Truman Horse Rump Boots: 3 Years In – How do They Compare?
- Price: $599 MSRP [No Longer Available]
- Pros: Materials could take a bomb, great design
- Cons: Construction leaves a lot to be desired, customer service can be improved
Truman Boot Company is a relative new comer to the world of higher end footwear. Most of their competitors have long storied histories that go back several generations, where Truman opened in 2014. Those six years have been busy for the company. After starting in Pennsylvania and making a name for themselves with made-to-order, stichdown construction boots using interesting leathers others wouldn’t touch, the company soon outgrew their location and relocated to Colorado.
In their new home, the focus moved from the made-to-order business model to set drops. Even those these boots were customizable, materials were often limited based on availablity. When they sold out, each new drop would have different leather choices for you to pick from. This, too, didn’t last and within a few years the company again moved shop to Oregon. Here, they would get rid of stich-down construction entirely in favor of goodyear welt designs.
It’s impossible to discuss Truman without discussing their often contentious relationship that they can have with their customers. After experiencing some growing pains where the quality of construction took a significant dive, the owner would often personally go on reddit, Instagram, twitter, and other locations to attack his customers personally for voicing their concern with the product (including myself). If bad reviews were posted, they would often only be willing to fix problems with the shoes only if the review was taken down entirely rather than updated (again, this was part of the offer given to me with this particular pair of boots).
If there is a light at the end of the tunnel, while they did not directly say so, their switch from stich down to good year welt was clearly because the company was in over their head with production. Since the switch, reviews have shown that the problems with the product have decreased. Though some issues – such as charging customers for returns of faulty products – remain an issue.
These specific Truman Horse Rump Boots are a good example of their poor attention to detail ruining an otherwise amazing piece of footwear. While I had several of the issues that can be seen in the pictures – the boot being lasted at an angle, uneven panels, etc – these particular boots shipped unfinished.
There was no insole installed and, in something I still can’t believe years later, several of the nails that hold the heal in place were still sticking straight up giving me a nasty surprise the first time I tried the boots on. After I contacted the rep about this, I was told that this was normal for these boots. That their customers preferred no insoles. (Really!)
What drives everyone crazy about Truman is that when they get it right, they really knock it out of the park. From about 10 feet away, these boots are truly something to behold. They have just the right about of chunkiness to them that they have a presence, but don’t have the width of something like an Alden Indy. This gives them ruggedness, while still allowing for a slimmer fitting look.
Starting with the best part, Truman’s choices of leather are almost always top-notch, and this boot is no exception. From most angles, the leather, a horse-rump from Italy, looks as robust as it has turned out to be. It is though enough that it would still be holding up after a dozen resoles. It feels like it could survive an accident on a motorcycle.
Punched into the leather are the brass eyelets, which came filled with dark brown rawhide leather laces out of the box. Waxed laces come with the boots as well if you are looking to tone down the look a little bit. Behind those laces is a thinner, gusseted tongue made of cow leather.
Inside, the boot is unlined on the shaft, but has cow leather on the vamp. Truman used a partially structured toe box on this build. Of course, it’s not like you can tell. The leather on the entire front of the shoe is so thick that the toe box wouldn’t collapse anyway.
Moving down, you have a light-colored leather midsole on top of a full-length commando-style outsole that fits the rest of the boot perfectly. White double stitching holds the upper to the midsole, while a single row of stitching makes a 270-degree loop.
Unfortunately, as you move a little bit closer, the shoe begins to lose a bit of luster. The magnificent leather is let down by a patch that is significantly thinner than the rest. This area has wrinkled as bad as any loose-grain CXL, and feels at risk of ripping through without much fuss.
The panels are uneven, with the heal counters, cap toes, and vamp stitching being different sizes on the boots. This unevenness in construction is highlighted even further as the boots themselves are different shapes. This translates to noticeably different volumes in the toe box.
The quality of the stitching on the stitchdown construction also leaves a lot to be desired. One boot has threads not pulled down, and the rows cross over at one point. These defects raise serious questions over how many times this boot can be resoled.
Fit & Comfort:
Unlike most other bootmakers, Truman’s normal last (the “79 last”) is true-to-size on a Brannock. [to learn more about Brannock sizing and how it might compare to other sizing click here]. For most people that would mean anywhere from ½ to 1 size larger compared to boots like an Iron Ranger or Alden Indy. Or ½ to 1 size down from a Nike size. The boots also tend to be a true D width, where other boots are generally wider than a traditional shoe. For me, this means getting the same size I would wear in normal goodyear welted Oxfords.
Truman has also introduced a sleeker, lower profile last known as the “C-55 last”. This new last is even smaller. They recommend that you go a half size up from other Truman boots.
Comfort on these boots is acceptable, if not great. The footbed is flat and without any cork or leather stack to mold to your feet. Expect it to stay this way long term. The thick leather is supportive, but doesn’t have much give. Expect to feel the shape of the boot more than softer leathers. All that being said, the focus of these boots is to be strong and take what life throws at them. Knowing that the comfort isn’t something to really complain about.
Setting aside that the initial wear of these boots involved nails going into my foot, the break in of these boots is a journey that you need to prepare for. It’s as if someone took a check list of the longest break in period for the various parts of a boot and put them all together in one.
The leather on the upper is thick, strong, and does not take to bending. It will be at least a dozen wears before a crease sets in the upper. And don’t expect it to stretch to your foot at all. The midsole is made of hard pressed leather several millimeters thick, which is then sewn to an outsole that has nearly a full inch of rubber across significant chunks. When you add in that the boots are more narrow than comparable brands, you might as well start buying the moleskin pads now.
Of course, anyone buying boots like this should expect the break in as part of the cost. There are legitimate complaints about these boots, but with these materials, break in should be expected.
This shoe’s upper is made of Maryam Graphite Horse Rump Leather, and, as you can probably tell by this point, it’s a heck of a leather. Even after three years the only creases in the boot are from a section that shouldn’t have made it past Truman’s QC due to it being so thin, and the slightest creases in the vamp.
Even if you search the entire internet, you won’t be able to find Truman using this leather on this construction. I’m honestly not at all surprised. It must be nearly impossible to work with.
While I can’t confirm, the gusseted tongue feels like it’s made of a thinner slice of chromexcel leather. It’s soft enough that, even though it’s folded on itself multiple times, it isn’t at all uncomfortable.
The midsole and heel are made of pressed, stacked leather, and on the bottom you have an Itshide Commando Sole. This sole leaves nothing to complain about. It has held up well to miles of wear both on asphalt and in the woods and is the sole of choice for a variety of top-tier bootmakers.
Ease of Care:
Is there something easier than doing nothing at all? While Truman recommends conditioning the leather with something like Bick 4 to prevent the leather from drying out, even after years of wear the leather is still healthy enough that it barely absorbs any. In fact, in the pictures you can see a slightly white sheen from the boots as I conditioned these about a week before taking pictures and they are still getting rid of the excess of just a small amount of creme. This was after years of wear.
The shoes are resoleable, however due to their stitch down construction it is unlikely that you’ll be able to take them to your neighborhood cobber and have them put on a new sole for $75 dollars. Truman themselves will do it for about $200, though reports of them using different color leather for the heel and midsole are more common than I’d be comfortable with. Unless you live in a major metropolitan area, you’re basically looking at B. Nelson or Brian the Bootmaker as your only real options, and they have a price to match that limited availability.
Their previous stitch-down models, such as this pair, came in at the $500 to $600 dollar range. This puts them in-line with Whites and Nicks, and several hundred dollars below their closest competitor in looks, Viberg. I bought these particular boots for half off from Canoe Club when they were blowing out their Truman inventory. Cost to me was $289 dollars.
With the switch to the more affordable goodyear welt and focusing only offering more affordable leathers, their boots currently run from around $400 up to $470, though occasionally a special make up will become available that goes a bit higher. This puts them in line with Oak Street Bootmakers, who don’t have nearly as interesting (or expensive) materials, and below everyone else.
Sales used to be somewhat easier to find on Truman, with various stockists turning over inventory. However, much like Rancourt, a few years ago Truman centralized their availability onto their own website. After this change, sales only come around once or twice a year, and only . Expect to save anywhere from 10 to 30 percent compared to MSRP.
This is a really tough one. If you’re one of the lucky ones who manages to get a boot from Truman that comes without any issues, the value is there. Even at full price. A simple comparison with any similar boot will show that the Truman would look better, be more interesting, and would probably be longer lasting now that it is good year welted.
Unfortunately, there seems to be too many of the unlucky ones who not only receive a boot that has issues. To add insult to injury, if you speak up you might tbe attacked in social media by the person who made the mistake. If you do want it fixed, expect to spend the next several months jumping through hoops simply to return their product.
If I had a gun to my head and needed to decide, I would say that Truman does still represent a good value. That being said, I’m not sure I could ever recommend a pair to a person I cared about.
While this review certainly didn’t cast Truman in a positive light, I am glad that they exist.
First, more competition is always good for the consumer. Since 2015 we have seen Viberg, White’s, OSB, and even the stodgy folks over at Alden come up with new and exciting leather and sole combinations. I think that Truman’s innovative choices in leather played a huge role in making that happen.
While they squandered the good will they had, it’s important to remember that Truman is still a very new company. Vince, the owner, certainly burned a lot of bridges, but nobody at a company is good at every single part of a business. Customer service isn’t his strong suit, but picking out amazing looking leathers and designs is. With the right support staff and a bit of extra time put in place for better quality control, Truman could absolutely overcome any of these issues.
Finally, Truman almost universally chooses materials from countries with high environmental and human rights standards. The leathers are from the U.S. and Italy. The soles are from the U.K. And, the boots are made here in the United States, instead of a sweat shop in Sri Lanka.
Ultimately, I want them to break through their current rut with the community and to grow into a great American success story. I just wish that I didn’t need to bleed from a punctured food while they figured it out.
Looking for more?
- Cyber Monday 2023: The Best Shoe and Boot Deals for 2023
- Should You Buy Shoes With Leather Soles?
- Warfield & Grand Batton: A Common Sense Pick
- Nicks vs. White’s: Which Should You Buy?
- Grant Stone Cap Toe Forest Kudu: Still Kicking