In Review: Wolverine Centennial 1000 Mile Boot



Front View

A little while back I was looking to expand my boot collection to include a workwear-inspired boot I could wear with most casual clothes.

What I was looking for was solid build construction (goodyear welt, consistent stitching, substantial leather quality), an aesthetically pleasing last in either cap toe or plain toe, and to pay about the same as many people pay for a pair of Cole Haans (at significantly higher quality). 

What I found is that there are quite a few competitors in this price segment, but you can weed out many based on those requirements above. Two names consistently get mentioned more than any other: Wolverine and Red Wing Heritage. Red Wing Heritage has a great line of boots, of which the Beckman and the Iron Ranger are among the most popular (they also make a version for J. Crew with slightly different specifications). Wolverine has a tried and true winner in their 1000 Mile line, despite also making a cheaper line of boots that prompts a lot of inquiring people to ask "are these the Made in America ones or the cheap China ones?" However, on their 100th anniversary, they released a Centennial version sourced American bison leather in both brown and tan. Last year when Bloomingdales ran its tiered sale, I was able to get my hands on the tan version for a little over $200.

Top Down View

Side View

Materials and Construction

The tan buffalo upper (sourced from the renowned Horween) is similar in color to other makers' tan/walnut. It is quite a definitely more pliable and soft in hand out of the box than most other boots I've felt, and it should almost go without saying that the quality of leather from Horween is fantastic. However, the pebbled nature of the surface and the shade of tan are certainly not for everyone. Thickness of the leather is on par with my AE's, which is to say, very good.  On the medial/inner side of the right boot, you can also see some slight natural creasing that you can't make out on most at most angles. There is a heel pad of bison leather as well. The laces finish with three pairs of speed hooks, a detail that I love for quick lacing.  With other boots sometimes I feel like I'm lacing up for years.

Stitching is generally okay with a few wandering lines I don't like, and they're certainly not as meticulous as my AE's. The welt stitching is pretty even, and there are a lot of lines that are double or triple stitched. There are a couple loose ends at random points, which shouldn't affect the boot structurally, but obviously are not ideal. On a dressier boot or something at a higher price point like Aldens or Vibergs it would annoy me. As it is, and given the style of the boot, I don't mind as much but it should be mentioned.

The sole is leather with a rubber heel. Personally, I think it would have been more fitting to put a mini lug on the whole thing or a dainite sole - I think an all-around boot should be able to handle a mild puddle or two without having to be put away, but that is a question of personal preference more than what is right or wrong.


Rear View

Sizing and Fit

I wear an 8D in most dress shoes (much of my collection being Allen Edmonds), and my Allen Edmonds boots are in 8D as well. The Original Chippewas I briefly had in my possession were in 8D, which were probably a full size bigger than what would have fit me in thick thick socks (no 7 or 7.5 was available at the time). I ordered the 1000 Mile in both 7D and 7.5D based on sizing recommendations for other 1000 Mile boots. I have heard that the Centennial version was built on a different last than the regular 1000 Mile, but I haven't found an official confirmation of such.  Putting the 7.5D on I was initially a bit worried they were too small. The width was fine, but I have a high instep and felt the tongue squeezing me a bit. After I loosened the laces a bit they felt much better (wearing medium weight socks). Walking there is a touch of heel slip, and the flex point seems to line up well w/ the wide point of the boot.  After a couple months now, the boots feel great. 

One particular issue that affects me having smaller sized feet is that its easy to make my feet look stubby, especially when under the cuff.  Given that work-inspired boots tend to have a more bulbous style toe, this combination can often kill the entire look for me. Luckily, the 1000 Mile has a surprisingly svelte toe box, and cuts a good line in profile and from above. Compared to Original Chippewa boots I tried on, the toe box on the 1000 Mile has a much better shape. It also seems to have a slimmer toe box than the much-vaunted Red Wing Iron Ranger.

Fit Pic Front

Fit Pic

Fit Pic Side View

Fit PIc Rear View

Impressions and Value

The 1000 Mile series and the Red Wing Heritage line are the gold standard in the mid-tier workwear range. This version of the 1000 Mile is a nice twist on the original tried-and-true model. Like the standard model, this version is also fairly versatile and something you could pair with most casual Americana outfits.

The Centennial 1000 Mile Boot combines a beautiful, yet probably polarizing leather variant in a time-tested build and silhouette. The Centennial 1000 Miles are listed at $400, which I would not have paid for them. The Wolverine site shop currently has them for $260. At a discount, I think they are a decent to good buy at $200-225, and a very good value at <$200.

This pricing strategy recommendation generally reflects the standard Wolverine 1000 Mile boot collection and Red Wing Heritage line as well. For instance, J. Crew has been known to discount their Red Wing for J. Crew line by an extra 50%, and Sierra Trading Post occasionally will post the 1000 Mile range on deep discount, putting both of these lines under $200 recently and closer to $140. I would recommend if you are interested in getting a pair at the lowest price possible to either set a bookmarked page in your size and check it in the morning, set a page monitor, or check posts like reddit/r/FrugalMaleFashion.  It may seem like a bit of work, but once you're in the habit of looking it could save you upwards of $100-200 on something people often pay full price for.

**Retrospective 1/23/17** - So it's been about a year and a half since I bought these boots, and given that I still see these posted around every now and again I thought it may be helpful to give some updated thoughts, especially as I've picked up some other footwear in the interim at various price points. The boots are still holding up well, and I think have benefited from picking up a little age and wear. I stand by my original statement that the construction is not quite up to my Allen Edmonds, and I would add Red Wing in there as well, though the difference is not huge.

There's no question that the Centennial models are polarizing, specifically in regard to the bison leather, which has a looser grain and, in this case, found in a shade of walnut. Whereas just a few years ago walnut was hailed as a very versatile color, groupthink these days judges it to be less so (with which I would agree). What I would say is: buy what you like. If you see the boots and don't like the look, I doubt that will change and I wouldn't spend more time on it. There are plenty of worthy boots out there to consider. But if you do like them, go for it, especially now. You can occasionally find them for extremely deep discounts (<$100, though $150 is more common), which represents a great value if they appeal to you.

Things I Liked
Good leather quality and general quality of materials
Overall solid construction
Versatile casual boot

Things I Didn't Like
Leather sole on a workwear boot
Too expensive at MSRP
Stitching and attention to detail okay, but not exemplary

Others to Consider in this Range

Wolverine 1000 Mile (Original model)
Red Wing Heritage (Iron Ranger, Beckman)
Woolrich Yankee
Original Chippewa

*10/16/2015 Updated post w/ Liked/Didn't Like summaries
*1/23/2017Updated with retrospective
Collection
Also Pictured (Left to Right): Allen Edmonds Dalton Chocolate Calf, Allen Edmonds Eagle County Made to Order

Collection




 

Comments

  1. Thanks for the review!

    I agree with all pros and cons you said.

    I am trying to get rid of the boots because of the leather soles and fit. It feels narrow for me on a 8.5 and long on a 9. I wear 8.5 on Red wings Iron Ranger and Chippewa.

    Though the quality of the top leather is great, I still don't want leather soles on this kind of shoes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One thing I never thought about when starting my boot collection is the value of having a rubber sole on a workboot. It's the reason I've almost bought the RW Beckmans many times, if I didn't already have "too many" (my wife's words, not mine).

      I hear you on the sizing frustrations. Though these worked for me fine, I've had plenty of times where I couldn't get the right fit and had to resign myself to the fact that maybe it just wasn't meant to be. Easier to solve on models with different widths, but as far as I know most of these workboots don't come in many widths. Thanks for the thoughts.

      Delete
  2. been buying most of my boots on ebay and grailed used. do have some purchased new. i collect vintage styles. red wing boots used, often last longer than others do purchased new.
    i have four pairs of wolverines, including chukkas and krause models. the krause is much sturdier looking. i also collect mason, knapp and weinbrenner. recently bought a pair of weinbrenner boy scout boots. the soles on those babies are terrifying to look at. i guess thats why they say a scout is always prepared. i think our shoes tell history, every mark on our boots has a story to tell. tell that story proud.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well said. Thanks for the thoughts.

      Delete
  3. One solution to your 'cons' list is to go with the Wolverine Evans style, which is the 1000 mile boot with rubber sole. Nordstrom just marked them down from $400 msrp to $240 on sale. Nordstrom Rack has green pairs for under $200. Worth a look.

    ReplyDelete

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