We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, “carry” isn’t just bags. Carry is a noun, a verb, a hobby, a practice, and heck… a philosophy. We’re about helping you find better ways to carry. Getting from A to B to XYZ in the coolest, raddest, and best way possible. And so diving deeper into the things that carry us? Our feet.
A quality pair of leather boots will carry us from a mountaintop, to the sand dunes of the Sahara, to a Michelin restaurant, to a back alley food cart in Jakarta – and mold to our feet for ultimate comfort, and develop a damn fine patina in the process. They’re the do-all, go-anywhere companion that I always recommend.
So here are my five favorite (and, in my opinion best) American-made boot makers, all of which we have personally tested and put many hard everyday, travel, and adventure miles onto. Enjoy!
Compared to the rest of this list, these guys are the newcomers (founded in 2009). And that’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, it might be one of their biggest strengths. Like Tesla vehicles coming out of nowhere and innovating with brilliant design, among titans who have been around for nearly 100 years. Helm Boots, founded and with headquarters in Austin, Texas by Joshua Bingaman. Josh happens to be one of the nicest coolest folks I have ever met, no kidding. I have never had people ask me about my footwear until I put on a pair of Helm Boots. They’re head turners, thanks to their unique design/style and material selection. But, these aren’t just disposable fashion made just for style. No. Helm has their boots made by folks in Minnesota who have been making quality boots for nearly 100 years. Made from Horween leather, selvedge denim, and burly Vibram soles… these boots have timeless great looks and durability to match, whether you’re in downtown Austin or in rural Alaska.
Founded in 1932 the Pacific Northwest (Portland, Oregon), these boots are some of the toughest wearing in the world. Danner’s products have been tried and tested by loggers, military, forest firefighters, and even… elephants (they made a size 150 boot for a zoo elephant to help heal his cracked feet). On the innovation side of things, the folks at Danner made the world’s first GoreTex lined boot in 1979… further concreting their position for serious outdoor boots for serious end users. These lace-to-toe boots are made for the ultimate extreme conditions and the core line of boots really look the part. However, in recent years, Danner has taken their know how and started making lighter weight, stylish, lifestyle boots for us everyday mortal folks. As they continue to innovate and expand into new categories, we are certain they will continue to impress us with new styles that suit all kinds of different use case scenarios.
Dubbed “the king of boots”, White’s Boots is located in Spokane, Washington and dates all the way back to 1853. Mr. Otto White founded White’s Boots after he learned boot-making from his father, who learned it from his father, who learned the craft from outfitting both loggers and soldiers back in the 1800s. Today, these boots are some of the toughest in the world and are worn by loggers, miners, soldiers, forest firefighters, and everyday folks who demand quality products on their feet. Every single pair of White’s Boots are made in the USA, not just a percent of them. These boots… they’re made the hard way, by hard working humans, because that’s the correct way. Having visited their factory twice, they use a mixture of cutting-edge modern technology as well as industrial machines that date back to World War II. I’ve always been fascinated by their heritage and attention to detail and with each new pair I acquire, I hope that my adventures will do them the justice they deserve. Horween leather (one of the oldest and best tanneries in the USA), Vibram soles, rebuildable, resoleable, timeless design, matched with the most rugged construction methods known in bootmaking… we tip our hats to the king.
You can’t talk about US made boots and not mention Red Wing… probably the most well known brand on this list. The family-owned business was founded in 1905 in Red Wing, Minnesota (hence, their brand name). Red Wing are often the first pair of “real boots” that folks will purchase when dipping their toe into the leathery water of the rabbit hole of boots. And there is a great reason for that. They weren’t able to stay in business for this long by accident. Originally made to outfit loggers, miners, and farmers… today the legendary Red Wing boots still serve the same purpose, while seeing a major spike in sales to the everyday person. Made with leather from their very own leather tannery (SB Foot Tanning Company, also located in Red Wing, MN), these boots are comfortable, timeless, and can take a serious beating.
Probably the coolest brand name on the list, in our opinion. Founded by G. A. Krause and Fredrick Hirth in 1883 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and then finally found their permanent home in the small town of Rockford, Michigan in 1901. One of Wolverine’s standpoints in regards to their 100+ year history is that “we are old because we stayed good”. What really made Wolverine set themselves apart from other bookmakers, their Original 1000 Mile boot, released in 1910. Named because, you guessed it, it offers 1000 miles of wear. Like their northern neighbor Red Wing Shoes, Wolverine also owns its very own tannery (Wolverine Leathers) so they can control their incredibly high quality control standards from start to finish.