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Best boots for men 2023: The most durable, versatile and timeless full-length footwear options

Give subpar shoes the boot with our pick of the best ankle-grazing footwear to invest in this year

Flimsy footwear giving you cold feet? The best boots for men can help to keep you warm, dry and looking good during the colder months and beyond. They’re sturdier than sneakers, more sure-footed than regular old shoes, and, if you buy right, they’ll look after you for as long as you look after them.

A good pair of boots is a must for every man. Low-top sneakers and shoes are fine for day-to-day duties in fair weather, but when the going gets tough, you need something that’s up to the challenge. This is why boots have been the footwear of choice for manual workers, law enforcement, outdoorsmen and the military for centuries. But you don’t have to be a mechanic or a marine to benefit from them.

The best boots for men have been established over decades, or in some cases, centuries. These aren’t products that chop and change from season to season; these are menswear icons that have long-earned reputations, built over many years. We’re talking premium materials, traditional construction techniques passed down through generations, and replaceable/repairable parts for the longest possible lifespan. 

In short, a real pair of boots is an investment, not just a purchase, and we’ve rounded up the cream of the crop below to help you find the right pair.

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The best boots for men: At a glance

How to choose the best men’s boots for you

What type of boots should I buy?

Boots have been around since roughly 1,000 BC, making them one of the oldest types of footwear. In the time that has elapsed since, they’ve splintered off into all sorts of different shapes, styles and intended purposes.

It’s a broad spectrum that covers everything from highly specialised mountaineering boots that use technical fabrics and insulation, to simple suede ankle boots that wouldn’t last five minutes in a rain shower, let alone an Everest attempt. 

What type of boots you should buy depends heavily on your lifestyle, local climate, and how you intend to use them. That said, generally speaking it’s best to aim for something versatile and comfortable that goes with everything, and can handle a range of tasks. A good boot should be able to take a beating in the woods or the workshop, without looking out of place worn around town at the weekend.

Should I buy leather or suede boots?

Suede is softer and more comfortable right out of the box than smooth leather, but it is more difficult to treat and far easier to ruin. If you’re buying boots with the intent of using them as your winter footwear, leather is going to be the best option for you. If you’re just looking for a casual boot for everyday use, and aren’t likely to be encountering any inclement weather, suede will suit you well.

What type of sole should my boots have?

Different styles of boot have different soles. Traditional Northamptonshire-made footwear tends to feature a leather sole, whereas boots made for outdoor pursuits usually have a lugged, rubber sole, known as a ‘commando’ sole. Some classic work boots feature a flat wedge sole made from foamy rubber, which is designed to grip well on potentially oily workshop floors and prevent slips.

For general use, a rubber sole will offer you the most bang for your buck, particularly if you buy boots that have a ‘Goodyear welt’ construction or similar. This is the traditional way of stitching the upper to the sole, and allows the sole unit to be easily replaced when it wears out, thus extending the lifespan of your boots indefinitely.

Do I need waterproof boots?

That really depends on how much you intend to wear them in wet weather. If you’re going to be walking through puddles and streams on a regular basis then shop for a boot that features a waterproof membrane. This allows sweat vapour to escape from within while keeping water droplets out. That said, a waterproof boot is never going to be as breathable as the non-waterproof alternative. And given that a well-treated leather boot deflects rain pretty well anyway, you’ll need to think about whether the trade off in breathability is actually worth it.

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The best boots for men you can buy in 2023

1. Timberland 6” Boot: Best waterproof boot

Price: £180 | Buy now from Timberland

From rap superstars to weather-beaten construction workers, Timberland’s iconic 6” Boot has a diverse fanbase it’s built up over years thanks to its good looks, durability and reliability. It’s a lofty style that hugs the ankle with a padded collar, and sits atop a chunky sole that’s great for gripping on wet ground and uneven surfaces. It’s also waterproof, which makes it a good choice for anyone living in a particularly rainy area, or simply those who like to know their boots have their back if conditions take a turn for the worse. Rain protection is bolstered by Primaloft insulation that helps to keep feet warm as well as dry. Looks-wise, the round-toe design is clean, simple and classic, meaning these boots go with everything and won’t date easily. We’d advise going down a half size for the perfect fit.

Key specs – Material: Nubuck; Waterproof: Yes; Style: Lace-up; Sole: Rubber, lugged

Buy now from Timberland

2. Clarks Desert Boot: Best casual boot

Price: £120 | Buy now from Clarks

It’s hard to imagine a simpler piece of footwear than the famous Clarks Desert Boot. And therein lies its beauty. This no-frills boot is a mid-top style with a crepe-rubber sole and two-eyelet design that makes it incredibly easy to style with anything from soft tailoring to T-shirts and jeans. Is it the most comfortable piece of footwear on the market? No, but it’s not uncomfortable either, and the timeless looks and versatility more than make up from a little bit of a break-in period. There are numerous colour options in both leather and suede, but our favourite thing about this boot has to be that it’s barely changed a bit since 1949. After all, why should it?

Key specs – Material: Suede; Waterproof: No; Style: Lace-up; Sole: Rubber, crepe

Buy now from Clarks

3. Danner Mountain Light: Best hiker boot

Price: £400 | Buy now from Danner

Eagle-eyed cinephiles might recognise this traditional leather hiking boot from the James Bond film, Spectre. The Mountain Light was worn by 007 in Austria at the Hoffler Klinik and subsequent action scenes, and if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us. The boot itself is an old-school hiker, with a gusseted folding tongue and D-ring lace loops. It’s been in production since the 1970s and is available with or without a waterproof Gore-Tex liner. In terms of performance out on the trails, it’ll struggle to keep up with the lightweight synthetic boots of today, but it’ll still be standing long after they’ve fallen to bits thanks to its handmade construction and premium materials. Not that you need to be hiking to enjoy the Mountain Light. In fact, we think it works equally well with jeans and a casual jacket around town.

Key specs – Material: Leather; Waterproof: Optional; Style: Lace-up; Sole: Rubber, lugged

Buy now from Danner

4. R.M. Williams Gardener: Best Chelsea boot

Price: £375 | Buy now from R.M. Williams

Australia’s R.M. Williams started making gusseted riding boots for farmers, ranchers and bushmen almost 100 years ago. The brand is still very much doing its thing to this day, and this handmade Chelsea boot is the proof. It’s comfortable, built to take a bashing in the toughest of environments, and smart enough to team up with tailored pieces for smart-casual outfits. Handcrafted down under, it’s made from a single piece of leather for maximum durability and features a Goodyear-welted construction so that the treaded sole can be repaired and replaced with ease. Make sure to check the sizing chart meticulously as we find these to run a bit on the big side.

Key specs – Material: Leather; Waterproof: No; Style: Slip-on; Sole: Rubber, treaded

Buy now from R.M. Williams

5. Red Wing 6” Moc: Best work boot

Price: £289 | Buy now from Red Wing Heritage

American footwear brand Red Wing’s 6” Moc is the definitive work boot. It has a thick, oil-tanned leather upper, wedge sole, stitched toe and gold taslan laces. It’s a style that works equally well in the workshop, the great outdoors or the city, offering a mix of rugged good looks, practicality and character. Sure, it can be a battle to break in, but once you get there you’ll be left with a seriously comfy boot that’ll last you for years and years to come. When the sole does eventually wear out, it’s easily replaced, and the Oro-Legacy leather takes on a lovely patina as it ages. If you’re looking for a boot you can count on for the long haul and aren’t put off by an uncomfortable first few weeks, this is one of the best options there is.

Key specs – Material: Leather; Waterproof: No; Style: Lace-up; Sole: Rubber, wedge

Buy now from Red Wing Heritage

6. Tricker’s Stow Country Boot: Best brogue boot

Price: £515 | Buy now from Tricker’s

Tricker’s has been making high-quality boots for country pursuits since the 1800s. One of the original Northamptonshire shoemakers, it specialises in brogue boots, which feature perforated patterns that were originally designed to allow water to escape when walking through marshland to hunt. The Stow Country Boot is one of the brand’s best-selling styles, dating back over 100 years. It’s a quintessentially British boot with tons of character, and is available with either a traditional leather sole or a more practical rubber one. OK, so it’s not the cheapest boot on the list, but what you’re paying for is centuries of experience from one of the oldest bootmakers in the world. Not to mention the high-end leather and handmade construction, which still takes place at the family factory in Northampton to this day.

Key specs – Material: Leather; Waterproof: No; Style: Lace-up; Sole: Rubber or leather

Buy now from Tricker’s

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