FAQ

Click on any of our frequently asked questions for an explanation. If you have a question that is not answered here, please feel free to give us a call or send us a message.

What are Nicks Contenders (McKay Construction)?

Nicks Contender line of boots use McKay lockstitch construction, and are triple stitched. First, it is stitched through the leather liner, the ten iron insole, and the twelve iron middlesole with one row of McKay Lockstitching. Then the vamp (the toe piece) is turned out and double stitched (two rows) to the middle sole and the outsole. Custom patterns and fitting are not available in this type of construction. Because of a few less manufacturing steps, these boots cost a little less than the Welted styles.  Nicks makes every effort to ensure that you have the best fit available. The “Contender” (this is what we call our McKay Stitched line of boots) is only available in stock sizes. If you have special or unusual fitting requirements, we suggest you consider a welted boot.

What are Welted Boots?

cutawayUsing the traditional, time-honored way of building a hand-made boot, a welt is sewn to the vamp (toe) leather through a grooved channel on the bottom side of the inner sole. This step is done by hand using an awl and special waxed hand sewing thread. The inner sole is stitched to the vamp & welt before the arch and twelve iron mid-soles are glued and nailed on. Then the rubber outsoles are added and the soles, mid-soles, vamp, and welt are all stitched together with two rows of interlocking stitches. (The heavy Vibram® sole is glued and screwed on for extra support.) The heels are then attached and the boot is sanded and finished. A welted boot is thought to mold to the contour of your foot well and starts with a tighter fit that leads to less stretching over the lifetime of the boot.

Why the Legendary Arch?

cutawayMany new customers ask about the design of Nicks boots, especially the four layer, strong arch and heavy heel. Nicks boots are designed to closely simulate the natural form of the foot and to distribute body weight evenly among the heel, arch, and ball of the foot. In a vast majority of customers, this feature helps minimize foot and leg fatigue as well as lower back pain attributable to inadequate foot support. Your boots must be more than just foot covers. They must be strong enough to support your whole body, especially during strenuous work.

What toes or soles can I have on my boots?

** Please Note: You may choose a different toe for most boot styles. Toe styles fit differently. Frequently, our customers ask to mix and match heels, toes, and soles to provide the custom look, need, requirement, function, and feel they desire. We got a request to show what the different toe styles look like on actual boots (from left: Charley, Packer, Robert, and Hot Shot®). Click To Enlarge

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How do I break in new boots?

Break-in takes roughly 80 to 100 hours of wear.  Typically it will take 3 to 4 weeks to get them broke in properly and it can take another week for your feet to fully adjust to the transition.  It is best to wear them until your feet get soar or tired, note the time you’ve worn them and add a bit more time each day as your get more comfortable in your boots.  Do not apply boot oil or boot paste / grease until the boot is broke in.

To Help with the break in, fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture of rubbing alcohol & water. Spray the mixture on the boots every time you feel them getting tight or stiff. Spray enough of the mixture so that you feel the leather relaxing around your foot. Sometimes walking a minute or two can be helpful to gauge if you have used enough of the mixture. While wet, friction-rub them with your hand as if you were polishing them. This helps the alcohol to penetrate.

Lacing – It is important to lace the boot tightly over the instep and around the ankle , which allows the leather to seat properly. As you will notice the sole is very stiff and will start to bend based on how you walk. Your heel may slip up a little in the heel at first, if it does, stop and re-lace the boot so it is snug once again. By re-lacing the boots tightly, you will train the leather to not slip in the heel making for a much better fit after break-in occurs. (Snug is good; snugger is better)

What heels can I have on my boots?

Heel wear varies with each person’s use of their boots, ie, if one drives a lot, how one walks, or if one walks on side hills.  Also one’s physical body characteristics effect the heel wear, ie, if one is bow-legged, or one has one leg shorter than the other.  When you notice uneven heel wear such as one side of the heel is wearing lower than the other, if more than 1/4 inch, have just the rubber heel cap replaced.  There is no need to replace the heel base unless you have worn into the leather base itself.  This will keep the upper part of the boot, the leather around your leg, from distorting or leaning over to one side.  the distortion or lean sometimes cannot be fixed, even with a rebuild.  Rest assured…if it can be saved and repaired, Nicks will do that for you.

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What are your “Lacing” and “Correct Fitting” recommendations?

Proper lacing should have two to three finger widths between the leather sides of the upper. You need to have a full thumbs width between the end of your longest toe and where the leather turns over and attaches to the sole. To check this have the boots on your feet laced tightly, then walk for 4 to 5 minutes to relax the foot on the arch supported footbed. Then have someone else check where your toe is. thumb_fitlacing_width

What is the 2-1-3 lacing pattern?

lacingTo prevent the infamous “bite” on top of your instep, lace your boots with the 2-1-3 method as shown in the photo. Keep the boot snugly laced. It’s important that the boot be laced tightly over the instep and around the ankle, which allows the leather behind the anklebones to seat properly. Snug is good, snugger is better.

 

What is your recommended care for my boots?

Use Nicks Heavy Duty Boot Grease, private labeled from Obenaufs.

8oz104First, get through the 80-100 hours with the alcohol and water break-in…
THEN, grease your boots with the only product we recommend – Obenauf’s LP Leather Preservative, which Nicks private labels under Nicks name. Leather needs to breathe, and Obenauf’s (Nicks) Heavy Duty LP Grease and the LP Boot Oil will keep the boot from becoming crusty, mildewed, or foul smelling. Obenauf’s (Nicks) is a mixture of beeswax and propolis which provides a high level of protection to the leather, keeping it soft and supple, while resisting water and chemicals.
Yes… care for your Rough Out Leather the same as you would smooth out leather. The Rough Out is just the tougher side of the hide and is much tougher and resistant to cuts and scrapes than the smooth out leather. It still needs to be cleaned and cared for with the grease and oil boot care products. The Rough Out leather is much harder to polish though.

Regular Boot Maintenance and Care educational information

One of the biggest obstacles to getting long life on your footwear is knowing and understanding the proper care that is needed.

Nicks provides the below information in the belief that if we can help you to properly care for and extend the life of your footwear (investment)… you may purchase our products and footwear and may even tell a friend. Making a sale is relatively easy, creating a customer is not. Thank you for shopping at Nicks.

Always treat leather, naturally. It is skin, with fibers and pores that requires proper natural lubrication and needs to breathe. We wear leather because it breathes and we stay comfortable. Never seal it off. When pores are sealed they cannot breath and you will sweat like when you wear rubber. Sealed leather is uncomfortable, stinks and body acids, bacteria and salt rot it from the inside out.

The key to extending the useful life of your leather is restoring it with the proper oils. But, not all natural oils are proper. Unfortunately, many products claiming to be conditioners or preservatives are not. They contain harmful chemicals, animal fats, mink oil, petroleum, pine tar, or alcohol to soften or waterproof leather. They soften by weakening or decomposing the fibers and they waterproof by sealing the pores. They are low priced but definitely not economical when you consider the damage done to the fibers, stitching and glues. They actually shorten the useful life of your leather. They also give no consideration to dry rot, mold, mildew, bacteria, chemicals, salt (sweat), water, cracking, heat, and loss of proper oils.

DRY WEATHER RUINS LEATHER
Leather is more damaged by dryness (loss of oils) than by water. True, water washes leather oils out quickly and will cause it to  dry stiff and hard, but this is not likely to happen often. But leather oils also dissipate everyday when it is dry, even when not being used. Like your skin, it simply dries out. Wind, warm air (truck or car floorboard heaters) dust, chemicals, mud and normal wear (flexing) increase the rate of oil loss.

Dry fibers scuff easily, wear against each other, get brittle, and break prematurely causing cracks in your leather. Dry leather cuts stitching and is prone to dry rot.
SOLUTION: Do not let the fibers dry out. Keep them lubed with proper oils. Frequency depends on your usage, conditions, age and type of leather, environment you work in, etc. Get used to looking at your leather. If it appears dry and scuffing, it is past due. If it is going to get wet, or you are going to store the boots for a few months, oil them ahead of time.

Nicks leather preservative is the only industrial strength Leather Protection recommended and used by boot companies, hunters, firefighters, construction workers, loggers, horse and cattle ranchers, farmers and thousands of other satisfied users. Natural oils are suspended in a Beeswax/Propolis formula. In the leather these oils gradually seep out of the Beeswax/Propolis as a time release lubrication restoring the fibers. If exposed to heat or constant flexing, the oils are released faster; so instead of getting parched, your leather gets oiled when and where it needs it most.
Propolis is a durable barrier against chemicals, and resists bacteria, most and mildew. It repels water better and longer than regular water repellents. It reinforces the surface against scuffing. Yet the leather still breathes.

In a nutshell… here are the basics for boot care….

Clean – When the leather feels dry or becomes muddy and/or dirty.  Scrub and wash with water and Saddle Soap, Ivory Liquid or Dawn. The dirt will draw out and remove the natural oils in the leather.

General Care – Approximately every six to eight weeks, grease your boots lightly. Increase, if in extreme weather and/or extreme environments such as a very dirty environment.

Rub Nicks Heavy Duty LP Grease into damp or dry leather with your hands. It is natural and temperature sensitive so body temperature will melt it. Or, melt it first with a hair dryer or microwave for easier application. It will not separate. For maximum protection over a longer period impregnate leather with a double application of LP. Apply and go over with a hair dryer. Then do a second coating the same way.

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Nicks Leather Oil is faster and easier to use and can be buffed to shine or polished over. It is better for uniform boots, dress boots, including exotic leathers, jackets/chaps, saddles and tack, car seats, furniture, baseball gloves. A blend of natural oils with Propolis, it is more suitable for moderate conditions and works well for quick touch-ups on work boots between applications of Nicks Heavy Duty LP.

Use Nicks Leather Oil especially during dry conditions to resist cracking, dry rot and scuffing.

If darkening is a concern, test an inconspicuous area, and allow six days for migration and true color to show.

To clean the inside of your boots, mix a heaping tablespoon of baking soda into approximately 12 ounces of water. Slosh the mixture around inside the boot, making sure to wet all inside surfaces and then pour the mixture into the other boot and do the same, then dump it out, don’t let it set. Allow the boot to completely dry as the drying action will leach the acids, caused from sweat, out of your boots. This process should eliminate any musty smells that may have developed over time.

Nicks Recommends, to NOT USE any product on your boots that has pine tars, petroleum, animal fat, chemicals or silicon in them.

Additional Helpful Hints

  • For maximum protection, apply a second or third coat.
  • Melt LP for easier application and / or use a hair dryer after application for faster and better penetration.
  • Temperatures over 100 degrees can harm leather.
  • Occasionally rub LP on inside leather.
  • Remove mud before it draws the oils out.
  • It is better and easier to apply a liberal protective coat of LP prior to exposure, than trying to restore leather after it is damaged.
  • An old firefighters trick is to set the boots in a plastic bag in the sun after a liberal application ofNicks Heavy Duty LP.
  • Oil leather before storing it.

For longer term storage of your boots, fill them with old socks or t-shirt or newspaper and lay them down on their side.

Be Careful with silicone!
Water-based silicone can be sprayed on leather, as well as fabrics, for additional water proofing. It will not harm it, but it will not help preserve it. You still need to restore proper oils in the leather and then you can spray over it periodically.
Be careful to AVOID silicones with harmful chemicals as carriers, including aerosols. (Please see the Obenauf’s Water Shield information below)

If the product has a warning label, it is your first indication it can harm leather and fabric, and is also harmful to you and your environment. You do not need those hazards in your house or on your feet.

Tips if you need to Polish your boots

For a Spit Shine The follow information is from US military: military.about.com

Spread a thick layer of paste polish over the leather to be spit shined.

Wrap a soft, clean cloth around your index finger so you have a smooth area on the end of your finger and dip it in water so it is thoroughly wet but not dripping.

Using a small circular motion, buff the dried polish with the wet cloth until a shine starts to develop.

Note: if the polish is dried out too much, you may take a match and light the polish on fire (small fire) to form a pool of liquid polish, then blow the fire out and proceed as described.

Still using the damp rag on your finger, apply a fine layer of polish in a circular motion and keep on rubbing lightly until a hazy shine develops.

Keeping the rag damp, build up the shine with thin layers of polish applied in circles with light pressure until a glossy shine develops.

When sufficient shine has developed, use a clean, dry, soft cloth to give it a final buff and remove any last haze.

Please note: Polishing does not treat or replenish the natural oils in leather and remember, Nicks Leather Oil Preservative is fast and easy to use and you can polish over it and then you can buff to a shine while maintaining your investment.

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ZIPPERS
For your Nicks Hand Made Military Grade Brass Lace in Zippers, one should use a spray on lubricant such as W-D40 every couple of weeks to keep the brass zipper lubricated.

HEEL WEAR

Heel wear varies with each person’s use of their boots, ie, if one drives a lot, how one walks, or if one walks on side hills.  Also one’s physical body characteristics effect the heel wear, ie, if one is bow-legged, or one has one leg shorter than the other.  When you notice uneven heel wear such as one side of the heel is wearing lower than the other, if more than 1/4 inch, have just the rubber heel cap replaced.  There is no need to replace the heel base unless you have worn into the leather base itself.  This will keep the upper part of the boot, the leather around your leg, from distorting or leaning over to one side.  the distortion or lean sometimes cannot be fixed, even with a rebuild.  Rest assured…if it can be saved and repaired, Nicks will do that for you.

To Water-proof Your Footwear:

Use Obenauf’s Water Shield (sold in our web store) applies a water based emulsion with over 16 percent silicone in a safe, odorless (when cured), fine mist non aerosol spray. It is especially developed with high silicone content to last longer without flammable or health hazards. With no harmful chemicals, it is safe for leather and our environment and is easy to use.

** If you should have any questions please call us at 800-824-2685 or you can contact us by email here on our contact page.

What does NFPA or Non-NFPA mean?

Nick’s Custom Boots makes both a NFPA and a Non-NFPA version of our Hot-Shot boots worn by many fire fighters and others. The NFPA version meets the UL classification for the NFPA 1977 standard on protective clothing and equipment for wildland firefighting 2011 edition (NFPA 1977-2011 3HVW). The Non-NFPA version is the same boot except some components like the sole and threads used in stitching may be different. The wear cycle of these two versions may vary slightly. Please select carefully based on your needs.

What is the cost for custom fitting or specialty features?

CUSTOM FITTING

Custom Fitted to measurements (foot) $125.00
Special Upper Hand Cut to leg patterns $75.00

Please note: Any boot taller than 12″ must be built in the Nick’s Rolled Welt construction and must have hand cut leg patterns.
Custom fit (made to measure) boots are Non-Refundable.

You can request a fit kit here on our contact page.

SPECIALTY FEATURES

Steel, Composite, Fiberglass or Double Celastic Toe $30.00
Please note: Only Steel and Composite Toes are ASTM Safety toe rated and must be built with Toe No. 3
Metatarsal Guard (Requires Steel or Composite ASTM Safety Toe) $39.95
Single Celastic Toe (Like a Cowboy Boot Toe) $19.95
Leather Toe Cap (Unless specified) $30.00
Wing Stitching on Boot Uppers $25.00
Exotic Leather Inlay on the Boot Uppers (Available only with an exotic boot order) $50.00
Double Mid Soles $20.00
Lineman Patch $20.00
Lineman Shank(Also good for ladder or shovel work) $20.00
Add a Padded Collar (Unless included in the style ordered) $30.00
Rolled Top, (AKA Finished Top) $30.00
Toe Bug Stitching $30.00
2-Tone Boots $15.00
Insulated $35.00
Top Buckle on Nicks 55EL Slip On Engineer Boot $30.00
Spur Shelf $18.95
Mis-Mate (Two different Sizes, width or length) $15.00

What do you charge for shipping?

Item Price
UPS on purchases of up to $20.00 (Not Hawaii or Alaska) $10.00
UPS on purchases of $20.01 up to $50.00 (Not Hawaii or Alaska) $12.00
UPS on purchases of $50.01 and up (Not Hawaii or Alaska) $19.95
USPS POSTAL PRE-PAID Ground (Not Hawaii or Alaska) $19.95
ALASKA & HAWAII (3 Day Air USPS) $26.95
UPS 3 Day Select $41.95
UPS 2nd Day Air Select $56.95
UPS Next Day Select, Call for Quote $112.00

Note: Shipping prices will always be adjusted to reflect actual shipping costs if the shipping costs are more than our listed shipping price at the time of your order and what your order might state. At Nicks Boots discretion, we may choose to use a different shipping carrier when it will be of better service for you, our customer.

We are sorry for any inconvenience in determining shipping rates but, with the fuel service charges changing constantly we, along with you, will have to adapt. Please call us at 800-824-2685 for current rates.
Also, there is no tracking or insurance provided when Nicks Boots ships by USPS unless specified and set up at the time of purchase. Additional fees, if any, will be calculated and charged at the time of your boots or product being shipped.

Please Note when shipping UPS: UPS will not deliver to P.O. Boxes. Please provide a physical street address and if it is a commercial address please provide the name of the business it is going to as well. When Nicks ships to our customers using UPS a $100.00 insurance coverage and tracking on your shipment is included at no charge. If you wish to insure your shipment for more, please let Nicks know before we finalize your order.

Deposits, Returns, Available Colors, Other Charges and Refunds?

** A minimum 50% deposit or payment in full is required at the time of ones order.

** Prices are subject to change at any time without notice.

** Shipping charges apply each time a boot is shipped from or to Nick’s Custom Boots unless included with a special offer or has been pre-authorized in advance by Nicks Custom Boots Management. All shipping and taxes, (including all excise and import and export taxes) and all Domestic and International Tariff and/or Duty fees or charges are solely the responsibility of the end user under all circumstances.

**Nicks Custom Boots is not responsible for any fees incurred by the end user.

** Shipping and Handling charges are not refundable.

** Returned boots will be subject to 15% restocking fees.

** Special Built to order boots are non-refundable.

Please Note: The shading of colors can be slightly different from boot to boot ie, the chocolate and walnut leather.