|Picture taken and boots ordered at Animal Traffic. We don't sell things.|
I got a pretty amazing birthday gift this year. Our parents decided to spend most of their spring out in Portland Oregon to spend time with Wefty and his family. Moving from the suburbs to a downtown apartment resulted in a lot more walking than my parents are used to, and my Dad looked into getting himself a new pair of boots to help with the foot fatigue. He ended up at Animal Traffic, which stocks the ever famous Red Wing Boots, and the somewhat less-known White's Boots made in Spokane Washington. After relieving his own foot pains, and knowing that I often have similar problems, Dad decided to get me a pair as a birthday gift when I came out for a visit at the end of May.
So, we headed over to Animal Traffic, and I got to pick the style of boot I wanted. I selected White's "Semidress" boot (Left), a 6 inch ankle boot. White's lets you customize several aspects of the boot, starting with the leather.
Wolverine 1000 Mile and Red Wing Chukkas in brown, I selected the Black Chromexcel to add to my wardrobe options. The Animal Traffic team suggested dying the edges of the leather and heel brown to match my favorite belts, tying the boots in nicely with the rest of my wardrobe. This custom aspect is something they keep in stock at the local store, and I loved the idea. Other customizable options include a cap-toe and how many stitching layers to use on the welt. I selected one, but White's will do up to a triple stitch.
One of the coolest options to customize is the heel. A western heel (back) curves to a slightly smaller surface, whereas a block heel is flat against the ground. I chose the western heel to shave some weight from the boot, as well as achieve a more stylish appearance. You can also select a sole of un-covered leather, or add a Vibram sole in a few different tread options. I chose a medium tread to maximize traction and longevity without adding too much weight.
Other models even include the option of a steel-toe.
Next up came the most important part of the order: measurements. While you can measure your feet with the help of a friend at home, I highly recommend finding a local retailer who knows what they are doing to order yours: You'll pay the same price, support a local business, and be less likely to screw up a custom order. (Although White's assured me that if there was an error on your end, they would work with you to fix it however). The measurements included tracing my feet on a sheet of paper, checking for symmetry by laying them atop eachother, using a Brannock Device for traditional sizing, and a string of other measurements including foot circumference, ankle height, and more. The whole process took about 45 minutes.
About a month later, UPS delivered a package straight from Spokane Washington. I opened the large, worn and torn shoebox to find my pristine pair of White's Boots. They fit perfectly: As it turns out, my shoe size is much more narrow than your typical shoe. So while the other pairs of boots I have are a size D, these were custom ordered in a B-width. With a perfect length, width, and room, the boots were slightly tight when I put them on-- But slowly began stretching with each successive wear. I wore them on evenings at home to break them in slowly, and have now been wearing them daily for another week.
The comfort is where White's blows away the competition. With an added bolus of leather in the arch area that stick into the insole (and a bit of the outsole), White's boots have abundant arch support. walking in White's It feels almost as if you are climbing a ladder barefoot, with the rungs in just the right place underfoot. This is what made my flat-footed father love them, and has won me over as well. It's truly a unique build: one you have to feel to fully understand.
White's boots custom building to my size has an added benefit: While my Red Wings and Wolverines both had assymetrical creasing patterns where one boot would fold more sharply, White's seems to be creasing similarly on both boots: Subtle indentations with many micro-wrinkles instead of a few canyons. I attribute this to the fit, but it may also be affected by the leather condition upon arrival. At any rate, these are sure to be my favorite boots for a long time, and I can't recommend them highly enough. The only downside to these boots is the price: Coming in at upwards of $400 depending on customization, these boots may not be for everyone. But if you are interested, ordering a catalog will also give you a chance to win a free pair.
These boots are made to be worn for life, and White's stands behind them in many ways. A 1 year warranty applies to all pairs sold, and White's will completely rebuild your boots any time for about a third of the cost of a replacement pair.
Be sure to check our Facebook and Twitter pages for pictures of the boots in the next few days, and as always, thanks for reading!