Okay, I spent a bit more time inspecting and trying on the Gustin Inferno Tan Classic Boot:
Three photos attached.
(1) Something weird on the leather that rubbed off on my hands when handling. Had to wipe down with a cotton cloth to get most of it off so it wouldn't continue to rub off on my hands. Not sure what it was. It wasn't greasy. It collected in little rolls when I rubbed my hand over the leather. Didn't seem like wax but maybe, or a failed coating of some sort? I've never experienced this before. I really like nice leather and this Horween Inferno is a nice leather so I wanted to touch it and feel it, but this substance detracted. Not a long term issue as I think it will all wipe off, but whatever it is this should be fixed because first impressions are important.
(2) Flat shoe laces are a bit too wide for the eyes causing them to twist and fold and not lay the way I wanted. Will probably get better over time but I'd prefer either the holes to be slightly larger or the laces a bit more round or less wide. This is a minor issue as I could always replace the laces if they don't break in nicely.
(3) Top speed hooks are way too close. There should be 3 not 4 in this space. Alternatively the 4 hooks could be spread downward a bit to have enough room.
(4) I love the thickness of the leather, particularly the tongue. These boots may have my favorite tongue of any boot I own, and that's saying a lot. You can kinda see it in the photo. Its super thick and supple.
(5) These boots are really wide in the heal and midfoot. Wider than D I think, although I have no way to measure. I have a C foot and usually must wear D due to limited availability of narrow shoes. I'm not actually sure I can make these work due to the width in the heal as my heal moves side to side, which is bad. And there is a stiff shaping insert in the heal between the outer leather and the liner leather that holds the heal in its wide shape, so I'm not sure it will break in to contour to the foot in that area. I plan to wear them for a few hours in my family room while watching TV to decide.
(6) Length seems pretty much perfectly consistent with the standard measuring device. I typically wear a 10 or 10.5 in properly sized shoes and the Gustin 10 boot fits just right in length so I think this dimension is right on.
(7) There are some disturbing markings on the tongue that I don't understand. You can see them in the photo if you zoom and look closely. The left marking says "MADE IN U.S.A. OF U.S. AND IMPORTED PARTS". This is very worrisome to me because in my past experience that means an item is 99% foreign made with a few final steps performed in the USA. I'd like Gustin to clarify what portions of these boots are US made and what elsewhere and from where. For example, were large parts of the upper made in Mexico instead of USA? Or cutting? Hmmmm. I like to have full and honest disclosure of this sort of thing so I can make an informed choice and that marking is sketchy. Never seen that before on any of my shoes.
(8) The second disturbing marking is on the right side of the tongue. It says "LEATHER UPPER BAL. MAN-MADE MATERIALS". I believed the sole and footbed were stacked leather, with the exception of the Vibram heal, in which case this marking is inaccurate. The sole and footbed really look like leather so I think probably the marking is wrong. If so, why are there incorrect and derogatory markings being applied to the boots? If the lower is actually some sort of man-made simulated leather, I would not want to own any of these boots so I hope that isn't the case.
(9) The Horween Inferno leather is thick and nice feeling and I really like the color. There were some color variations across the surface of mine, and discolored patches that didn't look ideal, like maybe the hide selection process wasn't quite careful enough. But I think these will blend in and be hidden as the leather breaks in and gets the typical mix of buffed and wrinkled areas. This is probably one of those silly nit picky initial reactions when looking at a pair of new shoes and wanting the pair with zero flaws on the surface even though they will have flaws very quickly with wear so the search for perfection is futile. I give this leather a thumbs up overall.
(10) Construction appears great. I like the interior lining, footbed, and exterior sole welting. Upper construction is nicely done without visible flaws, although probably not work boot tough from looking at the stitching. I don't intend them as work boots so this should be fine for my application.
(11) I prefer heals that are stacked leather with a rubber traction insert or thin cover instead of the one piece solid Vibram heal being used by Gustin. The stacked leather looks really nice from the side and the large black Vibram heal a bit out of place next to the rest of this beautiful boot.
(12) The color of my boots appears more tan and less mustard than the photos posted with the item. Maybe this is just lighting or maybe there is variation between batches. I think I might have preferred a more unusual mustard color just for the variety, but I like this color in any case.
Overall, if Gustin can clarify and correct the tongue markings such that these boots are 100% made in the USA and of 100% leather with the exception of the Vibram heal, I think these are a great deal at the listed price. People with wider heals and midfeet are going to like the fit, unless you also have a super wide fore foot. I might have to add an insole to address the heal movement which would be a bummer as I much prefer to avoid doing that.
I'll spend some more time later this week and post any follow-ups.
Edited by mountainman3520 - 2/8/16 at 11:21pm