Brunt Work Boots Review: A Close Look at the Marin

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by  William Barton | Last Updated: 

Wondering if Brunt work boots can take a beating? For under $150, it’s tough to know whether you’re getting a bargain or just getting ripped off.

In this Brunt work boots review, we’re taking a close look at the Marin moc toe to see if Brunt can make a boot worth buying.

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Brunt Marin

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Bottom line: The Brunt Marin is a very comfortable boot with some clever design details that allow you to customize your boot to your liking. The leather is solid considering the price of these boots, but the cemented construction poses some serious durability issues that a Goodyear welted boot won’t have.

Ratings:

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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 speedhook/eyelet dual lacing system is unique and a really cool feature
  • The full grain 2mm leather is excellent quality considering the price
  • The dual insole feature is another unique feature that allows you to opt for more or less room in your boot if you need it
  • Free shipping, free returns, and a 30-day quality guarantee

Cons:

  • The sole is cemented on which often means less durability
  • The fit is quite roomy and there’s a lot of heel slip

I still smell like smoke. 

This past weekend, I helped my brother lug his new 400 lb Old Country smoker into his backyard. After seasoning it with a roaring fire, we tossed on a few racks of ribs and a USDA Prime brisket.

The food was incredible. But how were the boots I was wearing? 

A man doesn’t wear a pair of flip-flops when pulling a 400 lb hunk of steel out of the back of a pick up. No, you need something sturdy. 

And after hearing so much about Brunt Workwear, I decided to give their most popular boot, the Marin a try.

By the end of this review, you’ll know the ins and outs, alternatives, and ultimately whether or not the Brunt Marin is right for you. 

Brunt Workwear Marin Overview

Brunt Marin boot workwear

The Brunt Workwear Marin is the most popular of Brunt’s four boots. It’s a traditional look moc-toe, and there are several different versions of the Marin.

I picked up the unlined version, but you can also get the Marin with a breathable mesh liner, a composite toe version, an 8-inch version, and a model for women. 

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All of these different versions are largely the same, at least in terms of leather, sole, and construction quality. The differences should be obvious from the names, so as you read this review, you can assume the same holds true for any version of the boot you prefer. 

Also worth noting: there’s only one color option at the time of writing, which is a matte brown. 

Brunt Marin

The Brunt Marin is an excellent boot for you if you need a solid work boot and you’re on a budget. And if you’re not entirely sure on what kind of fit you should get for your boots, the Marin has some customizable features (like the second removable insole) that ensure you’ll have comfort in your boots.

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Things to Consider Before Buying Work Boots from Brunt

Brunt marin work boot profile image

Brunt has a few great policies in place that make ordering from them online easy: they offer free shipping and free returns. Plus, they have a 30-day, no questions asked, money back guarantee. 

And that includes if you’ve worn them to work already.

I don’t know of any other brand that offers that (many have generous return periods, but I can’t think of a brand that lets you beat the boots up and then ship them back if you don’t like them). 

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And on the potentially negative side: these are made with a cemented construction, which doesn’t offer the same durability backstop as a Goodyear welt. Because the sole is just glued to the leather upper, it’s almost guaranteed to become separated at some point. 

Now if it becomes separated two years in, then you’ve gotten solid value from these boots because they’re at a lower price. But if they become separated six months in, then they’re basically junk. Because it’s glue, it’s impossible to know how long yours will last (as heat, moisture, rough wearing all will have a different effect on the leather cement). 

Also worth noting: much of the BootSpy community wants their boots to be made in the USA, and Brunt boots are not. They’re made in China. So if buying domestic is important to you, check out some of the Brunt Marin alternatives I’ve mentioned toward the end of this review. 

Brunt Workwear

With boots, apparel, socks, and insoles, Brunt has everything you want with you at a job site. Except a cooler. You might want to bring that yourself.

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Brunt Marin Boot Review

First Impression

Brunt marin closeup on model

The Brunt Marin is a classic looking moc toe boot. I like the matte brown leather option, and I think it’ll age well.

One of my favorite things about this boot is the dual eyelet/speedhook option for the top two laces. 

Brunt Marin boot workwear 1

You can wind the laces through the eyelets if you want, or use the speedhooks. I always opt for speedhooks, but having the choice is really cool. The downside of the speedhooks is that they’re plastic. The last time I used plastic speedhooks, I had one break off when I rolled a hand cart into my ankle, which made that previous pair of boots tougher to wear. 

Brunt eyelet and speedhook system

I’ll talk more about the leather later, but I’m impressed with its quality. It’s fairly thick and I wasn’t expecting such a supple full grain leather for the sub-$150 price. 

The Brunt Marin has a fake-welt for style purposes (that’s the stitch around the sole), which can be misleading as it’s a pure cemented construction.

Cemented construction isn’t always a bad thing, but as I said up above, you miss out on the tensile strength of the Goodyear welt’s thread. Shoe cement can fail at many points and is susceptible to heat, moisture, and tough wearing more-so than a thread and cement combo.

Leather Quality and Care

Brunt Workwear marin boot leather tag leather details

The Brunt Marin features a 2mm thick full grain leather upper, which is a solid value for the price of this boot. 

It’s a pull-up leather, meaning it’s packed with plenty of oils and waxes and requires very little care to keep it supple and strong. 

I picked up the unlined version, but there’s also a mesh-lined version. Personally, I’d stick with the unlined as some of the construction details on Brunt boots are a bit sloppy and I imagine the mesh lining would be among the first things to fail on the boot.

Brunt Workwear marin boots eyelets

But because the leather is sturdy and good quality, I’d rather depend on natural materials over anything synthetic that needs to be glued in. 

I honestly doubt I’ll ever condition these boots for two reasons: the pull-up leather really doesn’t need much care or attention, and I don’t see the cemented construction lasting for longer that 18-24 months.

If I do decide to condition my Brunt Marin’s, I’ll use mink oil to re-up the weather-resistance of the leather. 

Sole

Brunt Workwear 16

Both the insole and the outsole of the Brunt Marin are really interesting. 

The outsole is made of two parts: a lightweight foam with a harder, more slip resistant rubber skin. 

Brunt Workwear marin boot sole detail

There are some pros and cons with this dual-outsole construction. On the positive side, the foam is super comfortable and has a ton of shock absorption, so if you work on concrete all day, your feet will thank you for these. 

Brunt false goodyear welt detail

On the downside, it’s another cemented component that can delaminate and fail. Also, when the harder rubber portion of the heel wears down to the foam, the foam is going to wear down significantly faster and you’ll find yourself needing a new pair of boots in a hurry. 

All Brunt work boots have a 3-layer comfort system, and there’s a really awesome feature packed in the insole. 

Brunt Workwear triple insole comfort system detail

The Marin has a removable insole, which is made with a dense foam and is quite comfortable. Below that removable insole is another removable foam insert. When you take the insert out, you are essentially expanding the boot from a D-width to an E-width. 

At first I was concerned that the two removable insoles would slide around on each other and reduce foot stability, but I haven’t had any issues with that when wearing my Marin’s. 

So if you find yourself needing a little extra room, just remove that second foam insert, and you should have a much better fit. 

Below the second insert is a fiberboard midsole, which leaves much to be desired. It’s expected with the price, but it’s nothing special, nor is it nearly as durable as cork or leather. 

Fit and Sizing

Brunt marin closeup on model 1

Brunt claims their boots fit true to size, though I feel I could’ve ordered a half-size smaller than usual and ended up with the perfect fit (especially considering the second removable insole). 

There’s a lot of heel slippage in these boots. I picked up my Marin’s in 10.5, which is the same size I get sneakers and dress shoes in (pretty much all my other boots are a size 10). In hindsight, I’d get the Brunt Marin in a size 10 to reduce the amount of heel slip. 

So when getting the right size for yourself, I suggest getting a half-size smaller than your sneaker size (if you have standard D-width feet). 

Break-in Period

Brunt Workwear model wearing marin work boots

There’s essentially no break-in period with the Brunt Marin. The leather is soft and supple, and at 2mm thick, it doesn’t have a ton of resistance. 

Also, because of the foam outsole portion, there’s a ton of shock absorption in this boot. I still recommend wearing a thick pair of socks with your boots the first few times you wear them, but the break-in was very gentle with the unlined Marin. 

Brunt Marin

The Brunt Marin is an excellent boot for you if you need a solid work boot and you’re on a budget. And if you’re not entirely sure on what kind of fit you should get for your boots, the Marin has some customizable features (like the second removable insole) that ensure you’ll have comfort in your boots.

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What do Other Reviewers Say?

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At the time of writing there are over 850 reviews on the Brunt Workwear site for the Marin, and the vast majority are positive. Comfort comes up a lot throughout the reviews.

I noticed many reviewers stated that they invested more into their Brunt’s than they ever had for a pair of boots and felt rewarded with greater longevity. In my experience, there isn’t really anything below Brunt’s price point that’s ever worth buying—especially if you’re going to be working in them. 

So if you’re used to $80 boots, you’ll also notice a big upgrade with Brunt. 

Brunt Marin Alternatives

Thorogood Moc Toe

model wearing Thorogood for sizing

Between the Brunt Marin and the Thorogood Moc Toe, I’d get the Thorogood. 

They both have the same leather thickness, and you can find 8” and composite toe versions of each, but the Thorogood wins in two major categories: it’s made in the USA and the sole is Goodyear welted. 

You may get a Brunt boot that lasts two or three years, but I’m much less confident saying that all Brunt’s can last that long because of the cemented construction. One hot day can cause the glue to fail and you’re left with a separated sole. 

But with the Thorogood Moc Toe, the additional stitch will help ensure that even if the glue fails, there’s still a sturdy stitch keeping the sole attached. Plus, you can recraft your Thorogoods and get a new sole added on, which you can’t do with a Brunt. 

Sure, Thorogood is more expensive (by about $60), but to me, the peace of mind the Goodyear welt offers, plus the USA-made factor is well worth the extra cost. 

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.

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Red Wing Classic Moc Toe

Red Wing Moc Toe boots

The Red Wing Classic Moc Toe is legendary. It’s significantly more expensive than the Brunt Marin (by nearly double), but it’s one of the best-build moc toes I’ve ever tried. 

With all natural leather and cork materials, it’s the kind of boot that can last five years or more—even if you’re punishing it with hard work. Plus, at this level, you’re getting 2.5mm leather thickness, which protects your foot more and has greater durability. 

Red Wing 875 Classic Moc

The original Classic Moc. The 875 is built on the iconic No.23 last that leaves a lot of room in the toe, and the upper is all S.B Foot Oro Legacy leather. If you like a fine patina on your leather goods, there are few better choices than the Oro Legacy leather. It'll pick up oils and darken a decent amount throughout its journey with you.

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Thursday Diplomat

Thursday Diplomat with slim fit jeans

If you like the moc toe style but want something that’s much less bulky and more slim, check out the Thursday Diplomat

This is less of a work boot, and more of a fashion boot. But it still has tremendous Goodyear welt construction and actually has more leather than the Red Wing (the upper leather is 2.5mm and it has a glove leather liner with 1mm thickness). 

Thursday Diplomat

The Thursday Boots Diplomat is a one-of-a-kind moc toe. Most comparable boots have a huge toe box that doesn’t work well with a pair of fitted jeans or chinos. Combine a slim design with high quality materials like a Vibram Christy wedge sole, steel shank, and Thursday’s excellent oil-tanned Rugged & Resilient leather, and you’ve got a winner here.

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My Thoughts Overall On Brunt Marin Work Boots

What I Like

  • The multipurpose speedhooks and eyelet system is unique and allows you to choose which lacing method you prefer, which I really like. 

  • The full grain 2mm thick leather is excellent quality considering the inexpensive price. 

  • Having two removable insoles per boot is a really interesting move and allows you to fine-tune the fit, which is another unique aspect of this boot I’ve never seen another brand do.

  • Brunt has free shipping, free returns, and they offer an excellent 30-day no questions asked guarantee.

What I Don’t Like

  • The cemented construction isn’t as durable as a Goodyear welt and poses some long term durability issues, especially for tough work conditions. 

  • The fit is roomy, and I recommend sizing down a half-size for most folks. 

Who is the Brunt Marin for?

The Brunt Marin is an excellent boot for you if you need a solid work boot and you’re on a budget. And if you’re not entirely sure on what kind of fit you should get for your boots, the Marin has some customizable features (like the second removable insole) that ensure you’ll have comfort in your boots.

The Verdict

The Brunt Marin surprised me a few times. 

For under $150, I didn’t expect to get such good quality leather. 

I’m also impressed with some of the features like the eyelet/speedhook dual lacing system and the second removable insole you can take out to widen the boot. 

When compared to other moc toe work boots, however, I feel the Thorogood Moc Toe is a better choice for a few reasons.

First, I like that Thorogood is made in the USA, and there are some minor details throughout that show me that Thorogood is more carefully constructed compared to the Chinese manufacturing process that Brunt goes through. 

Second, and most importantly to me, is that the Thorogood features a Goodyear welt. I have no idea how long the cement (glue) attaching my Brunt Marin upper to the outsole will last—it could be two years, or it could be six months. 

I feel that with any cemented sole, you’re rolling the dice on whether you’re going to get your money’s worth from the boot. 

But Goodyear welts are much more dependable. Even if the cement fails, there’s still that trusty stitch that will hold up for years. 

If you’re getting a pair of boots for work, that dependability is crucial, so for that reason, I’d opt for the Thorogood Moc Toe or one of the other alternatives I mentioned.

Brunt Marin

The Brunt Marin is an excellent boot for you if you need a solid work boot and you’re on a budget. And if you’re not entirely sure on what kind of fit you should get for your boots, the Marin has some customizable features (like the second removable insole) that ensure you’ll have comfort in your boots.

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FAQs

Does Brunt make good boots?

Brunt Workwear makes decent boots, especially for the price. The cemented construction leaves a lot to be desired, but for under $150, the leather quality is exceptional.

Are Brunt work boots made in America?

No, Brunt work boots aren’t made in America. They’re made in China.

Are Brunt boots waterproof?

Yes, Brunt claims their boots are waterproof.

Do Brunt boots run big?

Yes, even though Brunt says their boots run true to size, in my experience, they run about a half size large. Order a half-size smaller than you would for sneakers or dress shoes.

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Brunt Marin
Budget friendly and versatile
Brunt Marin
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