American Made Boots
The entire story of American made boots comes with a sort of mythology. As far back as the 1800s, the most identifiable practical shoe is a boot. Back then, it’s more of a worker’s tool than anything else.
To get a sense of what this is like, think of the origins of historic brands such as Levi’s and Converse. Each of these is a fixation on the minds of most fashion consumers, but not without time. Over cumulative centuries, they build their names from the ground up. In the case of those two examples, the “ground” just so happens to be fitting out the humble manual laborer.
Converse makes rubber soles and canvas uppers for some durable and practical designs. Levi’s dresses workers in the rigid and protective denim that they need during long work days. In short, the marketing was in the work ethic.
That sort of approach led to a bit of a marketing mythology. The traditional work boot quickly becomes a unifying symbol of a work ethic. It’s a point of pride, particularly in American culture. Naturally, American made boots become more than just a visual piece – it’s an outright necessity.
Factory work, mining, you name a hard manual occupation and there’s probably an appropriate boot for it. Because of that long history of necessity, American made boots find many opportunities to innovate and evolve. It’s the same story you hear with any subsection of footwear.
Consider, for example, when the basketball shoe market takes off in the late 1980s. A boom ensues as consumers look for the newest tech and brightest looks. Consequently, the industry as a whole matches that fixation with a constant research and development.
The story is essentially the same with work boots. Particularly in the States, we start to see this historic piece of footwear take on special features.
The leathers are more rigid, they come with more protective specifications. The rubber compounds used in sections such as the outsole are beefed up to be all anyone needs to stay on their feet. Layers such as waterproof protection and resistance to shock are nearly standard.
The list goes on and on, making American made boots an absolute standard. In light of that, we thought we’d put together a list of some of our favorite brands and models as well as why we love them so much!
It takes a certain sort of madness to be financially risky in the 1930s. To suggest throwing obscene amounts of money into a business venture meant that you must be sure about the return on investment. Well, you won’t get very far in a conversation with Charles Danner back in his day.
The founder of one of the most historic boot makers had a stubbornness when it comes to his business. His brand comes about thanks to an insistence on sheer quality in his product. The best American made boots are, to the original Mr. Danner, a statement.
Our favorite example of this brand’s greatness is the Crater Rim. These American made hiking boots are a force on multiple terrains. The leather upper comes with a waterproof layer of nubuck and vibram rubber rand along the midsole and outsole. In short, there aren’t any alps or trails you won’t conquer. Danner is also well-known for their collaboration products, namely with Tanner Goods.
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When you think about the best American made boots out there, Red Wing is never far from mind. It doesn’t even matter what your expertise level is on this particular subject. This historic purveyor of quality boots earns itself a reputation in several cultural spheres. This isn’t just a workman’s boot or a hiker’s dream, Red Wing has massive appeal among hip-hop nobility and the younger crowd as well!
Red Wing’s path to greatness starts out in 1905. This is when Charles Beckman starts his company in the little town of Red Wing, Minnesota. By 1920, his brand leads the way in purpose-first boot design. That year, he also spearheads the design of boots that are specifically for oil rig workers. The materials and builds sport a quality that transcends their original purpose.
The Iron Ranger brings together the essentials of Red Wing. These USA made boots were the leading piece of footwear for the iron miners of the Mesabi Range, Minnesota. As such, it brings together some pretty remarkable features into the modern day.
The leather on this gem is of a premium Rough and Tough variety. It’s the sort of construction that has an aroma as luxurious as its feel on foot. Like the older version, this latest iteration features protective elements such as a reinforcing on the toe, chrome hardware, and steel hooks.
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G.A. Krause, Wolverine’s founder, is the quintessential entrepreneur. The man is more than just the original face of this American made boots manufacturer. He is, in fact, responsible for powering the electricity to an entire city. In 1901, he was supplying light and other electric means to the whole of Rockford, Michigan. The next step? Build a shoe factory.
His company takes pride in constantly innovating and re-emphasizing Krause’s stubborn focus on high quality wears. The result is a collection of footwear that lives on thanks to its traditional designs and book-worthy story.
The 1000 Mile Boot is the standard-bearer for this brand. Premium Horween leather adorns the uppers while more vibram rubber coats the outsoles. Even the laces are a luxurious custom design from Landrum, South Carolina.
Wolverine’s need to keep innovating continues to reap benefits. Their 100 Mile model just keeps evolving to fit the context of whatever era we’re in. At the same time, quality never takes a backseat.
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Thursday Boots Co.
Speaking of modern innovation, Thursday Boots Co. presents an interesting example. Though works of art, boots can be rather complicated to shop for. The founders of Thursday remember frustration when they would try their hand. They always have to choose between the ultra toughness of the work boot or the flimsiness of the modern casual boot option.
As a response, they start their own brand. Thursday’s American made boots dedicate themselves to meeting the happy middle between ultra toughness and style. Durability and quality meet classic premium touches. Additionally, you can expect reasonable prices from this brand!
The Vanguard is their flagship model, and what a choice it is. Horween leather comprises both the upper and inner linings here. The insoles are shock absorbent thanks to the inclusion of a Poron layer. Interestingly, the natural leather here is also hit with minimal dye and a gorgeous bit of texture as a finish.
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This brand benefits from its home state. Maine is a part of the United States that carries a specific reputation when it comes to craftsmanship. Moreover, it’s a state that is also famous for hand sewing premium footwear designs.
Eastland is not shy about this and continues the legacy of this company via its third generation of owners. Their ethos is pretty simple: timeless styles for the modern consumer. It’s intriguing to note how much effort they put into their Men’s and Women’s offerings. Specifically, what’s noteworthy is how each section gets equal attention.
The Sawyer USA Moc Toe boot is a particular favorite of ours. The most compelling thing about these is that they are, like the rest of the collection, a product of Maine handcrafting. Few things in footwear are as unique as being able to wear handcrafted, American made boots.
But, this doesn’t mean that these boots are all about sentiment. 100% American leathers cover this model entirely. There are also no linings on the upper, adding flex and breathability. Vibram 430 Mini Lug holds you down while a leather chunk stacks in the heel for more support. The shoe’s balance profile is just as impressive as its background.
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This is another brand that has a bit of a winding history. Thorogood’s founder, Albert H. Weinbrenner, is 27 when he first sets his mind to start his own shoe manufacturing operation back in 1892. Through the company’s early days, there’s quite a bit of change.
Though they first start as a standard maker of job-specific wears, events like World War II switch things up. After supplying American soldiers with boots, regular civilians also become a bit obsessed with American made boots. Thorogood takes advantage and runs with this. Along the way, they release classics such as the Hike n’ Camp, which they still sell today.
The Briar Pitstop Composite is one of the best pieces of Thorogood’s American made boots catalog. This design is a bit of a modern twist on classic design. Rather than going with steel on the toe, this protective shoe comes with a composite construction. Surprisingly, this doesn’t sacrifice any of the toe protection – or style!
Other notable features include full-grain Black Walnut leather on the upper and Goodyear storm welt construction. This 11″ high-risers are a great example of the classic work boot with modern day flair and features.
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