Boot Leathers

Leather Types


Today, boots are made in an increasing array of exotic and specialty leathers.   Exotic skins used are not from animals on any endangered species list.


- A -

Alligator: Most skins are from special farms that are primarily in the United States. Some do come from state supervised hunts. The skins have an especially high gloss finish with a deep rich color. The distinctive squares are called tiles.

Aniline: Full Grain -- a.k.a. cajun leather. Tanned with aniline and vegetable oils for depth.

Antiqued Leathers: This type of leather finishing occurs where a contrasting color spot is sprayed on the leather surface. The leather is then rubbed to create highlights.

- B -

Boarhide: A very heavy grain leather.

Brush Off Leather: Type of leather finish where the tannery adds color to the surface, then uses a brushing wheel to take off some of the coloring material which changes the color's tone.

Bull Dog: a.k.a. Nu Buc. A very tightly sueded finish. The surface of the leather is actually sanded to achieve this look.

Burnish Leather: This finish develops a surface with a look of great depth. It is accomplished by actually burning the finish on the leather using high heat caused by friction.

- C -

Calfskin: Leather made from the skins of young cattle. It is characterized by a natural fine grain. The close pores and tight fiber that make up fewer surface blemishes add value to this skin. It readily takes and holds a high luster and shine.

Cape Bison: Skin from African Buffalo, a very large ox-like animal that is found from the cape in Southern Africa to the Northern parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Southwest Africa. This leather is usually printed or sueded.

Cowhide Prints: Leather that is printed to replicate exotic skins. You will see buffalo, elephant, snake, lizard and crocodile prints.

Crazyhorse: An oil stuffed pull up leather.

Crunch: This leather has been wadded, exposed to high pressure then allowed to dry. The unique pattern is formed when angled sprays are applied to the finish unevenly.

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Deer Cow: A cowhide tanned to resemble deerskin's soft supple characteristics.

Distressed Leathers: A type of finish created by scraping the leather before it is dyed. The ink turns the nicks darker, creating the leather's distinctive look. This type of finish can also be created by uneven dyeing of the leather.

Driftwood: Type of finish created by dyeing leather after a bleaching agent has burned creases into the leather. The creases turn dark and leave the leather with dark lines in it.

- E -

Eel: Supple leather with good strength for it's light weight. Collected by fishermen from all oceans.

Elephant: Leather made from the hides of the African Elephant are only available when the herds are culled by the government. The hides are extremely heavy and thick. The surface has large indentations giving it a crinkled look. It is one of the most durable leathers available.

Elk: Leather made from the hides of elk. Elk is native to North America.

- F -

Full-Grain Leather: Leather made from the first cut taken from the hair side of the hide from which nothing except the hair and associated epidermis has been removed. Scars, scratches or other imperfections may be lightly buffed.

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Glazed: Type of finish produced by polishing the grain surface under the heavy pressure of a roller made of agate, metal or glass.

Grubber: A very heavy, coarse sueded split leather.

- H -

Horsehide: European horsehides that are unique by possessing extreme flexibility and unusual wear characteristics (color, strength and texture).

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- J -

- K -

Kangaroo: Leather made from the hide of kangaroo. Kangaroos are native to Australia and Tasmania where they are considered pests. They are harvested by professional hunters who are issued permits by the government. Kangaroo has the highest tensile strength of any leather, (three times the strength of cowhide at the same thickness). The grain appearance is similar to that of kidskin.

Kidskin: Leather created from the skins of mature goats. This leather has great strength and resiliency in relation to its weight and degree of softness.

- L -

Latigo: A type of leather that is tanned but does not have a finish on it.

Lizard: Made from the skin of the Teju lizard (also called the alligator lizard) that is found in South America. It is very easily shined because of the hard tiles on the surface.

- M -

- N -

Napa: Garment weight leather that is soft and supple. Also known as Shangri-La.

- O -

Ostrich: Skins from the flightless bird native to southern Africa. The hides are obtained from birds raised on commercial ranches. These skins are extremely desirable because of the unique grain with quill bumps.

- P -

Paradise Snake: Also known as Karung. This type of watersnake is found in India and Ceylon. It has a lizard-like scale instead of an overlapping scale like most other snakes.

Pigskin: Leather made from the skins of pigs or hogs. It is tough and durable and has compact fibers.

Pioneer: A brand of oil retan leather. Also known as Velva Retan. After the initial tanning, the leather is subjected to hot steam in a tanning drum and then shot with hot oil and waxes. The open pores absorb these chemicals until they are saturated. This leather is primarily for work boots.

Pull-up: Type of leather where the oils migrate away from a pressure point making the leather look lighter where pulled. This is a sign of good oil content and better grade leather.

Python: A snake that is a subspecies in the Boa family. They are large, constricting, non-venomous snakes found in Africa and Asia. The skins offer many unique patterns. Both belly and back cut are used.

- Q -

- R -

Rattlesnake: These poisonous snakes are native to the United States. There are several species. Eastern, Western, and Cane Break are currently used. The snakes are collected through round-ups.

Rough-Out: Leather where the meat or flesh side of the skin is used.

- S -

Sea Snake: A very poisonous snake that is caught in the Indian Ocean. They have paddle-like tails to adapt to their deep ocean habitat. They travel in large numbers and are caught in deep nets.

Shark: Leather made from the skins of various sharks found in warmer coastal waters. The leather has a very high resistance to abrasion and scuffing and is one of the toughest hides available.

Shrunken Shoulder: Leather taken from the shoulder of bulls. The skin is physically reduced in size and leaves the leather with a distinct pattern and texture.

Sueded Leathers: This is a type of leather tanning. The fibers of the leather are separated in order to give the leather a nap or roughened finish.

- T -

Tamaro: Also called corrected grain. The grain of the leather is sanded smooth before finishing.

Teak: Refers to a leather with a sprayed and buffed finish. It gives the leather an antique look.

Tigersnake: A type of watersnake found in Southeast Asia. Also known as Chouri.

- U -

- V -

Vipers: Venomous snake native to Europe and Asia. The most popular viper is the cobra.

- W -

Water Buffalo: Mammal from the India Subcontinent and Indo-China. The leather holds a print somewhat better than cowhide.

Whipsnakes: A member of the watersnake family, native to Asia.

Watersnake: Refers to the species of snake known as Aires native to Southeast Asia. All watersnakes are caught twice a year during the monsoons using nets.

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