Some days, I stand in front of my wardrobe and know it in my gut: Boots are the only way to go today. Perhaps that’s the case most days – in matters of both style and functionality – which is why it’s vital to know (and shop!) the best brands for boots.
In my experience, there’s little that the best boot brands can’t take head-on: That could be meeting the demands of the office or a job site, it could mean lacing up a sleek pair in a dressy situation, or it could mean finding a casually rugged pair to wear to a concert or a festival. Wherever I go, I’m nearly always wearing a pair of boots – allow me to argue that you should do the same.
Boot style takes on many different forms, from sleek, dressy Chelsea boots favored by The Beatles to tough-as-nails Western boots favored by real-life cowboys. Personally, I love Chelsea boots in both dressier designs and durable, rugged silhouettes (like Blundstone boots, which I tend to wear day and night).
There’s plenty to be said for the long-lasting utility of the great boot brands of today, many of which have been in the game for years. And once you find a brand you love, the world becomes your oyster – at least, that’s what I’ve found when shopping for stylish, functional boots.
There’s plenty of room for newcomers, too: If you’re anything like me, the best boot brands are an obsession and a passion.
Now, you might prefer a pair of rugged leather boots for simple reasons, like their sturdy design or their wearability with classic blue jeans and other timeless men’s style staples. I know I find my favorite pairs of boots are endlessly versatile. Yet, you also might opt for dress boots instead of Oxford dress shoes as a matter of preference or distinct style. Or, a pair of casual chukka boots could be your everyday choice.
No matter your preference, I can guarantee you’re bound to find a pair that works for you from one of the best men’s boot brands. To help you start your search on the right foot, I present iconic brands new and old that’ll round out your wardrobe properly.
Longevity is very often a marker of quality among the best boot brands for men, but adapting with the changing times is all the more impressive.
FRYE’s been making boots since the 1860s, but they’ve evolved into a premium footwear brand that’s both on-trend and timeless. Some styles look straight out of the 1800s, in a good way (note the FRYE Prison Boots). But they offer plenty of USA-made men’s boots beyond that.
Styles range from durable captoe boots to sleek Chelsea boots and roper boots. FRYE boots often boast hand-burnished details and a sleek, dressy profile, and prices will run you somewhere between $300 and $400.
Head across the pond to check out styles from revered British bootmaker Grenson, which boasts nearly 160 years of reverent bootmaking experience.
Accordingly, the brand delivers styles that run the gamut from distinctive wingtip boots to modern high-lace hikers and handsome suede chukka boots with a stacked sole.
You might say the brand is the perfect blend of old and new, with styles that look right at home in the country (as with its Fred Wingtip Boots) or the city (as with the hybrid hiker style of the Brady).
Grenson boots boast shades of rich tan and burgundy as well as sleek black and tan suede – there’s hardly a stylistic preference they don’t cover. Not to fear, though: There’s a true difference you can feel on your feet that falls right in line with the $500-plus price tag.
What is it about boots that’s so appealing? Is it the hard-working, no-fuss nature of the right pair of lace-up boots? Is it the wear-with-nearly-anything style that works well with so many business casual or laidback looks? Or is it a combination of craftsmanship and long-lasting quality compared to most other footwear styles?
With HELM Boots, it’s a bit of all three and then some. The brand crafts its shoes with care and sells them out of Austin, Texas, with styles that reflect a well-balanced lifestyle: There are low-profile, dressy chukka boots, hard-working lace-up ankle boots and even handsome sneaker boots to pair with jeans and an Oxford shirt at the office.
Few of the best men’s brands hold as much sway in modern culture as Timberland boots.
Take its iconic 6-Inch Waterproof Boots, for example. As a New Yorker, I’ve been known to rock a pair from time to time, since the Northeast brand makes so many different varieties of its famed lace-up boot.
They’re a lauded part of New York City hip-hop history, yet the boots themselves are also trusty and dependable from coast to coast in snowy weather, on job sites and with durable work pants. That particular style has gotten some technical upgrades and a more sustainable design over the years, as has the rest of Timberland’s casually cool lineup.
You can also find rich leather moc toe boots, lightweight hiking boots and sporty sneaker boots, all in a wide array of colors. I’ve tried boots from its made-in-America line and worn them with business casual looks, and I’ve also found that Heritage styles from Timberland (including a brown Heritage leather version of its 6-Inch Boot) deliver just as much bang for your buck.
You could say Timberland makes a boot for just about everyone, but if you want a sturdy work boot with classic roots, a set of trusted “yellow Timbs” is a great place to start.
If ever there were a brand up for the competition as one of the best boot brands for men, it’d be Clarks. They were the first pair of classic boots I bought as I looked to ramp up my personal style, and I trust the brand just as much today.
The company helped bring the desert boot to the masses after Nathan Clark discovered British soldiers wearing crepe-soled boots in, well, the desert, and the style has retained its utterly timeless design in the days since.
Clarks boots now come in a wide range of suede colorways, but the original Desert Boot in Beeswax Leather – which will break in with every step – is your best bet to pair up with just about any pair of jeans or chinos you own.
I’ve tried out pairs in both soft, supple suede and that iconic Beeswax Leather, and I’ve loved how they’ve broken in over time while delivering consistent comfort.
Of course, the brand also offers other styles of ankle boots, moc toe boots and Chelsea boots, but it’s tough to top a certified style essential in the desert boot.
The idea that brands are cutting corners and simply not making things like they used to doesn’t hold as much water with Red Wing Heritage. I’ve found that the brand approaches things much the same way as they did in years past, delivering absurdly rugged and durable boots fit for work and play.
The company’s Minnesota roots originally helped power rough-and-tumble industries like logging and mining, and Red Wing still makes exceptionally tough work boots today.
Yet over the past 15 years or so, they’ve become famous for other reasons: Namely, its commitment to quality and premium materials impressed a new generation of menswear aficionados, who turned styles like the Red Wing Iron Ranger into modern classics.
Personally, I can’t get enough of the Iron Ranger in its many forms, and I rest easy knowing I’ll have these boots for years on end.
Let’s keep it simple: If you want to dip your toes into the world of durable boots made to be paired with, say, blue jeans and a casual henley any day or night of the week, look for the Red Wing Iron Ranger or a pair of trusty moc toe Red Wing boots.
There’s surely competition when it comes to the best boot brands, and Wolverine is a worthy alternative if you want to explore brands that make boots fit for job sites and post-work beers.
As a Michigan native and longtime menswear fan, I’ve grown to love the brand and its remarkably hard-wearing boots. In fact, Wolverine was a closet staple growing up, particularly for frigid Michigan days, and they’ve got an enduring appeal that’s hard to beat.
These days, Wolverine is perhaps best known for its 1000 Mile lineup (boots that are so ridiculously well-made, the name seems fitting).
You’ll find a run of plain toe boots with incredibly well-built last and sole designs, often made from rich materials like Horween leather for increased longevity.
The company also introduced a more streamlined rotation of dressier, low-profile boots dubbed the BLVD Collection: With just two pairs of Wolverine boots, you could be set for situations from day to night. In my own collection, I’ve tried out both lace-up boots and sneakers from the BLVD offering.
I’ve found that the comfort is top-notch, the leather quality is exceptional and the overall design breaks in handsomely over time.
Oftentimes, sorting through the best boot brands is a bit like finding a missing puzzle piece. If you frequently wear tailoring, the perfect dress boots should be a go-to. If you prefer rugged looks on the daily, like selvedge denim, traditional lace-up boots get the job done. And if you land somewhere in the middle, a sort of “smart casual” style, then Rhodes Footwear from Huckberry could check all the right boxes.
The brand does quite a few things very well, a sort of jack-of-all-trades among the best boots for men, be it classic Chelsea boots, hard-wearing roper boots or crepe sole chukka boots.
The great thing about Rhodes Footwear is that it seems like these stylish boots were made to be worn with plenty other Huckberry styles: Talk about finding a missing puzzle piece.
It seems that for as long as Taylor Stitch has been in business, people have been asking the San Francisco company to make footwear. They came through on that promise a few years back. And I must say, I was certainly excited to see this news, and made my way over to the site to grab a pair of the Ranch Boots.
The leather was supple right out of the box, the construction was noticeably strong and well-made, and they’ve only gotten better with age.
There comes a time in every man’s search for the best boots when he wants to level up a bit, to invest in a pair that goes the extra mile in every possible sense. Sure, that includes price, but Viberg is a brand made to invest in, and they (perhaps rightfully) call themselves makers of “the world’s most beautiful and durable boots.”
They’ve got nearly a century of heritage to back that up, and they make remarkably handsome, timeless boots from a wide array of thick, sturdy leathers. These are made to be broken in, made to be worn with everything from selvedge denim to hearty wool winter suiting, and designed to last far longer than you might even expect.
Head back over to Huckberry to get your next pair of ultra-casual, ultra-cool chukka boots, this time done up on a springy yet reliable crepe rubber sole and made using sustainable leather-aging processes.
Take it from me: These boots are light-as-air thanks to the brand’s characteristic crepe rubber sole, but it’s the eco-friendly leather that might win you over. They’re the right mix of sustainable and stylish, no doubt.
Astorflex shoes are the brainchild of a family-owned Italian company, and they toe the line between laidback and refined quite nicely.
Its crepe-rubber boots are likely too casual to wear with a suit, but for business casual situations or for daily wear with slim blue jeans and a timeless pocket tee, you’ve hit the mark quite nicely.
The great thing about the vast market for the best boot brands for men has to be the variety and versatility on offer. Remember what we said about technical hiking boots? Portland-based Danner makes those, sure, but they also have the market cornered when it comes to heritage-worthy, beautifully crafted leather hiking boots and lace-up boots that fall somewhere in the middle of “town” and “trail.”
Its boots are USA-made and designed to get better with age, and they use remarkably comfortable materials like Vibram outsoles for added traction and astounding comfort on the daily.
If you’ve been wanting to try out a pair of Western boots but don’t quite know where to start, allow Tecovas to lead the way.
Admittedly, I was a touch skeptical about Western boots – how would they work with my wardrobe, and how might I style them? Well, in my experience since trying them out, I’ve found they pair up with staple pieces, like tan chinos or slim blue jeans, quite easily.
Consider them an ideal way to step into the world of Western attire.
The upstart brand has only been in business about a decade, but they’ve shown they’ve got plenty of know-how when it comes to introducing guys to the world of stylish Western boots.
From cowboy boots made from exotic leather to streamlined, rock n’roll-ready side zip boots and even a pair of crisply designed Chelsea boots, the brand does much more than you might expect.
As a bonus, you can even score a Western shirt, a waxed trucker jacket and a new belt to round out your new-look pair of handcrafted Western boots.