by: Scott Cochran, Editor
Whenever I start out to write a product review I like to do a little research on the company. As most of you know, Justin Boots are headquartered in Fort Worth Texas. Founded by H.J. Joe Justin in Gainsville Texas (now a suburb of Dallas/Ft. Worth) the company started to grow it’s mail order business in 1897 when Joe’s wife, Annie developed a kit that allowed customers to self-measure their own feet. The Justins distributed the kits far and wide to the ranches and dusty cow-towns in the southwest. In 1925 the company moved to Ft. Worth and by 1947, sales reached $1 million dollars!
The name Justin became synonymous with quality boots and in 1968. merged with Acme Brick Company to diversify into the building supply market changing it’s name to Justin Industries. In 1990, Justin Industries bought out Tony Lama Boots. With the housing boom in the US, profits in the brick division soared and attracted attention from Warren Buffett. In 2000, Buffett wrote a check for $600 million dollars and Justin Industries joined GEICO, DAiry Queen and See’s Candy as a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.
The popularity of Western boots has faded some in recent years, but within the motorcycle culture there remains a core group of riders who love the look and feel of these boots, but honestly, I’m not one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I like “cowboy” boots, and own a few pairs, but I don’t ride with them.
When PR group from Justin Boots invited me to try a pair for free I figured I didn’t have anything to lose. I’d owned a pair a few years ago, but since those were not waterproof, I’d never used them for riding.
To make my choice, I surfed over to justinboots.com. Before checking the style of boots I would get, I read up a bit on boot making and learned that it takes more than 100 steps and 16 square feet of leather to produce a pair of Justin boots. If you’re interested, visit the site and watch the short video on boot construction. You’ll be amazed at how much “hand craftsmanship" remains in a Justin boot.
I was disappointed the site doesn't have a “motorcycle” specific link, (an obvious oversight and one I hope is corrected soon) so I headed into the work boot section, and clicked the “steel toe” subcategory. (I figured having a little extra protection for my piggies is a good thing.)
With 80 different boots in this section alone, choosing a style is a little overwhelming. Undaunted, I settled on a boot from the Stampede collection, Style # WK4692, black oiled steel toe, pull on boot.
Part of what sold me on this model was Justin’s new J-Flex Flexible Comfort System built into the sole of the boots. We’ve all had the experience of buying a new pair of boots and suffering through the first few weeks or even months of stiffness while “breaking” in the boots.
With the J-Flex system, of leather-covered cushioned insole and the triple density insole board, I’d been promised the boots would be as comfortable as a well-worn pair right out of the box. And the uppers on the WK4692 are guaranteed waterproof. It was a claim I’d wind up validating several times during the month-long test.
With my style selected, I sent the PR group my size and sat back and waited. As it worked out, I had scheduled a long weekend ride on a test bike and the boots arrived just in time to combine the two tests. I was hoping the new J-Flex comfort system was more than just hype because I’d be spending 12 hours a day in these boots and having sore feet is unwelcome distraction during a new motorcycle test.
On the day of departure, I broke out the new Justin boots, slipped them on and proceeded to load the bike for the long weekend test. My plan was to evaluate the boots while packing the bike. If they were the least bit uncomfortable, I’d switch out to one of my other riding boots and postpone the test.
In 15 minutes I completely forgot about the boots until I made my first fuel stop. I was so impressed with the comfort, I took a few minutes to jot down my thoughts.
The most comfortable boot out of the box I’ve ever worn. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear someone else had worn these boots for a couple of months before me, but there’s no mistaking that new boot smell. No noticeable heel slippage, but should have gotten a half-size smaller for summer wear, but will work great with thick winter socks. Rounded toe looks more like a motorcycle boot than “cowboy boot.” Biggest negative is the weight, as these boots are heavier than what I normally like to wear. (probably thanks to the steel toe)
The biggest plus for the boots is how it sheds water, on and off the bike. During heavy rain and 70 mph riding, I didn't detect any seepage. Just to be sure I stood in ankle deep puddle for over a minute and my socks stayed completely dry. The biggest complaint I have (other than the weight) is the lack of insulation in the boot. These are definitely warm weather only boots. When the temperature falls below 50, these boots seem to conduct the cold a little too much for comfort. At $119.00 (on Amazon) these boots are not cheap, but should give you several years of riding comfort.