7 Best Service Boots Broken Down by Budget

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by  William Barton | Last Updated: 

Almost every boot brand has a service boot of some kind. And that can make it nearly impossible to find the best of the best.

That’s why, after reviewing over 100 boots, I’m sharing the best service boots you can get and I’m breaking it down into different budget tiers so you can get exactly what you want for the right price. 

Best Under $200
  • 360 degree Goodyear welt
  • Rubber stud sole or heavy lug “Storm King” version available
  • 15 different leather options
Best Under $300
  • Dressier style
  • Leather quality is exceptional value considering the cost
  • Longer lead time
Best Under $400
  • All natural insole and midsole materials
  • Horween leather
  • Split Norwegian Goodyear welt
Runner Up Under $400
  • Bulkier style with rugged built and roomier toe
  • Excellent durability
  • Leather insole and cork filler
Best Under $500
  • Wide variety of super interesting leather options
  • Made in Portland, Oregon
  • Excellent balance between Pacific Northwest bulk and slightly more narrow and streamlined design
Best Under $600
  • Built like an absolute tank
  • Fully customizable
  • Long lead-time
Best Over $600
  • Stitchdown construction
  • Best possible leather quality
  • Four different last shapes to choose from

It’s not just you: every single boot brand seems to have a service boot.

And it makes sense: service boots are basically what people think about when they think about boots. 

A great service boot has a simple design, pairs well with a variety of styles, and is rugged and durable. 

But with so many options out there, I wanted to help you cut through the noise and get only the best. I broke my list down by budget because there are fantastic service boots in every price-range. 

How Did I Come Up With My List?

I own each of these boots, plus I’ve broken in and worn service boots from about six other brands not mentioned here. 

Overall, I’ve tested over 100 pairs of boots in my years running this site (and the BootSpy YouTube channel), and the brands I’ve mentioned here are consistently some of the best in terms of quality, durability, style, and customer experience. 

Service boots are my favorite style, so I have a lot of them. Lately, I’ve been trying not to get so many, because I currently own something like 40+ pairs of boots, and getting another service boot wouldn’t do me any favors. 

The only boot on this list I don’t have is the Beckett Simonon Dowler, but I have several other boots from the brand, and I know they build all their boots in a similar fashion and with the same leather, so I’m confident in my recommendation there.   

7 Best Service Boots for Men

Best Under $200: Thursday Boot Company Captain

1.
Thursday Captain

The Thursday Captain is an excellent deal. Made with Thursday's Chrome leather from Le Farc tannery (often compared to Horween Chromexcel), these boots are still holding up well after five years of wear. When (if?) these ever wear out, I’ll be getting them again.

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The Thursday Captain is the first high quality boot I ever bought, and it sparked my love of Goodyear welted footwear. 

The Captain features a 360-degree Goodyear welt, has a rubber-studded sole (or you can get the Storm King lug sole), and is available in 15 different leather options. 

Personally, I like Thursday’s full grain pull-up leather (aka Thursday Chrome leather) though their Rugged and Resilient line is also extremely popular and you really don’t ever need to care for it.

Thursday Boots Captain
Walking in my Thursday Captain boots.

Thursday offers the best value for money at this level and if you’ve never invested in a great pair of boots, I think you’ll be shocked at the quality you’re getting here for the price. 

If you’re used to $100 boots, the Thursday Captain will feel like it’s in a completely different league (because it is).

What I Like

  • Thursday offers a huge variety of leather and sizing options. 

  • 360-degree Goodyear welt, steel shank, leather stacked heel—all hallmarks of high quality boot construction. 

  • Poron insoles make for a very comfortable boot that feels almost like a sneaker. 

  • Free shipping and returns and excellent customer service make them easy to shop with. 

What I Don’t Like

  • The heel and welt leather can dry out quickly, so it’s a good idea to have leather conditioner on hand.

What Other Reviewers Say

The Thursday Captain has a 4.9-star rating with over 25,000 reviews on Thursday’s site at the time of writing, which is a lot of happy customers. 

Order a half-size smaller than you normally would with sneakers—most reviewers, including myself have gotten the right size by doing so. You can also read my full guide on Thursday sizing here for more sizing information.

The Verdict

Whenever one of my friends is looking for their first high quality boot, I pretty much always recommend the Thursday Captain. After all, it was my first good boot and I never looked back. 

And my first experience with Thursday was so good, I now have over 14 pairs of Thursdays (three Captains), which is actually a bit deranged. But I like the company and I like the boots. 

The Thursday Captain is my top recommendation for a service boot under $200, and they’re a fantastic choice to start with, even as we start looking at the $200-$300 boots. 

See what my Thursday Captains look like after four years of wear
Best Under $200
Thursday Captain

The Thursday Captain is an excellent deal. Made with Thursday's Chrome leather from Le Farc tannery (often compared to Horween Chromexcel), these boots are still holding up well after five years of wear. When (if?) these ever wear out, I’ll be getting them again.

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Best Under $300: Beckett Simonon Dowler

Beckett Simonon Dowler

The Dowlers look phenomenal and are comfortable from the moment you put them on, and will get even better the longer you wear them. The fashion-forward aesthetic retains an everyday appeal which makes them perfect for a variety of outfits.

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Beckett Simonon is another one of my favorite brands because their leather quality is exceptional.

So I have to admit: I don’t actually own the Beckett Simonon Dowler, but I have the Beckett Simonon Elliot and Douglas. Because Beckett Simonon builds all their boots using a Blake stitch construction and the same leather, I’m confident the Dowler is a fantastic service boot, as it’s really just the style that’s different. 

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The Dowler is the dressiest service boot I have on my list, too. It has just a double-row of stitching along the cap toe, which is a bit more streamlined than many other brands with three or four rows. 

Blake stitch boots typically don’t have as much weather resistance as Goodyear welted boots, so I put the Dowler on the list as more of a style-forward boot than a rugged boot.

What I Like

  • Beckett Simonon has some of the best leather quality for the price. It’s soft and buttery smooth. 

  • Blake stitch construction makes these lightweight and there’s essentially zero break in period

  • Four speed hooks make lacing it quick and easy. 

What I Don’t Like

  • Beckett Simonon hand crafts their boots to order, so you can expect an 8-12 week wait time to actually get your boots on your doorstep. 

What Other Reviewers Say

Probably the biggest issue with Beckett Simonon is that long wait time, but it’s also how they make their boots for such a low cost (because I’d say the boots are easily worth over $100 more).

But many reviewers love the communication you get from Beckett Simonon during that initial 8-12 week wait time. The brand does a great job sending regular updates on what’s happening with your new boots as they’re being built. 

The Verdict

If you’re patient and can stomach the wait time, I think you’ll really enjoy your Beckett Simonon boots. 

The Dowler is the dressiest service boot on my list, and I love the leather Beckett Simonon uses. It’s also the least weather resistant because of its Blake stitch construction. 

So if you want a service boot mainly for style, the Beckett Simonon Dowler is a fantastic choice. 

Beckett Simonon Dowler

The Dowlers look phenomenal and are comfortable from the moment you put them on, and will get even better the longer you wear them. The fashion-forward aesthetic retains an everyday appeal which makes them perfect for a variety of outfits.

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Best Under $400: Grant Stone Diesel

3.
Grant Stone Diesel

The Grant Stone Diesel is a no-frills mid-weight boot built with superb attention to detail and materials. The quality is comparable to other boot makers who retail for $450-600, but the Diesel is much less expensive. It’s one of the better price for value buys you’ll find.

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Like Thursday and Beckett Simonon, I think Grant Stone offers some of the best value-for-money boots in the world. 

At this price level, there’s another leap in quality, and one thing I really love about Grant Stone is that they use the best materials inside and out. 

walking in Grant Stone Diesel boots
Walking in Grant Stone Diesel boots

So even through the insole and midsole—parts you never see or would even notice—Grant Stone is impeccable with their build-quality.

The Grant Stone Diesel is my favorite service boot under $400, which is tough because there are a lot of great service boots in this range. But the Diesel basically epitomizes everything I think a great service boot should be: high quality, durable, stylish, requires little care, and comfortable. 

What I Like

  • Grant Stone has a lot of Horween Chromexcel leathers, plus some funky leathers like kangaroo kudu, and more. 

  • The vegetable tanned leather insole and midsole make for a very sturdy boot that’s super comfortable when you break it in.

  • The brand offers a lot of widths so if you struggle to find boots that fit well, Grant Stone will likely be able to help you out. 

What I Don’t Like

  • The heel is pretty large on Grant Stone boots—while the front of the Diesel can make for a dressy boot, the heel is a bit bulky for dressy situations. 

What Other Reviewers Say

Grant Stone has a dedicated following of devoted boot lovers (count me as a part of that crowd). Many reviewers are coming back for their second or third pair of boots—and a few are actually buying the Diesel again in different leathers. 

The Verdict

Grant Stone is an underrated brand in my opinion. And the Diesel is their flagship boot. 

At this price range, Grant Stone is starting to hit the high-end in terms of quality. Yes, you can spend more to get a beefier boot with greater durability and more exotic leathers. But if you want a simple boot that’s built extremely well with great quality materials, the Grant Stone Diesel is the first that comes to mind. 

Best Under $400
Grant Stone Diesel

The Grant Stone Diesel is a no-frills mid-weight boot built with superb attention to detail and materials. The quality is comparable to other boot makers who retail for $450-600, but the Diesel is much less expensive. It’s one of the better price for value buys you’ll find.

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Runner Up Under $400: Red Wing Iron Ranger

The $300-$400 service boot category is a tough one, and I couldn’t just leave all the winning’s to Grant Stone. The Red Wing Iron Ranger deserves a spot on this list too because it’s a truly fantastic boot. 

It’s much bulkier than the other boots I have on this list (besides the Nick’s Americana), and it has a bump-toe shape that makes it ideal for guys with wider feet at the toes. 

Red Wing uses a leather insole with cork filler and a custom hardened rubber sole that’s very durable. It’s an iconic boot that can easily last a decade or longer.

What I Like

  • S.B. Foot Tanning Company makes unique leathers, so you can get the Iron Ranger in four different leather options and each would feel like a totally unique boot. 

  • Once they break in, they become really comfortable. 

  • They’re super durable and don’t require any leather care—in fact, they look better with less care. 

What I Don’t Like

  • These are probably the least shock-absorbent of any boot on this list because of the hard outsole, so they can be uncomfortable if you stand for hours as part of your work. 

What Other Reviewers Say

The Red Wing Iron Ranger is one of the most iconic boots of all time. One of the most common complaints I’ve seen in the reviews is that the sizing is tricky for these boots when shopping online. That’s why I made a Red Wing sizing guide to help.

The Verdict

If you want a bulkier style service boot, you probably have already heard about the Red Wing Iron Ranger. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s one of the best service boots out there.

Red Wing doesn’t beat out Grant Stone in my opinion, because their quality control isn’t as strict as Grant Stone and Red Wing’s online shopping experience is not great. But if you can find the correct size, the Iron Ranger is a fantastic boot.


Best Under $500: Truman 79

Truman Java Waxed Flesh

The Java Boot is built to be a versatile boot that is going to last the next century. The Java Waxed Flesh is unique and rugged that ages with a story and pride.

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Truman is a lesser-known brand, unless you’re in all the boot-enthusiast forums. In that case, you already know they’re darlings of the boot-world. 

Truman is really a leather-focused boot brand. They build on a few different lasts (or shapes), and my favorite is the 79 last. It’s a great balance between the sturdier, bulkier look, yet still is somewhat narrow in the toe so it looks more fashionable. 

wide angle Truman boot styled with jeans
Truman boot styled with jeans

I have my 79 last Truman boots in their Java Waxed flesh leather, which is a pretty rare Horween offering and is an absolute rugged stunner. It’s waxed roughout, so it never needs any care and is super weather resistant, too. 

What I Like

  • Truman brings in some really interesting, unique, and rare leathers—that’s their speciality. 

  • Their boots are super rugged, but aren’t so bulky like Nick’s that you can’t wear them in more fashion-forward scenarios. 

  • They use a fat oak-tanned midsole and insole, so the durability on these boots is pretty much at the top-end. 

What I Don’t Like

  • They have a roughly 6-8 week lead time.

What Other Reviewers Say

There are really good reviews of Truman boots and there are really bad ones, too. Truman has moved around a few times as a company (PA to CO to OR) and their production hasn’t always been consistent throughout. But in Oregon, they’ve hit the winning formula and are getting better at producing faster. 

The negative reviews are all due to the shipping time being longer than expected. But I can confirm that those inconsistent years are behind Truman and they’re much more accurate with their projected lead times now.

The Verdict

Truman boots are a fantastic find for anyone who is particular about their leather options. They really know how to speak to a boot-enthusiasts heart and make an exceptional boot that’s one-of-a-kind. 

I like the 79 last Truman makes because they’re slim at the toe but still have a lot of heft and bulk to them. These are also some of the toughest boots on my list, and when you combine the Goodyear welt with the waxed roughout leather, you get something that’s basically indestructible during the wet and cold season. 

Truman Java Waxed Flesh

The Java Boot is built to be a versatile boot that is going to last the next century. The Java Waxed Flesh is unique and rugged that ages with a story and pride.

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Best Under $600: Nick’s Americana

6.
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.

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So there are boots, and then there are Nick’s boots. This brand got their start as a woodland firefighting boot-maker and they’re one of the legendary Pacific Northwest brands (up there with White’s and Wesco). 

The Nick’s Americana is actually a pretty tame pair from Nick’s, but it’s the bulkiest, sturdiest boot on this list by a fair margin. 

The Americana is fully customizable with dozens of leather, sole, and accessory options. Honestly, I’m still breaking my Americana’s in and I’ve had them for almost a year. But dang, they’re built well. 

What I Like

  • Nick’s offers dozens of customizable leather options, including many from Horween and C.F. Stead.

  • You can change the heel and sole—I opted for the Vibram V-bar sole on a standard stacked leather heel. 

  • The most durable, sturdy boot I’ve ever worn in my life. 

What I Don’t Like

  • 9 month waiting period.

  • The break in is intense. 

What Other Reviewers Say

Nick’s also has a dedicated following, and the crowd is pretty small for folks buying boots that cost more than $500. A lot of construction workers and people in hazardous jobs choose Nick’s because they’re durable enough to last through a season of woodland firefighting, which has got to be the toughest job on a pair of new boots.

The Verdict

If you’re tired of wearing normal human shoes and you’d rather wear a pair of tanks on your feet, then check out the Nick’s Americana

Nick’s Americana
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.

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Best $600: Viberg Service Boot

7.
Viberg Service Boot

The Service Boot has been a Viberg icon since the 1930s. It's versatile, rugged, and Viberg makes one of the best versions of this boot you can find. But you gotta be willing to pay the price.

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At the very tippy-top of the service boot spectrum, you’ll find the Viberg Service Boot. 

To be honest, the Viberg Service Boot isn’t necessarily better than Nick’s or even Truman—it’s all about the leather selection and the style. 

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Viberg’s Service Boots are made with stitchdown construction like Nick’s, and they’re incredibly well-made. I like that Viberg does quarterly releases with interesting leathers that are only available for a limited time.

There are also four different lasts Viberg makes their service boots with: the 2030, 2040, 1035, and 310 last. I have the 2030 last which has a lifted and squared toe. It’s a bit more stylistically adventurous, but you can also get a standard cap-toe look with the 1035 or 310. 

What I Like

  • The limited seasonal releases are really interesting and a great way to get a unique boot that’ll never be offered again. 

  • They’re made with double-row stitchdown construction which is virtually waterproof and easy to resole.

  • Viberg uses the finest possible leathers.

What I Don’t Like

  • You have to pay for shipping from Canada, which costs an extra $40 or so. 

What Other Reviewers Say

A lot of reviewers choose Viberg because they’re the only top-end rugged bootmaker that also uses shell Cordovan and horse butt leathers. Alden does too, but they don’t make the same kind of rugged style stitchdown boots Viberg does.

The Verdict

Viberg has built their whole business on service boots and nobody does it better than them. However, they’re expensive. For the record, I think objective quality tops out when the list hit about $400. But Viberg carries certain leathers that are reserved for dressy styles and they deck their Service Boots out with rare hides for a dress-rugged look that no other brand could pull off. 

Best $600
Viberg Service Boot

The Service Boot has been a Viberg icon since the 1930s. It's versatile, rugged, and Viberg makes one of the best versions of this boot you can find. But you gotta be willing to pay the price.

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Service Time

True to their origins, I think the best service boots are simple, durable, and rugged. To me, it helps a lot when they look good, too. 

For the best budget service boot, get the Thursday Captain. It’s a fantastic boot for the price and it’s got some ruggedness, it’s stylish, and it’s comfortable. 

Thursday Captain

The Thursday Captain is an excellent deal. Made with Thursday's Chrome leather from Le Farc tannery (often compared to Horween Chromexcel), these boots are still holding up well after five years of wear. When (if?) these ever wear out, I’ll be getting them again.

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The best “bang for your buck” is the Grant Stone Diesel—this boot starts to hit the top end of construction and quality for the lowest price. Truman is right behind them, but their leathers tend to be a bit pricier because they’re more rare. 

Grant Stone Diesel

The Grant Stone Diesel is a no-frills mid-weight boot built with superb attention to detail and materials. The quality is comparable to other boot makers who retail for $450-600, but the Diesel is much less expensive. It’s one of the better price for value buys you’ll find.

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The Nick’s Americana is the sturdiest boot on the list by far—it’s a wildly durable service boot that’ll last 10 years no problem. It’s been taking me a full year just to break them in. 

And Viberg is the baller pick if you want all the construction features of something high-end like Nick’s but also want the fine leathers normally reserved for dressier styles. 


FAQs

What is a service boot?

Service boots get their name because the style was originally made for the military. They’re usually 6-inch boots that come up over the ankle, lace tightly, and often feature a cap-toe (though they don’t have to have a cap-toe). The design is usually simple and the key characteristic is rugged durability.

Is it ok to run in service boots?

I wouldn’t go for a run in your service boots. While it’s fine to run short distances, running shoes are a much better choice for training.

Is it better to go bigger or smaller in boots?

It’s usually a good idea to order your boots a half size smaller than you would your sneakers or dress shoes. However, check with the specific brand you’re shopping with, because many boot brands stick to Brannock sizing, in which case you wouldn’t choose a different size. But most often, boots run big, so order a half size smaller is the best way to go.

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