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Carmina Rain Review: I Test to See If the Spend Is Worth It

William Barton
Expertise:

Boots, Leather, Heritage Fashion, Denim, Workwear

William founded BootSpy in 2020 with a simple mission: test and review popular men’s boots and give a real, honest opinion. Since then, we've welcomed over 5 million readers on our boot reviews and boot care guides. Reach out to him for your own personalized boot recommendation at william@bootspy.com. Or join 50,000+ subscribers on the BootSpy YouTube channel, or send him a message on the BootSpy Instagram. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Apr 3, 2024
9 min read

Carmina boots cost a pretty penny, and the last thing you want to do is get your new shoes and find out you have to return them.

So in this Carmina review, I picked up a pair of their Zip boots on the Rain last and I’m going to share everything I learned about this legendary shoemaker so you can decide if you’re ready to buy.

OK, these are sexy
Review Feature Image/Icon Image Source: Carmina Shoemaker
Carmina Zip Boot
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Bottom line: The Carmina Zip boot built on the Rain last is the nicest dress boot I’ve ever put on my feet. From the materials through the construction, this is a top-notch boot. It’s surprising that it’s Goodyear welted given that it’s so sleek and slim. The finishing on the boot is exquisite.

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Pros:
  • The finishing on this boot is tremendous---there’s not a single flaw
  • The box calf leather from Weinheimer tannery breaks in beautifully and is super buttery soft
  • Goodyear welt construction and a leather insole make for a durable boot that’s also comfortable right out of the box
Cons:
  • No wide widths available

For the past year, I’ve picked up more rugged boots than I can count. I never stopped to ask what I’d actually wear on a date with my wife. 

I’ve tried most of the high-end casual brands, so I wanted to give a dressy brand a shot. 

And the first on my list is Carmina

This Mallorcan brand is a bit of a legend in the shoe space. But do they deserve the legendary status? 

Carmina Zip Boot Overview

Carmina black leather zip boots on model

I’ll spare the backstory on Carmina and focus on the boot I got. All you really need to know is that Carmina has been making Goodyear welted dress shoes and boots since 1905 (though the company was making shoes in 1866—before the invention of the Goodyear welt machine). 

The Zip boot is built on the Rain last, which Carmina claims is the most universal of their 20-something last shapes. 

Carmina rain last profile view

It has the look of a wholecut because a large single piece of leather makes up the majority of the vamp and the seam on the side at the bottom of the zipper is nearly invisible. 

It’s a Goodyear welt, which is uncommon for dress shoes (usually dress shoes are Blake stitched), and it’s got an all-natural build with a leather insole, cork filler, and rubber outsole. 

Things to Consider Before Buying

Carmina rain last fit demonstration on author

Carmina boots are dressy, and dressy shoes tend to run a bit narrow. I’m a D-width on the Brannock device, and the Zip was right on the cusp of being too narrow. 

As I’ve been breaking them in, they’ve gotten more comfortable. But if you have wider feet and you’re wondering if you can tough it out, I recommend against it. Carmina doesn’t offer any wider widths. So if you have wide feet, you’re out of luck.

Another consideration to make is that there’s almost no communication about the status of your boots if you order a pair that’s in production. 

Carmina boots on model walking down stairs

My Zip boots had a 60-day waiting period (though last I checked, most sizes were available for shipping immediately). I’m used to a bit of a wait with boots, so it wasn’t a big deal. But after I ordered, I didn’t get a confirmation, nor did I hear anything from the brand at all. 

I assumed they got my order because my card was charged, but otherwise, it was total radio silence until the boots showed up at my door. I’d forgotten I bought them, so it was a nice surprise. Anyway, if you’re an anxious person, you probably won’t like this lack of communication. 

Carmina Zip Boot (Rain Last)

The Carmina Zip boot built on the Rain last is the nicest dress boot I’ve ever put on my feet. From the materials through the construction, this is a top-notch boot. It’s surprising that it’s Goodyear welted given that it’s so sleek and slim. The finishing on the boot is exquisite.

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My Hands-On Review

First Impression

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The unboxing experience with Carmina is excellent—you get nice felt bags, a shoehorn, and it just generally feels rich and luxurious. 

My first impression of these boots was that they’re the nicest boots I’ve ever held in my hands. I’ve tried some other legendary brands around the same price point (and even more expensive), but none have had the finishing touches so dialed in like Carmina. 

At the time of writing, there are two versions of the Zip boot: a black box calf leather and a brown suede leather. I opted for the black because it’s basically the sexiest boot—there’s no other way to put it. 

Carmina box calf leather quality

The Rain last is quite narrow, and there’s a bit of a chisel at the toe—I certainly wouldn’t call it a chisel-toe, but Carmina is a bit more aggressive with their lines than popular American brands like Allen Edmonds or Alden

I really like the Zip boot’s style, as it’s got the same silhouette as a Chelsea boot, but looks like a wholecut. And with the box calf leather, I want as much of that showing as possible. 

Leather Quality and Care

Carmina rain last shape detail

The leather is the star of the show with pretty much all Carmina shoes, but especially so with the black box calf leather from the German Weinheimer tannery.

It’s buttery smooth and has been breaking in gently. With such a tight grain pattern, the creases you get aren’t harsh or ugly—they’re soft and give the boot a distinguished look. 

Box calf has a natural shine to it, so you don’t really need to polish the leather if you don’t want to. I’ve found that Saphir Renovateur is the perfect product for this leather—it’s a leather cream, so it nourishes the upper. But it also has a touch of wax in it so you can buff it to a nice shine that’s not “over the top.”

Carmina shape demonstration

There’s a soft, thin leather lining throughout the entirety of the boot, which adds to the comfort and durability. 

As a dress boot, the leather is on the thinner side. The total thickness of the upper and the lining is 2.5mm. This is to be expected—desired, even—with a pair of dress boots. The thinner leather looks elegant, is light and comfortable, and creases more gently over time. 

Sole

Carmina sole detail rubber studs

While I think the leather is the star, the sole construction is very impressive, and worthy of such high quality leather. 

Carmina shoes use a Goodyear welted construction, which is unusual for dress shoes. Most dress boots feature a Blake stitch because it’s a slimmer, sleeker construction method, though it’s generally not as durable as a Goodyear welt. 

The welt on the Carmina Zip is so close to the upper, it’s amazing they were even able to stitch the sole without damaging the upper. I’ve never seen a boot with such a tight Goodyear welt. This speaks to the craftsmanship of the Mallorcan artisans. 

The insole is vegetable tanned leather, with a cork filler underneath. This should break in over time and become more comfortable as you wear it. Plus since there’s no synthetics, it’ll compress, but never break apart. 

Carmina Zip Boot (Rain Last)

The Carmina Zip boot built on the Rain last is the nicest dress boot I’ve ever put on my feet. From the materials through the construction, this is a top-notch boot. It’s surprising that it’s Goodyear welted given that it’s so sleek and slim. The finishing on the boot is exquisite.

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Carmina rain last sole detail

The outsole is a full rubber outsole with studs at the front. It’s a custom piece as it’s thinner starting at the arch and also acts as a midsole for better overall shock absorption and comfort. 

There’s a stacked leather heel (which is as smooth and shiny as the box calf leather—it’s incredible), and a rubber heel cap tacked in with a few brass nails. 

Carmina uses a leather shank for the Zip boot, which I prefer for a boot at this quality. I doubt I’ll need to ever resole these boots—probably just add a new heel cap when the time comes. But because the shank is leather, it’ll also break in and compress along with the insole, so I’ll always have some arch support without anything too rigid popping up in the boot. 

Fit and Sizing

author william barton wearing Carmina chelsea boots

You’ll need to get familiar with European and UK sizing standards. Carmina makes their sizing standards needlessly complicated. 

If you’re on the US site, you’ll get UK sizing. But the width of a standard Carmina is EE. But a Carmina EE is actually an F width in the UK, and a D width in the US. 

Confused yet? 

Me too. 

Basically, Carmina doesn’t carry any wide widths. And even for a D width (by American standards) these boots are pretty narrow. 

I got a UK size 9 because I’m a size 10D in most US boots. They fit really well. They were a bit snug for the first few days of wear, but the leather stretched just a tad and now they’re quite comfortable if I wear thin socks. 

Break-in Period

Carmina rain last fit on model

The break in period is a breeze—with the thin and soft box calf leather, there’s not a lot of material to work through. 

It took me two or three wears until the leather stretched a bit around my foot, so that’s when they became really comfortable, but I had no substantial issues breaking these in. 

Carmina Zip Boot (Rain Last)

The Carmina Zip boot built on the Rain last is the nicest dress boot I’ve ever put on my feet. From the materials through the construction, this is a top-notch boot. It’s surprising that it’s Goodyear welted given that it’s so sleek and slim. The finishing on the boot is exquisite.

Check Price

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

Carmina is a legendary brand with a devoted following. There are plenty of people who only buy Carmina shoes. And I get it—they are pretty awesome. 

There are lots of professional reviews of Carmina, which is great because you can really get a solid perspective on how these boots stack up against a lot of other brands. 

The consensus on the professional reviews is this: incredible shoes, poor customer service. 

My Thoughts Overall

What I Like

  • There isn’t a single flaw on my boot—the finishing is perfect.

  • I love how soft the Weinheimer box calf leather is. It breaks in gently and has a sophisticated shine to it. 

  • The Goodyear welt construction and leather insole make for a very durable dress boot. 

What I Don’t Like

  • The sizing is unnecessarily confusing and there are no wide widths available. 

Who is Carmina for?

Carmina is a fantastic brand for you if you want to step up your dress boot game and get some sleek footwear that’ll last you for years.

The Verdict

If you’ve got some cash burning a hole in your pocket and you want to step into the big league of dress boots, then Carmina is a fantastic brand to shop with. 

I love my Carmina Zip boots on the Rain last. 

The Rain last has a perfect balance between rounded and angular edges. It’s not too sharp, which I always feel is “trying too hard.” But they’re not rounded and bulbous like a lot of dress shoes, either. 

They’re perfectly in the middle. 

And with the black Weinheimer box calf leather, you’re getting exquisite quality that’ll continue to look good for years and years. 

I’m amazed at how closely the craftsmen were able to stitch the Goodyear welt without damaging the upper. In fact, every finishing touch on this boot is perfect. Which is exactly what you want with a dress boot.

Carmina Zip Boot (Rain Last)

The Carmina Zip boot built on the Rain last is the nicest dress boot I’ve ever put on my feet. From the materials through the construction, this is a top-notch boot. It’s surprising that it’s Goodyear welted given that it’s so sleek and slim. The finishing on the boot is exquisite.

Check Price

FAQs

Is Carmina better than Allen Edmonds?

Allen Edmonds has better customer service and far more stores in the US, so it’s easier to find the correct size. Plus, Allen Edmonds has a lot more variety in their sizing. But in terms of material quality, value for money, and pure craftsmanship, Carmina is the better brand.

Where are Carmina shoes manufactured?

Carmina shoes are made in Mallorca, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean. The shoes have been made there since 1866.

What is the widest Carmina last?

Carmina has a few boots and shoes available on the Rain EEE last, which is equivalent to a US E width. It’s still not very wide for guys who have very wide feet, but it’s an option if D width shoes are too slim for you.

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