About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething salesman in the HVAC and hydronics industry. He enjoys bourbon, boots, sneakers, raw denim, and working on his
dad bod father figure.
Parkhurst might be a new name for you, as it was for me just a few months ago. I discovered the brand after listening to a Stitchdown podcast interview with Nicole Porter, owner of the Artisan Boot & Shoe factory in Batavia, New York. Her factory was previously known as the P.W. Minor factory, founded in 1867 by two veteran brothers in the post-Civil War era. Today, Parkhurst is among just a handful of brands, including Wolverine, that has partnered with Nicole’s factory to manufacture their boots and shoes amongst the ashes of that old building.
Parkhurst was founded in late 2018 by Andrew Svisco, a former stock trading analyst. By working with Nicole and her factory’s handful of skilled workers, Andrew’s Parkhurst brand is offering something unique – American made boots that are built from US-made or US-sourced components at a reasonable price point. Are they worth it? Can they work it? Absolutely.
An overall silhouette that is exceedingly versatile.
The Adam Review Scale of Excellence (A.R.S.E.)
- 5 – Excellent! No issues and highly recommended.
- 4 – Good. Above average, but not perfect.
- 3 – Average. Minor issues, might be good at the right price.
- 2 – Fair. Below average due to defects, flaws, or imperfections.
- 1 – Poor. Significant issues, not worth purchasing at any price.
- Brand: Parkhurst
- Style: Plain toe boot
- Size: 10.5 D
- Last: 602
- Construction: Goodyear Welted
- Upper: Horween Dublin in “Dark Roast”
- Sole: Dainite studded rubber sole and heel
- Details: Antique brass eyelets and round waxed laces
- Extras: Two twill shoe bags
- Country of Origin: USA! USA!
- Price: $338 USD
Uppers here are Horween Dublin in “Dark Roast”
My pair of Allen boots was ordered on a Wednesday, shipped out on Friday, and arrived on my porch on the following Tuesday via USPS Priority Mail. That’s not too shabby considering they were shipped from New York and spent a whole weekend sleeping in the local Post Office.
FYI: Parkhurst offers separate exchange and return policies, explained below. As usual, all exchanges and returns need to be in essentially mint condition with no signs of apparent wear including creased uppers/vamps, sole wear, scuffs, etc.
- Exchanges within the USA are free within 7 days and Parkhurst covers shipping both ways. Exchanges can also be for store credit, should you want to order something else at a later date. Store credit does not expire.
- Returns for a refund must be pre-approved within 7 days of delivery and they will incur a 4% restocking fee to help offset the payment processing and reconditioning fees. You’re also on the hook for return shipping.
Got that? It’s worth repeating. Exchanges = free within 7 days. Which is nice!
Returns on the other hand will set you back a 4% restocking fee PLUS you’re on the hook for the return shipping costs. Ouch.
As a former small business owner, I understand that the miscellaneous credit card processing and other associated business fees can stack up and eat into your already thin margins. I’m sure this is especially true for Parkhurst who sources and manufactures their footwear within the US supply chain. However, from a boot enthusiast and customer engagement experience, those fees can feel like a giant hurdle. Why would I want to try your boots if I might end up losing money on the deal?
Pay close attention to their exchange and return policies.
Personally, I think restocking and reconditioning fees limit potential customer engagement and growth. If it’s that big of an issue for the business, I’d look at averaging out those costs and rolling them into the overall boot pricing structure. Free shipping, free returns, and free exchanges will always be a winner for most consumers who are trying your product for the first time. Don’t hamstring them with extra fees.
It’s important to note that many brands in this sector do not shift these fees to the end user on stock boot designs, specifically: Allen Edmonds (firsts), Truman Boot Co, Grant Stone, Oak Street, Rancourt, Thursday, Wesco, and White’s. Notably, Mark Albert Boots is one of the few other brands that does charge a restocking fee, and that’s a hefty $50. They REALLY don’t want you to try their boots, eh? While some other retailers have a simple exchanges only/no refund policy, many of the direct to consumer brands are more flexible and are more consumer focused with the try-on experience.
Note: Parkhurst does not accept international exchanges or returns at this time.
Score: 3/5 Stars – Shipping was fine, but be careful of a small exchange/return window. The free exchange policy is nice, but the 4% restocking/reconditioning fee on returns will be a real turnoff for many.
Twill shoe bags and a hand-signed note accompany the boots.
This pair arrived in a neatly packaged cardboard box that doubles as the storage box. While it’s not particularly easy on the eyes, the cardboard itself feels durable. Parkhurst notes that all boxes and packing materials are made from organic, recycled, or recyclable materials. They believe in a no frills packaging ethos and say their domestic shipping is carbon neutral.
Inside, the boots were individually packaged inside a pair of fantastic cotton twill shoe bags. I really like the fabric they chose for these bags, as well as their screen printed logo. Unfortunately, there were no additional party favors in my box apart from a hand signed thank you note. I’d love to see an extra pair of these round, waxed laces as those will be hard to find locally.
Score: 4/5 Stars – The box is eco friendly and sturdy; shoe bags are lovely!
Fresh out of the box, I’m once again greeted by the intoxicating scent of high quality leather. You might like fresh cut grass or a basket of warm, clean laundry, but give me well oiled leather or give me death! Design wise, I really love the simple plain toe design of this boot. The toe has a gently rounded shape and the overall silhouette is exceedingly versatile for most casual to business casual styles. We’re at the end of Summer, heading into Fall, so I’m already imagining myself wearing these to work with slim fitting khaki chinos, a button-down collar gingham sport shirt, and a fleece jacket or vest. For a more casual Friday look, switch out the shirt and slacks for an athletic polo and neat, dark denim. You really can’t go wrong with a pair of brown boots.
Hard to go wrong with a pair of boots like these.
Speaking of brown, Parkhurst calls this shade of Horween’s Dublin “Dark Roast” and I think that’s on point. Horween nails this mid brown shade across their whole leather line up; it’s the most versatile color in my humble opinion. If you’re not familiar with the Dublin tannage, or its sister Essex, it’s a rich, full-grain cow leather that’s tanned and dyed in the same process as Horween’s infamous Shell Cordovan. This means it’s a vegetable tanned leather that’s infused with a bespoke blend of oils and waxes before being hot plated or glazed with a roller to lock in all that goodness. This gives the base Essex tannage a darker, richer surface color and allows the natural grain and rugged characteristics (not loose grain!) a chance to shine through. An invisible wax finish is added to the top to transform the Essex tannage into Dublin, becoming the bolder and beefier sibling. If you enjoy earning a patina on your boots and shoes, you’re going to love this leather.
Wheeled leather welts go the extra aesthetic mile.
Three of my favorite details are the antique brass eyelets, the round waxed laces, and the wheeled leather welt. Normally I’m a speed hooks and eyelets kind of guy, but there’s something to be said about the simplicity and usefulness of a set of basic eyelets. The dusty golden hue of these lends itself well to the dark, mocha or brownie shade of the Dublin leather. The round waxed cotton laces are another nice touch. A lot of boot brands in this heritage or Americana style go for flat waxed cotton or rawhide leather laces, both of which can look more workwear and less upscale business casual. If you’re one that enjoys going for the booted and suited look, round laces are a simple detail that can enhance the overall aesthetic. Finally, the whiskey tan leather welt is wheeled, and possibly fudged, for that little extra “look closer” detail. I believe these leather welts are sourced from the Barbour company in Massachusetts.
The interior is half lined from the arch forward with some thick vegetable tanned leather and the tongue is partially gusseted. Gusseted tongues are an interesting choice usually found on workwear boots and hikers where liquids and other detritus could find their way into the boots. Parkhurst says the lining leather is 1.8 to 2.0 ounces. This stuff is thicker than the leather that some other bootmakers use as their main upper leather! Thicker leather tends to last longer after breaking in and conforming to your feet. On the rear half of the boot, the rough side of the Horween Dublin leather is exposed, giving you a bit of texture for your heel to grip onto.
Dainite soles. Goodyear welt.
Looking from the top down, the footbed inlay starts off with a layer of branded leather on top of a foam heel pad. Beneath that, your feet rest on 9-10 ounce, premium vegetable/oak bark tanned bends of leather. These are some of the thickest leather insoles that I’ve seen in a while. Since these boots are Goodyear welted, there’s a cavity underneath those insoles and above the leather midsoles. This cavity is filled with real cork, which looks to be hot cork that’s smeared on by hand instead of pre-cut sheets of cork that some brands use. I like this hot cork method because the craftsperson can really pack the cork into the insole cavity and spread it around to reach every corner. As the boots stretch and mold around your feet, this cork will move about, creating a defacto customized fit similar to an orthotic insert, increasing long term comfort. Finally, the leather midsole is also made from thick vegetable tanned leather bends.
Parkhurst uses Dainite studded rubber soles and heel toppers almost exclusively on their stock boots, although they also use Ridgeway and Commando soles on occasion. The British made Dainite soles are sourced from a US supply chain vendor and are both glued and stitched to the leather midsole. Did you know that the studs were originally designed so that the soles don’t retain any dirt? They also provide some great dry weather traction, while wet weather traction can be hit or miss, depending on how worn down the studs are. From my personal experience, be light on your feet if you’re walking on wet concrete! Overall, I do like Dainite soles but I find them to be harder and denser than similar Itshide or Vibram soles, so they can be harder to break in.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Fantastic materials and construction. Very hearty and durable.
Comfort, Fit, and Sizing
In terms of fit and sizing, I recommend trying your true-to-size Brannock measurement. I tried this pair in 10.5 and they feel somewhat roomy on my feet, definitely leaning towards the larger side of 10.5D. If you’re in between sizes like me, I’d actually recommend that you size down a half-size and expect a bit of stretch from the Horween leather. Note: If you normally take wider fittings or have a higher arch like I do, go true to Brannock and test the waters.
Size leans towards the larger end, but try your true size first.
Remember EXCHANGES are free, in case you swing and miss on your first size attempt.
Parkhurst says the 602 last uses a tapered heel and arch, a wider E width forefoot with a rounded toe box, and a contoured fit for comfort. That feels accurate for me; my heels and arch are getting a gentle hug, while my toes have an abundance of available space to splay out. The overall comfort feels good and I suspect that the leather insoles, foam heel pad, and cork filling will break in very well over time. Unfortunately, I think this particular pair is a half-size too large for me and would probably develop some heel slip because the toe box is so voluminous.
Thick leather covers a hot cork insole.
For size reference, I am a 10.5 D/E on a Brannock device and usually take a 10 D in most roomy dress shoes, including Alden’s Barrie last and Grant Stone’s Leo last. I take a 10.5 E in Allen Edmonds 65 last, as that last runs too narrow for me. I also take a 10.5 in Converse/Vans and an 11 in most Adidas/Nike/Jordan/Yeezy sneakers. Have a size question? Email us!
Score: 4/5 – Fits large or roomy, but conforming to your feet. Comfort will be great.
While this particular pair’s style might not blow your socks off from the ten foot view, or generate any stares from those in the boot community, I think they are a welcome addition to the market. I like the simple and understated “invisible luxury” aesthetic. The Horween Dublin leather is unique with its noticeable grain and roll characteristics. The other build components are as solid as can be, and the Batavia, NY factory craftsmanship is admirable. As John Mayer said in his second Hodinkee Talking Watches interview, it’s all about the little tiny design elements that help you realize that something might look basic, but it’s not basic. Andrew’s designs are full of Diamonds on the Inside and I’m here for it.
Parkhurst is also offering something special here that most people probably overlook – American design, sourcing, and craftsmanship at a relatively approachable price point. That’s pretty rare in this market, so I think they are definitely worth investigating if you are on the hunt for new boots. If you end up trying a pair, make sure you let us know what you think. Cheers!
Avg. Score: 4/5 – Recommended! Check them out for yourself.