Matt Koeske
Wow, these are some beautiful boots! The grain leather has a lot of textural character (more interesting than typical Scotchgrain), and the reddish-brown color is very rich and takes on a nice glow in sunlight. The leather is not extremely thick, but it feels high-quality, supple and leathery, and not too "crispy". The boots are lighter than I expected, perhaps aided by the Vibram gumlite commando soles that weigh about half of what they would seem too . . . which is great when you are doing a lot of walking. Construction and stitching/welting are excellent. They seem extremely well-made, and the design puts some unique broguing touches on a dressy Jumper boot base. Fit seemed absolutely perfect at my usual 11.5 US. The day after I got them, I wore them to work and went on a brisk 4.5 mile hike in a park during lunch. Most of my more comfortable boots and shoes can manage this combination of gravel trails and streets for maybe 2-3 miles before they get a little fatiguing. But these boots were another level better in comfort and support (and it was a lovely day), so I kept going. After 3 miles or so of hiking, I started to feel the sides of my outer toes pushing against the inside of the boot. They weren't rubbing or blistering, but they started to fatigue in this area a bit. This is a product of the dressier soft-square toe shape. The heel to forefoot section of the shoe fits perfectly, but the pointier, tapering toe squeezes a little. I'm not sure I would go up to a size 12, though (since forefoot back is perfect at 11.5). And I never felt any fatigue on my toes with just light walking and standing or before I hiked 3 miles. Of course, I didn't buy these boots to hike in them, so I don't see this as a problem (although I do typically walk 2-5 miles a day on work days), but maybe my particular foot shape is not absolutely perfect for the way they are cut. My feet are just a little on the wide side for 11.5 (at the forefoot, but not at the heel) . . . and I do often wear a size 12 because of this width issue (e.g., in all athletic shoes and any other shoe or boot that runs a bit narrow). I'm nitpicking here, because these Manuel boots are currently the most comfortable boots I own for standing and light walking, but some of my larger or rounder-toed boots don't squeeze the outside toes as much on longer walks/hikes (they have other, often more significant comfort issues in those situations, though). The only possible flaw I have seen so far in the Manuel boots is that, after my 4.5 mile hike and a day of work, when I took them off, I noticed that the softer leather lining on the boot shafts seemed a little wrinkly and slightly loose as if the gluing to the outer upper leather had a tiny bit of air in it. As long as the lining stays intact, this is of no significance to me and doesn't impact comfort at all. It is purely cosmetic, and since it doesn't show in any way, I don't consider it a real issue. Overall, I am extremely impressed with the quality, design, look, and comfort of these boots, and I have already placed another order for a pair of Cobbler Union Chukkas. The size recommendation for those says to size down a half . . . and I would have done so had I not tried these Manuels (recommend to size as usual). But since these Manuels if anything could have gone up a half size for me, I chose to stick with my usual 11.5 US boot size for the Chukka. Hopefully that ends up being the right call.
2 years ago
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