When most people think of Colombia, they think of coffee. When I think of Colombia, I think of how I spelled it wrong for 39 years.
Thankfully, I have learned how to spell it, and I have learned that they make some impressive boots!
They are extremely, I mean extremely, detail oriented. In interviews, I’ve been floored by the knowledge and passion of the brands’ founder, Andres, who helms their Instagram DMs. (You’ll get acquainted with him, I’m sure.)
For this review we’re looking at a vegetable tanned black Tukano boot that belongs to my editor, Nick, and my own waxed suede pair. We found that Bordon has a great niche in the world of boots: it uses similar leathers and construction methods of the burly woodsman boots from the Pacific Northwest, but with a more lightweight and less overbuilt design. This makes Bordon a great option for guys who value those traditionalist elements of vegetable tanned leather and a stitchdown build, but aren’t as interested in the heavy, unwieldy, high-heeled designs that often come out of Washington state.
It’s a boot guy’s boot.
Bordon Tukano Pros & Cons
Here’s a quick list of pros and cons to help you decide whether these boots are right for you.
- Solid, highly skilled construction
- High quality leather, emphasizing American veg tan
- Affordably priced
- Eco friendly company
- Two sole options available
- Well designed for form and function
- Lengthy order time (3-4 months)
- Stiff leather and build means quite a break in
Bordon, the Brand
- Founded in 2019
- Core value of sustainability
- Made to order, locally made
- High end leather and construction
- 12-16 week wait time
- Leans rugged, but not overbuilt
Bordon was founded in 2019, producing high quality shoes in Spain and Italy. When the pandemic started and things got complicated, they had to start making some hard, de-complicating decisions, and the largest was to move production to their home country: Colombia. (Nailed the spelling.)
Producing their footwear in Colombia fits well with their core values: Bordon believes in making wise environmental choices, like reducing waste and avoiding overstock. This is why they produce footwear on a made-to-order model, which avoids overstocking of materials and products — and lowers the cost of the product.
Keeping production and much of the material sourcing in Colombia allows them to reduce the impact of shipping materials and products overseas whenever possible, plus domestic production provides employment for many highly skilled workers.
Bordon’s Tukano Boot
- Sturdy service boot
- Double row stitchdown construction
- American vegetable tanned leathers
- 3 rugged but approachable styles
Bordon positions their boots on the rugged side of the spectrum. They’re very sturdily built, but not overbuilt in the Pacific Northwest tradition like models from Nicks and Whites, so they’ve made a really nice balance for guys that want super sturdy footwear, highly skilled construction like this stitchdown construction, and really hardy vegetable tanned American leather, but don’t want to look like they’re cosplaying as a lumberjack. Those Pacific Northwest boots can be heavy and overbuilt to the point of unwieldy; Bordon gives you a more versatile, balanced option with similar elements.
Bordon currently sells three models: the casual plain toe Wanes boot, the Isidro Chelsea boot — a rare examples of a rugged Chelsea — and my cap toe Tukano boots. They call it a jumper boot, which is basically a service boot: a low profile lace up.
The toe is rounded, but not bulbous. The waist is narrow and refined, but not constricting. The cap toes are even and well proportioned. The thick heel counter provides solid structure and support. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t find a crooked or out of place stitch anywhere.
As hard as I tried, I couldn’t find a crooked or out of place stitch anywhere.
Overall, the design leans rugged without swinging too far. The Tukanos work really well in a casual or even business casual setting, though you might find the heel and angles a little edgy for the office.
I’ve worn mine with denim, canvas, corduroy and chinos, and was happy with how well they worked in my wardrobe. The boot is well designed for a versatile look, and a versatile fit.
Bordon Tukano 1.0 vs 2.0
Note that there are two versions of the Tukano boot you can purchase: the 1.0 and the 2.0. My own are the 1.0.
The main difference is the 2.0 has a gusseted tongue and the genuine cap toe, which is an extra layer of leather over the toe instead of a decorative toecap stitch.
The quarters in the 2.0 were also moved forward to reduce the “snugness” of the fit.
Both 1.0 and 2.0 models are now made with stitchdown construction, whereas earlier boots were Blake stitched.
The switch to stitchdown demonstrates Bordon’s love of traditional, highly skilled bootmaking. It’s much harder to make than Blake stitch or Goodyear welts, which are done by machine, and it’s a little more durable and water resistant than Goodyear welts as well. Practically speaking, the difference with durability and water resistance is likely negligible; the main thing that draws most guys to stitchdown is that it embodies a very high level of skill on the part of the craftspeople.
Bordon Tukano Leather
- Vegetable tanned leather
- Sourced from Pennsylvania’s Wickett & Craig
- Very stiff from the get go
- Some Spanish waxed suede options too
The flagship boots from Bordon are the Tukano boots. Orders open in batches, and the available leathers strongly emphasize vegetable tanned leather: most are different hues of leather from Pennsylvania’s famous Wickett and Craig, with a couple of waxed suede options from Spanish tanneries.
In this review we’re showing Nick’s vegetable tanned black boots and my own Dark Brown Waxed Suede, both of which are incredibly sturdy and resilient. The suede’s tannery is kept secret, but while it’s chrome tanned leather it’s been rated Gold by the Leather Working Group, guaranteeing its sustainability.
(In badly regulated tanneries, chrome tanning damages workers and waterways; that’s why you want to look for a Gold rating. See our video at Lefarc Tannery for more.)
My boots are still stiff after a month of regular wear and have been up for every task (hikes, home renovations, yard work, running away from my kids, taking pictures of my boots for the internet) that I’ve put them through. Bordon earns their reputation for making a stiff boot, and the vegetable tanned options are even stiffer. Wear thick socks the first few times you put them on, and you might consider applying a leather softener or conditioner to make it a little more pliable.
[Further reading: 12 Tips for Breaking In Tough Boots]
Bordon Tukano Boots Construction
- Stitchdown construction shows appreciation of skillful craftsmanship
- Vibram outsoles, option of studded or Commando
- Fully lined with calf leather
- Cork filler
- Steel shank
- Colombian veg tanned leather insole and midsole
The outsole options are the Vibram Eton (flat and studded) or Vibram Commando (grippy and outdoorsy), with a locally sourced veg tanned leather heel lift. The insole, midsole and welt are made with Colombian veg tanned leather as well.
The first batch was made with Blake stitch construction due to Colombia’s scarcity of Goodyear welting machinery. Today they’re made with a more waterproof and hard wearing stitchdown construction. This involves the leather upper being flattened out and stitched directly to the midsole by hand. It’s a little harder to find a cobbler to resole it, but you shouldn’t have too much difficulty when the time comes.
Below your feet, you’ll find plenty of support and comfort.
The insole is fully veg tanned with a cushion footbed insert and there is cork filler as well. All of these layers will conform to your feet over time to increase comfort while maintaining support. There’s also a steel shank to give your arches a little help over the course of a day.
The lining is a soft calf leather, though the entire interior of the boot is a garish orange aniline dye that may prove to be a bit bright for some. It’s a bold choice, though to be fair, no one will see it when you’re wearing them. The lining really eased the break-in process. With the leather uppers as robust as they are, the lining has been a life saver.
Bordon Tukano Sizing and Fit
- Uses European sizing
- Can accommodate an E width in the forefoot
- Narrow through the waist
- Size down half a size
- EE/EEE available by request
The Tukano last is a comfortable design with plenty of room for your toes to spread out in the toe box. I am a 9E Brannock and went true to size (42) with my boots. Unusually, the boots come in E, EE, and EEE widths — a great selection, but there are no D (“normal”) widths. If your feet are a normal width, it’s best to size down. Nick’s an 11.5D, or 45.5 European, and he ordered a size 44.
The sizing is complicated by the fact that Bordon uses european sizes. You can just Google how your US size corresponds to European sizes and follow those sizing instructions, but the good news is Bordon is very responsive on Instagram to any and all sizing queries. He even took measurements from me to ensure a proper fit.
The widest point of the boot locks right in with the ball of my foot, creating the perfect breaking point. I found the forefoot to be surprisingly accommodating, but the last is designed to fit an E width foot. If you are a D width, I think you will find this to be a nice roomy fit but not too spacious.
The waist is nice and snug, which holds my foot in place without being too tight. The heel pocket is a perfect fit, with enough contour to hug your heel. The heel pocket liner is rough side out to reduce heel slip, further demonstrating the attention to detail that is put into each step.
If you have a high volume foot like me, you might find the Tukano a little tight on the instep. You’ll need to put some miles on them before the instep loosens up. But it’s a well designed last that I think will work for a variety of foot shapes.
Bordon Tukano Price
A pair of these boots will run you $349 USD for veg tan leather and $329 USD for the waxed suede.
The closest rivals for boots of this quality with this kind of leather being Nicks and Whites up in the Pacific Northwest, who have even longer lead times and charge hundreds of dollars more. To be fair, most of those boots are overbuilt and have more layers of leather in the sole to justify the price.
As we’ve mentioned, Bordon is a terrific option for guys who gravitate toward the more traditionalist, rugged kinds of boots made famous in the Pacific Northwest but don’t want heavy, unwieldy footwear that borders on costumey.
These boots continue to improve in comfort and there is no question in my mind as to how durable they are. They look great, they feel great and they perform exactly as needed.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on Bordon boots. If you need me, I’ll be filling my Thermos with Colombian coffee and taking these boots for a hike!
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