Durable shoes

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KevinW
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Post by KevinW » Sun Jun 05, 2011 9:04 pm

I'm in the market for "the last pair of shoes I'll ever buy." I know Jacob endorses hiking boots with a Norwegian welt, but for various reasons I want a pair of shoes, not boots.
How can I tell whether shoes are built to be refurbished and resoled? Is there a keyword that manufacturers use, or a particular visible feature to look for?
Allen Edmonds have already been suggested here. Are there other suitable brands? Any thoughts on Frye, or the Dr Martens For Life series?


AlexOliver
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Post by AlexOliver » Sun Jun 05, 2011 11:39 pm

I have Dr Martens for life series, both the shoes and boots. I would advise against the shoes. They're very big and bulky and not well suited to most things one would need a shoe for. They're basically the boots with the high-top cut off. I highly recommend the boots, however.


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m741
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Post by m741 » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:11 am

I wouldn't recommend Allen Edmonds. I got a pair for $200 last fall and they're already coming apart a little(after daily use through the winter). I expect with some touch-up they'll last another year or 18 months. I think I might have bought too cheap; the soles are rubber rather than leather. Nonetheless I haven't been impressed with the build quality - it's about the same as shoes in the $100 range.


Marius
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Post by Marius » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:18 am

I love Dr Martens boots, but I sweat too much in them. If your feet are prone to sweating, they may not be for you. (or maybe it's just me)


jacob
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Post by jacob » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:58 am

Does it look like part of the sole (heel and front) can be cut off and a new one glued on? That's what you're looking for. You could always ask if they can be resoled.
Refurbishment is typically quite expensive. $Shipping+refurbishment on the company plan >> $local cobbler.

Of course, using someone else voids the plan.
What are the shoes for? Walking? I doubt shoes made for puttering around on office carpet is going to last long on sidewalks or in the rain regardless of how well they're built. I once looked into Church (what James Bond wears 8) ) which are the $400-500 range, however, the shoe seller told me that the leather soles would die after a few miles on the road---these are strictly for walking around inside and perhaps a bit on the parking lot; unless you replace them constantly.
For walking look into what police and other services use. People who spend a lot of time on their feet.


Piper
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Post by Piper » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:03 am

You could have some shoes custom-made. I have heard good things about Russel Moccasins. Since they are hand-made they will be repairable. They even say so on their site. I would go for custom-made over mass-produced because anything mass-produced is actually designed to fall apart otherwise how would they make profits. Things custom-made are made to last otherwise how would they achieve word-of-mouth referrals.


KevinW
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Post by KevinW » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:09 am

Thanks for the helpful replies so far.
@jacob: these would be used for walking indoors in an office environment, biking with strap pedals, and walking around town. The first two scenarios are where I don't see boots working well.
Thorogood has some Postal-certified oxfords:
http://www.weinbrennerusa.com/dspNavCat ... 2&catid=30
Would it be safe to assume that the ones with "Goodyear welt" construction are resoleable, and those with "cement" construction aren't?


KevinW
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Post by KevinW » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:53 am

OK I was able to answer my own question with Google:

http://www.boots99.com/redwingglossery.htm

Yes, shoes with Goodyear welts are resoleable and those with cement construction are not.


aquadump
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Post by aquadump » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:25 am

I recently bought a pair of Filson Highlander Oxfords. I don't have enough wear in them to have an opinion. It takes me a long time to wear in shoes.


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bigato
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Post by bigato » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:15 pm

I would choose one brand that is easy and not too expensive to be repaired. Everything is falling apart, including you and I. So the easier and cheaper to fix, the better. I had a Salomon boot in the past. They are very comfortable. Here in Brazil we use to hear people saying that it's the best boots around. But it's not true. They don't last much. It's also very difficult to get them fixed here. So for now I'm opting for a brand produced in my country that is quite good, durable and most important: the producer fix them if you need to. Even if Salomon would fix my boots, they don't have a representative here. So I would need to send them across the ocean to get fixed. That would not be smart.


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Post by teewonk » Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:01 pm

I have been on a quest for such shoes for a few months, and I haven't found the perfect answer. I did find some Church's black cap-toes at a cobbler's shop for $25, with just a few scratches, but they're too formal for most things.
Ebay saved searches help if you've determined your size for sure (I thought I was a 10, but I'm a 9.5US/8.5UK). I could build a search link for you, which would generate an RSS feed.
Shoes with "double oak" leather soles should last a bit longer. Tricker's and Grenson make these. I think Sierra Trading Post still has a couple of Tricker's left. They're not cheap.
L.L. Bean might not have great shoes, but they have a decent guarantee. Their Engineer boots look interesting.
Redwing Gentlemen Traveler boots and Wolverine 1000 mile boots are popular. They're high quality and look less boot-like than hiking boots. (Ironically, 1000 miles isn't that far to walk.)
Paraboot makes a couple of shoes with Norwegian welts. Ebay and patience are required to get a pair for a decent price.
Thrifting occasionally turns up gold, but the time cost is high. I saw some burgundy Alden tassel loafers at Goodwill once, but tassel loafers are ugly.
I'm not sure I'd want to use any high-quality shoes while biking with straps. Maybe you could stick some felt on the shoe side.


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JohnnyH
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Post by JohnnyH » Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:39 pm

SierraTradingPost has some re-solable Norwegian welt boots, relatively inexpensive with good reviews:

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/347, ... r-Men.html
I watched the sales for about a month (signed up for email flyer) and got them for 175 with free shipping.
In the past I would get high reviewed boots in the 30-$50 range on good sales... 1 $40 pair (Ulu) lasted nearly 10k miles before the leather tore completely and my gluing became useless. I was amazed. My replacement $40 Brownings, started having problems before 1k miles.
I think the soles on the Alicos should last 10k. And if I can resole them at least 3 times, I will be quite satisfied.


teewonk
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Post by teewonk » Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:14 pm

This might give you a good idea of what to look for in a leather shoe:

http://putthison.com/post/535994284/episode-2-shoes
You want a Goodyear or Norwegian welt, which you already said.
You want full-grain leather rather than corrected grain or one of the equivalent terms. The Postal-certified oxfords KevinW linked don't say full grain. The uppers will start to crack and peel within a year.
This is what I was thinking for Paraboot (the French shoe brand, not the paratrooper boot): an ebay listing, another ebay listing, a thrift find.
The second ebay listing above shows a shoe with scratches. This might be the best option all around for an EREer: a super-high-quality shoe with minor irreparable blemishes. The people who normally buy these shoes won't touch them, so you get a good product for way less. Bonus points for creative fixes once you buy them.


Redsted1
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Post by Redsted1 » Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:32 pm

@Piper- Those Russell boots look amazing. I poked around on their website for awhile last night. I think the best part about those is their versatility. The clunky Norwegian Welt boots look durable as can be, but they would be difficult to pull off in many situations.
Can anyone vouch for the Russell Moccasin boots? They are very pricey, but custom made would (should?) mean unsurpassed comfort. They also offer a very reasonable refurbishing cost on the website. My main worry would be water-resistance. I think they'd look great in a work environment too, since I'm at least 10 years out, give or take, from ERE.


dragoncar
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Post by dragoncar » Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:48 pm

Anyone resole their own shoes? I've gotten it done from anywhere between $15-$35, depending on the shoe and I expect that it can be done cheaper by yourself. However, it seems that certain soles/constructions would be more amenable to DIY resoling than others (I'm thinking of Vibram type soles as not DIY friendly).


jacob
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Post by jacob » Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:46 am

Just for reference; the double-stitched Norwegian welt Hanwag boots.
http://www.hanwag.de/schuh-kategorie.php?cat_id=8
http://earlyretirementextreme.com/the-l ... r-buy.html


Redsted1
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Post by Redsted1 » Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:20 am

@jacob- Those boots look great, but how can they be obtained in the U.S.? I seem to recall you saying somewhere you purchased them in Europe and haven't seen them anywhere in North America. Most of the Norwegian Welt boots from the US look fairly ugly. They also look more water resistant than the Russell Moccasin boots, IMO.


Piper
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Post by Piper » Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:14 am

I resole my own shoes all the time. Actually, I make my own shoes. I put Vibram soles on them. You can buy Vibram unit soles or soling sheets that you can cut several pairs out yourself. Since I make my own shoes, I get the soling sheets because I make my shoes with a wide toebox.
I bought half a side of leather for $75 and so far have made several pairs of shoes and sandals and still have most of the leather leftover. It has taken much trial and error (using scrap leather and fabric and using the side only for successful patterns), so I can't say it's a money-saver. It's a hobby for me.
Besides fancy welted shoes, simple stitched-down shoes can also be resoled easily. Something like the Clark's desert boot is a nice simple shoe. I had a pair of those and they were my favorite shoes. Unfortunately, a shoe-repair guy and my own bad choice of sole botched a resole job so I donated them to Goodwill. I now wish I would have saved them because I could have resoled them myself now that I know how to make stitched-down shoes.
If you like sandals, many sandalmakers will resole and also make new laces for your handmade leather sandals. Another option is to get something like what they make at NativeEarth shoes. I have a pair of NativeEarth shoes in one of their simpler styles and I'm pretty sure they'll last nearly forever.
I doubt that Clark's or handmade leather shoes/sandals will last forever, but well-made leather shoes and sandals can last for decades.


EMJ
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Post by EMJ » Thu Jun 09, 2011 6:07 am

Handmade viking shoes with felt socks:

http://earthandliving.blogspot.com/2008 ... rt-of.html
These don't look that hard to make.


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Post by jacob » Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:21 am

@Redsted1 - http://lathropandsons.com/catalog/index.php/cPath/30 ?? They only show the Goretex boots on their website. I wouldn't buy goretex in a nonexpendable boot because it eventually dries out and cracks, but maybe they can import some of the classic designs like Grunten or Bergells.
They're sort of 'water-resistant'. You can walk through a 2" stream going across, but not along, and keep your feet dry as long as you keep moving.


teewonk
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Post by teewonk » Thu Jun 09, 2011 1:21 pm

@KevinW

Have you found any shoes you're satisfied with?
@Piper

Would you describe how to resole a Clark's desert boot? After failing in my shoe quest, I bought a "Beeswax" pair last week because they're cheap and have full-grain leather uppers, but the crepe soles look like they'll wear down fast. Would you replace it with crepe or another kind of sole?
I saw some Allen Edmonds monk straps at Goodwill, but they were about 3 sizes too big.


KevinW
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Post by KevinW » Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:11 pm

@teewonk

Thanks for asking. There have been a lot of great suggestions but so far none has been *perfect*. I guess I want some kind of oxford, in black for versatility, with full grain leather and Goodyear/Norwegian welt construction as you suggested. So far the only new Paraboots seem to meet all those criteria and I'm having a hard time rationalising the $400ish price tag.
I've been going down the police/postal path and found a couple candidates. Rocky makes shoes they claim are full-grain leather and Goodyear welted, e.g.

http://www.rockyboots.com/Product-Detai ... er-Oxford/
Also Bates makes Goodyear-welted shoes, and while they don't say full-grain on their website,

http://www.batesfootwear.com/US/en-US/P ... mensions=0

other retailers do say full-grain, e.g.

http://www.rjuniform.com/bates.htm
I said "claim" because those are in the $90-$130 range which is suspiciously cheaper than Paraboot, Church, etc. I wonder if there's a catch. Or maybe they're just cheaper because they are mass produced and aren't a fashionable name brand? Any thoughts?


teewonk
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Post by teewonk » Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:14 pm

This Put This On post talking about quality vs. country of origin says those Bates are not made of full-grain leather. Frustrating, isn't it?
Good luck. I think I'm going to wait it out for an amazing thrift store find. If that doesn't work, my brother lives near an Allen Edmonds outlet, and I'll take a look when I visit him.


KevinW
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Post by KevinW » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:08 am

Frustrating, yes!
Thanks for the information. I'll post back here if I find any better options.


Roark
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Post by Roark » Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:49 pm

The most durable shoes I have are a pair of huaraches from invisibleshoe.com , inspired by the shoes of the legendary Tarahumara Indians who run the Copper Canyons of Mexico. If you haven't done so yet, read the best-selling book Born To Run. I have never heard a report of these shoes being worn out. The cheapest kit to make them is also about $10.00. They are extremely comfortable (as if you were unshod) and they do not alter your gait in a way that is evolutionarily novel. Once you see the shoes, you could probably get an idea of how to make them yourself out of your own materials, but I rate the sole material they sell on the site as high quality.
If you get a chance, try to do some reading on how modern footwear affects gait and running stride. We are running an experiment in heel-striking since the development of the elevated heel running shoe in the 1970's by Nike. For about 40 years we have been striking with our heel while running, for the history of walking upright we have been evolving a foot which was suited for landing on the ball of the foot while running.


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