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I Tried Hambleton Boots, and They’re What Allen Edmonds Should Be

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
5 min read

Hambleton is a new boot brand, but are they any good? They sent me a few pairs to test and after several weeks of wearing, this is what I think.

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Hambleton Boots
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Bottom line: Combine Allen Edmonds style with Grant Stone quality and you get Hambleton. This new brand impressed me with their meticulous manufacturing and the leather.

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Pros:
  • C.F. Stead and Horween leathers are beautiful
  • The stitching density and meticulous craftsmanship are clear
  • They’ve added some foam in the sock liner and replaced the cork with a more durable synthetic for extra comfort
Cons:
  • Available only in E-width (though I’m a D-width and mine fit great)

I was sent two pairs of Hambleton’s most popular boots: the No.1 cap toe boot and their Chelsea boot. 

First off, I have to say: the leathers are beautiful. But there’s a lot more going on with these boots, and I’ll share what I’ve learned about this new brand—the good and the bad. 

My Experience with Hambleton Boots

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I’ll be discussing both the No.1 cap toe and the Chelsea boot throughout this review. Both are built similarly in terms of construction and quality, but I’ll note important differences when warranted.

First Impression

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One of the first things I always look at with a new pair of boots is the stitching density along the welt. 

It’s one of those things where it doesn’t really make a difference if there are a ton of stitches or just a few. But I think it’s an indicator of the skill-level of the craftsmen, and it’s an indicator of how rigorous the brand-owners standards of quality are. 

So when I looked at the welts, I was pleasantly surprised. They’re loaded with stitches. The only other brands I know that have this same density is Carmina and Grant Stone

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That welt stitching is a boot-nerd’s dream.

I understand this is getting into the weeds right away, but I think this sort of detail is important for context on why certain boots cost more than others.

As far as style goes, the No. 1 is a cap-toe service boot with a slim, modern toe and a nicely shaped heel.

The heel is reminiscent of Alden, and the stitch across the upper reminds me of the Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill boot. 

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As for the Chelsea boot, it’s a pretty basic design, but has a couple of tricks up its sleeve. 

Style-wise, it looks like a good quality Chelsea—but a bit indistinct. However, it’s a wholecut, which is really unusual. 

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This means the upper is made of a single piece of leather. There’s a backstay added as well with a reinforced pull on loop, so it’s technically two pieces of leather. But it’s rare to find a wholecut Chelsea that’s not a pure dress boot. 

Wholecut boots really give you the benefit because of the demand it puts on the leather-cutter in manufacturing. You have to cut from the best part of the hide when doing a wholecut, otherwise, the boot can warp or break during the lasting process. 

So whenever you see a wholecut, you might not think that it makes a big style difference, but it’s another one of those “quality indicators” that might otherwise go unnoticed. 

Leather Quality and Care

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The No. 1 boot I picked up is in their Tobacco color, which is a C.F. Stead Janus Butt suede leather. 

It’s almost a Coyote Brown military color, and the feel of this stuff is incredible. 

I’ve heard a lot about the C.F. Stead tannery but this is the first time I’ve worn a pair of boots made with their leather and I’m impressed. I’m excited to see how the suede ages as well. This pair is only going to get better with time. 

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The Chelsea boot is made with Horween Napa Excel. This leather is similar to the popular Chromexcel leather, but it’s a touch thinner and lighter weight. The black version of the Chelsea boot is done in Chromexcel.

I’ve been a fan of Horween leathers for years, and this Napa Excel lives up to my expectations of the legendary Chicago tannery. 

Both boots are fully lined with a veg-tanned lightweight leather lining. It’s very soft and comfortable, and a great addition to the boots. 

Hambleton Chelsea

The Hambleton Chelsea has more under the hood than meets the eye. It's a wholecut Horween Chelsea, meaning you're getting the best cut of the best leather on this bad boy.

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Sole

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Hambleton boots are made with a 270-degree Goodyear welt, a full veg-tan leather midsole and a Vibram V-Bar (aka 700 Tygam) outsole. 

Under the leather sock liner there’s a high density foam pad, which gives you the immediate comfort you get from a sneaker. 

And another interesting element is that Hambleton replaced the cork filling with another synthetic foam that’s much more springy. For some, this might be controversial, as cork is often touted as being the most traditional.

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But there are some major downsides of cork that I never hear anyone talking about. So I’m going to air them out right now. Cork breaks apart, and it’s definitely the first part of a boot to break down. 

Now synthetics have gotten a bad rep because most brands use cheap foam that compresses too fast. But that doesn’t mean all synthetic components are bad. 

In this case, I think it’s a good decision on Hambleton’s part in favor of comfort. I can’t speak to the longevity because I haven’t tested them long enough, but I’ve felt the material and I would bet that it will hold up longer than cork does. 

On the downside, cork does have that effect where it compresses and you get a nice “custom-feeling” fit after a few months. You won’t get that full effect here because the synthetic bounces back and is more durable. 

But you do get the veg-tanned midsole, which will compress, so that “custom-feeling” will still develop to a degree.

Fit and Sizing

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Hambleton recommends that you size a full size down from your regular shoe size. 

So for me, I’m usually a 10.5 in sneakers. I have a 10D foot as measured on a Brannock device. 

I opted for the 10, which is slightly roomy, but I like the fit. 

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Hambleton boots come in E widths, which is the next size wider than standard D widths.

Like I said, for me, just sizing down a half-step was perfect. 

That said, if you prefer a more snug fit, going a full size down is the way to go. 

Break-in Period

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Neither of these boots had a break in period at all. Both were comfortable from the get-go, and the leathers didn’t have a moment of stiffness. 

My Thoughts Overall on Hambleton

What I Like

  • I love the brand’s leather options: C.F. Stead and Horween—you can’t go wrong.

  • There are lots of small details in the construction that might go unnoticed, but they’re superbly crafted.

  • They’re more modern in their construction, using high density foam in the sock liner and a durable synthetic instead of cork.

What I Don’t Like

  • I think more clarity around their sizing, and that they use E widths (and how to navigate that if you’re a standard D-width guy). That said, if you read my sizing section, that pretty much solves it.

Who is Hambleton for?

If you want a high quality boot with a clean design and that’s going to last for many years, Hambleton is a great brand for you.

The Verdict

Hambleton impressed me with their attention to detail in the construction. 

Small things that might go unnoticed, like the stitching density in their welts or the wholecut aspect of the Chelsea, all add up.

While I think the styles are a bit conventional, there’s no denying the quality. 

Plus, when you consider you’re getting top-tier leathers from tanneries like C.F. Stead and Horween, these boots are only going to look better and better the more you wear them. 

Hambleton is a great option if you want a classic, good-looking boot that’s built with some more modern materials for comfort, but still has some traditional roots for durability.

Hambleton No. 1

With a tasty C.F. Stead Janus Butt suede, this leather is beautiful. The design is like if Allen Edmonds and Alden had a baby, but that baby was made with the same quality control as Grant Stone. Sounds nice, yeah?

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