Parkhurst’s Elmwood Review | Women’s Chelsea Boots Made Sustainably

I tend to be a very particular shopper, and when it comes to boots, I can be difficult to impress. As a fashionista, anything I buy must have the right silhouette and sleekness to wear with what the kids might call “a ‘fit.” But I also know that I wear my boots hard, and therefore need them to be both comfortable and incredibly durable. I’m the kind of girl who’s looking for a boot that she can wear again and again and again.

I’ve been hunting for the perfect chunky black boots for a while, and I was pleased to see a pair on the Parkhurst website. When I saw the Elmwood Chelsea boots, I already knew I liked the style and was excited to see that they’re resoleable and made from eco-friendly, vegetable tanned leather.

They did not disappoint. The minute I pulled these babies on, I fell in love. 

parkhurst women's chelsea boot review elmwood

Sustainable and Resoleable
Parkhurst's Elmwood Chelsea

This small, independent brand only recently branched out into women's boots – and made a comfortable, resoleable offering that'll have years more mileage than your typical women's boot.

Check Best Price See the Brown Leather
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Parkhurst Elmwood Pros and Cons

Got somewhere to be? Here are the pros and cons of this hardy women’s boot.

The Pros

  • Resoleable Goodyear welt construction
  • Water-resistant
  • Rare, old world leather that ages wonderfully
  • Super-comfy Vibram sole
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Timeless, essential style

The Cons

  • Heavy feeling on the foot; these might not be ideal for someone who likes a lighter feel
  • The sizing is on the larger side
  • Pricey

parkhurst women's chelsea boots model

How Parkhurst Made The Elmwood

Whether manufactured in the U.S. or Spain, Parkhurst footwear is always designed to last. Not only does the brand focus on quality materials and impeccable construction, but they also design their own lasts, patterns, and moldings to create the absolute perfect fit. The idea is to create a tailored shoe that fits well and performs well, for a long time. And because Parkhurst uses Goodyear welt construction, their boots can be resoled and repaired to further extend their life and lessen their environmental impact. Now that’s sustainable fashion.

The Elmwood boots are sleek and stylish, yet rugged and durable. They may look like just another pair of black Chelsea boots, but when you put them on, you feel the difference. The detail and effort that Parkhurst has put into the fit make the Elmwood an absolute closet staple.

parkhurst elmwood women's boots

Parkhurst Elmwood Fit and Sizing

  • Order usual size

I found that the Elmwood boots fit perfectly to size—for a boot. If I purchased a pair of sneakers with as much room as these have in the toebox, I would not be happy. But as these are boots that I will be wearing with socks, the fit is exactly spot on! For reference, I’m a pretty consistent size 8 in women’s shoes.

The Elmwood Chelsea boots are made on a modified version of Parkhurst’s 602 last, which Stridewise has written about in the past. The 602 last has a roomier toebox and a more tapered heel and arch, giving the Elmwood a snug fit with plenty of support.

Personally, I really appreciate that extra room in the toebox, as I prefer to wear my boots with thicker socks. I also tend to walk around town all day, which means that my feet will swell and take a lot of impact. Having some room for my foot to expand but still having that support in the arch makes these boots great for walking. I even took the risk of walking in them for half a day on my first wear. They felt supportive, fit perfectly, and started breaking in right away.

Another thing that I love about the fit of the Elmwood boots is the flexible Gore-Tex weave in the ankle. I have an old pair of leather Chelsea boots that I love, but the elastic goring is totally stretched out and sagging to the point where they almost fall right off my feet. The Elmwoods are crafted using a tighter Gore-Tex weave than usual, which ensures your ankle stays sturdily in place. This did make it a bit difficult to pull these on at first, but Parkhurst thought of that, too, placing strong woven tabs at both the front and back of the ankle.

The snug fit in the ankle makes me feel super secure and oddly powerful when I wear these boots — like I can do anything!

parkhurst women's chelsea boot elmwood
Well worn.

Parkhurst Elmwood’s Vegetable Tanned Leather

  • Vegetable tanned; the all natural, millennia-old way of making leather
  • Tanned with pure olive oil for suppleness
  • Hardier than most (chrome-tanned) leathers, but break in was minimal

One thing that really excited me about these boots is the vegetable tanned leather. Both the upper and lining leather in the Elmwoods are made from veg-tanned leather, and it both looks and feels fantastic. Parkhurst’s tanning technique utilizes olive oil to create a soft and supple material that is more eco-friendly. Why is vegetable tanned leather sustainable? It doesn’t use the pollutants and heavy metals of chrome-tanned leather, so it has a lighter impact on workers and the environment when compared to the legions of poorly regulated chrome tanneries churning out cheap leather.

review parkhurst elmwood women's chelsea boot

The other thing I love about veg-tanned leather is that it develops a lovely patina. That means that over time, my boots will soften and show all the beautiful marks of a shoe well-loved. Parkhurst uses full-grain leather, which means that while the leather is slightly sanded down for smoothness, it still retains a nice thickness and a slight texture from the natural leather grain.

The full-grain, veg-tanned leather looks sleek and stylish while still giving the Elmwood boots a ton of durability and longevity.

parkhurst elmwood women's chelsea boot review

Parkhurst Elmwood Sole and Construction

  • Grippy Vibram outsole
  • Resoleable and water resistant Goodyear welt construction
  • Heavier and less flexible than less durable construction you might be used to

Now for my favorite aspect of these boots! The Elmwoods are constructed with Goodyear welts, which makes them really water-resistant, comfortable, and sustainable. Goodyear welt construction means that instead of gluing or “cementing” them together, the sole and the upper are instead attached to a leather “welt” that sits in between the two layers. Parkhurst fills the gap between the sole and the upper with natural cork, which provides additional cushion and comfort.

Why is Goodyear welt construction more durable and sustainable? It creates a tight, water-resistant seal that keeps feet dry, and it allows the boots to be resoled and repaired for years to come. As I said, I’m the kind of girl who likes to wear her shoes over and over again, and I’ll personally always prefer a tried-and-true favorite over something shiny and new. If you love a closet staple that looks and feels great for a long time, then Goodyear welt construction is really the way to go!

Goodyear welt construction means that when I inevitably wear through the soles, I can still get my boots resoled and continue wearing them. Even better, the Vibram soles on Parkhurst’s Elmwood boots mean that it’ll likely take years before I even get to that point! Vibram soles were originally made for mountaineering, so they have excellent grip and tread, and they’re completely waterproof.

The soles on the Elmwoods are thick, flexible, and can easily take a full day of stomping around the city sidewalks or mucking about in the garden—trust me, I’ve worn them for both. I recently entered my 30s, and let me tell you that a cushy, shock-absorbing Vibram sole really makes a difference when it comes to comfort and practicality. 

[Related: The Best Women’s Boots That’ll Actually Last]

parkhurst chelsea boot women

Parkhurst Elmwood Price

  • $388

They are definitely an investment, but one that will keep giving you returns for a long time! When you compare that with a pair of sneakers that wears out after a season or two, you quickly realize that resoleable boots are actually the economical choice. (Especially when you remember that aged boots look way better than aged sneaks.)

Sustainable and Resoleable
Parkhurst's Elmwood Chelsea

This small, independent brand only recently branched out into women's boots – and made a comfortable, resoleable offering that'll have years more mileage than your typical women's boot.

Check Best Price See the Brown Leather
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

parkhurst elmwood chelsea women's mahogany

Wrapping Up

Between durability and sustainability, Parkhurst’s Elmwood Chelsea boot is a worthy investment. It’s clear how much attention to detail, craft, and quality the brand is putting into each pair of boots they make. All in all, I can confidently say I’ve found my go-to chunky black boot. You can expect to see me in these for the next decade or so!

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Faye is a writer and strategist who’s dedicated to environmental justice.She helps for-profit and non-profit brands define, communicate, and show up for their values through content and positive impact strategies.She has worked alongside sustainable brands, organizations, and influencers for over a decade providing copywriting, ghostwriting, and content marketing services, including managing and consulting on strategy for blogs, social media, influencer partnerships, and give-back programs.Faye has written extensively about plants, food, fashion, beauty, cannabis, activism, wellness, and slow living.

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