This post is long overdue, considering we are already past Thanksgiving here in the States. Under normal weather conditions, the air is hovering near freezing and the ground is hardening. Cold rain falls, sometime turning into ice and sleet. You could wake up to snow on any given day. But this year has been unusually warm, at least out here in mid-Atlantic. Aside from one freak snow storm, this fall has been mild and forgiving. But that doesn’t mean the next few months won’t be nasty, wet and cold. Of course, none of this applies to my friends living in colder climes. You guys have to deal with way more shitty weather than us. So this one is for all yall.
Being an inhabitant of a large city (without access to a personal automobile), one is keenly aware of daily weather conditions. An unforeseen rain storm can leave you drenched, an unexpected cold front will leave you shivering. Needless to say, we city dwellers, who actually have to walk and be exposed to the elements, are hypersensitive to the needs of our feet. When the winter comes, we would like to keep them warm and dry. As a child of the suburbs, I never bought or wore boots. I somehow got away with wearing sneakers always. Maybe that’s because I was a dense child, but when you have a car that can take you right to where you need to go, you don’t have to worry about being exposed for prolonged periods of time.
What I’m trying to get at is that a solid, warm, water-resistant (and of course stylish) boot is essential to any person’s shoe collection. For your average person, getting a pair is as easy as going to your local sporting good store, or clicking a few times on Zappos. For us, who are trying to abstain from leather and other animal products, this proves a more difficult task. Now mind you, when I say difficult I don’t mean impossible, or even frustrating. No, I mean difficult like there are so many great looking leather boots that it’s hard to resist buying a pair!
But do not fear. Before you I present several stylish and functional alternatives to the leather boot paradigm. Some are made by known vegan brands. The others are not in that group but offer up alternative materials in common molds which would commonly use leather.
Click to see the shoes, I mean boots!
Above is the Brave Gentleman Worker Boot in brown. In my opinion the most stylish of the bunch. Made by Novacas, this boot is made of high quality faux-leather, with a moccasin toe and a lightweight, durable sole. As with all Novacas, these are manufactured in Portugal under fair trade standards. While they are pricey, they are in the same range as name brand boots with the same style and quality. Also, there are probably trade-offs in terms of warmth and water resistance. Note that they do not advertise that these boots provide any added shelter to the elements.
Available at Brave Gentleman (euro sizes) for $250
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Snowdon Boot by Vegetarian shoes is a highly functional, heavy duty hiking boot. It has a dual density insole and a Vibram outsole. The outer is one piece construction (for added water protection), and has a ski-hook and speed lacing combination. The inner is padded at the tongue, ankle, and collar. This is a great outdoor shoe for any rugged activity, and hey, black goes good with anything.
For someone looking for something on the simple side – no, I should probably say minimalist – the Tretorn Stråla is for you. The no-frill Stråla is essentially a low rubber rain boot with fabric lining. No laces, no insulation, no padding. But for some of us, that might do the trick. Especially if you live in an area with a lot of rain. Nothing beats waterproof like rubber, which also gives it flexibility. Also, I like the white sole because it gives the look of a sneaker. Oh, and it is the least expensive out of all the shoes out here. (if you want a tall rain boot, they also make them here).
Available at Zappos for $60.
Building off the popularity of their rubber shoes such as the Fitzsimmons (not pictured above), Native Shoes has expanded their line to include the Jimmy. Modeled after the style of the popular “duck boot,” the Jimmy has a one-piece rubber bottom and rip-stop upper. Don’t worry about the heel tab, this shoe is animal free! It is chock full of features – anti microbial lining, waterproof, washable, odor resistant, micro-fleece inner. Like all Native Shoes, you can buy these in every conceivable color – currently 11 different styles available. They are also reasonably priced!
Available at Urban Outfitters for $89.
Last but not least, we have the Hunter Brant boot. You may recognize this brand as the rain boot all the women are wearing nowadays. Fortunately they make something for us guys too. The Brant is a rugged, muscular work boot that looks good whether on the job site (unlikely) or the street (yeah, that’s more like it). The vulcanized rubber upper lends itself to an appearance of leather, a neat little trick. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any padding or insulation – just a nylon lining. But that may be better for some of you who don’t want to have their feet sweating.
Available at Zappos for $175.