Boots always seem to get more done than shoes. While shoes are busy arguing semantics in a boardroom, boots are out in the garage actually doing work. Shoes spend their weekend shanking golf balls while boots are going over, around and through every surface on Earth. Boots have long belonged to the movers and shakers of history, and dammit if they’re not going to keep going.
Below you'll find a link to learn about the styles we've covered — ordered alphabetically, of course. But be warned, this guide does not delve into the best picks from each of these pillar categories. We're instead offering a list of the best brands, highlighting our recommended model, and leaving you with the tools to make an informed purchase. But remember, always check the sizing standards for your chosen brand before ordering.
Brands You Should Know
Common Projects became increasingly commonplace with the rise of menswear blogs. Sites ogled at the brand's sneakers, which were simple and utilitarian yet unique. Every pair came — and still come — with a one-of-a-kind sequence on the side representing the style, color, and size of the shoe. CP's boots exploded when celebs like Kanye West rocked them. They've been staples ever since.
An instant classic since it was introduced into the lineup of luxury footwear brand Common Projects, this Chelsea boot features supple suede and a comfortable crepe rubber sole. Kanye’s been known to rock this version, but it’s not limited to hip-hop royalty.
Hugo Fonce, designer for Unmarked, wants to spotlight craftsmanship found in Léon, Mexico, the country's footwear capital. For Unmarked, lemon-wood pegs, invisible channels, leather-lining and intricate embroidery are details inherent to the brand. Emphasizing quality and aesthetics, every release is timeless in two ways: most are resoleable, thus prolonging their lifespan, and most are classic men's styles with little chance of ever falling from favor. It's hard to overstate how incredible Unmarked's boots look and feel. Plus, their prices are incredibly fair given what they could charge.
Incredibly durable, Unmarked's Archie-01 boots were designed as an homage to Mexican worker boots, which were made from heavy cowhide leather with calf leather liners and a cork-filled footbed and midsole. There's also a ripple soled version for those seeking something... edgier.
Fresh off its 151st anniversary, Blundstone's been representing Australian bush boot lineage for nearly two centuries (well, close enough). Nearly everyone can wear and pull off Blundstones, which explains why they remain so popular. Plus, they're plenty durable and stylish in their own unique way.
Technically part of the Australian bush boot lineage of boots, Blundstone’s 558 boot is one of the best values you can get. It’s a top choice for people in every industry thanks to the tough leather upper, shock-absorption and classic design.
Boots aren't all menswear brand Taylor Stitch makes. They have everything from jackets and shirts to trousers and sunglasses are up for grabs on its site. Each of Taylor Stitch's products is united by a shared concern for craftsmanship, evident by high-quality construction at a transparent cost. The boots, made by hand in Léon, Mexico, the country's shoemaking capital, are meant to last.
Taylor Sitch's Scout Boot may be stylish but makes for a great all-around work boot. Crafted in Léon, Mexico, it uses triple-needle stitching and Goodyear storm welt construction for longevity. It's made with durable yet soft weatherproof Espresso Grizzly leather, a pigskin lining, and a Vibram lug sole.
Taft specializes in interesting textures and hard-to-find combinations. Founded in 2013 by husband-wife duo, Kory and Mal, they've since made strides in the industry by emphasizing quality and individuality. You'll know a Taft boot when you see it, sometimes for better or worse. The brand's subtler styles are the best bet, we'd argue, while the louder options will garner plenty of attention.
This subtle, stylish suede boot by Taft features roughout suede uppers, Goodyear Welt construction, and the brand's original Dragon heel, which promises comfortability. It's waterproof and hard-wearing.
Frye's outfitted everyone from U.S. army men in WWII, college kids in the '70s, and cowboys. Their long lineage and expansive line make them an easy option for anyone, whether they're new to boots or a nit-picky collector.
Frye's Bowery Moc Lace Up boot blends rugged, workwear influences and refined tailoring, resulting in a design that's as durable as it is dressy. Goodyear welted and leather lined, they'll get even more comfortable with frequent wear.
Rhodes is a brand owned and stocked exclusively by Huckberry. All of the boots are made in Léon, Mexico, the country's boot capital, from leather uppers and lightweight Meramec PU outsoles, which prove slip resistant and ultra-soft. Albeit new, the brand's establishing itself as a go-to purveyor of polished, long-lasting boots.
Rhodes' Tyler Chukka combines full-grain roughout uppers and a soft, crepe-like outsole. The pairing promises comfort, a refined yet casual look, and enduring quality.
A decade shy of its centennial, R.M. Williams has been making brush boots for the rugged, unforgiving Australian outback since 1932. And they've largely been crafted the same way the whole time: one piece of yearling leather attached to a rubber sole. Durable enough for trekking rough terrain and yet dressy enough for date night, you're unlikely to find a more versatile boot.
R.M. Williams’ Comfort Craftsman Boot is one of the brand's best-selling boots, braving the Australian outback on the feet of its hardest-working cowboys. The single, one-piece leather upper is supple yet durable and the Goodyear-welted construction extends the life of the boot several factors over. If it’s tough enough for Aussie cowboys, it’s tough enough for you.
Founded by the son of a cobbler, Oak Street Bootmakers "was created to help preserve the tradition of American shoemaking. We are the latest chapter in a very old story," George Vlagos, the aforementioned son, says. The company focuses on high-quality construction and refined source material, ensuring longevity and durability.
It's difficult to list all of the durability lending design details embedded in these boots: Goodyear Welt construction, hand-lasting, Horween Chromexcel leather, partially-structured cap-toe, black Dainite rubber-studded sole, just to name a few. Despite the long list, every one is there to serve a singular purpose: make sure they last. And they will... forever if you're smart about caring for them.
Canada's crown jewel of bootmaking is Viberg — but they make more than just boots nowadays. (See the photo above for proof.) The company's now in its third generation, remaining entirely family-owned from inception until now. Crafted using traditional techniques, their footwear is constructed from only the finest materials: "brass tacks from England, heavyweight insoles from Spain, Vibram outsoles, Swiss hobnails and the finest upper leathers from renowned tanneries in the USA and Italy."
Viberg’s Service Boot differs from most other trench boots due to its signature stitchdown construction. The silhouette is as sleek as it is tough and the Ridgeway soles make it a surefooted boot in times of rain and snow.
Belstaff owes its success to the military and motorcycles. Both industries saw serious surges in demand for durable, hard-wearing gear and weatherproof finishes, both of which Belstaff's founders specialized in. But it wasn't until 1927 that the brand made anything other than standard issue textiles for soldiers and track jackets for racers. Belstaff remained rooted in adventure, though, albeit while outfitting Steve McQueen and other stylish men, too.
Manage even the messiest of jobs with Belstaff's eight inch Marshall Boot, work footwear with style sensibility. Contrast stitching and speed hooks give it a subtle twist, while the tumbled leather stays true to tradition.
Thursday isn't rooted in rich, working class history. Rather, it's a newer brand built with city folks front of mind. Big, heavy boots weren't practical for everyone, especially those commuting in places like New York. Sure, they're hefty and can withstand someone stepping on your toes on the subway, but they're too much. As such, Thursday found a middle ground between affordable, office-oriented footwear and full-on work boots. Think: timeless styles with comprehendible prices.
Crafted from Tier 1 cattle hide leather, StormKing lug outsoles, and Kevlar laces with a Goodyear Welt construction, these are as aesthetically pleasing as they are capable of being put to the test.
Tecovas was born with a singular mission: to make high-quality cowboy boots at an affordable price. Over 200 steps comprise each boot's construction, which is done by a team of artisans in Léon, Mexico. There, high-quality leather meets genuine craftsmanship, resulting in boots with hand-done cording, stitching and assembling.
The Dean is a sensible cowboy boot even for city folks. It has a slim shaft that can slip under tighter pants and a side-zip for easy on-off.
Velasca posits itself as the pinnacle of Italian craftsmanship. The company makes lace-ups, monk straps, sneakers, moccasins, summer shoes, and, of course, boots. Why else would they be mentioned here?
Velasca keeps its prices low by bypassing middlemen in favor of a quasi-DTC delivery technique. These Bergamin boots are made in Italy from suede calf leather and para (aka natural, flexible rubber) soles.
Grenson has been around since 1866. However, their meteoric rise is rather recent. Tim Little bought the company in 2010 and expanded its distribution to stores like Harrods and Selfridges, kickstarting serious growth. Grenson moved into New York in 2015 and celebrated its 150th anniversary the year after. They sell lots now, but the boots remain their bread and butter.
Grenson's Warner boots are a burlier rebrand of the slim, tall Chelsea boot. With a "G" last and a thick, lugged sole, these are more durable and make the wearer less prone to slipping. A positive, I'd say.
Rancourt had a father-son ownership structure in place from 1970 until the mid-1990s, when it traded hands. The son, Michael Rancourt, stayed on board. By 2008, the new owners decided it'd be best for the business to cease operations. Michael and his son, Kyle, reclaimed Rancourt in 2009. The brand's been on the uptick ever since, stocking everything from moccasins to derbies to durable work boots.
Handmade in Maine from Snuff Kudu leather by the UK's Stead Tannery, Rancourt & Co.'s Wolf Boot is an international affair. This iteration is a singular exception, though. The rest of Rancourt's Wolf Boots are also handmade in Maine but from leather made in Chicago.
Founded: 19th century
Although the company's true timeline proves vague, Astorflex has been around since the 19th century. Maybe it's one of those mysteries brands within the spirits industry typically upholds: "oh, well, we were founded first in 18xx, stopped making product in 1903, and then were relaunched by investors in 2021. we're 200-years-old!" The brand started out making wooden clogs but its online catalog now includes everything from Chukka boots and mules to sneakers and Chelseas.
Astorflex has a variety of desert boots in its collection, but the Greenflex is notable for being made with sustainability front of mind. It features natural crepe rubber for the sole, premium suede uppers, natural ingredient-tanned leather lining and insole, and it's made in Italy.
There's a little tidbit of footwear history I always get wrong: where was Alden founded? I want to say England. Makes sense, right? It's New England, for those wondering what the right answer is. The family-owned company's footwear has been made in Middleborough, Massachusetts since 1970, in a factory they relocated to after sharing one with Old Colony Footwear for decades.
The Alden Indy Boot earned its name by way of being the choice shoe of fictional professor of archaeology, Indiana Jones. These are cut from Snuff Suede and finished with the famous orthopedically correct lasts.
Founded by a pair of rug-making brothers in England, Clarks first sold slippers cut from textile scraps. Two styles have become synonymous with the brand, both the Wallabee and the Desert Boot. The latter, founded in 1950, set off a storm of nearly identical iterations from other brands.
The definitive desert boot is still made using supple and rugged English suede from the world-famous CF Stead leather tannery. Its crepe rubber sole gives superior cushioning and traction, too.
Charles Danner, the brand's founder, forged west in the early 20th century to supply loggers with the best possible footwear for their job. The mission resulted in the brand we know today, a manufacturer rich with heritage yet eager to innovate.
This custom colorway, called Smores, is only available at Huckberry. It's applied to Danner's sturdy hiking boot, the Mountain Pass, which is made in the USA from a water resistant full-grain leather upper, a Vibram outsole, Gore-Tex liners, and a removable PU footbed.
Fracap is a true Italian company. In true Italian fashion, orders are processed more slowly when the brand's on its staff-wide seasonal holiday — for most of August. But, it's boot season! Fracap doesn't care. Not in a bad way, but with a we've-been-here-and-we're-never-leaving kind of flair. Their boots have been made in Puglia since 1908, first for farmers and now for fans of handcrafted luxury.
Fracap’s Scarponcino Boot is made for the Italian Alps, courtesy of its tough-wearing upper and Vibram sole. Fully-leather lined, the badass boot features stitchdown construction for long-lasting wear.
Diemme's been doing things its own since 1992. Founded on a combination of performance-oriented innovations and heritage craftsmanship, the brand orients itself to city folks, and those seeking modern twists on rugged wardrobe essentials. See: Chelsea boots with high, rubberized soles and hiking boots cut from Cordura.
Half suede, half rubber, Diemme's Balbi Chelsea Boots are certainly a modern swing at an otherwise traditional style. Skipping traditional cues altogether, these veer into streetwear.
Paraboot united all of its factories under one new roof in 2017, situated in the scenic Saint Jean de Moirans. The French brand has been making footwear for over 100 years, first for workers, then for skiers and folks in snowy settings and then mountaineers.
Unlike the brand's popular Avaoriaz boot, the Bergerac isn't mountain-oriented. It could totally survive up there, but they're best fit for easier terrain. Take them on a hike; trudge city streets; trust they'll keep your feet dry and supported.
Founded in 1989 by Hermosa Beach designer Yuki Matsuda, Yuketen embraces traditional, American styles with an emphasis on quality raw materials: "oiled leathers tanned in America, flesh-out leather and suede tanned in Toscana, Italy, vegetable-tanned leathers tanned in Mexico using only natural energy," for example. The offerings are split between Ready to Wear and Made to Order, both of which promise quality pairs.
Remember Yuketen's emphasis on high-quality, captivating raw materials? Look at the brushed suede on these boots! The texture looks incredible. Dubbed the Angler, the design references boots worn by fisherman in the '50s and '60s.
Founded by a guy named Leon Leonwood Bean, L.L. Bean's timeline begins with the Bean Boot, aka a leather upper attached to rubber bottoms. They flopped at first, though, and few held up to any kind of wear, let alone tear. But by 1924 Bean outfitted Arctic explorers, and only a few years later its catalog was crowned best in the business. The rest is history, folks. And clearly with more than a few successes along the way.
L.L.Bean is known most for its famous Bean Boot, the original ‘duck boot.’ First introduced in 1912, the waterproof boot combines a rubber outsole and quarters with a full-grain leather upper for maximum waterproofness and comfort.
Filson was founded in 1897 in Seattle as C.C. Filson's Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers, an outfitter for those on their way toward claiming their stake of the Alaskan gold rush. The tradition carried through the '80s, when Filson was acquired by a former distributor. He expanded the line using traditional manufacturing techniques and materials, rendering it reminiscent to the brand we know today. In 2012, the same holdings company that owns Shinola bought Filson.
Filson's Service Boots are a timeless staple constructed from full-grain, roughout leather. Suede lines the inside while a Vibram mini-lug outsole with a stacked leather heel finish off the bottom.
At one point, Vasque and Red Wing were one. They separated in 1997, but both clearly influence the other to this day. Red Wing's most popular styles date back to the 1950s, when the Moc toe took the boot scene by storm. All of the brand's heritage styles are made in the US still, including Style 875 (aka the Classic Moc).
The Classic Moc (aka Style 875) was introduced in 1952. It was a success at first, and remains so today, too. They're durable enough for a dirty job and traditional enough for everyday wear — whether with selvedge denim or twill chinos.
Founded: 1902 (or 1853)
White's was a generational operation until it sold to LaCrosse footwear, the owner of Danner, in 2014. But the Washington-made boot brand didn't diminish with its acquisition. In fact, the brand was bought because of its commitment to American craftsmanship, a pillar of the company since its inception in 1902 (or 1853) depending on how you read into its history.
The 350 Cutter was originally designed by then White's owner Otto White, who famously took a chainsaw to a taller boot to make something loggers could wear on off days. The upper's waterproof and there's a mini Vibram outsole, plus each pair is both resoleable and rebuildable.
Wesco, a name born from combining West and Coast, is another feather in the cap for Oregon-based footwear brands. (Hey, Nike. Hey, Danner.) Every pair is made according to a 155 step process, which ensures quality and a promises longevity. They're all still made in a singular Oregon workshop, too.
Built for anything, Wesco's all-purpose Jobmaster boot comes in Horween Brown Chromexcel leather with brass eyelets and sleek hooks, and a Vibram outsole.
Nicks has always been about work boots first and foremost, but now their collection includes heritage pairs (a signifier earned by being in business for 50+ years), firework-focused styles. They're still made in Spokane, by the way.
Nicks' Falcon references traditional work boots — but does so with elevated twists. The upper is made from Horween leather; the outsole is by Vibram; the boot's double stitched; and added leather insoles mold to the wearer's foot.
Headquartered Michigan and made in Xiamen, China, Grant Stone is a Goodyear Welt-focused footwear brand. They thread US-based consumers and Chinese craftspeople, showcasing the quality — and creativity — that comes from true partnership.
Made on Xiamen Island in China, Grant Stone's Brass Boot bears its name from its metal eyelets and speed hooks. The upper is made from Waxed Commander leather, and the bottoms boast both a lug sole and full-grain leather heel counters.
Crockett & Jones was founded in 1879 in England by a pair of guys with the last names... any guesses? Yes, Crockett and Jones. In fact, the once-family-owned brand in fact still is. Great-grandson, Charles Jones, sits at the helm today. His company's selections skew traditional yet are nothing short of serious luxury.
The Tetbury Boot from Crockett and Jones comprises premium calf leather uppers and a Dainite rubber sole, promising both extravagance and practicality.
Ariat's name pays homage to Kentucky Derby winning race horse, Secretariat. The brand became the first to integrate performance tech into boots made for equestrian. Its since been the official outfitter for the Olympic team, and, as of late, a surprising, innovative entrant to other boot categories.
This is the exciting entry to other boot categories I was talking about. Ariat's Wexford Waterproof Boot is, well, waterproof, but also ultra-comfortable and, too.
Lucchese, founded by Salvatore "Sam" Lucchese in San Antonio, Texas in 1883, makes luxury cowboy boots, sometimes from exotic leathers, in Texas to this day. Go here for your $2,000 western wear.
Lucchese multi-generational boot tradition is revered the world over and its roper-style Tanner Boot is a standout. Featuring a premium goat leather upper that’s full of patina and character off the bat, the Tanner is a shorter cowboy boot that’s built in Texas using a resolable welted construction.
The Flat Head is an enigmatic, small-batch bootmaker based in Japan. When they are made, they're manufactured by a tiny shop typically responsible for THF's boots alone. Oftentimes, they undergo interesting treatments to develop pre-planned patinas and other markers of distress.
Straight from Japan, these boots from The Flat Head are some of the rarest on the market. Made in small batches, the boots feature natural Chromexcel pull-up leather, storm welt construction, steel shanks and custom-made brass hardware. Plus, a dying process at the end of manufacturing accelerates the development of dings and patina.
Dating back to 1829, Tricker's proudly proclaims it's the oldest established shoemaker in England. The company's boots and shoes are still made in their Northampton factory, a commitment to their country when they certainly could've been making them elsewhere — and for cheaper. They've endured for nearly 200 years, courtesy of a broad fan base comprising creatives, dads, beatniks, lawyers, bankers and beyond.
Tricker's says there 260 steps to making a Derby Boot. On these lace-up Burford Nubuck ones, there are pull tabs, tonal eyelets and laces, and Dainite rubber-lug soles.
"A wrinkle on the face, a scar, all evocative characteristics conveying a source of experience and life which are skillfully captured and recreated using our specialized ‘Leather Time Machine’ that gives evidence of a human, handmade experience channeled into each finished product that needs to be touched to be fully appreciated," the brand's about page reads. Damn! Dramatic! No, passionate. That's it. Officine Creative, founded in the late '60s, represents eccentric, elegant Italian craftsmanship to the fullest.
I don't see many scratches or scars on Officine Creative's Artik Burnished-Leather Lace-Up Boots. But, the sheen will fade with regular wearing, transforming them from something spright and polished into something rugged and utilitarian. The edge was always there, you'll find, it just took wear and tear for you to notice it.
J.M. Weston orbits in what I call "otherworldly luxury." The 19th century era footwear manufacturer has endured through what has to be about a dozen wars, and millions of trend cycles, those both minutes-long and overstaying. All of its products are still made in the same small factory using select leathers and ancient techniques. Trust the process, I guess.
$1,275... see what I meant about "otherworldly luxury?" J.M. Weston's Golf Montant Lace-Up Boot might cost more than your rent, but do apartments last forever? Not many. J.M. Weston boots will. Buy the boots. (Be advised: this is not sound financial advice. I'm a Style Editor after all.)
Footwear designer John Lofgren uses boots and shoes to showcase Japanese craftsmanship, which he argues sets itself apart because of an "attention to detail and pride of craftsmanship. It’s simply part of the culture," he says. His footwear can prove hard to find, often since it's limited, and he's stateside now, but it's well worth the search.
"Ethically made and superior quality is what I strive for always," Lofgren says of his boots. You'll find both are attributes of his Chelsea Boots, which are sold at Standard & Strange. Built with the John Lofgren 110 Last, the same as his Engineer Boots, these are heavier than most Chelseas and far more durable, too.
Hérmes owns John Lobb, by way of a sale back in 1976. The brand's first ready-to-wear collection came in 1982. So, how's it technically 100 years older? Well, the namesake founder apprenticed in London, made contraband-carrying boots for Australian Gold Rush miners, made boots for the Prince of Wales, and took custom orders from brick-and-mortar shops in both London and Paris. Nowadays, a limited inventory of lifestyles silhouettes make up most of its efforts.
LOL! Leather on leather. (That's what LOL stands for.) A leather upper and stark black rubber outsole contrast both the tan lining and the metal speed hooks. However, that's it. These represent simple, understated luxury.
It's estimated that Edward Green only makes about 250 pairs of leather boots or shoes a week. That's 50 a day, if they're working five days. Wouldn't blame them if it's only four. Making boots is hard, but Green has been doing it since 1890 — when Queen Victoria held the crown. They've upheld a reputation for tradition and timeless designs.
Edward Green's Newmarket Suede Chelsea Boots are a smart buy. Every element of them has been labored over, and the manufacturing processes managed to a T. These are made from high-quality suede and leather and rubber soles.
It was Enid Justin that founded Nocona all the way back in 1925. She was the daughter of a famous bootmaker destined to further her family's tradition through designs that stay true to Texas. Hell, the brand's slogan is "Let's Rodeo," and there isn't an item on their site that isn't a cowboy boot.
Nocona's Jackpot Boots look like a million bucks. (Did you get that one?) Although you're not guaranteed to inherit any luck when you wear these, they're an upgrade nonetheless — and at an affordable price. 100-percent leather uppers attach to a leather sole, with a 13" shaft and 1.5" heel.
Rios of Mercedes was originally native to Mexico until the company moved to Texas just after 1900. In 1969 it was sold by the original family to two new investors, who have since steered the brand into the modern era. But, the product's remained largely the same: two collections of cowboy boots, Original and Stock, representing bespoke options and ready-to-wear pairs.
Rios of Mercedes has been crafting cowboy boots for over 160 years and its Sahara Suede Cowboy Boots remain a favorite. It features elegant distressed, suede roughout leather throughout, and a comfortable insole inside.
Who even is Dr. Martens anyway? A made up doctor with a specialization in footwear? Well, contrary to what I expected, I suppose, he, Dr. Klaus Maertens, was a 25-year-old doctor mending a broken foot in post-war Munich. He made his own boot using salvaged cobbler parts and an air cushioned sole. He showed the idea to another doctor, Dr. Herbert Funk, and the two went into the footwear business together. Another business noticed their aids for the proprietary boot and bought an exclusive licensing agreement from the two. The parent brand made a few tweaks, albeit signatures now, and rebranded the name and logo. It went on to be a massive success, as seen on everyone from Peter Townshend and punk rockers to e-girls and emo kids.
The 1460 Boot by Dr. Martens features many of both the original design elements and additional tweaks done by the parent company. The yellow stitching? A tweak. The pull tab? Original. The bulbous toe? A tweak. Weird, right? Both visions blended perfectly to create a shoe that was utilitarian — once standard issue for postmen — and stylish — a fav of European rockers.
“We’re not good because we’re old. We’re old because we’re good,” Wolverine’s website reads. Cocky? Not quite. Confident? Certainly. The company began when founder G.A. Krause bought a tannery. It was the 1910’s by the time its first signature boot debuted. The 1000 Mile Boot, named after how many miles you could put on a pair, were comfortable, soft, and long-lasting. They remain largely the same to this day.
This is that aforementioned 1000 Mile Boot. It's still named after the number of miles you can put on a pair, but you can probably add even more. This one is modeled after the original’s pattern, which was first produced in 1914, and made in Big Rapids, Michigan. Unlined, the boot’s upper is made from premium Horween leather and there’s a leather outsole with a Vibram heel, too.
Hunter Boots was originally branded as the North British Rubber Company, a manufacturer of tires, belts, golf balls, rubber flooring, and beyond. The brand’s popular Wellington Boot didn’t arrive until 1956, when it was deemed no longer exclusive to the Royal Family. The brand was revered for its waterproofing abilities, and their functionality was the primary draw at first. They became stylish, though, for sure, but it was always the trust you had that you wouldn’t get wet that compelled wearers to buy pairs of Wellies (as they’re affectionately called).
These are not the well-known Wellies I was just talking about. Since Hunter was acquired in 2012, they’ve since expanded their collection to include Chelsea Boots, and, as evident by these, Moc Toe ones, too. These are shorter, more style-conscious and yet just as capable. They’ll keep you dry and they’re plenty comfortable.
Ugg was founded in 1978 by an Australian surfer living in Southern California. He was captivated by a material frequently used in his home country but few and far between in the states: sheepskin. He crafted shoes from the material and knew they’d catch on. And they did. They’ve since been adopted by everyone from soccer moms to snobby teens to Justin Bieber and Tom Brady. They’re popular and for plenty of reasons: comfortability, cushioning, and a cool, California kind of laid back look.
Between their moccasins and ankle boots, Ugg also makes Chukkas. These leather Harkley Boots come lined with soft wool, and finished with a rubber sole. No, you shouldn’t take them hiking, or get them wet, but you can wear them around the house or on incognito errands.
The Timberland boot was so successful at launch that the brand that made them changed its name to Timberland. This was 1973, and that brand was Abington Shoe Company. Located in New Hampshire, they made Timbs to withstand the areas four defined seasons and the weather that came with them. Rain, snow, summer's heat, and biting cold winds all were no match for the Timberland boot, which quickly spread from suburban New Hampshire to cities all over the US.
They're Timbs! Timberland Boots. A bonafide classic. You can't do much better than these high-top, waterproof boots native to New Hampshire. But you'd be hard to find a person who knows that. They're a city boot now, more common in the Bronx than they are in the great beyond, that's for sure. They break in well and provide plenty of value for their buck.
Sorel lived as a line under Kaufman Footwear from 1962 until 2000, when the company went bankrupt. It was undoubtedly the Canadian brand’s biggest hit. Columbia quickly scooped it up before it went belly up, and brought it back with a renewed focus on luxury, snow-focused footwear. You shouldn’t expect a ton of performance specs, but rather practical footwear you can wear through a few feet of the powdery stuff.
This simple, duck boot-looking style from Sorel, aka the 1964 LTR Tall Boot, references the year the brand was founded and what kind of snow you can wear it in. 1964 and tall piles, respectively. It has a waterproof, full-grain leather upper, a removable washable recycled felt liner, and a handcrafted, vulcanized rubber outsole.
Founded by New Yorkers Jared Ray Johnson and Adam Klein, Season Three’s first shoe (and first-ever product) debuted on the Paris runway in Reese Cooper's FW20 show. Its flagship boot, The Ansel, is made in Northern Italy in a region known for its traditional shoemaking. But, they bring plenty of new energy to these fabled factories. Their boots broke one of our editor’s addiction to sneakers. They’re that comfortable. The combination of a wool liner and a cushioned Vibram Morflex Christy sole help these achieve peak softness.
Just because The Ansel came first doesn’t mean it’s automatically best. What about the others that came after it? Hint: there aren’t any others. The Ansel is the sole focus; the singular masterpiece; the crown jewel. Call it what you want, but it may be the perfect boot. It has an upper made from 100-percent waterproof nubuck leather, a full merino wool liner, ortholite insoles, and a Vibram outsole.
Wild Bunch is a new English label taking stabs at traditional boots and shoes. They make the old feel new by imbuing every pair with their unique, punk-ish spirit. Headquartered in London, the brand makes their boots in Spain. They say their catalog features kicks that are cool like an older brother, the one “with a better record collection that CLARKS ORIGINALS never knew they had.” Shots fired!
Look at the Wally Boots by Wild Bunch. A clear reference to Wallabees, they have a moc toe and are made from suede uppers and crepe soles. You can’t go wrong with them. Everyone looks good in a pair like these, even if you’d never set foot in Clarks.
Sanders, founded in 1873, specializes in mundane luxury. I don’t intend for that to sound mean, by the way. They just make boots and shoes that are so basic they’re brilliant. Each pair is made in the same small English town as they were two centuries ago, from luxury materials and without overt branding of any kind. Trust them for fairly priced footwear with stoic flair.
I wasn’t kidding. Sanders’ boots and shoes are the kind of next-level flex more and more consumers are craving. Think: New Balance sneakers, loafers, and the ilk. These are made from Italian suede, a full leather liner, and a double rubber stud sole. Plus, there’s a Todd Snyder branded pull tab on both the front and back of both boots. Props to Snyder for slipping that onto a boot by a brand known for never adding a noticeable logo.
Wah, wah, wah, it’s just J. Crew. I can hear every one of you boot aficionados whining now. The big mall brand may not be a shining example of generational craftsmanship, but its boots are affordable, accessible, and an incredible value considering the cost. They task factories in shoemaking regions with replicating icon styles: Chukkas, hikers, Chelseas, you name it. Give ‘em a chance. Even if just when you’re in a pinch or abiding by a stricter spending limit.
J. Crew’s unisex MacAlister boots reference “crepe-soled boots worn by British officers during World War II.” These are made from Italian suede and rubber outsoles and available in three different rich hues, Autumn Gold, Hunting Green, and Auburn. Don’t be pretentious. You can positively do plenty worse than a pair of boots from J. Crew. For the novice footwear nut, these will feel like a hell of an upgrade over that pair you’ve stuck with for far too long.
A few new entries earning a spot on this list.
This new eco-conscious boot brand details each of its model's makeups. The Apple Leather 1992 Boots, for example, are made from a 100-percent apple leather upper, a corn polymer, recycled PES, and pigmented PU liner and a recycled and non-recycled rubber outsole.
424's Marathon Suede Ankle Boots are new this season, FW21. They have a sort of soft, wrapped looked to them but they're plenty sturdy — and certainly military inspired.
Reese Cooper's eponymous brand's foray into hiking footwear results in these rich, black Wilson Boots. They have a unique lacing system and accents of soft suede.
Ankle boots might be the coolest footwear ever made — which makes them that much more difficult to pull off than their closest cousins, the Chelsea boot. They’ve graced the feet of rock stars and, in doing so, complemented the tightest pants mankind has had to offer for decades. The silhouette is similar to the Chelsea boot, but the Ankle boot utilizes zippers or straps, instead of elastic panels, to ensure a secure fit around the ankle.
Chelsea boots began life in England in the mid-19th century and didn’t stray far from home until recently. The elasticized wonders were a staple of the mid-’60s mod scene and protected the feet of seemingly every British invader from John to Ringo. Recently they’ve seen a revival on many of menswear’s best dressed. The silhouette is very slim and features elastic side panels and heel pull-tabs.
About as casual as all-leather boots get, the chukka (or desert) boot was first worn by British soldiers in Africa during World War II. Afterward, they made their way across the Atlantic, becoming a casual staple for the second half of the 20th century and still gracing the feet of stylish men in the cooler months. Clarks made the originals, but upmarket offerings only improved on the formula. They lace up just above the ankle and traditionally feature a soft crepe sole.
Like many Americana wardrobe staples, cowboy boots are rooted in function. Pull them on, wear them hard and use them for years. There are two mains styles: traditional cowboy boots that feature a riding heel (taller and angled) and roper boots that have a shorter heel, designed to handle a day of walking. The pointed toe and tall shaft make this boot instantly recognizable.
The original engineer boots were designed to protect the feet of men who fed coals into steam engines. It melded the tall pull-on style of horse riding boots with the supportive arch and sole of a work boot. A buckled ankle strap distinguishes this style from other pull-on boots.
For the purposes of this guide, we’ve kept a respectful distance from the more technical versions of this style, but the best pairs of old-school hiking boots boast the same alpine prowess that made them popular in the first place. Sturdy soles, heel support and lace-to-toe closures mean these boots are as hardworking as they are good-looking.
For actual hunting, you may want something more technically advanced, but the hunting boot is a staple in the Northeast and has ensconced the feet of everyone from frat boys to Nobel prize winners. The traditional style features a hand-sewn moc-toe, a lace-up closure and a durable grippy outsole.
Worn since World War I, the trench boot (sometimes called an army or officer boot) is a handsome staple that’s shaken its military roots and manages to look a bit more cleaned up these days than it did stomping into Flanders. Similar to the work boot, this silhouette has a lower profile that is easier to incorporate into a variety of wardrobes.
The wingtip, whose brogued details bring a touch of formal embellishment to casual footwear, is dressed up enough to be worn with a suit and laid back enough to end up under denim or a pair of cords. But they’re not a mullet shoe: they’ve been around long enough to look equally good in either context.
Strong, long-lasting and just stylish enough to stay on your feet for most of the colder months: that’s all a work boot really needs to be. Little wonder that the design was more or less perfected half a century ago. The no-frills lace-up style protects the lower legs and feet and usually features a durable lug sole.