WWII Impressions Roughout Boots
Review Date: 7/7/2007
Update 1: 2/4/2008
Updated 2: 3/24/2009
Updated 3: 10/31/2010
Author: Chris Guska
On Wednesday 6/27/2007 I called WWII Impressions to place an order for a pair of roughout service shoes. I spoke with Elvis, the customer service representative at about 430pm EST. Elvis was courteous and generally knowledgeable about the products. The only delay in the ordering process was for him to verify that my size boots were in stock.
I initially inquired about size 8.5/9 roughout service shoes. Both sizes 8.5 and 9 were out of stock in size D width, but 9EE was in stock. Unfortunately I wear an 8.5 D or 9 D, depending on the shoe store and shoe sizing gauge. I decided to go with size 9.5 since it was in stock, in the D width. Elvis offered 8.5 or 9 in a D width, if I was willing to wait until September, when a new stock of boots would be in.
After giving Elvis all the pertinent information, he informed me that the order would be packed and shipped the same day via UPS. He estimated that it would take 3 to 4 days to arrive.
I received the boots and jeep cap via UPS on 7/2/07.
The boots I received were exactly what I ordered. Yes, that might sound like a statement of the obvious, but I’ve had problems with other vendors not sending the right size, let alone the right item. As far as the details of the boots, I’m speaking from my experiences with the originals in my collection, as well as other reproduction boots that I have handled and worn, including What Price Glory, At The Front, S&M Wholesale, Bayonet Inc, and Blockade Runner.
I’ll try and show all of the details in high quality photos – something that Juan has started to do in the past year or two. Juan claims to have the best, most authentic stuff, and often charges a premium for it, just based on the words he writes. To me, pictures of these details he claims he has are a lot more valuable than a claim that his products are "correct" and "the best". The pictures on his website are pure crap, http://www.wwiiimpressions.com/images/200126profile.JPG
The photos he has are small and grainy, they show only a few details, but leave many others out. You can get the general idea of what you’re buying, but the quality is insufficient to differentiate the product from others as "the best" as Juan claims. I've done Juan's work for him, what he should have been doing for a long time; I've taken HIGH QUALITY photos, that are clear and large enough size to see the details
Don’t just take my word for it on this review. Look, examine, and see for yourself. Its not as good as being able to hold it, and finger fornicate it, or wear them, but at least you'll really know what it looks like, not just a low quality photo leaving a lot to the imagination, being filled in by what Juan says it is.
General Photos –
Side Detail -
Rear Detail -
Sole Detail -
Heel Detail -
The toe shape is correct, in that they are a tapered/rounded toe, rather than a large, wide, boxy shape you see on a lot of modern boots and shoes.
The sole pattern is of a generally accepted correct pattern, with period markings.
The boots are constructed with what looks to be cotton stitching, and come with a tag indicating they were "made in the USA" as seen in the photo.
The leather feels to be of reasonable thickness, comparable to originals, if anything, slightly thinner. The boots feel well constructed; no seams were loose; although some loose threads were on the inside of the boots as seen in the photo. Those loose threads corresponded to somewhat of a sewing blemish.
Note the couple of loose threads and ugly stitching.
The outside view of the same area – note the stitching, it looks like it was a start and stop, or changeover there. Is that a “blem” or not? Are these First or Second quality boots? Yes, I bet that stuff happened during the war, but, I paid $140 + 15$ shipping for these boots, they better damn well be Firsts or otherwise perfect.
The uppers are joined to the lowers via stitching and a rivet, as per originals. The nap on the boots is quite short, unlike some other repros.
The eyelets are firmly set; none of them are loose; with all of the crimps being properly formed and quite deep.
They should look pretty good when dubbed and polished. As promised, the boots run true to size, a 9.5 D, is exactly that, a 9.5 D. WWII Impression's boots are seemingly the only boots made in D width. At The Front's boots and What Price Glory's are made in E or EE width.
The boots are lacking in authentic contractor markings, ATF and WPG's boots do feature a realistic "contractor" marking on the inside of the boots. Yeah, so what, who's gonna see the inside of your boots? Well, in a hobby obsessed with minutiae and stupid details, Juan claims he has the best product out there, well, although American made, and otherwise externally acceptable, it has a modern plastic heat transfer sticker on the tongue with size and modern markings just like on your Reeboks.
The laces that come with the boots are so-so. I replaced them with a pair of original red-nylon laces. Additionally, there was a glue residue blemish on the tongue of one of the boots. In technical trade terms, it appeared to be “Spooj”
To be totally honest, I feel that I could have purchased boots that look just as good from WPG or ATF, that have more of the details reenactors want. Additionally, chances are, they wouldn’t have had any blems on them. Yeah, Juan's boots are the "only" ones made in the USA, but I don’t know if that is an advantage yet. We'll see how the boots hold up in comparison to other maker's boots over time and use.
See updates in yellow below for why I crossed the above out.
Ok, so I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the boots? Why didn’t I return them? It’s simple: The boots are serviceable. I feel that they don’t have any problems that will keep me from wearing them, or that will diminish my impression. Additionally, I feel that the blemishes I found are not major issues. If they become major issues, such as the heel seam splitting open, I’ll sure as hell document it here and let you all know. Then cry for about 2 seconds about how I got boned and should have returned them way back when. Finally, I don’t want to spend any more money returning them or waste any more of my time having to go order from another vendor, pay more shipping, waitanother couple of weeks, and then still have to dub and polish the boots.
My conclusion - I should have bought boots from Jerry Lee over at What Price Glory - simply for the fact that they are as detailed if not better detailed than the WWII Impressions boots, having all the proper exterior details as well as a realistic contractor stamp. The WPG boots are of similar quality and thickness of leather, if not superior. From experience within the unit, the WPG boots take a beating, can be worn as everyday boots and not have the soles crack, separate or other problems. Only time will tell if there was a real advantage in purchasing these boots from WWII imp.
My conclusion - despite the shortcomings described above, I've found these boots to be the most durable and comfortable pair of reenacting boots I've ever owned. In the time since I've originally written this review, I've had a pair of ATF double buckle boots have both shanks snap and need to be totally rebuilt (new shanks, new midsoles / slipsole, new outsole and heels). Rick had his pair of WPG roughout boots have the midsole, outsole and heel separate entirely from the boot upper. Mark has had the midsole on his ATF service shoes snap entirely across the instep of the boot. The ONLY boots that we havent seen fail yet are the WWII Impressions boots. I think that says enough.
Here's the boots after 3 years of hard use, snosealed with some old polish.
Summary Pros and Cons:
Scroll Down even further for an update (3/24/2009)
The boots are serviceable
The boots come in D width, which no one else offers
The boots are externally correct
The leather feels to be of reasonable quality and thickness
The nap on the boots is short
The ordering process was smooth
The shipping was FAST
The boots are American made.
The boots have some blemishes
The markings inside the boots are 100% modern (See Update)
The boots are the most expensive on the market by $5 (that I know of )
Overall, the boots have a lot going for them. Externally they are the same as What Price Glory’s with the short nap, correct construction, and nice thickness of leather not found on most others. What Price Glory’s boots have authentic contractor markings, are $5 less at this time and are made in Mexico for S&M Wholesale. WW2 Impression’s boots do not have authentic contractor markings inside but are made in the US and not by S&M Wholesale. Of course I realize that boots made during the war did not have perfect stitching and may have had blemishes when they left the factory, but when I’m paying the most for the best I expect perfect stitching and the correct markings. That being said, I don’t think you can go wrong with them. They have my confidence, and I’m not going to look like a farb wearing them.
Dave recently purchased a pair of Roughouts from Juan and had some observations to report.
1.) The interior markings / size label has changed.
2.) Sizing is "boot sizing" not tennis shoe sizing - expect things to run a little large. How large do you ask? Dave normally wears size 13 tennis shoes, thus ordering a 13 resulted in boots that were too large, ultimatley returning them for a 12 which fit much better.
3.) Leather and construction quality is consistent with erlier examples. No news is good news.
Dave showed me the stamp inside the boots and I was pleasantly suprised. The boots now feature a "vintage" styled white inkstamp on the inside of the tongue - its not totally the sterotypical period contractor marking that one might lust after - but this is by far the best of the 3 markings that I've seen in Juan's boots.
Theres really nothing left about these that gives me any heartburn. I'd have no problem reccomending these boots to anyone as an authentic, quality pair of boots.
I've worn my pair now for 2 years, without any issues, still on the first application of Sno-Seal (although a 2nd is coming soon). An occasional coat of brown polish and the boots really have that "been there, done that" look to them.
I'll update again should anyting change or go awry.
I try and shy away from an all out "love fest" when I first approach an item - as I'd prefer to be critical then admit that I was totally wrong and the item is awesome over time - as I dont want to be the guy to reccomend something and say - ITS AWESOME, BUY IT! after feeling it up for 15 minutes. For something that costs as much these do - their purchase should be a deliberate one.
Update: 1/28/2008 (No longer valid)
I had the opportunity to see Juan’s latest run of Roughout service shoes at the Fort Indiantown GAP reenactment over the weekend of 1/24-1/26/2008.
This run of boots was externally the same as the prior run. On the pair I examined, I noticed a similar sewing issue on the side of the boot on the back – where I have a sewing blem on my boot. There were a few spots of glue that rubbed off easily.
What have changed on this run of boots are the internal markings. Gone is the goofy plastic iron in size tag that you would expect to find in your new Adidas. The markings have been replaced with a semi authentic styled size and lot marking – but with a “contents” stamp above it. The “UPPER LEATHER, ALL OTHER MATERIALS MAN MADE” is still somewhat of a buzzkill compared to other maker’s markings or originals. It is a MAJOR improvement over the plastic sticker that was on the tongue of the last run.
On the opposite side of the boots is the WWII Impressions logo, a reminder that the boots are exclusively made for WWII impressions and made in the USA. I appreciate that the boots are USA made and my money is helping to decrease the national trade deficit… but, the money was spent to have a custom logo die made to stamp the markings – why not make a period styled contractor marking? A period styled contractor marking could easily identify the boots as a production of WWII impressions and them alone. The new markings are much classier than the plastic tag, but it leaves me wondering, is it really any better? At the end of the day, who is going to see the inside of your boots besides you?
Overall – If I received one of this batch of roughouts when I had initially purchased mine – I would not have been as taken aback by the plastic size sticker. I would have been pleasantly surprised by the “classy” interior leather markings, but still somewhat disappointed that “authentic” contractor markings weren’t present. Details such as that really make first impressions and impact the overall perception of the product.
The boots are on par with many of the other reproductions on the market for details, each having some minor flaws. Externally the boots are still excellent. The quality of the leather feels good, the soles look good, the eyelets are well formed, and things really haven’t changed from the earlier review, except for the internal markings. That being said – the true test will come over time to see how these boots distinguish themselves from my ATF and SM Wholesale/WPG boots for durability.
90th IDPG Reviews