From left to right:
- Eastland Monroe Cap Toe Boot in Dark Brown (size 13). USA. $425. Purchase.
- Frye Logan Cap Toe Boot in Cognac (size 12). USA. $428. Purchase.
- Woolrich Yankee in Buckskin (size 13). USA. $300. Purchase.
- Chippewa 6″ Homestead Boot in Copper Caprice (size 12). USA. $267. Purchase.
- Bonobos Premium Denim, Flatiron Dark Rinse, Slim Straight Jeans. USA. $145. Purchase.
Welcome to the second Lithic Goods Boot Shoot! After the immense interest in the first Boot Shoot (feat. Alden, Oak Street, Red Wing, Wolverine, and Timberland) and numerous suggestions from readers for future reviews, I couldn’t help but continue down this path. A path that runs through old industry USA, including four solid American brands: Eastland, Frye, Woolrich, and Chippewa. Eastland and Chippewa have been on my list for a while, but I believe the Frye Logan was just released for F/W 2014. While these three brands are well known in the shoe business, the Yankee is part of Woolrich’s debut line of boots, expanding their Made in the USA product offering. These boots were all chosen for their Blake/Rapid or Goodyear Welt construction and cap toe style (although obviously the Woolrich Yankee doesn’t quite match, it is the closest they make and I was curious about their new adventure).
I’m partial to the following: a true goodyear welt for resoling and longevity, cap toes to aesthetically break the length of the shoe (I wear a size 13, but for those that run a size large I ordered down as noted), a method for speedily donning the boots, clean edges (as opposed to broguing), a sole with traction since these are for NYC winter, leather lining for boot longevity & comfort, and made in the USA. Read on for a breakdown of each boot.
Eastland Monroe Cap Toe in Dark Brown
Eastland Monroe Cap Toe Boot in Dark Brown (size 13). USA. $425. Purchase.
The Eastland Monroe’s fit is true to size in length and width, so order in the same size as your dress shoe (size 13 for me as shown here).
The boots are aesthetically my style, very clean and well made with speed hooks at the top and a functional pull loop that doesn’t cause heel discomfort on the inside and disappears into the pant leg on the outside. The Horween leather is excellent; thick, uniform and smooth with a beautiful finish. It holds it’s shape, but isn’t stiff and will break in fast. Four rows of stitching is probably excessive, but it’s not contrast stitching, so it doesn’t catch your eye and almost matches the width of the broguing on the toe. The broguing is minimal, but the cap toes are a good size and the edges of all the leather are cut clean. The tongue is a thinner piece of leather, but still has structure and is gusseted up to the fourth eyelet for snow, rain, and puddles. The eyelets are bronze, except for the closely-matched, patinaed, stamped steel speed hooks. I prefer flat, waxed laces, but these leather laces are about as good as leather laces can be: strong and cleanly cut in the traditional color.
The Monroe is constructed with a Blake Rapid stitch resulting in a stacked leather sole and heel complete with a rubber half sole and heel cap. This is a good waterproof sole for a winter city boot as it combines traction for the elements with a refined low profile look for fair weather days. These boots go one step further and burnish the edges of the outsole smooth as is normally done on dress shoes to achieve a very polished look. The leather ¾ length insole unfortunately uses a foam rubber backing rather than cork that would have superior molding and durability. Also note that the Blake Stitch isn’t covered in the toe box, and thus I can feel it through thin socks. This hasn’t been an issue, though I could see it offending some peoples feet, and it would have been cleaner if Eastland added a sock liner (or constructed with a Goodyear welt).
Expensive for a pair of boots that are made with Blake/Rapid construction and only lined with leather inside the cap toe. That said, Eastland’s attention to exterior detail and high quality materials make them my favorite of this group.
UPDATE [12.30.2014] These boots have packed out and are now a bit large for my low volume foot. This results in a bit of an unsightly bulge at the base of the laces above my toes. Scroll down to the bottom of the Eastland series to see a photo of the bulge. Given this occurrence I recommend only buying these boots if you have a larger volume foot.
Frye Logan in Cognac
Frye Logan Cap Toe Boot in Cognac (size 12). USA. $428. Purchase.
These fit like most boots, so order one size smaller. I wear a 13 dress shoe, but a 12 Frye boot. They’re a touch narrow. All boots have a leather smell, some more pleasing than others, but for whatever reason the Frye Logans have a particularly toxic odor that fills a room once you open the box.
The color and style of the Frye Logan’s are probably its greatest attributes. The boots are made from a mix of leathers: nice and smooth for the toe, vamp, and heel, but limp, soft and grainy for the main upper. They’re also the only boots in this review that are fully lined (except for the tongue). Oddly it feels like there is a plastic cup in the heel between the layers, but it still doesn’t capture my heel, so I have heel lift on every step. The super soft tongue sometimes gets bunched up, and doesn’t create a smooth, solid surface against the top of my foot. The tongue also isn’t gusseted, so any melting snow or rain on the laces will enter the boot. The laces are of poor quality, with bits of leather getting everywhere and they aren’t long enough to stay in the eyelets when untying, which means re-lacing every wear. Frye could learn a thing or two from Oakstreet about rawhide laces.
The rubber sole doesn’t have great snow traction, but is better than a leather sole and is both sewn and tacked on, which gives a feel of old school texas craft. This classic crafty feel quickly subsides when you notice the top layer of the outsole is a piece of plastic, over two thinner than usual pieces of leather. The insole is leather over foam, which is comfortable, but can’t make up for the slipping heel.
While they look nice and have some solid features, I wouldn’t recommend these boots.
Woolrich Yankee in Buckskin
Woolrich Yankee in Buckskin (size 13). USA. $300. Purchase.
As with most boots, buy a size smaller than your Brannock size. These would fit me in size 12 rather than 13 (I was misinformed while ordering, so the 13s pictured here are a full size too large). I’ll update this post once I’ve swapped them out for a size 12.
The Horween leather is really high quality: smooth, well conditioned with a waxy feel and great color. Woolrich is known for their wool, so the tartan lining should wear well and be plenty toasty come winter. That said, the tongue isn’t gusseted to prevent snow from entering in between the laces and the upper so they might not be the greatest for truly snowy activity. The Yankee is well constructed with straight sewnlines, solid brass eyelets, and a nubuck heel pocket to add friction thereby preventing heel lift. The stitching on the toe is non-functional, as it doesn’t hold up the lining, but it’s fine stylistically to visibly break the toe.
The outsole is just about exactly what I’m looking for: thick stacked leather over vibram rubber commando soles. On the inside I prefer a leather footbed to wool for long term durability, but these are awfully comfortable new with a foam cushion under the wool (again cork would be preferable). The edges of the sole of the boot aren’t burnished which isn’t a big deal, but would be a nice detail.
I need to have a pair that fits before I can really comment.
Chippewa 6″ Homestead in Copper Caprice
Chippewa 6″ Homestead Boot in Copper Caprice (size 12). USA. $267. Purchase.
These fit one size down from your Brannock size, so I wear a size 12 rather than 13. They also run a little narrow. The Homestead is the only pair I’ve reviewed with a full wrap-around-the-heel welt, but I really like it and would like to see more like this.
The Chippewa Homestead has good construction for the sewn portion of the boot, but doesn’t use the greatest materials: the leather feels dry and limp and the grain shows creases from the hide. Some people like the look and feel of this leather, but I prefer to have a boot with a bit more structure. Additionally, the vamp lining appears to be the same cloth used in the Red Wing Iron Ranger, which won’t wear as well as a leather lining. It is a work boot though and thankfully the tongue is gusseted for weather protection and to keep scrap metal shavings from slipping into the boot. The waxed nylon laces should last a long time and, combined with stamped steel speed hooks, are quick to lace up. The heel is also well designed to prevent slip.
The front of both heels are separating from the rest of the sole, they might be glued on solidly further back, but I don’t like to see this from a brand new pair of shoes. The combination of the stiff rubber outsole with a thin vegetable tanned leather insole creates a hard footbed similar to the Red Wing Iron Ranger (RWIR), which I don’t find to be particularly comfortable when walking on hard surfaces. The shape of the outsole around the toe box appears altered by the cap toe resulting in a wavy footprint. The traction on the bottom of the sole is pretty minimal and probably not very useful in the winter compared to other soles, although it’d still be better than the RWIR sole.
If you like the cap toe style & price range and don’t mind the hard footbed I’d recommend also trying on the Red Wing Iron Ranger. They are very comparable boots, with the 8111 RWIR using superior leather to this Copper Caprice and might have slightly higher construction quality (although I had a small insole issue with my pair). Or, if you like the aesthetic, the leather on the Tan Renegade boot with Cordovan cap toe might be better than the Copper Caprice. Personally I’d recommend going for a boot with a stacked leather + commando sole for superior comfort & aesthetic, unless you work in an oily machine shop, where this sole is meant to be used.