All right boys, like I said I kopped a couple pair of Service Boots and some Homestead Boots from the new heritage "Original" line (as they're calling it). And here are my impressions.
First off, kudos to Chippewa. This line is very well done and should be a direct competitor to Red Wing's heritage line. To answer a few of my own questions from above, these boots are in line quality-wise with the J. Crew collab from last year -- not really surprising. The leathers are excellent, even better than what Red Wing offers on their heritage stuff. The "Cordovan" cowhide is super gorgeous, a true pull up leather with those burgundy highs and lows. This is obvious but please keep in mind that "Cordovan" is just the name of the leather, it is not shell! The "Sand Suede" is very nice though I do wish the nap was a little more uniform among the various cuts (not a big deal). The "Crazy Horse" leather is also very nice, similar to the leather that the LL Bean Katahdins come in but less dark in color and more refined in appearance (less scratches and whatnot). The Crazy Horse leather actually looks like Natural Chromexcel but a bit darker out of the box -- meaning it looks like Natural CXL after you've applied Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP. I didn't get my hands on any of the black leathers or the more reddish "Tan Renegade" leather. As far as build quality, they do feel well made but I still think they are just slightly below Red Wing quality and QA -- I'd love to hear other opinions on this. I still have questions about what that insole is made out of.... is it some sort of fiberboard or actual leather? Anyone know? The packaging is indeed that beautiful Indian Chief art that we've seen from the tradeshows -- a very nice visual upgrade from their usual packaging. No certificate of authenticity! Damn, I kinda liked that little touch with the Katahdins. And here's what surprised me the most... no padded insole at all (again the Katahdin does have an orange foam removable insole). It wouldn't be strange if the insole was obviously leather like the Red Wing line, but the Chippewa insole is quite hard. I feel like you'd need to provide your own insole. Odd choice there. Laces.... an important element that's often overlooked. They got the laces right -- waxed flat cotton laces (similar to the Wolvy 1000 Mile laces) for the all eyelets boots and round waxed cotton for the boots with speed hooks. Speaking of the eyelets and speedhooks, they are also done just right in a nice antique brass finish. No more ugly hex-eyelets like from the Katahdin.
And as for the fit... Chippewas are always difficult to size but after measuring the insoles of these vs Red Wing Heritage boots, Wolverine 1000 Mile, Aldens, etc, I think the Original Chippewa line runs True to Size. So If you wear thick socks and provide your own insole, I'd order TTS. If you wear with thin socks and no insole, you could probably get away with going .5 size down. As always with fit, YMMV.
On to the photos! These were done fairly quickly as I unboxed stuff, so keep that in mind. Please note that these pictures make the Crazy Horse leather look a bit lighter than it really is. Also, click on the thumbnails for high res photos:
That nice box:
Sand Suede Service Boot:
"Cordovan" Cowhide Service Boot:
"Crazy Horse" Leather Homestead Boot:
The side of the box lists this url: http://www.csmfgco.com/Edited by bl@ster - 8/23/13 at 2:28am