Wednesday, March 21, 2012


IE:  First of all congratulations to your great blog. I have spent hours I guess on it and learned a lot and enjoyed looking at the pics. I'm currently looking to get my first pair of engineers. And there are still some questions. It would be great if you could help me out. I'm looking for a dark brown pair that will develop nice patina. I'll use them for everyday stuff, not particularly for driving a motorbike, though I might do that once in a while. I'd like the boots to have a rather understated silhoutte, i.e. with a flat toe.

My questions are:

1. Type of leather:  Which one do you recommend? Can this be generalized? It seems that a number of reputable manufacturers use Horween Excel. But then I also read that HTC uses Latigo leather for their Santa Rosas. Do you know which Wesco use if I just order brown in their shop? Viberg I've seen that they have to Chromexcel (one of them icy mocha). I'm not sure what leather the others would be like Mocha Smooth or Mocha Rio for example.

2. Leather colour:  As written I'd like my boots to have a brown colour. Now I've read that some leathers will turn from black to brown. But how long will that take? And which leathers will do so? The awesome Road Champs are described as black, however to my eye they seem to be brown from the start. I like the brown of these: And what about harness (is it always oil tanned?) leather? How would that develop in comparison with the others?

3. And for the welt would you prefer stitch down or nail down construction?

Currently I'm thinking of ordering with Wesco or Viberg.

VEB:  I personally prefer double tanned Horsehide like my Toy’s McCoy Beck’s (below) as they have developed the most desirable patina of all the modern Engineer Boots I’ve owned; however, the good patina didn’t begin until at least two years worth of casual wear (it's hard to develop good wear when your trying to juggle over a dozen pair). This patina is equal to a lot of my Vintage Engineer Boots with over half a century of wear.

The below photos are about a year old, so the patina is a bit more prominent today.

A lot of companies use expensive Horween because it is in high demand in today’s boot market and is responsible for a large portion of their profits.

WESCO typically uses heavy 7 ounce Full Grain, Oil-Tanned Cowhide leather, but “Black Fire” Silicone-Tanned leather with the same weight is a popular option. “Black Tie” is their lighter weight leather (5 ounces) typically used on their MP boots. If you ordered “brown,” you’d get the heavy Oil-Tanned leather.

The color, patina development, profile and colors similar to Viberg's Mocha you are looking for can all be found in one single pair of boots – the Mister Freedom® Road Champ’s. I think the first-run (or advertised prototype?) Road Champ’s appeared black, but the current inventory is actually more of a mocha brown. With normal wear in a short period of time, the color begins to lighten and develop a highly desired “patina” that can only be found in vintage boots with decades of wear. After natural lightening they can be made dark again with your choice of quality boot conditioner/grease – that’s the glory of these unique collectibles.

My Mister Freedom® Road Champ’s fresh out of the box

Just two months of casual wear

After some modification

I always prefer white stitched down construction on a natural welt because it’s just more visually pleasing to me.

WESCO and Viberg are definitely well constructed. Whereas Viberg has a bit more style, WESCO uses the traditional approach; however, one can build a pretty sweet pair of WESCO boots using their endless custom options.