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.
Allen Edmonds has been going through a bit of a soul searching expedition as of late and you can really see that in their New Arrivals section. Once a staple of office working men everywhere, a large portion of their collection has been revamped for the modern man who prefers a more casual and more versatile line up of shoes and boots for everyday wear. While you can still order their classic dress Oxfords, the large majority of their recent releases are more casual boat mocs, sneakers, loafers, boots, and suede Oxfords.
Years ago, a good pair of leather Oxfords felt like a right of passage for men entering the workforce when you’d be required to wear more formal attire. These days, many offices have switched to a more relaxed dress code where the term “smart casual” reigns supreme. While I still believe a good pair of leather Oxfords will serve you well in life, and you should invest in a pair of those, my real passion lies with boots. What’s more versatile than a well-made pair of brown leather boots with a rugged Goodyear welt and a hardy Dainite rubber sole? Not much!
The simple plain toe shape with minimal (or no) stitching or design details is super 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: Allen Edmonds
- Style: Plain toe boot
- Size: 10.5 D
- Last: 1757
- Construction: Goodyear “Storm” welt
- Upper: German weatherproof calf leather
- Sole: Dainite Rubber
- Hidden Details: Waterproof membrane, CustomCork insole
- Extras: Pair of flannel shoe bags
- Country of Origin: USA
$445 USDLate 2022 Update: $475. Darned inflation.
My pair was ordered via the Allen Edmonds website on a Tuesday morning. They shipped out Tuesday evening via FedEx SmartPost and were delivered Wednesday morning before 10:00 AM. That turn around time is insane and makes Amazon Prime look like snail mail! Luckily for me, Allen Edmonds’ parent company Caleres manages a network of Famous Footwear distribution centers. One of those giant warehouses is just across town. For the rest of y’all, I’d expect a normal 3-6 business day delivery service to your area with their FedEx service level.
One of the many models still handcrafted in Port Washington Wisconsin.
Ships and returns for free.
FYI: Allen Edmonds has an outstanding 90 day return policy with free return shipping with their “first” quality shoes and boots. This also includes seasonal and clearance styles, which is surprising. As usual, items need to be in unworn and in resalable condition. The major exception to this policy is their “factory seconds” which have a $25 restocking fee per pair.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Easy ordering, lightning fast shipping, and a fantastic return policy.
This pair arrived in the classic saturated navy blue Allen Edmonds boot box with a touch of embossing on top. My boots were sleeping quietly inside, tucked away in their large, individual grey flannel shoe bags. That’s it and that’s all. No tissue paper stuffed inside the shoes, no spare laces, and nothing else to get excited about. At full MSRP, Allen Edmonds needs to seriously step it up and toss in some shoe trees, shoe cleaning products, or at the very least, some spare laces.
Brands like Grant Stone, Cobbler Union, and even Gustin are doing so much more at similar or lower price points. I understand that domestic manufacturing takes a lot of investment, but there’s no way these boots should cost $450 and arrive in a pretty box with nothing else inside.
Score: 4/5 Stars – Unboxing experience was OK, but I expect more at this price point.
Grey flannel bags accompany the boots, but that’s it.
Fresh out of the box, the first thing you’ll notice is the depth of color with this particular hue. Allen Edmonds calls it “Chili” but I’d call it a warm shade of brown that leans towards a red tone. Oh, you’re from Cincinnati and that’s what your chili looks like? Yeah, that makes total sense now that you mention it! This shade of brown looks wonderful atop this supple calf leather that’s been weatherproofed, possibly by the Heinen tannery just outside of D¼sseldorf, Germany. If that assumption is accurate, then this calf leather was made hydrophobic through a unique tanning process where the naturally occurring oils are impregnated into the hide. Unlike a DWR or similar topical coating, this weatherproofing shouldn’t wear off or need to be refinished to bring back the water repellency. That’s a huge bonus for those of us who regularly go stomping around the city in less than ideal weather conditions.
Supple, weatherproof calf leather.
The Higgins Mill boot is one of Allen Edmonds’s best sellers for a reason. The simple plain toe shape with minimal stitching or design details is super versatile. If you look up “brown boot” in the dictionary, this is the image that should be displayed next to the definition. The V stitching along the quarters is a nice touch that gives the profile just a touch of character without being too distracting. The color matched 360° StormWelt along the perimeter is a welcome and appropriate choice, given the weatherproof design direction we have here. The antique bronze eyelets and speed hooks make getting the boots on and off a breeze. One weird detail is the lace keeper that’s stitched halfway up the tongue. This piece feels like an afterthought to help keep the tongue centered. It’s thin and feels very flimsy; I wouldn’t be shocked if it failed in time.
A simple, understated design adds to the versatility of these boots.
Overall, I like the simple, understated design of the Higgins Mill boot. It’s the essential everyman’s boot that is going to look great with a wide variety of outfits and aesthetics. If you’re the type of person who enjoys dressing up a bit, I’d recommend pairing these boots with a smart casual suit of your choice in a mid to dark shade of navy blue or heathered grey. Toss on a white or light blue button-down collar pinpoint Oxford shirt and make sure you pick up a matching Allen Edmonds belt in a similar shade of Chili. You’ll be good to go for a Spring wedding, an upscale work function, or a date night out on the town with your significant other. If your personal style leans more towards the Americana or relaxed vibes, then throw on your favorite plaid flannel shirt, white tee, raw denim jeans, and tonal brown Allen Edmonds belt.
No further proof needed.
Looking inside, you’ll find a full leather lining and a hidden waterproof membrane in between the outer layer and the inner lining. While they won’t call it GoreTex, this membrane serves as a one-way check valve that allows moisture to evaporate out but nothing to leak in and get your socks all soggy. Underneath your foot is a non-removable leather topped foam insole that has a layer of this waterproof membrane on the bottom. Underneath that is a CustomCork insole that will wear in and mold to your feet in due time. I’ve always been a fan of these cork insoles or fillers as they seem to take a handful of wears to become ultra comfortable for me.
“Chili” color is a warm brown with red tones.
The all-weather Dainite rubber outsoles need no introduction. The nubs or studs add significant grip in those less than ideal weather conditions, while not looking too chunky or distracting. This design detail helps keep the Higgins Mill boots squarely in the upscale smart casual realm. Do note that because these soles are so hard and durable, and the boots are Goodyear welted, they do take time to break in properly. I’d estimate a week or two of regular wearing but comfort is always subjective and it may take more or less time, depending on your shoe rotation.
Score: 5/5 Stars – Simple design but well executed. Perfect pair of everyday boots.
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 D and with my usual medium weight Darn Tough socks, they fit perfectly right out of the box. The widest part of my foot lines up with the widest part of the boot. My heel feels secure in the heel cup and I have about a thumb’s width of space in front of my toes. My only complaint here would be the lack of any sort of real arch support; the thin, leather topped fiber and foam insert on top of the leather midsole is not removable. I notice my feet are pronating inwards as I walk around the house. This may not be an issue for you, though.
Comfort is always subjective, but these Higgins Mill boots feel pretty good. The soft leather lining is very supple and squishy compared with most other thin calf or pig leather liners. The insole, aside from the lack of arch support, feels comfortable right out of the box. There’s a CustomCork insole under there somewhere, which will also get more comfortable in time.
V-stitching along the quarters is a nice touch that gives the profile just a touch of character.
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 Stars – Sizing is true to size. The fit is solid, but the insole is super flat.
Overall, I find these Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill boots quite attractive. While they may look a bit basic to some of you, I think that’s where their true strength lies. A clean plain toe design crafted from medium to dark brown leather is the boot equivalent of a clean pair of blue jeans – they look good, they’re easily worn, and they get better with some wear and tear. Style wise, they’re super versatile. Dress them up with a casual suit for a wedding. Dress them down with a white tee and old, faded denim. While I wish they were $50-100 less expensive (and most savvy shoppers know at some point they’ll probably go on sale), you simply cannot go wrong with a pair of clean, simple brown leather boots like these. The weatherproof leather is a bonus on top of all the above. Try them for yourself and let us know what you think!
Note: Allen Edmonds is offering 10% off new orders when you sign up with your email address.
Avg. Score: 4.5/5 – Recommended! On sale, these well made boots are hard to beat.
Attractive, versatile, and will easily compliment many looks.