Help me find the perfect stylish, rugged, light boot.
February 11, 2014 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Hi! I am looking for an excellent pair of boots that will last me for a long time.

I want something in between my Clarks Desert Boots and my big Work America Logger Boots. I'd like something that looks good when it gets worn in, can tramp through the snow, but look good in a casual workplace. I imagine something that goes past the ankle without being a big tall lace-up. Desert Boots suck in foul weather (and I don't find them particularly comfortable, nor do I like the crepe sole), but my work boots are, well, work boots. A bit too much boot for other uses. I want something that's a bit more of a boot-shoe hybrid.

I'm looking at the Frye Jonathan and a handful of other models, as well as the Red Wing Iron Ranger.

However, I am very interested in more thoughts. What other companies and models should I look at? Who else has a good reputation? What boots do YOU love?

Some other criteria:
laces yes
zippers no
heels are okay, but preferably not too huge (my logger boots are a bit much).
bonus points if they're not break-the-bank spendy, but i am willing to drop coin on something that will last forever.

Thanks, y'all.
posted by entropone to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I bought a pair of Red Wing work chukkas a few years ago, and they've done me good. They're waterproof, classy-looking, and cost between $200 and $300. They're not very different-looking from your desert boots, though, and they took me a few months of regular wear to break in.
posted by 4th number at 9:31 AM on February 11, 2014

The MFA Boot Guide may be of use.
posted by Disco Moo at 9:33 AM on February 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Red Wing Beckman
posted by sid at 9:43 AM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't buy anything except these Oliver 34-632 boots any more. Very comfy and very tough. Currently on my second pair in ten years.
posted by flabdablet at 9:43 AM on February 11, 2014

Came here to recommend Red Wing as well. Specifically the Chelsea Rancher, if you are willing to budge on the lace issue.
posted by travelwithcats at 9:45 AM on February 11, 2014

Seconding the Beckman. I love my Iron Rangers, but the Beckman is "nicer" and less of a pure work boot.
posted by The Michael The at 9:57 AM on February 11, 2014

There's a number of variations of this style of boot from different brands:

I know Redwing, Rancourt, Quoddy, Bass and tons of other brands have this style.

I don't know what the style is called. Searching for "Moccasin Boot" doesn't really turn up the results I want.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 10:00 AM on February 11, 2014

Thanks y'all. Didn't realize that the Iron Ranger was so much of a pure work boot - I'm looking for something a bit lighter than that. Not a fan of moccasin style boots, or chukkas that much.

So far those Frye Jonathans are at the head of the pack but I want to see more like 'em.

Keep 'em coming. No answer is wrong. Casting a wide net, etc.
posted by entropone at 10:05 AM on February 11, 2014

This sounds like a case for the Wolverine 1000 mile - nicer than the Fryes (I don't like Fryes, the lasts tend to be narrow and the leather very stiff), made in the US, often findable on sale. I have handled them and they're pretty good.
posted by Frowner at 10:22 AM on February 11, 2014

(Also, the Wolverines are made in the US and the Fryes are so very not made in the US that they do not even specify where - so it's unlikely to be Italy or Mexico or anywhere with a reputable artisan shoe industry, more likely to be India or Brazil, and while there is no reason why India or Brazil can't produce fine shoes, in general those factories are just sweated labor right now.)
posted by Frowner at 10:28 AM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have Red Wing Brogue Rangers, and they're not great for snow because the soles are completely flat. How do you feel about wingtip boots? Allen Edmonds makes a more rugged version of the Dalton called the Long Branch, which you can probably buy cheaper during a seconds sale (there's one going on right now, somebody told me there's going to be a 2 for $250 soon). There's also the Promotory Point, which is dressier but made with a football grain leather.
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:32 AM on February 11, 2014

Timberland has a number of styles that meet your criteria:


Danner has some that may fit what you're looking for, but I'm not thrilled with mine.

I like the style of Helm boots but don't have a pair, so I can't recommend them.

I love my Palladiums, but they might be too light for what you're looking for.
posted by Jacob G at 10:33 AM on February 11, 2014

Trust in Indiana Jones.
posted by Silvertree at 10:40 AM on February 11, 2014

(If you do settle on a boot which has a flat leather sole, you can take it to a cobbler and have him put a sturdy 1/4" vibram sole on the bottom - I do this with all my dressier boots to make them suitable for winter. (This is different from a "topy" or sole cover, which is thinner and has much less tread.))

Helm boots are - as far as I can tell - made by Rancourt, who also makes the Eastland Made In Maine boots. The designs are very similar. I have a MIM pair which are really nice. I think the Helm boots are lined, while the MIM are not - I'd suggest getting leather-lined boots as they are warmer and stretch less. (Basically, there just aren't that many US shoemakers left, especially ones who can produce large numbers of boots. So an awful lot of US-made boots in the $300-400 range are made by Rancourt or Allen Edmonds and rebranded. AE makes for Wolverine, if Styleforum is to be believed.)
posted by Frowner at 10:46 AM on February 11, 2014

+1 for the 1000 mile boots. They can be dressed up or down, and are soft as butter. I've got a pair coming the mail right now.

You might also check out Chippewas. J. Crew sells them and they are often eligible for 20%-40% off coupon codes.
posted by voiceofreason at 10:51 AM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

A strong vote in favor of Frye. All my shoes and boots from Frye have held up incredibly well, and their warranty is great.

+1 to Frowner suggestion to have the soles covered (I like the thinner slip but whatever is your preference) for much better durability.
posted by amaire at 11:51 AM on February 11, 2014

I bought some Frye Veronica boots in November and I love them to death. So comfy and I get lots of compliments on them. They aren't waterproof or anything, though, so I'm not sure how they'd do in the snow.
posted by dawkins_7 at 1:12 PM on February 11, 2014

I was considering the Red Wing Beckman and Wolverine 1000 Mile boots, but was hesitant to spend $300+, so I looked into the Chippewa boots voiceofreason linked to above. LL Bean sells a model that's very similar to the one from J Crew, but the best deal I found was buying the work boot version for $120 and using shoe polish to get the "cordovan" burgundy color. The quality of the leather isn't quite as nice as Horween or Red Wing, but the construction seems sturdy, and I've been happy with them so far.
posted by bradf at 1:53 PM on February 11, 2014

For what it's worth, a best friend of mine bought some Chippewas and has been very displeased with their quality and longevity.
posted by The Michael The at 11:03 AM on February 12, 2014

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