Gear and Product Reviews

Custom Fit Boots by West Coast Shoe Company

Written by  May 31, 2007

This is my second installment on safety gear. People spend big money on helmets and leather all the time. While both of these items, as well as proper eye protection, are important (as I advised a couple of months back), did you ever stop and think about your feet? Proper footwear while riding can not only protect your feet from the elements but can also be the difference between walking or not after an unforeseen accident. When I say accident I don’t just mean collisions. I mean putting a foot down in an emergency situation only to find a crevasse or pothole where firm pavement should be. To this day I do not understand when I see a rider on any type of bike wearing sandals or sneakers. Neither of these types of footwear provides proper protection. I’ll use my Uncle Norman as my first example. Several years ago while riding a dirt bike he put a foot down in a big hurry to avoid a dump, his foot found a crack in the field he was riding, and his foot was rotated almost 180 degrees from straight. Surgeries and pins got him walking almost normally again but not for several months and to this day 30 years later he still has a limp.

I am not saying boots would have made the injury not happen but they would have lessened the effects greatly. For several old scooter tramps I know, an ankle injury has left them in permanent possession of a cane to get around. Boots will not stop injuries but they will lessen them. If a pair of boots support your ankle joint, torsional forces are spread from the ankle to the knee and then on to the hip. Three joints disbursing the force are much better than one. If for any reason you end up under your bike in an accident, a good pair of boots will buy your hide some much-needed time in the event a hot exhaust pipe lands on your lower leg, ankle or foot.

Since I work in the heavy truck industry, when time came to get a new pair of boots, I asked my customers what they wore. I had been less than impressed with the last several boots I had bought so I was open to suggestions. The majority of the answers led to one place--Wesco. Wesco is the name the West Coast Shoe Company is known by to the masses. Wesco has been making boots here in the good old USA for 89 years the same way—by hand. One of my customers had on a pair of Wesco’s that he had owned for 16 years. Hell, most boots don’t last 16 months for me. After checking out the Wesco web site I was impressed. Wesco builds boots for the individuals that put a boot through more abuse in a day than you and I are likely to in months. Building boots for loggers, engineers, linemen, construction workers, wildland firefighters and more has made Wesco the pinnacle of boot manufacturers.

Handmade quality craftsmanship is not cheap, but in some instances it is a necessity. My feet and legs deserve the best protection they can get. I knew I had found what I was looking for when I found that Wesco offers custom sizing. I have wide-ass feet. No joke, ducks laugh at me when I am barefoot. Not only are my feet wide, but they are also flat as a board. That is why I wear boots all the time. None of you have ever seen me in sneakers for one simple reason: flat shoes hurt my feet. Boots wide enough for my feet still made my little toes push into the next toe causing discomfort, to put it mildly. (I’ll spare you the details.) I just dealt with these problems for 25 years and assumed this was just the way it was to be.

After thoroughly checking out the Wesco web site at www.westcoastshoe.com/wesco/, I found the answer to my problems. The West Coast Shoe Company offers custom boot fitting. My decision was made. I decided to order a pair of Wesco Jobmasters. Jobmasters are designed to be comfortable enough to wear for hours yet strong enough to not only give you ample support but to also stand up to rugged use. Not only can you order your boots custom fit but you can also custom order your boots built to your specifications from the comprehensive options offered. If you choose custom-fit boots, Wesco will send you the information kit to thoroughly measure and record the measurements of each foot, and leg (if required) for an exact fit. After Stephanie helped me in getting my measurements I chose the options I desired for my boots. As an example, I ordered my Jobmasters 18” tall, a full 12” taller than the stock boot. For the outer leather I chose the “black fire” leather. “Black fire” offers water resistance along with resistance to salt, alkalis, and barnyard acids. This is important to me due to the fact I ride in the rain and in salty slush occasionally in the fall and winter. I chose orange heavy duty stitching (good looks with the black leather), Thinsulate Insulation lining under the optional leather lining (for warmth), and the semi lace to toe option so I could include leather toe caps (to protect from shifter marks). The option list doesn’t end here though. I rounded out my boots with optional nickel hooks and eyelets (brass is standard), non-marking oil-resistant 100r Vibram soles, and last but not least, steel toes. These are just the options I chose. There are many other options to choose from. You can build your boots as stock or as trick as you choose.

Now after submitting my order all I had to do was wait. When my boots arrived I was like a kid at Christmas. I shot pictures of my Jobmasters right away and then laced them up and put them on. I can’t put into words how good these boots felt as soon as I put them on. All I can do is tell you they fit like a glove. My feet felt snug and my ankles were fully supported. Now it was on to the true test. Normally when I stand up my feet spread out and feel like my boots are too tight at the instep and too small at my toes. I stood up, my feet spread and felt perfectly supported, and I could wiggle my toes. Nirvana for my feet at last! I wore my new Jobmasters to work the following day and took along a back-up pair of boots assuming breaking in my new boots would be a several-day process. I was dead wrong. I wore them to work all day and then out to dinner with Stephanie after work, 13 hours in all, and my feet felt great. I have worn my Jobmasters almost a month now and they just keep getting better.

These are not the cheapest boots I have ever bought, but if you take into consideration the last four pairs of boots I bought hurt my feet and were shot in less than a year, the investment for a pair of Wesco’s is a no-brainer. I now have proper protection for riding in a boot that feels great. How can you put a price on comfort and safety? Not to mention a product handcrafted here in the good old US of A.
Wesco builds boots in three categories: serious work boots, rugged recreational boots, and just kicking around boots. You can order in stock boots, factory seconds or full-on custom builds. Wesco is there for you down the road also offering factory boot rebuilding, and no, I don’t mean resoling, I mean rebuilding , so your boots can conceivably be with your for a lifetime. If you are serious about riding safety or just need high-quality boots for your chosen profession, the way to go is Wesco. I would like to extend my greatest appreciation to Christie Nye and Pete Muller from Wesco for all their help.

By Loney Wilcoxson