Leather is the most common material from which both cowboy and motorcycle boots are made because it is durable, long-lasting, and calfskin and top grain cowhides can take an excellent shine. When choosing leather boots, make sure that the boots are made of “top grain” (or “full grain”) leather. This term refers to the upper section of a hide that contains the epidermis or skin layer. It refers to hides that have not been sanded, buffed or snuffed (otherwise known as corrected) in order to remove imperfections on the surface of the hide. Only the hair has been removed from the epidermis. The grain remains in its natural state which will allow the best fiber strength, resulting in greater durability. The grain also has natural breathability, resulting in greater comfort.
Some cowboy boots are made from “Roughout” leather. “Roughout” is opposite the grain side of the skin. The grain side is smooth, and the flesh side is rough. Boots can be made with either side facing out as the finished side. Suede and roughout leather are not the same. Suede is a much thinner piece of leather that is usually made from the inner splits of a side of leather.
Beware of the switcheroo! It is common to find good-looking boots at an inexpensive price, and discover that the foot is made of leather (or snake) and the shaft is made of plastic! Unless the seller specifically states that the entire boot or the foot and shaft are made of leather, then you may find an artificial material on the shaft that is not durable and may crack. This is particularly true of the Dehner Boot Company. The shafts of their stock patrol boots are made of artificial material called “Dehcord,” which is plastic.