After scores of chats, emails, and crayon drawn letters, we've managed to restock the legendary "Grade 1" Austrian paratrooper boot. In fact, we did a little more than that; we worked with our supplier to cherry-pick the very best boots from a batch of several thousand (we even made a friggen illustrated sorting guide for them).
Now most normal people would have stopped there. We decided to double distill this batch and hand sorted everything again upon arrival at our warehouse.
So, what does all that mean in terms of quality? Every "Grade 1" boot should have only as much wear as one-to-two weeks of normal use. Any scratches, scuffing, or dirt is superficial and will clean up nicely with regular use and by following our Boot Care guide below.
Our goal is not only to supply you with great boots, but to empower you with the knowledge to maintain them. Take good care of your pair, and they should last you many years in The Zone — even past a decade, as some already have.
- 2mm-thick leather, full-grain cowhide
- Black, easy to shine and polish, hides dirt and stains
- 10" tall, covering and supporting the entire ankle
- Ten eyelets and eight grommets on each boot
Metzeler sole insert included (Ivan advises you replace this; it's pretty old and may have the imprint of another guy’s foot on it, but maybe you're into that)
- Hard-wearing lug soles
Recommended Aesthetic and Functional Practices
Your boots may or may not arrive with insoles. If they do, they will likely be worn and old. You should consider replacing them before breaking your boots in or wearing them more than casually.
Breaking In Your Boots
Generally, these Austrian paratrooper boots have already seen some use. This does mean that the leather is not as stiff as new boots, but a breaking-in period is still recommended.
To break in your boots, wear them as often as possible over a one-to-two-week period of regular activity (think grocery store trips, not hiking trips or guerrilla warfare). Use good, full-length wool socks, and take note if you feel any "hot spots" while walking around. Friction between your foot and the boot causes blisters. Breaking in your boots should help with this.
If hot spots persist, silk or synthetic "liner socks" (worn under your wool ones) are a cheap and easy way to protect your feet. They are freely available at most outdoors stores.
It is of Ivan's opinion that tying your boots with a speed lacing method is superior to that of any external bow or knot.
It not only looks cleaner, but also minimizes the chance that you will trip, get your boots stuck, or have them untie because you used a granny knot like a child.
There is an assortment of different speed lacing methods that will have these three attributes in common.
- Very long laces (The excess in lace is necessary. If your boots come with normal-size laces, consider investing in longer laces)
- At least one full wrap of lace around the ankle
- Tucking all excess lace deep inside the boot
Here are video guides for two different styles of speed lacing. [Style 1] [Style 2]
Most of the boots comes with laces that are a little too short for most conventional speed lacing (it is still very possible if you copy the way it is laced in the photos, but it is not as sturdy or easy as it could be). Luckily good laces are inexpensive. Warehouse Ivan recommends you pick up some 87" or 92" laces (regardless of shoe size, it doesn't affect the lace length like you think it would)
Blousing and Tucking Your Trousers
If you are not going to tuck in your trousers when you tie your boots and you are wearing baggy pants, we recommend investing in elastic blousing garters / "boot bands."
It will look cleaner and keep your trouser cuffs out of the way.
Walk into any store that sells shoes and ask to have BOTH your feet measured.
If you find one foot is wider than the other, get that size and force the habit of leaning on the smaller foot when standing still.
If you plan to wear your boots with a thick insole and medium/thick socks, buy one size bigger.
For those with wide feet, you should follow your general style of fitting into normal shoes. For reference, a size 10.5 EE wide foot fits best in a size 12 shoe with an arch based insert. Flat feet or not, it is important to have an insert with a raised arch. The knuckles of your foot widen under your own weight. Displacing weight off that part of your foot will make it more comfortable.
The break-in period may be a little uncomfortable at first for wide feet, but the sides should stretch in time. If they do not improve after a month, reach out to us for a possible exchange.
Shoe sizing over the internet can be a little more finicky than clothing.
If you are unhappy with your boot's size and would like to exchange for a different size, ship it back to us, and we will pay for shipping the first replacement back to you.
As stated above, every "Grade 1" boot should have only as much wear as one-to-two weeks of normal use. Any scratches, scuffing, or dirt is superficial and will clean up nicely with regular use and by following our Boot Care guide above.
On rare occasions, boots will have hole-punched tongues, and sometimes grommets high on the inside of the ankle. These should not cause any functional or aesthetic problems when wearing the boot. The hole punch on the tongue is high up by the tag and not visible when the boot is laced. The ankle grommets are at the same height and allow you to tie the boots together for storage or drying.