Like most of Tecovas’s boots, the Earl is sleek and curvy in all the right places. Though the toe box looks like the tip of a freshly-sharpened pencil, it fits true-to-size. I normally wear a size US 8 in boots and these fit just right. (Tecovas offers its boots in an ‘EE’ width to accommodate the broad-footed cowboys amongst us, too.)
If it’s not the asking price or the taller-than-you’re-used-to heel, the biggest drawback in boots is a punishing learning curve—the dreaded break-in period. How well, and fast, boots break in depends on several factors, including the shape of the last and construction, but largely boils down to the materials involved. On that front, the Earl scored absurdly high marks: The calfskin leather is ultra-light and a pleasure to wear fresh out of the box. I’m not going to tell you that they feel like a pair of sneakers, but compared to other boots I’ve worn and suffered for, there’s effectively zero break-in time.
How do they wear?
I started wearing these in the middle of January here in NYC, but made sure not to take them for a spin in the rain or snow. (Trust me: You don’t want to deal with the headache of nursing your leather-soled shoes back to health after a watery jaunt.) The Earl strolled through the concrete jungle for a few miles a day, growing softer with every wear. Despite my diligence, they absorbed a splash of saison at a local bar (accidentally, not as a celebration) and came out looking straight sober.
On top of its handsome chassis, the Earl touts serious quality underneath its hood. Tecovas boots are crafted in León, Mexico, a city famous for its shoemaking prowess. So much so, in fact, that plenty of the brand’s pricier competitors enlist the area’s master cobblers to make their boots, too.
The Earl is finished with a Goodyear welt, the gold standard of shoe construction, which means it can be resoled multiple times before being put out to pasture. The calfskin leather is ultra-supple and smooth, with fine, elegant stitching throughout. The welt—the leather strip that connects the upper to the sole—is expertly cut and beveled, a wonky detail that usually indicates a high level of craftsmanship. Down below, it also features a leather sole with traditional wooden pegs and a stacked leather heel equipped with a rubber top lift for traction and durability.
If those specs means squat to you, I’ll put it this way: These are the type of details you might expect from a vaunted heritage shoemaker, not a brand with less than 10 years of experience to its name. The quality is there. For transparency’s sake, the pair I received was a little sloppy in the stitching around the welt and the placement of the wooden pegs. (It’s a minor defect, but still.) That said, I’ve owned another pair—and ogled several others firsthand—that were pretty much flawless all-around.
Are they worth it?
Here’s the kicker: All of that quality will cost you $285, which puts the Earl squarely in the middle of the range. But compared to other brands selling boots at similar prices, the construction and quality of Tecovas boots is a noticeable step up. The full-leather mid-sole, the Goodyear-welt, the lemonwood and brass pegs—these natural materials and old-school construction techniques make Tecovas a certified Good Deal. DTC brands get a bad rap, but if I was a legacy western shoemaker, I’d be quaking in my boots right now.
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