Best Engineer Boots Reviewed & Rated

Engineer boots have stood the test of time for good reason. Not only are they a fashion statement in their own right, the boots are so versatile, everyone needs a pair! People of all ages will find good use and durability with these types of boots.

Last Updated: June 24, 2018
By Carmen Landrum:

The latest update includes bulletpoints for the criteria section to give you, the reader, a straight-to-the-point understanding of our selections and the pros/cons of each product have been revised for conciseness.

Many engineer boot wearers might not know where the evolution of the boots came from.  The boots were first designed in the 1930’s to help protect firemen that worked on steam engines, a.k.a. “engineers”!  This particular boot style is made to be lace-free and slide on and off quickly and effortlessly.  Another caveat to being designed without laces is lessening the chance that the moving parts of machinery in factories could grab a lace and seriously injure the worker; hence their popularity in the industrial age.

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Since then, the boots have become immensely popular with everyone from motorcycle riders to fashion conscious ladies.  The main purpose of the engineer boot through the many decades was to protect the legs while providing a comfortable and stylish boot, whether it was riding horses or shoveling coal into a steam furnace.

Engineer boots are easy to distinguish from other boots and not just because of the missing laces.  These boots have a “stovepipe” calf section and a buckle around the ankle when staying truest to form.  Further, some will also have a buckle around the top of the “stovepipe” to recreate when this was a “must” to protect legs from hot embers popping out and landing inside the boot.  They are available in varying heights to appease the widest audiences of boot enthusiasts but some companies have styles reaching higher than the knees!

 

10 Best Engineer Boots

 

1. Ariat Rambler

The Ariat Rambler Square Toe boot is an all-around top pick. It has high ratings and has been reviewed by many. With its “cowboy” boot style, it has a rugged look all while being very stylish. Lastly, this boot has been designed for utmost comfort and durability to withstand years of daily wear.
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Great support
The boot is made with a gel footbed and stabilizers under the heel portion making it ideal for all-day wear. Cushion under the foot makes standing for long periods easier on the legs and feet as well as helping with posture.

Keeps feet dry
The Rambler boot is designed with moisture-wicking material on the footbed so it will keep feet dry and comfortable all day. Dry feet prevent harmful bacteria and fungus from growing on the feet and inside the boots.

Cost and Value
Coming in at a very affordable price range, the Rambler boot was designed to last for years. The Ariat boot company has a longstanding trust built with its customers and stand behind their products.
Pros
  • Gel footbed  
  • Little to no upkeep 
  • Moisture-wicking 
  • High-quality construction 
  • Durable thick soles 
Cons
  • Seams fray easily on calf portion 
  • Stiffness 
  • Needs to be broken-in 

2. Durango Harness

The Harness boot makes a bold statement by being simple. Made from distressed leather to give a rugged and strong look while being unadorned. The only exception is the metal hardware at the ankle. This boot appeals to a huge audience of buyers. A thickly cushioned insole boasts all day comfort. Finally, the Harness is a highly reviewed boot and helps buyers to feel confident in their purchase.
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Slip resistant outsole
The boot sole provides reliable traction that helps avoid slips on various surfaces. Feel confident in wearing the boots in the rain or other adverse conditions.

Flexible forepart
The design of the boot to be flexible means one can bend with ease without the foot feeling constricted or in a bind. All done while keeping the outside looking rugged and masculine.

Cost and Value
The Durango Harness boot comes in a great mid-level price range for the quality and type of boot that it is. A highly acclaimed boot that will last a long time far outweighs the doubts about the durability. Backed by a company that has been in business for many decades with many happy customers.
Pros
  • Already broken-in
  • Arch support 
  • Stable and secure
  • Leather does not fade
  • Slip and oil resistant 
Cons
  • Narrow boot 
  • Could possibly show water droplet stains  

3. Dingo Rev Up

With so much versatility this boot can be worn from anyone such as bikers to cowgirls. Unlike other boots in the category, the Dingo Rev Up has a side zipper that makes putting it on and taking it off even easier. Dingo is a true brand that has been around for decades and makes very high-quality products. The Rev Up boot is a perfect mix of fun and fashion.
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Single stitched welt
Adding to the durability of the sole and overall boot is a single stitch welt. This also allows a boot sole to be resewn without having to purchase entirely new boots. A welt like this reinforces the sole and makes the overall boot sturdier.

Easy on side zipper
By placing a hidden side zipper in the boot, many wearers find this boot to be the best. People needing thick socks, to tuck their jeans in the boots, or those with larger legs will find the added room a wonderful bonus. It also makes removing the boots easier.

Cost and Value
Coming in at a mid-level price range, the Durango Rev Up boot is a great entry level boot that will provide many years of use. The boot is heavily reviewed and is backed by a company with many years of experience in the boot industry.
Pros
  • Consistent color
  • Smooth texture  
  • Very rugged soles
  • Heavy uppers 
  • Great for wider legs 
  • Zippered side
  • Easy pull on and pull off 
  • Cleans easily 
Cons
  • Thin inner sole 
  • Heavy compared to other boots 

4. FRYE Harness

4. FRYE Harness
Having been around since 1863, FRYE boots have the most well-known name in the industry. The Harness boots definitely live up to its company’s reputation by being attractive, strongly made, and durable. Available in different calf heights and colors makes finding the right pair a joyful shopping experience. The boot is made from the finest Italian leather with a Goodyear welt construction so it lets buyers confidently know the ruggedness of these boots.
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Made in the U.S.A.
Since they began in 1863, FRYE has used the finest domestic and imported materials; the Harness boot is no exception. FRYE stands behind their commitment to quality.

Goodyear welt construction
This style of welting makes the boots much more resistant to water as well as allowing the foot to breathe inside. The welting also assists in the durability of the boot and it lasting longer.

Cost and Value
FRYE boots will usually cost more than other brands. However, buyers should feel confident in spending a little more for this type of boot because of the company reputation and for them having been in business for well over 100 years. Their products are known to last for many years.
Pros
  • Can be worn casually
  • Strong arch support
  • Short break-in period 
  • 2-year warranty 
  • Goodyear welt construction 
Cons
  • Narrow fitting

5. Blundstone Original 500

5. Blundstone Original 500
The Blundstone Original 500 series boot has a legendary reputation of comfort, versatility, and durability. Stout Brown premium leather paired with weatherproof oiled 2.5 mm leather allows owners to wear these boots in the most widespread of weather conditions. Grounded by a slip resistant outsole for the most confidence when wearing. This boot has a removable footbed to tailor the padding level inside.
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Unmatched Comfort
SPS Max Comfort system is used to provide maximum shock absorption. Also, this design provides highest comfort level while preventing fatigue in the legs and feet. Removable footbed for adjusting specific comfort level.

Slip resistant
Designed to help prevent slips with utmost durability on the outsole. Weatherproof leather allows boot wearers to confidently wear these boots in all types of weather conditions like rain, snow, dirt, and sand.

Cost and Value
At the higher end of a mid-level price range, the boots value will be well worth the cost as one of the only in the category to claim waterproof leather. These boots can be worn every day and in the most varied of weather situations.
Pros
  • Waterproof  
  • Slip resistant outsole 
  • Lightweight construction
  • Breathable materials
  • Thick cushioned midsole  
  • Elastic side 
Cons
  • Sole cement separates from upper boot 
  • Stitching comes apart easily 

6. Dingo Dean

6. Dingo Dean
The Dingo Dean boots are eye-catching. Simple hardware adorns the boot around the ankle while draped around a durable upper leather. The interior of the boot is leather lined for a smooth look. The insole of the boot is cushioned very nicely and made for comfort. Polished off with exterior stitching gives the classic look known to engineer boots.
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Single stitched welt
Boots with a welt are known to stand up to more conditions and last longer. The single stitch welt on these boots gives it a polished look while adding to the durability of the boot.

Leather lined
Having the inside of a boot lined with leather adds another level of durability as it reinforces the entire upper leather part of the boot; sometimes when leather is worn in it can sag; double leather uppers add strength. Leather has stood the test of time for comfort as well.

Cost and Value
The entry-level price point for this boot allows shoppers to purchase a boot without the huge investment as compared to other brands. Great value for someone looking to try their first pair of engineer boots without suffering from buyer's remorse after the purchase.
Pros
  • Casual and dress wear 
  • Everyday wear 
  • Solid sole and heel 
  • Short break-in time 
  • Easy care and upkeep
Cons
  • Outsole stitching may fray
  • Lower quality leather

7. FRYE Engineer

7. FRYE Engineer
The FRYE Engineer boot sets the bar in the category of engineer boots. Classic styling made in the U.S.A. from the finest materials. FRYE has over 100 years of experience in boot production. The unlined boot is very comfortable and delivers on the FRYE company reputation. Featuring an adjustable buckle on the shaft and at the ankle, this boot is very versatile for different sizes and feet/leg shapes.
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Constructed with greasy leather
Using a leather that is already conditioned adds to the durability and longevity of this boot. It also makes upkeep a breeze since the leather was finely tuned before selling to the buyer.

Goodyear welt construction
The Goodyear welt method was the original and still highest standard of welt in the assembly method of boots. Adding to the water resistance and durability of the boot, FRYE boots consider this welt the standard of their boots.

Cost and Value
This engineer boot from the reputable brand FRYE is at the higher end of the price range. However, FRYE stands behind their boots with an almost unmatched 2-year guarantee. Buyers should feel confident in purchasing a FRYE brand boot because of their reputation and durability.
Pros
  • Qquality materials 
  • Rubber outsole
  • Stacked leather heel 
  • Well-known manufacturer 
  • Adjustable buckle
  • Highly cushioned insole 
Cons
  • Leather could bleed onto clothing 
  • Longer break in time b

8. Wolverine Wellington 4727

8. Wolverine Wellington 4727
The Wolverine Wellington boot is made from high-quality leather while being designed for durability. The slip-resistant sole is constructed from rubber and polyurethane in a one-of-a-kind chevron pattern to provide great traction in many different elements. The boot is unlined for less bulk and cooler comfort. The boot also has a removable footbed to let buyers customize their cushion level.
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Twin pull loops
Either side of the calf opening has loop pulls to help with ease of sliding the boot on. Reinforced stitching on the loops assures long life of the loop pull.

Engineered sole
The outsole base of the boot is made with thick lug tread to be slip and oil resistant. The sole is made from a very durable rubber.

Cost and Value
Here is a boot that is at the lower end of the price range even while being highly reviewed. This will make the boot a perfect purchase for those looking to give engineer boots a try or not wanting to make a huge monetary investment into a pair of boots.
Pros
  • Can be worn daily
  • Removable cushion 
  • Suitable for all weather 
  • Runs very true to size 
  • Twin pull on loops 
Cons
  • Seams come apart easy  
  • Not totally waterproof 

9. Chippewa Rally 27862

9. Chippewa Rally 27862
The Chippewa Rally boot is made with Odessa leather and then lined with maple calf leather for extra durability and comfort. Designed with a texon insole and nitrile outsole, it's a perfect composure for comfort and support of the feet. Chippewa Boots proudly stand as a “handcrafted in the U.S.A.” company and stamp it on all of their boots.
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Velcro side closures
By adding Velcro side closure to the boot, Chippewa is able to reach a broader audience by having adjustable. It also allows for a bit of breathability compared to other boots that are solid leather uppers.

Specially designed outsole
Leading high-performance rubber sole manufacturer, Vibram, brings their top standards to the sole of these boots. For over 70 years their brand has built a reputation of quality and design; the sole on the Chippewa Rally boot falls directly into place with that standard.

Cost and Value
These boots definitely place in the upper of the mid-level price range. However, from a company that has been established for more than 100 years and that has built a name on quality and longevity, the boots are a great investment. Buyers will not need to worry about the boots only last a few months.
Pros
  • Velcro side closures 
  • Hand crafted 
  • Goodyear welt construction 
  • Triple ribbed steel shank 
  • Hardware does not tarnish 
Cons
  • Leather is slightly stiff 
  • Heel is too rigid 

10. Red Wing Heritage Engineer

10. Red Wing Heritage Engineer
Red Wing boots are synonymous with craftsmanship and quality. Produced with a leather nubuck upper and a split shaft with adjustable buckle closures means comfort and adjustability to a wide range of sizes. This particular boot also has a cork outsole. Made to withstand the harshest of conditions on the job and off, the Heritage boots appeal to customers searching for function or fashion.
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Handmade
Red Wing Heritage boots are handmade. Handmade boots result in much higher standards and quality control as well as less room for error. With human supervision of the production and a very generous warranty, the purchase of these boots will not be a mistake.

Shock absorbing sole
The outsole is made with a thick and high-quality rubber that can withstand tough conditions. Because of the durable rubber, the sole is shock absorbing which lessens fatigue of feet and legs.

Cost and Value
The Redwing Heritage Engineer boots are definitely one of the higher priced boots on the market. However, backed by a total satisfaction guarantee and a rigorous inspection process, buyers can be assured their purchase will be of great concern from the building of the boot through a long life of ownership.
Pros
  • Oil-resistant cork outsole 
  • Short break-in period 
  • High-quality materials 
  • Great arch support
  • Hand crafted 
  • Very stable heel 
Cons
  • Runs narrow 

Engineer boots are so versatile that anyone young or old, male or female, NEEDS a pair! Many companies have numerous color options so the fashion factor is fully accounted for.  Engineer boots overall area a great investment as they provide years of wear.  This can put at ease budget minded shoppers.  They are a splurge in the beginning but will more than pay for themselves over the course of time.  Most do not require much upkeep as they are preconditioned when they are being manufactured.

Engineer boots were designed to protect the legs and feet of workers on steam locomotives many years ago, never foreseeing how popular these boots would become.  The same standards hold true today as this category of boots has remained so widely popular with everyone from construction workers to motorcycle riders, which rely on this style of boots keep their legs and feet protected.  Engineer boots are also incredibly simple.  There are no laces to keep tied or trip over and almost all are waterproof/water resistant. With the love of these boots, owners will not be giving them the “boot” anytime soon.  They are here to stay in fashion and purpose.

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Engineer Boots

Material

When examining the different types of materials used to make engineer boots, leather and rubber seemed to be paramount.  The main reason that we used the material as a guideline is that the material is going to affect the entire performance and durability of the engineer boot.

In terms of leather being used, it is the most durable of materials.  It is the most widely known having been used for thousands of years in the goods we consume.  Leather can come from many types of animals prominently including cows, pigs, and deer.  Other sources not widely known about could include kangaroo, elk, and ostrich.    Depending on the good desired some leathers are preferred over others.  Leather has a great reputation of lasting a long time so consumers feel more confident in purchases involving high-quality leather.

Leather, when used for engineer boots, adds a layer of protection that was originally needed in the design of these boots.  Engineer boots were created to protect the legs and feet of workers in “engineer” jobs shoveling hot coals into furnaces.  Leather is a very rigid material and can withstand the conditions these workers faced.

The only downfall to leather in terms of buyers purchasing these boots for aesthetic reasons is the chance that the leather boot could stain with raindrops, splatters, etc.  The color selection of the leather plays a part in this as darker leathers tend to not show stains as much as lighter leathers would.

Secondly, we found rubber to be used widely in the designs of the boots that we reviewed even if they did not make the top ten list. While rubber has a few advantages over leather, the longstanding durability was not so high as leather. Rubber boots having the advantage of being easier to manufacture thus generally keeping costs down in production of these boots.

Rubber, while not as guaranteed for the long haul, can withstand just about any element it is worn in.  Snow, rain, dirt, sand, and concrete are just some examples of the conditions these boots would superbly perform.  A simple wash down at the end of the day is all the upkeep these boots need.  Due to the material not being porous, the chance of it staining are slim to none.  Rubber can also be made in any color or pattern designed since it is a manufactured product.

Sole Construction

The sole of the boot could very well be labeled the “soul” as it is probably the most important part of the boot.  There are many materials and styles that are used in the construction of engineer boots.  A sole needs to be strong, stitched tightly or cemented heavily, and have a thick tread pattern to prevent slips.  Also, having a large impact on the sole is the comfort level it provides.

A rubberized sole might have more spring and give than a sole made of steel. A  thick-tread rubberized bottom will give wearers the best protection against slips.  It will essentially provide a barrier again oils and other materials reaching the bottom of the sole bed, thus prolonging the life of a boot and providing the slip protection.

Having a sole that is reinforced with a steel shank is ideal for buyers that need even more protection from an engineer boot.  This would be great for people working in fields such as construction or ones that walk on uneven terrain.  It helps to keep the boot more sturdy and prevent injury to the foot and leg.

One huge difference in the make of these boots is whether the soul is cemented or stitched.  Cemented boots mean the sole is attached to the main part of the boot with cement.  This type of construction is mostly valued amongst workers that require “no frills” such as construction or hard labor where the stitching on other boots might someone fray or come apart more easily.

In converse of the cement, we found the other type of assembly is welt stitching. There is the premier type of welt construction and that is the Goodyear method.  The name is in fact from the same Goodyear that developed the tires, although this method was developed from the son of the famed Charles Goodyear of the tires.  This process enables the boots to be resoled separately if need be as opposed to buying an entirely new boot.   The Goodyear welt method universally is approved as the highest standard and thereby raises the cost of boots that are made this way.  However, higher cost pays off for this because it can greatly extend the life of the boots.

Waterproof vs. Water Resistance

Buyers that are searching for boots are looking at the ability of the boot to repel water.  To a high degree that the boots stand up to wet conditions is the main characteristic a reliable engineer boot needs to have.  Are the boots rendered useless if caught out in the rain?  That would be a negative factor of a bad engineer boot as they were originally designed to soar through tough conditions.

Is the boot made of a material that is totally waterproof such as rubber or is it a pretreated leather that can do the same, or close to the same job as rubber?  Most leathers will be water resistant.  However, it is important to see if the leather will tarnish or change colors under wet conditions, never to return to its original sheen and hue.  Should buyers decide to go with a leather boot, many spray treatment options are available to up the water resistance factor and add life to the boots.

 

Traction

If caught in a rainstorm, wearers need to feel confident in the boots on their feet in terms of lasting through the rain and providing traction to walk on surfaces covered in water.  Many shoes in other categories are not made to provide slip resistance; whereas the engineer boot is.  Providing a safe and sturdy walk surface for people to resist slipping is a huge selling point of great boots.  Engineer boots we evaluated all have the essential requirements to provide this, such as a thick tread on the sole, but buyers should closely examine the tread patterns on these boots to evaluate which sole will meet their needs the best.

Some of the boots in this category did not have a tread as high as others but are still the engineer boot style.  These boots did claim to be slip resistant; however, will not perform as well as boots that have a one-inch tread section.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: Are these boots good for standing all day?
A: Engineer boots are designed to be extremely comfortable and made for all-day wear.  Their function was for steam engine workers that stood all day shoveling coal into the steam engine.  The boots have thick insoles and high arch supports to prevent leg and foot fatigue.

Q: Who wears engineer boots?
A: Engineer boots can be worn by anyone young or old.  They are a true stylish boot that have been around for decades.  Their classic look can be worn with jeans for a dressed down look, leggings by women for a more polished look, or by people just looking to have comfortable boots that withstand lots of variables.

Q: What are engineer boots?
A: Engineer boots are boots that are very simply designed.  They do not have laces for on and off ease.  They are typically made with leather or rubber.  The soles on the boots generally have a very nice tread pattern to prevent slips. Lastly, they are very water resistant or waterproof and made to withstand many variables of weather.

Q: Why do engineer boots have buckles?
A: Engineer boots have at least one buckle and that is almost always the one around the ankle.  Some brands have replaced the buckle with decorative circle hardware or the like for aesthetic reasons. However, the true style called for buckles at the ankle so one was able to adjust the tightness and support.  Some brands have shifted the buckle to the top and others added that buckle on top in addition to the one at the ankle.  This buckle serves to make the shaft of the boot adjustable for thicker clothing or to tighten for those with smaller legs.

Q: How should engineer boots fit?
A: Engineer boots were originally created to provide protection for the legs, ankles, and feet. With that said, the boots should fit snug but not so tight they constrict movement. Engineer boots will be tight after first being bought as they do require a break in period to stretch the leather or rubber to the foot of the owner.  The boots should allow for an adequate range of movement and bending to make working in the boots comfortable.

Q: How to stretch engineer boots?
A: One method to stretch the boot after purchase is to take them to a shoe shop and have it done professionally.  This is the method most recommended as the shoe shops have much experience in doing this task.  A second option is to slather boots with a lot of mink oil or neatsfoot oil (warning: this may change the color, test first), let boots sit for about 24 hours, rub in/off excess oil, while wearing one or two pairs of thick socks, wear the boots for as long as you can stand, preferably while active and moving about, repeat 3-4 times.

Q: What calf height should I look for in the boots?
A: The best calf height in engineer boots is really dependent upon what look or function you are hoping to achieve.  If you are looking for fashion purposes only, the higher the better is a great look for leggings or skinny jeans.  The same height is true for leg protection if you are working in a field with dangerous elements. The more of the leg that is protected, the better.  Motorcycle riders usually opt for a shorter calf height because it could prohibit the range of motion and quick response that is needed when using the feet and legs on a motorcycle.

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Sources

  1. Michael MacRae, Engineers Get the Boot, Article, Aug 01, 2015
  2. Wikipedia, Engineer Boot, Jan 04, 2018
  3. Forrest Old, The History of Engineer Boots with John Lofgren, Article, Mar 16, 2015


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