During last elk season while sitting around the campfire, one of my best high school friends gave me a great tip on boots. He mentioned that he wore Hoffman hunting boots for his late season deer hunts and that they were the best snow pack boots he had found. Intrigued by and trusting his advice, I placed my order for a pair of Double Insulated Mountaineer in 12 inch.
I guide waterfowl hunters in the winter and these boots saved my feet during my goose field hunts. I love the Bob Sole and the traction it provides. The boots are a bit on the heavy side, but at 12 inches tall, with leather uppers and double insulation, I expected the weight. I also used them a couple times chukar hunting in deep snow and they were great. Now I don’t worry about my feet during those mid-winter cold hunting outings.
The Hoffman Boots story spans over 130 years, 4 generations and is one of patriotism, hard work, success and realization of the American dream.
Way back in 1880 Great-grandfather Joseph Hoffman, a European boot maker, emigrated from Austria to America. With him he brought a spirit of can do attitude and boot making skills that he had already developed while in the old country. Having several sons born in Minnesota, the next generation was born and raised working on boots and soon had their own show repair shops of their own.
One son, Andrew Hoffman, moved to Anaheim California in 1922 and opened up his own shoe sales and repair shop. A few years later, the “Great Depression” hit which actually helped expand the Hoffman family business. John Hoffman, Andrew’s son, attributed his dad’s growth to shoe and boot repair because “no one could afford new boots and shoes and the repair business really took off”!
John Hoffman, born in 1935, began his boot apprenticeship by being a shoe shine boy at the age of 9 years old at the Santa Anna Army Air Base, now named John Wayne Airport. As fortune would have it, his father was awarded a military contract around this time that lasted 18 years for boot repair at the Marine Corp Air Station El Toro in Irvine, California. Military boots would literally be dropped off by the truck load and kept John, his father and brothers very busy for years.
In 1958 John Hoffman was drafted in the Army to serve in Korea. John hoped to just be normal soldier for the 1st Cavalry Division under the 8th Army but someone found out about his boot repair knowledge which led to him spending the next year fixing boots for his unit with help from 13 local Koreans working for him in his own boot repair shop.
By 1960 John was honorably discharged from the Army and with his brothers, Robert and Joe, immediately went out and bought a boot repair and retail store in Placentia, CA that served the community and the El Toro Marine base.In 1973 the brothers sold the shop in California and moved to Kellogg, Idaho and opened up another boot repair and sales shop. A year later after noticing a demand for logging boots with spikes called “Calks”, the brothers created their own Hoffman boot with Calks and placed it outside on display. John Hoffman recalls “that boot sold the next day so we made five more that quickly sold”….. and so began the Hoffman boot company.
Over the years the boot lines expanded to lineman, safety, cold weather pack and ultimately to the new Explorer line of hunting boots.
After 60 years in the business, the Hoffman brothers John, Joe and Robert eventually retired. John’s kids, Tom, Jim and Beth, currently own and work in the business and have strengthened the development of lineman, logging and the hunting style boots.
In the words of the elder John Hoffman “They have grown the business several times over with high end footwear, it’s been a great ride!”
The Hoffman’s story spans over 130 years, 4 generations and is one of patriotism, hard work, success and realization of the American dream. It’s a source of pride not just for the Hoffman family but for all Americans; I would say that the Hoffman’s know boots!
by Mat Cervantes