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Discussion in 'General Attire & Accoutrements' started by Creeping Past, Dec 12, 2008.
They are nice. Do you have a link for those boots? Can’t find them on the website.
Thanks, nope sorry, i don't have a link and they don't seem to be on the Chippewa website anymore, i got them of Ebay.
It's the same as this but i paid a 0 less including shipping... dunno who would put so much in a pair of new Chippewa anyway, they have smoked too much pot
And now for something different, i just received my Red Wing 8268 from Bulgaria and they were a bargain too, new from deadstock
That is not the actual price but a default setting when something sold out and discontinued on the Workboot site.
Oh ok my bad
Here are some photos of my Wesco boots, bought in July 2018 from Iron Heart UK.
They are my favorite shoes and I try to wear as much as I can. They are heavy but comfortable, even for short walks (5 kilometers - 3 miles).
The leather is aging very well and I never used a conditionner, only a wet wipe when they are dirty.
Love the flat toe box from your boots @Chris7273
Here's a little update on the 8268. TBH, when i fell in love with these boots, it was from the picture on the red wing page where they are rather old and beaten up, especially the second picture.
i knew from the beginning i wouldn't keep them as is when i get them. I was actually thinking of purchasing a used pair from Japan but the one i got were just cheaper than any used one i liked so... to make it short, i brushed a very light coat of dubbin on the Abilene roughout.
Before you scream at me, yes, i'm totally aware that only the muleskinner roughout requires mink oil but i simply don't like the look of the brand-new Abilene, it deserves a bit of aging and patina from the start to not look like a nerd just coming out of the shop.
It came out pretty well i think, the coat is light enough so the roughtout grain is not flattened at all, just darkened a little. it's amazing to see how fast the raw denim also transfers to the boots. I wore them only 1 day and didn't walk that much but you can already see lots of blueing on top it.
Love that brown domain
Glad to see the boots thread getting some movement lately.
@Dav jump in!
I just purchased a pair of used East German officer boots, very similar to ones in this photo. Very soft leather! OK fit. Had to add a rubber sole since I ride MC. This same style was made by the Soviets and other eastern block countries. These are from the 1960s or prior. All leather.
I paid $180 on ebay.
Aero do a version of these that are shearling lined. I remember seeing used ones in the army surplus places locally years ago - some pull-on, some with a side-zip as well, always with the post-war "Democracy Buckle" at the top. Practical boots in heavy snow, I'm sure. I'd love to see a civilian version with an ankle strap buckle.
Kochmann have recently brought out these Lewisalike bike boots tat look quite nice:
Again, I wish they had an ankle strap round the front as well. If they added that and maybe a chunkier, chrome zip (much more in keeping with the vintage of the boots they imitate), I'd find it hard to resist. Heck, if they even had the ankle strap, I could have my own chunky zips fitted....
I don’t know why @Edward‘s post reminded me of the boots I wore in high school:
Maybe NaNa made a pair like you’re describing...my first engineers were NaNa in dark green. I kept them for years, but only wore them like twice- if only I could’ve fast-forwarded 30 years...I’d wear ‘em now.
Edit- found them!
Those remind me touch of Westwood pirate boots.
I looked at many Motorcycle boots including Dehner and All American. Disappointed that some are using non-leather shafts! I ended up with this pair of vintage Made in England ( California Police). Very heavy duty boots. Not sure if anyone is familiar with this boot? Very thick leather sole. I just added rubber half sole for traction
View attachment 306251
View attachment 306251
The flat head
I’ve seen those Aero boots and they look pretty similar to the boots our commander wore in winter. Think these were available as additional official supply for regular and professional serving SNCO upwards.
An ancestor of mine served as CO on a U-Boot and it has been a famous family legend he wore mole lined boots on duty.
9 days of pain and love
That is a great photo.
I owe this thread a lot, as it was from finding this thread on google researching engineers before buying my second pair of Wesco’s that I first came across the Fedora Lounge. I read this entire thread from start to finish over several days and have subsequently intermittently lurked on TFL for a few years. I have really benefitted from learning from the many knowledgeable people on here, especially on my bigger obsessions of leather jackets and trench coats... (engineer boots being only a minor sideline for me...). I also love the generally respectful and supportive tone on TFL, even when folk have different opinions, passionately held. I find it a little oasis of calm and decency on the internet!
So having recently finally broken my cherry on posting (when I got tempted with a leather jacket in the classifieds) I though I’d finally do a post on my Wesco boots that brought me here in the first place.
This is a very overdue post, but better late than never I guess. So here’s a very very long post on what led me to my Wesco engineer boots and my thoughts on them and the ordering process and the decisions I made.
Be warned, I’m afraid this post is so long you may end up in a catatonic state or be driven insane by its rambling and discursive nature. So feel free to skip ahead to the photos at the (eventual) end. Or read on and have your insomnia cured for good!
Back in 2015 I wanted a pair of engineer boots mostly for casual wear (and maybe occasional motorbike use). As an impecunious youth I used to ride in whatever stuff I had lying around as I couldn’t afford proper quality bike gear, but once I could afford it, I bought and used quality protective kit. My main bike boots are Sidi Courier boots, big heavy protective semi motorcross style boots that I saw loads of London Dispatch riders wearing when I first moved there in the late 1990’s and thought “if it’s good enough for them...”
The Sidi’s are bombproof, I’m on only my second pair in 20 years of riding in them. And the first pair are still in use as a back up pair, although the waterproof lining is no longer wholly reliable hence the ‘new’ (actually now 5 years old) pair. The old pair also survived a 100mph track day crash when my foot was briefly pinned under the bike. The boots stood up well with just a few scuffs and scratches on the metal buckles and my foot survived completely uninjured whilst various bits of metal on that side of the bike were snapped clean off or horribly twisted... so I can certainly recommend Sidi boots for riding.
But, despite my love of Sidi boots, I nonetheless wanted some solid engineers for casual use, but that would also be good enough for occasional town riding when I’d want to do social stuff at the other end (the Sidi’s are rather full on for that sort of thing...). I wanted decent quality, but wasn’t looking to drop really serious cash on them if I could help it.
THE FIT ISSUE
Unfortunately I had a long-standing (non motor-biking related) foot injury which, whilst fine now, means orthotics are essential for footwear I intend to wear for any length of time. So I’d need to choose footwear wisely that would work with them. For casual footwear I was (and still am to a large degree) a Converse hi-tops in summer, Dr Marten classic 8 hole boots in winter guy. Thankfully both worked great with orthotics given lacing adjustment and flat sole with low heel, so long as I chose the right size to accommodate the orthotics.
But, as all of us on here know, Engineers (like pull on boots in general) are tricky to get the fit right on. Add in orthotics and you’re in even more difficult territory. And as the orthotics don’t work so well with higher heeled boots, sadly there would be no super chunky Cuban or Logger heels for me.
So I needed a lowish heeled sturdy engineer boot that would work off (and sometimes on) the bike, that I could try on with my orthotics so I’d be reasonably sure on the fit. So I went to Silvermans in East London who stock lots of no nonsense military and biker kit at decent prices including red wing boots. Loved the Red Wing boots they had in, especially in the amber colour which was a bit different (always liked my classic cherry coloured doc Martens...) and the heel height was suitably low. But I just could not get the instep to work with the orthotics as they made it too tight despite playing around with different sizes. I tried a few lesser brands some of which looked nice enough but wouldn’t fit and some which fit but the heel was too high, or else they just didn’t look so good.
So I thought I’d bite the bullet and look into more expensive higher end boots which are bike suitable, like Wescos. Finding somewhere to try on Wescos in a range of sizes around my size (given how orthotics change that) proved unsuccessful. But now the sickness we all know all too well had taken hold and I was determined to get some engineers, costs and hassle (now) be damned.
I’d seen Wesco’s website and the custom sizing option and done endless fantasy boot simulations on their addictive online boot builder... so I reached out to them via email for advice re’ orthotics and got their leather samples, catalogue and custom measuring guide and forms mailed to me in the UK. I got my girlfriend to do the measuring with and without orthotics following their guidance and made sure we double checked everything. I knew I’d be in for a long wait and a lot of expense so I wanted to get it right (Wescos are not exactly cheap to start with but by the time they are shipped and imported from the USA with taxes and duties they are about 40% extra on the cost that lucky Americans pay!).
Measuring done, the fun could start on deciding the spec.
EASY SPEC DECISIONS
Some decisions were easy as these boots would be used on the bike sometimes which immediately set some parameters. The starting point would be the classic boss biker boot, bump toe and all, with ankle strap and one top strap plus I’d be paying the extra for the custom fit. On that, I requested they make the boot shafts close fitting. Aesthetically I really hate the flappy wide topped Wellington boot look, plus practically it’s a poor choice as it makes the boots flap around when you walk plus it’s hard to get under your jeans if they’re too wide. So I asked them to make the boot tops fairly trim to my legs (to gives the “stovepipe” straight up style) but with just enough room to get the boots over my close fitting leather Vanson sportsrider jeans just in case I ever wanted to do that (though I’d probably only be wearing the wescos under denim/Kevlar bike jeans and use my Sidi boots for any sporty riding with leather pants).
Again as they’re bike boots I’d also want a chunky grippy oil resistant vibram sole (#100F) and gear patches on both boots. I looked at metal toe caps, but they can’t do those with a gear patch or double mid-soles. I’d have dropped double midsoles as was not sure about them anyway, but the gear patch was none negotiable for me, so it was “no” to steel toes and “yes” to double mid-soles. Given my foot issue I’d need two lifts lower than standard on the heel, so they’d sit fairly flat and work with orthotics. As I like yellow sole stitching on my Dr Martens and I wanted robust boots for on the bike I went with yellow Kevlar outsole stitching. I wanted yellow Kevlar upper stitching too, but they couldn’t do that, so standard brown it was. I went for standard length straps as they look neater and less flapping/catching on the bike and got back pull loops to help get the boots on. And I went with silver coloured nickel plated buckles as I don’t like brass coloured buckles regardless of leather colour choice.
HARDER SPEC DECISIONS
That just left the bigger and harder decisions ie : Leather type/colour, boot height, lining or not and if so which?, dyed soles or not.
I was really in two minds on height. 11” is standard in Boss boots and I’d certainly not want to go shorter - each to their own but they’re meant to be biker boots, not ankle boots... but going taller meant quite a big jump to 14” height which seemed quite tall. As they were to be my first engineers I’d no real frame of reference. So to help me decide I looked at my Sidi boots as a reference. They are nice and tall and I like that they come far enough up my shin to nearly meet the lower part of the knee armour in my jeans. Comforting especially when squeezing through tight gaps in London traffic... so having measured the Sidi’s up, I decided to go with 14” height for the Wesco’s.
On leather choice, I had the samples with the measuring kit so I could see the options. I knew I wanted single tone all smooth out (not rough out) both for cost reasons given the costs already ramping up fast, plus as they’d be my first pair I wanted to keep things fairly classic.
At that time the choice of leathers was 7oz heavy oil tanned leather in black, Brown or their classic redwood (traditionally used for their logger boots), or their lighter 5.5 -6 oz wax finished domain leather in brown or burgundy or black tie. Other options never really in the running for me were navy or black pebble (with a distinctive stamped gain I hate), or slate or burlap in lighter 5-5.5oz weight.
I had a strong urge to go left-field with redwood leather as something different for a boss boot and as I love the cherry red leather on my classic doc Marten boots... I was also really tempted with the burgundy domain for similar reasons... but in the end I decided to be more conservative and go for classic black, so either the 7oz oil tanned black, or the lighter 5.5-6oz black tie. I chose the 7oz in the end as the most traditional and heavyweight option and whilst I was at it to have the sole and heel edges dyed back too. Despite the expense I also wanted the boots lined and decided on a leather lining in contrast Tobacco coloured leather with a credit card pocket whilst I was at it.
THE FINAL SPEC
CUSTOM FIT BOSS
STYLE BK7714LL100F (Size: Sending Form with Order)
+Back Pull Loops
+Tobacco Leather Lining
+#100F Vibram® Sole
+Dye Soles and Heels Black
+2 Lifts Lower (1/2" lower heel)
+One Top Strap (standard)
+Nickel Plated Top Buckles
+Buckled Instep Straps
+Standard Length Instep Strap
+Nickel Plated Instep Buckles
+Lightweight Brown Upper Stitching
+Yellow Kevlar Outsole Stitching
+Shift Patch Both Boots
+Left Inside Credit Card Pocket on Lining
+Random Leather Insert
THE COST AND THE WAIT
With custom sizing it came to an eye watering $944.00 plus $85 postage, with import costs to come on top. I posted the custom fit form back and once they’d received it I finalised and paid the order in late April 2015 and then I settled in for be long wait... they were completed and posted to me a little under four months later during August, but customs made me wait a few more weeks plus hit me (as expected) with import taxes and duties on top which came to a painful €307 extra (about $350 at the exchange rate at time, so total $ cost to me $1379 ).... so these boots are not cheap.
I have to say my overall first impression was very positive, I loved them from the start, so no regrets despite the high price, long wait and import costs.
They are seriously substantial and tank like boots, just as I specced them to be/hoped. They weigh in at 1680g each (or 3.7lbs)! The black oil tanned leather is so black it’s like black hole coloured black, with a light sheen when oiled but fairly matt and so thick and substantial it looks like it could survive anything. They look totally badass, as a bike boot should. The chucky sole is solid and grippy and fits the workmanlike look of the boot well, though the double midsole is probably overkill and maybe tips them a little too far into chunkiness (I’m still ambivalent). It’s also not a great choice for break-in (more on that later). The gear patches are probably also overkill given the already substantial thickness of the leather upper. But here I’m unequivocal in loving them nonetheless - they give the boots something different from most engineers and fit the biker boot theme I was going for.
The celastic Boss bump toe is reassuringly solid, no need for steel toe which is anyway controversial for bike wear as they can cause more harm than good in a crash and can apparently also make feet feel cold and be less than idea when walking around. So that worked out well. I also love the way the tobacco contrast lining looks, especially on the rolled top edge of the shafts, so it was an expensive option, but worth it for me.
THE NOT SO GOOD
The construction quality can best be described as workmanlike, stitching is not always the neatest or most consistent, albeit it’s fully functional. The ridiculous thickness of the leather, especially with a lining and gear patches, offers some excuse. And arguably a functional, but not perfectionist, approach to making them fits the boots nature and heritage of work boots for working guys, where robustness is all and aesthetics is secondary. Buying in the USA at USA prices would help make this much easier to accept. Importing to Europe gets things into higher end territory and arguably makes less than perfect construction harder to accept. But, personally, I’m a function over form kind of guy, so I’m not really bothered about perfect stitching etc (so long as it’s functionally sound) and the execution is plenty good enough for me. But if you can only accept perfect stitching and construction then maybe Wesco is not the right choice for you on this evidence.
Whilst I’m picking up minor (to me) things the triangular leather flap covering the gap where the top buckle can adjust the fit could be a little wider. If the strap is left in the neutral or looser setting (rather than tighter than neutral), the flap can sometimes not sit flush inside the boot, but stray through the gap as it’s made of softer thinner leather and only a little wider than the gap. Hard to explain, hope you understand what I mean! But anyway - it could be 1/3 inch wider, so it stayed put better...
The leather for the ankle and top straps seems much flimsier than that of the rest of the boot. It’s fairly thin and floppy whilst I was expecting a thick stiff bridle hide belt type feel. Not sure if this is skivved down leather from the main boot leather or what. I know the straps are mostly decorative in practice and maybe there are issues about what leather you can use for this purpose. And I’ve seen others complain on this site about too thick straps looking ugly. So I guess the manufacturers can’t win.... maybe it’s me who has wrong expectations here. But still, for me, whilst I can live with it, I am not at all a fan of the qualities of the strap leather.
THE BEYOND THE PALE
The only aesthetic thing I find truly outrageously unacceptable is the buckles. Whilst they looked like roller buckles when I was ordering they were not. They are cheap and nasty stamped rubbish made to look like rollers. I know the bean counters try to cut costs, but saving a few dollars at most on a $1379 (after import) pair of custom boots by using cheap and nasty buckles? I find that truly offensive and, although I’m not normally a believer in violence, I’d happily give said bean counter a good kicking with my boots to knock some damn sense into him. I know I’m not alone in this and Wesco have thankfully upped their game on buckle options since. And I have subsequently got hold of some proper roller buckles from Ironheart. So if I’m ever anywhere in the world where there is a cobbler I could trust to do a good job, I’ll get them swapped over. But frankly they should have been proper solid rollers from the start.
THE FIT AND THE BREAK IN
OK that’s the aesthetics etc - overall a big win straps/buckles notwithstanding. But what about the fit? After all, the ability to get a custom fit due to my need to accommodate orthotics is what brought me to wesco and a $1379 pair of boots rather than a £200 - £250 pair of off the shelf Red Wings. And however nice they look, if they don’t fit all you’ve got is an expensive mistake on your hands (and nothing on your feet).
Well, I have to say overall they did a really good job, that became even better with time.
From the start the shafts were perfect. Great stovepipe look and they absolutely nailed the crucial top circumference. It will just work over close fitting leather bike jeans, whilst also fitting perfectly under fairly narrow bike and casual jeans. The 14” height also means the tops sit around my upper calf at the fattest part of the lower leg which means no flapping about when walking and - combined with the nice rolled top lining - makes them really comfy there, with no nasty rubbing!
The boss toe is possibly the nicest most comfortable toe box I’ve ever put my feet in, roomy enough but not slack, it just works. A win.
The instep fit is crucial on pull on boots as we all know and my orthotics make this an ever bigger challenge. They got it right. It was a struggle at first to get the boots on and off, so I was a little worried at first, but this gradually eased up over time as the boots broke in and is pretty much perfect now (I’ve even gone one tighter from neutral on the instep strap now as I want to keep it as snug as it is now).
Of course heel slip is the bane of pull on boots. Some is to be expected especially in new boots. And naturally I had some in these. Some of this is down to the fit of the heel cup which I think could be slightly more snug and is my only fit criticism. If I’m ever visiting Wesco I’d take the boots in for a heel pinch treatment (apparently they reheat the celastic heel cup and bend the heel in a bit all round then let it cool - voila a slightly tighter heel cup). So a tad more snug would ideally be nice, but it’s good enough as is.
The bigger issue for heel slip than the tightness of the heel cup is of course the sole. I’ve got a chunky #100F Vibram sole then double mid-soles in thick leather. And the shaft and upper is 7oz leather and then leather lined! Given this the boots unsurprisingly started off very, very stiff (as I wanted for bike boots). It’s this stiffness that causes much of the heel lift. But it does of course get better especially as the sole breaks in. It just takes a long time with such a thick sole.
I get minimal heel lift now, but then several years of walking 25miles a week to work and back helped (I wore the boots a lot in winter especially). If you don’t walk much/you have lots of boots on rotation/are less than dedicated to breaking wesco engineers in, then honestly you may never get them broken in! They’ll break you in! If this describes you, you may be better off with another lighter weight brand.
But with Wesco bee seal boot treatment liberally applied, and an approach of wearing them little and often at first and building up the mileage as the boots broke in and my feet toughened up, the break in was surprisingly unpainful (I’ve had far worse with Dr Martens). It was long though!
Put it this way: if I made my order today knowing what I now do, I’d not go for double mid-soles. And that’s the only change I’d make (other than the buckles and a heel pinch). So I think for a first pair I did well, Wesco did well and I had some luck too I’m sure...
Damn this is a long post! So here’s the half time interval digression...
Whilst we are talking break-in, as a digression, FWIW here my tips for leather boot break in:
Get the right size and type of boot in the first place that suit you. If they look cool but hurt you, you won’t wear them (eg in my case no chunky heels allowed, sadly)
Dial in the fit further if needed with good quality insoles/foot beds
Put plenty of boot treatment (eg Obernaufs Leather oil or LP cream, or Huberds shoe oil or grease or wesco bee oil/bee seal plus) on the boots at the start and reapply liberally as needed.
use foot powder in your - good quality, padded - hiking socks
If break in is proving especially vicious consider double socks (very thin inner sock, then normal boots sock) to take up some of the friction between them (rather than your skin)
have a supply of compeed blister plasters on you and apply to any sore parts of your feet early, before anything gets bad.
Regularly bend the soles with your hands (good luck on triple soled Wesco’s!) or by crouching down on your toes.
Most importantly, take your time, wear them little and often and build up the mileage gradually until you wear them a lot and often
Don’t hit them with a mallet, pour hot water on them or any other method designed to damage your expensive new boots because you lack the patience and resilience to break them in properly. Buy yourself some trainers and accept who you are and be happy. You’ll still look damn cool in your trainers and also save a lot of money!
And now, our second feature...
MY SECOND PAIR OF WESCOS
OK maybe some of you have such bad insomnia I have not yet sent you to sleep. Sorry! I will try harder...
Already loving my first pair of Wesco engineers, in 2016 I’d been idly thinking of getting a second pair aided and abetted by discovering TFL (thanks!I think...). I saw Ironheart (who I’d bought jeans from) had a nice Wesco engineer build (IHWE build 3 1930s engineer boot). They looked nice and buying through them made sense with tax/duties etc, but obviously I needed custom fit again. And one good thing - and crafty bit of marketing - from Wesco is that having paid for custom fit once, thereafter it’s free.
So I reached out to Giles at IH in May 2016 to see if this was possible via them. Some back and forth later I had the IHWE build 3 with a bunch of tweaks ordered.
My aims with this build were the opposite of my first pair, to have some variation. These were not for use on the bike, so they could be a bit smarter/dressier. And as I’d got black boots already they be anything but black. And as my existing boots had a Boss bump toe I’d want a lower profile MP toe. And learning from my first order, I’d also want proper buckles and a tighter heel cup.
The IHWE build 3 already covered much of this. The standard build is here:
For my orthotics I needed a 2 lift lower heel which meant a slightly different last (the regular MP last) but I still would have the MP toe and a similar look. Boots would be my previous custom fit size, with tight stovepipe shafts, only with a slightly tighter heel cup. Maybe I should get a design commission, as the Mr Lou model Wesco are currently selling has a fit that is essentially this - MP last, tight close fitting shafts and tight heel cup! - albeit with a slightly taller heel.
The IHWE build 3 came with proper nickel plated brass roller buckles as standard so that was my main gripe from my first order sorted. The standard build also had a single mid-sole, the lower profile vibram #700 sole and natural sole/heel finishing for a smarter look. All of this was perfect for me. Plus I was happy with the standard black sole and upper stitching. But I wanted standard length straps not the longer ones on this IH build. That left the height, leather and lining questions.
I debated on height given how much I liked the 14” height on my existing boots, but again I decided it’s nice to have a difference and a lower height is less full-on and a bit dressier, so I stuck with the 11” standard height of this build.
Standard leather with this build was waxy 5.5oz - 6oz brown domain all smooth out which I liked a lot. Again nice to be different, in colour, finish and (lighter) weight leather than what I already had. I debated swapping to the also lovely burgundy domain, but in the end I stuck with the standard brown domain.
I loved the leather lining on my first pair of Wesco’s so decided I’d get a lining added to these too and went for the buckskin leather lining as a nice light contrast to the brown domain. It was $123 extra, but worth it to me.
The total came to $923 including postage and all import costs, so whilst not exactly cheap, it was $456 less than my first order. This is partly from fewer costly options, partly as the custom fit is only charged on the first pair and partly by going through IH so less of a hit on import taxes and duties.
My order was paid up and placed by late May 2016 and the boots shipped from the USA 3 months later at the end of August.and they got to me via IH in mid September.