We’ve covered boots here on TM before, and we definitely have additional boot coverage coming. But TM reader Joel needs some boots right now, and he needs some help finding the right pair for his budget. He writes:
For about 12 years I wore a pair of black Dr. Martens cap-toe boots. They were tough as hell, reasonably waterproof, super comfortable, and they shined up nice to make for great dressy shoes as well. But they’re more cheaply made now, and they no longer have the classic work-boot tread pattern, opting for a pavement-loving design. I suspect the material will not last as well, either. So I’m looking for a new boot, but I’m having a hard time finding anything I like except some really expensive boots from Wolverine and Red Wing.
So what might work for him?
The rest of his list of (very reasonable, in our opinion) desires:
- A round toe. A cap toe would be great.
- No steel toe if possible. Shanks are fine, though.
- Welted construction.
- No rubber coating. (Joel says he understands the extra protection this can provide, but it prevents him from shining up the boots for dress use.)
- Super comfortable.
- Super durable.
- Affordable, as in not $500.
Finally, he doesn’t care where they’re made or who makes them. He just wants the boots.
I know Sean had a pretty similar-sounding pair that he scored at Wal*Mart of all places and which he wore for at least three years that I’m aware of. (He wore them around the office and shop forever, then replaced them with a pair of Wolverines left over after a Toolmonger test a long while back. I saw them again this last week, I suspect because they’re a little larger and he was nursing a broken toe. Maybe he’ll comment with details. About the boot, I mean. Not the toe.)
I’m not sure their construction matches Joel’s specs entirely, especially considering that they featured a slightly rough finish. That said, I’ve personally seen Sean slip them in as dress shoes. Hell, he wore ’em to a couple of meetings we attended together before we launched Toolmonger and I didn’t notice until the second or third meeting that they were actually work boots, so they definitely meet your “swap ’em out for dress shoes” criteria.
Come to think of it, the set of Wolverines we tested way back are still available on Amazon for around $150 — a lot less than the $500 Joel mentions. That’s it pictured at the top of the post. These make great dress-look boots, yet they’re extremely durable. They do scratch a bit, but careful polish work can make that go away — and add a nice patina.
Anyway, if you have any recommendations for Joel (or us, for that matter), we’d love to see ’em in comments.