Well-Worn Stompers

The Boots Our Staff Can’t Live Without


May 17, 2018 Style : Shoes By Photo by Chase Pellerin

Every day, our staff filters through hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of gear, whether in-hand or in the form of press releases, articles, lookbooks and more. We survey a wide array of products from tech gear to booze to motorcycles, but the common thread between every desk is a love of boots. From our office in New York to the streets of cities around the world, we’ve put a staggering array of boots to the test, each employee gravitating towards something unique. While no way definitive, these are a few of the boots our staff can’t live without.

Red Wing Heritage Rover Boots

“I have the pleasure of a mile walk every morning as I head to work. The walk also happens to include a drawbridge built in 1954. That very same drawbridge has a narrow pedestrian walkway — a walkway that possesses a unique ability to completely freeze over with ice seemingly impervious to all ranges of industrial rock salt. For many winters, the walk over that bridge was the bane of my commute. These boots changed all of that. Now I safely shuffle my way past upended commuters, whose boots just couldn’t manage a New York winter.” — Mike Bailey, Account Executive

Red Wing Heritage 6-Inch Moc

“These boots were a new addition to my wardrobe this season and I don’t want to remember a time without them. I’d been admiring Red Wing’s 6-inch Moc on men for years and was pretty much over the moon when they redesigned the boot for women. The little lift is perfect for me since I’m just under five feet tall and I think they look kind of badass (but, IMHO, they can still dress up or down). They also required no break-in since the leather is super soft and I really dig the buttery color. In one season, I let mine get pretty abused in snow and rain, but I think the dirt and scuffs make them get better with age. That’s what I’ve been told anyway.” — Megan Billings, Deputy Editor, Gear Patrol Studios

Frye Oliver Chukka

“A week before I was set to depart for Madrid to study for five months, a friend of mine informed me that I had a footwear problem. “It’s Europe,” he said. “Sneakers and hiking boots won’t cut it.” At the time that was all I had, so I ponied up the cash to upgrade my shoes to something a little more tasteful.

I never actually got to wear the chukkas in Europe — my two-day delivery turned out to be four, so my mom sent them to me in Madrid and I paid roughly $60 to bail them out of a holding cell in a Spanish customs office — and when I tried them on they were discernibly too large. My chukkas were left wrapped in their paper packaging, unworn, until a year and a half later when I happened to be passing through Georgetown during a two-month road trip around the country and a clerk at Frye’s store there was gracious enough to swap the size for me.

They’ve continued to accompany me on journeys since, but now they have the scuffs and worn-out soles to prove it.” — Tanner Bowden, Associate Staff Writer

John Varvatos Brooklyn Chukka Boot

“I tend to wear chukkas and short-hemmed pants. It’s, like, my thing. Anyway, the first pair of real chukkas I spent big on were John Varvatos’s “Hipster” chukkas. They were leather, brown and had an outsole that looked like a tire. They were the bomb. Years later, they were also porous. When I tried to buy the exact same pair again, I realized that John Varvatos didn’t make them anymore. These current chukkas were the closest ones I could find. I don’t like them nearly as much, but I spent big on them and now I’m just going with it. They’re fine. At least my pants still look good.” — Tucker Bowe, Staff Writer

Danner Mountain 600

“My weekend footwear situation needed a complete reboot (sorry, not sorry) after moving to the Pacific Northwest from New York City. I was always spending at least some portion of the day out on a trail and needed a functional, waterproof option that would feel right at home while exploring the woods and my new city. I knew Danner had something for my needs given the company was founded in Portland, OR, but choosing the right model from their lineup turned out to be a harder decision than I thought. What ultimately sold me on the Mountain 600’s was the shoe’s feathery weight and sneaker-like feel. They’re a remarkable, unrivaled hybrid and turned out to be the perfect solution, especially on drizzly days. Now I’ve got my eyes on the more breathable EnduroWeave version for summer.” — Ben Bowers, Co-Founder

Cat Footwear Abe Canvas II

“Up until a few months ago, I had an undying allegiance to the original Abe Canvas boot by Cat Footwear. I hiked up Pikes Peak in them, trekked through the Atacama Desert and logged a few thousand miles in them by motorcycle (they’re currently caked in mud from Morocco). They were tough as hell and easily my longest lasting boots, by far. My biggest qualms with them, however, was the sole didn’t offer much grip, the toe box didn’t hold its shape over time and I ended up wrapping the laces around because I never tied them all the way up. When I saw Cat came out with the Abe Canvas II, I didn’t hesitate; the sole has tread, the eye-hole count came down, the footbed is ridiculously soft and lightweight PVC heel replaces the heavier wood. They are a true upgrade.” — Bryan Campbell, Staff Writer

Blundstone BL519

“I’ve had these green-on-brown Blundstones for five years, and like a good watch or favorite jacket, I truly look forward to wearing them. Before owning this pair, I hadn’t known of Blundstone at all; now, I’ve recommended them as my number-one boot pick to anyone who asks (and many who don’t). These are my go-to slip on weekend shoes, my casual airport kicks, my standard rain boots and even function as mild-cold snow boots if I throw on a heavy sock. They slosh through New York puddles during rush hour just as well as open fields during a long-weekend camping excursion; they’re lightweight, comfortable enough to walk miles in and wear in fantastically. I’ve tried to beat them to all hell but my Blundstones haven’t even begun to give up. I don’t expect they will anytime soon.” — Nick Caruso, Associate Editor

The Best Boots to Buy

This guide to the best boots for men covers nine different categories, including work boots, Chelseas, chukkas and more. Read the Story

Oak Street Bootmakers Navy Hunt Boot

“Oak Street Bootmakers’ founder, George Vlagos, personally sold me this pair at the Pop Up Flea back in 2011 — he even tossed in a bottle of Venetian shoe cream. Almost seven years later, the navy Chromexcel is as buttery as it was on the day I procured them. They compliment denim or chinos and the blue color, nice and stately with age, separates them from the panoply of brown brogues, bluchers and balmorals packed in my closet.” — Brandon Frank, CFO

Timberland Abington Hiker

“I found myself ill-prepared for poor weather too many times to count. A few years ago I finally got myself a decent pair of boots to keep my feet dry and warm during the crappy months. These are Timberlands, but not your typical caramel-colored stomper. These were made under the name Abington, which was the original name of the company up until 1965. The design is a nod to classic hikers — a clean suede upper, classic padding around the ankle, and an iconic Vibram sole. The gore-tex liner brings these boots into the future.

They feel amazing — the perfect balance of soft and secure. The deep olive brown is a standout color — no basic blacks for me.” — Andrew Haynes, Senior Art Director

Thursday Boot Co. The President

“I’ve been wearing “The President” by Thursday Boots for almost two years now. From daily wear and constant roughhousing, these once-dress boots have transcended into more of a pair of elevated shit kickers. The brown leather has developed a rugged patina and I think it gives them great character. The studded rubber sole is a nice touch, especially when the sidewalks get wet. For only $200 a pair, I’d say that the value for money is quite good.” — Hunter D. Kelley, Associate Designer

Timberland Beckwith Side-Zip Boot

“Since 2015, these boots have been on practically every NYC subway, all over Boston for my brother’s graduation weekend and to Asbury Park for my father’s 60th. In Iceland, I thankfully didn’t look like a tourist when I drove from Reykjavik to Vik.
Jeans and dresses flatter the boots, so they fare well in all seasons. Stashed under my desk, they helped me make quick work of my 20-minute walk home.

I sometimes don’t bother to zip them, since they’re easy to slide on and off. I never worry about them falling off since the boots hug my feet as a child hugs its parent’s legs — never letting go.” — Meg Lappe, Staff Writer

A.P.C. x Diemme Bonito Boot

“An oldie but goodie, these A.P.C. x Diemme collaborative edition of the Bonito Chukka Boot in camel have been a staple in my rotation for a few years now. The tonal laces and a white Vibram Morflex sole work with jeans or chinos for a polished spring look.” — Zach Mader, Vice President, Advertising and Partnerships

Sebago Suede Dockside Boots

“I bought these boots during my senior year of college. I grabbed them from a third-party vendor on super sale a half-size too big. Since they are suede and I was too broke to buy another pair, I was a little cute with them at first. But, dive bars, freak snowstorms, and lazy dog owners happen. I slowly learned that suede handles all of it easily. Over the years, I’ve looked to replace them with another suede boot, but foolish nostalgia has made it hard to do. In writing this, I’m inspired to invest in a resole and fresh pair of laces and just ride them until the wheels truly fall off.” — Chase Pellerin, Staff Photographer

Vintage Red Wing Boots

“I bought these off Craigslist from a very old man living in a very small house outside Charleston, South Carolina. He was a retired submarine commander and, along with his war-worn G-1 Flight Jacket, he sold me his used Red Wings. Where a typical Craigslist encounter is predicated on how quickly both parties can part ways, I sat in this man’s living room for upward of three hours listening to one story after another about life beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean in 1945. When it came time for me to leave his house, I offered up the cash sum the listing was tagged with (I wasn’t about to haggle a WWII vet), but he refused it. He put the jacket and the boots in a brown paper grocery bag and off I went.

After six years of abuse—and who knows how many before that—they continue to perform and look better than any boots I’ve bought since. I’ve worn mine through downpours in New York, snowstorms in Jackson Hole and turkey hunting in middle Georgia. If you find something they’re not good for, let me know.” — Will Price, Associate Staff Writer

Wolverine Louis Wedge Boot

“Simple, classic, durable. I’ve worn these Wolverines nearly daily for the past year (I’ll admit that I’ve done so with little regard for the care of the leather). They match my style perfectly, which is mostly just cuffed denim and an Oxford of some sort. I’ve added a Superfeet Carbon insole and swapped the laces for spares from my Danner Mountain Lights. They’re so comfortable by this point, that I often opt for these over sneakers when I can. They’re close to needing a resole, but I’ll delay that as long as I can.” — AJ Powell, Assistant Editor

Clarks Original Desert Boot in Sand Suede

“I first discovered the Clarks Desert Boot when looking for a stylish footwear option that would adhere to my high school’s dress code. I’ve owned several pairs since then, but this particular pair has been with me since 2009. I’ve worn them on safari in South Africa, through Vietnam and over countless New York City blocks. They were the one topic I had the off-camera time to discuss with Anthony Bourdain when we interviewed him for a Facebook Live video (they’re also his go-to travel shoe) and I would wear them more if it weren’t for one caveat: Clarks no longer makes these in Sand Suede, the boot’s original colorway. Sure, you can find one of the last pairs available at a reputable dealer or do some digging on eBay, but that’s a game I don’t care to play. Let this be a call to Clarks — no one wants a pre-distressed boot. It’s time to restock.” — Alexander Stein, Social Media Editor

Red Wing Heritage Pecos Boots

“In high school, when my feet were big enough, I got a pair vintage Red Wing Pecos from my dad. The roper style is a little different than traditional cowboy boots and is more comfortable for everyday wear. Now, I’m a big fan of the style in this roughout leather from S.B. Foot Tanning Company in Minnesota. They took a week or so to break in, but are now one of the most comfortable pairs I own. From dirt roads in Central Texas to narrow alleyways in Shibuya, they haven’t let me down. Currently, Red Wing has pulled the style from its website, but hopefully, it’ll relaunch them in a new range of leathers.” — John Zientek, Staff Writer

The Man Making the Best Vintage-Inspired Boots

John Lofgren is uncompromising in his line of Japanese-made footwear. We caught up with him to discuss the inspiration behind his brand, Japanese craftsmanship and his favorite shoe models. Read the Story