If you live in a city, winter holds little peril. Sure, it gets a bit colder. Odds are you’ll be caught in a shower or two. But when you’re only ever yards from a Starbucks, an awning, a bus, do you really need a wardrobe designed for midwinter up an Alp?
Yes, you do. If only because of how fun it is to step out in a pair of boots that could kick their way through a snowdrift, if they had to. To able to veer towards icy puddles, not away, and feel them crack under your commando soles. To dress up like an explorer, as if your 10-year-old employment expectations weren’t ridiculous after all (see also: this season’s trend towards astronaut metallics).
An adventurer doesn’t step out in shoes that aren’t equal to the elements. But equally, the stylish man shouldn’t step out in shoes that are too far ahead of the elements. One-piece leather to keep out water; thick, rubber soles to keep you upright; D-rings, to keep your leather laces locked; all good. Neon Gore-tex? Well, people might think you’re actually about to climb a mountain.
The explorer you’re aiming for is the pre-war breed, from back when earth still had places to discover and adventure was about conquering the new, not doing the old fastest/unassisted/on one leg. You don’t need to style them with tweed trousers and socks rolled over the boot cuff, although you certainly can. But this season’s sleek, glossy leathers work just as well with cuffed denim, or even a suit, should a blizzard threaten your commute. And you’ll at least be shod to tackle your perilous in-tray.
Feit Military Leather Boots
They don’t have much snow in Australia. Which is perhaps why Aussie brand Feit relocated to New York to make its military boots. They’ll look better with black jeans than board shorts, anyway.
Available at Mr Porter, priced £610.
Diemme Marostica Mid Boots
Italian outdoors brand Diemme has crafted ready-for-anything boots for 25 years. Here, its mountain savvy gets a city spin, with a comfortable, sneaker sole.
Available at End Clothing, priced £229.
Fracap Scarponcini M120 Boots
Considering its concentration of peaks, it’s to be expected Italians would specialise in shoes for getting up them. Not that sublime terrain is a prerequisite; Fracap’s Vibram sole conquers steep stairs, too.
Available at Oi Polloi, priced £225.
R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman Boots
This outback brand has had a fashion makeover, courtesy of new owners Louis Vuitton. But the new owner have left R.M. Williams’ one-piece leather construction untouched. Which means no seams, so no holes.
If it can’t get into a cow’s skin, it can’t get into your boots.
Available at Philip Morris & Son, priced £350.
Thorogood 8″ Moc Toe Boots
Thorogood has made its moc toe Hike ‘n’ Camp boot since 1964. It’s so adept outdoors that the Boy Scouts adopted it as their official footwear of choice. A ringing endorsement, but we’d advise you wear yours with jeans, not shorts and high socks. Neckerchief optional.
Available at Thorogood Shoes, priced £225.
Sorel Madson Lace-Up Boots
Once the world’s biggest cold-weather boot brand, Sorel’s parent company went bankrupt in 2000, so outdoors giant Columbia bought the licence.
Its new owners have sacrificed none of its heft – full grain leather and a chunky sole still boss rain, but the styling now won’t upset your actual boss.
Available at Zalando, priced £159.99.
Officine Creative Lace-Up Boots
Brand new boots are a sure sign that your adventuring is more theory than practice. Which is perhaps why Italy’s Officine Creative pre-age theirs with a bespoke washing technique, which has the bonus effect of making each pair look completely unique.
Available at Farfetch, priced £477.80.
Timberland Westmore Warm Lined Chukka Boots
The Wu Tang Clan’s favourite footwear has always been your best bet for kicking down doors. But since you don’t need that heft every day, Timberland developed the Sensorflex sole, which makes them lighter and more forgiving. Because comfort rules everything around me.
Available at Timberland, priced £145.
Church’s Perforated Detailing Boots
You know Church’s for crafting sumptuous nine-to-five footwear. You might not know it’s also got your covered for your weekends moonlighting as a secret agent. Black, brogued, built to withstand anything. Just remember to put your Oxfords back on on Monday morning.
Available at Farfetch, priced £484.33.
Dr. Martens Capper Vintage Boots
Dr. Martens boots – originally built for German housewives, adopted by punks, skinheads and anyone who needs a shoe you could run over with a tank, without the wearer noticing. This vintage spin, colour matched to samples from the DM archives, is impervious to storms and fashion trends.
Available at Dr Martens, priced £125.