Someone sent me an email that I regret mistakenly deleting. I wrote a reply, but instead of hitting send, I hit “cancel” and the original message got deleted. I regret that error.
His message was that he was considering the purchase of a new pair of Wesco Boss engineer boots, but wondered how they broke in and how they felt while actually riding a motorcycle.
Good questions! I do have some opinions based on experience from owning and wearing several pairs of Wesco boots.
Wesco boot features of concern
Break-in: Wesco boots, whether tall or short, take time to break in completely. The leather from which the boots are made is thick and bulky. The sole is rigid. With hours of wear, the leather will eventually relax a bit and be more comfortable. The insoles will conform to your foot, and if fitted properly, should feel comfortable on the inside.
Sole rigidity: No matter how long you wear a pair of Wesco boots, the soles will remain rigid. After all, the boots are made with a very thick and durable Vibram outsole, then a mid-sole, and then a thick, well-made insole (footbed.) All of these sole components make for a rigid, not-very-flexible foot of a boot.
A rigid sole makes for discomfort if you walk a lot with these boots on. Wesco boots are NOT hiking boots. Your feet will get tired and sore if you walk a lot in these boots, especially if you are older than about 45 or 50. As you get older, the bones in your feet become more rigid, too, or shall I say “less flexible.” The muscles, tendons, and ligaments change, too — so overall, your feet become less tolerant of a rigid sole in a boot.
Weight: Wesco boots are made with very thick leather and as mentioned above, thick sole construction. One tall Wesco boot can weigh up to 6 pounds (2.7kg) which does not sound like much, but compared with one 3-lb (1.4kg) steel-toed Chippewa engineer boot of about the same height, the weight of Wesco boots is twice as much as tall engineers by Chippewa. A full day of wearing these boots is difficult, especially for a guy who is older than about 50. Honestly, Wesco boots can feel like you are wearing Frankenstein’s boots at the end of a day. Hot, heavy, … sore.
Non-stretchabililty: Wesco boots cannot be stretched. The leather from which the boots are made is so thick, it will not stretch like boots made from thinner leather. This is important to know because as a man ages, the muscles in his legs relax and often the calf circumference gets larger. This has nothing to do with weight-gain (which for some men can also be an issue with age), but is a factor of aging. Since Wesco boots cannot be stretched, it may mean that a pair of Wescos that fit you when you were 30 will not be comfortable or fit well when you are 50. The boots will definitely last that long — a lifetime — but your body will not be the same. Is that something to consider? Only you can decide.
Do not work well with toe-shift: Motorcycles that are operated with a toe-shifter (lifting a shift when upshifting from first to the top of the range) may present a problem. Some toe-shift arrangements do not allow much room below the shifter, and the boxy, bulky toe of a Wesco boot may not fit under the shifter to lift it to shift into higher gears. This is a situation that varies from motorcycle to motorcycle, and it is possible to adjust the shifter to accommodate this situation. But it is something to note — toe boxes of other brands of boots are not as bulky as the toe boxes of Wesco Boss, Wesco harness boots, or Wesco work boots (Jobmasters, for example).
Now do not get me wrong — it may appear as if I am against Wesco boots or am not recommending them. Wesco boots have many benefits for bikers.
Wesco boot features of benefit
Durability: there are no more durable motorcycle boots on the market than Wesco boots. These boots will last forever. They can take hard use, abuse, and keep on going. Rain, mud, and even a crash (usually) will not affect Wesco boots other than giving them character shown from wear.
Design: Wesco boots have a style all their own. Rugged. Masculine. Tough. If you want a real “biker’s boot”, Wesco boots are definitely it.
Manufacture: Wesco boots are made in the USA in a relatively small facility in Scappoose, Oregon (near Portland.) Highly-skilled bootmakers make each pair by hand (with machine assistance, but these are not machine-made production-quantity boots.)
Custom sizing: Wesco boots can be made custom to size to accommodate foot and calf circumference differences, because for most men, standard sizing does not fit everyone. It may take 10 – 14 weeks to get a custom pair of boots from Wesco, but the wait is worth it. The boots will fit perfectly. Just remember two things if ordering custom Wesco boots: 1) think ahead for the ‘aging human’ situation and consider requesting a larger calf circumference, and 2) ordering custom Wescos through a third-party reseller can save you about 7% than from ordering from the factory directly.
Construction: Wesco boots are constructed with exceptional quality materials and craftsmanship. Like any hand-made boot, there may be imperfections or an occasional boot that doesn’t fit properly or not made as specified. But the company will fix legitimate problems if brought to their attention.
If you are a biker and want a pair of boots that will last forever, are rugged and designed for long-wear with quality materials and craftsmanship, you won’t find anything better than Wesco boots. If you just ride — that is, ride and not walk around at the destination a lot — then Wesco boots are great.
But Wesco boots are not hikers. Due to the rigid sole, these boots are not comfortable to walk or stand in for hours. Just ask a guy wearing Wesco boots at a biker bar (or not…) Point is, there are much more comfortable boots than Wescos if you are going to be standing around or walking long distances while wearing them.
When considering buying Wesco boots — if you are older than about 45, think carefully. No matter how much you may want to deny it, your body will age and Wesco boots may not be comfortable for you as you get older. They will feel heavy, clunky, and tall boots may be tight on the legs. You may — just may — not find the boots worthy of an investment after 5 or 10 years.
If you analyze “return on investment,” think about it this way: if you pay US$700 now and get 10 years of use out of the boots, is it worth US$70/year? For some men, that is a reasonable ROI. For others, it is not. It depends on your personal financial situation. And that does not consider that some men like Wesco boots for purposes other than wearing while riding a motorcycle. But I won’t ‘go there’ on this blog.
You can tell that I am divided. I like Wesco boots a lot; however, I do not choose to wear them as often as I choose boots made by other manufacturers when I ride my Harley. Why? Because most of my motorcycle riding includes doing something else at a destination — walking, usually. Boots that are lighter-weight are a more frequent choice for me due to my riding style and activities that I do. Everyone is different.
Life is short: make informed decisions and wear the right boot for the right application.