Review: The Taft Dragon 2.0 Boot Nails the Balance of Weird and Stylish

There’s a new Dragon boot in town. American bootmaker Taft has kicked their Dragon 1.0 to the curb — see my original Dragon review here — and upgraded to the Dragon 2.0.

Founded in 2013 by Kory and Mallory Stevens, Taft has become extraordinarily successful — they were worth $15 million in 2017 — by producing memorable and totally unorthodox boots like the wool Taft Jack boot and the Rome Boot.

The Dragon, though, is their first model made with a Goodyear welt, widely considered the gold standard of soling techniques for hardy boots. How does the tougher Dragon measure up? I found it to be a versatile, comfortable boot that stands out from the crowd.

[Like this shoe? Buy the Taft Dragon 2.0 boot here!]

Taft Dragon 2.0 Boot Aesthetics

  • Versatile profile
  • Distinctive embossed leather
  • Goodyear welt
  • Ridgeway sole

The Dragon is a super versatile shoe that I wear with just about any outfit that starts with jeans. The somewhat wrinkly, waxed commander leather isn’t that easy to dress up, but the combination of this rustic leather with the slightly dressy last make for a refreshing way to make a casual outfit pop.

Compared to the original Dragon, the main change is the sole: instead of the studded rubber Dainite it’s now a grippier and more flexible Ridgeway sole. They also changed the pull tab to nylon (so it doesn’t stick out the bottom of your pants), and Taft added a heavy texture to the leather. Let’s take a closer look at it.

taft dragon boot leather

Taft Dragon 2.0 Boot Leather

  • Waxy Commander from C.F. Stead
  • “Wrinkly” appearance
  • Fiber structure is shrunk
  • Completely waterproof

The boot comes in six leathers right now and they’re all different colors of the same rugged fashion leather called Waxy Commander, a suede from the British tannery CF Stead.

It has a lot of character. The wrinkles are embossed by Taft, and when I first posted it on my Instagram, I had some people say it looked like dragon skin — others said it looked more like wrinkly human skin from a certain body part but hey, I like it. It’s unusual, but not so bizarre that it comes off as loud. (Like a lot of Taft’s other boots do. I like the brand but some of these shoes…)

Note that my London Fog boots’ appearance did change over time. Here’s what they looked like when they came in the mail.

taft dragon boot

But after a few weeks of regular wear, the leather started to look a lot less like dried out skin and it acquired a softness and nappiness that made it more reminiscent of regular suede, though the “wrinkles” are certainly still obvious.

taft dragon boot vamp

It’s worth pointing out that the tannage used by CF Stead shrinks the fiber structure by up to 25 percent to help prevent any opening or stretching over the toe. Bonus: it’s waxed in such a way to make it completely waterproof.

taft dragon boot profile

Taft Dragon 2.0 Boot Leather Care

  • Use Dubbin Wax
  • Helps maximize water repellency
  • Clean boots before applying

This unusual leather is meant to be conditioned with Dubbin Wax. It’s intended to maximize water repellency, offer protection from dirt and stains, and keep the leather supple. Just make sure they’re clean, apply a little to a cloth, rub it evenly over the leather, and leave it for at least an hour (preferably overnight) before wearing them.

taft dragon boot sole

Taft Dragon 2.0 Boot Sole

  • Ridgeway outsole
  • Better grip than Taft 1.0
  • Rubber midsole
  • Leather insole
  • Goodyear welt

This outsole is Ridgeway, which is made by the same people that make Dainite soles but it’s a little softer and, according to Taft, it’s more flexible than Dainite. The pattern gives it better grip than Dainite and while it’s not quite as aesthetically pleasing as the studded rubber, the Ridgeway retains a flat look from the side and in any case, it’s not like a lot of people look directly at the outsole of your shoe.

There’s also a rubber midsole, a shank, a leather insole and the upper is attached to the sole with a Goodyear welt. As I mentioned earlier that’s rare for a Taft boot, but the Goodyear welt means it’s easier to resole and it’s more water resistant than the dressier Blake stitch that’s more common in Taft shoes.

[Learn more: The 6 Types of Boot Soles You Should Know About.]

taft dragon boot rear

Taft Dragon 2.0 Boot Fit & Sizing

  • No half sizes available
  • No other widths either
  • No break in
  • So-so arch support
  • Good shock absorption

The biggest issue I have with Taft is the sizing: they have no other widths and no half sizes. I’m an 11.5 when boots are true to size, and while they urge you to size down if you’re a half size, I found the 11 too small. So I have a 12 which is fine, but look, it’s a tiny bit big.

It’s not a huge deal and as I wore the boots in and they molded to my foot and it became less of an issue, but it’s not perfect and I think Taft’s lack of half sizes is a big blind spot.

The good news I didn’t really have any break in and while the arch support is so-so, the shock absorption is pretty decent. I’m pretty happy with the comfort overall.

[See my ultimate guide to how boots should fit!]

taft dragon boot heel

Taft Dragon 2.0 Boot Price

While they go on sale a few times a year and dip below $300, normally the Dragon costs $349.

 For a Goodyear welted boot that’s not unusually expensive, but given the boot is made in Portugal and Taft sells direct to consumer, I think $300 would have been a more appropriate price. 

[Like the boot? Buy it here and check out all 6 leathers.]

stridewise taft boots

That’s a Schott leather jacket, by the way

Taft Dragon 2.0 Boot Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Snappy aesthetic
  • Waterproof
  • Goodyear welt
  • Good shock absorption

Cons

  • No half sizes
  • Not everyone likes the leather
  • Pricy

taft dragon boot steps

I like these boots and wear them a ton. They go well with just about any outfit that incorporates jeans, and while not everyone loves the unusual leather, I find the combination of a dressy last and rustic leather makes for a great way to make an outfit pop without being too ostentatious.

They’re waterproof, they’ll last through multiple soles, there was no break in and they’re comfortable. I wouldn’t wear them with anything formal, but I think they’re worth the price.

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Nick

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]

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