Five Plus One is our weekly series of buyer’s guides. We pick a specific category and dig up five great options along with one that’s a little outside the norm.
Let’s be honest: no matter how many pairs of boots you own, you’ve probably considered picking up a pair of blackout boots…well, unless you already own a pair that is. It’s not just the black leather that makes these boots look badass, but the fully black stitching, soles, welt, and hardware. And when all these components come together, it’s hard not to like the boot they make up.
The sad truth is there are very few “true” blackout boots on the market. Many come close, but there always seems to be at least one non-black component that, to us at Heddels, disqualifies them from being considered blackout boots. Personally, I think personalizing one of these near-perfect pairs is a lot of fun — changing out eyelets or applying a black edge-dressing isn’t hard, and it’s a great feeling to customize boots to your exact specifications.
Be that as it may, I understand people’s aversions to modifying their footwear. If you’re dropping a lot of dough on your dream pair, then it makes sense to get all the details you want. With this belief in mind, we’ve compiled a list of six “true” blackout boots — no modifications required.
1) Clarks: Desert Mali
Clarks have been a standard entry-level boot recommendation for ages, and their black Desert Mali boot continues this trend in the realm of blackout boots. They feature the traditional crepe sole (this time with a black edge), and the usual 360° stitchdown construction. They are a great economical option for those starting their footwear collection, but don’t expect them to be quite as robust or repairable as the other boots on this list.
Available for $150 from Zappos.
2) Chippewa Original: 6″ Utility Boot
Ever since Chippewa released their Originals line in 2013, they have been slowly carving themselves a place in the entry-level footwear game. While more expensive than the aforementioned pair of Clarks, these Utility Boots offer a lot more boot for your buck. The design is simple and classic, closely resembling vintage service boots (or any of the other contemporary service boot reproductions). However, unlike their competitors, Chippewa offers this pair blacked out — complete with black eyelets and a hard-wearing black Vibram sole. And be sure to read our full tear-down review of this model, albeit in a different color, here.
Available for $290 from Need Supply.
3) Viberg: Service Boot Black Unicorn
The service boot train continues, this time in the form of Viberg’s iconic 2030 last. Although we came to know and love ‘berg when they were solely using stitchdown construction, their new line of Goodyear welted footwear is nothing to scoff at. This pair features a brogued cap-toe and is made from a matte moose leather, which gives the boot a subdued appearance in comparison to many other boots on this list. It’s finished with a studded Dainite sole, making it well equipped for the upcoming fall and winter.
Available for $760 from Viberg.
4) Red Wing Heritage: 9197 6″ Postman “Policeman” Boot
Red Wing’s 9197 Boot is a homage to the classic boots that Red Wing produced for postmen and policemen in the 1950s. The boots needed to be comfortable enough to wear all day, but also needed to be all black due to uniform restrictions. Most wedge-soled shoes released by Red Wing feature a Christy sole, which is comfortable in its own right; however, this model has upped-the-ante and features a comfort crepe sole (in all black, of course).
Available for $290 from Snake Oil Provisions.
5) Feit: Hiker Wool
Feit’s wool-lined Hiker might not look like the previous boots on this list, but its wholecut design and lack of exposed eyelets produces a sleek and understated boot nonetheless. It features a gusseted tongue, wool lining, and lugged Vibram sole, all of which are handy if you intend to use this boot in winter or for any real hikes.
Available for $800 from Need Supply.
Plus One – Grenson: Fred Triple-Welt Pebble Grain Short Wing Derby Boot
The Fred Triple Welt isn’t quite like anything else on the market. All black pebble grained leather with large diameter British-style brogueing, and three welts. The grained texture of the leather, scalloped edges of the welts, and brogueing all fit together into one cohesive boot that hasn’t been met by any of Grenson’s competitors. These definitely aren’t a pair of everyday boots, but if you want a pair to start conversations or complete a special outfit, then this pair may very well be perfect for you.
Available for $890 from Mr. Porter.