When people see “genuine leather” on labels at the store, they often think is made of the highest quality authentic leather. Genuine leather is real leather but the grade of it is on the lower scale. Here at Hilling Boots, our boots are made of the highest quality grade and most long-lasting leather called “full-grain leather.”

What is full-grain leather?

Full-grain leather is made from the entire natural hide, including the top layer, of an animal. It’s most commonly taken from cattle. What makes full-grain the highest quality is the fact that the outermost layer of the hide is left alone and only the hairs are removed. By leaving imperfections, like bug bites, pores, scratches, etc., the leather will better retain its moisture due to its remaining oil-absorbing properties.  The thickness of the hide is left untouched as well. Because the animal hide for full-grain leather goes through minimal manufacturing, it results in leather that is more durable, stronger, and long-lasting compared to other types of leather that have had their imperfections buffed and corrected.

No two full-grain leather pieces will be exactly the same because every animal has different marks, scratches, and other visible imperfections, which maintain the individuality of each piece. Additionally, full-grain leathers will develop a layer called “patina” over a long period of time. It often shows up as a bronzy, gold color in a marble pattern, however, don’t worry! It does not mean the leather is becoming more damaged. As mentioned before, full-grain leather is essentially unprocessed, meaning it will absorb oils from your finger, creams, sunlight, as well as take on scratches. Patina adds an extra level of individuality and is a sign of good aging and richness. 

How is full-grain leather prepared?

There are plenty of factors that can affect the quality of the natural hide, including but not limited to the breed of the cattle, the environment they were raised in, and the part of the body the hide was taken from. Once the hide has been collected, the leftover flesh and the hairs are removed and the hide is cleaned.  After that, it goes through a process called “tanning.”  Tanning is the treatment process harvested hides go through to become more useable. Full-grain leather often goes through vegetable tanning. It’s a type of tanning that involves soaking the hide in liquor made from tannin (from tree barks, seeds, etc). This leaves the leather thick with a hint of an earthy, woody smell. Vegetable tanning can only be done properly by highly skilled craftsmen. Once the leather has been taken out of the soak, it is dried and the edges are trimmed off. If necessary, it will go through finishing touches like being retanned, dyed, polished, and/or surface finished. It’s lengthy, but the well-worth process of up to several months that high-quality leathers go through. 

Benefits and drawbacks of full-grain leather:


  • Full-grain leather is the highest quality of leather available. It’s long-lasting, durable, and ages like fine wine.
  • It is an all-natural material, making it breathable and biodegradable.
  • It is easy to care for! Not only is it already water-resistant, but it can withstand scratches and natural markings without falling apart. Click here for tips and tricks on how to clean and maintain your pair of Hilling Boots.
  • It’s beautiful and unique because of the natural imperfections of the hide.  The leather patina adds a beautiful marbling that only elevates the beauty of full-grain leather.


  • Due to the lengthy process full-grain leather goes through to achieve the quality it possesses, it can be costly.
  • Some people do not enjoy the inconsistency of natural defects in full-grain leather.
  • It can stain easily and may not be suitable for certain environments with extreme temperatures.

So do you still think you need a good reason to try Hilling Boots? For the greatest comfort and the classiest style, wear Hilling Boots! Guaranteed you won’t ever regret your purchase!

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