Jim Green Razorback Review: The Budget Friendly Bruiser

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by  William Barton | Last Updated: 

Straight out of South Africa, bootmaker Jim Green are making a name for themselves. But is it deserved? Or is it empty hype?

We tried a pair of Jim Green’s Razorback boots to find out first hand.

The value hiking/work all-rounder
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Jim Green Razorback

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Bottom line: The Jim Green Razorback boot is a fantastic hiking and work boot, especially at the price it is offered at. While the insole wasn’t my favorite, it’s easily swapped out for something more supportive if you feel you need more support.

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At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Quality of Materials At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon
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At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Fit & Sizing At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon
At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Value for Money At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon

Pros:

  • Outstanding value for money
  • Roomy and comfortable fit
  • Goodyear welt allows for resoles
  • Good amount of padding on the tongue and heel of the boots

Cons:

  • Some inconsistencies in manufacturing/quality control
  • Not the greatest insole. You may want to swap them out if you feel you need more support

In the mood to hit the trails this season, I figured it was time to get a new pair of hiking boots.

After spending most of my monthly budget on yet another pair of beautiful American heritage boots, I went searching for a bargain.

And that’s when I heard about Jim Green. 

I picked up a pair of their Razorback boots to try for myself, and what I found was actually pretty surprising. Keep on reading to find out exactly what I mean. 

Jim Green Razorback Overview

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Jim Green is a footwear brand from South Africa. All their materials are sourced locally, and they manufacture their hand-made boots right in town—something they’ve been doing for over 25 years. 

The Jim Green Razorback boot is the company’s hiking boot offering. While many hiking boots on today’s market are glued constructed, often incapable of being resoled, the Razorback features a resoleable Goodyear welt. 

This feature allows for owners to resole their footwear when the time comes to continue the life of the boot for many more years and adventures.   

Things to Consider Before Buying the Razorback Hiking Boot from Jim Green

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The Razorback has a few big positives and one major drawback in my opinion.

As for the positives: it’s relatively inexpensive given the quality and construction of the boot. Sure, there are minor issues here and there, but overall you’ll be hard pressed to find a boot this solid at this price. 

The second major positive is that this boot is recraftable. So if/when the sole wears down, you can simply have a new sole added by a cobbler no problem. That way you can wear this same pair of boots for years and years, and they can start to feel more like old travel buddies than boots. 

The only drawback is the insole, which doesn’t offer a ton of support. I easily got around this by adding my own Tread Labs insole.

Tread Labs Ramble Insoles for Comfort

The Ramble is my favorite insole that I've tried from Tread Labs. It offers plenty of cushion for the ball of my foot, and the extra flex in the mid-foot boosts the stability of my boot without affecting my arch too much.

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That said, I do this with all my hiking boots, and was planning on doing so here regardless of what the insole was like

Jim Green Razorback

The Jim Green Razorback boot is a fantastic hiking and work boot, especially at the price it is offered at. While the insole wasn’t my favorite, it’s easily swapped out for something more supportive if you feel you need more support.

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Jim Green Razorback Review

First Impression

Jim Green Razorback brown hiking boots closeup

Upon getting the boots in the mail, my first thoughts were that they were packaged nicely in a robust box. 

There are no shoe bags at this price, but the boots were wrapped in paper to minimize chances of scuffs and bumps in transit. Not that those would matter a whole lot as they are designed to be taken out on the trail and worn hard. 

The boots I received only had two manufacturing defects. The first was that one of the speedhooks had collapsed on itself. This was easily fixable by slowly prying the piece back to its original state. The second is a height difference between the boots. It’s nothing that is going to matter out on the trail, but is worth noting here. 

One boot was actually about a half-inch taller than the other. Again, this didn’t have any practical effect, but it was something that jumped out at me at first glance. 

Leather Quality and Care

Jim Green Razorback hiking boot brown profil view

The leather on the Razorback is robust and gets the job done. It’s a 2.2mm full grain leather and the inside is lined with a 1.6mm calf leather. 

This is pretty heavy duty for a hiking boot, and I love the leather lining as that’s going to add a ton of longevity to this boot. 

The care guide included on the manufacturer’s website is pretty common sense and provides a good care routine to look after the boots: namely to brush them and apply a polish. 

I’d argue that any leather conditioner or neutral polish will work well here. They also recommend letting the boots dry out naturally and to alternate days of wear. 

Jim Green Razorback hiking boot brown front view green laces

The ankle of the boot also features padding for comfort on longer days of wearing these boots. I find the padding to be adequate and a welcome addition to the boot. 

The boots are offered in two leather colours: brown and tan. At the time of writing this, there is also a pre-order on the Jim Green website for a new colorway: Fudge Crazy Horse along with a honey-coloured sole. 

Personally, I like the brown—it breaks in nicely and looks spiffy out on the trails. 

Sole

Jim Green Razorback custom rubber lug sole

I like the sole that’s used on this boot. It’s a locally-made Jim Green-branded rubber sole with a large lug tread that allows the user to capably wear them in rough terrain and inclement weather. 

The sole is soft enough that it allows sufficient grip while not being too soft to wear out too quickly. One thing to note is that much like other soles with deep lugs/treads, you can anticipate small rocks and dirt clods being tracked in the house with you.

Jim Green Razorback insole logo

I’m not a huge fan of the midsole; it’s not leather and is listed in the specs as a “board.” 

This doesn’t prevent the boot from being re-soled in the future though, and I feel like this is acceptable at the $139 price point. I can’t help but wonder what the cost would be to upgrade the midsole to leather though. 

Jim Green Razorback from south africa rubber sole

In fact, I’m almost excited to get these recrafted in a few years. At that point, I’ll upgrade these to a leather midsole, as I think that’ll truly make these ideal hiking boots. 

Fit and Sizing

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The Razorback fits true to size—I wouldn’t order a half size smaller like you normally would with other heritage brands (i.e. get your sneaker size). 

I ordered a half size smaller than my usual sneaker size and it’s definitely a bit snug, but not too much of an issue to return. The lace-to-toe design and D-ring placement are comfortable and offer a lot of support for my feet. 

Break-in Period

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I found the boots to be comfortable after just a few miles of wear. I wore them out for a trail hike to break them in and found them to be enjoyable to wear: not too heavy and my feet felt good upon returning to the car.  

There’s virtually no break in period here, so feel free to take these out for a long hike as soon as you get them. 

What do Other Reviewers Say?

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The large majority of reviews online have fantastic things to say about the Jim Green Razorback boot. Whether it be reviews on the Jim Green website, YouTube, or Reddit, there are plenty of happy customers that have bought and are wearing the Razorback. 

The small minority of lower rated reviews seem to be issues with customers not buying the correct size boot for their feet. 

Jim Green Razorback Alternatives

Vasque Clarion ‘88

Vasque Clarion 88 Hiking Boot

The Vasque Clarion ‘88 is more of a “synthetic” alternative to the Jim Green Razorback, and I’m torn between which one I like the most for hiking. 

The Clarion ‘88 is lighter and features a Gore-Tex lining for waterproofing and has a Vibram XS Trek outsole. Also, I just like the 80s vibe these boots give off.

That said, there’s a good deal of nylon webbing, which helps keep the weight down, but is certainly not sturdy like the Jim Green Razorback. 

The price is roughly the same—the Vasque is a little more expensive, but not by a huge amount. 

If you like longer hikes and find yourself trekking through water often, the Vasque Clarion ‘88 is a better choice. 

If your hikes are more like adventures and having a heavy duty boot to protect your feet is important (I’m thinking about camping and building a fire, etc.), then the Jim Green Razorback is definitely the way to go.

I also think the Razorback doubles as a solid work boot, which I wouldn’t say about the Vasque Clarion ‘88. 

Vasque Clarion '88

At a very moveable 570g and boasting waterproof Gore-Tex lining, the Vasque Clarion '88 is a great choice for long hikes. The boot also has a pretty wicked 80s design---and while this won't help you on your hikes---it will boost your street cred.

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My Thoughts Overall On the Jim Green Razorback

What I Like

  • The boot offers outstanding value for money.

  • Using the boots for a hike, or outside for work, I’m a fan of the roomy and comfortable fit.

  • I enjoy knowing that I can wear my footwear for years to come with a bit of maintenance. These boots are constructed with a Goodyear welt which allows for resoles as I wear the boots over the next few years.

  • I found that the padding on the tongue and heel of the boots was a welcome feature of the boot when out for longer hikes. 

What I Don’t Like

  • While I’m not one to be too picky with flaws in my footwear (provided they are minor and not something like a structural issue), the boots did have some inconsistencies in manufacturing/quality control.

  • The insole isn’t horrible, but is also nothing to write home about. It gets the job done but some may want to swap them out with something else. 

Who is the Jim Green Razorback for?

The Razorback is a great pick for you if you appreciate a sturdy boot and excellent value for money. Those that are looking for a boot with flawless construction should look elsewhere but if you’re looking to use your boots on the trails and minor inconsistencies don’t bother you, you’ll be satisfied with your purchase.

The Verdict

If you’re looking for a pair of boots that are comfortable, functional, good looking, built with quality materials, and with the ability to be resoled throughout their lifespan, you should look at the Jim Green Razorback

And at under $150 USD at the time of writing, if you are looking for those qualities in a boot, you should definitely look at the Jim Green Razorback. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the value for money in these boots is exceptional. I think if you’re in the market for a hiking boot, or a general do-it-all, workwear kind of boot, you’ll be happy with the Jim Green Razorback.

Jim Green Razorback

The Jim Green Razorback boot is a fantastic hiking and work boot, especially at the price it is offered at. While the insole wasn’t my favorite, it’s easily swapped out for something more supportive if you feel you need more support.

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If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

FAQs

Are Jim Green boots waterproof?

Not all Jim Green boots are waterproof, but the Jim Green Monster is. The Razorback isn’t waterproof, though it features a Goodyear welt, which is very water resistant and won’t easily allow water to pass through.

Do Jim Green boots have a steel toe?

No, Jim Green boots don’t have a steel toe.

Are Jim Green boots good?

Yes, Jim Green boots offer exceptional value for money. The Razorback is a tough hiker that doubles well as a work boot.

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