Price Note: These just dropped back down to steal-alert levels of $119. Prices have been fluctuating on these (and their Kenton Pacer Boots) the last couple of weeks. No word on when this quiet sale ends.
About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething salesman in the heating and manufacturing industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, raw denim, and working on on his
dad bod father figure.
J.Crew has been on a properly good run over the past few months. Their designers have clearly been hard at work, bringing new and desirable items to market. Their in-house line of boots has always been solid and a good value, but lately, the boots have been downright impressive. Today we’re looking at the latest version of the Kenton leather cap toes, which look mighty fine on paper. How do they stack up in person?
A great, versatile shade of medium brown.
The Adam Review Scale of Excellence (A.R.S.E.)
- 5 – Excellent! No issues and highly recommended.
- 4 – Good. Above average, but not perfect.
- 3 – Average. Minor issues, might be good at the right price.
- 2 – Fair. Below average due to defects, flaws, or imperfections.
- 1 – Poor. Significant issues, not worth purchasing at any price.
All hail the Adam Shoe Expert Box Shot™
- Brand: J. Crew
- Style: Cap Toe Casual/Dress Boot
- Size: 10 US (43 EU)
- Last: N/A
- Construction: 360° Goodyear welted
- Upper: “Genuine” pull-up cow leather with pigskin lining
- Sole: Vibram “Tuscany” mini-lug rubber sole with Gumblock heel
- Details: Antique brass eyelets and speed hooks, brown waxed cotton laces
- Extras: Two flannel shoe bags
- Country of Origin: El Salvidor
- Price: $298 USD
Simple cap toes.
We ordered these months ago, but due to a backorder delay, they just arrived recently. At post time, it doesn’t appear that these are backordered anymore? I’ve said this a handful of times over the past year: we have to have patience and some grace during this global pandemic. Lots of factories are running behind due to material backlogs, worker shortages, and shipping delays. J.Crew is usually upfront about their backorders, so you should know that ahead of ordering.
FYI: J.Crew has a pretty standard 30-day return policy, but you’re on the hook for $7.50 if you use their label. Returns can be made for free in person should you have a brick and mortar store near you.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Simple ordering, but they took for.ev.er. to get here. But we probably got caught in the pre-Christmas crush/COVID supply chain circle of hell. Things appear to have stabilized? Sure do wish returns were free.
My J.Crew Kenton boots arrived in a standard J.Crew black shoe box with minimal branding. Inside, the boots were lightly wrapped in standard tissue paper and each boot was stuffed with paper to keep the toe boxes from collapsing. Nothing too fancy going on in here. The box itself has already started to come apart with one corner having a pretty large tear from top corner to bottom. But they did include a couple of flannel shoe bags, which is always appreciated.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Simple, but solid. J.Crew has stepped up their shoe bag game, but the box is weak.
Not a tall/workboot toe box. Less clunk than, say, Red Wings.
I’m a big fan of leather cap toe boots. In my mind, they’re a jack of all trades, pairing well with everything from suiting to casual flannel and jeans weekend wear. The J.Crew Kentons look the part, too, and toe that semi-dress and casual line perfectly. The upper leather is some type of calf or cow pull-up leather, dyed a wonderful shade of medium brown. It’s not the highest quality of leather as told by the slightly tumbled or crinkle look that some sections have, but overall, it’s not bad! It’s better than the acrylic coated hides from the J.C. Penney Stafford boots, yet not as supple as the calf used on brands like Grant Stone or Allen Edmonds. Given the MSRP, I’d expect a little better quality, but… nobody seems to pay MSRP at J. Crew these days. Moving on, the cap toe stitching is nice and straight and the heel pull tabs are nicely reinforced. I can’t foresee you ripping those out anytime soon. The antiqued brass eyelets and speed hooks add some warmth and the flat waxed cotton laces are a pleasure to use. Seriously! Laces are where a lot of brands skimp, yet these? These are nice.
Looking inside, the pigskin lining runs the length of the boot and is smooth, yet noticeably thin. Over time, I could foresee someone wearing through the liner if the owner is rough on their boots and shoes. The heel cup is made from reversed pigskin, so the rough “fleshy” side is out for more grip so that your heels don’t slip around too much. The insole is made of squishy foam and topped with a thin layer of leather. Unfortunately, the insoles are glued down so replacing them with inserts or aftermarket insoles may be risky and possibly damaging.
Goodyear welted. Discreet but grippy mini lug sole.
The Kentons are using an OEM Vibram “Tuscany” brown rubber mini-lug sole and a Gumblock heel topper that are equal parts grippy and discreet. They’re the James Bond of rubber soles, mainly because they offer significant levels of grip and durability without it looking like you’re wearing hiking boots. From the side, you can’t see the lugs! Another bonus to the Vibram soles over previous offbrand iterations is that any cobbler worth their salt can easily resole these with factory OEM Vibram components. The Goodyear welt sole stitching and edge finishing is clean, neat, and without fault.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Overall a solid design with middleweight materials. Could be better, could be worse.
A true to size boot, so don’t size down. Runs maybe a touch narrow.
Comfort, Fit, and Sizing
The foam insole, leather lining, and overall neutral shape lead to a pretty comfortable fit for a mass produced boot. Note that these will fit true to size, so do not size down from your Brannock sizing. I normally size down a half-size in boots, but these in 10D are too narrow and too short. If you normally take a wider size, or need inserts or custom orthotics, you may need to size up a half-size to compensate.
For reference, I am a 10.5 D/E on a Brannock device and usually take a 10 D in most dress shoes, including Alden’s Barrie last and Grant Stone’s Leo last. I take a 10.5 E in Allen Edmonds 65 last, as that last runs too narrow for me. I also take a 10.5 in Vans and an 11 in most Adidas or Nike sneakers.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Overall comfortable, but they run a little narrow. Do not size down!
Sunset heart hands.
J.Crew knows how to min-max the look and feel of their boots and shoes by spending a little extra on the things that you see and skimping a bit on the things you won’t. Overall, the Kenton leather cap toe boots are a solid choice if you’re in the market for something that straddles that casual and semi-dress style. As always, try to score a pair on discount and, if taken care of, they should last you for a good long while.
Side note: At full price, I’d personally rather spend a few more Hamiltons and get something from Grant Stone. Their cap toe boots use higher quality materials and finer construction for just ~$40 more. But again, with all the codes, promos, and deep sales J. Crew is running, it’s safe to say no one is paying close to MRSP right now.
Avg. Score: 4/5 Stars – Overall, a solid boot but should be less expensive than it is at MSRP.