Necessity really is the mother of all invention, especially when it comes to work boots. In New England, moc-toe hunting boots helped trappers handle harsh northern winters. In the Midwest, work boots came with non-marking, comfortable outsoles appropriate for hours on the factory floor. And in the South and West, cowboy boots were built for ranchers and cattlemen who spent their days on horseback. While they’re perhaps not as well known as brands in other regions, the original boot companies of the Northwest catered to the forest industry, making footwear for loggers and wildland firefighters.
The boots produced there were built to withstand arduous forested terrain. Key features included a tall shaft that offered protection and stability, a thick sole with deep lugs for traction, and a taller heel for added arch support and sure footing on uneven surfaces. Brands making these tough boots haven’t changed the formula much, and they still predominantly produce custom boots for industry workers. If you want the uncompromising quality of these boots but don’t need such a robust style, here are a few models more apt for everyday wear.
Nicks Handmade Boots Robert Boots
Nick Blahcuzyn escaped Stalin’s army during WWII, immigrated to the US and learned to build boots in the Northwest. He founded Nicks Handmade Boots in 1964, and the company’s handmade boots became the go-to for hotshot crews, loggers and upland hunters. The Robert boot is a pared-down version of the brand’s Ranger work boot. Completely customizable, the style has a 6-inch shaft and Dogger heel, and it’s completely rebuildable. For first-time customers, Nicks recommends its Fit-sheet to guarantee a perfect fit.
White’s Farmer/Rancher Boots
Founded in 1853 in West Virginia, White’s Boots relocated to Spokane, Washington, in 1915. A favorite of loggers for more than a century, White’s also makes boots for smoke jumpers battling forest fires across the West. This hand-sewn boot features a water-resistant leather upper, a Mini-Vibram sole and an 8-inch shaft, and it’s completely rebuildable. While the boot is available in a range of sizes, White’s recommends you send in tracings of your feet if you’re concerned about a proper fit.
Wesco Jobmaster ST208100 Boots
Oregon-based Wesco was founded in 1918 by John Shoemaker, a transplant from Michigan. His well-crafted logging boots were the choice footwear in timber camps across the state. In 1937, Wesco moved its factory to Scappoose, Oregon, where it still produces boots today. The Jobmaster ST208100 is made from 7-ounce full-grain leather and features a Vibram sole, steel toe and an 8-inch shaft. Though you can order stock sizes, Wesco also offers custom sizes and builds to better suit your needs.
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