Taft Dragon Boot Review: Up Close With the 3.0

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by  William Barton | Last Updated: 
Taft Dragon Boot Review Taft Dragon 3.0 in Caper Green

With so many promising new boot brands popping up, it can be tough to know how the Taft Dragon stacks up against the competition. After all, investing in a pair of good boots is no small thing. Our Taft Dragon review will show you everything you need to know before buying this boot, including how it fares against other brands.

BootSpy finally slays the dragon

Taft Dragon 3.0

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Bottom line: The waxed suede upper and close fit through the ankle give the Taft Dragon a distinctive style, and while it’s a bit pricey for a direct-to-consumer brand, there’s no denying the overall build quality of this boot.

Ratings:

At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Design 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  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
At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Craftsmanship 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  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:

  • The waxed C.F Stead suede leather is distinctive, handsome, and rugged
  • The close fit through the instep and ankle makes this boot sleek and a perfect pair with crisp jeans
  • The Goodyear welt construction and waxed leather makes for a nearly waterproof boot
  • The Dainite Ridgeway sole has a ton of grip and shock absorption

Cons:

  • The Dragon fits a bit snug and only comes in full sizes---this leaves many guys with boots that are too tight or a bit too loose
  • I personally don’t like the look of the Ridgeway sole

Why do I feel like I need a boot that can handle jungle adventures? 

The closest I’ve ever come to being in a jungle is the time I walked into a Rainforest Cafe to take a whiz.  

Still, I have this feeling like: I could be thrust into a jungle exploration situation at any moment, and I don’t want to be caught with lackluster footwear. 

When I saw the new Taft Dragon 3.0, it reminded me of 19th century explorers, and I decided it was important I should have it—for the aforementioned possible jungle exploration situations.

After wearing it around town (sadly, not in a jungle), I’m ready to deliver my verdict on this cap-toe service boot. Keep reading to get the full story. 

Taft Dragon Boot Overview

Taft Dragon Boots 15

I’m reviewing the Taft Dragon 3.0. If it’s not clear already, the 3.0 is a supposed improvement over the Dragon 2.0 (and 1.0). 

The Dragon is designed in the classic cap-toe service boot style, which is my favorite kind of boot (with the Chelsea as a runner up). 

The leather and sole are crafted in England, and the boots are assembled in Spain, so the Dragon is a European-made boot through and through. 

The Dragon 3.0 comes in six different colorways, from the fairly standard Rust and Coffee, to some pretty wild and unique patterns like Stone. 

Things to Consider Before Buying the Taft Dragon Boot 3.0

Taft Dragon Boots 10

The Taft Dragon comes in at a relatively high price compared to some other direct-to-consumer service boots, so it’s important to know where the extra costs come from. 

Much of the added expense comes from the fact that these boots are made entirely from European materials, and are also manufactured in Europe. There’s no question on the ethical standards of the workshops like you might find with some other brands. 

A lot of boot lovers know that you can also get a fully USA-made boot for a similar price. Below, you’ll find that I’ve compared the Taft Dragon to the Thursday Captain and Red Wing Iron Ranger

Each has its place (and I happily own all three), but if you’re looking to save some money, the Thursday Captain is a fantastic alternative. If USA-made is really important to you, the Red Wing Iron Ranger is the go. However, the Iron Ranger is a bulky boot, and nowhere near as refined looking as the Dragon.

The best mix of style, sophistication, and build quality is the Taft Dragon, though you must be willing to pay a premium.

Taft Dragon 3.0

The waxed suede upper and close fit through the ankle give the Taft Dragon a distinctive style, and while it’s a bit pricey for a direct-to-consumer brand, there’s no denying the overall build quality of this boot.

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Taft Dragon Boot Review

First Impression

Taft Dragon Boots 3

Taft sends the Dragon along with two individual felt boot bags and a nifty shoe horn, and the unboxing experience is one of the best I’ve had. 

I picked up the Dragon 3.0 in Caper Green, which is an olive waxed suede. Their most popular color option is the Rust, but if I bring home another brown boot, my family is going to start making fun of me. Ah, who am I kidding? They already make fun of my extensive boot collection.

I’m really happy with the Caper Green choice. It’s a bit lighter than what I saw on the site, and I love how it pairs with cuffed raw denim. The olive leather is a bit unusual, at least compared to your standard brown boots, so these fit a nice niche in my wardrobe. 

Taft Dragon Boots 16 1

These boots do take forever to put on, and the shoe horn is necessary. They’re quite slim, and because there are no speed hooks, lacing the Dragon up is a chore. 

Honestly, I’d probably wear them more if they were easier to put on (I’m lazy like that), but I also love the slimmed down look with no speed hooks. 

Leather Quality and Care

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The leather is a waxed suede from the C.F. Stead tannery in England, otherwise known as “Waxy Commander” leather. 

This cut is some of the highest quality as the roughed out suede is completed on a previously full grain hide (roughing out the top layer makes it no longer technically full grain leather—but the quality is still the same). 

Because the leather is treated with oil and finished with wax, it’s fully waterproof. The Dragon has a Goodyear welt, so it isn’t a completely waterproof boot. But with this waxed upper, there’s very little chance your feet will get wet.

My Dragon arrived with some scratches and nicks on it, some of which seem intentional to give the boot more of a rugged look. This is par for the course with any waxed material—just a small fingernail scrape will change the color temporarily. 

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If you’re looking for a completely uniform boot that can take a shine for more formal occasions, the Dragon isn’t for you. The waxed suede makes this a casual boot through and through. 

To care for the Dragon, use a suede eraser and brush to restore some knap and remove dirt and stains. When you brush it, you’ll probably knock off some of the wax and reduce the waterproofing. 

My go-to for restoring waxed materials is Otter Wax Boot Wax. You won’t need to restore the Dragon very often because it’s a hardy boot, but if you treat it with Boot Wax every six months or so, it has the potential to last for a decade or more. 

Otter Wax Suede & Nubuck Cleaner
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Sole

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The Taft Dragon 3.0 is decked out with a Dainite Ridgeway sole. It’s definitely a unique design, so don’t commit any crimes and walk through a zen sand garden while wearing these (actually, don’t do either of those things, ever).

In the previous iterations of the Dragon, Taft was using the classic rubber studded Dainite soles, and if I’m totally honest, I prefer the more classic look of the standard. 

The Ridgeway definitely has more grip and performs better on wet concrete than the studded sole, and it’s definitely a boost in shock absorption.

Still, even though the new sole is just better in most ways, I’m always going to err on the side of classic—especially when it comes to my boots. 

Taft Dragon Boots 12

However, even looking back at some of the pictures I took for this review, it’s near-impossible to see the difference in soles when I’m walking, so stylistically it doesn’t really matter. And it’s not like anyone is staring at my boot soles anyway. Even if they did, they’d think, oh hey, those are kind of interesting, and they would never think of me again. I’m OK with that.

As for the midsole, the Dragon 3.0 features a steel shank, which is an improvement over previous models. The midsole is full grain leather with cork, and the footbed is full grain leather. 

With all that leather, I’m confident in the durability of this boot.  

Fit and Sizing

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Taft boots come in full sizes and only in the standard D width. As with most boot brands, it’s a good idea to move a half-size down when ordering. 

In sneakers, I’m a 10.5, so I had no problem choosing the correct size for myself (a 10). But I can see a big dilemma brewing for guys who wear full sizes in sneakers and have no half-size or wide option to go for. 

After reading a ton of reviews, the consensus is that the Dragon fits a bit on the snug side when you order your correct size. It’s nothing major, and like I said, I ordered a 10 which is what I get with Thursday Boots, Red Wing, Wolverine, etc. They fit a little snug, but they’re still comfortable and don’t cramp my feet. 

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But what if you’re a size 11? Do you drop down to a size 10 and hope for the best? 

No. If your sneaker size is already a full size (like 9,10, or 11), get the same for your Taft Dragon. 

If you’re a half size sneaker (like 9.5, 10.5, or 11.5), move to the next size down (9,10,11).

If you have wide feet, go suck a lemon. 

Just kidding. But not really. The Dragon is sleek and fairly narrow, so if you normally order EE/EEE sizes, you’ll have to pass on these. 

Break-in Period

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I picked up some blisters on the back of my heel on my inaugural walk around town with the Dragon

The break-in period wasn’t major, but the full grain vegetable tanned leather lining and thick waxed suede upper needs some working before it’s comfortable. 

One thing I noted was how the waxed suede changes and picks up interesting creases the more miles you put on. This definitely lends a sense of legacy to the boots, like I’ve owned them for years. I’m really excited to see how the wax takes on a patina.

After a few outings, I can tell I’ll like these boots even more when they relax and get beat up a bit more. With any boot over $200, it’s nice to see that the investment is going to last for several years, and not just several months. 

What Changed from the Dragon 2.0?

The Dragon 3.0 is definitely an improvement over the 2.0. One subtle change that is easily overlooked is the addition of a steel shank. 

A steel shank helps boost the arch support of this boot and makes it more durable in the long run. 

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Taft has also changed up the color of the welt and the stacked leather heel, opting for a uniform matte black rather than a natural leather color. 

Otherwise, the leathers and color options are different and a little more toned down than many of the Dragon Boot 2.0 versions. 

What do Other Reviewers Say About the Taft Dragon 3.0?

I scoured through the reviews and found that many people reported the Dragon to fit on the small side. 

As I mentioned above, because Taft only does full sizes, getting the right fit can be a bit tricky.

If you’re a half-size in sneakers (like 9.5), order the next full size down (9). If you’re a full size in sneakers (like 10), order the same full size (10). That should take care of any fit issues you might otherwise have. 

Besides that, almost all reviewers praise the style of the Dragon—especially its versatility. Which is true: this boot looks phenomenal with jeans and chinos. 

Taft Dragon Boot Alternatives

Thursday Captain

thursday captain on train tracks 1

The Thursday Captain is like a light version of the Taft Dragon, and at $150 cheaper, it’s a pretty attractive deal. 

To be up front, I love both of these boots. 

The Captain is an incredible boot for its price. It has many of the same features that make the Dragon so awesome, like a Goodyear welt, leather lining, sturdy rubber sole, steel shank, and thick, durable leather.

The Captain also has a much stronger array of sizes, with half sizes and EE widths available.

If you’re looking for a first boot, I would opt for the Thursday Captain over the Taft Dragon.

However, the Dragon beats out the Captain in a few key areas, too. 

The build quality is much stronger on the Dragon—the stitches are more frequent, and the boot just feels more secure and sturdy. 

The Dragon also has completely unique leather options that I think outshine what the Captain offers. While Thursday offers their Rugged & Resilient line of leathers, which have a similar sort of rough-out quality as the Waxy Commander leather from Taft, Taft’s quality is stronger. And I love that it’s waxed for better weather resistance, more unique patina, and it’s easier to care for. 

Between these two, you can’t go wrong. But as I said, if it’s your first boot (or first good boot, anyway), I’d go with the Captain. Though if you’re a seasoned boot lover and appreciate the fine details, you’ll be happy with the Dragon. 

If you’d like to learn more about how the Thursday Captain holds up after four years of solid wear, check out my video review below:

Thursday Captain

The Thursday Captain is an excellent deal. Made with Thursday's Chrome leather from Le Farc tannery (often compared to Horween Chromexcel), these boots are still holding up well after four years of wear. When (if?) these ever wear out, I’ll be getting them again.

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Red Wing Iron Ranger

Red Wing Iron Ranger 5

The Red Wing Iron Ranger is much more rugged than the Taft Dragon, and it’s roughly the same price. 

The Iron Ranger forgoes many of the pleasant features, like leather lining and a cushy rubber sole, and instead delivers on a super durable, USA-built masterpiece. 

A few things to note about the Iron Ranger, especially in how it relates to the Dragon: it’s not very comfortable as it has virtually no padding in the midsole or outsole. 

But it’s built in the US with all US materials if that’s important to you.

The Dragon is much sleeker than the Iron Ranger, which some mockingly label as clown shoes. Red Wings do feature a more bulbous toe-cap, which gives them a little more breathing room for working conditions, but takes them out of the running for any more upscale fashion situations. 

The Dragon is much more versatile from a style perspective, but the Iron Ranger is like doubling-down on the workwear aesthetic. Only you know which style you’re going for. 

For a closer look at this special boot, check out my video review of the Red Wing Iron Ranger below:

My Thoughts Overall On the Taft Dragon Boot 3.0

What I Like

  • The waxed C.F Stead suede leather is distinctive, handsome, and rugged. Plus, I love how quickly it’s gaining patina.

  • The Dragon fits close through the instep, so it’s very sleek and makes for a versatile option in your wardrobe.

  • The Goodyear welt construction and waxed leather makes this boot nearly waterproof. 

  • The Dainite Ridgeway sole has a ton of grip, shock absorption, and is durable, too 

What I Don’t Like

  • There are limited sizing options available. 

  • The Ridgeway sole is a little too distinctive for my taste.

  • The laces are quite long and they don’t stay tied unless you double-knot.

Who is the Taft Dragon Boot for?

It’s an excellent choice for the boot enthusiast looking for a distinctive sleek fit that balances city-wear and a rugged aesthetic. If you have a Pinterest board titled Patina, you need these.

The Verdict

The Taft Dragon stands out for its leather quality. I love how quickly the waxed suede is picking up a patina, and with the build quality, I can tell they’re going to last well over 5 years (probably much longer than that, too). 

I think if you’re looking to enter the mysterious world of Goodyear welted footwear and fine bootmaking, a better place to start is the Thursday Captain. It’s a bit more comfortable, a bit more standard looking, and a good deal cheaper. 

But what makes the Taft Dragon such an attractive option is the quality of their materials. To someone without experience, details like leather quality and selection, stitch density, and lining tannage might go unnoticed. 

So if you like the cap-toe service boot style, are ready to invest in build and material quality, and enjoy a style that’s a little outside the norm, you’ll love the Taft Dragon.

Taft Dragon 3.0

The waxed suede upper and close fit through the ankle give the Taft Dragon a distinctive style, and while it’s a bit pricey for a direct-to-consumer brand, there’s no denying the overall build quality of this boot.

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

For a visual look, check out my video review of the Taft Dragon 3.0 over on our YouTube channel:

FAQs

Are Taft boots good?

Taft Boots have excellent build quality and are made with either a Goodyear welt or a Blake Stitch construction, so they have plenty of durability and longevity.

Is the Taft Dragon waterproof?

The Taft Dragon isn’t technically waterproof, but it’s highly water resistant. The waxed suede is waterproof, and the Goodyear welt repels most water you’ll ever encounter throughout a normal day. But if you stand in a puddle, eventually your feet will get wet.

Does the Taft Dragon run big?

The Taft Dragon runs a bit small compared to other bootmakers like Red Wing and Thursday. If you are a size 10.5 in sneakers, order a size 10 for the Taft Dragon. However, If you’re a size 10 in sneakers, you should still get the size 10 for the Taft Dragon.

How do you take care of the Taft Dragon?

To care for the Taft Dragon, get a suede brush and eraser. You can clean your boots with these tools every six months to keep most of the dirt off. Condition the leather with boot oil, and use Otter Wax Boot Wax to keep the waterproofing on the leather.

3 Things Every Boot Wearer Should Own

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