Have you ever seen that video of the guy who saves his dog by punching a kangaroo in the face?
It’s a classic. I watch it at least once a year to remind myself of what it means to be a man.
In addition to being able to take one on the chin, kangaroos also make really interesting leather for high end boots. Not a lot of brands use kangaroo leather, but there are some fantastic reasons why kangaroo leather makes great boots, and some drawbacks, too.
Pros and Cons of Kangaroo Leather for Boots
It’s difficult to really know the differences between kangaroo and cow leather, and how that’ll affect the look of your boots a year from now.
It’s one thing to see kangaroo leather boots when they’re new and shiny on the product page, but they have a unique, interesting look to them after they’ve broken in and aged a bit more.
Benefits of Kangaroo Leather
Kangaroo leather has a denser grain pattern than cow hide leather. There’s also less intercellular fat throughout the hide, and is generally more uniform throughout.
This often means that tanneries and boot makers don’t have to do all the splitting and shaving that they’d normally have to do with cow leather to get an even texture.
Ounce for ounce, kangaroo leather is stronger and more scratch resistant than cow leather.
Kangaroo leather packs all that strength into a thinner package. Usually, if you get a new pair of boots with cow leather, you can expect the upper to be between 1.8-2.2mm thick.
Most kangaroo uppers are closer to 1-1.2mm thick—so about half the thickness.
Now this might not seem like a benefit, but it’s not like you’re sacrificing durability. Sure, if you were to get such a thin cow hide, it wouldn’t be a very durable boot. But with the added strength you get from such a tight grain pattern on the kangaroo leather, you’re not sacrificing the longevity at all.
Kangaroo leather boots make for great spring and summer style options because they’re more breathable. The thinner, more flexible leather is lighter on your feet and gives them some room to breathe.
Unlike with cow leather, the elastin in kangaroo hides is distributed evenly, meaning the resulting leather has fantastic flexibility.
This is part of why the leather is so scratch resistant and durable—it has a lot of “give” before the grain pattern breaks.
Now, you might not love how flexible the leather is because it leads to more creases, but I’ll show you what I mean a little later.
The flexibility is a huge reason why kangaroo leather is also used for a lot of motorcycle gear like jackets and chaps.
Because it’s so light, it’s comfortable. But it can also take a lot of intense wear without breaking down.
For some, this is a benefit and for others it might be a drawback. I see it as a benefit, personally.
You’ll see a lot of kangaroo leather undyed, or natural. For instance, check out the Grant Stone Ottowa in natural kangaroo.
The reason why you’ll often see undyed kangaroo leather is because it darkens, creases, and ages faster than cow leather. Because it’s thinner, it takes on a unique look and shape of its own faster than breaking in a standard pair of leather boots.
Drawbacks of Kangaroo Leather
Some of the benefits of kangaroo leather can also be seen as negatives, depending on what you’re looking for.
Creases a Lot
Due to its thinness and flexibility, kangaroo creases more than cow leather and it creases faster. So if you’re after a clean, uncreased look, then kangaroo leather isn’t for you.
Also, the creases in the leather tend to look more “papery.” It doesn’t look quite like thin cow leather after it ages. Some guys like the way these creases look—it gets a “broken in” style within a few weeks.
Darkens and Ages Quickly
Dyed kangaroo leather doesn’t have this problem so much, but with natural undyed leather, you can expect it to darken much quicker than undyed cow leather.
The grain is flatter for kangaroo leather, so instead of getting thick bundles of collagen under the grain surface like with cow leather, a greater percentage of the kangaroo leather overall is exposed to the sunlight (when compared ounce for ounce to cow leather).
Sunlight darkens leather, and it tends to have a pronounced effect on kangaroo leather.
Again, some people love this effect (me included). But if you’re trying to keep the color of your new kangaroo leather boots exactly as when you bought them, you’ll have a more difficult time pulling it off.
Hard to Find
There aren’t a lot of great kangaroo leather boots out there. Many brands have shied away from using kangaroo leather as customers don’t really know much about it (but not you—now you know your stuff!)
Best Kangaroo Leather Boots
Grant Stone Ottawa
Grant Stone is making some really cool boots with kangaroo leather. Their Ottawa in natural kangaroo is a fantastic looking boot, and while I don’t own this specific boot, I have several Grant Stones.
They’re one of my top three favorite boot brands because they use top quality construction and materials throughout their entire boot. A lot of brands skimp when it comes to the insole and midsole because you can’t see those parts.
But Grant Stone builds a solid boot all the way through and doesn’t cut any corners.
Grant Stone also offers their popular Diesel boot in kangaroo leather, so if you want a different color besides the light natural tan, that’s another great option.
L.L. Bean Upland Hunters Boot
The L.L. Bean Upland Hunters Boot is more of a rugged, outdoors style boot (if you couldn’t tell from the name).
This is great for springtime hunts, or if you wear some thick socks in the winter and just want a lightweight boot to quickly and quietly get across an open field.
The Grant Stone Ottawa is much more stylish—this L.L. Bean is more for function than anything else.
Hop to It
If you’re interested in a new pair of kangaroo leather boots, I say go for it.
My top recommendation is Grant Stone—they have some of the best boot construction quality in their price range, and they’re one of the very few brands that really showcases the amazing qualities of kangaroo leather.
Is kangaroo leather good for boots?
Yes, kangaroo leather is light and flexible, so it makes for a breathable boot that’s very scratch resistant. It does crease more quickly and has an interesting break in style compared to standard cow leather.
Is kangaroo leather the world’s strongest leather?
By weight, yes, kangaroo leather is the world’s strongest leather. A big part of its strength comes from its flexibility. So while kangaroo leather feels light and thin, it’s really a very tough leather and makes a great boot.
Can kangaroo leather get wet?
Kangaroo leather is more prone to water damage than cow leather, but even if you get kangaroo leather boots, semi-regular conditioning should help keep the leather protected. Condition your kangaroo leather boots every three months instead of six months and you won’t have to worry about water damaging them.