As long-time readers of this blog and my fellow bikers who have ridden with me know… my favorite of all-time boots to wear when I ride my Harley are Chippewa Firefighters, particularly model 27422 (named “Ruttman”) with Vibram 100 lug soles.
These boots are exceptionally well-made, and have features I really like, including…
- Vibram 100 “big lug” sole for great traction, especially at slow-speed “duck walking” in and out of my garage and parking lots. Like snow tires for your feet.
- exceptional comfort; great insole, flexibility, and not so tall as to make your legs get hot in hot weather.
- Once you learn the trick of installing the central boot zipper (explained here), they are really easy to put on and take off. Never need lacing again.
- They are as flexible as a hiking boot and feel good when you have to stand or walk a lot in them.
- While no claim is made for being “waterproof,” these boots sure resist water. I have accidentally been caught in the rain while wearing these boots, and my feet have remained dry, even in hurricane-like downpours.
- The built-in “high shine” gives them a brilliant shine that takes very little effort to maintain.
- The boots are so durable, I still have my first pair and I assume, they will “outlive” me (or have a life as long as Wesco boots).
- When available, the boots are a good buy for the value of getting a USA-made boot of quality materials and workmanship. (Note: Justin Brands, owner of the Chippewa label, was sued for claiming “Made in USA” when some components of the boots were sourced in other countries. But the boots are assembled in the USA of quality materials / that’s what matters.)
Over the years, the boots were not available for long periods of time. The manufacturer would produce a run of the boots, then wait to make more while component materials were being sourced from different locations. Spot outages of source materials meant no production of these boots for as much as a year.
When I heard the boots were being “discontinued,” (unfounded rumor — in 2017, a supply shortage occurred again), I ordered more pairs just because I really REALLY like these boots and wanted to have a “lifetime” supply (giggle.)
Also, I wear the Vibram 100 smooth-soled version (model 20422) of these boots when in my uniform while serving at my local fire department. Those boots are supplied by the department, and they look just the same, but don’t have the lug sole. Actually, the smooth-sole version is even more flexible.
A week ago, I saw a pair of the Vibram 100 lug-soled version of these boots on a dramatic mark-down sale at an outlet website. I just could not avoid snatching them up at US$49! The MSRP of these boots is now close to US$300 (when available).
When I received the boots, I checked the condition. All good. But what struck me is that the right boot had one lace between both sides of the boot, showing that the previous purchaser attempted to lace the boot like you would for a logger. Apparently the previous owner must have returned the boots because he could not figure out how to install and lace-in the boot zipper. (Must not be a reader of my website or this blog!)
The previous purchaser/returner’s loss was my gain! I will take some time, install the zipper with the laces, and begin breaking in these boots on motorcycle rides this summer.
I “gathered the family” for a photo, here:I also created an image map (for fun) of these boots on my website, here. Try it out — click on a pair of these boots in the photo. Each boot in the photo is actually a link to that boot’s page on my website.
Life is short: wear sturdy, well-made, motorcycle boots each and every time you ride!