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Robust and stylish boots for the country

Westward

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Been reading SF for years, now I have a question, so took plunge and registered.

Up until a few years ago I lived and worked in a major international city, and I have a lot of Crockett & Jones footwear (size 8, most of the lasts seem to fit me well). Now I live in the UK countryside, far from any major city, and there's lots of gravel, mud, twigs and stone. Just walking over to the car in the morning can be an adventure when wearing expensive shoes or boots. Having scuffed one of my pairs of C&J Tetbury in the early days after arriving in the country, I now wear my good shoes less frequently and with caution.

I don't like to wear trainers with a pair of decent trousers and a jacket (I know some people can pull it off; I can't, and don't like the look) so wondering if people can recommend a cheaper brand of shoes/boots that will look stylish, but be more robust than C&J, Lobb, etc. Or at least, that will look good and not cost the earth to replace or repair if I accidentally scuff them or put a ding in them.

Thanks.
 

dieworkwear

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There are lots of great, rugged boots. What do you normally wear? I feel like the style of the boots depends on the style of your wardrobe.
 

mhip

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Aquatalia is supposed to be weather-proof, they make a lot of different styles of boots, and seem to go on sale quite a bit.
 

Westward

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There are lots of great, rugged boots. What do you normally wear?
Mostly a fleece and jeans or moleskin trousers around the garden / land, with a battered old Barbour Beaufort on top if cool or rainy.

But if making an effort, then jacket over shirt or slim knitwear, with MTM trousers or something like Incotex. Pretty standard look. Suede or other boots if casual, if formal then MTM suit and tie and a clean-looking shoe, possibly break out the Gaziano & Girlings, but that happens very seldom these days. Most of my footwear is in semi-storage. (Haven't actually inventoried all my stuff. Was just thinking earlier that I was sure I once bought a pair of very sleek Yanko, but can't remember for the life of me where they went.)
 

comrade

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dieworkwear

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Mostly a fleece and jeans or moleskin trousers around the garden / land, with a battered old Barbour Beaufort on top if cool or rainy.

But if making an effort, then jacket over shirt or slim knitwear, with MTM trousers or something like Incotex. Pretty standard look. Suede or other boots if casual, if formal then MTM suit and tie and a clean-looking shoe, possibly break out the Gaziano & Girlings, but that happens very seldom these days. Most of my footwear is in semi-storage. (Haven't actually inventoried all my stuff. Was just thinking earlier that I was sure I once bought a pair of very sleek Yanko, but can't remember for the life of me where they went.)
I feel like guys who come into casualwear from a dressier and "higher end" side of clothing can sometimes feel compelled to buy really nice and dressy clothes for their casual attire. Blundstones certainly are not Goodyear welted and their leathers aren't even that nice. But I find them to be supremely comfortable (they're very cushy) and have a silhouette that looks good under jeans. The leather quality is just so-so. But the more important thing is that they look better as they get more beat-up.

For jeans and moleskin trousers, and for wearing out in the countryside, I think they're great. There have been some complaints in the past about the rubber soles disintegrating after a while. It's kind of a long story, but the gist is: supposedly they've upgraded the materials and supposedly that was happening because people didn't wear their boots for a long time. My lifestyle is pretty simple, but I can't say that I've had any problems with my boots. Some examples of how I think they look good when worn:

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I think of Viberg's service boot more as a workwear city shoe, not really a country shoe, but it's basically wearable with workwear regardless of your location. Truman Boots also does a similar model in more "rugged" shapes.

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That said, if you want to go for those higher-end, Goodyear welted shoes from traditional makers, almost every company that sells "dress shoes" will also have casual boots. For the kind of clothes you described in your post, I mostly wear Crockett & Jones Conniston. I'm choosing a random one here in a pebble-grained leather, but as you know, C&J shoes come in all sorts of materials -- different grains, suedes, roughouts, etc.



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When you say "more robust than C&J," I think few shoes are as robust as these sorts of traditional makers. These things hold up very well. But if you buy the right style, they can look better the more scuffed and beat up they get. Heres's a pair of C&J waxed Snowdens, which have been regularly worn for fishing.

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Russell Moccasin makes custom hunting boots. Here's a pair I bought, which is modeled after a now-discontinued style that was once made for Ralph Lauren in the 1990s (first image is of the original RL boots, the others are mine)

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For wear with jeans and a fleece jacket, I also like Danner's Crater Rim.


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Lastly, I think Filson's shoe section is good for this sort of thing

 

Count de Monet

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I’ll echo the nomination of the Conniston and also suggest any Alden Indy with a commando soul. Some folks forget that before it was co-opted by the #menswear crowd it began its life as a workboot. I love how mine look better as they get nicked up but still clean up well.
 

Westward

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Thanks for the responses, especially @dieworkwear's epic list. I was unaware of Aquatalia or Viberg, and while I knew of Danner, and have tried on some models in my previous city life, it's always good to have a specific recommendation. Alden I know only through the forums; it doesn't seem to have much exposure in the UK, possibly because the local competition is fairly potent.

I have long been a big fan of the Coniston in its various guises, but found it hard to justify buying them when I lived in the city, and made silly money, because it was just so obviously a country boot that it struck me as verging on precious to wear them in town. Now that I have returned to the country - I grew up on a farm - I find it daunting to even consider the thought of damaging footwear so nicely put together, and so expensive, by wearing them in the country.

I have a pair of gorgeous C&J Balmoral boots, and I haven't worn them for years because it's hard for me to find an excuse to bring them out. (Actually, a few minutes ago I did take them out of their cupboard and remove them from their bags for a look, then I put them back again before my missus saw me fondling them.) I take the point about robustness, particularly in the structural sense, and the fact that they can be rebuilt. The problem is my reluctance to nick them or scratch them, but I applaud dieworkwear's willingness to get his Snowdens mucky.

It's odd how our perceptions vary depending on the object in question. I'm involved in a local pheasant and partridge shoot, and I maintain my wax jackets well, giving them a treatment of Renapur (much prefer that to Barbour's own dressing) every autumn. Then I cheerfully smash them up when beating in dense woodland full of thorns and occasional barbed wire, and get them covered with mud, and soaked, every other weekend. At the end of the season I get them fixed and patched as necessary by a local seamstress. It doesn't bother me; they're being used for their intended purpose. Yet with boots I hold back.

As an aside, most people on the shoot wear either wellington-type boots (Dubarry, Aigle, Le Chameau) or shorter, more technical models from Harkila, Musto or Meindl, often combined with gaiters. Nobody wears fine footwear, but this may well be a reflection of the topography. Our shoot is spread over a mixture of fields, streams and woodland that is very steep and muddy in places, so even the Guns have to navigate quite sticky terrain, especially later in the season. If you were shooting partridges in East Anglia in September, on dry, level stubble under a clear early autumn sky, I'd think you could certainly get away with a pair of C&J brogues or similar. Maybe people wear, and expect others to wear, such footwear in such circumstances? No personal experience.

I'll have a think. Maybe I'll buy a pair of good secondhand boots on ebay and mentally designate them as "OK to get muddy". Or maybe I just need to HTFU and break out the Balmorals, Tetburys and Cottesmores.
 

EUtroll

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Getting proper snow boots and hiking boots didn't fit well with my love for "nice" shoes but I can't understand why it took me so long. My C&J boots struggle in Stockholm in February.
 

JJ Katz

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I understand your concerns, @Westward but you only live once and why give up or undersell your nice clothes when you can get some sturdy but nice looking classic leather boots? A few scuffs and songs subtract nothing from something like those awesome pebble-grain consistons. I’ve found that in any case pebble grain, with a tiny bit of care, barely shows wear even when robustly tester.
 

JJ Katz

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If you want cheap n cheerful, Clark’s makes a brogued boot that is very tough and goes great with country clothes. Look up Clark’s Batcombe.
 

Westward

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If you want cheap n cheerful, Clark’s makes a brogued boot that is very tough and goes great with country clothes. Look up Clark’s Batcombe.
Batcombe Lord in tan looks good and is keenly priced!
 

WhereNext

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I'd throw J. Fitzpatrick in the mix here, as well. I suppose it depends on just how rugged you need your boots to be, but they make a wide range of shoes and boots (I'm focusing on boots here) that I think fall in a more casual range of jeans and above. Justin, the owner, is a good guy and I believe they are still an affiliate vendor here.
This is their MTO section on boots (it's 3 pages) that they've made before, which shows you their different boot styles: https://www.jfitzpatrickfootwear.com/collections/made-to-order-boots?page=1. From what you've described, I'd think maybe something like the Alki (which is a Chelsea boot), Ballard, Bremerton, Delridge, Holman, Mercer, Snoqualmie, or Whidbey could be styles that might work, depending on your tastes. They do a bunch of different grain, suede, and pull-up leathers, which help make things a bit more robust, as well as soles that are in the Ridgeway/country rubber vein.
Just to be clear, they also do a RTW line https://www.jfitzpatrickfootwear.com/collections/boots which might have some options (and, obviously, are cheaper than MTO).
This sounds a bit like a shill post, but I'm just a satisfied customer. I'll note that I am RARELY undertaking outdoor pursuits so am totally ignorant there, but as far as boots under jeans/Incotex/flannels, these would seem to fit the bill and have worked for me (I have a Holman and a Delridge from them).
I hope that's helpful!
 

norMD

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Ll bean is a classic.

Diemme Roccia is also a stylish Mountain inspired boot.

With certain looks i guess more proper mountaineering boots like la sportiva trango can look good.

SF affiliate cavour has diemme and Ludwig reiter boots on sale. Try the code extrasale15 as well.
 

Wild Strawberry Rabbit

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Shoes are made to be worn, not to be admired on a museum exhibition. Don’t be afraid of scuffs etc. With proper shoe care even heavily used boots will look pretty good (arguably even better than new ones). I have C&J Tetburys like you do and they have seen a lot of rain, snow and mud over the years. After treating them with proper cleaning lotion and shoe cream they still look pretty nice:
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Although for your purposes Tetburys might look a little too dresy, I suppose C&J Coniston, Galway, Snowdon, Chelsea or Islay would be a much better choice. You might also be interested in Trickers offerings (Stow/Burton). And remember, it’s relatively easy to restore nice look on quality shoes. Please see some examples below (swipe to see the shoes after repairs).


 

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