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Gear Guy

Q:

What's my best bet for all-leather boots?

Do you have any recommendations on all-leather boots for women? I'm talking about all leather—no fo-cushioned insoles, no cloth vp lining. The only boot I can wear is a Redwing Irish Setter with an oak-tanned insole, but they don't make it in ladies' sizes. It seems like every manufacturer is going with their "miracle" man-made products, but these don't compare with good old leather. Phil Williston, North Dakota

Do you have any recommendations on all-leather boots for women? I'm talking about all leather—no fo-cushioned insoles, no cloth vp lining. The only boot I can wear is a Redwing Irish Setter with an oak-tanned insole, but they don't make it in ladies' sizes. It seems like every manufacturer is going with their "miracle" man-made products, but these don't compare with good old leather. Phil Williston, North Dakota

A:

Wow, that's a high bar. I certainly understand your predilection for leather liners. They take some break-in, but once that's done, they mold to your foot for a custom fit. But leather insoles? That's a little extreme, I think. What exactly don't you "like" about some of these materials? And no boot maker these days goes all-leather in the mid-sole of the boot; they all use some variation of rubber, polyurethane, or EVA.

Limmer Standard hiking boots

Limmer Standard

Anyway, the list of what might suit you is plenty short. Leather linings used to be moderately common even a few years ago, in boots from Raichle, Scarpa, and a few other makers. But they've all pretty much gone to synthetic linings, mainly Cambrelle, which is a soft material that feels comfortable and wicks well. About your only choice these days is the Limmer Lightweight ($265; www.limmerboot.com) or Limmer Standard ($335). These are beefy old-style boots with lots of leather, including leather linings and a leather insole. The Standard is lots of boot—it's going to take considerable break-in before they're comfortable. Same for the Lightweight, just a bit less so. But once you have them ready to go, these are boots that will last a very long time indeed.

For the best in women's gear, check out Outside's 2006 Buyer's Guide.

Filed To: Hiking Boots

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