Monday, April 2, 2012

Wassookeag Moccasins the Rolls Royce of Footwear

I am regularly impressed by the quality of Maine based products found throughout the state. You certainly do not have to look very far to find skilled craftsmen plying their trade out of small shops, building superior pieces of handmade merchandise. These individuals have honed their skills over decades and are masters of their perused craft. Because of the huge number of craftsmen, around the state, creating truly exquisite pieces of what I would categorize as “art”, I am always on constant alert as to what could be the next new and interesting Maine made outdoor products.

While searching the internet the other evening, I stumbled into the virtual storefront of a innovative little company called Wassookeag Moccasins, operating out of the small town of Dexter, Maine. Through the expert hands of proprietor Mark Wintle, this shop is responsible for creating a truly amazing assortment of moccasins.

Now I know what you are going to say, what could possibly be amazing about moccasins? Well my friends, as did I, you have a lot to learn. First, I would suggest you toss into the garbage those old ratty lame plastic bottomed mocs you are currently using and upgrade to the big league with a pair of all leather, hug your foot, feels so good you wanna slap your momma Wassookeag moccasins. They are truly the Rolls Royce of footwear and from the first second you put them on you are going to immediately understand what I am talking about.

Available in a huge selection of configurations, styles and fits for both men and women, it would be difficult not to find a pair that matches your every wanton desire. For Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries and other gift based celebrations, you would be hard pressed to find a more elegant and well fitting gift for that special someone. When you place an order, please mention the rabid outdoorsman sent you!

Given my penchant for destroying just about everything I place upon my feet, WAY before its anticipated end date, Mark suggested I order the bull hide, deer skin lined, triple sole canoe moc. Though certainly a mouthful, the Moc provides extra protection in the sole, sure to delay the time it will take for me to completely and utterly destroy them. I can already see me shuffling down my coarse gravel driveway, trying to keep the dog from getting run over by the UPS truck, strapping crampons to them or becoming involved in some other completely ridiculous practice that no self respecting piece of footwear should ever have to be subjected to. I will be sure to post updates, as time marches on, as to how my mocs hold up in these completely unfair conditions.

When visiting the WassookeagMoccasins site be sure to check out the section on “Earthing”  or the health benefits of reconnecting your feet with terra firma and the cool How They are Made Video

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Mark Wintle
Interview With Mark Wintle of Wassookeag Moccasins: I conducted this interview with Mark to gather a little more information on his products and answer a few simple questions that I had. I am posting, hoping others will find the information helpful.


Rabid Outdoorsman: Do you suggest a certain product to help keep my Wassookeag Moccasins leather pliable and supple?

Mark: It’s not necessary if the intent is to wear them inside most of the time, however I do use a waterproof mink oil paste on mine about once a month or so to keep them from soaking up too much moisture since I wear mine both inside and out pretty much every day. I also like to use the mink oil on the rawhide laces to keep them from getting dried out and brittle, keeping the rawhide laces moist also helps to keep them tied.

Rabid Outdoorsman:Is there a break in period? I know that they are comfortable but do they further mold to your feet over time?

Mark:They are soft and pliable right out of the box, but they definitely will mold to your feet over time, conforming to the shape of your feet, especially under foot, the leather will compact slightly under the heel and ball of the foot where most of the pressure is applied and stay nice and fluffy under the arch, creating a natural arch support and padded bed for your feet.

Rabid Outdoorsman: For high wear and abuse you suggest certain mocs and leathers over others . . . do you also have a suggestion for "around the house" as opposed to other uses?

Mark: For around the house, the softsole mocs would be perfect. For indoor and outdoor use or as a driving shoe or casual shoe (as I use them) I recommend the triple sole mocs. The buffalo hide is a bit more “spongy” and has a little more stretch and give to them, the bullhide is more compact and stands up a little better to extensive outdoor use since they have a tendency to soak up a bit less moisture, but both the bullhide and buffalo hide will stand up very well to regular outdoor use.

Rabid Outdoorsman: How long with regular use can a person expect a moc to last? I have a pair I got 2 Christmases ago and they are COMPLETELY worn out with holes in the toe box. Your product appears VASTLY superior.

Mark: I use 8 to 9 ounce (a little more than 1/8th inch in thickness) buffalo or bull hide for the bottom sole, inner sole and vamp (which wraps around the entire foot in one piece), this not only provides lots of comfort but also guarantees many many years of wear. It’s pretty hard to estimate the number of years they will last since every person is different, how they wear them, where they wear them, etc. If used mainly indoors, they can last a lifetime, if used and abused like an everyday shoe or if the person is a “scuffer”, scuffs their feet when they walk, particularly when they walk on abrasive concrete or pavement, they may only last 4 or 5 years. The wear will generally be primarily in the bottom sole . . . and yes, I do provide a resoling service, $45 and I ship them back for free.

Rabid Outdoorsman: How long does it take you to make a pair of mocs?

Mark: Well, If I struck out to make a single pair from start to finish, which is rare since it is much more efficient to do multiple pair at a time, it would take me about 4 hours.  The process is very labor intensive as you can tell from the “how there made” video, but generally I can make about 3 pair a day, sometimes 4 such as during the Christmas rush when customers are expecting their mocs to get there by Christmas.

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