Alligator Boots Buyer's Guide (4-Point Checklist) - Getting the Best Value

Alligator Boots Buyer's Guide (4-Point Checklist) - Getting the Best Value

Posted by Tim on Jan 3rd 2018

Cowboy boots made from Alligator Hide Leather are some of the most sought after styles in western wear. 

Alligator boots are truly a classic and no collection is complete without a pair.  Alligator boots made from natural hides result in a unique pair each time - there are no 2 pair exactly alike!

As you look for the boots you like most there are several things you need to be aware of in order to get the best deal.  Timsboots.com is pleased to be able to give you this quick guide so that you get not only the best boots, but also the best value.  

These are a few factors you should consider when buying a pair of Alligator Boots.

Alligator Boots Buyer's Guide (4-Point Checklist)

1) Are they made from genuine hides?  

Today the imitation or printed leathers (Cowhide printed and molded to look like an exotic leather) can fool some people who are not aware of their existence, they are really good!   One easy give away is the uniformity of the pattern and colors.  Real alligator skins come real animals which are all different, just as human skin has differing shades, thicknesses and natural scars and blemishes.  If the skin is very uniform on both boots then it is probably a fake.  Another give away is price.  If it is too good to be true then you are probably looking at a fake.

2) What alligator species are the boots made from?

Alligator boots are commonly made from 3 non-endangered species of alligator or crocodile skins. (Crocodilian Species)

  • The American Alligator (alligator mississippiensis) is native to the Southeast USA. The finest  and highest quality alligator boots are made from this type of leather. These skins come from alligators that are mostly farm-raised, however a few are captured or hunted in the wild.  The wild hides usually have larger scales because the farm raised animals are harvested at a smaller size to protect the skins from blemishes and scars.  
  • The American Alligator is the least bony of the 23 species of crocodile and therefore it is the softest most supple leather to make cowboy boots from. American alligator skins are softer and have smoother scales than other types of crocodile skins, making them among the most luxurious skins available on the market.  Luxury handbags, watch bands, and belts are made from this species as well. 
  • The Nile Crocodile is native to Africa and is the second best hide to make alligator boots from. Nile crocodile skins come are bred in captivity and farm-raised. The Nile crocodile skin is another one of the less bony species of the crocodilian family and is therefore a good product to make cowboy boots from as well.  This species of alligator is not very common but the belly skins do make a fine pair of gator boots and is a little less expensive compared to American Alligator.
  • The Caiman Crocodile is native to South America. Caiman skins come from caimans that are bred in captivity and farm-raised. The caiman crocodile is the boniest of the 3 types of hides available, and as a result, the skin is more structured and has more "blemishes" in the scales. Caiman are the least expensive and smallest of the hides and make a good choice for budget conscious buyers but they are the least desirable of the 3.  If budget is the main consideration then you should pick caiman boots.  Caiman boots are the most common boots that you'll find on the shelf since they are less expensive and easier to stock.

 3) What is the cut of the finished hide?

There are 3 basic cuts used in the making of alligator boots:  Belly, Hornback/Tail, and Flank.  Two animals are required for boots with the horn back and tail, where with the larger bellies hides can produce a pair of boots from one animal.

  • Belly -  Alligators that are split along the back give us a fairly smooth finished belly and can demand up to 3x the price as compared to the Horn back or Tail cuts. The price difference is why the tanneries would prefer to sell belly and sometimes limits the colors available without a custom dye job.  Tim's Boots happy to help you if there is a specific color you want, just give us a call to discuss.
  • Horn Back and Tail - These are split along their belly and that is why I included them together although the look is distinct between them.  The horn back boots will come from leather taken closer to the head where the larger pronounced "horns" are.  The tail cuts forms a distinct "V" pattern usually coming together at the toe, but they can be made with a reverse "V" as well.
  • Flank - This is the least common, but also one of the most highly sought cuts.  Also called Bias by some makers. This is cut from the sides of the animal usually closer to the front arms.  The pattern of the scales is more rounded on the flank while the belly pattern is more squared.

4)  Where are the boots made?

While cowboy boots are one of the last remaining footwear styles to be made in the United States, nearly all well known brand manufacturers have moved their factories out of the United States.  Some brands make 95% of their boots in other countries but have a small percentage still made in the US which can be difficult to see while on the shelf.  Believe me the best cowboy boots are still made in the USA!  The foreign manufactures cut many corners in the materials as well as general manufacturing principles.

If I was making an investment in a pair of alligator boots, I would only buy American.  The brand I recommend is Black Jack.  They are 100% made in America of the highest quality materials.  You can also pick from many toe / heel and countless other options and get a pair of boots exactly as you want them!

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We are proud to offer some of the finest Men's Alligator Boots & Women's Alligator Boots available on the market today.  We are alligator boot experts and can help you find exactly what you want.  Give us a call at  1-800-771-4214 and we're happy to discuss with you custom boots (at no extra charge) that will give you pleasure and pride in you purchase for years to come.

Happy Trails - Tim