The W.C. Russell Moccasin Company

Russell Moccasin Product Reviews

Sporting Classics
p.164, November/December, 2005

Sporting Footwear

Russell Moccasin Company, makers of handcrafted moccasin-style footwear, is now offering two of its benchmade classics - the Zephyr zip-up boot and the Premier Chukka - in dressy alligator versions for those who want a more elegant look for business and social wear. The beautifully grained alligator, in a variety of colors, is tastefully combined with the finest imported leathers.

Zephyr and Chukka models are both equipped with super lightweight Aspen Gumlite soles and are fully lined in buttery soft, glove-tanned leather for ultimate comfort. If you like wearing Russell boots in the field, you'll get a double kick out of wearing thee handmade "up-town" models at the office or soiree.


Outdoor Life Magazine
p.SL14, December/January, 2005

Essentials
Hunting and fishing gear for sportsmen who demand the very best.

Russell Moccasins PH II

The PH II is perfect for warm-weather hunts where your stalking skills are at a premium. Moccasins with crepe soles are the quietest and the most traditional. I opted for brown Vibram Air-Bobs on the pair I took on two African safaris last summer and couldn't have been more pleased. They were quiet and provided good traction when scrambling up steep hills. Best of all, Russell custom fits its boots to your feet for the very best in comfort.

Article by: John Snow


GQ Magazine, “62 Reasons to Love Your Country”
p.106, July 2005

#51 | Boots That Will Outlive You

Russell Moccasin Co. has been custom-making boots since 1898, when it first began outfitting bunioned loggers in the snall town of Berlin, Wisconsin. Just as they did back then, customers draw an outline of each foot, which serves as a pattern for in-house shoemakers who cut, trim, and sew the shoes by hand in ten to twelve weeks, the made-to-order varieties cost around $300 (some standard-size, noncustom models are available online). They ain't cheap, but the way these boots are constructed, you won't be buying another pair anytime soon.



Bowhunting World - America's Original Outdoor Magazine
p.23, February 2005

Boot Wise Travel

"It's time to put the microscope on your feet. But first, let's debunk the common myth that you "gotta wear rubber boots." While they may be waterproof, they're hardly scent-proof. Reason being, odor is a gas and rubber is gas permeable. To make matters worse, new rubber boots release a distinctive "factory" smell that lasts for months if not treated properly well before the hunting season. If that's not enough, rubber boots are the perfect clammy environment -- dark, moist, warm - for growing fungi, a source of foot odor that really turns whitetails inside out."

Excerpt from: Bowhunting World Magazine
Article by: Jeff Murray


Sports AField - America's Original Outdoor Magazine
p.33, December 2004

Field Tested

"When I decided to get a pair of safari boots from the W.C. Russell Moccasin company, the process was a little unusual: I first had to stand in socks on the order form while my husband traced the outline of my feet and measured around my ankles and calves. That's because Russell makes hunting boots to order - they fit your feet exactly. All that measuring was worthwhile; when my boots arrived less than two weeks later, they cradled my feet more comfortably than any boots I'd ever owned.

Russell makes a boot for just about every type of hunting, but I ordered the 7-inch Safari PH style because I was looking for a suitable boot to wear on my next trip to Africa as well as on warm-weather hunts for wild boar in California and pronghorn in Wyoming. The PH style fills the bill for all of these uses. The boots are lightweight, cool, and quiet - perfect for high desert and dusty savanna - but they're also tough and built to last, constructed of two layers of high-quality chamois leather with sturdy cotton-duck canvas for the quarters and gussets.

These boots have a hand-molded outer sole sewn to a rubber midsole and then stitched to the side of the moccasin foot. This construction makes them supportive, comfortable and water-resistant. On a varmint hunt this summer, I hiked along a cactus-strewn fenceline in an attempt to surprise some ground squirrels and discovered that the boots really do have a moccasin-like feel - you can even wear them without socks. The rubber sole is quiet enough for stalking but tough enough to protect feet from rocks and thorns.

Amazingly, custom-made boots aren't too much more expensive than a good pair of off-the-rack hunting boots - and to my mind, the superb fit makes them well worth it."

Article by: Diana Rupp


Sporting Classics Footwear Review
Sporting Classics
p.158-160, November/December 2004

Footwear

"A sore shoulder, a painful back, or a throbbing head can certainly slow you down in the field. But an aching foot or two can stop you dead in your tracks. Here are a few new ways to avoid the agony of de feet.

Did somebody mention Turtleskin? The soft, tough material used in Warwick's clothing also makes up the ThornArmor in Russell's new Thorn Proof Safari PH and their Turtleskin Turkey Hunter.

The Thorn Proof PH was inspired by horror stories starring four-inch acacia thorns and other ill-tempered African bush that occasionally punctures less sturdy footwear. The Thorn Proof Turtleskin Turkey Hunter is certified snake-resistant thanks to the Turtleskin Armor.


Bowhunter Magazine
Bowhunter Magazine
p.133, 2004

These Boots Will Bowhunt

(...continuation) "W.C. Russell Moccasin Company, founded in 1898, specializes in hand-fitted, handmade boots. To assure a perfect fit, a bootmaker takes 20 measurements of each of your feet and legs and builds your boots to these specs. Russell’s latest style is the Double Scent Control Bowhunter. Boots in this line have 9-inch uppers and hand-molded, wrap-a-round soles made from green, waterproofed WeatherTuff leather. The boots are lined with Scent Lok material, and Russell uses a special waterproofing procedure using Obenauf’s Heavy Duty Leather Preservative that waterproofs the leather with no odor. To top off odor control, Russell includes a pair of ArcticShield X Scent socks featuring Silver Fiber Technology that eliminates 99.9 percent of odor-causing bacteria (I tried these socks this fall and they worked for me). Add to all of this the options of 200, 400, or 600-gram Thinsulate Insulation, and you get the finest boots available anywhere. Sure, custom-made boots are expensive, but the fit is perfect and they will last a lifetime, Check them out."

IronWorks – The Journal for Harley Enthusiasts
IronWorks – The Journal for Harley Enthusiasts
March 2004, p.79

Russell Riders These boots are made for walking… and riding

"First off you should know that Russell Riders are biker boots made by people you have been in the moccasin and outdoor boot business since 1898. Therefore, you should also know that Russell Riders offer moccasin-like comfort when you wear them walking (which you’ll do after you reach your ride’s destination) because they feature what the company terms “true moccasin construction.”

But know, too, that Russell Riders supply all-weather comfort while you’re in the saddle. Constructed for quality, weather-resistant leather, the Riders’ triple-vamp construction puts three layers of leather under foot so that water can't penetrate. A hand-molded outer sole provides non-slip grip on foot pegs and floorboards. Other than the Neoprene Crepe Sole, the Riders boast all-leather construction, with built-in leather heel counters for added protection. There is no fabric or synthetic liner inside, so foot comfort is never compromised.

Russell Riders are available in two models – the Daytona (as tested, 9” high; click here for price) and the Sturgis (12” high; click here for pricing) – for men and women, in black leather only. All boots are custom-fit to your exact measurements, so no two pair of boots are ever alike (generic sizes are available off the shelf). This is especially important to people like me who have odd-shaped feet (in my case, wide at the instep). Getting in and out of the Riders is made easy thanks to rear zippers that are made of corrosion-resistant nickel. Straps with polished nickel buckles provide additional adjustment to further minimize heel rollover while walking.

While the thick neoprene soles add to the soft moccasin-like feel when walking, they require a little getting used to when manipulating the bike’s foot controls. And the upper stitch bead above the toes can synthesize the feedback from the foot shifting, too. But these are minor distractions that you quickly adjust, and get used to. And the payback is a water-repellant boot that keeps your feet snug and warm during cold-weather riding, yet thanks to its all-leather construction, breathes freely when the temperature rises.

The W.C. Russell Moccasin Co. has a special custom-fit order form that you use to trace your feet for exact sizing (available through the website). Be extra careful, and follow the instructions so that you can supply them with precise measurements for the best fit. Delivery takes from 10 to 12 weeks, plus you’ll pay a small shipping fee. But when they arrive, you won’t have to wait for comfort."

Article by: Dain Gingerelli

Sports AField - America's Original Outdoor Magazine
Sports AField - America's Original Outdoor Magazine
p.24, September 2004

Good Stuff - Four must-have accessories for the serious upland hunter.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated enough gear to stuff a couple of large closets, yet each time I head out the door, I seem to grab the same few items – things that work and are like old friends. A good example is my Filson Cover Cloth Strap Vest. While there are those who favor coats and heavier vests, I find the versatility of the Filson vest ideal for a wide range of upland-hunting adventures. I like the idea of having everything I habitually use in one place, and so it is that my gloves and other items are always in the strap vest’s four front pockets, ready to go.

The back has a front-loading blood-resistant game pocket, and the vest fastens with a leather-covered buckle that protects the stock of my shotgun. The real beauty of this vest is that it works regardless of the weather. The shoulder straps are wide enough to be comfortable in hot weather. When things turn cold and/or wet, I can layer enough clothes underneath it to keep warm, yet I don’t have to reorganize all my gear into another coat. Filson (800-624-0201 filson.com) offers these vests in various sizes, and in choice of sage (green) or sage with a hunter-orange back and front-pocket flaps.

In the uplands, hot barrels aren’t often a problem, but get into a hot dove corner or clay-target shoot, and they can be. Thin gloves can help, but when barrels really get hot, so do your fingers. GripSwell (714-379-9413 gripswell.com) now offers a special glove for side-by-side shooters that I really like. The glovemakers start with a heavy leather golf-style glove, then sandwich a layer of 40-gram insulation between the glove and a second outer layer of even heavier leather that completely covers and protects the palm and fingers of the left hand.

The gloves come in white for clay-target shooters and medium brown for hunting. The right glove, for right-handers, incorporates GripSwell’s palm-swell feature that puts padding in the palm to fill the void between the shooter’s palm to fill the void between the shooter’s palm and the stock.

As I age, I find that the lighter the boot I wear afield, the more comfortable I am. W.C. Russell’s Safari PH is the only boot I need for most hunting. Although the company offers off-the-rack sizes, Russell (920-361-2252 / russellmoccasin.com) specializes in tailor-making boots from a detailed set of measurements. Many custom options are available, including the choice of many soles – some tough enough to stop thorns that will puncture a truck tire.

The seven-inch height of the PH model is perfect for upland hunts in South America, Africa, and a large swath of North America. Russell also offers a wide variety of higher, heavier, warmer, scent-free, and water-resistant boots for whatever the need may be.

Did you know that 2 3/4-inch chambers only became universally accepted in 1925, that 2 1/2-inch chambers are still common in Great Britain, and that 2 9/16-inch-chambered 16-gauges are prevalent? Sure, you did, but the question is how to find out if that gun you are admiring at the local gun show has chambers of 2 1/2 inches or another odd size. The proof marks may show the original chamber lengths, but if the chambers have been lengthened, it’s important to know if it has been done correctly and safely.

Not only does Tony Galazan (800-515-4867; connecticutshotgun.com) make beautiful shotguns, be also offers a bevy of useful shotgun accessories. Among those is his inexpensive Handy Model Chamber Length Gauge, made of brass and precisely marked to measure chamber lengths from 2 1/2 inches to 3 1/2 inches from the big 10-gauge to the tiny .410-bore. Squared at the end, this gauge goes right to the mouth of the chamber and gives the user an accurate measure of the chamber’s length.


Sporting Classics Magazine
Sporting Classics Magazine
November•December 2002, p.136

(...continuation) "Back in the good old U.S. of A., Russell Moccasin in Berlin, Wisconsin, has been hard at work coming up with four new products ranging from a serious technical mountain hunting boot to a dressy ostrich zip-up.

Russell’s new Grand Slam Sheep Hunter is a ten-inch boot with leather-lined uppers, a standard reinforced ankle support and heel counters to prevent heel roll-over. A sturdy oak leather midsole mated to a tough Vibram lug sole provides for maximum wear in rugged terrain such as shale and other sharp-edged rocks. The Grand Slam is made of waterproofed WeaterTuff leather featuring Russell’s triple vamp construction.

Not ones to keep their heads in the sand when it comes to fashion, Russell offers the strikingly beautiful Ostrich Double Moccasin Bottom Zephyr. A super comfortable, lightweight boot, the Zephyr zips up the back for easy-on, easy-off convenience. Made from luxurious, full-quill ostrich hide, the boot features a wrap-around handmolded outer sole for outstanding foot support and cushioning, plus a lightweight Aspen Gumlite sole.

New to Russell’s famous PH series is the Premier African Sport Chukka. Constructed of tan Weather Buck leather, cool cotton duck on the inside, and a lightweight Phoenix Gumlite Wedge Sole, this chukka is a perfect choice for those who prefer a lighter, sportier shoe.

Always with an ear to the consumer, Russell took the request of a lady hunter for “Something upscale for sitting around the campfire” and designed the Hippo Oneida Moccasin. The slip-on is made from waterproof WeatherTuff leather with a beautifully grained, hippo toe piece and collar, and a boarhide molded sole."

Thunder Press

How one man's feet found euphoria

When you hear the words "custom fitted footwear" you probably visualize those orthopedic clodhoppers made for guys who lost toes to the lawn mower or came back from the trauma unit with one leg shorter than the other. That's what I would visualize, anyway, at least until recently. But I've come to find out there's actually a class of people - they tend to be outdoorsmen, mostly - who by virtue of affluence or personal priority have long worn only boots made to the exact biometrics of their beleaguered old dogs, and the place they've gotten their fetish filled is the E.C. Russell Moccasin Company of Berlin, Wisconsin. That outfit has been custom building - that's the term they use, "building" boots for the discriminating since the of the Spanish-American War. As their name would suggest, their stock-in-trade design is the moccasin, a venerable style they've taken to its most refined and commodious extremes, applying it to everything from deck shoes to turkey hunting boots, and now to their recently developed Russell Rider motorcycle boots - suggesting that the company has taken notice of the fact that modern bikers are well-heeled enough to get themselves well-heeled.

This is where my saga begins, and in the interest of full disclosure I will tell you now that the W.C. Russell Moccasin Company offered to build me a pair of boots that I might give them a workout and report my findings to you, the reader. This was no small thing. Not for me, anyway, since I've spent my adult life pegged to the planet with a pair of 14D gunboats and have had to settle for whatever was available to shod my freakish flippers. Generally this has meant settling for less than stylish goods. Generally this has meant settling for creepy afterthoughts from the ugly end of the goofy shelf at big and tall men's stores in the crumbling strip malls of America - when I could get any whose at all.

I accepted this generous offer enthusiastically and began the process of obtaining custom-made footwear. And a process it is. The Russell Rider motorcycle boots are available in two distinct and distinctive styles; the Sturgis model is a sturdy, imposing 12-inch-high-boot suitable for riding in snake country, and the Daytona is a more understated and versatile nine-inch-high boot. I opted for the Daytona, but that was only the beginning of my involvement. Since the W.C. Russell Moccasin Company is situated roughly 2,000 miles away from my feet, the job of accurately determining the exact dimensions of said feet fell to me, making me a primary participant in the process. That's the case with most of the company's customers and thus they've gone to great lengths to facilitate matters and make certain that the information the bootmakers work from is as exacting as possible. To that end, the company provides a worksheet - a large pullout form that comes with their catalogue. Upon it you make pencil tracings of your feet and jot down critical measurements taken at various points from the toes to the calf, per the detailed schematic instructions.

The instruction caution that this is a two-person operation. You can't personally trace and tape-measure your own tootsies with the degree of precision the bootmakers demand. You need an accomplice - preferably one who's comfortable with getting real familiar with the most intimate and revolting details of your big old gnarly feets. The spousal unit is the natural go-to person here, though I suspect wealthy sportsmen probably make do with their valets seeing as how their snooty country club wives doubtless want no part of this, and are already mightily pissed that The Franchise is going out hunting or riding. This is sheer speculation.

Fortunately for me, I had My Personal Nurse to turn to in this endeavor. Twenty years of service in the ER has brought her to a point where she isn't the least bit squeamish, baffled, surprised or - alas - impressed by any portion of a man's anatomy. We made a party out of it. I put on my best socks, popped a bottle of bubbly and positioned my boats on the worksheet. My Personal Nurse drew around them with the recommended pencil stub and then whipped out the seamstress tape measure and took soundings at the balls of my feet, the instep, the distance from heel-point to ankle-front, and the circumference of my calf at several points. The exact positions at which these measurements were taken were duly noted on the worksheet, and the specs noted in the spaces provided. She did, I think, a marvelous job. We killed the bubbly and painted my toenails for good measure. A manly blue, if you must know. We sent the order form off and waited.

And waited

Nobody's in a hurry in Berlin, Wisconsin, and from what I can gather, wealthy sportsmen either plan ahead for these things or possess a patience us poor folk don't and perhaps that's why they're wealthy. I didn't figure this would be a fast affair, having noticed on the order form that W.C. Russell offers rush orders for a premium of $30, and to their laid-back, old-world craftsman way of thinking, a rush order is six weeks. But beyond that I didn't know what to expect, and in truth, I pretty much forgot about the Russell Riders. I've got a lot on my plate, dig? And I figured at some point the bootmaker who drew my order must have taken one look at the Brobdignagian proportions of the tracings on my order form and said, "Screw this," and moved on to other projects. I could hardly blame him.

Two and a half months elapsed, and then a UPS truck pulled up and the driver deposited a big box on the porch. My boots had arrived. I tore the box open and commenced to inspect the goods while the driver pepper-sprayed my dog. I was most interested in checking out what it was, exactly, that distinguished a moccasin from a conventional boot, and in this I got an education.

As explained by the company literature, moccasins are basically layers of leather wrapped around your feet. These layers, of which the Daytona has three, are called "vamps" and they're applied like corn husks around a tamale - their seams staggered in position so that the finished work is a sealed unit without an opening for water to get to the interior. This is a contrast to conventional boot construction that merely stitches a piece of leather to a sole leaving the entire perimeter vulnerable to seepage. Since the vamps of the moccasin are a finished sheath independent of the sole, they can move with and mold to the shape of the foot. The analogy used here is that of a hammock. This is a critically important attribute of the boot, as we'll discover later.

The other thing I observed about the Daytonas is that they were far and away the most handsome, sturdily constructed riding boots I'd ever possessed. The leather of the lowers is a thick, ultra smooth grade that exudes quality and durability, and the uppers are of a supple, pebble-grained hide called WeatherTuff. The quality of craftsmanship is obvious in every cut and seam, and subtle differences in the shape and dimensions between the two boots evidences the custom fitting in their construction. It was time to pull them on and go riding.

Not So Fast

I unzipped the back of the right boot and stuck my foot in... about halfway. There it stalled out, and it was only through serious tugging and pushing and cussin that I got the boot on. And damn was it tight over the instep. I repeated the struggle with the left boot with the same constricted result and hobbled around the room mystified. How could this be? How could my Russell Riders fit so miserably after all we'd done to provide the specs for a perfect fit? What was I missing here?

And then I remembered the bubbly. I cast an accusatory glare at My Personal Nurse who, sensing my mood, said, "What?"
"What, indeed. My boots don't fit. You measured me wrong."

"Like hell," she countered. "Your feet probably grew."
"My feet couldn't possibly have grown. They were already at their logical extreme."
"Then send the boots back and have them adjusted. They're guaranteed, right?"
"Yes, they are. But I'm not sending them anywhere. These are the finest boots I've ever owned and I'm not letting them out of my sight."
"Whatever," she said in that infuriating way of hers and left the room, leaving me to ponder my predicament.

It was all true, of course. It was true that the W.C. Russell Moccasin Company stands 100% behind their work and would gladly make whatever alterations were necessary to achieve the custom fit, and it was equally true that I was loathe to send them back. I figured that since I'd never had boots of this design and quality, perhaps I wasn't accustomed to the break-in curve of such goods. Maybe with wear they would live happily, ever after. There was that consideration, and there was also the consideration that since we'd measured my feet as carefully as we could, there wasn't much information I could provide the company for the purpose of adjustment that I hadn't already provided. And if we'd erred in our calculations because the wife was squiffy on Mumms, I couldn't very well bring that up. All I could really do about it was stretch the insteps. Hell, I could do that.

And that's what I set about doing, though probably not in the same way the W.C. Russell Moccasin Company goes about such things. I went to the pantry and selected two cans of soup and shoved them into the boots. I selected tomato bisque since I never eat that variety and I'm not even certain what it is and thus I wouldn't miss it if it disappeared down my boots for a while. I left it there a week.

When next I tugged the Daytonas on, they were still tight, but they were now wearable, and I wore them for a few hours. I did the same the next day and the next. It was over the course of this short period that the magic of the moccasin design made itself apparent. The boots were conforming themselves to my feet. They weren't loosening up, which is good, because you don't want your foot rubbing around in there and causing friction, but the snugness was now positioned around my feet comfortably. So comfortably, in fact, that after a week of use, they felt like they weren't even there. Each time I put them on they felt tight for the first minute as the memory of the leather kicked in, and then I felt virtually barefoot. I was amazed.

And on top of that, they have proven to be the most functional riding boots I've ever worn. The soft crepe soles have a serious grip and a short heel cut at a square angle, making them ideal for forward controls. They remain fixed on the pegs and stifle the subtle vibration that can cause your feet to move around. Once off the bike, they're excellent walking-around boots in any and all conditions, well-cushioned and utterly weatherproof.

These are now the only boots I will wear when I ride, and I can't see myself ever settling for anything else. They're that awesome. And while I'm not usually given to extravagant praise of the products I review, I can't recommend the Russell Riders highly enough. Get the catalogue, trace your feet, send in your form, and be patient. And leave the bubbly out of it.

May 2004, pp. 121, 123, 126

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