Boots: as functional as they are fashionable, there are few items of menswear that walk the line between fashion and utility in such well-heeled, cleated-sole style. And aren’t we thankful that they do? In these dreary, drizzly times, a good pair of boots is the perfect first line of defence against winter. They warm your feet, protect your toes and keep your hard-working, hard-stepping feet in cushioned comfort all day long.
But not all boots are what they seem. Too often, we are duped or deceived into buying sub-standard shoes that fall apart at the first whispers of winter. A truly capable boot is constructed to last; with weather-beating features including storm welts, cleated rubber soles and the finest treated leather uppers. Thankfully, in one Northampton-based bastion of British bootmaking, you can find many examples of this fine-fettled footwear.
Crockett & Jones has been manufacturing quality shoes since 1879. The royal-warranted, family-run business has produced shoes for Prince Charles, Ernest Shackleton — and even James Bond. Its boots have walked all seven continents, every conceivable terrain and they’ve look good every step of the way. So, if you’re looking for a reliable, proven pair to see you through to spring, we’ve rounded up five of the brand’s best.
The Chelsea XI is a boot for all seasons (but winter especially)
The Chelsea boot is a shoe like no other. Versatile, storied and with an illustrious past, these pairs are the perfect place to start your boot collection — and Crockett & Jones’ Chelsea XI is the ideal introduction to the style. A relatively recent reimagining of the popular Chelsea V style, this version is crafted from flawless dark brown scotch grain leather, and sees its classic style tricked out for winter.
That means larger, thicker and sturdier soles than your usual Chelsea boot — in the form of oversized cleated rubber soles from Vibram. Durable and perfectly-weighted, these soles will make every step through winter effortless — even on the blackest of ice. The shoes are also equipped with storm welts and elastic sides for freedom of movement. If you’re looking for a boot that can do it all, look no further.
The Coniston Black Edition is rough and tough enough for the worst winters
Can you imagine a boot looking more capable than the Crockett & Jones Coniston in black rough-out suede? We’d wager not. Just look at these high-ankled, heavy stompers — market-leading cap toe derby boots that set the industry standard for pared-back, utilitarian footwear. Built on the brand’s Last 325 — with increased toe depth and classic rural style — these boots would look as at home in the country as they would in the city.
And they don’t just talk the talk; they also walk the heavily-constructed, well-heeled walk. With oversized, cleated rubber soles, the Coniston Black Edition was much-anticipated, and has a pared-back colour scheme that takes inspiration from Japanese style. Expect storm welts, sturdy ankle protection and a good dose of hardy military heritage.
Coniston Black Edition
The Ross is a waterproof, wax-hide, Arctic-beating boot
When explorer Ross Turner recreated Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, he turned to Crockett & Jones to help recreate a pair of boots strong enough to survive Greenland’s harsh weather and terrain. They settled on the Snowdon, a Veldtschoen-constructed boot with a ‘Bellows’ tongue and shearling collar. Made from tough stuff, we particularly like another chocolate hurricane hide, green suede-collared offering from the brand: the Ross.
Of course, it’s unlikely that you’ll be trekking over the Arctic Circle, but these plain front derby boots promise to make short work of even the iciest of paths. Created using a new colourway of Crockett & Jones’ waterproof wax-hide uppers, the shoes are super-durable, but also super soft; ideal for long, record-breaking treks — or just the morning commute.
The Islay is as stylish as it is serviceable
Of course, it’s not all about stamping and stomping your way through Britain’s grim winter weather. We still want to lace up some style on our feet — and that’s where Crockett & Jones’ Islay style steps forward. A full brogue derby boot, with wing tip design and striking punched detailing, these are boots at their most refined. Even Daniel Craig’s James Bond pulled on a pair for the fiery, frenetic denouement of 2012’s Skyfall. And, as the superspy would attest, while they may not boast the beefed-up cleated Vibram soles of the shoes above, they’re still well-equipped for inclement weather (and international espionage).
The Islay boots walk on Dainite rubber soles. Made in England by the Harbourough Rubber Co, Dainite soles share the same family values as Crockett & Jones — as well as the same approach to meticulous quality and craftsmanship. That means your Islay boots, in dark brown scotch country grain leather and built on hardy storm welts for water resistance, may look a little dressier than the rest — but they’re just as tough.
The Chiltern is soft in construction, but not in reliability
Soft doesn’t mean soft. The Chiltern Chukka boot may be more subtle and supple than the other heavyweight boots on this list, but this style of shoe has a hardy history. With a footing in both sporting and military heritage, the strength of the Chiltern lies in its simplicity; just three pieces of outer material, three eyelets and unlined for comfort, weight and volume.
But the Dainite rubber sole of the Chiltern is where this shoe really proves its worth. Manufactured with high-quality, non-marking materials, its studded soles are built to last. Superbly practical, they are designed to provide comfort and grip in even the frostiest of winter weather — while also never attracting or storing dirt. For a finer, softer shoe, they are the perfect choice, and ensure the Chiltern style is as resilient it is elegant.