When searching for rugged footwear, we've always turned to tried and true brands that have passed the test of time to see us through fall and beyond. Turning to companies that provide loggers, soldiers, hikers and other hard-workers with dependable boots, we took a close look at the technical cred that makes these true heritage brands. With the addition of a few labels that are newer to the game too, here's a total of ten picks all sharing the common thread of proven craftsmanship—whether for surviving the mines of Minnesota or the rainy Vancouver streets.
Rider and Need Supply Co.'s Ottawa Hiker
American heritage craftsmanship and rich Italian leather comes together in the Ottawa Hiker for a tough mountaineering aesthetic with a Vibram sole. Rider Boot Company makes each pair to order exclusively for fellow Virginians Need Supply Co. Get your order in by 15 September 2011 to cop these hand-stitched beauties for $645.
Danner and Tanner Goods' Mountain Light Lownsdale
As the company that outfitted a generation of loggers who built the Pacific Northwest, few know weatherproof workwear like Danner. The recent collaboration with fellow Oregonians Tanner Goods resulted in the new Lownsdale. This limited-edition, made from Chromexcel (a special type of Horween leather) in Portland, Oregon, comes complete with a Gore-Tex liner for superior waterproofing. Grab a pair while you still can for $375 directly from Tanner.
Founded in 1901 to outfit loggers in Wisconsin and adapted for WWII paratroopers, Chippewa Boots are as rough and tumble as they come. The Amazon for around $135.
Red Wing Iron Ranger
The Iron Ranger, designed to protect the feet of iron miners in northern Minnesota, is guaranteed to get you through the toughest conditions. Triple-stitched with double-layered premium leather on the toe and heel, the Iron Ranger sells for $280 from authorized retailers worldwide.
Quoddy Grizzly Boot Vibram
Made using the same techniques as with their traditional moccasins, the Grizzly is a six-eyelet boot lined with glove-grade leather and sealed with a deerskin bellows tongue to keep the heat in and the cold out. American-made and supported by a slender Vibram sole custom-designed for Quoddy, the Grizzly boot is available in multiple colors from their webshop for $425.
Yuketen Maine Guide Quilt
Made with the highest quality American leather, a patchworked plaid-and-herringbone wool panel makes Yuketen's Maine Guide Quilt the most fashion-forward of the bunch. They're also hand stitched by a small group of craftsman that've been working together for over 25 years, if the finest American-made, boating-inspired boot is what you're after. Head to Nitty Gritty where they hold the hefty price tag of €610.
Opening Ceremony and Timberland 7-Eye Moccasin
The 7-Eye Moccasin Boot keeps it simple with a burnished leather upper that will get you through inclement weather without weighing you down. The boots come in green as well as more traditional tan color, and sell online and at Opening Ceremony stores for $195.
Palladium Baggy Leather Gusset
With a sole crafted from a single, solid piece of rubber, Palladium's Baggy Leather Gusset boots are another lightweight option with a streamlined design makes them a great alternative to clunky rain boots. Waterproof nubuck leather, sealed seams and waterproof stitching thread enhance its ability to fight the elements. Pick them up for $120 from Palladium.
Dr. Martens Drury
The most recent addition to the company born from an air-cushioned sole designed to nurse a ski injury, the Drury's slimmer, slightly atypical look is more styled for the streets. Available in the Dr.'s iconic oxblood with an updated sole silhouette, they're still heavy-duty and built for a beating. Order them from Dr. Martens directly for $120.
Vasque Sundowner GTX
With a Gore-Tex-lined body, the Sundowner GTX offers the best in waterproofing and durability. The old-school model dates back to Vasque's founding in the early 1970s, designed to offer the best performance in the wild. Check Vasque's store locater to get yourself a pair for $180.
Contributions by Karen Day, Graham Hiemstra, Ami Kealoha and Greg Stefano