R.M. Williams Review – The National Boot of Australia

Despite having lived in New York City for many years, I speak with the dulcet tones of a man born in Australia. And every single time I upload a new review to the YouTube channel, my family and friends ask the same question: When am I going to review R.M. Williams?

Today is that day. The Comfort Craftsman from R.M. Williams is not just Australia’s most famous boot, it is a true icon of Australiana. If you’re an Australian male, you own a pair of R.M. Williams or are on your way to buying one. The company is in fact so Australian that they outfitted the Australian army with thousands of black Craftsmans to wear in military parades.

But despite the Aussie roots, the footwear has serious appeal outside of Australia: Bill Clinton even wore a pair to his second inauguration, and today they export to 15 different countries.

They’ve even got a store in downtown Manhattan, which is where I headed to buy my own pair of their signature Comfort Craftsman Chelseas. Here’s what I thought of Australia’s national boot.

[BUY THE R.M. WILLIAMS COMFORT CRAFTSMAN ON AMAZON HERE]

[OR GO TO R.M. WILLIAMS’ OFFICIAL STORE HERE]

R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman Overview

  • Whole cut upper
  • Yearling leather
  • Rubber sole

There are three main Chelsea boots from R.M. Williams and the main difference is the sole. The Classic Craftsman has a leather sole and is meant to be dressier, the Dynamic Flex has a combination rubber and leather sole, but the Comfort Craftsman has a more comfortable, hard wearing rubber sole and is meant for everyday wear. A notable feature of the boots is the slightly square toe, which is kind of their trademark look. 

The upper is made from whole cut leather, so it’s just one piece that’s stitched together at the back. There are no side seams, which enhances this nice, clean look. The leather itself is yearling, meaning the cow was slaughtered at one year of age — it’s not quite calf and not quite steer, making for an unusual leather that’s softer than cowhide but more rugged than calfskin.

[This is one of our top 10 best boots — click through to see the others]

RM Williams Craftsman sitting

The color of the leather is called Chestnut and while that sounds pretty brown, the color is slightly burgundy, making for something that works great with khakis or jeans — just don’t wear them with grey khakis as I did in these pictures, since it makes them look washed out. (Sorry about that.) If you want something that can be worn with slacks, consider the black leather. Hey, if it’s good enough for the Australian military…

Overall it’s a pretty slim, very uncomplicated boot that’s very versatile and comfortable.

RM Williams Craftsman wrinkles

R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman Leather

  • Smooth yearling leather
  • More durable than calf
  • Softer than adult steer
  • Wrinkles finely

Yearling leather is a calf that becomes boots for his first birthday. Not that young, not that old, it’s the perfect leather for guys who just can’t decide between calf and steer. It’s soft, mildly grainy, and withstands anything you throw at it.

Within a week of wear the boots did accrue some wrinkles, as you can see in the picture above, but it wrinkled finely, which consumers will be happy about. 

The leather has been chrome tanned, which is why it’s fairly soft and well suited for a Chelsea boot.

[Check out The 10 Best Dress Boots]

RM Williams Craftsman square toe

R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman Leather Care

  • R.M. William’s makes their own polish and conditioner (but any good waxy conditioner will do)
  • Advice is to condition every 4 to 6 weeks (but once or twice a year will be fine)
  • R.M. Williams’ factory is able to make repairs

R.M. makes it pretty simple by having their own line of products that includes leather cleaner, boot polish, and conditioner, so you don’t have to spend too much time worrying what kind of products to use. The polish isn’t completely necessary if you’re not bothered about shine, but the conditioner needs to be applied regularly to keep things water resistant. Use a soft cloth to rub it on.

What’s strange is that you’re asked to apply the conditioner every 4 to 6 weeks, which is super frequent. Most boots, depending on how frequently you’re wearing them, only need conditioning every three to six months or so, and anecdotally, I’ve known dozens of guys with R.M.s who seldom condition theirs.

I think it’s fine to condition them once or twice a year.

One cool thing about the company is that they’ll take care of boot repairs for you at their factory in Australia. R.M. says their boots are made to be taken apart and put back together and the facility carries out 21,000 repairs per year. The processes cost anywhere from $50 to $225 depending on what needs to be done: a re-last and back lining replacement is the most expensive procedure, while your standard resole costs $165. That’s a lot less than a new pair of boots, but of course, any local cobbler will be able to resole it for less of a hassle. 

RM Williams Craftsman sole 2

R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman Sole

  • Oil resistant rubber
  • Goodyear welt
  • Fiberglass shank
  • Padded heel lining

This is an oil resistant rubber sole that has a mottled appearance that enhances grip. There are no lugs or studs, making for a classic flat silhouette, but the grip is excellent. I wore these all over Brooklyn and had no complaints.

The construction is solid: a Goodyear welt makes it water resistant and easy to resole, but the sole stitching is very subtle and close into the vamp, avoiding the chunkiness you often see with resoleable boots.

Instead of the usual steel, the Comfort Craftsman has a fiberglass shank. This helps to provide stability, durability, and arch support. The heel support in this shoe is also excellent, partly because there’s some padded heel lining that helps to absorb shock. 

[On a budget? Check out the best boots for under $300]

R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman Fit & Sizing

  • British sizing runs roughly a full size smaller than American
  • Measure your feet to be sure
  • No break in period
  • Available in Narrow, Normal, and Wide widths
  • Very, very, very comfortable boots

The British sizing might be confusing for American customers.

On an American Brannock device I’m between an 11.5 and a 12, and just about all of my boots are a size 11 because boots tend to run large. At R.M. Williams’ Soho store, I had to get sized up on their own sizing device which put me at a 10.5 — which ultimately fit me. 

Usually, you can size down half a size from your US boot size, a whole size from your US “true size”, and probably 1.5 sizes from your sneaker size. 

The widths can also be tough to figure out: F, G, or H. I found myself to be a G, which is meant to be analogous to a D (or “normal”) width in American sizing.

The good news is that once you have the boots they don’t need any break in and are, in fact, stupid, crazy, insanely comfortable. The arch support is great, the heel support is great, there are no seams anywhere to irritate the foot. They really feel like nice, thick socks. When I come home from work in these, I prefer not to take them off — I swear I’ll lie around in these shoes watching TV.

[Best: Want more boots for wide feet? – 10 Best Boots for Wide Feet]

RM Williams Craftsman rear view

R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman Price

  • $539

On their website, in-store, and on Amazon, these shoes cost US$539.00 per pair. It’s the same price for their other Craftsman boots.

[BUY THE R.M. WILLIAMS COMFORT CRAFTSMAN ON AMAZON HERE]

[OR GO TO R.M. WILLIAMS’ OFFICIAL STORE HERE]

RM Williams boot

R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman: To Buy or Not to Buy?

The Comfort Craftsman is not without its downsides: the pull tabs frequently peek out from your pant cuffs, necessitating frequent rearranging. The sizing is confusing. And yes, they are very expensive.  

But they really take Chelsea boots to another level. The leather is a great middle ground between calf and steer, they’ll last forever, the grip is great, and above all these are literally some of the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn.

When a shoe costs over $400 I always have difficulty justifying the price and frankly, I’d have hard time convincing the average joe to spend this much money on Chelseas just because they’re so much more comfortable than competitors. But If you’re willing to spend the dough and have been looking for a pair of Chelseas, you absolutely cannot go past this unique, eye catching, quintessentially Australian boot.

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Nick English

By day: Manhattan-based journalist with reporting experience on four continents, published in Vice, Men's Health, Popular Science, and a bunch of other places.By night: ravenous consumer of anything and everything related to high end men's boots.Stridewise is where I nurture a maniacal obsession with footwear and share my findings. Say hey: [email protected]

25 thoughts on “R.M. Williams Review – The National Boot of Australia”

  1. Hey Nick,
    I know you’re a big fan of the Thursday Boot Company. What do you think: Do the R M Williams Comfort Craftsman beat out the Thursday Cavalier Chelsea taking cost into account? Debating between the two. The R M Williams is a beautiful shoe, but also significantly more costly.

    Reply
    • Yes, I like the RM better. More comfortable, better leather. Of course it’s more than twice the price so it’s up to you if it’s worth it.

      Reply
  2. I’m up to buy pair of kangaroo tanbarks and a pair of yearling blacks! But do you advice the comfort craftsman or the dynamic flex?

    Reply
    • That’s a tough one, Peter! I’ve only tried the comfort craftsman and I think it’s pretty great, you don’t need to worry about it being uncomfortable. But my opinion is uninformed!

      Reply
  3. Hi Nick – huge fan of your channel. I have a question for you…

    I’m super confused about the sizing for the Comfort Craftsman.

    See – I currently wear a pair of Doc Martens at US Size 8 with no problems other than the initial breakin (which was safe to say, hellish). I wear sneakers at US size 8.5 to 9.

    I used the following url to size up my feet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=nL87SVkX-Gg

    Length: 249 mm

    Width: 249 mm

    (Yes, my length and width are strangely the same)

    This puts me at a size…6X according to the R.M Williams sizing chart:

    https://www.rmwilliams.com.au/buyer-s-guide%3A-men-s-boots/mens_boots_buyers_guide.html?lang=en_AU

    I find that very strange, as a size 6 is a whole 1.5 sizes down from the D.M boots I currently wear. I am hesitant to splurge 500 bucks on a pair of boots that won’t end up fitting me well. And before you ask – I live in Singapore; no R.M Williams stores here for me to get sized 🙁

    Cheers & Thank you for your insights!

    Reply
    • How the hell are your feet the same size across as they are long? Look I’d just go to the mall and get tested on a Brannock device and go down a full size from that. If it’s a Brannock for US sizes, anyway.

      Reply
  4. Mine look almost exactly like Nick’s, but I have the leather sole and rubber heel. I got mine by mail-order from Aus for a winter trip to Chicago 10-12 years ago, and they have been great for cold and rainy weather, which I admit is rare here in SoCal where I live. Cost was around $200 back when I bought mine, and I don’t know when they got so hella expensive. When I got mine, the company was using English sizes, so I got a 10 G. My usual American shoe is an 11.

    I have wide feet, but they fit fine over a medium-weight wool sock, as long as I remember to keep my toenails short. I agree with Nick, these boots look great, fit well and are comfortable. I often wear them with slacks for dressier occasions. The vamp on one shoe has some cracking, but otherwise they are great.

    Reply
  5. Hi Nick. Thinking about buying these RM Williams comfort craftsman boot. The Thursday boots are narrow for me. Should I order a wide size? I usually wear Merrells and their width is perfect for me. Thanks

    Reply
    • Thursday boots actually fit D and E widths in their “normal” width so if Thursday is too narrow then you definitely need the wide RMs

      Reply
  6. Hey Nick! Have you worn these on ice/densely packed snow? Definitely want a pair, but living in Detroit I want to make sure they’ll be okay in winter. Can sub them out for bean boots when it’s really snowing though.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hey, the flat grip has surprisingly great traction, actually. That said I’m in New York so sidewalks get salted real quick when it’s icy.

      Reply
  7. These are very rugged boots. Usually I can’t stand this style of boot. But these are so robust, comfortable and stylish that they are worth the money. My uncle has worn the best of British, Italian and Aussie footwear and these have outlasted everything. Especially when you consider that he has worn some pairs non stop for over 20 years (his shoes are older than me)
    Also worth a look are R.M’s trousers, particularly the 15oz moleskin jeans, once again they last a good 10 years of wear. Also look on ebay I picked a pair up for £200 liquidated stock absolute steal.

    Reply
  8. Hi Nick,

    I see lots of people talking about the Thursday Chelsea, and I wondered if you noticed what I did when i tried them – the loop was physically too small for me to get even my little finger in. The rest of the bot is great but that was a deal breaker. PS – i have a pair of the Rum Comfort Craftman’s arriving today and it was after both the Thursday incident and, more importantly, i received and tried Redwing’s NEW Williston Chelsea – made of iron and the thickest leather ive ever tried i was really excited actually. Uncomfortable to begin but i figured would stretch out. I was wrong about that, but even worse, the pull tab snapped. Good boot otherwise?

    Thanks for your article.

    Reply
  9. Hey Nick

    Love the review. I have just recently (three weeks ago) purchased a pair of Dynamic Flex Comfort Craftsmans in size 8.5H. The fit around the ball of my foot is great, as is the length. However, it feels slightly roomy around the heel/I’m getting a bit of heel slip. Is this something fairly normal for RM Williams boots? A bit worried I’ve got the wrong size!

    Reply
    • Thanks a lot, friend! I was curious about the Dynamic Flex ones, I haven’t tried them but I hear they’re very supportive. My RMs don’t slip, do the boots feel BIG? Oftentimes slipping abates with time but not if it’s just the wrong size

      Reply
  10. Hey Nick,
    This review influenced me in purchasing a pair of comfort craftsman in chestnut, I was wondering if it’s okay to use saphir products such as the Saphir Medaille D’or in conditioning the boots or should I Opt for their brand of leather care products?

    Reply

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