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Cody James Decimator Boot Review: Tried & Tested

LA-born, New York-based lover of menswear, watches, and culture. His work is featured in many prominent menswear publications and reaches hundreds of thousands of guys every year. He knows a good boot when he sees one. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Apr 3, 2024
9 min read

With that tough looking skull, the Cody James Decimator has to be a great boot, right?

Wrong. This boot is not good. I’ll share my experience with you so you can decide for yourself if Cody James boots are worth your money.

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Cody James Decimator
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Bottom line: The Cody James Decimator is like that tough guy in the bar who talks a bunch of trash but can't back it up. It's got a flashy design, but on the inside, it's just like every other glued-together boot make with bottom-barrel materials in some factory on the other side of the world.

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Pros:
  • Full-grain leather upper is lined with mesh, offering protection and breathability
  • Vibram rubber outsole is effectively slip resistant
  • Skull embroidery and embossing adds a unique and immediately noticeable aesthetic
Cons:
  • Inconsistent and awkward sizing that includes an overly narrow toe
  • Heavy sole and uncomfortable fused thread-ends on the inside of the boot take getting used to
  • It's glued together and made with lots of "cost savings" materials

The Cody James Decimator is an attention-grabber for sure. It looks cool, and it looks tough.

Is it worth your money though? I’ll be discussing my experience with the leather, sole quality, how it fits, and the size you need.

Overview of the Cody James Boot

Cody James Decimator model standing on rail 1

Cody James is a California-based brand exclusive to Boot Barn. Their Decimator is a western style work boot known for its cheeky and eye-catching design. One side of the full-grain leather boot sports a detailed skull embroidery, while the other side is embossed with the phrase “nipple up!”. 

It’s an EH-rated boot with an 11-inch shaft. The wide square-shaped front is equipped with a composite safety toe and a durable rubber overlay. The Decimator is pretty heavy, but that’s only because the Vibram outsole is designed for oil-resistance and puncture-resistance.

Inside, the Xero Gravity Xyclone insole is mainly built for support and stability, with multi-depth heel pods and an antimicrobial sock to reduce odor.

Things to Consider Before Buying

Cody James Decimator model indoor granite floor 1

The main thing to consider with the Decimator is what you’re buying it for, and deciding whether or not where it falls on the style-function spectrum is worth it for you.

If you’re buying it for work, ask yourself if the style is “professional” enough for your company’s work culture. You’re getting this boot for the style. It’s not a serious work boot. All bark and no bite, as they say.

My Hands-On Review

First Impression

Cody James Decimator indoor 1

Like most, the very first thing I noticed is the decor on the shaft. The embroidery depicts an angry skull, wearing a hard hat, and biting into a broken pipe wrench. It definitely has biker and punk rock workwear vibes, but since these motifs have made their way into streetwear, I can see any trend-forward guy sporting this look.

A cool detail about the skull is that its eyes are cut-outs that reveal the interior’s orange mesh.

Cody James Decimator indoor 8 close up

On the other side of the shaft is an embossing that reads “Nipple up!”. Now, this is a term in the oil and gas industry that refers to the process of assembling pressure control equipment, but it might also be a saucy joke.

The leather feels supple and overall the materials are decent. But this boot is far more “for show” than it is for actually working.

Cody James Decimator indoor 7 close up

The rubber overlay on the toe adds even more weight to the boot’s substantial build.

Unfortunately, I was right. Walking around in this boot the first day was definitely an uncomfortable experience. 

Quite honestly, if you’re working a job that’s tough on boots, you’d be better off investing in something that’s going to last a long time, like a Nicks or a JK boot.

Leather Quality and Care

Cody James Decimator model next to railing and stonework

The Cody James Decimator is built with full-grain leather that’s supple and buttery. It has that almost napped aesthetic that takes well to scratches and scuffs. 

Since the surface is already pretty textured with gradated shades throughout, this is a decent boot when it comes to bush and rock exposure.

The interior mesh and strong but pliable leather makes the shaft comfortable to walk in. This combination provides the perfect balance of stability and bounce, even when I’m bending down and my legs are fully angled.

Cody James Decimator indoor 4

I actually wouldn’t call these boots waterproof. The foot does a fine job of keeping moderate wetness out, and you’ll be okay stepping into a puddle or two, but don’t go wading around a creek. I tried that and a little bit of water seeped through after a few minutes. It wasn’t a lot, but with the pull-on cut-outs at the top of the shaft, there’s just too many backdoors for water to get through.  

The leather is pretty easy to clean. Brush any dirt off before using a wet soapy cloth on it. This way you aren’t just making muck and rubbing it into the surface of the upper.

Of course, that mesh lining is a major liability as that will make your feet sweat more and will be the first thing to wear out and become uncomfortable.

Sole

Cody James Decimator indoor outsole closeup 2

The sole is likely the part of the boot that will close the deal for many of you—whether that means you’ll pull the trigger or delete it from your shopping cart.

It’s super sturdy, but not especially comfortable. It’s thick and strong, and even after break-in, it doesn’t bend easily.

The outsole features a complex tread that’s exceedingly and impressively slip-resistant. I’ve walked up and down steep wet marble in this boot and the traction is solid. 

On top of that, it’s seriously puncture resistant. Don’t try this at home, but I pushed the boot down on a nail, and the outsole simply wouldn’t let it get through. Of course, it’s a different story when a whole person’s body weight is pushing the shoe down, but the test result is a good sign nonetheless.

Cody James Decimator indoor outsole closeup 4

Cody James’ Xero Gravity Xyclone is built for stability and shock management. It’s also supposed to provide rebound and comfort, but it definitely doesn’t. It’s a fancy name for what’s basically a normal insole.

The PU body is dense and sturdy, and it’s cupped with a hard plastic underlay that keeps it, and your foot, in place. Overall, it’s a strict disciplinarian that keeps you stable, but not always comfortable.

Fit and Sizing

Cody James Decimator model indoor shadowy

Based on my experience, reviews, and the experience of colleagues and friends who’ve worn the Decimator, the sizing is just generally confusing.

After break-in, the toe still fits a little more snugly than I’d like. This might be consistent with the shoe’s tendency to keep you buckled in, secure, and not necessarily comfortable. 

I could have probably gone up half a size or perhaps gone for a wide. 

However, as you’ll read in the section on what other reviewers say, there’s a good portion of people who recommend sizing down an entire size.

Cody James Decimator outside model on concrete floor

I’d just make sure to check with your seller’s return and exchange policy if you can’t buy this boot in person.

One plus on the comfort and convenience front are the pull-on cut-outs on each side of the upper. They feature a batwing-shaped piece of plastic at the top where your fingers grab on. This makes putting the boot on easier, as well as adds to its edgy design.

Break-in Period

Cody James Decimator from the back

The break-in period was particularly rough on the balls of my feet. The collar of the boot also rubbed against my legs unless I tucked my pants in or wore especially thick socks. 

You might not love this, but another option that I find worked well for me during the break-in period is rubbing vaseline around the inside and top of the collar. If you can withstand the gooeyness, it makes the break-in sessions more tolerable. The fused ends of the threads just rub your skin raw, and I don’t really understand why they do that for interior stitching. 

Breaking the boot in took me a little over two weeks, and I walked around in them for one to three hours every other day.

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

Cody James Decimator outdoor against gate

Reviewers love the look of the boot. The embroidery is so detailed it looks like it’s hand-sewn, though this is doubtful since Cody James boots are made in high-production facilities in Asia. And if it was hand-sewn, that would undoubtedly be all over the product descriptions.

A lot of the reviewers are construction workers who praise the boot’s durability and sturdiness. 

Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of sizing drama among the reviews. Of these, many have a similar experience to me regarding tightness in the toe, while others claim that you should size down a whole size.

After some research, it looks like the wide boot runs large, while the regular boot is tight in the front.

Cody James Decimator Boot Alternatives

Cody James Flag Western Work Boot 

The Cody James Flag Boot is basically the same shoe as the Decimator. It’s a puncture-resistant work boot that boasts an ASTM-rated composite toe, slip-resistant outsoles, and is also EH-rated.

The main difference between the two is aesthetic. This boot also features an edgy look, but a less cheeky design. Each side of the shaft features claw-mark shaped cutouts revealing an American flag underneath. 

Also, instead of pull-on cut-outs that work like handles on each side of the shaft, the Flag Boot has a piece of leather on each side that you can grab. It isn’t as easy as the handles on the Decimator, but the lack of holes on the Flag Boot makes it more protective.

Just keep in mind that this shoe will have the exact same sizing issues as the Decimator.

Cody James Flag Western Work Boot

The Cody James Flag Boot is basically the same shoe as the Decimator. It’s a puncture-resistant work boot that boasts an ASTM-rated composite toe, slip-resistant outsoles, and is also EH-rated. The big difference is the aesthetic. If you like America and dinosaurs more than you like skulls and nipples, you'll love the Cody James Flag Boot.

Check Price

Nicks Moc Toe

If I’m honest, the Cody James Decimator—and the entire Cody James brand—is for boys.

Men who work will get a pair of Nicks.

I can’t truly recommend Cody James. While the design is eye-catching, it’s all style and no substance. Nicks is literally the opposite. A Nicks boot will never let you down.

Nicks Boots Moc Toe Wedge

Nicks Moc Toe Wedge boots are an investment, for sure, but they’re the smart one every time. Not only are they incredibly durable and versatile, but the spacious construction, excellent support, ample padding, and handsome good looks make them a pair of boots you’ll be glad to wear both at work and around town.

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My Thoughts Overall

What I Like

  • Its EH status and composite toe are both ASTM-rated, offering professional-level protection. 

  • The decorative embroidery and embossing is unique and immediately noticeable. 

  • Whether oil or water, the outsole provides traction on most slippery floors.

  • The rubber outer toe serves as an extra safeguard and a helpful tool on the field.

What I Don’t Like

  • The sizing is completely inconsistent and confusing, some boots featuring tight toe areas others running large.

  • Even after it’s broken in, it’s a generally cumbersome boot because of the heavy sole.

  • The boots aren’t that well made and the materials are weak-sauce.

Who is the Cody James Decimator For?

If your entire definition of being a man is just drinking Bud Lite, then you’ll love the Cody James Decimator. But if you want a pair of work boots that spares the sappy graphics and is actually built with some real muscle behind it, check out the great Pacific Northwest bootmakers like Nicks, JK, and White’s.

The Verdict

The Cody James Decimator is a lackluster boot. It’s got some fancy graphics and some rubber on the toe that’s meant to make it look special.

But it’s glued together with low-quality materials.

You’re better off spending twice as much on a pair of Nicks, White’s, or JK boots and getting 50 times more durability and comfort.

Cody James Decimator

If you can find your right size and get past the initial discomfort, the Cody James Decimator offers good value for money thanks to its use of full-grain leather and its function-forward build.

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FAQs

Are Cody James boots waterproof?

Some models, like the Kiltie Work Boots, are waterproof. Others, like the Decimator, can handle the occasional puddle and moderate rain, but aren’t fully waterproof.

Are Cody James boots handmade?

No, Cody James boots are machine-manufactured in high-production factories in Asia.

Are Cody James boots comfortable?

Cody James work boots are comfortable when it comes to breathability thanks to their mesh liner. However, the outsoles tend to be heavy, thick, and will take some getting used to.

Is there a warranty on Cody James boots?

Cody James boots come with a two year warranty.

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