Rancourt Bennett Court Sneakers – $295 ($175 when on pre-order)
About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething salesman in the HVAC and hydronics industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, raw denim, and working on his
dad bod father figure.
Rancourt has been a premier American shoemaker, specializing in handsewns and loafers, for decades and they are certainly no stranger to these pages of Dappered. From time to time, we like to highlight the Lewiston, Maine manufacturer when they’ve got an interesting sale going on or when they drop a cool, casual new style of handsewns, loafers, or sneakers. During last year’s economic slowdown, someone at their HQ got the fantastic idea to start crowdfunding certain styles in large batches to bring in some much-needed revenue and help keep the artisans employed and the factory lights on. The plan seems to have worked! They’re still delivering shoes such as these Bennett Court sneakers that I ordered back in May 2021. I’ve been wearing these for a few weeks now, so here are my initial impressions.
Low-top court sneakers made in Maine.
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.
- Brand: Rancourt
- Style: Low top “court” sneakers
- Size: 10.5
- Last: Unk.
- Construction: Stitched and glued
- Upper: Flint Kudu suede from C.F. Stead
- Sole: Rancourt signature “Compass” sole from Meramec
- Details: Flat waxed poly laces, Padded tongue and collar
- Extras: N/A
- Country of Origin: Made in Maine, USA
- MSRP: $295 – Crowdfunded for $175
Handmade, velvety smooth suede sneakers.
I pre-ordered this pair during Rancourt’s crowdfunding event back in May 2021 with an estimated ship date of July 2021. There was a delay in manufacturing (thanks, global pandemic and supply shortages), but it was clearly communicated via email in advance of the ship date. Finally, my pair shipped out via FedEx Ground on a Friday in late August and arrived on Sunday, just two days later. Other than the unavoidable setback, I can’t complain too much.
FYI: Rancourt gives you 30 days to make your mind up and ensure your shoes fit well. They allow returns for both exchanges and credit, as well as a simple refund if you’re not satisfied. Note that return shipping is covered for exchanges or store credit, but you’re on the hook if you want your cash back. As usual, the shoes need to be unworn and in mint, resellable condition.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Easy ordering and simple returns; no major complaints here.
A shoebox up to Adam’s standards.
If you’re a regular reader of Dappered, you already know that I’m a sucker for a good unboxing experience. This pair arrived in Rancourt’s classic forest green shoe box emblazoned with a hot foil stamped logo done up in a cool metallic copper color. Inside, the sneakers were shipped in plastic bags to help reduce dents and dings during transport. Rancourt also includes a pair of their cotton flannel shoe bags should you wish to travel with your sneakers. Previous pairs of Rancourt shoes included extra laces, but this particular pair did not ship with any. Bummer!
Score: 4/5 Stars – Great unboxing experience, just wishing for extra laces next time.
Fresh out of the box, I really love the overall aesthetic of the Bennett Court sneakers. In my opinion, the flat cup sole makes them more stylish and versatile, as compared to their Bennett Trainer brothers from another mother. I had a pair of those Trainers last year and ended up returning them because I didn’t love the fit and feel of that “Heaven” trainer outsole. Chunky!
A lot of panels. A lot of lines.
Either way, the real star of the show is this fantastic Kudu suede that is sourced from the British tannery Charles F. Stead. While some manufacturers use Horween’s “Kudu” variety of their famous Chromexcel cow leathers, these sneakers are made from genuine South African Kudu antelope hides. This particular tannage combines a soft hand and a strong temper for durability. You can beat the snot out of these and they’ll still come back for more tomorrow. Kudu leather typically showcases the hide’s natural grain characteristics, like scratches, scars, etc., but most of that is hidden in this example since it’s assembled in a suede-side-out configuration. It’s velvety smooth with just the right amount of nap for that tasty texture we’re wanting for Fall styles. For weekday wear to the office, I will probably wear these with a Fair Isle sweater, an Oxford cloth or chambray button-down shirt, and slim fit chinos for a “smart casual” look. For the weekends, I’m going for “relaxed casual” and pairing these with my favorite check flannel shirts and crispy raw denim. The earthy brownish, greyish color of these Bennett Court sneakers will pair very well with a ton of different Fall and Winter centric styles.
Looking over the shoes themselves, I like the subtle differences between the various panels on the upper; some are plain suede while others are perforated for a bit of airflow. The white calfskin lining peeks out from around the opening and contrasts nicely to the white cup sole. Looking down onto the shoes, there’s one minor annoyance that I spotted. The left shoe’s toe box seems to be canted more towards the right; twisted towards the inside of your left foot. It’s a small nit to pick, but it’s visually obvious and may bother some of you if you’re extra particular about things like this. For me, I’m not concerned enough to return them and I don’t notice it once I’m walking around. Out of sight, out of mind. Remember: these are hand made.
Bespoke rubber cup sole unit made by Meramec outside St. Louis,
showing a few weeks of wear (the soles are white after all).
Peering inside, there are three main things that you’ll notice and enjoy. First, the entire shoe is lined in full-grain cowhide sourced from The Hide House in Napa, California. This white cowhide lining is smooth, fairly thick, and feels great against your feet as you slip into the shoes. Second, the tongue and collar are slightly padded, which also feels great against your ankles. Finally, the Bennett sneakers come with a removable, molded latex foam insole that has been topped with a thin layer of split suede. This thing is fantastic! It’s super squishy and feels very plush while walking or standing. I did notice that the insoles were hand trimmed to fit in each pair of shoes and mine needed a bit more trimming to lay flat. Not a huge issue or deal breaker, just something to be aware of. Peeking underneath the insoles provides you with a glimpse of the firm, nonwoven Celfil fiber insole boards that are used as a stable platform to build the shoes around.
Kudu suede sourced from British tannery Charles F. Stead.
The outsole is a bespoke rubber cup sole unit made by Meramec just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. The interesting bit about this cup sole is that it’s much lighter, roughly 50% or so, than comparable cup soles from the likes of Margom, Vibram, etc. You can definitely feel this weight reduction on your feet, too. The sole unit is both glued and stitched to the upper assembly, which sounds great, but there’s one major drawback: these cannot be easily resoled. Rancourt says it’s almost impossible to remove the cup sole without damaging the upper. (Note: Although their customer service team did seem to reply to a customer with the different, cream suede/Reltex Lactae Hevea Vantage outsole, saying they could resole THAT particular model & sole. Clarify with C.S. on the particular model you’re after if this is super key to you. Thanks to Jason F. for the tip…) I haven’t had these long enough to speak to the sole’s durability, but so far so good. Perhaps we’ll revisit these next year after some more wear and tear.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Very high quality materials, but there was a minor, noticeable error.
Comfort, Fit, and Sizing
In terms of fit and sizing, I recommend trying your true-to-size Brannock measurement. I tried this pair in my usual 10.5 D and they fit pretty well right out of the box. I will note that the latex foam insoles weren’t trimmed small enough, so I could feel them curling up in the toe box. This was a simple fix with a box cutter and three minutes of my time, so no real complaint here.
Super squishy, comfortable insert.
Comfort is always subjective, but I enjoy the spacious toe box and tapered heel of this last. The bespoke removable latex foam insoles are dense and very comfortable. While I haven’t attempted this yet, I wouldn’t hesitate to wear these on an all-day walking excursion around a large city. Yep, they are just that comfortable for me with both no-show socks and bare feet.
For size reference, I am a 10.5 D on a Brannock device and usually take a 10 D in most roomy 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 Converse/Vans and an 11 in most Adidas/Nike/Jordan/Yeezy sneakers. Have a size question? Email us!
Score: 5/5 Stars – True to size and very comfortable!
I’m a big fan of Rancourt and their products in general and this pair cements that for me once again. While I can be a stickler for the details – the slightly wonky left shoe bothers me a bit – I have to take a step back and remind myself that these are truly “handmade” shoes. These aren’t mass produced, fast fashion trainers that you’d find in your local mall’s sneaker store. A small team of skilled artisans assembled these, so little quibbles like mine can be partially swept under the rug. If given the opportunity, there’s no way I could make a better product. All in all, I do recommend Rancourt and these Bennett court sneakers if you’re in the market for something higher quality or more luxurious than most entry and mid level sneaker brands. Try and catch them on the next round of crowdfunding to save a bit of coin, too! Cheers.
Avg. Score: 4.5/5 – Recommended! Fantastic “luxury” sneakers, made in the USA!