Rolling Dub Trio: Boots on sincerity

Over the soon 7 years I’ve been writing this blog, I have been on something of an adventure. Or a treasure hunt, if you like. I’ve built up a decent collection of pieces and sold or passed on a fair number as well. It would also be fair to say that there has been an escalation in what catches the interest. The pedestrian, the samey and the already bored of that. Seen it all beforeism makes itself known. Which to be honest is a bit tricky if you’re trying to find stuff to write about for your top-rated, most awesome menswear type of blog. Which all means you develop a roving eye for things that are different. In this case, my interest was captured by Rolling Dub Trio, a brand of footwear made in Tokyo.

It wasn’t even their full range that interested me, it as a single, very specific model that drew me in, like the lure of the angler fish. And this is where it all gets a bit interesting, as apart from the odd ping on the sonar, it was quite hard to find out all that much about Rolling Dub Trio. Heck, even the name makes it sound like a reggae sound system. Which may or may not be intentional, but certainly doesn’t make you think “I bet they make great boots!”.

The Rolling Dub Trio Coupen in profile view.

The Rolling Dub Trio Coupen in profile view.

Rolling Dub Trio has been quietly making their artisan boots since 2003, and pretty much only been available in Japan. The production runs appear to be short, a small batch of each type at a time. This does make them a little tricky to get hold of, and hence why they have become a little bit mythical. I first saw them back on a forum, where someone was proudly showing them off. Even though they made my tackle tingle, trying to find out how to buy a pair, or even what they cost, was almost impossible. Since then there have been more options, and Chrome introduced the “Translate this page to English” (with often comedic effect), though it’s still a case of jumping through the hoops of difficult communication, shops that don’t export or finding a proxy service that can help (basically paying someone in Japan to go buy them and ship them to you).

The footwear in question though is the Rolling Dub Trio “Coupen” workboot. A ruggedly handsome piece of footwear inspired by vintage workboots, handmade cork nitrile sole, 5mm leather midsoles, a deadstock Cat’s Paw heel and steel toe cap, rolled leather laces, a variety of leathers, all Goodyear Welted together to make an oddly attractive boot. When I say a variety of leathers, I mean just that. While my pairs are made from Horween Chromexcel leather, I have seen them made using seal leather, elephant leather and others. As an aside, I do wonder how many Cat’s Paw rubber heels were sitting around when they stopped making them, as there appears to be no shortage yet, even decades after production apparently stopped.

Really though, the plain Horween leather version is special enough. The leather is thick, yet supple, shaped over a last with a toe box with plenty of wriggle-room for the toes. The profile reminds me of old workboots from the 1930s but beefed up with the thick soles and rubber heel. The heel is shaped to hold your heel in place. The rolled natural leather laces are thick and tactile, adding to the feeling. They’re not as strong as regular laces or paracord, so a little care must be taken when tightening. The steel toe cap is something that takes a little getting used to, both the tapping sound when walking and the fact that it kind of reduces the grip of the toe at the end of the walking motion. Not to worry though, it seems to not last very long.

These are not light boots. Not by a long shot. The heavy soles and thick leather ensure that there is a heft and sturdiness that are noticeable. If you’re used to say, Red Wings, these make them feel rather unsubstantial.

The quirkiness of Rolling Dub Trio pops up again in the slogan used, “Boots on Sincerity”. It’s hard to know exactly what is meant, though they are indeed sincere boots. The brogue version has kilties (like on a golf shoe, and yes, they are removable) and a small shiny plaque on the front that, if you look very carefully, reads “Dear Mr Bootsaholic”. Rolling Dub Trio definitely know their audience.

Trying to work out the sizing is very tricky. I’m usually a size 8, and Coupens in size 8 fit me quite well, though they are a little narrow for my wider feet. In size 8H, which means 8 1/2, they feel like they are huge. In fact, the sole is 1.5cm longer than the size 8, so I think they may possibly even be size 9. The width on the size 8 has worked itself out though, through the use of an expanding shoe tree, some leather stretcher spray and some gumption.

At this point, you’ll no doubt be wondering what a pair of Coupens would set you back, and admittedly they’re not cheap. If you can source a pair of new ones direct from Japan you’re looking at a little north of twice what a pair of Red Wings would set you back. Are they worth it? All down to the foot of the beholder, I’d guess, but compared to Red Wings, yes.

You can follow Rolling Dub Trio on Instagram or look at their website here. The global version of Rakuten will usually have a fair selection available, both new from dealers and secondhand.

Rolling Dub Trio just informed me that they have launched a direct sale website that carries their full range, including Tokyo Sandals.

You might also enjoy the following promotional video. I did.


  • Johnny 09/09/2019 at 12:10

    Simply fantastic!

  • J Ouellette 22/09/2019 at 17:43

    The cats paw heels are still a stocked item and even still made. They are here south of Montreal in Canada, made by American Biltrite in the city of Sherbrooke. See:$FILE/Footwear_Men's%20Half%20Heels.pdf . Regards Mr JF Ouellette, Montreal.

    • nick 22/09/2019 at 18:00

      Given how many makers use this «rare, deadstock» part, I’ve long harboured a sneaking suspicion this might be the case!

  • Nick 11/10/2019 at 00:26

    Thanks for posting this. Re sizing – I was wondering whether you’re a UK8 or a US8? Would be a big help to know as I’m trying work out the correct Japanese size I need as a UK10.

    Many thanks….Nick

    • nick 11/10/2019 at 07:46

      I’m a UK8 and wear a size US8, so I’ve basically sized a full size down. I think it’s wiser to look at the Japanese sizing though, as less room for confusion. I have a pair for sale (the non-brogue pair above) that came in a mislabeled box. They should have been 8H (i.e. 8 and a half), but were huge, so after some investigation, it looks like they are 9H or 10. My son wears UK10 and said they fit him! It’s not easy though, ordering from far away and hoping they’ll fit!

      • Kosta 18/06/2020 at 07:26

        I wear a UK10 if you still have that extra pair. Excellent write-up, and loved the short film. It’s really well done. Also really enjoyed the HebTroCo Chukkas review. Thanks for posting.

        • nick 18/06/2020 at 09:04

          Thanks, Kosta! I’m afraid my size 10s were sold a while back.

          • Kosta 18/06/2020 at 13:58

            No surprise there, Nick. Thanks for letting me know.

  • Michael 23/06/2020 at 16:53

    Interestingly, I have the same pair of the brown Rolling Dub Trios. They’re pretty amazing boots that I’ve now had for… four years or so. For such a simple boot, they get noticed everywhere I go. When I had the taps replaced the shoe guy raved about the quality and that no one makes boots or shoes like that anymore. They’re quite comfortable and given that I also got a second set of replacement sole…. which means I’ll probably have them forever. Oh…. those brogues are amazing! I’d love to find some of those.


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