In an industry of hundred-year-old brands, Thursday Boot Company is one of the newest and most talked about boot companies out there. When they were students, founders Connor Wilson and Nolan Walsh encountered a problem many of you have probably experienced: good boots are really expensive.
And cheap boots fall apart too easily.
And work boots are too clunky for the office, and fashion boots can be too dainty and feminine.
Sensing a gap in the market, the two launched the direct to consumer Thursday Boot Company with the goal of delivering the perfect hybrid boot at a low mark-up.
Today they sell a wide variety of men’s and women’s boots, dress shoes, and accessories, almost all of which cost under two hundred dollars. Do they really stand up to the test? Two years ago I ordered a pair of their most popular boots, the Captain boot, to find out.
- Those who value versatility; this is a new hybrid of dress and work boot that looks great with just about any outfit.
- People who want great value; at under $200, this is far and away the best price for a resoleable boot.
- Guys who prize longevity and durability; this boot can be resoled an infinite number of times.
- Folks who focus on comfort; this is a rare boot that’s made with sneaker-like shock absorbing foam in the footbed.
- People who like a lot of choices; there are over a dozen different leathers available,
- Those who prefer American made boots; for that, check out the company’s Vanguard.
- Anyone who needs a seriously heavy duty work boot or hiking boot; this is more of a city boot, although it is very weather resistant.
- Guys who want to try before they buy; this is a direct to consumer company, so you need to have them delivered before you can try them. That said, they have free delivery and exchanges, so it’s not too risky.
- Innovative “hybrid” of a dress boot and work boot
- Handsome, low profile silhouette
- Stacked leather heel
- Rich, full grain leather available in over a dozen colors
In an effort to make this review as useful as possible, I got their most generic color: “Brown,” also known as “Thursday Chrome.” What I love about it is that it has hints of burgundy, and that subtle red undercurrent makes it the rare kind of brown that can also work with black/grey color palettes.
The leather is approximately 1.8 millimeters thick, about 0.4mm thinner than you’ll find in more chunky workhorse-y boots like the Red Wing Iron Ranger but thicker than the 1.0 millimeter leather uppers you might find on a dress shoe.
A distinguishing feature is the toecap, but these aren’t your dad’s work boots. The silhouette is streamlined with a sleeker toe box, making for a very sensible-looking boot that can work with an old t-shirt and jeans or with a pair of slacks. They’d certainly be at home in a business casual environment, where they’d fit far more comfortably than Red Wings or Wolverines with their bulbous, informal toe boxes.
It’s an understated boot, but the simplicity works in its favor. The brass, double backed washers and flat wax laces add to the clean look, there’s a full 360-degree Goodyear welt that’s subtle and almost blends right into the vamp, and there’s a low-profile studded rubber sole. The sole is custom made by Thursday Boots, so it doesn’t have the long-standing reputation of Vibram or Dainite, but after years of wear I’d say the Thursdays perform just as effectively, holding up remarkably well in inclement weather.
Handsome and understated were my first impression, but the best thing? No quality control issues. I remember reading a few wry Reddit post about Thursday Boots’ lack of QC in their initial Kickstarter days, which I confess made me a little skeptical. (Although you’ve always got to take Reddit commentary with a grain of salt.) When I got my Captains, I scoured them with a fine toothed comb: no loose threads, no loose grain, no welting issues, not even any discoloration. That scored big marks right out of the gate, since I’ve come to expect QC issues of boots three times this price.
[Related: My list of The Best Boots]
Thursday Captain Boot Leather
- Combination tanned; has the vibrance of chrome tanned leather with durability of vegetable tanned
- Great color consistency
- 1.8-2.0 millimeters thick
- Works well in dressy and informal environs, but for more heavy duty leather check out Thursday’s “Rugged and Resilient” leathers
So what the heck is Thursday Chrome? My Brown boots are made with a custom-developed, full grain leather that’s strikingly similar to Horween’s Chromexcel®, which I’d call the most beloved American boot leather. Chromexcel takes 28 days to make and is jam-packed with oils and greases, including beef tallow and beeswax, to imbue it with a particularly rich luster and depth of color. That process is called “hot stuffing” and while Horween’s recipe is proprietary, Thursday clearly does something very similar with their Chrome.
One hundred percent of their leather comes from Tier 1 United States cattle, and it’s processed at Lefarc tannery in the leather hub of León, Mexico. Lefarc won a gold medal from Leather Working Group in 2009, was named one of the two best tanneries in the Americas by World Leather Magazine in 2013, and they process leather for a wide variety of American boot companies — I actually visited them for a fun series of videos in 2021.
The leather is very consistent in appearance, but if you like boots because the way they develop character, be patient:
After a couple of weeks of wear, my shoes did indeed develop character and light creases and began to look well loved, while certainly remaining handsome enough for more dressed up wear. Again, this is particular to the Brown leather; many of their leathers, like the Terracotta in the video above, are better suited for casual wear and dramatic patina. This leather ages just right: they got character, but not scars.
The “Rugged and Resilient” line of leathers is worth emphasizing, here, especially as the company’s most popular leathers — Arizona Adobe and Black Matte — fall under this category. These are oil tanned leathers, meaning they’ve been imbued with a variety of oils that help to keep the leather hydrated and weather resistant. Initially a one off, the Rugged and Resilient line has become the model’s most popular options and they cost the same as any of the others, so consider one of those picks if you really want to put your boots through the ringer and you’re less interested in a pair that can be worn business casual.
Thursday Captain Boot Leather Care
- Condition once or twice per year
- Rub with a clean, dry rag
- Apply Cobbler’s Choice or similar product
- Buff with horsehair brush
You should know that to develop the look of beautiful, well loved leather that every guy loves, your boots need a little moisturizing now and then — just like the skin on your face. Here’s what you need to do:
- First, rub them down with a clean, dry rag.
- Then dab some leather balm on the rag and work it into all their creases. (Thursday recommends Cobbler’s Choice, which I’ve reviewed.)
- Once you’ve worked the balm into all the creases, gently wipe the boot down until there’s just a thin film of balm on the shoe.
- Buff it with a horsehair brush, let them dry for ten minutes, and they’re good to go.
How often you should condition the boots depends on how often you wear them, but I think twice a year is a good idea if they’re getting a lot of use. Meanwhile, the company insists the Rugged and Resilient line needs no care at all.
Thursday Captain Boot Sole
- Rubber outsole
- Cork-bed midsole
- Anti-fatigue steel shank
- Soft leather lining
- Dura EVA comfort strip
I mentioned the nifty, studded rubber outsole and after a lot of wear I found it offered excellent traction, as expected. It looks a lot like the popular Dainite sole, seen on countless boots over $350, but Thursday makes their own rubber that works just as well. I wore these during several particularly grueling storms and didn’t once find myself skittering into a gutter, as I have with other brands.
Sure, those studs might not be quite as “classic” as a smooth leather sole, but it’s grippier while remaining pretty low profile.
The sole is secured to the boot with a classic 360-degree Goodyear welt, widely considered the best way to construct a boot. In short, the leather upper and the sole, instead of being attached to each other, are attached to a strip of leather called a welt. This makes them water resistant and easy to resole. Unlike some bulkier boots, the outsole don’t form an especially chunky “shelf” around the upper — it’s neat, sleek, and contributes to their ability to be dressed up.
After the outsole there’s a cork-bed midsole, an anti-fatigue steel shank for arch support, soft leather lining on the inside, and their secret sauce: the “Dura EVA” comfort strip. This is the key to Thursday’s famous comfort. Often used in athletic shoes, the EVA comfort strip has been updated and upgraded many times throughout several iterations of their boots. Today it’s called a custom made Dura EVA comfort strip, which Thursday says has a bit more bounce than older models.
Thursday Captain Boot Sizing & Comfort
- Size down to the nearest half size; probably half a size down from your sneaker size
- Widths come in “standard” (D/E) or “wide” (EE/EEE)
- Cork mid-sole/EVA foam combo takes a few wears to break in
I’m between 11.5 and 12 on a Brannock device and while all my sneakers are 12, almost all of my boots are 11, because it’s super common for boots to run large. But in the Captain, I’m a roomy 11.5 — I suspect I’d be a perfect 11.2 if they made it, which is exactly half a size down from my Brannock sizing.
In short: size down to the nearest half size.
They’re available in two widths, and the approach here is a little unusual. From narrow to wide, boot widths go B, C, D (this is normal), E, EE, and EEE. Thursday threw all that out the window, offering just two widths: Standard, for D or E widths, and Wide for EE or EEE widths.
Many customers who wear EE widths have had success ordering ½ size larger to accommodate their feet for footwear in our Standard width. Similarly, many customers who purchase C widths have had success ordering ½ size smaller to accommodate their feet for footwear in our Standard width.
Thursday sells direct to consumer so it’s tough to try before you buy, but they’ve got free shipping and returns anywhere in the U.S., so you shouldn’t feel nervous about accidentally getting the wrong width or size.
As for comfort, the leather and sole broke in easily, but foam + cork combo did take a few wears to conform to my feet. The first time I wore these boots, it felt a little like I was walking on sand.
Be patient. All my concerns melted away as the insole and midsole molded to the shape of my foot and ultimately left me feeling like I was wearing a sneaker.
Thursday Captain Boot Price
The Captain and practically all of their boots are $199 on both their official site and Amazon, a ridiculous steal for the quality and comfort.
Given the quality of the materials and the construction, they are offering an exceptional deal. I doubt they could be making much profit on these boots with their current prices, but as a consumer, I can’t say I’m complaining much.
Thursday Captain Boot: To Buy or Not to By?
These boots have full grain leather from American cows, Goodyear welts, extreme versatility, good grip, surprising durability, and irresistible comfort. I’ve really put these through the ringer and while they’re not unmarked, I’m very impressed by how much punishment they could take while looking relatively well cared for.
The main criticisms I can see someone having are that these aren’t really the boots you’d want for hiking or outdoor work, the insole and midsole isn’t the good old fashioned leather and cork used by the legacy brands, and since they sell direct to consumer, you can’t try them on for size before buying them. (But again, returns are free, so I wouldn’t sweat it.)
While nothing is perfect, no other boot in the industry has impressed me the way the Captain has. The construction, durability, design, comfort, brand, and above all the price have completely seduced me.
A lot of critics look at Thursday’s price tag and warn, “You’ll get what you pay for.” With the Captain, you get much, much more.
Thursday Captain FAQ
Here are the most frequently asked questions from guys looking to buy Thursday’s Captain boot.