Recommend leather boots for men that will last a million years
October 11, 2012 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Looking to buy men's boots of extremely good quality, under $300

This is the style I'm looking for (specifically with that round buckle thing, made of good leather, preferably black or very dark brown).

My problem is I know nothing about men's shoes, and I'm not sure what brands (other than Doc Martens) are of good enough quality that my husband will eventually consider them family members (like he does with his Docs).

So...browsing a bit I have seen recommendations for Frye and Chippewa. I am not sure that 300 can buy *the best boots of the universe*, but that's all I can afford!
posted by Tarumba to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Frye make quality boots. If I were to spend that much money on a pair of boots -- as I just did-- it would be from them. Just make sure he takes care of them.
posted by griphus at 7:20 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Check out the Red Wing Heritage No. 2990. You might have to search a bit online to find a pair for sale (not all Red Wing stores carry the Heritage boots) but I have been incredibly happy with the pair of boots I bought from the Heritage collection. Red Wing work boots are made to last and their Heritage line is no exception.
posted by Loto at 7:24 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Frye is the way to go for sure. I have those exact boots (except the lady version, in green) and a few of their other styles, too. They have held up excellently with tons of wear. They have great customer service, too - I have a friend whose sole wore out on one of her Frye boots and they fixed them for free.
posted by something something at 7:25 AM on October 11, 2012

2nd-ing Red Wings. I think Frye quality has declined in recent years, but Red Wings are still solid, still made in the US, and still indestructible.
posted by neroli at 7:31 AM on October 11, 2012

If you can find them in the US or get them shipped, buy him a pair from Sendra. They are hand made in Spain and have a very high reputation. The 1918 Pete Pull Oil Negros look like the right style (that link goes to an arbitrary online store).
posted by springload at 7:35 AM on October 11, 2012

You can't go wrong with Red Wings. I've got a pair of Chippewa boots that are tremendous value for money, but for your price range you can do better. Chippewa is a little quirky, with solid leather and construction but not always the best finishing and attention to detail. Red Wings are solid all-around.
posted by ZaphodB at 7:46 AM on October 11, 2012

You can get them custom made.
posted by scratch at 7:47 AM on October 11, 2012

Best answer: The term is Harness Boots - square-toed, plain leather with the straps along the instep and ankle joined by a buckle or ring (the harness.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:49 AM on October 11, 2012

With boots, I tend to prefer makers that focus on the style I'm after -- so while I like Red Wings, the engineering boot (riding-boot, but buckled) is a little bit out of their wheelhouse, whereas Frye is more of a riding-boot company.

Just for reference's sake as it's well over your $300 limit, I'll point to the Wesco Boss.
posted by holgate at 7:53 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

i have the lady version of those exact frye boots and pretty much live in them half of the year. they're very comfortable, made really well, and as something something says, frye has great customer service. my boots are dollar for dollar one of the best purchases i've ever made, and with careful resole work when needed, i hope to be wearing them for at least the next decade or two!
posted by lia at 7:55 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I too have the lady version of those exact same Frye boots (except a somewhat taller version) and they are amazing! Really rugged and hold up to all manner of abuse. I've had them about three years now and they look great! As lia said above, they're a great bargain if you look at in terms of cost per wear.
posted by peacheater at 8:09 AM on October 11, 2012

I was looking at Frye boots in a shoe store the other day. I found that the currently offered boots from Frye which were produced in the USA are of higher quality than the ones produced outside of the USA. The Harness boot by Frye from the USA that I saw was from made from quality full grain leather and well constructed. I was looking at something like this

Many of the Frye boots that were distressed were made in Mexico and were of less sturdy leather. The construction still seemed to be excellent. I saw a Mexican produced boot like:

The Frye website seems to be the best source of information about where their boots are made.
posted by bdc34 at 8:13 AM on October 11, 2012

Best answer: You can definitely go wrong with Red Wing, or with Frye. Red Wing produces some of their boots in China, and those are of inferior quality to those produced in the US. Frye, likewise.

There are two things that you definitely want to have in quality leather boots, other than a general level of good workmanship: full grain leather (or full grain calf) and a Goodyear welt. The former is the highest grade of leather for boot making, and the latter is what will allow the sole to be replaced after excessive wear. You should be able to find both in a boot you buy for ~$300, but make sure you get both. I would be skeptical of those Frye boots because they do not specifically list being made with full grain leather, which shoemakers typically list in their spec sheets since it's a sign of quality that knowledgeable consumers look for. Note that you are NOT looking for "top grain" leather, which is of inferior quality. I can't stress this point enough, especially for boots, which get scuffed, if you buy anything other than full grain leather (in a cow leather boot) you will not be happy over the long term.
posted by OmieWise at 8:45 AM on October 11, 2012 [9 favorites]

Is this for riding? The Chippewa harness boots are highly regarded on some motorcycle websites/blogs. They seem to also frown upon the Frye boots which they regard more as fashion boots rather than actual riding boots.
posted by cazoo at 9:09 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just did the boot buying experience.

I tried on Red Wings -- not my 'look' and they didn't fit right.
I tried Fryes (I love my wife's). I love they are made in the USA. I love their 'look', but they would take a lot to break in.

In the end, I found the Wolverine 1000 mile collection. As soon as I put my them on my feet, i know I had to stretch my budget.

Wolverine 1000 Mile.

Well worth the money. They are my daily wearers. I can dress them up or down and they fit in.
posted by LeanGreen at 9:18 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: leangreen and omiewise...what do you think?

I found these Wolverine boots, they are 180 (!) and are full grain leather and have a good year sole.
posted by Tarumba at 9:22 AM on October 11, 2012

All the Wolverines I tried were fantastic on my feet. I also vouch for the quality of Wolverine. I would give them a shot at that price. Walk around your house on carpet... return them if they just don't do the trick. The rubber sole isn't replaceable like the wood ones, but they are more comfortable for a daily wearer.
posted by LeanGreen at 9:30 AM on October 11, 2012

Those meet the two criteria. They have full grain leather and could be resoled. I'm not sure about the craftsmanship on those boots, Wolverine also has various quality levels, with 1000 Mile boots at the top. Looking at those and reading between the lines on that description, I would guess that those boots are a bit lighter and less rugged than the Frye's you were looking at*, even though the leather is good. If you like the style why not order them and see how they feel in hand?

*Which may be full grain leather, you could call and check, I just would expect them to list it if they were.
posted by OmieWise at 9:49 AM on October 11, 2012

He needs to try them on too. Imho Frye run really narrow. And for walking around I wouldn't necessarily buy a riding oriented boot, the riff sole isn't good for your joints over time.
posted by fshgrl at 10:51 AM on October 11, 2012

I used to have the same boots in the link. Had them for a a couple years, but they never broke in right for me (perhaps because they are meant more for riding than walking around as mentioned above). I got them from Nordstrom, so I was able to send them back for a pair of the Wolverine 1000 Mile boots also linked above only paying the difference. The 1000 Miles are much more comfortable, and for me they are much more versatile, I can get away with wearing them in an office environment, as well as w/ jeans on the weekend, whereas the Fryes felt a bit like I was in costume.
posted by exit at 11:08 AM on October 11, 2012

Best answer: Tarumba: If he is wants that style of boots, chances are he wouldn't like the sole and toe shape of the Wolverines you linked. Although I don't wear biker boots, that pair looks to me like a terrible mash-up between boots and sneakers, not family-member-material. For a gift, I'd recommend you to get a traditional sole of hard leather/wood. Rubber on the surface is ok, but not an all-rubber sole.

The link I posted above was for one particular model of Sendra boots. Here is their entire men's Biker line. I have only worn boots from their Style line, but I love them and can vouch for the high quality.
posted by springload at 1:03 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

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