So what if I own six pairs of brown service boots already.
Would it hurt to get one more?
Of course not. That’s why I recently picked up the popular Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill boot.
But after taking it out of the box and looking closer, I’m considering returning the boot. Read my full review to find out why.
Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill Overview
The Higgins Mill features a 360-degree Goodyear welt, and the classic version features Horween Chromexcel leather and a Dainite rubber studded sole.
However, there are many variations on the Higgins Mill, including lug sole versions, Shell Cordovan leather, waxed suede leather, and AE even has high-top sneaker versions (which look silly, in my opinion).
I’m reviewing the most common version (Chromexcel and Dainite sole), but in general, most of what I’m writing applies to all Higgins Mill boots.
Allen Edmonds makes all their Higgins Mill boots in Port Washington, Wisconsin, so whatever version you decide on, it’s all USA made.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Higgins Mill Boot
I’ll explain in depth why I believe this throughout the rest of the review, but to get to the point: I’m not convinced the Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill is the best value you can find for this style.
The only reason I can see why you’d get the Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill over the Grant Stone Diesel is because you want a USA-made boot. Otherwise, the Grant Stone Diesel has a very similar style, but has a sturdier build and is roughly $100 less expensive (at the time of writing).
The only issue there is that Grant Stone’s are made in China, and if the comments on my YouTube videos are any indication, many people have problems with that. I’m all about value, so I believe a better boot at a less expensive price is an easy choice.
That said, the Higgins Mill really is a fantastic boot all the way through, so if you like the brand and want this specific boot, I assure you that you’re not wasting your time and money. But if I could only choose one service boot in this style, it’d be the Grant Stone Diesel.
Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill Review
I picked up the Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill in brown Horween Chromexcel leather with a Dainite sole—this is the most common version of the boot, and opening the box, I could see why.
It’s a beauty.
The 1757 last is slim and has a sleek instep, which gives this boot and excellent balance between rugged and classy.
The AE Higgins Mill has one of the most versatile shapes you can get for a pair of boots. It’s much more sleek than a Red Wing Iron Ranger or Blacksmith, but it’s not so narrow and dressy like a trendy Thursday Captain or President.
Right out of the box, the quality of this boot is apparent. I like the antique brass hardware, and from a style perspective, this boot has a few unique features: the leather piping around the laces and the top of the shaft are a nice accent, and the decorative stitching around the ankle is unique to this boot.
Lastly, the tongue is a different leather (brown suede for the brown Horween Chromexcel version), and that adds another interesting dynamic to the boot.
One issue that concerns me on the Higgins Mill is that all the stitching on the upper is only a single row. All my other high quality boots at least have two rows of stitching throughout the upper, and in most cases have three rows.
The stitching density is excellent for this boot, so it may not ever present a major durability problem, but I don’t have the same confidence in a single stitch as I do a double or triple stitch.
Overall, I’m a fan of the shape and style of this boot, and I find it pairs well with slim and regular fit jeans, chinos, and slacks.
Leather Quality and Care
Horween Chromexcel is one of my favorite leathers, and the quality of the leather on the Higgins Mill boot doesn’t disappoint.
While many brands use Horween Chromexcel leather, I’ve found that there are differing qualities. For instance, the Horween Chromexcel on my Thursday Vanguards, Grant Stone Diesels, and Grant Stone Brass boots are superb, but my Chromexcel Wolverine 1000 Mile boots seem to lack the same robust feel.
But the leather on the Higgins Mill fits in the former category, and has the same rich texture and look that I’ve come to expect from CXL.
Horween Chromexcel is perfect for this type of boot because it’s easy to care for. It tends to show scuffs and scratches easily, but they’re also easy to condition and the leather is rarely permanently marked or damaged.
And because it’s a richly oiled and waxed aniline leather, you don’t need to worry much about the weather. Horween CXL can take a beating and a soaking and still look fantastic with a little sprucing up.
The upper is 2mm thick with a 1mm soft leather lining that runs through the entire boot into the toe. This leather thickness is fairly standard at this price point and quality level (and it’s awesome).
Allen Edmonds says the Higgins Mill features a 360-degree Bench welt, which is their own proprietary terminology for the most classic type of Goodyear welt.
The Higgins Mill has a leather insole with cork filling and a wood shank, a leather midsole, a Dainite sole stitched in at the bottom.
There are a few things I appreciate about the sole, but my favorite aspect is that the toplift (or heel cap) is a full centimeter thick.
Most other toplifts from close competitors are 5mm, or half the width. For someone like me who regularly wears the heel down before anything else, the extra rubber in the heel means this boot will go twice as long before needing any sort of care from a cobbler. So instead of a new toplift every two years, the Higgins Mill likely wouldn’t need a new toplift for three or four years.
I’m also a big fan of the Dainite sole. Many brands come up with their own rubber studded sole to match the style and quality of Dainite, though I’ve found that Dainite rubber has a little more durability compared to most other rubber stud soles. It’s also a bit stiffer, so you lose some shock absorption, but I’d take the durability all day.
Why Allen Edmonds opts for the wood shank, I don’t know, but I can’t say I’ve noticed any difference in stability and arch support compared to a steel or fiberglass shank.
Of course, because the insole and midsole are all leather and cork, you can expect a little bit of break in time, but ultimately a custom fit and feel as the insole moulds to the shape of your foot.
Higgins Mill Sizing
This is another huge reason why Allen Edmonds has an advantage over many other brands: they have the most robust selection of sizing I’ve seen from a bootmaker (besides handmade custom bootmakers like Nicks).
You can order the Higgins Mill in sizes 7-14, and in widths B, D, E, and EEE. Many brands carry D and E widths, but few carry EEE and even fewer have the narrow B width.
If you have narrow feet, the Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill is the boot for you.
I ended up getting a size 10, which is a half-size smaller than my regular sneaker size. For reference, I also picked up a size 10 for my Red Wings, Wolverines, Thursdays, and Grant Stones. I have fairly standard feet and I’ve found these Allen Edmonds to fit comfortably with plenty of room in the toe and at the ball of my foot.
I haven’t broken in my Higgins Mill boots yet, but my experience with other similar Goodyear welted Chromexcel boots suggests that it’ll be mild.
Chromexcel feels stiff out of the box, but once you start walking in it, it begins to crease gently and doesn’t create any rubbing or sore spots as you put more miles in.
The toughest part of a break-in for this type of boot is the insole. Because it’s constructed with all leather (amazing for durability and long-term comfort), it’s not very shock absorbent at first.
As the heat and moisture from your foot presses into the leather insole, it shapes to your foot. After three or four wears, you don’t notice any discomfort, and after 20 or so wears, they feel custom-made for you.
Allen Edmonds Return Policy
Allen Edmonds has a generous 90-day return policy for their boots and shoes. But they need to be unworn.
The best way of ensuring you can return your boots is by only wearing them inside the house, and trying them on for the first time on carpet. You can try your boots on and walk around the house for a little while and they’ll still be considered “unworn.”
The main thing to avoid is scuffs and marks on the sole, or excessive creasing on the upper.
You can return to any Allen Edmonds store, or you can return your boots with the packing slip that comes in the box.
For Worn Shoes
Once your Allen Edmonds shoes or boots are noticeably worn (creasing in the upper and marks on the sole), you won’t be able to return them for a full refund. However, Allen Edmonds boots fetch a solid price in the second-hand market.
If after a few weeks of wearing you want to sell your Higgins Mill, I recommend selling on the r/Goodyearwelt subreddit. The community there has weekly second-hand sales and I bet you can get a good price (but they like to see pictures).
For Factory Seconds
Unlike many other brands, Allen Edmonds accepts returns on their factory seconds, though they charge a $25 restocking fee. However, if you bought your factory seconds in person and you’re returning them in person at an Allen Edmonds outlet store, then you can get a full refund.
What do Other Reviewers Say?
Reviews for the Higgins Mill are positive around the web. On the Allen Edmonds site, many reviewers said that after years of searching for a boot that could fit irregular feet, Allen Edmonds had the type of sizing they’d been looking for.
On the negative side, many reviewers on the AE site report quality control issues like loose threads and separated soles upon arrival. The good news is that these issues were apparent as soon as they opened the box so they were able to return them.
So if you order this boot, I recommend going through their site so you know exactly what the return policy is like.
Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill Alternatives
Grant Stone Diesel
The Grant Stone Diesel offers better value for money than the Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill. With triple stitching around the upper, and similar construction and Horween Chromexcel leather, the less expensive price tag of the Diesel is appealing.
From a style perspective, these boots are extremely similar in shape. The Higgins Mill does have the decorative stitching on the sides and the leather piping, though there’s no extra benefit to those—it really depends on whether you like it or not.
If you’re looking for a USA-made boot, then the Higgins Mill is still your best bet, and if you have EEE or B width feet, the same is true.
But if you don’t care where your boots are made, so long as they’re excellent, then I can’t see a reason why you’d choose the Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill over the Grant Stone Diesel.
The quality of the Diesel is better and the price is less expensive. That’s a win-win.
If spending over $200 on a pair of boots makes your eyes water, then you might want to check out the Thursday President.
The quality isn’t the same—the leather feels and looks less rich, the insole and midsole have some synthetic materials that don’t hold up as well years down the road. But the Thursday President is a plain toe service boot that costs less than half the price of the Higgins Mill.
The President is more slim and narrow, so it has a trendier look that pairs well with skinny and slim fit jeans.
Oak Street Trench Boot
The Oak Street Trench Boot is at a similar price as the Higgins Mill and it’s also entirely made in the United States.
The big difference between the Oak Street and AE service boots is that Oak Street’s Trench has a wider, flatter toe. Also, it’s unlined and features thicker leather.
My Oak Street Trench boot has a 3mm Horween Chromexcel roughout leather. It’s a tough-as-nails boot and I love how it ages and patinas. But it’s not as stylish or dapper as the Higgins Mill, so take that into consideration.
My Thoughts Overall On the Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill
What I Like
I love the quality of the Horween Chromexcel leather on this boot: it’s classy, durable, thick, and easy to care for.
The insole and midsole are pure leather with a little cork filling meaning they’ll offer plenty of support for years to come.
Dainite soles strike a balance between traction and durability—they’re my favorite rubber studded sole.
The 1757 last is classic, slim, but not trendy. The Higgins Mill is versatile from a style perspective.
What I Don’t Like
There’s no gusset in the tongue, which is a disappointment in a boot at this price.
The single stitching in the upper is concerning compared to what other boots at this price offer.
Who is the Higgins Mill boot for?
The Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill is the right boot for you if you have either narrow or very wide feet and you haven’t been able to find a good fit for years. Or if you’re looking for a stylish American-made service boot, then the Higgins Mill is one of the best options on the market.
I like the Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill a lot.
But I’m the kind of guy who prizes value for money above all else, and for that reason, I recommend the Grant Stone Diesel over the Higgins Mill.
The Grant Stone Diesel has nearly the same exact style and all the same hallmarks of excellent Goodyear welted construction, but has a triple stitched upper, a gusseted tongue, more leather in the heel, and is about 20% less expensive (at the time of writing).
However, Allen Edmonds offers a huge variety of sizes, including B and EEE widths, and you won’t find those widths in many other bootmakers unless they’re completely custom.
And there’s also the fact that Allen Edmonds is made in Port Washington, USA. So if you want an American-made product, Allen Edmonds is the way to go.
The Higgins Mill is an excellent product, and I think it’s worth the price.
But if you’re like me and you’re just looking for the best boot for the best price, then I’d choose the Grant Stone Diesel.
Are Allen Edmonds shoes made in the USA?
Yes, Allen Edmonds shoes and boots are made in Port Washington, Wisconsin.
Is Allen Edmonds good quality?
Yes, Allen Edmonds shoes and boots are very good quality. They use traditional Goodyear welt construction techniques, which are more durable than most other shoe construction types.
What’s the difference between the Higgins Mill and the Patton?
The Patton features a 4-inch shaft vs the Higgins Mill’s 6-inch shaft. Also, the Patton is a cap-toe boot, while the Higgins Mill is a plain toe.