I've been reading the blog for a while now and it's such a great resource. I have a couple of questions as a newbie into the world of engineers, and if you feel they have already been answered please send me a link and I will check it out. I tried a few searches but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for.
I recently found a pair of Chippewa 27911 Brown Bombers at the local Goodwill for a few bucks, but in need of a lot of work. There are holes worn through the insoles in the toe area and what looks to be a hole forming in the outside of the toe region as well. Anyways I thought about having them resoled, but I'm not sure they are worth spending that much money on if they are actually damaged. The couple times I have tried wearing them, I can feel the bottom buckle digging into my leg because the material is so worn. Do you think they are a lost cause?
My goal is to get into a solid pair of engineers for under $400. I know you have recommended Red Wings before, but I was wondering also what you thought of the Frye Artisanal Engineer boots. A few pairs have recently gone on eBay for around $300 and I grabbed a 9 in the black only to find they were too tight, and the 10 was gone when I went to re order them. It is still available in brown though, so I 'm still deciding whether or not to pull the trigger. I have another question about these boots. As they have the leather sole, I worry that they will feel to much like dress shoes rather than boots I can really lay into. I would like to use them in casual wear, on and off the street but the leather sole worries me. Would it hold up in a rain storm or in the woods? It seems like a silly question but like I said I can't find an answer. If I had a choice I think I would prefer the rubber lug sole, but these seem to be a really good deal.
If you have other recommendations completely I'm all ears!
Thanks in advance!
Thanks for the e-mail! If you paid a few bucks then that's a pretty nice score! Your local Cobbler could do a resole for under fifty bucks (give or take), but I wouldn't expect anything phenomenal as far as attention to detail compared to someone like Brian Truong (Brian the Bootmaker). As for the buckles digging into your leg, you might be able to mitigate that issue with some MoleSkin on the inside just behind the buckle to see if that helps. Stitching another layer of leather on the inside for a more permanent solution might be the best bet, but unless the thread color blends in with the leather, it might prove to be unsightly -- worth a try, though.
I actually like the look and profile of the Frye Artisanal Engineers, but am not a fan of the buckles or the stitching at the end of the instep strap. I think with a buckle swap to a more traditional square corner buckle, the boots have a lot of potential. Leather soles can be a bit of a concern when it comes to rain. The leather has a propensity to wear away/break down much faster, so I would advise against prolonged exposure to inclement weather and I would definitely avoid taking leather soles in to the woods altogether as the probability of slippage on wet leaves or rocks is tremendously increased. If you're heart set on the boots, your local Cobbler could affix rubber half-soles (even with lugs) for just a few bucks.
I hope this helps!