Tidewater Cowboy Boots

Twcowboy03Here are my made-to-order boots by Tidewater Cowboy Boots I ordered last month. Wow! Stunning boots in design and quality!

Rather than having them shipped to me, I rode out on my Harley and picked them up last Friday, and had dinner with two of the Tidewater Cowboy crew–delightful folks with something like 80 years’ combined bootmaking experience between them, and right here in my own state. I learned a lot in this conversation… read on for more.

Comparing these to off-the-shelf mass-produced boots would be unfair–like comparing a fine home-cooked meal to a frozen TV dinner! These boots are the “Cattle Hunter” model, but I had them substitute rubber soles from the “Hoggard” model for the stock leather ones because I wanted to wear them while riding my motorcycle.

Twcowboy06The boots have a roomy square box-toe very reminiscent of Frye boots of the 1960s and 70s. But, instead of side-seams that could rub your ankles, or pop open after your jeans wear through the stitching, the folks at Tidewater Cowboy use a much older back-strap pattern, like English riding boots, resulting in a one-piece shaft. That type of shaft is more expensive to cut all in one big piece, but classic simple elegance and nothing to rub.

The leather from which these boots were made is called “Crazy Weather” by Prime Tanning Co., and made in the USA like most everything else that goes into these boots. This leather tannage can withstand tough wear, water, and mud and look better with the fully-worn “distressed” appearance.

The foot is made on a special vintage last (form) that makes these boots very comfortable to wear walking or riding. The heel is not too high, or too low, but just right. The fit is better than vintage Fryes, so they don’t become uncomfortable with wear — these boots are more comfortable the longer I wear them!

The boots are fully leather lined — both in the shaft and the foot. Try finding that any more!

The toe box, I was assured, would not crush and lose its shape the first time they get wet like the stiffened paper often used these days. The heel counter (stiffener) is solid oak-tanned leather too, not cardboard.

Twcowboy09The sole is made of oil resistant Neolite rubber, and while not lugged, provides fine traction on pavement while I ride my Harley. In fact one of the owners’ brothers is a life-long dedicated rider too, and when I had specific questions about wearing these boots for motorcycling, he simply put me in touch. This is not like dealing with some huge impersonal corporate boot manufacturer, these are real local artisans who really love their work.

My boots were made 14 inches tall (additional leg height is an option when ordering) and have the look, feel, and comfort of exactly how I remember vintage Frye boots to have looked and felt when I wore them in the 1970s when they were still made in Massachusetts. In fact if you liked the vintage Fryes back in the day, you’ll love the Tidewaters, which are in my opinion a much better made boot, because quality and pride in craftsmanship drives these folks more than high production. In the 1970s Frye had two or three huge plants spitting-out many thousands of pairs a week, and had cut just about all the corners you can imagine.

TWC01I watched these boots being built and was amazed with the old-school quality craftsmanship and materials that go into them. The unassuming workshop I visited seemed more like a museum of antique machinery with creaky wooden floors than some “factory,” but fine equestrian boots have been made there since the 1920s These boots are absolutely worth every penny.

Update, November 2018: the website for these boots is no longer operating. Email to the company owner is bouncing. Regretfully, I think this company has gone out of business.

Life is short: know quality when you see it in boots!

1 thought on “Tidewater Cowboy Boots

  1. It is a wonderful experience to watch the “old way” in all of its steps to create a good boot and I’m glad you had the experience. There was a boot maker in the next town until about four years ago and he decided to retire. He said he wouldn’t do it any more but since he also moved all of his ancient equipment to his new home, I have heard that he is still at it for friends. The man has an incredible heart so I, for one, did not expect anything more than that.
    Glad you had the experience of watching your boots being crafted. I don’t know that many people having witnessed the many integral steps in the creation of a fine boot. They look great!
    Be well!

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