White's Perry Boots, $270
When it comes to durable, well-made boots, there are few brands as trusted as White’s. Founded in 1853 in West Virginia, White’s relocated to the Eastern Washington city of Spokane in 1915. Its all-leather boots, featuring handsewn stitchdown construction, became a favorite of loggers and wildland firefighters. White’s iconic Smokejumper model is specifically designed for firefighters who parachute into remote wildfires.
While White’s traditional boots can cost over $500, the brand recently launched a line of Goodyear welted boots that are more affordable and more appropriate for everyday wear. The new Perry boots, an iconic workwear moc-toe style, feature many of the same elements as White’s traditional boots and cost only $270 (for those keeping score, that’s $10 less than the Red Wing Heritage 875 Classic Moc).
On paper, these boots seem almost too good to be true. So I got my hands on a pair, laced them up and found out for myself.
The 6-inch upper is made from a 3mm-thick water-resistant leather from Milwaukee’s Seidel Tanning Corp. This full-grain leather is both soft and robust so it feels good on your feet immediately, and will stand up to the rigors of daily wear. It’s available in both distressed brown and black colors and features contrasting white stitching.
The sole — an American-made polyurethane wedge sole — features an internal steel shank, and is glued to a 3.5mm rubber midsole. To add to the poly crepe sole's cushioning, the Perry has an Ortholite footbed, a welcome addition for people who spend many hours on their feet.
Those familiar with White's traditional models won't be let down by these boots — the same attention to detail and top-tier materials are present, just in a different form. For those who are new to White's, the Perry will deliver a revelation about quality — and why White's is so revered in the boot world.
While the Perry is new for the brand, White's didn't reinvent the wheel and used its iconic Smokejumper upper pattern as a base for the new style. "These patterns were designed by Otto White over a century ago and have withstood the test of time," says White's president Eric Kinney. "Makes a truly great fitting boot."
Like White’s traditional work boots, this model has an external counter cover providing extra durability and added comfort. The upper has four rows of stitching where the vamp meets the upper and triple-needle stitching at other stress points. But unlike the Smokejumper, the Perry's upper has an everyday-friendly 6-inch height, two rows of speed hooks and a moc toe.
Deviating further from the Smokejumper, the Perry has a 360-degree Goodyear welt making it more affordable than White's boots with handsewn stitchdown construction, but it can easily be resoled. Where White's traditional models have a substantial all-leather arch, insole and midsole, the Perry has a smaller arch and a rubber midsole (due to the wedge crepe sole). Because of this — and the poly crepe sole — these boots are noticeably lighter and more flexible than White's other offerings.
The Perry boots are immediately comfortable from the first wear and require little to no break in. The Seidel leather upper paired with a 3mm-thick flexible leather insole means these boots will move with you without sacrificing durability.
The pattern is built around the new Arch-Ease 1972 last (a design based loosely on the popular 610 last). This shape, like other moc-toe styles, a roomy toe box. And unlike White's other models with substantial arches, it has just a small amount of arch. "You can’t add a ton of arch when using a crepe sole or the boot won’t be balanced," Kinney says. "You will sit back on your heels which is not good for your back."
Though the toe box is roomy, the upper wraps around the foot and ankle, providing welcome support. "The design just hugs your feet with very little foot or heel slop," Kinney says. "All this helps minimize wear or hot spots which translates to a no break in period."
If you’re a fan of moc-toe work boots, White’s Perry should be at the top of your list. It offers an incredible value with standout materials and industry-leading construction. What's more, by selling it directly to customers White's is able to offer it for the incredible price of $270. "Taking out the wholesaler made this possible," Kinney says. "I think it gives the average consumer a chance to get into a pair of White’s to feel the quality difference."
The Perry boots aren't designed for fighting remote wildfires, but they are perfect for daily wear at the worksite, the garage or the office. And for the money, there isn’t a better moc-toe boot available.