Recommendations for a do everything boot?
February 23, 2005 10:21 AM   Subscribe

I need to buy new boots. Requirements: comfortable (I'll be wearing them 70-100 hours a week), medium grippyness (Canada has all this frozen water half of the year), shinable, black, plain looking. I'd like to avoid spending much more than C$200.

From recommendations in a previous thread I plan to look into Merrell's Wilderness boots and visit my local MEC. I like the look of these Zamberlan Cervino's from MEC but they are pushing the limits of my budget. I loved the Cat's (similiar) I bought five years ago however the replacements I bought last year are alreay worn out so obviously quality is way down.

These are basicly my only footwear besides sandals in the summer (which are not acceptable at work) and my -40 rated snow boots I wear a bit in the winter. I wear them to work (business casual), driving, in my shop (auto and woodworking), a bit of day hiking and while at the computer (because you never know when a mountain might spring up in the machine room). I need something I can polish in black with out any accent colours that wouldn't be covered by dress pants. I don't need nor want steel toe. Nor do I really need waterproofness though my feet shouldn't get wet from stepping in a puddle. I like to wear medium low boots rather than shoes because of the added ankle support and protection from ankle abrasion they provide.

Anyone have any suggestions that meet my requirements or another place to shop, preferably in Calgary or at least Canada?
posted by Mitheral to Shopping (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can only give you negatives unfortunately.

Avoid Doc Martens, which look great and are very comfortable, but are terrible on ice.

You have to be careful with hiking boots too. In my experience (as a foolish and cheap student), one season of salty-slush can destroy a fancy $300 pair of full leather boots, even ones that have been Sno-gooed or beeswaxed.

Synthetics seem to work better in heavy salt. I don't know if Calgary salts or not, but, if that's a concern, I'd seriously consider some no-leather Gortex boots, myself.

Also, Virbram soles (and similar) are pretty good on ice.
posted by bonehead at 10:28 AM on February 23, 2005

I like Red Wing stuff, good and sturdy construction boots
posted by matteo at 10:34 AM on February 23, 2005

My family and friends also swear by Red Wing boots. Farmers, construction workers/electricians, and desk jobbers. They hold up well and can go anywhere. Plus every Red Wing store I've been in has been a little mom-and-pop type local store with really knowledgeable, great people.
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:40 AM on February 23, 2005

Mitheral, what do you need to do in your boots? I've become a fairly recent convert to Blundstones, the ones with the new sole material. Fairly grippy on ice, comfy, and light.

If you meant lace-up boots, I wore Brasher Boots for years. They'll probably be absurdly expensive in Canada.
posted by scruss at 11:26 AM on February 23, 2005

I've had a number of pairs of boots from Blundtstone. Although they're made in Australia, I've always found them fine for our winters, as long as you buy one of the models with substantial soles, not the flat-soled variety. They aren't cheap but they last awhile. The no-laces Wellington design are such an advantage in the winter -- especially now, when slush and muck predominate.

(Oh, and I just noticed they are now selling Canuck-only boots.)
posted by docgonzo at 11:38 AM on February 23, 2005

How about Danner? They are very comfortable and well made. I own two pairs one which is 10 years old and still going strong. Here is the link to the dealers in Alberta (Many in Calgary).
posted by mlis at 12:26 PM on February 23, 2005

Blundstones are awesome, waterproof (more or less) and easy to get in and out of if you don't want to tramp a bunch of mud inside. Timberland also started making a similar model which are a bit more lightweight, and not quite as warm for the really cold weath, but very serviceable.

Also very practical, waterproof and warm is the classic LL Bean Maine Hunting Shoe, or "duck boot" as they are known. These are only fashionable, though, with the Biff and Muffy set in New England. I still love them even if my punk rock friends cringe when I wear them.
posted by psmealey at 12:36 PM on February 23, 2005

Response by poster: Mitheral, what do you need to do in your boots?
Everything mostly. I'm not a hard core outdoors person but I've been known to lug 15 kilos of camera gear 10 kilometres up a trail to get a picture. Mostly I need a boot that is presentable in my work enviroment that isn't impractical for play. Calgary pours on the salt so chemical resistance is something I consider. I do clean and polish my boots every weekend. I admit that kind of potential damage is what makes me leary of laying out $500+ on a pair of footwear.

RedWing has several that are what I'm looking for like the 923 and eight stores in Calgary. Even a couple outlets not in mega malls(shudder).

The Black Vasque 7136 GTX perfect looking (trharlan's sundowner) and also available from the Redwing dealers.

The Blundstones are great but I think a boot without laces may be a bit too casual looking. Blundstone also won't tell you who sells them with out a valid email address.

Danner stuff would be great but they don't seem to have a plain black boot that isn't safety toe. I'll give them a look though because there is a Mark's not three blocks from my house.

Thanks all. I hate shopping for this kind of stuff with a burning passion and this has helped me narrow it down.
posted by Mitheral at 2:00 PM on February 23, 2005

I haven't owned that particular Zamberlan boot but my Zamberlan Alpine Lites had amazing durability considering how many miles of high mountain hiking I did in them as well as wearing them as my main pair of boots around town. So if it's only a little out of your budget it may be worth it for it's durability.

I still have my Alpine Lites and I'll eventually get them resoled.
posted by substrate at 2:18 PM on February 23, 2005

I have no recommendation on boots, but if you're looking for Blundstone, you can check them out at Gravity Pope on 17th Ave (near 4th St)
posted by sauril at 3:37 PM on February 23, 2005

Try Havanna Joes for everyday wear. I've had the same pair for six years (resoled just once). They are amazingly comfortable and cost about $150 USD. If you are more into hiking boots, I have a pair of Columbia boots that have saved my feet from three seasons of snow (and they are still in perfect shape).
posted by andrewmlin at 4:04 PM on February 23, 2005

I love my UGG boots. I think mine are these.

This is my second winter with them and they are holding up just fine. And I love that I don't have to wear socks (I'm a sandle person too), as they have shearling lining.

They may be a bit warm for wearing regularly indoors if your feet are prone to sweating (all that shearling). And I don't know how well they'd do in hiking, though, as I've never done anything like that in them.

But check UGG out, as you might find something you like.
posted by evening at 6:02 PM on February 23, 2005

Another vote for Blundstones. I've been wearing mine for three years and they have never been anything less than dry and warm in all weathers and conditions. Not to mention that someone asked me the other day if they were new: they wear that well. I bought them during the annual New Year's Day sale here in Vancouver, at decent savings, and they have been worth every penny; I would have killed at least two pairs of Docs in that time.
posted by jokeefe at 6:03 PM on February 23, 2005

oops, just noticed you said shoes without laces may be too casual looking. sorry! I still think they look nice :)
posted by evening at 6:04 PM on February 23, 2005

I'll be wearing them 70-100 hours a week

No specific boots to recommend, but two pairs of $100 boots worn alternate days will last you four times as long as a single pair of $200 boots worn 70-100 hours a week.

Blundstones are not warm enough for an Ottawa winter and don't grab snow or ice very well -- the sole gets too hard with the cold. Then again, I can't imagine wearing any boot I would want to wear outside in winter here inside during the day. You just leave a couple pairs of shoes at work from December to April. I'm not sure how different a Calgary winter is from ours, though.
posted by mendel at 6:58 PM on February 23, 2005

mendel, I think that's why Blundstone now has a new sole material. It's way grippier than I expected it to be.
posted by scruss at 8:06 AM on February 24, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks mendel. Calgary is a lot more variable than Ottawa and our maximum lows are probably a bit warmer than Ottawa. It is a real pain in the butt when you leave for work in the morning and it's -20 and then a Chinook rolls in and it is +3 in the afternoon on the way home[1]. My present boots have a medium thinsulate lining and but are roomy enough I can wear anything from a dress sock to two pairs of woollies depending on the expected conditions. When it drops down below -20 or so I switch to my Baffins with felt liners and pack my regular boots.

I know from experience that switching to work dedicated footwear won't work for me. I invariably end up wearing my light boots home some warm afternoon then freezing my feet the next morning when the temperature has fallen 20 degrees. I probably destroyed half a dozen good dress shoes before I came to grips with this by forgetting to switch them when I went out to the shop to pull an engine or something.

I may give the two pairs alternate day thing a try is you really get 100% better life.

[1] not to mention the migraines this sometimes inflict on me.
posted by Mitheral at 10:31 AM on February 25, 2005

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