Both Ralph and Joe were well aware that kangaroo leather has the highest strength to weight ratio of any leather known to man. Kangaroo is 20% lighter than cowhide right off the bat. But when split, as all leathers must be before the tanning process to make them usable for making boots and shoes, kangaroo leather when split down to only 20% of its original thickness retains 30% to 60% of its original tensile strength.
This is significant because cowhides...when split to 20% of their original thickness...retain only 1% to 4% of their original tensile strength.
Kangaroo has 10 times (10X), the tensile strength of cowhide and is 50% stronger than goat hide leather. Yet kangaroo is 20% lighter. Highly desirable attributes for making boots and shoes.
So why can’t Russell buy any of this wonderful leather here in the US? Good question!
Ralph and Joe went on a mission to find out. There had to be a reason.
Joe got on the internet and went straight to the source of kangaroo leather...Australia! After much investigation, questioning, ordering samples, sorting out, Joe ordered several hides from the Packer Leather Company in Australia. Their unique K-Roo kangaroo leather is fine grained, lightweight, flexible, strong AND waterproofed!
Next Russell made prototype boots and shoes to test.
Joe recently wore a pair of K-Roo South 40 Birdshooters on a very wet Northern
Wisconsin grouse hunting trip. He purposely DID NOT TREAT the new boots with any kind of water proofing product as he wanted to find out how waterproof they were right out of the box. After a couple days of wet hunting, Joe’s feet were dry. No problems at all. As he wears the boots more he will treat them with a waterproofing product just to make sure but the first reports were all good!
Based on “feet-on-the-ground” testing, Russell is introducing five of its classic designs in all kangaroo leather. Up until now it has just never been practical to make an entire Russell shoe or boot out of kangaroo as the kangaroo leather we saw here in the US has always been so thin that we could not use it to make shoes or boots. It had very little structure or rigidity so we always had to line it with cowhide, which defeated the purpose of lightweight kangaroo leather. We have incorporated kangaroo tops and gussets in a number of our boots and shoes for many years but our customers wanted “lighter” boots so we went to work.
Testing complete, we announce the availability of the following Russell Classics in full kangaroo:
1. Art Carter Traveling Sportsman, in double vamp with outside molded sole and lightweight Aspen Gumlite sole.
2. Safari “PH”, leather lined with canvas or leather uppers, Newporter sole with 1/4” heel lift.
3. Kangaroo Birdshooter, double vamp, leather lined quarters with Aspen Gumlite sole.
4. Short “PH”, leather lined vamp, lacing studs, Newporter sole with 1/4” heel lift.
5. South 40 Birdshooter, double vamp with outside molded sole, lacing studs, Poron slipsole, back pull loop, Newporter sole with 1/4” heel lift.
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