Late last Autumn, I received an email announcing that a new style of Chippewa Boots were being offered — model 71419 “Strapless Engineers.”
What are “strapless” engineer boots? Same style as regular engineers — round toe, form of the vamp (foot), stovepipe shaft, buckle at the top of the shaft — but no strap and buckle across the instep.The boots took a long time to be made. Delivery was promised in January, but slipped until February, then March, and finally the boots arrived in April.
Now that I own a pair of these boots, what is my opinion and review?
Like their hi-shine engineer brothers (lug-soled hi-shine engineer version shown to the left), the boots are solid. They are well-made. Tall, sturdy, leather-lined, solid Nitrile rubber soles. Rounded steel toe for protection. Easy to maintain with a quick wipe-down with a microfiber cloth (no wax or buffing required.)
However, there ARE noticeable differences.
As I figured out five years ago, (and noted in this old blog post) Chippewa hi-shine engineer boots with a wide foot (EE) have a wider calf circumference than the same size boots with a “D” width.
I ordered these new 71419 boots in size 9.5EE. I usually wear a 10D. But when I pulled on the boots, they were tight on the calf. Not unwearably tight, but still — a concern if I wanted to wear them with thick leather breeches while riding my Harley.
I also noticed that the leather seemed to be different. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but the leather felt thinner. When I pulled the boots on, they dimpled in the wrong places. (A boot dimple is usually on the side at the lower part of each boot shaft. When you walk in these boots, you bend the back and the front of the shaft, and the sides “dimple” inward. That’s normal.)
Also, the stitching appears to be with slightly thinner thread, and more brightly colored. That is, the stitching is more pronounced than the stitching on their engineer strap-style hi-shine brothers.
I took a week to use my boot calf stretching device to “dry stretch” each boot’s shaft. I own only one of those devices, so I inserted it for three days in one boot, then repeated the same procedure with the other boot for three days. Finally, the boots fit with breeches and they felt fine.
My recommendation? These boots are better than the old Chippewa 27950 Trooper Boots made with “melo veal” shiny leather. That style of boot had thinner leather and a friable composition sole. (Friable means that the sole decomposed when exposed to heat, oil, and the elements.)
Some cops with whom I have spoken have told me that they do not like the engineer style boot with a strap. They prefer patrol boots to have a clean, dress instep appearance. That’s why many of them choose to wear Dehner dress instep boots, like the large motor patrol force in Fairfax County Virginia.
But some cops don’t work for a department that has the resources to provide boots for them to wear, and expensive boots at that (Dehners aren’t cheap, even with a purchase discount offered to law enforcement departments and officers, Dehner boots with non-leather shafts cost about US$400/pair.) These Chippewa strapless 71419 boots offer a competitive choice at about US$250/pair for the cop — or the biker who likes patrol boots — who likes to wear a dress instep USA-made boot that is easy to keep shined and maintained.
Life is short: know your boots and wear them when you ride!