Winter Boots: Which Type Suits Your Lifestyle Best?
Take one look at our boot collections and the word ‘hoarder’ very well might come to mind before ‘enthusiast.’ In our — albeit, obsessive — minds, however, our expansive footwear collections speak more to the wide range of activities we can partake in whilst suitably booted rather than a (probable) purchasing problem.
That said, we also know that not every gent shares the same passion for boots that we do, and that a more concise footwear wardrobe can still be just as practical and versatile as an extensive one.
If that notion sounds more like you, or you’re simply looking to streamline your boot lineup ahead of boot season, then this guide is here to serve you as well as a thick commando sole does when treading through winter’s snowstorms.
While the Chelsea Boot design has been around for quite some time now, it’s only been in recent years that the silhouette has enjoyed a bit of a style resurgence in mainstream menswear.
While it was undoubtedly the doing of The Beatles in the middle of the previous century that substantially increased the boot’s stock on the Global Cool Index, we’re seeing more and more men wearing The Chelsea out and about these days too. But what about The Chelsea makes them such a popular choice for winter wear?
While the Chelsea Boot certainly seems to be en vogue once again this autumn, they didn’t quite make the cut on our list detailing The Best Menswear Trends We’ve Seen This Autumn.
For starters, the Chelsea Boot is a very tidy-looking piece of footwear. Often constructed using just one or two pieces of leather for the upper, the Chelsea Boot’s laceless construction is about as sleek, chic, and streamlined as you can get. Not only does this feature contribute to the Chelsea Boot’s style appeal, but it enhances its functionality factor too.
It couldn’t be easier to slide a Chelsea Boot on and off thanks to the boot’s emblematic elasticate ankles. Trust us, these come in handy during the winter months when cold hands are often reluctant to shed their gloves to tie shoelaces, or when substantially-socked feet require some extra ‘give’ to fit into a boot.
The lack of lacing and tongue also prevents opportunities for cold air to enter the boot, keeping the Chelsea Boot wearer’s feet that little bit warmer through winter’s most blustery of winds.
However, apart from more hearty iterations of the boot from makers like Blundstones, Chelsea Boots aren’t totally suited for negative temperatures. In fact, most styles fall closer to what we’d classify as ‘dress boots’ rather than winter boots, and are much better suited to milder climates that don’t traditionally experience the worst winter has to offer.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a nice, mild climate, you should do us all a favour by living your life to the fullest and picking out a nice pair of these Chelseas. Now read the rest of this article to gain some insight into what the rest of us have to put up with over winter…
The Derby Brogue
A step up in terms of vigour from the Chelsea Boot is the Derby Brogue — a sturdier leather boot that sits up above the ankle and was traditionally worn across the United Kingdom by farmers and countryside dwellers.
If you’ve heard the saying ‘No brown in town’ before, it’s because of brown leather brogues like these. When farmers and rural residents would, on occasion, venture into large cities like London, it was their brown brogues that would often expose their wearer’s identities when juxtaposed against the crowds of black leather Oxford-wearing urbanites.
Since we’ve finally progressed away from that antiquated trope, the design and cold-weather practicalities of the Derby Brogue have been able to come to light. These boots are hard-wearing thanks to the robust multi-piece construction of their leather uppers, though they still rack up a tally in the style points column too.
Detailed broguing lines each piece of thick, often pebble-grained leather, which creates a rich visual effect that beckons you right back to the British countryside. Finish lacing up a pair of well-made Derby Brogue boots and it’s hard not to feel obligated to patrol the perimeter of a Scottish Castle as 007 did in Skyfall.
If all we had in our boot arsenal was a pair of Derby Brogues, we wouldn’t dare venture further north than Scotland during the wintertime, however. As tough as they are, we’d still classify Derby Brogues more under the dress boot category than the winter warrior one, despite its historical reputation as everyday countryside apparel.
While the Derby Brogues will offer you more protection from the elements than a Chelsea Boot, it’s not exactly up to the task of trekking through several inches of snow or ice. At least, not if you’d like to keep all of your own toes.
Is the thought of you impersonating James Bond too hard to shake? We thought it might be. Now do Queen and Country proud and give these a thorough inspection.
The Commando Boot, and all of its many iterations, can be thought of like the dress boot’s older brother. A bit stronger, a bit heavier, and remarkably more experienced at dealing with the deep displeasure of dreadfully long winters.
Coining its name from the boot’s military roots, the Commando Boot looks exactly like you might imagine it to — tall, sturdy, and with a sole so substantial it looks like it could boot down a door at the drop of a helmet. In other words, extremely practical for harsh winters.
Want to know what else is practical for harsh winters? Nothing in our list of the 6 Cold-Weather Accessory Mistakes To Avoid. Better give it a read just to make sure you aren’t making any.
If you live in a climate that is on the receiving end of heavy snowfall or other forms of precipitation, then you’ll be glad to know that the Commando Boot is designed (with military precision, might we add) to keep your feet nice and warm and dry.
More often than not, newer issue Commando Boots feature an extended rubber midsole that wraps up around the bottom part of the boot’s leather upper, which serves well to keep as much water as possible away from dampening the wearer’s mood.
Plus, the boot’s namesake ‘Commando’ sole features heavy treads that make for sure-footing when traversing across the planet’s most treacherous winter terrain — like those few yards between your front door and your car door, for example.
Looking to ‘command’ some attention with your footwear selection this winter? These’ll help:
The Hiking Boot
If you live in a place where winters more closely resemble the North Pole than Northern Europe, then it might be best if you considered investing in the most robust of booting options on our list, the Hiking Boot.
Yes, the Hiking Boot — you know the ones, with their ultra-wide eyelets, hooked lacing systems, rounded toe boxes, and (traditionally) topped off with bright red laces. This style of boot was made most famous by American brand Danner back in the swinging sixties when, contrary to popular belief, these boots were made for walkin’ AND hikin’.
Thanks to this instant-classic design by Danner, most Hiking Boots today are built tough and made to last, and are often almost completely waterproof. And, by placing a large emphasis on the use of high-quality leather and construction techniques, boots made in the Danner mould should last their wearers a lifetime — if cared for properly, of course.
If you struggle with winter and are looking for the one boot to solve all of your winter-related problems, the Hiking Boot is probably your best bet.
But remember, you’re getting advice from a few blokes who have deeper shoe collections than most retail stores, so take that with a few grains of salt — preferably the anti-ice kind you always forget to sprinkle out on your front walkway before bed each night.