While surfing the ‘net a few months ago, I found the website for Ranch Road Boots. This was a new brand of boots to me. (Please do not confuse Ranch Road Boots with cheap Chinese-made “Red Ranch” knock-offs made for Boot Barn holdings and sold by Sheplers.)
Soon after discovering the website, I received an email from Sarah Ford, the owner of Ranch Road Boots, who introduced her product line to me through a very cordial and friendly email exchange.
Ranch Road boots…
…have an interesting story, are well-made, and are competitive in today’s millennial-led boot market.
From the company website, Sarah Ford is an impressive entrepreneur. She served with the U.S. Marine Corps and on deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Logistics Officer. Having worked with officers in this occupation speciality through my service in the U.S. Army (long ago and far away), I am aware of the high degree of skill, organization, and drive to do these difficult jobs. That experience, along with Ford’s undergraduate and graduate degrees, including an MBA from Harvard Business School, positioned her to develop and run a no-nonsense business.
Ford grew up in West Texas, a land of wide-open spaces and plenty of boots. She made arrangements with a quality bootmaker in Spain to design and produce high-quality boots in three styles for men: traditional western boots, roper boots, and boots with the appearance of old and new military style (lace-ups, lug sole.)
My thoughts? Good for her! It is terrific for entrepreneurs like Ford to design and promote boots. So few young’uns wear boots any more. I’m so tired of seeing the millennial generation wearing sneakers and flip-flops, or dorky dress shoes for those that work in an office or other setting where dressing up is required.
Boots made in Spain like Ranch Road Boots are well-constructed and the leathers are sourced from quality hides, so don’t be afraid that just because they’re not made in the USA, they are bad. Actually, western boots made in Spain by Spanish craftsmen are better (in my opinion) than boots made elsewhere.
By the way, I also learned through my dialogue with Sarah Ford that while Ranch Road Boots are made in Spain, they are made with with USA lasts so the boots have American vs. Euro fit.
My thoughts about the product line of Ranch Road Boots
I commend Ford for limiting the line of production to offer basic, affordable boots to what can be reasonably offered and sustained. So many bootmakers these days carry so many styles, colors, and designs of boots that it is mind-boggling. Sure, I own more than 100 pairs of cowboy boots in a variety of colors, skins, styles, heel heights, and designs. I love the variety.
But most guys are reluctant to wear boots at all. So after studying the market, Ford had boots designed that are “evergreen” in style but with a western boot tradition. The boots have rounded or french toes, and one pair — like I have — snip toe. She offers three lines: “explorer” (entry level, 4 styles); “military” (2 styles); and “premium” (16 styles). There are also 14 styles for women.
The boots are made of all leather with a full grain lining of the shaft and vamp, leather piping, double shank for arch support, comfortable insole with a “sock lining”, and best of all: lemonwood hand-pegged double row 9-iron leather outsole.
You can tell that boots are well-made if the sole is pegged, and also stitched to the vamp. Western boots without pegs are an indication of cheap machine-made construction. Boots whose soles are not stitched, but glued, are not worthy of consideration because the soles cannot be replaced if worn out.
The cost of the boots is competitive with today’s market of well-made traditional western boots.
Some people may find Ranch Road Boots a bit too bland, too simple. However, the quality and style of these boots is timeless. This is the type of bootmaking approach that just may get more young’uns into wearing western boots again. Yay! I’m all for that.
While I personally am not afraid to wear boots with a little more flash of color, design, and made of exotic skins, I realize that my heart and passion for western boots has always remained with the simple, masculine, traditional boot that never goes out of style. This is probably why my pair of Ranch Road Boots is a frequent choice to wear with straight-leg jeans as I go about my daily life around home.
I acquired a pair of Ranch Road “Yoakum County” boots — a plain leather brown boot with a snip toe. Some folks may not recognize that bootmakers these days tend to name their boot styles. Some other bootmakers come up with some really crazy names for their boots. Ranch Road Boots are named after counties of Texas, reflecting Ford’s heritage. I guess giving a boot style a name makes it logistically easier to market and manage.
The boots arrived at my door four days after I ordered them. Ford ships them from her home base in 29 Palms, California. Not bad delivery time, considering that they had to travel cross-country. Tracking information was provided on the order so I would know when to expect delivery.
I pulled them on, and at first, it was a struggle. Typical with new boots. After pulling them on, though, I realized that a health condition causing minor swelling in my legs was not making these boots feel tight on my legs. Not the fault of the boots — it was me, working long hours on my feet almost all day and drinking so much water that I could be mistaken for a camel.
I took a month to let work calm down and get back to my usual exercise and diet regimen, so soon the lower leg edema abated.
I got out the Ranch Road Yoakums again last weekend, pulled them on, and they felt great! I walked around and admired how the boots looked with dark blue denim jeans stacked on top of them. (Note: I do *not* subscribe to rolling up the bottom of jeans like kids do these days.)
I have worn these boots now on three occasions — at home and at the office.
Lots of people notice them and all have said, “new boots? Nice!” All compliments… always. No funny stares or expressions of dismay, even by East Coasters who don’t know boots from a flip-flop. Even TBC (The Big Cheese) remarked the other day when he saw me at the office, “another pair of new boots? They look nice!” Good to know that even the boss’ boss’ boss admires traditional western boots.
These boots make the traditional cowboy boot sound on hardwood floors, which I like 🙂 They are good-looking, plain, simple, understated boots. Just the way a man likes his boots to be part of his wardrobe and character. Tough, masculine, and subdued.
I took pictures of these boots for my website (photos here). I have enjoyed wearing them and returning to classic style.
Overall, these are very good boots for the price. If you are looking for a pair of well-made basic, simple cowboy boots, I would recommend them. Visit the Ranch Road Boots website for more information.