About the Author: Zach S. is an expedition and product/lifestyle photographer from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and a graduate of The United States Military Academy Preparatory School. When he’s not doing photography, he’s writing and working towards his goal of becoming a Marine Aviator. Click here for Zach’s 5 Favorites.
Quality footwear is one of the best investments you can make in your wardrobe. A durable, well made pair of shoes or boots can last years, if not decades, all while looking great and giving you good support. Today I’ll be reviewing the 6” Service Boot, by Chippewa. It’s a Goodyear welted, made-in-the-USA piece of footwear that is both stylish and functional. I’ve been wearing my Chips since late 2014 and I can honestly say they get better looking each year. To help with my review, I’ve borrowed a pair of new ones from Zappos/Amazon to help show you how they age. The color shown in this post is “cordovan.” Note that these are NOT made from cordovan leather, but the color is a deep, reddish brown.
Goodyear welted. Thick, burgundy leather. Made in the USA.
The 6” Service Boot is patterned on early 20th century military footwear that Chippewa made for the government. They’ve since been updated with better materials, finishing, and a very stylish range of colors. One thing that hasn’t changed is the made-in-the-USA construction. Lots of guys buy them on Amazon, but for now, it looks like Huckberry has more than a few colors on sale, including the cordovan shade seen in this post. UPDATE: Gone. Sold out. Darn.
Old vs. New
These are good looking boots. I chose the cordovan colorway when I ordered mine, and they look great. The new boots arrive in an almost matte finish, but I like to buff some kiwi polish on them to help bring out a shine and protect them from wear and tear. Each winter I also apply a coat of Sno Seal to help protect against salt and water damage. I’ve found that the boots pair well with just about any outfit. My current job requires I wear business/business casual clothing, and I really do think they look perfectly at home both with a pair of dress slacks (just try it, I swear) as well as with dark wash jeans and a graphic t shirt.
Roomy. Might want to go half a size down unless you wear thick socks a lot.
If I could do it again, I would go a half-size down. I wear a 10.5 in most shoes, and I find Chippewa’s 10.5 to be a decent amount too large. In the future I think I’ll roll with a standard size 10 instead. Other than that, the boots feel great. There was a break-in period of approximately a month, but after that, I would forget I was wearing them. I also really appreciate the ankle support.
The boots come standard with a hard rubber Vibram sole. As you can see in the picture, even after years of daily wear, there’s still plenty of life in the sole of the boot. The downside to this durability is that they can be a bit loud on tile floors, and they don’t provide as much traction on smooth or slick surfaces. I think when it’s time for a resole, I’ll go with a commando sole. These boots feature a goodyear welt, so they’re ready and equipped for a resole whenever you decide they need it.
Vibram Soles. New (left) vs 4 years on (right).
The laces are my biggest point of contention with these boots. The laces look great when you get them to lay flat, but it’s a huge pain in the ass, and they grip the eyelets too well, which makes it very slow to put them on or take them off. I switched out mine with a length of paracord and now I can have them on or off in a matter of a few seconds.
Flat waxed laces look great, but can be a pain.
Paracord on the other hand is perfect (as seen at left).
These boots seem to hover around the $250 range, which I think is a great value. They’re more affordable than equivalent Red Wings (barring some massive Red Wing sale), and quite frankly I don’t see the RWs outperforming them by any great margin. Good as semi-dress shoes or casual footwear, the Chippewa Service Boot is a versatile piece of footwear and has a place in any man’s wardrobe.