Alden Indy Boots Review: Almost Worth It

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by  William Barton | Last Updated: 

If it was good enough for Indiana Jones, it should be good enough for you, right? Well, not so fast.

In this Alden Indy boot review, I’m taking a closer look at the Alden 405 to see whether this boot is actually worth it.

Review Feature Image/Icon Image source: The Alden Shop

Alden Indy

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Bottom line: The Alden Indy is extremely comfortable, and it’s hard to explain, but the combination of the shape, leather, and overall construction makes this boot one of the most refined I’ve ever tried. My biggest complaint is that the tongue has no gusset, so the left boot tongue tends to slide toward my ankle.

Ratings:

At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Design At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon
At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Quality of Materials At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon
At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Craftsmanship At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon
At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Fit & Sizing At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon
At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Value for Money At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon

Pros:

  • The design strikes a balance between rugged and refined in a unique way
  • The leather quality is superb
  • Handcrafted in the USA

Cons:

  • The tongue doesn’t have a gusset so it can slide off to the side if you’re not adjusting it
  • Some areas around the welt seemed hastily put together and unfinished

I went to a drive-in movie theater to see Raiders of the Lost Ark. 

While I almost immediately fell asleep in the front seat of my car, I did wake up for long enough in the middle of the movie to notice Dr. Jones wearing a sick pair of boots. 

I said to my wife: those are sweet. And then I promptly fell back asleep. 

What a date. 

Not long after, I had a pair of those very same boots: the Alden Indy (renamed after Indiana Jones). 

I picked up the 405 (brown calfskin leather), and in this Alden Indy boots review, I’m going to break down my entire experience with these so you can decide whether they’re right for you. 

Alden Indy Overview

Alden Indy 405 flatlay

The Alden Indy has been around—let me check my calendar—yep, it’s been around forever

Alden was founded in 1884, which is older than airplanes, stop signs, and zippers. The Indy (originally just called the 405) was mainly a work boot, and it had a rugged duck fabric lining.

When Harrison Ford was cast for Raiders of the Lost Ark, he was insistent on wearing his old boots from his carpenter days. Eventually someone caught on that they were the Alden 405, and word spread. 

closeup Alden Indy 405 leather toe box

Eventually Alden changed the name of the boot from the Alden 405 to the Alden Indy. Much trendier. 

The Indy is one of the few remaining holdouts of classic American Goodyear welted footwear. They’re still hand made in Massachusetts to this day, and the Indy is often praised because it has the silhouette of a dress boot, but the Moc Toe stitching makes it more of a rugged casual boot. 

Alden Indy Boot
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Things to Consider Before Buying the Alden Indy Boot

closeup Alden Indy 405 calf leather boots on steps

I’ve reviewed over 100 boots at this point, so I’ve seen a lot of different brands: some offering exceptional value for money, others not so much. 

I appreciate the Alden Indy, especially for its historic importance and legacy. 

But considering the price, it doesn’t blow me away. I bought mine new from The Shoe Mart, and they cost over $600. I have similar quality boots from Grant Stone and Oak Street Bootmakers that cost 40-50% less.

And I’ve tried other boots in the same price range as the Alden Indy that did seem like a step up in overall quality. 

So I think there are two major deciding factors: the slim style (which I haven’t found elsewhere), and the history. 

Alden 405 Indy Review

First Impression

model wearing Alden Indy sitting on steps

Opening the box, I could tell I was opening up something special. I got that classic waft of fresh leather smell that I always love when opening a high quality pair of boots. 

The style is my favorite thing about the Alden Indy. Alden uses their TruBalance last, which is a combination last. That means the forefoot and the heel are different widths, and because of that, the heel actually has a much longer counter built into it.

From a style perspective, that’s how Alden gets that smooth curve from the heel to the ankle, and the wider forefoot leaves your toes plenty of room even though the vamp has a more abrupt slope. 

model walking in Alden Indy 405 boots

Its shape reminds me a lot of a dress boot. But the white moc toe stitching is definitely more fit for a rugged work boot. 

The Indy isn’t a true moc toe, though—the stitching is more decorative than anything as it’s not attaching a second piece of leather to the upper. 

Leather Quality and Care

closeup Alden Indy side profile step

I picked up the 405, which is the brown calfskin leather. Another popular option is the 403, which is brown Horween Chromexcel leather. 

Compared to the 403 Chromexcel leather, the 405 calfskin brown leather has much more of an orange hue to it. That’s what drew me to the 405 in the first place—it’s not a very common leather color and it stands out in a good way. 

breaking in Alden Indy boots

The calfskin is buttery smooth and really high quality. I’m looking forward to wearing these more and seeing how they age, too. I can imagine the lighter color leather picking up some beautiful patina. 

The Indy is fully lined with glove leather, and also has vegetable tanned insoles. All the way through, every piece of leather in this boot is top quality, which I appreciate. 

Alden Indy Boot
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Sole

Alden Indy neoprene cork sole while walking

The Alden Indy features a 270-degree storm welt and the classic 405 has a neoprene cork outsole.

I know some people aren’t fans of the neoprene cork because it’s a smooth surface and doesn’t give a lot of grip in the snow and rain, but I like it. 

For one, it’s comfortable. But it’s also a throwback to more classic heritage bootmaking and that’s one of the reasons I like the Indy: it’s an icon. 

Alden Indy flatlay with camera

The Indy has a Thomas heel which can help tremendously for people who overpronate (meaning their heel and ankle tend to roll inward). 

For the rest of us, that squiggly heel lends a little more support on the inside of the foot, which is always welcome. 

The Indy has a vegetable tanned leather insole with cork filler in the midsole for that classic all natural durability. While that normally means there’s a bit of a break in period, that’s not the case for the Indy. Breaking these in was a smooth ride. 

Alden Indy 405 calf closeup

And that’s also partially because of the combination last and steel shank. The Alden Indy has a lot of arch support, and because the heel is more snug than the forefoot, your foot gets locked in without your toes feeling cramped. 

There are two common gripes with the sole, neither or which I’ve personally experienced in my time with the Indy, but they’re definitely worth mentioning. 

First, like I said, neoprene cork soles don’t offer a lot of slip resistance in wet weather. They’re smooth, so you’re not going to get a lot of traction. And second, the heel cap is quite soft. This helps a lot with comfort, but the rubber will wear away faster than other heels. 

The good news is that the heel cap is a full centimeter, so you’ve got a lot of material to go through before you need to swap it out. 

Fit and Sizing

Alden Indy heel counter detail

The Alden Indy is built on Alden’s Trubalance last. This is a combination last, which means the heel and forefoot are different widths. 

For instance, my Indy’s are a 10D. That means the heel is a B width, and the forefoot is a D width. 

I’ve actually found that the Trubalance last is a little roomy, even for a D width. I like it, as I’m somewhere between a D and E width. But I’d say that if you’re in between sizes for your boots, try the smaller of your two sizes: the room in the toe is forgiving, and I’m sure you’ll get a good fit, even if it’s a bit snug. 

Alden offers a lot of different widths, which is something I only see the old heritage brands do. You can get the Indy in C (narrow), D (standard), E (wide), and EEE (extra wide). 

Alden Indy 405 calf leather side profile

I got mine in D, and for reference, I’m a 10D in basically every boot. Red Wing, Grant Stone, Thursday, Wolverine: I’m a 10D. 

I was shocked at how comfortable the Alden Indy is. It’s probably the most comfortable boot that’s all leather and cork in the insole and midsole that I’ve worn. I’ve tried more comfortable boots, but they usually have some kind of poron or other high density foam in them. 

And I think that’s mostly due to the subtle shaping and combination lasting that Alden does. 

Break-in Period

Alden Indy side profile with heel counter details

There’s no uncomfortable break in period. Because the Alden Indy has a vegetable tanned leather insole, it will continue to get more comfortable as my foot breaks in that leather, but in the meantime, I’d have no issues with taking these boots on a five mile walk. 

What do Other Reviewers Say?

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The Alden Indy gets a lot of love online, but its high price point also is the source of a lot of scrutiny.

If you’re looking for quality reviews, there are plenty to be found for this boot, as even the forums are filled with boot-savants that seem to only get Alden boots. 

Alden Indy Boot
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Comfort is a common theme, and a lot of guys appreciate the varied widths in sizing. 

A common negative is that the QC can be spotty. I’ve seen a few things on my Indy’s like loose threads and stray pieces of leather that were never smoothed out. These are both issues that should’ve been easily solved in the finishing process.

I don’t mind so much because they’re barely noticeable. But a quick pass with a lighter and a leather trimmer could’ve made my boots perfect. 

Alden Indy Alternatives

Grant Stone Brass

Grant Stone Brass boot leaned against wall
Wearing my Grant Stone Brass

The Grant Stone Brass is much more of a tank than the Alden Indy. The Brass is pretty refined for a moc toe boot, but it’s nowhere near the lightweight, sleek Indy. 

But I offer it up as an alternative because the Grant Stone Brass has quite similar material and construction quality, and the price is way lower. I’m talking 35-40% less expensive. 

The Brass is also available in Horween Chromexcel and some other interesting leathers that boot fans will love. 

Grant Stone Brass Boot
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Oak Street Bootmakers Field Boot

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The Oak Street Field boot isn’t as slim or sleek as the Alden Indy, but like with Grant Stone, the material and construction quality is similar. 

One thing you get with Oak Street that you don’t get with Grant Stone is that they’re made near Chicago, and almost all the materials that go into the boot are sourced in the USA

Still, despite being made in the states, Oak Street is still a few hundred dollars less expensive than Alden.

So if you’re after American craftsmanship and want some of the best quality boots, I recommend giving Oak Street Field boots a look. 

Oak Street Bootmakers Field Boot
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My Thoughts Overall On Alden Indy Boots

What I Like

  • With the combination last and superb attention to detail, the Alden Indy strikes a balance between rugged and refined better than almost any boot on the market. 

  • The leather quality is fantastic—I have the light brown calf leather, but the Horween Chromexcel versions are great, too. 

  • Alden boots are handcrafted in the USA.

What I Don’t Like

  • The tongue isn’t gusseted at all (not even toward the bottom eyelets), so the tongue tends to slide off toward my ankle. 

  • It seems like the finishing touches were a bit rushed. There were a few issues like loose threads and untrimmed leather around the welt that should’ve been taken care of during the finishing process. 

Who is the Alden Indy for?

The Alden Indy is a fantastic boot for you if you’re interested in a piece of American bootmaking history, and you want a high quality, comfortable boot. And if you don’t mind spending a little extra, that helps, too.

The Verdict

I appreciate my Alden 405 Indy boots, but I’m not as impressed with them as I have been with some other brands. The Indy has excellent leather and construction quality, and they’re probably the most comfortable boots I’ve worn that feature all leather and cork through the insole and midsole. 

While some guys don’t like the neoprene cork outsole, I like it in this style. I wouldn’t wear it in the rain because it doesn’t have a lot of grip, but I have plenty of other boots that can fill that role. I like the old school neoprene cork style. 

The loose tongue is pretty annoying. I think this varies from person to person depending on how they walk and their foot shape, as I know some people don’t have this issue at all. But I do, and it bothers me. 

The one thing about the Indy that can’t be replicated is its style. I haven’t seen another boot that balances a rugged work moc toe look with the sleekness of a dress boot. 

But in terms of material and construction quality, there are a few brands out there that can match Alden, and at far lower prices. Grant Stone and Oak Street are two that come to mind. 

Overall, if you want the Alden Indy because of its stature in American heritage bootmaking, or if you’re after that sweet combination last comfort, then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The Alden Indy is a great boot. 

But if you judge value mostly based on construction and materials, then there are other brands worth looking at before you make your decision.

Alden Indy Boot
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FAQs

How long do Alden Indy boots last?

Because the heel cap is a centimeter thick, you should be able to use them for around two years before replacing the heel cap (costs about $50). Otherwise, your boots should be able to last five or more years before needing to be resoled. And even then, with a resole, your boots can last 10-20 years or even more depending on how well you care for them. But I’d say two years before you need to do any work on them.

What is the difference between the Alden 403 and 405?

The leather is the only difference between the Alden 403 and 405. The Alden 403 is made with brown Horween Chromexcel leather, which has a darker appearance and is a full grain pullup leather. The Alden 405 is light brown calfskin leather. It has a lighter appearance and has more orange hues in it than the 403. Both will age well, though the 403 (Horween Chromexcel) will likely need less care over its lifetime.

Are Alden Indy boots waterproof?

No, Alden Indy boots aren’t waterproof. But they do feature a 270-degree Goodyear storm welt, which means they’re quite weather resistant. You won’t have to worry about your socks getting wet in a rainstorm with the Alden Indy, but you shouldn’t stand in water for any length of time in them, either.

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