There was a time, not long ago, when men’s boots were primarily about how well they functioned for work — protecting from possible injury, being comfortable for long hours standing up — and that was it.
The man who broke that rule? The cowboy. Rough, rugged, and doing back-breaking work, this guy long understood the need for owning both a work boot as well as something that looked great when he was out on the town. Fortunately, men’s fashion took a lesson from the cowboy and developed boots that can now work well and look good, letting you transition from day to night without standing out like a sore thumb. So, with that in mind, here are 5 of our favorite best men’s boots for the coming year.
Oliberté – Gando
Oliberté produces fair trade footwear in Africa, with the goal of contributing to the development of a thriving middle class. It partners with suppliers and factories that demonstrate respect and equity in the work place for men and women, and they even work to reduce the company’s environmental impact during the manufacturing and exporting process.
The company sent us a sample to try out, and while we expected them to feel better for our spirits than for our feet, we soon learned that Oliberté’s shoes, sandals and boots were really incredible. The Gando is a favorite, a 6-inch leather combat boot with a wedge jagged rubber sole made from recycled materials. The stitching holds tough in all kinds of situations — from working in your shop or tinkering with the motorcycle. Laces stay tied and secure, and there’s good ankle support, aiding against any tripping or twisting. It also looks really great. The reddish, brown leather wears nicely with age, and the boot could easily pair with work pants or nice jeans. $160 (Though we found it for half that price on BlueFly.)
Tretorn – Stråla Vinter Klar boots
Tretorn was founded in 1891 by Henry Dunker in Helsingborg, Sweden, and the company is now owned by Puma. These Stråla Vinter Klar rain boots do more than keep your feet dry on the way to work — they also look pretty great. The low ankle allows for an easy pull-on, but it’s high enough to tuck under your pants so that the rain stays out. That also helps them to look more like low-profile shoes or clogs, rather than traditional rain boots.
Plus, the inside fleecy lining keeps your toes toasty. They’re perfect for your trips to and from work, just before you need to slip on dress shoes for a big meeting. $40
CLAE – Hamilton Manta Ray Pull Up
Smooth, sexy and sophisticated are not the kinds of words you associate with a men’s work boot, but that’s how we describe the Hamilton Manta Ray Pull Up from CLAE after being sent a pair. This dark green / grey leather boot features an almond toe, a lace-up front fastening, padded ankle and a rubber sole. We used the boots while moving heavy boxes in a storage unit and got great ankle and toe support. While shoveling in the snow, they kept our feet warm (though that also had to do with the faux wool socks we were sporting) and there was no real slippage on the icy ground. While they do lose some of their slick coloring with too much extreme use, they wear incredibly well, adding a look of aged honesty to the shoe’s appearance. But more important than how they look, they’re also super comfortable.
Some boots put pressure on the outside of a foot, which can feel sturdy and snug at the start of the day and annoyingly painful by end. That was not the case here; the Hamilton felt strong and comfortable, and after the workday there was no real rush for removing them. This proved really nice when we went from the office to a cocktail party, where they got lots of compliments from both women and men. If you’re looking for boots that need to look and feel great first, and function well in working conditions second, then this is the pair for you. $170 (But we found them for 25% off at FarFetch and in other colors at Zappos.)
Timberland – Rime Ridge 6 Inch Waterproof Duck Boot
Mention good work boots to a guy and one of the first companies he’ll mention is Timberland. This reputation isn’t born out of a mere popularity contest, it’s from hard-earned reputation. So when it comes to being outdoors and needing a really strong, waterproof boot for rain or snow, a boot that can keep the heat in, Timberland’s Rime Ridge 6 Inch Waterproof Duck Boot is your secret to success.
This men’s boot features waterproof leather upper to keep your feet dry whether you’re hiking through the woods, riding a snowmobile, or taking on the extreme adventure of shoveling the front walk. The adjustable lacing keeps them snug on your feet, and the 200 grams of Thermolite insulation keep those same feet pretty warm. This Timberland boot also has a shock-absorbing EVA midsole and a rubber outsole for maximum cushioning and traction, which is really important in icy conditions. $129
Red Wing Shoes – ‘Classic Moc’ Boot
If there was ever a boot that needed to serve all masters, this one is it. The “Classic Moc” Boot can look equally fitting in the warehouse, while riding a motorcycle or having cocktails at a swanky downtown bar. It features a full grain leather upper and bold stitching for a rugged look. Welt and cement construction ensure durability, while the EVA midsole adds cushioned comfort. The rubber outsole has textured grooves for grip and traction on any surface.
This isn’t necessarily the boot you want for trudging through snow — it’s grip isn’t as great as the Timberland — but it can withstand most other outdoor elements or heavy working environments. The multiple colors add to the boot’s appeal.