Rancourt Beefroll Penny Loafer: Grab a Tall Boy
The Rancourt Beefroll Penny Loafer offers great materials and excellent comfort, all made in America.
The Rancourt Beefroll Penny Loafer will be tough to fit for most people, and may not be the best option for shorts.
|Model||Beefroll Penny Loafer|
|Materials||Leather / Leather / Latex|
|Weight||582 g / 1 lb 4.5 oz|
|Country of Origin||United States of America|
The history of the Rancourt brand is incredibly interesting. It’s been covered here before, so I won’t go too in depth here, but it’s the story of a small family consistently outsmarting massive companies like Nike and Allen Edmonds. If you’ve never looked into it before, you really should.
Believe it or not, the history of this shoe – their Beefroll loafer – doesn’t carry quite the same punch. It wasn’t the first shoe they made, or the most popular online. They brand was already well established when the launched it. I don’t think it can be called an also-ran, but it isn’t the definitive Rancourt model in the way that the boat shoe is.
However, despite all this, the Rancourt Beefroll Penny Loafer is often one of the top recommended choices for people looking to get into the made-in-Maine loafer world. Often mentioned alongside the Alden Leisure Hand Sewn.
If you’re looking to get a new beefroll, is this the right one for you? Let’s find out.
The upper of the Rancourt Beefroll Penny Loafer is definitely designed to evoke classic penny loafer designs. Made entirely of brown chromexcel leather with cream, contrast stitching, it would be hard to tell if this was from 2022 or 1962 if it weren’t for the new-leather sheen on them.
Overall, the sewing is pretty standard. There are a few loose threads here and there, but nothing to really worry about. Rancourt still uses the thickest and waxiest thread out there, which I’m a big fan of. These are casual shoes after all. Casual hits are appreciated. Out of the box, the clicking on the leather seems to be pretty good, though with chromexcel that can always be a bit of a dice roll.
Rancourt typically avoids too much extra embellishment on their shoes, and these are no exception. Where some of their competitors might use pinking or similar, Rancourt’s Beefroll is no nonsense. Stitching where it’s needed and no where else.
Taking a few step backs, though, the real defining feature of the upper of these shoes is their height. The upper itself is a good ¾ inch taller than every other Maine-made handsewn I’ve ever owned, and that’s counting Rancourt’s other offerings. If I’m going to be honest, I can’t say I’m a fan of this. It gives the upper of the shoe a much more “substantial” vibe. I’m hoping as the leather ages this compresses a bit.
Moving inside the loafer, Rancourt uses a half-length sockliner, and leaves the rest unlined. Because of this, the blake stitching at the front of the shoe exposed, though it will compress down with time.
Mid- and Outsole
Moving down, these Rancourt Beefroll Penny Loafers are kitted out with the Lactae Hevea outsoles. While we’ll get to the outsoles themselves next – I should point out that this style of outsole also comes with a full leather midsole. I can see why some wouldn’t care for this, however I think it does a great job breaking up the two browns. At least on this make up. There is a line of what looks like rapid stitching along the entire length of the shoe – though it doesn’t go through the outsole.
Speaking of the outsole, the mid-brown Lactae Havea (a brand, not a style) of outsoles are quite the attention grabber. With deep built-in ridges and a fairly large heel, they put off a different vibe than a traditional leather soled loafer. Less formal, more outdoorsy.
Much like the contrast stitching, I really dig the casual nature of this outsole. Unfortunately, since durability can be a bit of a concern on these, they compensate for that by making the outsole thicker – adding even more to the overall height of the shoe. One little detail on that which I do appreciate is a piece of hard plastic built into the toe in order to stop it from wearing too quickly there. Nice touch, Rancourt.
Sitting on a shelf, I can appreciate the style of the Rancourt Beefroll Penny Loafer. Little details that make them more casual like the contrast stitching, midsole, and thick outsole combine into a cohesive product. Unfortunately, those three also combine to make this shoe incredibly tall.
I have a more direct comparison with the Quoddy True Penny coming up, but just a sneak preview – these are around 33% taller overall. Plus, they are narrower, visually emphasizing the height.
This has made them more limiting to style than I expected. Personally, even with all of the various casual details, I think shorts are pretty much off limits for these. Since the thick thread means you can’t wear these with tailored clothing, you’re pretty much limited to chinos.
I do remain hopeful that with wear these will change. While not nearly as tall to start off with, my Rancourt Read Boat Shoes collapsed in height by a noticeable amount over time. Be sure to check back once these get their fully worn-in review.
Fit & Comfort
The Rancourt Beefroll Penny Loafer fits large, especially compared to their other line up. I took these in a size 12 – my normal go to size – and I can’t wear them without socks. I had already worn them outside before I really realized my mistake, but if I could redo it, I would have sized down a half size from my typical Rancourt sizing. (Side note: this is my mistake, Rancourt notes on their website to go down a half size from their boat shoe last)
Unfortunately, these are not larger everywhere in the shoe. The toebox is just as narrow as Rancourt’s other offerings. Instead, the heel is incredibly wide. To make matters worse, the heel of the loafer itself is practically straight up and down, and does nothing to hold your heel in place. Further, there is no cut in around the arch of your foot, just a basically straight line, so you get no relief from them. All this is out of the box, of course.
To get the sizing right, I think the safest bet is to size down, and hope your foot stretches out the shoe – and use that to hold your foot in place. I can’t imagine what people who get these in shell are supposed to do. Rancourt can, and should, do better here.
I should have ordered these in a size 11.5. For reference, I wear the Rancourt Read Boat Shoe in a size 12, the Alden Van Last (unlined) in a size 11.5, and the Adidas Stan Smith in a size 12.5. To see a list of sizing for all of the shoes reviewed on this website, click here.
Setting the sizing issues aside – which is hard, because the loose heel can cause some major slip – these are really comfortable for an American hand sewn. The Lactea Hevea soles are doing the heavy lifting here.
You’re not going to confuse these for your sneakers – or even something like a really well-structured dress shoe. However, when you look at what’s under your feet – basically a bit of leather and the outsole – it’s pretty impressive. The only thing that is lacking is arch support.
I wouldn’t have any concern wearing these all day for a more laid-back day.
Materials & Construction
This particular pair of Rancourt Beefroll Penny Loafers are only made with a few materials. I don’t think any Rancourt fan would view that as a bad thing.
On the upper, just about everything is Horween Leather Company’s chromexcel leather. Chromexcel, which is a combination tanned leather, is known for its softness and patina. The only thing you really need to watch out for is the “chromexcel lottery.” This is the gamble where you might get really ugly creasing, or you might get perfect break – but you don’t know until you’ve worn the shoes. While it is possible, it isn’t easy or cheap to be able to select parts of the hide that don’t develop deep creases when clicking the leather. Typically, only much more expensive brands like Viberg or Alden are able to be more selective.
Moving down, the sock liner is a thin sheet of chrome-tanned leather, and the midsole is a thick sheet of veg tanned leather. Both of these should help the shoe shape to your foot over time, and are welcome additions.
Finally, as mentioned above, the outsole is made of Lacte Havea. This is the brand name for Realtex’s latex outsoles. As much as Rancourt is associated with the brand, it is not limited to them. In fact, you can go buy these outsoles yourself if you want. Essentially, these outsoles are crepe, though made in a different way. Rather than building layer of thin latex rubber, Realtex pours the latex into molds and lets them dry floating in water.
At their core, the Rancourt Beefroll Penny Loafers are made using Blake Stitch construction, though this sole complicates that process a bit. In a normal Blake stitch, the outsole is sewn directly to the upper through the bottom. This is those stitches you see in the toebox of the shoe.
However, since latex is not the best material for being sewn, on this pair the upper is sewn onto a midsole. The latex outsole is then glued onto the leather midsole before heading out the door.
While this glued-on outsole might upset some, it actually does a great job at offsetting one of the biggest draw backs of Blake construction – weatherproofing. With no exposed stitching that goes directly to the upper, you should have no problem walking through puddles.
Ease of Care
Being made primarily of chromexcel, you’ll want to follow standard procedure for this leather when taking care of them.
First, you’ll want to make sure you condition the leather when it’s dry. For most people who have at least two or three pairs in rotation, that will likely only be 2 or 3 times a year. For others who wear them more or less often, you might need to do so more or less regularly. Thankfully, one of the big benefits of chromexcel is that it’s natural oiliness makes them fairly easy to understand when they need a condition. If they don’t feel a bit greasy, it’s time.
In addition, I’d strongly suggest keeping shoe trees in them. Just be careful not to oversize as you can stretch out the leather. These will help the loafer keep its shape, and prevent creases from setting in too deeply.
Finally, Rancourt – better than anyone else in the business – offers affordable and easy resoles. For $85 Rancourt will pay to ship the shoes to their factory, replace the outsole, and ship them back. While the spread between them and their competitors isn’t quite what it used to be, they are still the most affordable of any major brand.
Pricing & Value
While previously the most affordable option in the Maine-made loafer pantheon, their current $325 price ($315 without the latex outsoles) now pushes them above the average. This is a pretty rapid price increase from their MSRP just a year ago, though supply chain pressures have been severe on the industry.
Rancourt doesn’t often have sales. In fact, traditionally they only have sales once a year on Black Friday for 10% off site wide. However, it should be noted that in 2022 they had a Memorial Day sale for 15% off, so we might start seeing more in the future.
The two obvious comparisons are the Quoddy True Penny Loafer for $300 [Check out a Full Review Here], and the Oak Street Bootmakers Beefroll Penny for $336. Again, like the above, it should be noted that with Oak Street Bootmakers there are regular sales you can find. OSB generally runs 20 to 30% off site wide on all the “sale holidays.”
In spite of the recent price increases, the Rancourt Beefroll Penny Loafer does still have an appealing value proposition. The materials used are all top notch, with no cost cutting to see. Further, everything in the loafer comes from countries with high wages and good environmental protections in place.
It’s also important to remember a shoe isn’t just about its initial purchase price, but what it takes to keep it running. For most of the competition, you’re looking at anywhere from $125 to $150 to get a new sole put on. As mentioned above, these are $85, so every resole you will be putting an extra $50 in your pocket.
The Rancourt Beefroll Penny Loafer seems like a bit of a missed opportunity for Rancourt. They have all the ingredients to make a perfect made-in-Maine Beefroll. They just the thickest cuts of leather, they have an interesting and comfortable take on the outsole, etc. Unfortunately, the last does a lot to let the product down.
Not only is it an odd shape with a really wide heel and narrow toes, which can be overlooked because fit is subjective, they are incredibly tall. This height really limits their ability to do what the penny loafer is best at – fit in with countless styles. Rancourt has lasts that don’t have this issue. Offering a loafer in that last would resolve all the issues I have with this pair.
All that being said, I had similar issues with the boat shoes from Rancourt I received last year, and some of the issues were resolved with wear. Be sure to stay tuned for an update once these have been truly worn in.