I've been lurking on this forum for several months trying to decide what to do with my boot situation. I have some Made in China Danner Hikers from 2001 that are pretty nearly worn out. They also seem slightly short on my left foot, I think they always were but it is becoming less tolerable as the GoreTex bootie hardens with ages and falls down into the toe space. My left foot small toes have been very sensitive lately, even in shoes that I have had for years. I Brannock a 10.5D on the left and a 10D on the right. Shoe sales folks tell me I am slightly wide in front and slightly narrow at the heel with a low rise though the instep.
I was hoping to get some Made in USA boots as replacements. I live in the city now and do considerably less outdoors stuff than I used to. I need a boot that is mostly for errands fall through spring in Chicago but can go off road a couple times a year when needed. My first thought was RW Beckmans but they felt very strange to my feet. The Iron Rangers felt pretty good but the sole scared me off. All I could envision was slip sliding my way through winter and the couple times a year I go off road. My next thought was Danner Explorer boots. More practical, bulky and less stylish but they aren't available locally and the 10.5D ones ordered in seemed very narrow in the toebox. I continued my search and began reading about Whites SD and Wolverine 1K boots. My local Nordstroms brought in a size 10 1K boot and I thought it seemed rather loose despite the laces, particularly towards the top, being nearly together. With leather stretching out I decided that I would likely need the 9.5 1K. I also dislike the idea needing to take an expensive boot to the cobbler immediately to add a rubber outsole for winter/offroad traction. With that thought in mind the Whites boots seemed like they would come with the sole I wanted straight from the factory for little additional dollars over the 1K's. I traced my feet, mentioned my recent toe sensitivity and sent a letter to bakers. When bakers called they said that with the toe issues and foot shape that I was a perfect candidate for the swing last. They just happened to have a return on hand and offered to send it to me to at the very least confirm the size for a special order. Over the phone I got the following details about the boot.
White's Semi Dress - Dress Brown Leather - Swing Last - No Celastic Toe - Cream Liner - Antique Hardware - Close Trim - 10D
Out of the box the the right foot seemed very happy in the shoe although the left seemed unsure of the arch ease. I understand this takes more wears to get used to. Plenty of room in the toe box. I know right away that I dislike the look of the non celastic toe. Usually the toes of boots and shoes are my favorite part and I just hate these. My real questions from this post are as follows. Hoping that those who have experienced the White's process before can shed some light.
Fit: Neither heel seems to register against the back of the boot. This seems like heel slip to the extreme. My feet don't have the same contours as the boots along the achilles. I have tried to force my heels back as much as possible but I think my feet are settling on the arch support rather than into the heel cup. Is this an indicator of the wrong size or will this very stiff part of the boot loosen up in time and allow my heels to seat in there properly?
Finish: I was told that these boots were close trim. Seeing pictures online I think they are some strange hybrid of Standard and Close. There are two lines of stitching visible on the bottom of the shoe. From the top the second line is not through the dress brown leather, only the sole leather and in some places is covered by the dress brown leather. There are places where the sole and the dress brown leather show chew marks/cuts from the stitching. I really dislike this. There are few pictures where you can really see the stitch down. I would be really disappointed to do a custom order with close trim and wait 2+ months to have it look like this. Is this what the standard trim normally looks like? Would a proper close trim look better?
I do intend to call Baker's to set up the return and see what they say. I am hoping to get some feedback here as well to help me decide if I still want to do a custom order.
Thanks for your help in advance.