There are really two ways to go about building a boot. You can go the sneaker-meets-Gortex route found in kicks like the Kayland Zephyrs. That’s fine if you want to hike up Mt. Whitney. But what if you need a pair of boots that can be worn with a tie? Then you should strap on something like Red Wing’s Beckman 9010s.
Even though Williamsburg lumberjack-chic hipsters will never truly put these guys to the test, the 9010s are built to withstand some harsh conditions. Constructed from thick leather, rubber and even a little bit of wood, they’ve been treated and sealed to keep the elements out and keep heat in. We trudged through a myriad of winter conditions — hail, rain, bitter (for California) cold, and all the while our tootsies remained toasty.
This is in part due to the thick wool socks we had to wear with the boots. The 9010s have two problems: almost zero cushioning in the sole and harsh stiffness out of the package. We solved the first problem with some Dr. Scholl’s inserts. The second? We had to break in the boots with extreme prejudice.
It took, we’re not kidding, two months to get the 9010s broken in. And while it wasn’t always easy (blisters and sore arches), the payoff was amazing. After applying ample amounts of boot oil — but mostly just walking long distances — we were treated to footwear that feels like sneakers, but are tougher than a pair of cinder blocks.