Leather vs Synthetic Boots: Comparison and Contrast

Leather vs Synthetic Boots Comparison and Contrast

To the untrained eye it’s difficult to tell the difference between real and synthetic / faux leather boots. This raises the question, does it really make a difference? The short answer is yes, it does. But as to which is better, it depends on your needs and what you intend to do with the boots.

Real leather boots cost more because they’re subject to more intricate processes. Real leather is obtained from animals and carefully handled for the best results. The leather needs medical certification to prove it is safe to use. This takes a lot of time and money, hence the extra cost.

Synthetic leather undergoes an easier process. Some of the steps are automated, allowing them to be reproduced. The simplified production process allows manufacturers to sell them at a lower price.


Synthetic leather is made from different materials. It may have some leather components, but they also have polyurethane and other materials. The finish is treated and processed to simulate the appearance of leather.

Synthetic leather may look a lot like real leather, but there are differences. Real leather has distinct patterns and the pores are apparent. Full grain leather leaves the imperfections and is untreated, which makes them pure.


Real leather has a leathery smell. It’s hard to describe the odor, but the closest approximation is burning hair. It has an organic smell because it came from a real animal.

Synthetic leather has a plastic smell. A lot of companies have been working to give it a more realistic smell, but it’s hard to simulate the scent of high quality leather.


Real leather boots have traditionally been stronger than faux leather, but that really depends on a lot of factors.

Full grain and top grain leather are the most durable natural leather, and they’re used in work boots and other heavy duty footwear. Suede is real leather, but it is softer and need more maintenance.

Synthetic leather is more difficult to judge as there are so many variants. High quality synthetic leather is more durable than previous shoes and they look better too. Of course the longevity depends on how you wear those boots.


Real leather work boots are meant for heavy duty use, but they also need regular maintenance. Oiling, conditioning, regular cleaning, etc. is going to prolong its life and prevent cracks and deterioration.

Synthetic leather boots don’t need as much maintenance. Wiping dirt off and cleaning with soapy water will do.

Leather Boots Pros

  • Built with durability in mind. Properly cared for, genuine leather boots will last a long time.
  • Real leather has a luxurious feel to it. From boots to wallets to bags, the feel, smell and texture are different.
  • Leather boots can handle diverse working conditions.
  • Leather boots have padded insulated linings for insulation.
  • Leather footwear has durable stitching for extra durability.

Leather Boots Cons

  • Some leather footwear, especially suede, needs high maintenance.
  • They’re more expensive than synthetic leather.

Now lets know the pros and cons of synthetic boots-

Synthetic Boots Pros

  • Synthetic boots are more affordable.
  • Synthetic leather boots don’t need as much maintenance as real leather.
  • You can be more carefree with these boots as they’re easier to clean up.
  • Quality is improving all the time.

Synthetic Boots Cons

  • They don’t smell like real leather.
  • Quality varies; some synthetic leather boots are good, but others are poorly made.
  • Though quality has improved, real leather is still more durable.

​Frequently Asked Questions

​Question: What is the difference between faux and synthetic leather?

Answer They are both synthetic leather.

​Question: What is the highest quality leather available?

AnswerFull grain leather is the best, as the material hasn’t been artificially treated in any way.

​Question: Is genuine leather the same thing as real leather?

AnswerReal leather is a term used for all leather that isn’t artificially made. Genuine leather is also ‘real”, but it is the lowest quality available. Genuine leather is not as durable as top or full grain.

​Question: What is cowhide?

AnswerCowhide is leather wherein the animal’s color is maintained. The animals’ skins are processed and used to make boots, jackets, bags and belts.

​Question: How often do I have to clean synthetic leather?

Answer It depends on how much use your boots get. If they’re regularly immersed in mud and dirt, clean every day. Unlike regular leather, you can clean with confidence as the finish isn’t as delicate.

​Question: Can I use any leather cleaner for all my footwear?

Answer: No, some leather footwear like nubuck needs specific types of cleaners. Read the product description carefully before applying it.


Some people won’t settle for anything less than genuine leather, but others find synthetic leather boots work just fine. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what others say, as it’s a decision only you can make. For the most bang for your buck however, real leather boots are worth investing in.