One of the greatest attributes the cowboy boot has is versatility. If you’ve ever watched an old western film or TV show, you’ll notice characters running, riding, fighting, jumping, and saving the day while wearing a pair of boots. According to True West Magazine, the cowboy boot as we know it developed after the Civil War when American and European settlers started migrating west. Young cowboys working 10 to 12 hours on a saddle for weeks on end, escorting herds of cows across the plains in cattle drives needed a pair of shoes that could handle the workload.
By the 1870s, the cowboy boot was beginning to take shape with round toes, narrow arches, and taller heels. The heel needed to be elevated to prevent a rider’s foot from slipping through large stirrups on saddles. An unintentional benefit of this helpful feature was anyone who wore cowboy boots walked with a little more swagger thanks to the height boost. This era of American history kept coming to mind while testing Tecovas cowboy work boot, The Bandera.
Tecovas sent me a pair of The Bandera cowboy work boots to test on a working ranch in South Texas. A chance to try out this traditionally-styled cowboy boot on the same soil associated with drovers, cowpunchers, and ranch hands. The test was simple, wear The Bandera daily for 30 days and find out if they are as tough as they are fashionable. There is always work to be done on a 10-acre ranch with 50 animals and 20 project cars, and The Bandera by Tecovas proved to be more than qualified to do the job.
The Bandera arrived by mail in an appealing packaging. The smell of new leather goods filled the room while undressing the boots from their secure wrapping. This review features The Bandera in Clay, one of two color options offered by Tecovas. The second color option is called Umber, a rich dark brown. When I first held the Clay Bandera cowboy boots in hand, I felt the name of the color should have been Marlboro Man Tan. They looked masculine without the toxicity – macho without the cheese.
Most work boots look the same, but The Bandera manages to find a compromise between a traditional casual cowboy boot and a durable work boot. The leather is made from bovine and oiled for weather resistance. The boot’s shaft measures 12-inches with reinforced pull-taps and waterproof seams. Slip them on, and you’ll find shock-absorbing, removable insoles made from polyurethane with a leather lining at the bottom. The one and three-quarter-inch stacked leather heel with vibram rubber soles to provide slip-resistance.
Out on the Field
The Bandera cowboy work boot is the easiest boot I’ve ever tried on – and that includes boots with side zippers. Right out of the box, these boots feel like they have been broken in already. The soft bovine leather makes trying on and removable a breeze, like taking off a baseball glove. During a month of daily work, The Bandera cowboy boot supported me while nursing an infant goat, fixing water pipes, digging ditches, crawling underneath pickup trucks that needed repair, and dumping trash at the local city dump.
A typical day at the ranch starts in the morning. Slipping on The Bandera and being greeted by a pack of Belgian Shepherds, all eager to say good morning as they step on the boots with their sharp claws. Next is the long walk to the far end of the ranch to feed horses and goats.
Along the way, The Bandera trudges through gravel, dirt, rocks, mud, mesquite plants riddled with flesh-piercing thorns, and free-range fertilizer. The Bandera took it all with stride. Other work boots in the past have fallen prey to thorns from mesquite trees being impaled into the rubber soles and eventually work their way to poking my foot. One month of testing and the soles of The Bandera cowboy work boot remain solid and puncture-free.
The Bandera’s oiled leather means it can repel droplets of water. During cases where the entire boot was soaked with water or mud, the inside remained dry and insulated. On unusually cold Texas mornings, my feet stayed warm, and as the temper rose in the afternoon, I did not suffer the annoyance of wet socks brought on by sweat.
The quality of Tecovas cowboy boots comes as no surprise considering the place these boots are made. All of Tecovas’ boots are handmade and imported from Leon, Mexico, often known as the shoe capital of North America. The city of Leon, located in Guanajuato, Mexico, is the Graceland of fine leather goods – especially cowboy boots.
The Bandera cowboy work boot by Tecovas is stylish, durable, versatile, and reasonably priced. The only critique is its weight. According to the scale, each boot weighs approximately two and a half pounds for a near-total of five pounds. That puts it in the same weight class as steel-toed work boots, without the steel.
After eight hours of use, one starts to feel the toll with every step. Not enough to hate it, but just enough to notice. I hope Tecovas will address this issue in the future because the weight is the only thing preventing The Bandera from being a perfect work boot.
After 30 days of use, The Bandera was given a well-earned cleaning. The Bandera has a Jeep Wrangler charm in that it looks good even when dirty and covered in mud. After a good buff with a cleaning solution, we were able to survey a few scuffs, but no rips in the leather, no unsightly scratches, and no significant wear to the soles. The Bandera cleaned up nicely and looked like a casual cowboy boot once again.
Tecovas did a fantastic job blending style and utility into its cowboy work boots. Like John Wick’s suit, The Bandera offers style with functionality. Use them for work or play, and if you stand at less than 5’ 7’’, these cowboy boots will give you a literal boost of confidence without feeling like you’re wearing platform shoes. The Bandera is priced at $225, which is a fair price for a shoe that doubles as a work boot and casual cowboy boot that was skillfully crafted by hand in a city known for producing quality goods.
Having stylish work boots may seem a little vain. Who cares what your boots look like when you’re on the job or out in the field, right? Call it vanity, but I like to look good even when nobody’s watching. The Bandera is a cowboy boot that satisfies one’s ego while being a versatile, comfortable work boot. Yes, the shoes will feel heavy the day after leg day at the gym, but the pros vastly outweigh its one con. The Bandera from Tecovas is a durable work boot with a quality cowboy swagger.
On a side note, if The Bandera seems too large for personal preference, Tecovas also makes The Stockton a standard-sized roper cowboy boot. The Stockton offers many of the same benefits of The Bandera, such as slip-resistant rubber soles, weatherproof seams, and oiled leather with a shorter shaft. These are only two of a growing collection of quality cowboy boots Tecovas has to offer in its increasing store locations in the U.S. Check out their online store to see its full range of western wear.