Carlos Santos Kudu Boots – A Fine Exotic Leather That Will Surprise You
Special Kudu Boots For The Noble Shoe
A few months ago I wrote a really big article about the different types of shoe leather. Unfortunately, most of the leathers on that list are too expensive or peculiar for normal people. However, there is one that is affordable and has exceptional qualities: Kudu Leather. Working closely with Carlos Santos, I created a pair of Kudu Boots for The Noble Shoe based on the 8866 Lace-Up model.
Today’s article will be more about first impressions rather than a full scale review, since the model is identical in specs to the classic 8866. We will talk a little about the leather, what is unique and take a closer look at each area.
Carlos Santos – The Finest Portuguese Shoemaker
I look back and I cannot believe what a wonderful connection I have built with both the Santos family as well as people that represent them. Namely Zahraa from their social team.
For over 70 years the Carlos Santos brand continues to grow and is a fascinating history of a small kid turning owner. With a passion for quality shoes, great prices and impeccable construction, they are my go to choice these days.
I have already a few extensive Reviews about other models also available at The Noble Shoe:
- 8866 Lace Up Boots in Coimbra
- 7273 Wingtip Oxfords
- 6942 Double Monks in Wine Shadow
- Handgrade Adelaide Oxford in Guimaraes
- 9381 Derby in Coimbra
Already an excellent collection for all occasions! Therefore I thought it would be a great time to look at a more casual everyday version. Something that you would not have to worry much about maintaining or scuffing.
Specifications – A Lot Of Value
These Kudu Boots do not differ from the classic 8866 model apart from the leather. However they are part of an exclusive order and not available elsewhere. As it is customary here are the specs:
- Brand: Carlos Santos
- Shop: The Noble Shoe
- Type: Lace-Up Boot
- Leather: Kudu
- Color: Mid Brown
- Reference Style: 8866
- Last: 234
- Size: UK 7 (US 8/EU 41)
- Width: F (Regular)
- Sole: Commando
- Construction: Storm Welt
- Eyelets: 4 Normal & 4 Hook
- Made In: Portugal
- Retail Price: 335 €/379 $/300 £/3561 SEK (Including VAT)
Tip: Prices on the Shop do not include VAT until Checkout. Orders outside EU are automatically VAT exempt. For you lovely people outside EU the price is therefore about $300.
Can You Tell Me More About Kudu Leather?
Usually, Kudu leather comes from the Greater Kudu, an animal that roams the woodlands of East & South Africa. Most people refer to them as Antelopes. Due to the habitat and its natural predators such as lions, the Kudu will often graze sharp bushes that leave scars on the skin.
This means that the skin must be durable to cope with such intensity which is an excellent property for casual boots. The material is tough but surprisingly soft and supple. In most cases the tannery sands the hide to remove imperfections but there is always some that remain. These give Kudu Shoes their distinctive look.
No shoe will be exactly the same and it is absolutely fascinating trying to understand the life of the animal. Every mark, every scratch has its own story behind it.
Not only that, it is also very easy to maintain as a good brushing will often suffice.
Important: Alden’s Kudu Shoes are not from Kudu Leather, but instead Cowhide. They just have this name for reasons I do not know. Be careful!
Styling – Classic With A Twist
Think of it like this. The Calfskin version of the 8866 is the brother that wears a suit, polishes his shoes often and is very careful about what he steps on. The Kudu Boots on the other hand are the younger, charmingly careless little brother. He walks in the mud, always manages to scratch his shoes and actually welcomes a good rugged boot.
With a medium/lighter brown finish, the Kudu Boots are very versatile for casual everyday wear. They will look great with chinos or denim, which is the target audience. A commando sole ensures grip and a little bulkier appearance.
It looks pretty good doesn’t it? It looks as close as it gets to the iconic Edward Green Galway but for a fraction of the price.
Great. Walk Me Through Each Area
Every time I write this section I feel like I am talking to an old friend. Old friend, let’s look at each individual area to fully understand this shoe better.
Uppers & Leather Quality
My first encounter with Kudu Leather was in Skoaktiebolaget last year for a brief moment. This however is my first real hands-on experience. The Leather is actually quite soft especially around the shaft. Soft does not mean thin though! It is about 3 mm thick (1/8 of an inch?) when the typical dress shoe uppers are 1.98 mm (5/64 inches) thick (Source). How do you deal with the Imperial System?!
It has a different smell too, less intense I would say. Certainly feels good to touch and does not seem to suffer from a minor problem with the calf version. During certain movements the classic Lace-Up tends to squeak a little. This one does not.
The finish is much better than I expected too, with a little darker tones around the toes and a very nice subtle grain when inspecting closely. For a big boot running 21 cm (8.5 inches) from top to bottom it is also surprisingly light.
Otherwise, it is a classic pair of Derby Boots!
Tip: Not sure what’s the difference between Derbies, Oxfords and the rest? Read this guide.
How’s The Stitching?
If there is one thing I like about Carlos Santos is consistency. Especially when it comes to stitching and considering the price point everything checks out. After all, I have 166 pairs in my shop!
Apart from the Cap Toe and the bottom part of the Quarters, the stitching is single with a nice 10 SPI. The Welt on the other hand has an SPI of 6. We will check that area and the backseam separately.
Lacing & Facing
The distinctive hockey stick facing makes its comeback! The open lacing just works better for this kind of boot. It is quite spacious too with a total of 4 blind eyelets and 4 speed hooks. I am a big fan of blind eyelets and the hooks have a nice antique feeling to them.
As far as the flat laces go, they are easy to handle and feel nice to the touch. Nothing special but a welcome small contrast from the brown tone of the shoes.
Toe Area – But The Back Matters Too!
Not many details here to discuss. The Cap Toe seamlessly blends with the rest of the uppers while it also has a slightly darker tone. It also has a soft chiseled shape for a more elegant look.
When it comes to the back the story is similar. Clean with two stitches going all the way to the top. There is also a handy loop for holding and pulling just like you often see in Chelsea Boots.
A Storm Welt For Those Rainy Days
Most Carlos Santos shoes have a 270° Goodyear Welt. The 8866 however comes with a Storm Welt and a 360° construction.
In our Guide about Shoe Construction we discussed how a Storm Welt is making your boots more waterproof. Notice this little leather rib right next to the uppers? That is a Storm Welt.
In very simple words, the welt folds outside which does not allow water to pass as easily through. It’s a very solid construction.
Going Commando (Sole)
For a boot that serves a more casual, durable purpose I personally like the Commando Sole. It is a bit bulkier but also badass. Like last time, the only negative I see is that little stones get stuck between the holes.
The heel is hammered with a bunch of nails and it is a joy to behold the stitching. As opposed to the leather soles, there is only a Carlos Santos Monogram here.
In typical Carlos Santos fashion, both the lining and insole are from genuine leather in a charming light brown/orange tone. On the side of the shaft one can read the model type and size, while the company name rests right under your heel.
Both the walls and insole have a nice smooth and soft texture.
Perfect! Now Tell Me About The Last
The 234 is one of the most classic Carlos Santos Lasts. It is a nice hybrid between a round and almond shape. Most commonly referred to as a soft-chiseled last, the 234 has a good arch support and generous instep. It is also rather comfortable for a regular width last.
Yes, But How Do I Size?
If you are familiar with Carlos Santos, my advise is to take your usual size. The same if you wear Carmina Rain, Crockett & Jones, Cheaney or TLB Mallorca and Meermin.
Since I already had these boots, a UK 7 fits perfectly well. Remember to size down a full size from your US size.
Are They Comfortable?
Ah, the million dollar question. For me, yes! The Kudu Boots fit as well as the Calf version. There is a tiny bit of friction on my left achilles but it is a common issue I have.
Breaking in should not take too long nor be severe. For a more snug fit you could always lace them tighter or wear thicker socks. There is enough space for my toes and the width is much better compared to the 401. If you have just a bit wider feet this is the one to go for.
One thing I enjoy a lot is how good the insole feels under my feet. I can’t explain it but it is silky smooth. All in all, an excellent experience once more.
But…Why Not Buy The Normal Ones?
Quite simple actually. You either want something different, or something less fragile. Or wearing chinos is the most formal it gets for you. Hiking, trips in the forest or battling the elements in Canada during the Winter?
Everybody has calf boots, but for the exact same price you can have something completely different. But not so different that it looks out of place!
At first glance, this looks like a grain boot. Don’t forget the history behind it either. Every scratch has a story. They take you back to Africa and instill a sense of freedom, battle for survival and also a little luxury.
It is worth noting that there is a pebble grain variant with a dark brown color. Maybe a consideration for a future GMTO. Let me know if you would like that.
And that brings us to the end of this “Review of the Carlos Santos 8866 Kudu Boots”! A classic Derby Boot with a brilliant leather. Comfortable, stylish and versatile it can be your companion for years to come. It will also make for a good story and show your knowledge about construction and leatherworking.
Now that that’s out of the way, I have a question! Which shoe would you like to see next from the collection?
With so much upcoming content, remember to Subscribe so you don’t miss a thing! We got some exciting collaborations in the future with Septieme Largeur, Vicelli Shoes and Archibald London.
Thank you for reading,