90th IDPG Reviews


At The Front Roughout Boots

Review Date:  2/5/2008
Author: Chris Guska

While at the Fort Indiantown GAP event in January of 2008 – I was able to purchase several items from At The Front for my brother – included on my shopping list were a pair of “Service Shoes, Reverse Upper”s aka Roughouts. 

The boots were on sale for $80.00  - the non-sale price of boots from At The Front (ATF) is $109.99, or 2 pair for $199.99.

The boots are available in whole sizes 8-13, and E width.  The boots are marked D width, but all are E width.

The Boots:

I’ve owned boots from ATF, WWII Impressions, and Blockade Runner – where others in my unit have purchased boots from What Price Glory / SM Wholesale, and the old Panco boots left over from Saving Private Ryan. 

I may revise my comments on these boots, and my WWII Impressions boots as I get more new examples to review – such as from SM Wholesale / WPG, or Sturm.

On ATF’s website there is a pair of photos – both of sufficient quality to get an OK impression of what you’re getting for your money.  http://www.atthefront.com/us_boots_roughout_main.jpg and http://www.atthefront.com/us_boots_roughout_stamp.jpg

Additionally there is some commentary on why the boots were constructed as they are, fit, finish, and return info.  http://www.atthefront.com/us_boots_roughout.htm 

Rollin’s comments on the page are geared towards the new re-enactor. 

Here’s what you get –


Out of the box


Yes, the boots came pre-laced.  The laces are OK; I’ll probably end up replacing them with original waxed or red nylon laces.

Side Detail


Rear Detail


Sole Detail

The sole is of a generally accepted pattern. Some boots had US Army markings – these boots copy that detail. The soles are stitched on with white stitching and reinforced with a row of nails.


Heel Detail
The heel is of a period style – the nails of the heel aren’t particularly evenly set, but none of them appear to be insufficiently set from a quick inspection.  The heel feels firmly glued and nailed on the boot.


The toe shape is correct, in that they are a tapered/rounded toe, rather than a large, wide, boxy shape you see on a lot of modern boots and shoes.  As promised by Rollin – the toe is non-reinforced like originals.


Eyelets and rivets –
The eyelets appear to be well set, none were loose.  The uppers are riveted with a dark brown rivet at the corners.  The rivet was tight and well formed inside and out.


Eyelet inside details-


Contractor markings-
There was an attempt to put in authentic style contractor markings.  I appreciate the attempt – it looks good.  The boots are E width, you come right out and say it on the website – why not properly mark them as E, and not even have to bother explaining anything? 

The obligatory “made in china” label is sewn in – I realize it needs to be there for import purposes and can’t be removed by the retailer. It’s almost like the dreaded “do not remove or be criminally prosecuted” tag on mattresses and furniture.  It looks like it could be torn out easily – but it’s still kind of a buzzkill.  What are the chances of getting a sticker that is easily peeled off leaving no remnant of any chicom involvement?


Inside view –
No funky insoles or other bullshit here – straight up, like originals. The leather feels to be of reasonable thickness and quality.  Its not too stiff – has a short nap on it – and should dub well.


The pattern of the boots is really nice.   The materials feel to be of reasonable quality – and the boots appear to be 100% serviceable.

The problems begin with some of the details.  From my best recollection of the QM spec, and the originals in my collection – none of them have the uppers sewn with anything other than “natural” or “white” colored thread.


The uppers on Rollin’s roughouts are sewn with a dark blue/purple thread. 

The only boots that I know of that were specifically required to be sewn with dark thread were Paratrooper boots, and the captoe garrison / service shoes.

I’m sure Rollin wouldn’t have made such a gaff as to use something that never happened – it was probably done just to piss off “undead historians” from an original example he owns, or that it was not specifically stated in the requirements that natural or white thread had to be used.  It might be a total goof – and they tried to move stock on them @ $80.00.


The “nails” reinforcing the rubber sole on to the leather sole appear to have been nailed in by a drunken elf.  None of the nails are in straight, only two of the nails are driven deeply and countersunk below the top of the rubber sole – the WWII Impressions roughouts have evenly spaced, deeply sunk brass plated nails.

More detail of the shitty finish quality of the nails –


With modern adhesives, the nails and even the stitching really aren’t necessary – but if it’s going to be put in – it should be done properly and finished well. 

There were some stitching anomalies where the upper joins the sole – with prepunched holes not being utilized – as well as a distinct rim around the boot where the stitiching is, and then the upper begins.  This should dissappear once the boots are worn – as the leather will stretch slightly and sit down closing this “gap” of sorts.


The boots did not have any other major blems that I could find – with stitching on the uppers. 

Now that I’ve directly reviewed Juan’s WWII Impressions roughouts, and Rollin’s At The Front roughouts – you definantly get what you pay for. 

Both boots have blems on them.  The overall finish quality of the WWII Impressions boots seemed better – better sole finish details, neater construction, with exception of the sewing blem on the heel of the pair I received. 

The At The Front roughouts are certainly worth the $80.00 –
But at $109.99 – I would have to contemplate WWII Impressions, or What Price Glory for a marginal amount more.

Rollin’s boots appear to be of reasonable quality leather, the stitching and rivets are tight on the uppers with no major blems.  The questionable parts begin where the uppers meet the sole.  The finish quality there is marginal – but what do you expect for $80.00 and “made in china” - there may be some truth to Juan’s “made in the USA” kick.


Summary of Pros and Cons. 

The boots are serviceable
The general pattern of the boots is correct
The leather feels to be of reasonable quality and thickness
The nap on the boots is short
The boots were on sale for $80.00 and the money wasn’t mine.
The markings are “period style”

The uppers are sewn with purple thread?  I can’t say its 100% wrong, but I cant say its 100% right
The nails on the soles look like they were done by a drunken elf
Only made in E width – but marked in D width

In conclusion – the boots appear to be serviceable – as with the boots from WWII Impressions, only time will tell if one boot outlasts the other, and under what conditions.  It’s really subjective unless there is a major catastrophic failure of the boot. The boots aren’t reenactor fantasy perfect in their details – and the construction isn’t perfect – just like the WWII Impressions boots.

At $80.00 or just over half the price of the WWII Impressions boots – it could be a solid choice.   At normal retail of $109.99 – I’d have to make a serious decision.  I personally like boots that fit – and being able to purchase half sizes, as well as D widths would give the edge to WWII Impressions in addition to the purple/blue upper stitching.  I realize there was a war on – and the color of stitching may not have been explicitly defined, and that the nails in the sole may not have been expertly installed – but these boots weren’t made under wartime conditions – they should be of very good quality. 

I wouldn’t be afraid to wear the boots in the field.  I think they’ll hold up.  The pattern is good – and I don’t think my brother will be a farb for wearing them with purple stitching and all.  Once dubbed, polished and dirty – with leggings on, the visibility should be minimized.



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