I finally decided to keep the Durango boots, reasoning that the boots are completely different from the Frye boots. The obvious difference is that the Durango boots are cowboy boots and have a pointier toe with decorative stitching on the throat (the boot shaft) and over the instep and toe box, while the Fryes are undecorated with a round toe. Both shoes can be found at Western wear shops.
For reference, I bought the Durango RD4112 on Zappos for $100 in a size 6.5, which translates to a
European 38. This is different from most shoe sizing systems, as I’m used to seeing a Euro 38 translate to a US women’s 8. Most Western boots require you to size one or a half size down, and for the Frye and Durango boots, I found that sizing a half-size down from my normal shoe size works out perfectly for me. The Frye Carson boots are anywhere from $300 to $350.
One thing I noticed is that the Frye boots do not need to be as broken in as the Durango boots. The throat for the Frye boots are so soft that they don’t stand, compared to the Durango boots, which are super stiff. As a result, the Durangos are a little harder to pull on and off, and require some serious pulling. I haven’t worn them long enough to break them in, so I’m not sure if it’s because that’s how they’re supposed to be or if I need to break them in more.
I find that the heel slips for both boots, but upon reading, this is supposed to be normal. As you break in the shoe, the leather will conform to your heel. This may or may not hold true for Western-inspired fashion shoes from brands like Steve Madden. Overall, you’re looking at a much stiffer shoe, which is expected from something that’s supposed to be durable enough to work on a ranch in.
The throat for both boots are cut normally, but if you have wide calves (especially if you’re shorter than 5’3″ or have short legs) then you may want to think on getting boots with a shorter throat, different boots, or stretching the calf, especially if you want to tuck your jeans into the boots. If you have narrower calves than most, then you may find that the Carsons will not stay up as well and will slouch. The leather on the Durangos are very stiff, so if you do have wider calves, then you may be more uncomfortable than wearing the Carsons, which have softer, more pliable leather.
Both sets of boots come with instructions on how to care for them. I find this a nice touch, since as a person who is new to non-fashion boots, I have no idea how to care for these.
I really like the Durangos because they look masculine and balances out frills and lace so outfits don’t look overwhelmingly girly. I like the Frye boots for the opposite reasons. They’re very versatile, comfortable, durable, and I feel are a must in a woman’s shoe collection, like the classic black pump.
I’ve been wearing mine with jeans and leggings, but when the weather warms up and I start showing off my knees, you know I’ll be wearing them with my mini skirts and my dresses.
Image by Hayne Park