As a follow up to my post titled, “Harness Boots for Guys,” this post is about an equally rugged, tough masculine boot that many guys choose to wear. That’s the engineer boot. This boot style…
…has been around for more than one hundred years. As I described in the tutorial that I wrote for Hotboots.com:
Engineer boots are a type of boot usually worn by motorcycle riders or “bikers”. The boots are most often made of heavy weight leather, have a rounded toe and range in height from short (10″) to crotch-high (38″). The most typical height is between 10 and 18 inches. The two heights that are most common on the commercial boot market are 11 inches and 17 inches in height.
Engineer boots are designed to protect the motorcycle rider from injury to the foot and leg in the case of a crash and to prevent the burning of the rider’s calves while riding. They may include a built-in steel toe cap and metal shank in the heel, and often have a leather lining for stiffness. The lining also makes them more comfortable and easier to pull on and take off. Engineer boots typically have an adjustable leather strap across the ankle as well as an adjustable leather strap at the top of the shaft to adjust the fit. Multiple straps at the top of the shaft are also common. Soles and heels are usually made of hard rubber and may either be relatively flat or may have lugs for increased traction.
Many guys like to wear boots that give a masculine appearance as modeled by James Dean, Fonzie (of “Happy Days”), and other famous people who wore these boots in movies and TV shows.
What many guys have told me that they like about these boots is their simple design. No ornate stitching, fancy inlays, etc. Just rugged, solid boots.
As I said when providing my opinion about harness boots, of all the engineer boots I have owned and worn (see my engineer boot collection here), I prefer the tall Chippewa engineer boots the best. Either the oil-tanned (dull finish) boots with model numbers 27908 (without steel toe) or 27909 (with steel toe) OR the “Chippewa Hi-Shine” tall engineer boots, model number 71418. Honestly, I like all of tall engineer boots made by Chippewa.
Just as much as I like the tall Chippewa engineer boots, I really do NOT like their shorter brother, the oil-tanned 11-inch model 27863. Why? The shafts of the short boots are narrow, so you can’t pull them on or take them off easily. You have to unbuckle the top to pull them on and rebuckle them once they’re on, and repeat the process to remove them. That’s too much trouble and waste of time for most guys who just want to pull boots on and be on their way, and kick ’em off at the end of the day. The tall versions of Chippewa engineer boots are easy to pull on and take off without fiddling with the top strap and buckle closure because the shafts have a larger overall circumference (aka “calf width”.)
There are two other manufacturers of engineer boots worth mentioning.
1. As with the harness boots, Wesco has been making engineer boots for a very long time. They call their engineer boot the “Boss” model. This boot comes in a stock size of 12 inches tall, and unlike the Chippewa engineer boots at that height, the calf circumference is ample and you can pull them on and take them off quickly without adjusting the top strap or buckle. Wesco also offers these boots at custom heights up to “crotch high” at 38 inches. I have owned a number of Wesco boots at 18 inches, as well as some shorter. (I once owned one pair of Wesco crotch-high boots that I bought in the ’80s but never wore much because they were damn hard to wear. I eventually sold them to a buddy for rock-bottom price at quite a loss.)
I like Wesco boots for their durability and exceptional quality of construction. Not only can you customize the height, you can have choices of sole, leather, color, buckles, and toe styles.
The only thing I do not like about Wesco Boss boots is how heavy they are. One 18-inch Boss boot weighs eight pounds (3.6kg). The 12-inch Boss boot weighs five pounds (2.3kg). Lugging heavy boots around on the feet all day, especially if you have to do a lot of walking, is exhausting.
These boots look awesome when worn with jeans or breeches tucked into them, and for appearance at a leather gathering or riding on a motorcycle, they’re fine. But not so much if you have to walk a lot while wearing them. Feet get hot, tired, and sore.
2. Whites “Nomad” engineer boots were introduced a few years ago and they are as exceptionally well-made as Wesco boots. These boots are offered only in the 11-inch height. Customizations include heel, sole, and color. But you cannot get these boots made to taller sizes.
These boots are quite rugged and can take whatever you bring to them when you go out and about. I found out, however, that these boots run rather large, so if you get them, I suggest ordering a size smaller or better yet, try them on before buying them with custom specifications.
As with Wesco Boss boots, White’s Nomads are also darned heavy at five pounds (2.3kg) per boot. Tiring to wear if you have to walk a lot. Great for wear when riding a motorcycle or taking up a “James Dean” pose with a leather jacket, jeans, and a smoke … but really not for hiking or walking around.
And as I said on my post about harness boots — avoid being fooled by “wannabe” engineer boots made by Ad-Tec, Cody James, Dingo, Durango, Double-H, Frye, Harley-Davidson, Milwaukee Motor Clothing, River Road, and Xelement.
That’s a long list, but here’s why: Most of these other label boots are made via contract with unknown companies in China. Quality is poor and materials, including the leather, is blemished, uneven, and generally crappy. Metal parts oxidize (rust) easily with normal wear. Single-stitching on stress areas comes loose or falls apart. And worst: usually the soles are not oil-resistant and are glued on. Soles that are glued on cannot be resoled or repaired if they come loose.
Important reminder: just because I endorse both the harness and engineer styles of boots, I still recommend Chippewa Firefighter Boots as my number one boot for motorcycle riding. Explanation is here.
Life is short: wear tough boots.