So I've been eyeing a pair of boots that I could wear fashionably, but also functionally, in fall/winter/spring here in NYC. As good as the popular-as-of-late Red Wings and 1000 Miles look, I am worried that the leather soles on most that I've seen really make them more fashion than function. I have a pair of beloved Clarks DB originals that I have for that, but they don't function well in bad elements, so am looking for something a little more rugged without going full work boot or something. Any thoughts/suggestions?
I'm not sure how much foot travel you do, but when I was living in NYC I walked everywhere.
The times I did take the subway, I was mindful of where I was walking as it was not uncommon to find the occasional landmines deposited by homeless subway dwellers.
I really like leather soled shoes (for the same reason I like automatic watches), but they have something of an unadvertised requirement that the terrain they come in contact with is mildly civilized (assuming the wearer wants them to last, and remain somewhat hygienic). I relegate leather soled shoes for office wear and limited suburban excursions. They don't play well with wet weather obviously, and thanks to the porous nature of the soles, you can count on taking some of those subway excretions home with you. I'm not claiming that suburban terrain is immaculate, but the calculation of street duty per square foot is undoubtedly at a much higher ratio in urban surroundings due to population density alone. Not only that, your soles will wear out in 6 months if you're not diligent about rotating your collection. I learned this the hard way on a nice pair of Aldens. They'll need resoling next summer. I'll be sure to get taps installed this time around.
I just spend the extra $30 to get rubber sole protectors put on my leather soled boots (all of my leather-soled shoes, actually). It's nice to not have to sweat stepping on moist concrete, a few wet leaves, etc., not to mention the much worse stuff one sometimes finds on subways and streets. I just add that $30 to the hate-bank from which I feed my boiling rage at people who don't pick up their dogs' poop and people who spit gum onto the ground.
I hear mixed things about the rubber sole protectors. Since the leather is porous, water and dampness can get in from the sides, through the foot liner, wherever. The argument is that since the rubber sole traps that moisture in, it can contribute to "sole-rot" as it were. No personal experience with this, just something I read online.
I have some leather soled dress shoes and a pair of black and a pair of brown McAllisters which I have vibram/AE rubber overlays on for rainy days. I agree in NYC it sucks to have your leather shoes out and about, but part of having them is knowing they'll get worn down and get shit on them (literally). However, I still prefer leather soles (with or without overlays) to pure rubber soles for these purposes, since I can get them resoled more easily.
EDIT: I do have some SWIMS galoshes that I keep at the office for when things get real nasty during the work day; however if it's just going to be a little rainy, I don't wear them.
My question on boots is more of a real weather issue vs wear&tear. For example, my Clarks are not very weather proof at all (possibly my least weather proof leather shoe I own). When you're walking around in snow--or as NYers know, the massive puddles that accumulate from rain or snow melting in the city--it seems like a real rubber sole would be better than leather or leather w/ vibram.
What's your budget? AE Long Branch is a good medium - non workboot upper but still a lug sole. They're on sale on AE and also on 6pm.
Pretty open on budget if I like something. Long Branch looks nice, although I was leaning less wingtip/dressy and more casual for the boot. I just don't want to go full work boot. Maybe the answer is to go RW or 1000 Mile / Iron Ranger, but just replace with a heartier sole once the leather sole gets done in.