Long Term Review, Oak Street Bootmakers, Stitched Footwear

Oak Street Bootmakers Camp Moc: Five Year Review


  • Price: $282 MSRP
  • Pros: A company with a commitment to U.S. construction, high quality materials
  • Cons: Higher priced than competitors.



Oak Street Bootmakers is now one of the most established names in the American-made footwear market. In fact, by late 2018, the Oak Street Bootmakers was so large it was able to save a storied Maine factory that at one time made handsewns for Alden, Red Wing, Sperry, Sabago and others by simply buying it when the previous owners were unable to keep the lights on.

However, just a few years ago, OSB (as it’s often abbreviated) was a much smaller operation. Founded in 2010, it took them several years to find their niche. One of their original distribution methods was through the Sears-owned Land’s End – best known for running 40% off already pretty affordable pants. OSB used this model with other retailers as well. Their initial growth happend with with mostly direct-to-consumer menswear stores that popped up in the early 2010’s.

In an effort to differentiate themselves, companies would often order exclusive make ups of OSBs. Things like rough out leather handsewns (which they just recently brought back! gone again, unfortunately), all-black suede options, and this Oxblood pair that was exclusive to Bonobos in 2015, were all available if you looked around.

While good for the company, as OSB grew they no longer needed to rely on others to sell their shoes and one by one all of these distributors ended their contracts. The company began to focus on their core products – chromexcel leathers in typical colors. Thankfully, in the last year, OSB has started to venture out of their comfort zone and create limited editions in new leathers. Knowing that, now might be a good time to look back at the last time they went on the creative side and see how well it holds up.

Oak Street Bootmakers Logo
Oak Street Bootmakers Logo


The first thing you notice about these shoes is that the oxblood color stands out compared to what you’re able to find elsewhere. If you google the leather these are made of (Horween Cavalier Oxblood), a sofa is more likely to pop up than footwear. Honestly, I’m not sure why. The color fits great in the fall and catches attention without going over the top.


The front of the shoe features a moc-toe construction. Unfortunately, the two pieces of leather have a tendency to separate after years of wear. The stitching along the moc toe, however, is tight, even, and despite it’s white color is extremely resistant to stains.

Further back, the throat of the shoe is wrapped in natural colored raw-hide laces with brass hardware at the eyelets. Be sure to be careful with these laces though. Rather than use a full 360 degree lace like Rancourt, OSB opted for a sewn in lace around the throat. There is a break right where the plug meets the opening of the shoe. Due to the fact that they are sewn in at this point, you should consider them to be non-replaceable. If you break a lace, a cobbler will need to deconstruct the shoe to get it out. The stitching in this area matches the oxblood color of the shoes and is again incredibly tight and even.

At the back, the hand sewing on the rear of the shoe stands out as an area that has not held up as well as the rest. All four corners have seen the lacing start to unravel and has left me somewhat concerned about how far it will go – with as long lasting as the sole is (more on that later), I think this might wear out first.

Inside, the unlined upper will give you a scare the first time you take your foot out and see it’s bright red – be sure to not wear any socks you care about – but after the first couple of times there is no need to worry. Under your foot is a full-length piece of leather that will discolor a bit with sockless wear at the heel.

Rounding off the shoe, at the bottom you have a self-branded camp moc sole stitched on with white stitching within the typical cut out.

Oak Street Bootmakers Camp Moc Side
Oak Street Bootmakers Camp Moc Interior Side

Fit, Comfort, and Break In:

Out of the box, the fit on these is generally true to size in length, or even a bit long, however the shoe generally has a fairly narrow toebox compared to other handsewns. Over time, however, the shoe has proven to be extremely stretchy. I purchased these .75 down from my brannock size, and after a few wears these end up fitting great, even with socks.

[To learn more about brannock sizing and the problems it can lead to, click here]

OSB suggests that you go a half size down in their handswens, and I think that is a safe bet for those with normal widths. This is even more true now that Horween and OSB have moved away from offering Cavalier leather.

A full comparison of the sizing of all reviews can be found here

There is a lot going for this shoe from a comfort perspective. This is even more apparent when you compare them to their cross-town rival, Quoddy. Interestingly, despite the similar product, where they shine and fall is very different. While most handsewn style shoes are completely flat, there is a surprisingly good amount of arch support in these shoes. You can tell this is an area where OSB spent a lot of time. Not only does the sole itself have an arch molded into it, the leather insole uses varying thicknesses and curves to further support your feet.


What lets the shoe down in comfort is the same thing that makes it pop in looks – the Cavalier leather. While it is stretchy, Horween’s cavalier is far less elastic than something like the chromexcel or suede that you typically see in camp mocs. The leather tends to stretch to your foot and then stay there. This means you can’t expect that soft but firm hug that you might be used to. Instead, the shoe will conform to a new shape and stay there. Further, if you wear this shoe with thick socks, going back to sockless will likely mean that the shoe has stretched to the point it is overly loose.

The break in on these shoes is incredibly minimal. Out of the box, everything from the leather to the sole is pliable. For many, myself included, the toe box will be too tight. Thankfully, this will stretch out fairly quickly.

Oak Street Bootmakers Top and Side
Oak Street Bootmakers Oxblood Cavalier Camp Moc


I’ve mentioned this a few times now, but the most important material on this shoe is the upper. OSB made the upper entirely out of of Horween’s cavalier leather. While somewhat similar to chromexel (it actually used to be called cavalier chromexcel and was treated as part of that line by Horween), cavalier has a few noticeable differences. First, the starting leather is the thinner top grain, rather than full grain. Further, during tanning, Horween adds fewer oils and instead adds more waxes to fill that role.

The drawbacks are that the leather tends to be significantly stiffer than it’s chromexcel brother. This stiffness of Cavlaier can be felt in the owner’s comfort, but also in how difficult it is to work with. Further, due to the decrease in oils, cavalier doesn’t have the same ability to shrug off scratches and knicks the way the other leather does. Almost every scrape will be noticeable and permanent.

On the other hand, cavalier does do a few things that chromexcel simply can’t. The biggest is that it can take on brighter colors and hold the color for a longer time. It simply isn’t possible to get chromexcel in bright colors whereas cavalier comes in greens, blues, purples, and the oxblood red seen here. Further, cavalier is much better at holding a shine. In fact, these shoes are still on the initial shine from the factory five years later.


The shoe is more than just the upper, however. Inside the shoe, OSB used a full length insole – a thick piece of natural colored veg-tanned leather. The footbed liner has held up incredibly well. The only wear is the discoloration that is a hallmark of veg tanned leather.

The rubber sole, branded OSB, is another highlight of the shoe. It’s a bit harder than other camp moc outsoles, such as the Vibram unit that Rancourt and Quoddy use, but it is extremely wear resistant. After hundreds of miles of wear, the soles still have plenty of life left in them and thanks to the insole they don’t feel any more jarring than any of these other brands when walking.

While mine are made slightly differently, it's still worth checking out this excellent tear down by Lord Point Shoemaking where they break down an OSB Boat Shoe
Oak Street Bootmakers Camp Moc Sole
Oak Street Bootmakers Camp Moc Sole

Ease of Care:

Taking care of these shoes is pretty easy, though mostly because there isn’t much you can do once the leather gets a scratch. No amount of polish, rubbing, or conditioner will get it out. The only thing needed to keep the shoes in as good as shape as possible is a condition every 4 to 6 months, depending on wear.

The shoes are resoleable. Previously, getting OSB to do so directly involved reaching out to them through email. You sent them the information about the shoe, and they would get back to you with a time, quote, etc. You’d then be responsible for getting the shoes to them and they would return them.

Very recently, OSB replaced this process with a “Factory Recrafting Service”. This seems to streamline the process quite a bit. You select the shoe and the sole, click add to bag, and they email you the shipping label. Unfortunately, this new option seems to have come with a standardized price ($120 as of writing). While very reasonable for their leather soled boots, this is a significant price increase for shoes with a camp or boat sole. I wish they had followed Rancourt’s example, offering two tiers of pricing depending on what was on the bottom of the shoe.

Oak Street Bootmakers Camp Moc Toe
Oak Street Bootmakers Camp Moc Toe Splitting


OSB tends to be at the higher end of pricing for their camp mocs ($282 at the time of writing). This price is a few dollars more compared to Quoddy ($275 for ready-made) or Rancourt ($250). While this price is certainly attention grabbing, some of the bite is offset by sales. Generally, every regular “sale” holiday (Black Friday, Labor Day, President’s Day, etc.) OSB will run 20 to 40% off their products. Going for something out of season, like boots in the summer, will get you better discounts.

It used to be fairly easy to find their products on blow out prices. Unfortunately, since bringing their entire sales structure in-house, this is basically impossible now.


To be clear, the OSB camp moc is an extremely well made shoe. From the perspective of things like stitches per inch or the evenness of those stitches it beats out the segment. The question that you need to ask yourself: are they are worth the extra price compared to their competitors.

There are a few things that set them apart – in particular the full leather lined insole makes a big difference. If you need additional support then it doesn’t matter what other options cost. If you’re in pain every time you wear them it’s a bad purchase even if free.

For many people though, Quoddy and Rancourt will cost less. None of the three brands should leave you concerned about the quality of the product you receive. Unless you have a specific reason to choose one of the brands, it’s hard to say that the best value option is the most expensive.

OSB Camp Moc rear
Oak Street Bootmakers Camp Moc Scratches and Wear


Oak Street Bootmakers have changed substantially since they made this shoe, but it’s clear that their passion hasn’t. Buying the Highland Shoe Company factory show OSB are committed to their product and the industry. Five years on, these shoes are holding up extremely well. They could easily last another five before going in for a recraft.

Do you agree? Do you disagree? Let me know down in the comments below!