Simply put, rough out leather is full grain leather that has the rough side showing on the outside and the soft side inside.
Full grain leather refers to the top layer skin right below the hairs of the animal. The top layer skin is referred to as full grain leather, and full grain leather is the highest quality of leather available.
Key point: Full grain leather is from the outer/top layer of leather which is the toughest and longest-lasting part of the leather. As a general rule of thumb, the further you are from the skin surface of the leather the softer the leather will be.
That is why the most durable brand of boots and clothing are made of full grain leather, because it is the most expensive but longest lasting type of leather. Stepping on rough terrain, soldiers know the importance of durability in their boots; the toughest boots provide much better feet protection and ankle protection needed to complete the task at hand.
My favorite rough out leather AR 670-1 authorized boots are Danner Men's Desert TFX Rough Out GTX Military Boot. Here is the version for women: Danner Women's Desert TFX Rough Out GTX Military Boot
Suede vs. Rough Out Leather
Disclaimer: the image above is just an example, some times the material can vary in both color and texture.
Suede and rough out leather often get mixed up with each other. The reason why is because they look similar: the surface of each type of leather looks rough and rugged.
Now with that said, I would like to make it clear that suede and rough out leather look similar but are made from completely different qualities of leather. I will describe the differences here and hopefully clear up the confusion between the two types.
Suede is different from rough out leather because it is made out of the under layer portion of the leather as opposed to the top layer closer to the skin surface that full grain leather is made out of.
The difference is significant because the under layer portion of leather is less expensive and less durable. On the other hand, suede is much softer and appears smoother than rough out full grain leather.
Rough out leather looks more rugged and less refined. Since suede is made of the under layer portion of leather, and split from the top layer, it is sometimes referred to as “split-leather.” Typically suede boots don’t last as long as the full grain leather boots, since it’s made primarily with the softer part of hide.
To learn more about suede, i've wrote an extensive article about the leather-type here: What the heck is suede?
Advantages of Rough out Leather
Rough out leather boots are becoming increasingly more popular among hardworking men and women from all walks of life. One of the simplest advantages of rough out boots lies in the aesthetic appearance that the rougher side of the leather has. As stated before, this gives rough out boots a suede look, so this is surely an advantage if you prefer this look.
Furthermore, there are also very factual benefits that fall outside of the realm of stylistic preference. Here are a few practical points:
- Rough out leather boots are highly durable – the rougher side of the leather is more resistant to scratches and nicks. Even if the boots do manage to get scratched or nicked, these imperfections are better hidden by the rough side of the leather compared to suede.
- Not all boots need polishing – on rough terrain when you know your kicks are to take on a beating, consider trading suede for rough out leather for maximum terrain resistance.
- Protection - Stitching is able to sink much deeper into the leather, giving you more ankle protection.
Lastly, many wearers of leather boots merely prefer rough out boots because by having the rough side of the leather on the outside and the smoother side is placed on the inside – their feet feel much more comfortable.
Rough Out Leather Boot Care
Now you might be wonder about how to take care of your rough out leather boots. Even though your rough out boots more durable and flexible, it should go without saying that proper care is mandatory.
If your rough out leather boots get dirty; I recommend brushing it down with a suede brush to clean them up. Scuffs and marks that won’t easily get brushed out can often be removed by rubbing it with crepe rubber or special suede eraser designed for just this task.
Important to note: Rough out leather material is not friendly with water. Do avoid conditioner, wax, or oil, unless you know what you are doing because it will ruin the leather material on your boot. If you really need to condition them because the leather is beginning to crack– I recommend putting the conditioner inside the boot, so that the leather will not get “matted.”
Overall, I hope you found the answer to "what is rough out leather" through this guide. Thank you for taking the time to read, and feel free to check out my other posts below under "related posts."
- Here's a broader list of rough out leather boots and other AR 670-1 compliant boots: Authorized Military Boots or Best Army Boots
- Here is another recent post I wrote: My recommendation for best army boots for deployment
- The Nike SFB Field Leather Boots feature uppers that are Flesh Out Cattle Hide, read more about them on my review here.