Friday, November 28, 2014


I receive a TON of mail from my blog readers and try to get to them as much as possible. Most make it on the here for others to take away from and unfortunately some are lost in the shuffle of my busy life. If you've sent me an e-mail at with a question and have not yet received a response, you're not being ignored by any means. Feel free to drop me a reminder.


The latest reader mail comes from Daman.

Hey John,

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope all is well wherever you are. I have enjoyed reading your blog for the past couple of years and find myself frequently going back and rereading some of your posts, and looking through your pics. I had a question and you seem to be the best person in position to answer it. Sorry in advance for how long-winded it will come across.

I am looking at purchasing a pair of Engineers boots and have narrowed my selection down to the Mister Freedom Road Champs, John Lofgren's Engineer boots or the new Role Club boots from Brian. I know you have experience with the first two and I am sure you have given the Role Club boots a look over, though you may or may not have handled a pair. My question is which would you go for?

The pluses/minuses for each pair for me would be:
1) Road Champs- Unlike most people I kinda like the high instep strap. I also like the pattern shape where it attaches to the boot. It seems like they have a bit more depth (of color) once they start wearing in and developing their patina than other makers and I still like the toe box. One thing I am concerned about is that the leather looks like it doesn't hold up as well as say the Lofgren's. It could just be that the people posting pics of them don't take quite as much care of them and like the abused look, but I did have some concerns of durability. I own a lot of MF products, so I know Christophe puts out quality stuff. I just wanted to get your opinion on the leather in comparison to the Lofgren's and/or the Role Clubs if you have handled them.

Daman, Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to you! Thank you for the e-mail.

The Mister Freedom® Road Champ Boots pay homage to early century Engineers’ Boots.

I tend to wear all my boots without any regard for their well being and after almost four years with my first pair, there is no indication of degradation to the leather or construction of both my RC’s. At somewhere around the area of 2.5 mm thick, the durability of the leather shouldn’t be of any concern. You are far more likely to have them devoured by Hank than falling apart on you. The leather thickness and durability is comparable to the Lofgren’s, but are different to the touch since these are treated and colored differently. Using a three-color painted coating, the leather, over time, pleasantly takes on a life of its own giving you a wide spectrum of brown hues depending on how hard they are worn. When treated with your choice of conditioner (as necessary), they will again surprise you with a new shade – it’s the glory of the exclusive treatment and something you just don’t get with ANY other Engineer’s out there.

Admirers of this brand know Christophe hand selects all his material so you know you’re buying quality.

all-natural flattened toe box

2) Lofgrens- I love CXL and with the new natural CXL coming out, those might take the cake. However, I am becoming a bit more enamored with the aging quality of the Badalassi cognac leather that he used as well. I also like the triple stitching, and that stance when they are new. They seem a bit sleeker leaning forward and whatnot. Maybe it's the pics, but they seem to have a nicer silhouette. With the exchange rate where it is now, they seem to be a "good buy" as well. You have quite a few pairs, so I am sure there are lots of things you like about them. Just wondering if you could only have the RC or the Lofgren, would you be able to choose? One other thing I am a bit concerned with is the width. I have heard they are narrower than the RCs. I wear E widths in Alden Tru Balance and Barrie, and actually could probably go up to EE. Worried the Lofgren's might be too narrow.

The Lofgren’s pay homage to mid-century style Engineer Boots

The Horween CXL complements the attractive profile of these boots, especially when aged. The patina that develops on the black version varies depending on the level of wear put on them. The brown eases through with normal, everyday wear and you get a nice poke to the chest with heavier wear (i.e. dragging them through an equator-crossing ceremony on the flight deck of an amphibious warship). When you get that desired level of patina paired with the attractive silhouette, there’s no gettin’ better.

The leather thickness is the same as the RC’s - around 2.3-2.6 mm thick – so, rugged all around.

The Badalassi leather is a bit more stiff (it’s not injected with oils like the CXL) and thinner than Horween, but no less durable. As a leathercrafter, pieces like the Mister Freedom Campus jacket and Cognac become desirable projects for me and color evolution is inspiration enough to add them to my collection.

I haven’t had the opportunity to run my Cognac or Ortensia boots through the ringer yet, but the leather doesn’t seem to be as pliable compared to Horween. The oil-injected Horween, however, has a tendency to flex (especially with body heat) and would more than likely be forgiving to those requiring anything beyond a D width. The Road Champ leather reacts the same as Horween but don’t have the storm welt, which may limit the stretch on the Lofgren's.

I’m confident that whatever my craving is for a certain era of Engineer Boots at any given time (1930’s – 1950’s), it can easily be satiated with either the RC’s of Lofgren’s – they definitely period of style covered for me.

3) Finally, the Role Club boots. I am not so keen on his color of the steerhide at this point, so I would be looking to buy the horsehide. He seems to have put a great deal of thought into them. Love the toe tracks. Cuban heel. Triple stitching. Some of the stitching details at the top of the shaft. The soles look great. Some of the wear pics I have seen look killer. Everything custom. etc... Pricing is a bit higher, but you get all the extras. I have not seen anyone else post about having handled/tried on a pair yet, so there is a bit of the unknown.

I have not handled the Role Club’s, but Brian definitely possesses a special skill and attention-to-detail when it comes to working with boots. As designer and manufacturer of his own boots, he has created a nice looking pair of Engineers. They bear characteristics that remind me of those found on various boots in my arsenal (past and present, vintage and modern), so I’ve opted to pass on them for another brand sure to curb my hunger for something new.

So, with these points in mind and they all fit into your budget, would you have a preference knowing what you know?

Knowing what I know and based on what these brands currently have available (or projected to come out – i.e. Lofgren’s natural CXL version), I would (and very much plan to) pick up the Mister Freedom Road Champs. Okuyama modified my first pair of Road Champ’s and I put my personal touch on the second. My third pair will be left as they were designed to look.

I own the brown Lofgren’s and the natural CXL is a little too close in color for me to justify it (but I’m not ruling it out by any stretch - who doesn’t need all the colors John makes available?) and the Role Club boots do not meet the characteristics I’m currently looking to add to my collection.

Thanks in advance. Stay safe.

All the best,-Daman

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