What’s The Fuss?

Back when I lived and worked in Chicago, I had a pair of Timberland boots like these:

I got them for several reasons:

  • they had soles that resisted the cold from the ground (Vibram?)
  • they were the best boots I could find at short notice, at any price (and yes, they were quite spendy at, I think, about $125)
  • they were available at the Timberland store at the mall, and
  • Made in Maine, U.S.A.

Just over a quarter-century later, I gave them to Goodwill because I’d put on weight, gone up a shoe size and they no longer fit.  They were still in perfect condition, despite having spent 15 years in all kinds of Chicago and New Jersey weather (not to mention the occasional trip to glacial Wisconsin and northern Michigan, see below for proof).

Last year I was getting ready for my trip up to Boomershoot, and decided that I needed another pair of Timberlands because Idaho weather and why not? they’d been great boots for me.

Bah.  Compare and contrast the list below with the bullet points above:

  • no longer made with Vibram soles
  • rubbish quality, judging from a significant number of reviews on Amazon AND on Timberland’s own website
  • no longer any Timberland stores in malls, and
  • Made in Dominican Republic (real Timberlands) OR Made in China (fakes you get through Amazon).

So much for Timberland, then.

All that came to mind when I saw this silliness in (where else?) the Daily Mail, in which they were making fun of BritPM Rishi Sunak for wearing (gasp)  a pair of Timberland boots:

Rishi Sunak is mocked over his £150 Timberland footwear as they steal the limelight during speech

One of the less-than-endearing traits of Brits is what I call “Toff Envy”, i.e. the hatred of people who are wealthy and own things that are of higher quality and (mostly) expensive.

As always, the Greatest Living Englishman has the condition nailed:  “In America,” saith Clarkson, “if you drive a nice car, the Americans will think, ‘Great car!  I need to work harder so I can afford one like that’, whereas Brits see the same thing and think, ‘I’ll soon have you out of that, you plutocrat bastard’.”  And that’s reflected in UK insurance companies, by the way, where by far the largest number of repair claims are for “keyed” doors and suchlike vandalism.   We just don’t see that thuggishness Over Here, do we?

I don’t know what the problem is with £150 Timberlands (that’s about what they cost, if not more nowadays), and more to the point, Sunak is a fucking billionaire (well his wife is, which comes to the same thing).  What did they expect him to wear?  Oxfam slippers (like the awful Emma Thompson)?

Idiots.  No wonder their governments are all socialist, regardless of party label.  And don’t get me started on their reptilian journalists…

Afterthought:  an RFI on American-made work boots. please?  Must be insulated and waterproof.  Personal testimony a must.


  1. I have a pair of Danner Boots I got for Air Force Survival School at Fairchild AFB in Spokane. They are spendy, but all the instructors had them, so we got them. Still going strong after 30 winters. Thinsulate lining, Vibram soles, comfortable AF. I waterproof them with mink oil.

    Here’s the rub. Well, two, actually.

    1. The company is in Portland OR, so they are probably made by commies, but it’s becoming tougher to avoid that by the day.

    2. While much of their production is in the good old USA, some is in Italy, China, and Vietnam. Not unlike many companies these days. So if interested, inquire which models are made in Portland, they still have a factory there.


    1. I would have to check where they were made to truly fill the ask for info, but I can also attest to Danner durability. I have a set of 15 year old Danners (the Acadia model) that, while I have walked half the tread off, are still otherwise intact. They have been subjected to snow and jagged rock, sand and mountains, and while the finish is worse for the wear, are still fairly waterproof.
      Caveat, however. They ARE waterproof, from both directions. Which has meant that, over the years, the leather has stretched, as I usually work in hot environments, and my feet both sweat and spread somewhat as I walk. So those boots now require double socks and insoles to take up the extra room, lest I get hotfoot and blisters
      I have worn many other boots over the intervening years as well, and found them, while more comfortable, less durable. Most other shoes and boots just start disintegrating instead of stretching.

    2. Beat me to it. I also recommend Danner. I make the comparison to a Ruger revolver (or historicaly to IBM equipment) way over built like a tank an ya can’t go wrong. Mine are over 20 years old an look fantastic.

  2. When I worked for the State Water Department every 6 months the Red Wing Trailer Truck would show up at the plant to sell high discounted Steel Toe work boots to the plant and field staff. Even though I was a member of the Steel Workers Union they wouldn’t sell me a pair of their US Made Boots because they could not understand why the Software Engineer needed ( OK … wanted ) good work boots. So I can’t speak to their quality.

    I do own a pair of the great US Made LLBean Hunting Boots with the felt lining which have served me well for 15 years. but they are not exactly for every day wear. They were designed to serve a specfic task. Water proof and insulated and pretty indestructible as long as they are used as intended and not for daily trips to the Mall.

  3. Red Wing Shoes – Heritage line – Rugged, able to be resoled, made in USA. They’re expensive, but if you take care of them, they’ll last you a lifetime.

    Personally, I wear the Roughneck in Briar Oil Slick. Once they break-in, they look way better than the stock photos. Just clean them periodically and re-oil them and they’ll last forever. Resole them as needed.

    1. Yes, be sure and specify the “heritage” line. Red Wing has created several sub-brands that are, of course, made overseas in some foreign hellhole. At least they made sure the foreign stuff is under a (slightly) different label.

      I used to swear by Wolverines, but last few times I needed a pair, all they had in the store was commie made crap. I’m not sure if any Wolverines are made in the USA anymore.

      1. Wolverine 1000-mile boots are. Or at least they were 4 years ago when I bought mine. I’m a big fan of Horween leather and mine are Horween horsehide. I don’t work that much any more, but if I did, these boots could handle it. Kinda pricey, but I’d buy them again if they disappeared.

  4. I can attest to both Danner (Tanicus model) and Red Wing, as I have used both for decades.

    For the past few years I have also gotten a lot of use out of the Hi-Tek brand as they are cheap enough to not cry when they die yet hold up real good for a couple years.

    This model: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LIM2MX2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 , I have had good luck with and have purchased 4 pairs that are still in their boxes in the closet so that I have them in the future when I need them.

    I mean, why trash my $200 Danners in day to day stuff when a $35 pair of Hi-Teks will do?

    Yes, I said $35. Size 10.5 in brown/gold, look kinda spiffy too and the treads dig in nicely.

  5. No advice on good American-made boots, but I can attest that the Chinese Timberlands are trash. I bought a pair a few years ago, because I wasn’t paying enough attention. In their first winter, I caught the toe of one on something, and the sole separated from the upper from the toe almost to the heel. I haven’t had a really good pair of boots since, and I’m looking forward to reading some of your readers’ suggestions.

  6. Here’s another endorsement of Red Wing boots…I haven’t bought a pair for years since my old 12″ leather upper/Vibram sole slip-on boots (used on the motorcycle) are still going strong after being re-soled twice. What’s really funny about that is the left-hand sole wears out twice as fast as the right-hand because that’s the foot you’re always putting down when you stop.

    I can also attest that you should now avoid “Rocky” brand boots. I had an initial pair, made in the USA, that lasted as my primary hunting boots for years. They got torn up pretty good and I attempted to replace them with another pair as similar to the originals as I could find. But the new ones were so poorly made that the soles separated from the boots, tearing the material of the uppers in the process, and when I tried to return them as defective got nothing from their “customer service” department but a laugh, saying I had used them too hard. I’ll never buy their product again.

  7. Red Wing 2240 is what I wear. Used to be made in USA, then they went to China, now Made in Cambodia. I buy the same boot, and wear them all day, every day. I do not own a pair of “shoes”. Been wearing these for years. The usual failure point is the soles wear out, and the leather wears through on the toe from kneeling.

    Pros- they exactly fit my needs. Plastic Safety toe, non marking urethane sole, good enough tread for most use but low enough relief so they DO NOT PICK UP STONES-or easily cake with mud-
    very light weight for a 6″ boot, water proof.

    Cons-not us made, cannot be resoled, and are getting more expensive every year .

    vibram soles in the traditional black mark a floor like a sharpie, and hold crushed rock so well they will destroy a hardwood floor. Great for logging boots or hiking.

  8. These days, Timberlands are worn by those of an urban persuasion, usually completely untied.

    I have a pair of Danners that are 40 years old, super comfortable and still in great shape despite the fact that the last is torn and they can no longer be resoled. However, Danner gave me a substantial discount on a new pair since the old ones couldn’t be rebuilt.

  9. I’m afraid I can’t offer much advice on cold weather boots. However, many folks stop by here so will add my 2 cents.

    Back in the day story. Back in the early 90’s I stopped into some discount shoe place because they were on the way home. Bought my first pair of Carolina boots (non-insulated). Had I known, I would have gone back and bought every pair they had in my size. Made in USA. Fit and felt like old bed room slippers out of the box. Wore that pair for decades, resoled them three, maybe four times. Bought another pair of Carolina’s from a shoe repair shop somewhere along the road, but by then they had gone off shore, China IIRC. Heavy, clunky, boxy. Wooden clogs would have been more comfortable. Donated that pair to Good Will.

    Now, for the weather here in Texas? Got a pair of these–


    Well, actually my daughter took me shopping on my birthday, in 2017. Fit and comfort right out of the box. They have had a steady diet of yard work since, still going strong. My pair made in Bangladesh. And here’s my trick–I buy them a half size over, then put in a pair of 3/4 length plantar fasciitis style foot pads. The extra padding and ‘spring’ in your step really reduces fatigue through the day.

  10. I worked as an Army contractor installing and upgrading satellite earth stations from 2005 to 2014. I went through boots as they did not hold up to the harsh conditions of the middle east and south west asia. Red wing, Georgia boot, Danner, Redhead, Carheartt, Wolverine, North Face, and Under Armour all failed or wore out in less than 6 months of use. The 5.11 boots lasted about 8 months but they were some of the most expensive boots. What lasted the best was the Merrell boots. I had a pair of Merrell Moab last over a year. Two months before I came back to the states I had to get another pair of boots and they are holding up well in this environment.

  11. Red Wings…. They’re comfy as slippers once they get broken in, waterproof and stand up to Interior Alaskan winter weather. I’ve had Danners & US made Timberlands and those don’t come close. Red Wings are pricey, but they’ll probably be the last pair you buy.

  12. Bought a pair of Timberlands last year. They lasted all of 4 months – of walking on carpet. Never again.

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