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JK O.T. Review: Finally, a Lightweight PNW Work Boot

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
7 min read

The JK O.T. is one of brand’s most popular work boots, but how does it compare to their flagship Superduty? And how does it stack up against other work boot brands?

In this JK O.T. review, I’m diving into the details of this boot’s construction so you can decide whether it’s right for you.

PNW durability, but lightweight
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JK O.T.
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Bottom line: The JK O.T. is my go-to work boot. It blends rugged Pacific Northwest construction methods with a lighter, more flexible build and a shock absorbent sole so it’s a lot easier to stand and work on your feet all day.

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Pros:
  • Extremely durable build
  • 8-9oz oil tanned leather---that’s the thickest I’ve seen in any work boot
  • The sole construction is all leather and rubber outsole, but it’s still lightweight and flexible
Cons:
  • It might be less suitable for occupations where climbing is a regular, everyday part of the job

Not too long ago, I visited Spokane and did a factory tour of the JK Boots facility.

You can check that video out below:

Prior to my visit, I’d tried out the JK Climber. It’s the most durable and rugged work boot I’ve ever tried. The only problem is that I’m not an arborist or a line worker, so I basically never really got to wear them. 

I wanted to get a pair of JK’s that fit my lifestyle a bit more—something a bit more light and flexible, but still tough as nails. 

The guys at JK Boots recommended I try out their O.T. So I did. Here are my thoughts.

JK O.T. Boot Overview

JK OT Boots on model walking

The JK Boots O.T. is built on the same last and has a lot of similarities to their flagship Superduty boot. But there are a few key differences that make the O.T. more lightweight and flexible.

The Superduty has a full oak tanned midsole. When you combine that with the leather shank and oak tanned insole, you get a heavy sole construction that has about an inch of leather under foot at any given point. It’s insanely robust.

And while a lot of people would say “more leather is always better,” I don’t think that’s always the case. 

JK OT Boots closeup on toe

Sometimes flexibility and comfort is more important than a boot that can stand up to a nuclear apocalypse. 

You still get the 8-9 oz oil-tanned leather, leather insole, and rugged double-row stitchdown build as you’d get on any other JK boot, but the sole is stripped down a bit so you can actually feel your toes when you kneel down. 

Things to Consider Before Buying

JK OT Boots in redwood roughout leather

When I was talking with the owner of JK Boots, he kept mentioning that the O.T. was really lightweight and not nearly as overbuilt as the Superduty

But “lightweight” is a relative term. Compared to most work boots from Red Wing or Thorogood, the JK O.T. is still an absolute tank. 

If you’re deciding between the O.T. and the Superduty, here’s what I’d recommend:

If you climb regularly for your job, like an arborist, lineman, ironworker, or are on ladders a lot, then something with an extremely robust midsole can help you a lot—that’s where the Superduty comes in. 

JK OT Boots logo closeup

If you work long shifts in general construction and prefer a lower block-style heel compared to the high logger heel, the JK O.T. sheds some weight and is a lot more comfortable for many guys.

Personally, I find the high logger heels can be a bit tough on my lower back, so I love the regular block heel on the O.T. It makes it a lot easier for me to wear them all day and still feel up for work the next day. 

JK Boots O.T.

The JK O.T. is my go-to work boot. It blends rugged Pacific Northwest construction methods with a lighter, more flexible build and a shock absorbent sole so it’s a lot easier to stand and work on your feet all day.

Check Price

My Hands-On Review

First Impression

JK OT Boots walking demonstration

While the O.T. might be JK’s “lightweight” work boot, it’s still a beast. I picked up my O.T. in the Redwood color, which I love. 

JK Boots have a unique look because they use smooth leather on the upper (quarters) and roughout on the lowers (vamp). 

JK OT Boots redwood color leather

The idea is that the roughout takes the brunt of the beating, while the smooth leather allows your pant leg to slide more easily so they’re not catching or bunching up at all. 

This gives the boot a distinctive look. The O.T. is an 8-inch boot with five eyelets and five speed hooks, a pull loop, and a fully gusseted tongue made with soft pebbled leather. 

Leather Quality and Care

JK OT Boots in redwood roughout leather

The JK O.T. is made with 8-9 oz Seidel oil-tanned leather, which is purely USA made. 

A lot of cheaper work boots use 3-4 oz leather. I’d say a “good” pair of work boots might use 5-6 oz leather. 

A great pair of work boots would use 7-8 oz leather. 

Get where I’m going with this? 

The fact that JK uses 8-9 oz leather is awesome. And despite the leather being so hefty, I’ve found that the break in on my JK’s isn’t bad at all. 

JK OT Boots flexible midsole detail

As for leather care, JK does ship a bottle of Obenauf’s Leather Oil with their boots (which I think is a really cool gesture), but I don’t think the leather needs much care at all. 

Personally, I’m not going to condition my O.T.’s—at least not for a few years. Given its oil-tanned roughout, and given that I’m not routinely getting the boots muddy or wet, the leather is going to stay conditioned for years on its own. 

But if you’re harder on your boots, then oiling them down with Obenaufs isn’t a bad idea (though it will darken the roughout considerably). 

Sole

JK OT Boots vibram sole detail

The sole is really what defines the O.T. 

Of course, you have a veg-tan leather insole. Gotta have that. 

But instead of a leather midsole, JK uses what they call a lineman shank as a sort of half-midsole that runs up to the forefoot. 

Effectively, this basically acts as a half midsole so you get solid support in your heel and arch, but you get more flexibility at the ball of your foot. 

JK OT Boots vibram honey sole view

Beneath that leather half-midsole (or lineman shank), there’s a thin rubber midsole that basically evens out the platform of the boot. And then it’s finished with a single-piece Vibram lugged outsole. 

The heel is a block style rubber heel, which is much more shock absorbent than a leather stacked heel, so a lot of guys find these more comfortable for their lower backs. 

The O.T. features double-row stitchdown construction, which is water resistant and also recraftable. Another cool thing JK does with their work boots is screw the outsole into the midsole. 

JK Boots O.T.

The JK O.T. is my go-to work boot. It blends rugged Pacific Northwest construction methods with a lighter, more flexible build and a shock absorbent sole so it’s a lot easier to stand and work on your feet all day.

Check Price

Fit and Sizing

JK OT Boots try on demonstration

FIt and sizing with JK is pretty straight forward. If you know your Brannock size, it’s even easier. 

But let’s just say you don’t know your Brannock size. Just take your regular sneaker size (aka Brannock size) and subtract a size. 

So if you’re a size 11 in sneakers, you’d order a size 10 in JK Boots.

Break-in Period

JK OT Boots redwood color profile view

A lot of people talk about how tough it is to break in Pacific Northwest work boots, and while I’ve had my share of struggles breaking in Whites and Nicks, my two pairs of JK’s weren’t bad at all. 

The Climber was a bit tougher because of the thick leather midsole, but the O.T. didn’t give me any problems at all. 

In fact, when I picked my O.T.s up from the factory, I put them on and walked back to my hotel in them, which was about three miles. And then I wore them all day the following two days. I think I had a minor sore spot on my big toe, but that was it—that was the entire break in. 

So considering how thick and sturdy the leather is, I’m really impressed with how comfortable the JK O.T. is right out of the box. 

JK O.T. Alternatives

JK Superduty

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The JK Superduty is the brand’s flagship boot. The two biggest differences between the Superduty and the O.T. are in the sole.

The Superduty features a thick veg-tan midsole throughout the boot, plus it has a leather stacked logger heel. 

These two features basically give you maximum arch and underfoot support. This is great if you’re on varied terrain, or climb often for your job. The Superduty is the kind of boot that lasts 30 years. 

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JK Boots Superduty
Get $20 OFF with code BOOTSPY

The Superduty is a classic logger boot, and JK’s most popular style. And while this boot may be built for heavy duty work detail, it’s also ridiculously good looking, especially in a smooth upper and rough bottom combination.

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My Thoughts Overall

What I Like

  • Stitchdown construction with durable materials throughout. 

  • 8-9oz oil tanned leather—that’s the thickest I’ve seen in any work boot.

  • The sole construction is all leather and rubber outsole, but it’s still lightweight and flexible.

What I Don’t Like

  • It might be less suitable for occupations where climbing is a regular, everyday part of the job.

Who is the JK O.T. for?

The JK O.T. is the perfect boot if you want the indestructible qualities of a Pacific Northwest work boot, but also want a more comfortable and flexible boot.

The Verdict

The JK O.T. is a fantastic combination of the super-durable PNW work boot style but with a few alterations to make it light, flexible, and easy to wear for 16 hours. 

It’s my favorite work boot. 

I’ve tried other “top-of-the-line” work boots, and for my purposes, they were a bit too much. That said, there’s definitely a place for those boots, because a lot of dudes work more difficult jobs than “boot reviewer who occasionally chops bamboo in the backyard with a machete.” 

Of course, the JK O.T. is up for a lot more than just that. 

It has that 8-9 oz oil-tanned leather that’s as robust as it comes. And despite being lighter and more flexible, the O.T. still feels sturdy and secure.

JK Boots O.T.

The JK O.T. is my go-to work boot. It blends rugged Pacific Northwest construction methods with a lighter, more flexible build and a shock absorbent sole so it’s a lot easier to stand and work on your feet all day.

Check Price

FAQs

What does JK Boots stand for?

JK stands for the initials of the founder, John Khadzhi.

When was JK Boots founded?

JK Boots was founded in 1994 as a small cobbler shop. Over time, they began to focus on custom work boots, which they still do today.

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