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9 Best American Made Boots: Tested and Reviewed

William Barton
Expertise:

Boots, Leather, Heritage Fashion, Denim, Workwear

William founded BootSpy in 2020 with a simple mission: test and review popular men’s boots and give a real, honest opinion. Since then, we've welcomed over 5 million readers on our boot reviews and boot care guides. Reach out to him for your own personalized boot recommendation at william@bootspy.com. Or join 50,000+ subscribers on the BootSpy YouTube channel, or send him a message on the BootSpy Instagram. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Apr 4, 2024
12 min read

Too many boot brands now offload their manufacturing overseas and the quality suffers. If you’re here, you’re interested in finding a quality set of footwear while having your purchase support US jobs and families. Kudos.

These are my picks of the best American made boots on the market right now that tick all the right boxes.

When I want quality craftsmanship, I look right in my backyard.

While 98% of shoes in America are made overseas, there are still a few brands making boots the good ol’ fashioned way here at home.

Here are nine of my favorite USA made boots crafted by brands that support American families, jobs, and are worth every penny for their rugged durability. 

How Did I Come Up With My List?

Over the years, I’ve worn over 100 pairs of boots, and I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching the best boots and brands, both foreign and domestic. 

I’ve come across several brands that do an incredible job making boots, some of which are made in Indonesia, China, Spain, England, etc. 

A common sentiment I hear running the BootSpy YouTube channel (55,000 subscribers and counting) is, where are the American made boots? 

While USA-made boots are a rare breed, I’ve tested the top brands myself—the others on this list I compiled from recommendations made by our YouTube community and those hundreds of hours of research. 

My Recommendations

My Top Pick: Thursday Vanguard

tying Thursday Boots Vanguard 1
Wearing my Thursday Vanguard in French Roast

The Thursday Boot Co Vanguard takes the top spot based on the quality of materials, construction, and the value you’re getting for the price. However, the rest of Thursday’s boots are produced in León Guanajuato, Mexico.

Still, this boot is incredibly impressive considering its relatively low price point. 

Thursday Boots Vanguard model with denim shirt

The Vanguard uses a Horween Chromexcel upper and is lined with Horween Glove leather. There’s triple stitching along the upper and toe box—in a lot of respects, it’s just as durable as the Red Wing Iron Ranger, but it’s $100 cheaper. But it also has a much slimmer silhouette, steel shanks, and more pointed toe.

If you want a dressier looking boot (though it’s still quite rugged), the Thursday Vanguard is a USA-built masterpiece.

What I Like

  • The Vanguard is constructed in the USA with Chicago-based Horween leather—it’s American all the way through. 

  • It features many of the same benefits as the Red Wing Iron Ranger, but it’s well under $300. 

  • The slim silhouette and more pointed toe make this a better fit with slim jeans and a more modern style. 

  • Leather laces.

What I Don’t Like

  • There aren’t any speedhooks, and because it comes with leather laces, it can take a while to put these on. 

What Other Reviewers Say

A lot of reviewers say they’re buying the Vanguard as an update on Thursday’s super popular Captain boot.

It’s not surprising to see so many reviewers coming back for their second boot from Thursday. I’m the same way. I started with the Captain, but couldn’t resist the American leather and studier construction of the Vanguard.

The Verdict

The Thursday Vanguard offers much of the same rugged durability you’d expect from any American Heritage brand, but packages it in a slim and sleek profile. 

Even better, Thursday shaves off about $100 compared to other brands like Red Wing and Wolverine. 

While Thursday doesn’t have the same USA-pedigree as more established brands (the Vanguard is their only Made-in-USA boot), the Vanguard is worth a closer look.

My Top Pick
Thursday Vanguard

The Thursday Vanguard has some subtle design differences that make it more sophisticated than the super-popular Captain. Plus, the materials are next level in comparison, and the value for price is phenomenal for a USA-made boot.

Check Price Read Our Review

Great Value: Red Wing Iron Ranger

Red Wing Iron Ranger
Wearing my Red Wing 8111’s

Red Wing boots have been crafting American Heritage lines in Red Wing, Minnesota since 1905.

The Iron Ranger is one of the most iconic boots in the US today, and the line is inspired by what early iron miners in the Midwest used to wear on the job.

The Red Wing Iron Ranger is a tough boot that works equally well for work and for style.

What I Like

  • The 270-degree Goodyear welt can be recrafted and offers plenty of water resistance.

  • The midsole is made with all leather and cork, so the boot continues to break in and get more comfortable over time while staying durable. 

  • It’s a stylish boot—way more so than other work boot styles. 

What I Don’t Like

  • There’s a tough break in period. 

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviewers have been loving on the Red Wing Iron Ranger for years. These boots have a wide range of fans, including motorcyclists, electricians, hipsters, and everyone in between. 

The most common complaint is with the break in period. The Iron Ranger can feel a bit narrow for the first few weeks, but usually the leather stretches out and the boot becomes much more comfortable. 

The Verdict

If you’re looking for a “Made in USA” pair of classic American boots, the Red Wing Iron Ranger is an amazing choice.

It offers an excellent blend of quality, durability, and style. 

Depending on how hard you wear these, they can easily last a decade or more, making the investment well worth it


Best Work Boot: Thorogood Moc Toe

Thorogood broken in moc toe detail

The Thorogood Moc Toe is basically ubiquitous on construction sites. There’s always one guy who knows the secret. 

While a lot of workers might opt for squishy insoles and fancy plastic guards and multicolored boots made overseas, the dudes who want longevity from their boots stick to American made. 

The Thorogood Moc Toe isn’t all that pretty, but it’s reasonably priced and it’s a total tank of a boot. The wedge sole offers a lot of slip resistance and electrical resistance, plus the triple stitched upper and 360-degree storm welt ensure that your feet will stay dry and protected. 

Even after years of rough wearing.

model putting on camel city mill lightweight work sock with thorogood moc toe work boot
My Thorogood Moc Toes paired with my Camel City Mill wool work socks

And if you want the best American made work sock to pair with this boot, I highly recommend the Camel City Mill Lightweight Wool Work Sock. These are my favorite boot socks and they’re 100% made in North Carolina.

BootSpy's #1 Boot Sock
Camel City Mill Lightweight Wool Work Sock
Free Shipping $50+

Made in the USA from Merino wool, these work socks really are something else in terms of quality. They feature compression through the arch and calf which helps your feet recover after a long day. Plus, because they're Merino wool, they're breathable and help reduce foot sweat.

Check Price Read Our Review

What I Like

  • The 360-degree Goodyear Storm welt is essentially waterproof (not 100%, but unless you’re in standing water for several minutes, your feet will stay dry). 

  • You can get the Moc Toe with an 8” shaft and with a steel toe option. 

  • The MAXWear wedge sole is made with a hardened polyurethane that’s fairly abrasion-resistant so it doesn’t wear down quickly like other wedge soles.

What I Don’t Like

  • They fit a bit narrow (I’d opt for a EE instead of a D).

  • There’s one eyelet at the top (above the speedhooks), which seems unnecessary.

What Other Reviewers Say

Many reviewers mention feeling the same snugness I felt in the front of the foot. Like me, several just powered through and broke the boot in, and now they love the fit and feel. 

The Verdict

While the Thorogood Moc Toe might not be as stylish as some of the other options on this list, it’s hard to beat the price and durability. 

I like the Red Wing Iron Ranger, but I also have a hard time roughing up a $300+ pair of boots. That’s where Thorogood comes in. 

With a slip-resistant sole and premium leather, this rugged boot does well in tough working conditions. 

They’re proudly made in the USA (they even come with a little nylon American flag), and they’re crafted strong enough to keep up with the toughest tradesmen.

Best Work Boot
Thorogood Moc Toe

The Thorogood Moc Toe is an excellent value buy work boot. While I don’t think it’s as stylish as other alternatives, lightweight features like a fiberglass shank and Poron insole boost the rugged durability while cutting cost and weight. If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive moc toe work boot, the Thorogood Moc Toe is my top choice.

Check Price Read Our Review

Best Chukka: Oak Street Campus

Oak Street Bootmakers are based in Chicago and of all the brands on this list, they’re likely the most “made in USA” of them all (tied with Nick’s Handmade Boots). 

While many USA-built brands will source from outside the country and even pre-build some components abroad, Oak Street makes everything in their Chicago factory.

The Campus Chukka is made with either Horween Chromexcel or Horween Orion suede, both of which are packed with oils and waxes for extra water resistance and fantastic patina development.

What I Like

  • The shape is unique among chukka boots.

  • The use of Horween leather keeps it Chicago-based (plus the quality is excellent). 

  • The Campus comes with a Dainite rubber studded sole, which has excellent grip in wet weather.

What I Don’t Like

  • There aren’t many size and color options. 

What Other Reviewers Say

There aren’t many reviews around the web for Oak Street. But from the professional reviews I could gather, it seemed that the consensus is that Oak Street makes an excellent quality boot with top materials. 

There’s some sticking points with the price (well over $300), and that’s mainly due to labor costs as a truly USA-built brand that sources everything it can from within the border.

The Verdict

There are very few chukka boots made in America. And of those that exist, you can expect to pay a hefty price ($300 on a sturdy service boot feels different to me than $300 on a chukka). 

But if a USA-built chukka is what you’re after, the best of the best is from Oak Street Bootmakers. 

Their Campus Chukka is made with Horween leather, a solid Dainite sole, and a weather resistant 360-degree Goodyear welt (a Barbour welt, no less).

Best Chukka
Oak Street Bootmakers Campus Chukka

If a USA-built chukka is what you’re after, the best of the best is from Oak Street Bootmakers. Their Campus Chukka is made with Horween leather, a solid Dainite sole, and a weather resistant 360-degree Goodyear welt (a Barbour welt, no less).

Check Price

Best Hiking Boot: Danner Mountain Light

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You’ve heard of Danner. They’re American hiking boot legends, and their Mountain Light has done most of the heavy lifting in earning the brand that reputation.

This boot has been around since 1979, fully constructed in Portland, Oregon. Makes sense: Portland is such a great place to take a hike. 

Made with either Dri-Lex or Gore-Tex (depending on which model you get), this boot has excellent water resistance and the fiberglass shank offers plenty of support without becoming too heavy. 

The Danner Mountain Light is well regarded as one of the best backpacking boots of all time, so if you’re thinking about going full Americana and wearing some USA-made boots while hitting the Appalachian or PCT, this is the only way to go.

What I Like

  • The fiberglass shank is lightweight but still offers plenty of solid arch support (especially on scree and rocky terrain). 

  • The Vibram Kletterlift outsole does an excellent job on a huge variety of terrain, both dry and wet. 

  • The stitchdown construction is easy to recraft and offers decent weather resistance.

What I Don’t Like

  • There’s limited sizing and the EE width is confusing (that’s Danner’s standard, so I’d get EE width even though I’m usually a D width).

What Other Reviewers Say

Some reviewers say they’ve owned the same pair of Danner Mountain Lights since the 80s (my sister-in-law actually has a pair passed down from her mom from the early 80s—they still look great).  

These boots are a bit of an investment up front, but when you look at the inspiring photos of reviewers on mythic looking mountain tops, you start to understand why these boots are so popular.

The Verdict

Danner Mountain Light hiking boots have a reputation for dependability, and that’s exactly what you need when you’re out on the trail—especially if you’re on an overnight. 

There are waterproof and insulated versions, so take some time to think about the kind of hiking you do most often. 

You may feel a bit of sticker shock, but these USA-made hiking boots will be a faithful companion for you during a lot of epic mountain tours.

Best Hiking Boot
Danner Mountain Light

Danner Mountain Light hiking boots have a reputation for dependability, and that’s exactly what you need when you’re out on the trail---especially if you’re on an overnight. You may feel a bit of sticker shock, but these USA-made hiking boots will be a faithful companion for you during a lot of epic mountain tours.

Check Price at REI.com

Best Cowboy Boot: Abilene Bison Leather

You’d think that American made cowboy boots would be easy to find. You’d be wrong.

Despite their design heritage, most western style boots are made overseas. There are a few hand built and custom options you can find that are built in the USA, but many bump up close to $1,000 per pair. And that’s not something I’m interested in.

So where do you go if you want a quality pair of cowboy boots that are made here at home and don’t cost a small fortune?

Abilene.

Their Bison Leather boots are the best value USA built cowboy boot I could find.

What I Like

  • With bison leather uppers, these boots are rough and rugged. 

  • I like the Cuban heel, which is excellent for riding, too.

  • Classic stitching pattern and a fairly pointed toe makes for a versatile boot.

What I Don’t Like

  • Limited sizing and color options.

What Other Reviewers Say

From what I could read in the reviews, it’s best if you order a wide size. Many reviewers say they normally wear D-width boots (standard), but the fit is quite narrow here and the available wide sizes were a better choice.

The Verdict

There’s a surprising few options for American made cowboy boots. Abilene has been making western boots since 1980 and their Bison Leather boot is as solid as it gets. Order the wide size for the best fit and hit the ranch.

Best Cowboy Boot
Abilene Bison Leather Cowboy Boot

There are surprisingly few options when it comes to American made cowboy boots. Abilene has been making western boots since 1980 and their Bison Leather boot is as solid as it gets. Order the wide size for the best fit and hit the ranch.

Check Price

Best Handmade: Nicks Handmade Americana

nicks americana in waxed flesh roughout 1
Rocking my Nicks Americanas

Nicks Handmade boots from Spokane, Washington have a reputation as some of the best boots in the world. 

They’re each custom-made to order, and the wait is known to last up to six months. 

Smokejumpers swear by the Nicks Hot Shot, and if these boots are good enough for firefighters to jump out of a plane and immediately start battling a towering inferno, they’re good enough for me.

I don’t recommend their fire boots for casual wear—I think the Americana is a much more versatile boot but still has all the rugged sturdiness and indestructible quality

author william barton wearing nicks americana us made boots 2

What I Like

  • These are made with thick 6.5oz leather. 

  • You can get these fully fitted to your feet and customize every detail.

  • Excellent option if you have uniquely shaped feet and no boots seem to fit correctly. 

What I Don’t Like

  • The break in will test your spirit. 

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviewers trust Nicks Boots with their safety. From firefighters to construction workers to urban hipsters, there’s no shortage of love for these boots. 

The reviewers who go for Nicks are the kind of people who prize quality and durability over everything else—including their budget.

The Verdict

If price is a secondary consideration and you’re looking to get a pair of boots that will last you the rest of your life, check out Nicks

Yes, they cost a pretty penny and your order can take up to six months to get to you if you get a customized boot, but the quality is unmatched.

Best Handmade
Nicks Americana

If price is a secondary consideration and you’re looking to get a pair of boots that will last you the rest of your life, check out Nicks. Yes, they cost a pretty penny and your order can take up to six months to get to you if you get a customized boot, but the quality is unmatched.

Check Price Read Our Review

Best Steel Toe: Thorogood Steel Toe Moc

I’ve already put the Thorogood Moc Toe on this list once, but it’s such a great value-for-money work boot that I couldn’t resist putting the steel toe version on here, too. 

Choose between the 8-inch and the 6-inch version, depending on your needs. 

If you’re working in tough conditions and you wear these every day, you can expect them to last between two and three years (which is a long time for folks who put in long, arduous hours). At just over $200, there are few better deals out there. 

What I Like

  • There are a few classic color options, though I like the Tobacco leather the most because of how it ages. 

  • The polymer sole has a decent amount of abrasion resistance so it doesn’t wear down too quickly. 

  • I like that you can get an 8” version if your work demands a little more ankle support and protection.

What I Don’t Like

  • Because the sole is a harder polymer, it’s not as slip resistant as other options, so I wouldn’t recommend this boot if you walk on oily surfaces a lot (like a repair shop).

What Other Reviewers Say

After reading through dozens of reviews, it’s clear that the Thorogood Moc Toe is beloved by guys who put their boots through hell. 

One complaint that came up a few times is that they’re not insulated, which could be an issue if you work in extreme cold often. Otherwise, a great pair of Camel City Mill Heavyweights should help you out.

The Verdict

The Thorogood Steel Toe Moc can take a beating and keep your feet well protected. They’re not the most stylish boots, but they’re a fantastic value buy considering the quality.

Best Steel Toe
Thorogood Steel Toe Moc

The Thorogood Steel Toe Moc can take a beating and keep your feet well protected. They’re not the most stylish boots, but they’re a fantastic value buy considering the quality.

Check Price

Best Winter Boots: JK Boots Arctic No. 1

JK Boots Arctic No. 1

With 400g of Thinsulate insulation throughout the boot, these beasts of work boots can hold up to any sort of treatment and still keep your feet plenty warm in the coldest winters.

Check Price

The JK Arctic is a true hard-working insulated boot you can trust in the coldest winters.

With 400g of Thinsulate insulation and a 10” shaft, these boots can make a blizzard feel more like a breezy autumn day. At least for your feet.

With a stitchdown construction and waterproof treated leather, these also do a fantastic job keeping your feet dry.

What I Like

  • There aren’t too many insulated boots made in the USA and JK has an excellent reputation for quality.

  • The weatherproofing on the leather helps a lot in snowy conditions. 

  • They’re built incredible tough, so you can put them through rigorous conditions and they’ll still last a long time.

What I Don’t Like

  • They’re made to order, so can take several weeks to arrive from when you order, so plan ahead.

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviewers seem to love the fit and finishing. Considering that there aren’t that many USA-made winter boots, many reviewers are relieved to find an exceptionally well-built option.

The Verdict

If you’re regularly crossing through a creek or your work requires hours standing in the cold and snow, you need an insulated waterproof boot. And if you want a solid pair build in the United States, then the JK Arctic is the best option on the market.

Best Winter Boots
JK Boots Arctic No. 1

With 400g of Thinsulate insulation throughout the boot, these beasts of work boots can hold up to any sort of treatment and still keep your feet plenty warm in the coldest winters.

Check Price

Pretty Much Every USA-Made Boot Listed

Every American made boot brand I could name in under a minute.

Here’s a list of every American-made boot brand. There are plenty of other USA based boot brands, but the ones not listed here outsource their production.

This list is in alphabetical order, and I’ll make a special note for certain brands like Red Wing, which makes its Heritage line in the US, but their work boots are made abroad.

  • Alden
  • Allen Edmonds
  • Chippewa
  • Danner
  • Double-H Boots
  • Frank’s Boots
  • J.K. Boots
  • Keen
  • Kreosote
  • L.L. Bean
  • Mark Albert
  • Nick’s Handmade Boots
  • Oak Street Bootmakers
  • Origin Maine
  • Red Wing Heritage Boots
  • Roleclub
  • Thorogood
  • Thursday Boots (their Vanguard and Logger)
  • Truman Boot Company
  • Wesco
  • White’s Boot Company
  • Wolverine (1000 Mile boot, but not work boots)
Truman service boot cap toe in car
On the move with my Truman Boot Co. Java Waxed Flesh Service Boots

Surprising Brands that Aren’t Made in the USA

Ariat 2

It’s true that most American brands have shifted their production abroad, mainly to China, but also to Vietnam, Mexico, and many other countries. 

It may surprise you, but brands like Carhartt and Ariat aren’t actually made in the USA. With other popular brands like Wolverine, Frye, and Rocky have select lines that are made in the USA, but the majority of their boots are made elsewhere. 

In my experience, there’s no link between “American craftsmanship” and the finished quality of the boot. In fact, some of the best built boots in my collection come from Colombia and China (Beckett Simonon and Grant Stone). 

But there is something to be said for shopping as local as possible. 

Which Is Right for You?

walking down train tracks in red wing iron ranger boots

Whether you’re looking for a pair of quality work boots or just want something with solid build quality and a story you can get behind, these nine boots are outstanding. 

While a lot of manufacturing went abroad during the 80s and 90s, American industry is far from gone. 

In fact, some of these American-Made boots prove its thriving. The craftsmanship for each item is outstanding and I’m sure you’ll love whichever you choose. 

My Top Pick
Thursday Vanguard

The Thursday Vanguard has some subtle design differences that make it more sophisticated than the super-popular Captain. Plus, the materials are next level in comparison, and the value for price is phenomenal for a USA-made boot.

Check Price Read Our Review
My Favorite USA Made Boot Socks
Camel City Mill Lightweight Wool Work Sock
Free Shipping $50+

Made in the USA from Merino wool, these work socks really are something else in terms of quality. They feature compression through the arch and calf which helps your feet recover after a long day. Plus, because they're Merino wool, they're breathable and help reduce foot sweat.

Check Price Read Our Review

FAQs

What boots are 100% made in the USA?

The brands that come the closest to 100% made in the USA are Oak Street Bootmakers and Nicks Handmade Shoes.

Are Red Wing boots American made?

The Red Wing Heritage line is built in the USA. Their workwear line isn’t.

Are Carhartt boots made in the USA?

Most Carhartt boots are made in Mexico, though they do try to make products in the USA. If it doesn’t specifically say “Made in USA” then assume your Carhartt boots are from Mexico.

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