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Full-grain hiking boots vs. nubuck

If there's a way to search forum posts I seem to be too stupid to figure it out. The search box only pulls up gear reviews.  If there's a way to search forum posts please clue me in.

I have some Oboz Bridger Mids that I love.  They're the waterproof nubuck version.  My feet are very picky as I get older so finding boots that feel great was no mean feat.  I tried on and returned a LOT of boots.  They're only 5 years old and still in good shape but with companies dropping old models and my bad luck in finding comfortable boots I thought I'd get a backup pair now. 

The ones I currently have are available now full price ($180) but the same model in the Premium version which is full-grain leather was on sale for $168 (normally $210).  I ordered them and they feel good but stiffer around the ankles than my nubuck ones.   I'm guessing that will soften up a bit as they break in but I don't know for sure that that area breaks in much.  Also other than being slightly heavier and slightly warmer (a good or bad thing depending on temperature) are there other important differences between full-grain and nubuck boots?  

I know they'd be more durable in certain conditions but other than that are there reasons to keep this pair if they're not QUITE as comfortable as the nubuck ones and I'm only saving $13?  Getting the premium version at the reduced price lured me in but maybe I'm better off sticking with what I know is a great boot.

Here's another probably stupid question - is it a mistake to have a 2nd pair sitting in a closet if the ones I have could last a lot longer?  Would they be dry rotting or something if I didn't end up needing them for several more years?   Or would you rotate pairs for any reason to make them both last longer.  OK, I'm seriously overthinking this :(

Boots do age in the closet. 

The adhesives often degrade over time, and the soles ends up delaminating from the boot at the least opportune time, with no warning.  Even old school, stitched, Norwegian welt soled premium boots will fail this way, given enough years to age. 

Ed

Thanks Ed.  That  answers my question as far as whether I should be buying a second pair of boots now, which is no.  

When my current ones wear out I’ll just have to see what’s available then.  

For future boot hunting, if anyone has time to give an opinion on full grain versus nubuck I’d be interested  

thanks again  

It's a good boot - and a model Oboz has made & sold for a while, REI seems to have a full size run of them. I reviewed the Bridger mid and low on this site a few years ago. 

It's pretty much the tradeoff you already observed. Full grain leather is usually more robust than nubuck, which is almost certainly thinner split-grain leather. On one hand, full grain will probably be more durable, tends to be easier to waterproof (not much of a factor for boots with a waterproof/breathable liner), and provides a somewhat more firm fit; on the other, nubuck is softer, more forgiving, and easier to break in. In time, the 'premium' full grain leather boot will break in, adapting to your feet.

Break-in time depends on the thickness of the leather & tanning process used. I'm not familiar with the Oboz Bridger Premium, but my educated guess is that they would feel a lot more comfortable after a few weeks of intelligent break-in. Boots with thicker full-grain leather (Merrell Wilderness, Danner Mountain Light), I figure closer to a month to really avoid blisters, and the Limmer boots I have worn the past 15 or so years took 4-6 weeks b/c the leather is thicker and stiffer than most boots.  

Regarding purchasing multiple boots and 'saving' one, I tend toward your latter suggestion - rotate. If you rotate, each pair will get less mileage and last longer. Usually, people end up having a preferred pair, but if you wear others a healthy amount, you probably won't want or need to replace multiple boots at the same time.

Hi Andrew - thanks for the reply.  When you say “intelligent” break-in do you mean just shorter hikes for the first few times they’re worn or something in addition to that?

I haven’t returned them yet. I‘m planning to walk around the house in them this weekend and try to decide whether to or not.

Leslie Jamison said:

Hi Andrew - thanks for the reply.  When you say “intelligent” break-in do you mean just shorter hikes for the first few times they’re worn or something in addition to that?

I haven’t returned them yet. I‘m planning to walk around the house in them this weekend and try to decide whether to or not.

 Yes - not going too long too quickly, and wear good socks.

October 27, 2021
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