Boot Shoot III – Allen Edmonds, Truman Boot Co, Alden

From left to right:

  • Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill in 7563 Natural (size 13D). Wisconsin, USA. $350. Purchase.
  • Truman Boot Co Marrone Horse Rump Pull Up (size 13D). Colorado, USA. $530. Purchase.
  • Alden 5 Eyelet Plain Toe Commando in Brown Chromexcel (size 12D). Massachusetts, USA. $593. Purchase.

The third installment of the Lithic Goods Boot Shoot is under way with three premium pairs of Made in the USA boots. The first Boot Shoot featured: Alden, Oak Street, Red Wing, Wolverine, and Timberland and the second shoot: Eastland, Frye, Woolrich, & Chippewa.

Selection
Truman Boot Co is a charging young company based out of Boulder, Colorado. They’ve been gaining traction through word of mouth and social media, where they enjoy sharing behind the scenes photos of their boot production, material selection, and experimental designs. Their boots caught my eye last year and I’ve been itching to review them ever since.

Allen Edmonds has been around since 1922, but IMO haven’t put forth a worthy contender to the casual boot market until now with the Higgins Mill.

Alden has been in the casual boot market a long time with their cult classic indy boot and various permutations of boots built on the Barrie last such as this plain toe 5-eyelet design.

Boot Photos »

Eastland, Frye, Woolrich, & Chippewa

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.

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Red Wing Iron Ranger

Red Wing Iron Ranger 8111 in Amber Harness (size 12D). USA. $300. Purchase.

I set out to find a handsome pair of brogue-less, cap toe boots that are made in the USA of veg-tanned leather and finished off with a commando sole. Such a boot is nearly impossible to find (if you’ve found it in a size 12/13 without a six month wait, speak up, unless they are Viberg’s $710 Service Boot, whose price I cannot justify). The Red Wing Iron Ranger was ultimately the closest I could find to my ideal, however it does have a few shortcomings.

UPDATE [9.24.14] J.Crew has created a Red Wing Iron Ranger x Beckman, basically the Iron Ranger with the Beckman sole. Not sure what Brick Settler leather looks like in person, but the design is right.

UPDATE [11.06.14] New before/after photos posted below from a maintenance session with Obenauf’s leather preservative. The original laces have also been replaced with a leather set.

UPDATE [9.7.15] A reader has informed me that Red Wing recently released a new model of the Iron Ranger in Oxblood Mesa with a mini lug Vibram outsole that they’ve numbered 8119. They’re $320 on Amazon and, until I get a pair and document, customer photos can be found on reddit.

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Ratio Clothing Blue Oxford

Ratio Clothing Blue Oxford Campus Shirt in 50’s Single-Ply Cotton. USA. $98. Purchase.
Bonobos Premium Denim, Flatiron Dark Rinse, Slim Straight Jeans. USA. $145. Purchase.
Timex Weekender Watch with Red, White, & Blue Strap. $50. Purchase.

Aptly named for a custom shirt maker, Ratio Clothing is a young company based out of Denver, CO that has set out to provide reasonably priced, American made, dress shirts. My Blue Oxford Campus Shirt fits perfectly, which is very unusual for my 6’5″, beanstalk build. Bespoke shirts sound like an unnecessary extravagance until I take look in my closet at all the poorly fitting shirts I try not to wear. If your weight doesn’t fluctuate it makes sense to buy a few staple shirts that will fit great, never go out of style (such as blue or white oxfords), last for a long time, and stay tucked in. They also guarantee the fit and hold on to your measurements once you’re dialed in. When thinking about purchasing be aware that Ratio’s shirts can take up to a month to arrive if you order during the holiday season–I ordered mine on Dec 12th and received it Jan 13th. Thankfully they warned me in advance so it wasn’t a surprise and, now that I have the shirt in hand, I can assure you it was well worth the wait.

I ordered my first pair of Bonobos back in 2009 when they were made in the USA with organic cotton. Since then some things have changed (as of March 2013 they’ve raised a total of $73M in funding) however their denim is still made in the USA, albeit of conventional cotton. Of course the pants themselves still fit great and over the years they have become the only brand of pant I wear. In January 2012 I moved from chinos to denim with my first pair of Flatirons. As my Levis slowly disintegrated and my Flatirons began to show my cell phone I pulled the trigger on the second pair you see in these photos. They are a simple dark wash jean that skip the factory pre-sanding so they look great and will fade on the actual creases of wear. They are a bit tighter than the straight slim chinos, but look fantastic and invite many compliments. I might do a future post on Bonobos chinos, but if you’re looking I highly recommend the Hickory Slicks or Jet Blues.

Additional photos »

Alden, Oak Street, Red Wing, Wolverine, Timberland

From left to right:

  • Alden for J.Crew Natural Cap Toe Jumper Boot (size 12). USA. $547. Purchase.
  • Oak Street Bootmakers Natural Cap Toe Trench Boot (size 13). USA. $426. Purchase.
  • Red Wing 9016 Beckman in Cigar Featherstone (size 12). USA. $330. Purchase.
  • Wolverine 1000 Mile Rugged Boot in Brown (size 12). USA. $355. Purchase.
  • Timberland 6 Inch Zip Earthkeepers Boot in Burnished Tan (size 13). Imported. $170. Purchase.
  • Bonobos Premium Denim, Flatiron Dark Rinse, Slim Straight Jeans. USA. $145. Purchase.

To preface, 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 Brannock size 13, but for those that run a size large I ordered down as noted above), a method for speedily donning the boots, clean edges on cut leather (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. It should also be noted that I’ve updated this post a few times to improve the formatting and better articulate my thoughts.

Continue reading »

Allen Edmonds Strand

Allen Edmonds Strand Cap-Toe Oxford in Walnut. $325. Purchase locally or online.

These shoes perfectly combine style, comfort, and versatility. They are equally adept worn with a pair of dark denim jeans to a casual dinner party as with a tailored navy suit to an event in Mies’s Seagram Building. The calfskin leather is soft, adorned with beautiful broguing, and wonderfully comfortable; I’ve easily walked over sixty blocks in them in an evening without even a thought of

discomfort. All that and they’re even made here in The States with a durable Goodyear welt. I’ll be holding on to these until I wear through the soles, and even then they’re recraftable. I recommend purchasing at your local store to ensure proper fit, both heel-to-ball and length.

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Review: Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556S Pocket Knife

Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556S Mel Pardue Design in Yellow for $95. Purchase.

In a world of multipurpose gear I still cherish single-purpose products that are designed with such incredible attention to detail and insight so as to charm me time and again with their thoughtful features. The Benchmade Mini Griptilian is one of these products.

I bought the Mini Griptilian as a replacement for my CRKT M16-13, whose locking mechanism broke after I hammered on it with a log while creating tinder for a fire. Admittedly I shouldn’t have been doing this, and knew at the time something bad might happen, as pocket knife 101 certainly includes no hammering and no prying, however, I persisted. Thankfully, in the long run, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it caused me to search for a knife with extreme durability, leading me to Benchmade.

The blade is razor sharp, the opening action incredibly smooth, and the locking mechanism slides into place with ease while doing double duty to provide a small amount of force when the blade is almost closed, snapping it shut; I believe this also helps prevent it from opening in my pocket.

Additionally the clip is reversible, allowing me to clip the knife in my pocket with the blade-side facing into the seam, further reducing the chance of accidents.

The body is an intense, but not quite neon, yellow, which is excellent if you’re not in the military. I tend to put tools down distractedly while cooking, which can quickly become problematic in the backcountry when the knife isn’t sitting on a clean countertop, but rather lurking amongst the leaves with an open blade. The handle is made of a glass-impregnated nylon, which combines good strength and abrasion resistance with low weight. I’ve used it to pop bottle caps, while holding it similar to a lighter, and it’s taken a little damage, but only aesthetically. The plastic body is also beneficial while camping in the winter, when it’s difficult or even dangerous to touch metal for any duration.

The stand out feature of the 556, however, is the patented AXIS locking mechanism, which differentiates it from other pocketknives. Typically, folding knives use a piece of spring steel that snaps in line behind the knife when it is

rotated open. This spring is similar to an unstrung bow, which flexes when the ends are pushed towards each other. Eventually, if enough pressure is exerted, a bow or this spring lock will buckle, allowing the knife to bend backwards beyond its designed range of motion. The Mini Griptilian, on the other hand, locks the blade in the open position with two, double shear pins, providing unmatched strength among folding blades. The pin preventing hyperextension is static, while the pin that prevents the knife from closing is part of the sliding AXIS locking mechanism, and thus moves easily with the push of either thumb.

All of this combined creates a knife unmatched in the industry: light weight, highly visible, exceptional build quality, a bullet proof and ambidextrous locking mechanism, ergonomic dimensions, a textured thumb pad, and a reversible clip. All designed and made in the USA. Benchmade and Mel Pardue are a great team and have created what I consider to be the best folding pocket knife available.

Additional photos »