Review: White’s MP Service Boot Blends Toughness, Fashion and Comfort

White’s is a Spokane-based company with roots in West Virginia, where Otto White’s father and grandfather made calked boots for the logging industry before the Civil War. In 1902, Otto and his dad moved west to Spokane with the goal of making the best boots in the world. A modest goal, right?

The company is very well known for their trademark Smokejumpers, extremely serious shoes that are designed to be worn by firefighters, but they also have a few more fashion-focused lifestyle options. Of those, their MP Service Boot is their best known and most celebrated. The guys on Reddit’s goodyearwelt sub are constantly talking up this shoe and often mention it in the same sentence as Viberg and Alden.

There was no way I couldn’t try out these boots for myself.

(Note that in summer 2019, White’s changed the name of this boot from the MP Service Boot to the MP Sherman Boot. Without a toecap, it’s called the MP Stuart Boot.)

White’s MP Boot First Glance

  • Handmade
  • Thick waxes leather
  • Dainite sole
  • Toecap
  • Streamlined silhouette

“MP” stands for “Military Police” but these boots aren’t severe or militaristic, at least not in the black army boot way you might be thinking. They have a really classic, streamlined appearance to them and when you put them on, you feel like you’ve been transported to a simpler time in men’s boots. They’re handmade, hand sewn, hand lasted, hand welted, and hand bottomed.

There’s a single celastic toe box, meaning there’s an insert on the inside of the toe to help it keep its shape, and if you look closely it’s tougher than this slim silhouette might suggest. The leather is well over 2 millimeters thick, it’s got triple stitching along the counter and shaft and there’s quadruple stitching along the side of the vamp here and along the toecap.

So truthfully, while this may look like a daintier Iron Ranger it’s actually a very tough boot that just happens to be exceptionally good at fitting a foot’s natural shape, which is something I’ll talk about a more in the fit and sizing section below.

Whites Service Boot leather

White’s MP Boot Leather

  • Cinnamon waxed leather
  • Full grain leather
  • Wax helps to protect against elements
  • Doesn’t scratch very easily

Right now this boot is available in nine different kinds of leather, including a few Chromexcels — there’s even a burgundy that I briefly considered getting — but to be honest, I’m a little tired of owning so many Chromexcel boots and felt like doing with something different. When I saw that the most popular version on Reddit was the Cinnamon Waxed Flesh, I decided to pull the trigger.

White’s told me on the phone that this isn’t a roughout leather, it’s full grain leather, but it definitely is roughout. I think they were just trying to distinguish from their oil tanned leathers. So this is a pretty subtle kind of roughout, which is the underside of the leather. Basically, it’s when you take the leather and turn it inside out. It’s best known for its waxy finish, like a really waxy finish. I’ve called leather waxy before, but both the boot and the laces literally smell like they’ve been dipped in a candle and they’ve got a sheen to match.

Whites Service Boot two dangling

It’s worth emphasizing that the picture on their site makes this look quite a bit smoother than the boot you get. What you get is a mottled, light brown boot that shimmers in sunlight and hides scratches a lot better than a smooth leather would. While I was a little surprised at how rough it was, Cinnamon Waxed Flesh deserves its reputation as a distinctive, refreshing leather.

Plus, all that wax makes them pretty damn tough for outdoor boots.

Whites Service Boot care

Cinnamon Waxed Flesh Leather Care

  • White’s sells their own products
  • Leather preservative for more heavy duty wear
  • Keep clean with saddle soap

Now, this wax can wear away if you don’t take care of it properly. When I spoke with White’s they said you can use Saddle Soap to keep it clean, though if you’d rather not spring for that you’d probably be fine using a wet cloth. In either case, you do want to make sure they stay relatively clean between wears because stagnant dirt can mess with the finish.

Whites sells their own Boot Oil and Boot Preservative on their site. They told me you can use either; the preservative has beeswax and will help protect it against mildew and salt, while the oil is a bit more of a conditioner that will help keep it soft. But don’t use it too much — no more than once a month.

Whites Service boot sole

Whites MP Boot Sole

  • Dainite outsole
  • Good mixture of grip, flexibility, durability
  • Hand welted sole
  • Leather shank

This outsole is Dainite, a rubber that’s very common in pricier boots like Viberg and Oak Street along with mid range boots like Allen Edmonds and some offerings from Taft. It comes from an English company that’s been making it for about a hundred years and it performs really well: it’s medium density and offers a really good mixture of grip, flexibility, durability and shock absorption, all while maintaining a pretty low profile that makes it welcome in both dress and casual boots.

Some people complain that they’re not quite soft enough to stand in all day long if you’re using them as workboots, but as a compromise between all those qualities, it’s universally adored by boot aficionados.

When I spoke to White’s, they described this shoe as “hand welted and hand sewn” which is responsible for the higher price. While Goodyear welts are done on a machine, this is made by hand — that’s what they tell me anyway — but it’s meant to be equally as easy to resole as a Goodyear welt.

Whites Service Boot toe cap

After the Dainite there’s a leather midsole, a leather insole, and a leather shank, which is interesting. The midsole is 10 iron leather, which refers to the weight and size of the leather (some people have called it 6 iron, but on the phone they told me it’s 10). The shank is 11 to 12 iron leather, so it’s even stiffer. Most people use steel shanks, or maybe fiberglass, but it’s pretty rare for someone to find leather tough and thick enough to work as a shank.

But Whites pulled it off. The arch support is incredible with this boot and all that leather makes the sole feel relatively soft as well, but in a good way.

And the comfort?

Whites Service Boot tip toes

Whites MP Service Boot Fit & Sizing

  • 4 widths available
  • Built of Barrie last
  • Contours the foot
  • Very comfortable
  • Great arch support

These are available in a wide variety of widths: B, C, D and EE. I ordered a half size down to get an 11D, which fit well.

I mean really well. This is built on what’s called the Barrie last, which is actually used a lot on dress shoes, but what’s really going on is a design from Whites that they call Arch Ease Support. This is meant to duplicate the natural contour of your foot and I’ve got to say, they’ve done a fantastic job. It doesn’t just support my arch, my instep also feels supported without anything being too tight.

White’s absolutely knocked it out of the park. This is a very rare kind of fit.

[Learn more in my ultimate guide to how boots should fit.]

Whites Service Boot rear

White’s Service Boot Price

A pair of these boots will cost you $560 but they are cheaper if you’d rather get them without a toecap. They can be a little cheaper if you get them from Baker’s Shoes, Triple Aught Design, and Mannan & Renz. (Thanks to William Taylor on YouTube for pointing that out.) But that’s pretty darn expensive, and it’s definitely the biggest “con” against these shoes. I should note that I seldom hear people really complain about the cost because they really are extraordinarily well made boots, but let’s be honest, whenever boots cost over $500 the average person will quickly stop paying attention.

While I’m talking about the purchasing process I should mention that between clicking “buy” and receiving the boots in my mailbox I waited 5 weeks for them to arrive, so that’s another potential downside. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of people love the idea of boots being made for you after you make the purchase, but if you’re the kind of person who only realizes they need boots on the first day of fall, you might not like the fact that fall will be half over before you get them.

 

Whites Service Boot akimbo

White’s Service Boot Pros and Cons

White’s Boots Pros

  • Very comfortable
  • Relatively versatile
  • Tough leather
  • Water resistant
  • Great quality control

White’s Boots Cons

  • Pricy
  • Long order time
  • Folds along laces
  • 270-degree welt
  • No speed hooks

Whites Service Boot dangle

I really liked these shoes. They contour my foot perfectly, the arch support is great, the leather is tough yet attractive, they’re water resistant, they can be resoled, and they’re versatile.

The main downsides are the cost, the wait time, the boots wrinkle along the laces (they don’t fit the foot perfectly from the outside) and there are no speed hooks so I confess they’re a little annoying to get on and off.

If you can stomach all that, these boots look great and feel even better.

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Nick

By day: Manhattan-based journalist with reporting experience on four continents, published in Vice, Men's Health, Popular Science, and a bunch of other places.By night: ravenous consumer of anything and everything related to high end men's boots.Stridewise is where I nurture a maniacal obsession with footwear and share my findings. Say hey: [email protected]

16 thoughts on “Review: White’s MP Service Boot Blends Toughness, Fashion and Comfort”

  1. Hey! Love your content and writing strike, just had a quick question.

    Viberg vs Whites: which do you consider better and how do they differ?

    Relative to the service boots offerings from both manufacturers.

    • Hey thanks Juan! I just like White’s more, they fit better, the arch support is better, there are more widths available, all that stuff. Enjoy!

  2. Very informative and detailed review. I did not know the welt was only 270 vs 360. Much appreciated. Decided to go with these over OSB Trench.

  3. Wonderful review. I am strongly considering a pair now or beginning of summer. How much wear did your boots have when you reviewed them in this video? I want to get an idea of how the waxed cinnamon will wear.

  4. Very informative review, thanks. Would you say that these are far more comfortable (long walks ) overall than Thursday’s Captains , assuming fit is right ? Do they fit similar to Thursdays?

    • The fit is more supportive, but the Thursday has better shock absorption, so it’s a bit of a toss up. But if you’re willing to buy either I’d probably go with White’s. They are designed for folks on their feet all day.

  5. Thank you for the meticulous review, Nick! I’m curious– how does the weight of these boots compare to other boots, say the 1000 mile or iron ranger?

  6. I don’t have MP boots, I have 12″ tall sharp toe Cowboy Packers.
    These are by far the coolest boots known to man ! My opinion of course.
    But White’s makes some bad ass boots.
    That shank ? You can work all day on a ladder and your arch won’t hurt they support so well.
    I stand on concrete most days and they rock on a muddy job site too.
    Figure the cost…I’ve had one pair for over 20 years. 15 years in I bought a 2nd pair to wear while the first were rebuilt. Now spread $500+ over 20 years daily wearing in metal shops and job sites. They get cheaper if you think about it like that.
    Plus these are the only shoe I’ve ever worn were a dude on a jobsite, total stranger asked out of the blue, those Whites boots ?
    They give you some cred. My boots look like I walked out of a Sergio Leone movie.
    They are just that cool. This is way before city folk started goin nuts about the LL Bean boots.

  7. Hey Nick,

    just want to say thanks for the amazing work you do on this website. I was looking for a review about the Redwing Iron Rangers. Found your website and started browsing through your other reviews. I didn’t even know there are so many amazing boots out there.
    Just ordered my White’s MPs after seeing how much you like them.

    • Hey Tristan, thanks so much for the kind words, glad to know I’m not shouting into a void here! White’s are the best, I’m so happy to have led you to them 🙂 Hope you enjoy them.

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