Right out of the box, a new pair of Tanker Boots should be stiff, snug, and a little squeaky for the non-burnished horsehide versions. The stiffness eventually gives way to a softness, the snugness relaxes a bit, and the squeaking gets a little less squeaky and a little quieter.
Breaking these boots in took about one full week of wearing the boots all day, every day. There weren’t any days where I felt the need to wear something different for the sake of my feet, nor did I employ my age-old tactic of just taking his shoes off and working in his socks. After one week, any stiffness was gone and I wore them daily without issue. After six months, they're the most comfortable pair of boots in my rotation - a mix of the soft, supple horsehide leather, the ability to adjust my instep tightness much better than a standard engineer boot, and a damn good last. In Before Times they were my go-to travel boot - comfortable, stylish, and easy to get on and off. Once the dust settles from the pandemic and I feel comfortable traveling again - these will be my loyal airport companions.
Lastly, that squeaking noise I mentioned above, at the shop we call it the Villain Noise because it sounds like you’re a villain in an action movie. The only way to describe it is that the boots make a subtle “leather noise” when you walk, calling it a “squeak” doesn’t properly do justice to the sound, nor is it really accurate to it.
The Tanker Boots aren’t a beginner piece of footwear, but they're surprisingly easy to style and comfortable as all get out to wear. While they can certainly be an acquired taste, the comfort and quality speak for themselves, and if you’re at all curious, I wholeheartedly recommend giving them a try. Don't be afraid of them - they're a great way to branch out your style.
The Eastman Tanker Boots are available in Russet Horsehide, Black Horsehide, and the new Burnished Havana Roughout.