I started wearing my grandpa’s boots when he passed away nearly twenty years ago. At that time head pairs that were 20-30+ years old. Several pairs had already been resoled and after some abuse by me, many have been resoled again. They all can still be worn to this day. All a great pair of handmade boots needs a little TLC and to be resoled from time to time. Knowing some basic knowledge will keep your boots lasting a lifetime.
Start with the Boot
If you want your boots to last, it’s important to start by buying a boot with quality construction. The Goodyear welt is one of the most durable forms of construction and ensures you can resole your boots over and over. Cheaper boots typically come with cemented construction, and will likely need to be thrown away once you wear through your outsoles (the adage, you get what you pay for). At Alvies, we use a Goodyear welt on all of our boots, so you can resole them and keep wearing them for as long as you please. And when it’s time for a resole, going to your favorite cobbler shop can be a fun adventure.
Follow the Signs
A boot that needs to be resoled will not forgive you for waiting too long to follow up. The worse the wear, the harder it is to fix.
Most of the time, you can see the boot needs to be resoled just by looking. To give your boots a closer inspection, run your fingers over the middle of the sole. If it is firm to the touch, you’ve still got plenty of wear left. If it is spongy or creased, it is time to resole.
Holes in the sole indicate that it is also time to visit the cobbler. Even though the rest of the sole might feel solid, water and moisture coming in through a hole can damage the rest of the boot and your foot. If left untreated for long enough, it can also make resoling impossible.
Take a look at the stitching on the sole as well. If you look at the bottom of the boot, you will see stitching going all the way around the outside of the sole. This is part of the Goodyear welt and is what holds the sole and upper together. If you see the sole has been worn down into the stitching and it is starting to come undone, it is time to resole.
Just remember, the longer you wait, the more expensive and difficult it will be to fix later. So be vigilant, my friends.
A handcrafted leather boot takes on your character and personality. Each pair learns your unique cadence and particular sense of self-expression. To extend your boots' life, just remember that the sooner you take it to your local cobbler, the cheaper it will be, and will give you a better chance to continue your story together.
Visiting a Local Cobbler
A visit to your local cobbler may sound intimidating for a first-timer. Below are the options they should offer you depending on the amount of wear on your boots:
If you only wear down the front half of the sole when you move, you can get a half sole done, which only replaces the front half of the sole. It is about 30-50% cheaper than getting a full sole done, but the next time you resole, it will have to be in full.
If you need to replace the entire sole of the boot, it will generally cost you between $60-120. It is hard to say how long a sole will last, it depends the way you walk, your weight, the type of ground you walk on daily, how often you wear the boots, and the thickness of the leather used on the outsole. A typical leather sole on a good pair of boots should last a minimum of a year theoretically.
Some people, especially motorcycle riders, wear out their heels the quickest. This takes away a lot of the comfort of the boot by eating away at the form and function of the rubber and leather. Plus, it makes you a little wobbly. Luckily, any boot repair shop can replace the heel for only a fraction of the price. It usually costs between $15-25.
At some point in your boot-wearing journey, you will need to resole your boots if you want to continue wearing them. Resoling is cheaper than buying new boots, and you get to keep making new memories in the same pair over and over. I still wear my grandpa's boots and that is because he bought boots made with a Goodyear welt. He resoled them from time to time. And when I inherited them, I gave them that same kind of love. I also ensure all Alvies boots are constructed with a Goodyear welt and premium materials so that if you decide to buy our boots, you can pass them down as my grandpa did for me.