It’s probably fair to say that the two most popular lace up boots for under $200 are Thursday Boot Company and Dr. Martens.
These two brands are both incredibly similar and incredibly different. Both inspired by military footwear, have grippy rubber soles, and even have the same water resistant “Goodyear welt” construction — except the way the companies go about building the product couldn’t be more different.
That all might sound confusing, but trust me: but by the time you finish this article, you’ll know everything there is to know about both companies so that you can make the decision as to which one is best for you.
Each respective brand offers an extensive catalogue of boots, but ultimately, who makes them better? For this comparison, we will look at the flagship 1460 from Dr. Martens and two models from Thursday: their most popular boot, the Captain, and their most Dr. Martens-like boot, the Titan.
Are Thursday Boots or Dr. Martens Better?
Got somewhere to be? Here’s the long and short of it.
- Thursday Boot Company has higher quality leather, more durable construction, and a wider variety of fits and boots.
- Dr. Martens have more colorful leathers, a more sneaker-like feeling underfoot, and is $30 cheaper.
If you love the look of a combat boot, Thursday’s Titan is the best analogue if you don’t mind a more matte leather. If you want a boot that feels more like a sneaker, Dr. Martens have a softer sole.
However, if you are comparing the brands because they’re well known, not because you’re married to the style of Dr. Martens, you should know Thursday’s boots fit better, have better leather, are easier to resole, and are more stable underfoot.
Thursday vs Dr. Martens: Where Are They Made?
- Dr Martens: Thailand
- Thursday: Mexico
Similarly, while Dr. Martens have their “made in England” label, 99 percent of the company’s boots are made in Asia, with the iconic 1460 made in Thailand.
To keep this comparison fair, I’ll only talk about the Mexican-made Thursdays and the Asian-made Docs, as these are the company’s most popular and recognizable models.
That’s why we’re not comparing the Made in England Doc Martens: like it or not, the Dr. Martens boot that defines the brand is the made-in-Asia one.
Thursday vs Dr. Martens: The Look
- Dr. Martens: bulky combat boot ideal for streetwear style
- Thursday Captain: sleek dress-work boot hybrid that dresses up and down easily, though best suited for tapered pants
- Thursday Titan: slightly less bulky combat boot well built for outdoorsy wear
Dr. Martens 1460
Dr. Marten’s 1460 needs no introduction. This 7-inch tall boot is the brand’s mascot and has been in production for over 60 years; the name 1460 actually comes from the date on which the boot was first made on January 4, 1960.
This classic 8-eyelet combat boot design has captured youth and punk rock culture for decades. Its serious silhouette and glossy black leather is contrasted by the playful yellow stitching and carefree, bouncy soles.
On the other hand, Thursday’s Captain is more minimalist. The 6-inch tall boot has elements of a dress and a work boot but overall, its monochromatic features make it less flamboyant the 1460. In other words, it’s less attention grabbing than the Docs, intended to be low profile and versatile, able to match with any outfit.
With Dr. Martens, there is no pretending you’re wearing anything else.
Thursday Boots also produces the Titan boot. The Titan combines elements of combat boots and rugged outdoor boots. In a way, it looks like the lovechild of the Captains and the 1460s. It has a more chunky toe than the Captain but it’s not quite as voluminous as the 1460, while the sole is chunkier and grippier than either, giving it a fuller, sturdier look.
The Captain is sleeker, lower profile, and has a flat sole.
The 1460, with its bulky last, 7-inch height, chunky sole, and glossy leather is more visually striking. The 1460 is still a fashionable boot, rather than something for braving the wilderness.
The Titan is more outdoorsy and grippy if you’re looking for something truly grippy and weatherproof.
Out of the three, the Captains are definitely the most versatile. It can be dressed up and down with most outfits. The Titan and the Doc Marten are more aggressively casual.
[Love Dr. Martens, but want something better made? Check out Solovair]
Thursday vs Dr. Martens: The Leather
- Thursday: Full grain leathers from Lefarc Tannery. Thicker and more sustainably made.
- Dr Martens: Thinner, corrected leathers from Argentina (maybe). Flimsy, but with more color variety.
The core part of a leather boot, of course, is the leather. The two brands make their boots out of very different leathers.
Dr. Marten’s Leather
- Available in 8+ leathers, including vegan options
- Corrected; the leather has been sanded down for a uniform appearance, reducing the thickness
- Glossy, though matte versions are available
Currently, the classic, high-shine 1460 comes in 8 different types of leather that include vibrant pinks, yellows, and whites.
Unfortunately, the source or tannery is unknown. When I called Dr. Martens, the representative was only able to tell us that the leather comes from “either South America or Asia”. Upon further research on their Australian website, I found a claim that one batch of leather is from Argentina. We can probably assume that the 1460’s leather is from South America.
As for the leather’s quality: it’s not great. It has a smooth, almost plastic texture to it owing to the leather being extremely corrected. This term means that the hide is sanded down in production to give it more of a uniform, flat look. It’s aesthetically appealing to some folks, but it makes the leather thin and not as structurally sound.
Wearing the boots on the street, I can feel the leather folding and flapping with movement. It’s flimsy, and won’t last as long as a thicker, full grain leather.
Thursday Boots’ Leather
- Available in 12+ leathers, including suedes, waxed flesh, and oil tanned options
- Full grain, 1.8 – 2.0mm thick
Thursday Boots are more transparent with their leather sources. Most of their Captains and Titans use leather from Lefarc Tannery in Mexico, with the suedes coming from Alfamex.
Something that you should know about Lefarc is that they are very environmentally sustainable. When leather is chrome tanned, like 99% of the stuff is, there’s the potential for causing damage to workers and local waterways — this is why I’m wary of the lack of transparency with Dr. Martens.
Lefarc has a clean tanning method that puts emphasis on water treatment, repurposing waste, harnessing solar power, and making sure there is social responsibility on the corporate level.
Do Dr. Martens or Thursday have better leather?
- Thursday’s leather is thicker and better quality
- Dr. Martens comes in a wider array of colors
In terms of transparency and sustainability, Thursday easily wins.
In terms of durability, Thursday wins again: they’re not as thick as some dedicated work boots, but their leather is thicker than the Docs.
For the sheer option of colors and variety, particularly if you’re after vegan boots, Dr. Martens takes the crown. (There are no pink Thursday boots, that’s for sure.)
That said, I’ve spoken with a lot of leatherworkers and shoemakers, and they all have voiced similar concerns about Dr. Martens’ leather: the correcting of the hides makes them less durable.
Overall, Thursday Boots uses better leather on their boots. But if you like color variety, Dr. Martens is the better choice.
[Related: Dr. Martens vs Timberland]
Thursday vs Dr. Martens: The Construction
- Both brands use Goodyear welt construction
- Dr. Martens is much harder to resole
- Dr. Martens has a cushier, softer sole
- Thursday’s Titan has the best grip, followed by the 1460 and the Captain
There are two main construction methods for footwear: cemented is the cheapest and most common, wherein the sole is basically glued to the upper. Practically every sneaker and inexpensive boot is cemented.
Then there’s the more sophisticated and expensive Goodyear welt, wherein the upper and sole aren’t attached to each other, they’re attached to a welt in between them. This makes the boot very water resistant and easy to resole.
Thursday Boots’ Construction
The Captains are Goodyear welted in the traditional sense, while the Titan has an extra water resistant version of the Goodyear welt called a storm welt.
In both cases, the uppers are attached to a vegetable tanned leather welt, then attached to the midsole and outsole. The midsole is leather, and there’s a layer of cork under the insole. This kind of natural, leather-and-cork construction is to be expected in quality, welted footwear: it’s easy for cobblers to work with and these materials conform to the shape of your foot with time, making for a boot that becomes more comfortable with each passing day.
As for the heel, the Captains have a stacked leather heel that is attached after the outsole has been stitched on. This modular way of building boots makes repairing the Captains easier and cheaper, since cobblers can just replace the part that is worn down: if the forefoot is fine but the heel’s wearing down, you can just replace a layer or two of the heel instead of the whole sole.
Dr. Martens’ Construction
Dr. Martens are Goodyear welted, but in a weird way that restricts the benefits.
First of all, instead of having a leather welt, the Docs use one made from PVC. PVC welts are not as durable and will likely only allow you to resole them once.
If that were the only difference between the two boots, Thursday would be the clear winner: you can resole a Thursday infinite times, while you’d be lucky to get two out of a Doc.
But there’s another issue: instead of stitching the outsole to the welt, Dr. Martens melts the two components together. While this creates a cohesive-looking boot and it makes it just about impossible for the outsole to detach… well, it makes it just about impossible for the outsole to detach. It’s extremely difficult to resole a Doc. Some cobblers specialize in it, but most won’t bother.
Dr. Martens are extremely hard to resole, Thursdays can be resoled infinite times.
Are Dr. Martens or Thursdays better made?
Dr. Martens are extremely hard to resole, Thursdays can be resoled infinite times. The natural materials in Thursday’s sole also means they form to your foot over time in a way that the synthetic Dr. Martens won’t.
Dr. Martens vs Thursday: The Comfort
- Thursday: Leather midsole and welt, cork filling
- Dr. Martens: PVC welt, rubber midsole
- Thursday: More stable underfoot
- Dr. Martens: More cushy underfoot
What is comfort? Comparing these two brands is difficult because each went in a totally different direction to try to make the most comfortable boot.
Thursday Boots’ Comfort
Thursday is made with layers of cork and leather that conform to the foot with time. This makes for a boot that eventually feels custom made to your foot. (Give it a few months, though!)
Where they differ from traditional boot brands is their addition of Poron, a shock absorbing foam on the insole. Commonly found on sneakers, the Poron adds a layer of softness underfoot that’s usually missing from boots made like your grandpa’s. As great as they are for long term comfort, cork and leather aren’t the best at absorbing shock.
It’s also important to note the presence of a shank in the Captain and the Titan. This is strip of hard material, usually metal (or leather or wood) inserted under the footbed between the heel and the midfoot. A shank is usually considered essential for any boot that has a heel because it stabilizes the boot when you walk in them. They also help the boots keep their shape through prolonged use.
Dr. Marten’s Comfort
The 1460s are softer underfoot, and despite the Poron in the Thursdays, the Docs have superior shock absorption. The sole is soft and squishy, feeling much more like a sneaker than a boot.
But the 1460 does not have a shank, or a layer of cork, or a layer of leather, instead being built with rubber and foam. The softness combined with the lack of a shank can be an issue for all day comfort.
For those who prefer stability, go with the Thursday Boots. For those who prefer the soft feeling of sneakers, go with Dr. Martens.
Are Dr. Martens or Thursdays more comfortable?
- Thursdays are more stable and have more precise sizing
- Dr. Martens are softer underfoot and absorb shock better
Here, we’re getting into tricky territory: what is comfort?
Interestingly, Docs were first created as a solution to orthopedic foot problems and age-related foot pain, with women over 40 being their primary market for their first decade of business.
Meanwhile, a lot of people find that boots that are more stable rather than soft are best for spending all day on their feet. This is why a lot of people wear boots instead of sneakers: they’re more stable and secure, resulting in less sore feet.
When people want a boot that feels more like a sneaker (like Dr. Martens), they’re missing a lot of what makes a boot a boot: something that secures the foot!
Obviously, foot pain is complicated and this isn’t medical advice. Some find that softer soles help their feet, others prefer more stable soles.
Not everyone prefers their boots to have such a high degree of bounce, so it is hard to say which is “better.” For those who prefer stability, go with the Thursday Boots. For those who prefer the soft feeling of sneakers, go with Dr. Martens.
Dr. Martens vs Thursday: The Sizing
- Dr. Martens: size down one whole size from your true size. (Probably 1.5 sizes from your sneaker size.)
- Thursday Boots: size down ½ from your true size.
- Only Thursday offers half sizes and wide widths (but not in the Titan boot)
Both brands advise you to size down: if your true size is 12, buy an 11.5 in Thursday and an 11 in Dr. Martens.
The problem is that Dr. Martens doesn’t offer half sizes or wide widths, a massive disadvantage for the brand. I happen to be a size 11.5 myself, and found the size 11 to be a little too big — but a size 10 would have been too small. It’s genuinely shocking that Dr. Martens don’t cater to some half of the planet’s population by not selling half sizes!
To help remedy this issue, Docs have a more shapeless, blobby fit. This is so that each size can fit more foot types. The result is a boot that doesn’t do a great job of fitting the foot.
Thursday does offer half sizes and, in the Captain boot, several leathers in wide widths. You can see in these pictures that the two contour the foot very differently: The Doc is wider, the Thursday is more foot shaped.
Thursday vs. Dr Martens: The Price
- Dr. Marten 1460: $170
- Thursday Boots: $199
The price points of both brands are very similar. Even though the Docs are $30 cheaper, I don’t feel this is a big enough difference to justify the lower quality of leather, construction, and fit.
Are Thursday Boots or Dr. Martens Better?
- Thursday has better leather, a better fit, and more durable construction
- Dr. Martens has more colors and a softer sole
Each boot occupies its own space: Thursday Boot Company’s Captain is directed at guys who want to dress more maturely, the Titan is for more outdoorsy wear, and the Dr. Martens is for a more ostentatious style.
If you like the look of Docs, you won’t like the look of Thursday. The closest you’ll get is the matte black Titan above.
But if the reason you’re comparing these two brands is simply because you’d like some more durable, weatherproof footwear and these are the two boot companies you’ve heard of, get some Thursdays.
if the reason you’re comparing these two brands is simply because you’d like some more durable, weatherproof footwear and these are the two companies you’ve heard of, get some Thursdays.
Docs are simply less durable and less versatile. Whichever Thursday you get it’ll fit you better, last longer, and be more wearable in more situations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Dr. Marten 1460s run big?
Yes. They run large. Size down one whole size from your Brannock size.
Are Dr. Marten 1460s made from real leather?
Yes, however, the leather used is heavily corrected, meaning it's smooth in appearance but relatively thin.
Where are Thursday Boots made?
They are proudly made in Mexico, although some models like the Vanguard are made in the USA.
Do Thursday Boots use real leather?
Yes. Thursday Boots use full grain leather, primarily from Lefarc Tannery in Mexico.