.
Bison is known for its deep grain and beautiful rich tones. Although our leathers are pre-stretched, bison tends to give a little extra over time. It is typically available in chocolate brown, cognac, and black.
Elephant is available in both matte and suede versions. Elephant is an interesting leather due to its inconsistent grain, which adds a lot of character.
Shark is an unbelievably tough leather with linear striations throughout. However, due to certain fishing methods, it is very difficult to source at the moment. When available, it comes in brown and black.
Lizard is ideal for providing an exotic, elegant feel, yet at a more affordable price point than some of the other exotic leathers. It is known for its scuff resistant tendencies, large color varieties, and high gloss finish.
Python and other snakeskins are exotic leathers with a wide variety of patterns and color variations. However, keep in mind, maintenance is required to keep this leather looking fresh.
Stingray is the most scratch and abrasion resistant of all leathers. However, stingray has very little give in it. Because of this factor, it has a tendency to feel snug particularly in the ball and instep. We recommend opting for stingray once we have your fit perfected with your first pair of custom boots.
Ostrich is known for being extremely comfortable and durable. It comes in a wide variety of colors. Additionally, you can opt for a full quill, half quill, or smooth finish.
Nile crocodile is similar to American Alligator. However, the scales tend to be smaller, more rectangular and more which some find as a more professional look.
American Alligator is the top of the line exotic choice. It is known for being soft, yet durable. The scales are squarer and can be larger than crocodile. Additionally, these hides have a unique feature, the umbilical scar, like a belly button. Some opt to showcase this while other prefer to have it slightly more hidden.
Step 2: Toes
- Square toes: Toes 4A, 2A, A, and B all have a square edge.
- These options have what we like to call a “snip toe” or an underslung toe which is very popular in cowboy culture.
- Round toes: Toes 4D. 2D, D, D ½ E, and E all have a round edge.
- These toe options are not underslung. If you have a wide foot, D, D ½ E, or E are all good options.
Step 3: Heels
Our heels are built layer by layer, set well under the boots for comfort, and extended in the back to help protect the heel counter from wearing and keep a spur from slipping over your heel. If you would like a larger spur ledge, all you have to do is ask!
Keep in mind that the look of the heel will vary in proportion to the size of your foot.
- A Number 1 heel is a walking heel. Some would call it a block heel because it has a wide base which is great for stability and comfort. Lately we have used this heel on our equestrian style boots which offers a very clean, chic look.
- A 2X heel is our most popular heal because it is higher than a walking heel, yet not as tall as our tallest riding heel. Additionally, it is slightly underslung so you can still get that great cowboy heel look.
- A Number 6 heel is what we use on most of our working cowboy boots. The height ensures that you won’t slip through your stirrups when riding. However, if you don’t ride, these boots are great for fashion boots as well!
Step 4: Soles
From heavy welted soles, through various intermediate welted weights, to featherweight non-welted custom cowboy boots, the type of sole you choose can make a big difference in the feel of your Paul Bond custom boots.
1) Lightweight non-welted soles are the lightest and most flexible, and are the easiest to break in. Partially because there is no welt and partially because a thinner leather is used for the actual sole. This gives added lightness and comfort to your custom made boots, although they will need resoling more often. (You usually see lightweight soles on men’s Italian loafers or maximum comfort western dress boots.) Those seeking lightness and comfort prefer it.
2) Welted soles are a little heavier, and a bit stiffer initially. They can take more wear before needing resoling, and stand up better to hard treatment. This is the type of sole you most often see in Paul Bond standard men’s boots or women's working cowboy boots. And yes, there are different weights of soles that we attach to its welts. The usual sole that we use is a regular weight, but we can attach thinner or heavier soles as you wish.
Also keep in mind, we have three colors when it comes to the soles of your custom boots, black, brown, or natural.