What Are Those Bumps on Boots?

I was catching up on the Boots on Line board yesterday, and saw that someone asked about “the bumps” on a pair of full-quill ostrich harness boots. He asked, “Does ostrich leather come with bumps? Or are they added?”

And the answer is…

Those bumps are quill follicles where a feather from the ostrich (a bird) used to be. (Reference here). When the feathers are removed, it leaves a distinguishable bump in the skin, which is a favored or prized quality in a pair of ostrich skin boots. The bumps are not added, but are what remain when the feathers from the skin (not leather) are removed.

Most ostrich skin boots are in the cowboy boot style. Major labels of cowboy boots, like Lucchese, Tony Lama, Justin, Nocona, Dan Post, and many more make full quill ostrich boots. In fact, motorcycle boot makers like Chippewa have gotten into the act, and have made sharp-looking full-quill harness boots, of which I own two pair — one in black and one in brown.

The colors of ostrich boots are dyed. All ostrich boots are dyed — most of them are in cognac (a medium orange), which is traditional. But as you saw in the photo above, they come in blue, as well as many other colors including bone, black, brown, gray, and tan.

It is not well known, but ostriches are farmed for their skin and hides to make boots, as well as other items like belts and women’s purses. But you will mostly see full quill ostrich on boots. Because the birds are raised on a farm, it is not that expensive to produce the hides. Much like you get leather from cows, grown on farms called ranches. Same thing. But you get much more cowhide from one cow than you get ostrich skin from one bird. That’s why ostrich boots are a bit more expensive than traditional leather boots. Also, market pricing is involved: boot makers price their boots for what the market will bear, and that is why you will see ostrich skin boots priced higher than traditional leather boots. The prices may range from US$200 to well over US$2000, depending on the bootmaker, the quality, and whether the boots are made custom by hand (such as my Legendary Boots) or commercially mostly by machine methods.

I like how ostrich skin boots look, and they get a lot of attention for their design. Ostrich skin boots are also quite durable, too. Unlike snakeskin, whose scales will curl when they get wet and do not uncurl when they dry, ostrich skin boots can get wet and dry without noticeable long-term damage. Though I do not recommend walking in streams with them (LOL!) — but if exposed to wet weather like rain, the boots will be okay when they dry naturally.

Life is short: wear boots!