A few months ago, I went into one of those high-end coffee shops.
You know the one: the walls are white, the art is minimalist, and the barista is wearing a beanie.
There were four other people in the shop, and they were all wearing Blundstones.
As someone who loves boots and runs a boot-blog, I felt compelled to pick up a pair of my own.
I went with the Original: the Blundstone 500. After breaking it in and comparing it to other boots in my collection, I’m finally ready to give a verdict.
So how do the Blundstone 500s stack up? Keep reading and find out.
Blundstone 500 Boots Overview
The Blundstone 500 is the brand’s original boot: it’s what put them on the map.
They’ve since released a slew of other boots, all with funky numbers. This can be pretty confusing if you’re wondering which model of Blundstones is the best.
But let’s get back to the 500.
The Blundstone 500 got its start as a farming/working boot. And it’s easy to tell why: the dual-pull tabs make this boot a breeze to slip on and off.
Blundstone carries a wide variety of these boots (with different numbers of course—just to make things more confusing), and you can even get a pair of these with vegan leather. Other options I’ve seen in the wild are the Original suede leather (which is a sort of waxed suede, so it’s more rugged than regular suede), and different colors in the elastic gore panel.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Blundstone 500
There are better boots than the Blundstone 500. Some are less expensive, and others are more expensive.
I’ll dive into the specifics of everything I’m about to say below throughout the rest of the review, but to get straight to the point:
There’s no point in getting the 500. You might as well get the 550, because it’s more comfortable and has a better leather lining. It’s only about $10 more expensive, so between the two, the 550 is a winner. This is true for both men and women—the boots are all unisex, and the only reason Blundstone has separate pages for men and women is to make finding the correct size easier.
But $200 (or even $210 for the 550) is not a good value for price for a cemented sole, genuine leather boot.
In the alternatives section below, I note the Jim Green Stockman, which costs $150, has full grain leather, and features a double-stitched stitchdown construction. The leather is thicker, has a tighter grain structure (which makes it more durable and easier to care for), and there’s very little chance of the sole ever separating from the upper.
Still, I do see a reason to get a pair of Blundstones: they’re Blundstones. They’re trendy and popular. Even if the Jim Green Stockman is technically a better boot for cheaper, it doesn’t look exactly like a Blundstone.
The truth is, the Blundstone 500 isn’t a terrible boot—it’ll do fine and should last a year or so of regular wear. So if you want the specific style of a Blundstone, it’s not like you’re getting scammed. You’re just not getting a tremendous boot.
Blundstone 500 Review
When deciding which Blundstone to get, I had a hard time deciding between the Original brown leather (the 500) and the 1911 Tobacco Suede. My neighbor has the suede version and they look awesome.
But I opted for the 500 because I wanted to check out Blundstone’s signature leather.
I’m generally not a huge fan of chunky Chelsea boots, but they’ve been growing on me. I like the shape of Blundstones, and the angle on the instep (the top of the boot to the toe) is my favorite part.
Oh, and the double pull-tabs—those are sweet.
For some reason, I think Blundstones are the only boots I’d recommend wearing with shorts.
It’s something about their Aussie heritage. Boots with shorts: sure. Christmas in summer: why not? Platypus: what’s to lose?
The biggest strength of the Blundstone 500 is its breathability. It’s an unlined boot, and the insole is designed specifically to increase airflow and reduce the amount of sweat around your foot.
Earlier, I said there was no reason to get the 500 over the 550, but that’s not entirely true. If you live in a climate that’s always hot, then perhaps the added breathability of the 500 is worthwhile. I’d still opt for the added comfort, padding, and lining of the 550, but if you struggle with sweaty feet, the 500 does a great job keeping you cool.
Leather Quality and Care
The leather is the biggest disappointment for me with the Blundstone 500. It’s a corrected genuine leather, which is a bummer. It’s pretty easy to find superior full grain leather in boots at this price point, so to me there’s no excuse for Blundstone to skip it.
On the plus side, the leather is 2.5mm thick, which is decent—you can still find that leather thickness for cheaper, but it’s not like Blundstone totally fumbled in the leather department.
The biggest issue when you compare full grain leather with genuine leather is the tightness of the grain structure. Full grain leather has a tighter grain pattern, which means it creases more gently, retains oils and waxes better, and is more resistant to moisture and abrasion.
Genuine leather scratches easier and runs a higher risk of cracking along the creases. You can help avoid that by conditioning your Blundstone’s every 4-5 months, which is easy to do. Read my full guide on how to clean and care for your Blundstone’s here.
I think it’s really cool that Blundstone offers a vegan leather option in this style. Vegan leather has its own durability issues, and I don’t personally own any vegan leather boots because they’re just not as high quality as standard leather boots. But if choosing vegan leather is important to you, Blundstone is one of the few boot brands that have a solid offer.
The sole has some distinct pros and cons that are worth discussing. It’s made from a single piece of mold-injected TPU.
On the plus side, it’s pretty squishy and is very comfortable. If you struggle with a sore lower back or knees, or just stand on your feet a lot and want something to help you avoid foot fatigue, this outsole is great.
On the negative side, it’s not very abrasion resistant, and the heel will wear down faster than with a standard rubber sole.
The TPU outsole is quite thick, so it’ll remain useable for a long time even if the heel wears down, but it’ll start to look a little “off.”
But the biggest issue with the way these boots are constructed is that the outsole is only glued to the upper—there’s no stitch or anything else keeping this boot together. Shoe cement is strong, but it can fail, and if it does, you’ll have your sole separating at the bottom, rendering your boot useless.
I’d maybe take that chance on a $100-$120 boot, but I wouldn’t with a $200+ boot.
The insole is a thin removable piece of foam, which is another disappointment, and the biggest reason I recommend the 550 over the 500. There’s a cutout in the fiberboard midsole with a small square of high density foam. This does add some comfort, but again—it’s just glued in there and isn’t finished well.
Fit and Sizing
The Blundstone 500 is quite comfortable, though finding the right size can be a bit tricky. The brand does a great job on their site making it simple to get the correct size, but make sure you know the differences between UK/AUS sizing and US sizing before buying.
In the UK and Australia, boot sizes are typically one number less than US sizes.
For instance, I wear a size 10.5 in sneakers in the US. I bought the 9.5 UK/AU size from Blundstone and the fit is perfect.
To clarify: on the Blundstone site, I said I was a US shopper, so they had the size tailored to me: I ordered a 10.5 US and they shipped me the corresponding size.
I was trying to buy through Amazon before shopping with Blundstone and had a difficult time figuring out the difference. I’d order through Blundstone because they make navigating the UK/AU to US size conversion easy.
For a more in-depth breakdown, read my Blundstone sizing guide here.
There’s no break in period with the Blundstone 500. This boot is comfortable right out of the box and the leather isn’t very stiff, so it shouldn’t put up too much of a fight.
I always recommend wearing a thick pair of socks the first time you wear any boot, because that’ll help reduce any rubbing if your feet have a particular shape that doesn’t agree with the boot.
If you do experience some rubbing with your Blundstones, but they don’t feel loose or tight, it’ll likely go away in a few days as the leather breaks in and stretches out.
Wear your boots in the house for a few hours—if you feel any tingling, they’re too tight. If your heel is moving from side to side, they’re too loose.
What do Other Reviewers Say?
The majority of reviews for the Blundstone 500 are screamingly positive. Screamingly.
Wirecutter even said they’re bar-none the best boots in the world, which is objectively not true. I don’t even think Blundstone would say that. They’d have to answer to Hugh Jackman and R.M. Williams boots.
But still, people love their Blunnies. I’ve pointed out the negatives for you, but it’s also worth noting that there are thousands of 5-star reviews for the Blundstone 500. They make people happy, and that’s awesome.
Many reviews on Amazon noted that getting the correct size is difficult, and they had to do several exchanges because it’s not always clear if you’re ordering a US size or an AU size. I know I struggled with this when I was shopping, so I just went directly to the Blundstone site and it was much easier there.
Blundstone 500 Alternatives
Jim Green Stockman
The Jim Green Stockman is almost the perfect alternative to the Blundstone 500. It features a full grain leather upper, which, when combined with the full grain leather lining, gets you 3.8mm of leather throughout the entire boot.
That’s a lot of leather—even on boots that cost above $500.
Not only that, but the Stockman features a double stitch down construction, which again is rare for a boot under $500, let alone for a boot that’s about $150.
The Stockman has the same weird V-thing going on toward the top of the shaft as the Blundstone, and it also features two nylon pull tabs.
The only drawback is that it’s really wide. Blundstone’s are already quite wide at 16mm across the ball of the foot, but the Jim Green Stockman takes it even further out to 17mm. This 1mm difference makes the Stockman a touch less stylish when compared to the Blundstone 500.
I think the Jim Green Stockman is a tremendous boot, and it’s certainly made with better materials and a much more reliable construction than the Blundstone 500. But the added width might be a deal-breaker for you.
Red Wing Classic Chelsea
The Red Wing Classic Chelsea is another fantastic alternative to the 500. But again, there’s a catch.
With Red Wing, you’re getting a 360-degree Goodyear welt, which is a far more durable and water resistant way of making a boot. Plus you can replace the sole if you want to when the heel starts to wear down, and you can’t do that with your Blunnies.
The leather is also much nicer on the Red Wing Chelsea compared to Blundstone.
The drawback? There are two: it’s more expensive (~$85 more), and the Red Wing only comes with a wedge sole.
I don’t really like the look of wedge soles. They’re not better or worse than other types of soles, but I personally think they look a bit goofy. Also, the Red Wing doesn’t have that front pull-tab, which I think is cool.
Still, the Red Wing Classic Chelsea is objectively better for several reasons. If you want a high-end boot and are willing to spend a bit extra, the Red Wing will serve you better. You can wear the Red Wing for 5-10 years, and I’d be surprised if the Blundstone goes beyond 2.
There’s only one reason I’d recommend the 500 over the 550: if you live in a super hot climate and it’s warm year round.
The 500 doesn’t have a lining and the insole is perforated, so you get more airflow to your foot.
Otherwise, for an extra $10 or so, you get a thicker, more cushy insole, leather lining, a steel shank, and an added line of stitching along the heel. This makes the heel counter a bit more sturdy, the arch support better, and the boot more comfortable overall.
The style of a Chelsea boot and the ruggedness of a work boot in one super comfortable package. With pull-up straps in the front and back, these are easy to slip on and wear any time.
My Thoughts Overall On the Blundstone 500
What I Like
These boots are easy to slip on and off, which makes them ideal for quick chores.
They’re quite comfortable, even when brand new and right out of the box.
The insole is removable so you can choose to add your own custom insert for added arch support.
The style is unique, and their mold-injected sole keeps the profile slimmer.
What I Don’t Like
The outsole is glued to the upper, which presents major durability and weather resistance issues.
The leather quality is sub-par considering the price. It’s easy to find full grain leather in a boot under $200, so genuine leather at $200 is lame.
The AU sizing can be confusing if you’re shopping in the US. I recommend shopping direct with Blundstone because they make the process much easier.
Who is the Blundstone 500 for?
The Blundstone 500 is a great choice for you if you find a deep discount on the boot and can score it under $150 (I think $120 is a fair price). Otherwise, if you’re paying full price, just get the Blundstone 550 or one of the other alternatives I mentioned.
There aren’t many reasons why you’d get the Blundstone 500. If you’re paying full price, and absolutely want a pair of Blundstones for the style, get the 550. It has a few added benefits like leather lining, a better insole, and a steel shank for better arch support—it’s worth the extra $10.
The main reason is because of the way Blundstone attaches the sole—it’s just glued on. That’s unacceptable for a $200 boot (unless it’s 100% waterproof). I doubt that these Blundstones will last much more than a year of hard wear before the sole separates.
Often, a brand will make a few sacrifices here and there to keep the price of their boots low. But Blundstone sacrifices the quality of everything, and their boots still aren’t that cheap. The heavily corrected genuine leather and fiber board midsole are not the kind of quality I expect at this price.
I’d say a fair price for these boots is more like $120. If they were $120, I’d overlook the warts.
But I can get a pair of goodyear welted, full grain leather, leather stacked heel boots like the Thursday Captain for $200. Or I can get something with nearly twice the leather thickness and a way more sturdy construction with the Jim Green Stockman. Or I can spend an extra $80 and get something that will last a decade like the Red Wing Classic Chelsea.
Still, I understand if you want to get a pair of Blundstones.
There are literally thousands of 5-star reviews for Blundstone boots. Most reviewers are very happy with their new Blunnies. Sometimes you want something for its style, for its branding—and if that’s the case, I’d still recommend the 550 over the 500. They look exactly the same, but the added steel shank and leather lining make it a better choice.
What’s the difference between the Blundstone 500 and 600?
The Blundstone 600 has herringbone elastic, a steel shank, and the backstay is constructed differently than on the 500. Also, the 600 is only sold in select stores, whereas the 500 is more widely available. The 550 is a good alternative to the 600 which you can buy online.
Do Blundstone 500s run big or small?
Blundstone 500s run a bit wide, but not necessarily big. They’re also sized in AU sizing, which is bigger than US sizing. So if you have a size 10 foot in the US, you’ll likely want the AU size 9.