facebook tracking

BootSpy is supported by readers. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

 /  Columns /  Vetted

9 Dr. Martens Alternatives That Are Actually Worth a Look in 2024

LA-born, New York-based lover of menswear, watches, and culture. His work is featured in many prominent menswear publications and reaches hundreds of thousands of guys every year. He knows a good boot when he sees one. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Apr 3, 2024
17 min read

If you’re looking for alternatives to Doc Martens, you’re in the right place.

Whether you want lower prices, higher quality, or slight design modifications, these nine alternatives are your best bet.

I say this without judgment since I’m guilty of it too.

People throw the word “icon” around pretty easily these days.

It’s safe to say that Dr. Martens is an undeniable icon of the fashion industry though.

This is especially so of the recognizable 1460 black combat boots. What shoe can claim love from groups as disparate as 70s British punks and 40-something housewives?

Dr. Martens 1460

The Dr. Martens 1460 is consistently popular and instantly recognizable. Though it’s a combat-style boot, it lacks a lot of practical and rugged qualities including strong leather, quality stitching, and a steel shank. Nonetheless, its shiny upper, yellow sole stitching, and transparent outsole have made it an iconic fashion staple.

Check Price Read Our Review

Meanwhile, their Jadon, costs a pretty penny since it’s so popular among modern trendsetters.

As with any name brand, there are several reasons to go for alternatives and substitutes. We’ve got the nine best Dr. Martens alternatives right here.

First, let’s go over how we came up with our list and why it might be a good idea for you not to go the Dr. Martens route.

How Did I Come Up With My List?

Dr Martens 9
The iconic Dr. Martens 1460

Through hours of extensive research and my own experience wearing several alternatives as well as actual Dr. Martens, I chose nine boots, each with its distinct strength.

Dr. Martens has a pretty tight hold on some of their most popular designs. In fact, as of February, 2021, they legally own the yellow contrast stitch, barring other brands from using it. It’s difficult to find substitutes that sport all of the brand’s iconic features in one place, though my best overall pick gets pretty close without breaking any laws.

There are many reasons that you might, or should, be looking for alternatives. Perhaps you love the look, but not the price. Or you might want a similar boot style with more durability. 

Maybe you’re just looking for something aesthetically close to Docs, with slight modifications. 

The 1460 isn’t worth resoling by any means because the outsole is melt-infused to the rubber welt. It costs just as much to buy a new pair as it would to resole an old pair. 

My Top Recommendations

Best Overall: Thursday Boot Company

Thursday Boot Company has a lot of great Doc Marten alternatives for both men and women. For guys, I really love the Explorer. I’ll review that in greater depth below, but I also want to call out their amazing Doc-alts for ladies.

The closest alternative you’ll find is the Thursday Combat boot. Of course, you’re not getting that yellow stitch, but they’re way more comfortable and will last much longer.

View this post on Instagram
Thursday Boots Combat

Thursday's women's line of combat boots is the best quality alternative to Doc Martens and also much more comfortable. You'll get a lot more wear from these than you would Docs.

Check Price Read Our Thursday Boots Review

But if you want a Dr. Martens Jadon alternate, or you’re just looking for something similar to Docs without necessarily wanting combat boots, then check out the entire women’s line at Thursday Boot Company.

View this post on Instagram

For dudes, the best bet is the Thursday’s Explorer.

The Thursday Explorer is a stylish combat boot meant for everyday use. It’s a lot more sophisticated than Dr. Martens combat boots and definitely more versatile because of it. 

The 1460 and the Explorer are both comfortable and shock absorbent, but the Thursday Explorer offers more nuanced comfort technology. In addition to the bendy Vibram outsole for comfort, the cork-bed midsole relieves pressure and accommodates the exact contours of your foot.

Thursday Explorer boots fit and sizing detail
Rocking my Thursday Explorers

The Explorers are a bit more pricey due to the quality materials, but Thursday’s Rugged & Resilient Leather is durable and gives you a good five-year lifespan versus the 1460s one to two. The textured and less corrected look also has more character.

What I Like

  • With a thin and refined silhouette, this boot offers both versatility and style.

  • Thursday’s Rugged & Resilient Leather ensures a lifespan anywhere from double to five times that of a typical Dr. Martens combat boot.

  • The Vibram outsole is flexible and the cork midsole forms to your foot, offering comfort and shock-absorbance.

What I Don’t Like

  • This boot runs a bit narrow, and wide sizes aren’t available. Thursday recommends sizing up if you have wide feet.

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviewers love the style, durability and comfort of this boot.

There are some complaints about the lack of wide sizes. Some mention that they might seem tight at first because of how they come laced. You’ll have to navigate the lacing system to ensure you get the perfect level of fit for you.
Many reviewers mention that this shoe needs speed hooks and I agree.

The Verdict

If you prefer a less trendy and less irreverent combat boot that will last a lot longer than Dr. Martens, go for the Thursday Explorer. There may be a premium, but the superior comfort, durability, and versatility make this an overall objectively higher quality boot.


Best Budget: ICHIGO Ankle Boots

Best Budget
ICHIGO Ankle Boots

While Dr. Martens has a tight grip on the 1460’s design, this ICHIGO Ankle Boot is as close as it gets without having to find a seedy alley. It checks all of the aesthetic boxes you'd want at a more friendly price.

Check Price

With a lower price compared to Dr. Marten 1460s, ICHIGO Ankle Boots serve up the same silhouette, eight eyelet pairs, and that plasticky looking upper. It even sports a contrast stitch around the outsole, be it a perfectly legal white thread instead of the patented yellow.

A big difference here is that the ICHIGO’s upper is fake leather, as opposed to overcorrected real leather. Not only does this give a similar aesthetic at a cheaper price, it also makes the boot spill-resistant and easy to clean.

I love that it has a side zipper. One of my biggest gripes with the 1460 is how long it takes to get it on and off because of the thin, fitted ankle. With the ICHIGO boot, you’ll almost never have to tie and untie the laces ever again. 

Our Favorite 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

This guy is a fashion boot, but the outsole is pretty tough. Don’t use this shoe as an actual tactical boot, but the rubber sole is effectively anti-slip and durable.

One caveat here is that ICHIGO categorizes this boot as a women’s shoe, which means you’ll size 1.5 up from your actual number. This is no big deal, since the 1460 design is perfectly unisex as well. However, men with especially large feet won’t always find their size available.

What I Like

  • The design language is as close to the Dr. Martens 1460. It boasts a very similar silhouette, eight metal eyelets, and the same leather look.

  • An added side zipper makes it easy to slip in and out of without untying the shoe everytime.

  • The anti-slip outsole provides good traction, even in wet conditions.

  • Its white contrast stitching is a clever hat-tip to the 1460’s yellow stitching.

What I Don’t Like

  • Since it’s technically a woman’s shoe, the largest sizes aren’t always available.

  • The insole is thin, cheap, and uncomfortable, though easily replaceable. 

What Other Reviewers Say

Pretty much no reviewer likes the foam insert. Most point out the importance of finding the right insoles to get the right comfort and support from this boot.

Understandably at this price point, many draw attention to its relatively short life span. The rubber insole is sturdy enough, but the upper will start to wear after a year of regular use. Most reviewers are accepting of this.

The Verdict

While Dr. Martens has a tight grip on the 1460’s design, this ICHIGO Ankle Boot is as close as it gets. It checks all of the aesthetic boxes.

Best Budget
ICHIGO Ankle Boots

While Dr. Martens has a tight grip on the 1460’s design, this ICHIGO Ankle Boot is as close as it gets without having to find a seedy alley. It checks all of the aesthetic boxes you'd want at a more friendly price.

Check Price


Best Jadons Alternative: Steve Madden Bettyy

Best Jadons Alternative
Steve Madden Bettyy

The Steve Madden Bettyy is for you if you love the look of the Jadon, but not the price.. It’s also for you if you love that hardcore thick outsole style, but would rather sport it without any brand recognition.

Check Price

The Jadon is Dr. Martens’ other best seller, and the Steve Madden Bettyy is the most worthy pinchitter. The main differences are its black, opaque outsole, lack of contrast stitching, and black eyelets. 

It also has absolutely no branding on it and is completely monochrome. So while this huge shoe is hardly subtle, it’s still more subtle than the Jadon. 

On the function front, this shoe is extremely sturdy since the outsole is so solid, so don’t let the height scare you. Unlike the 1460, the Jadon does have a side zipper, and so does this Steve Madden, making it easy to take on and off.

Like the ICHIGO, Steve Madden categorizes the Bettyy as a ladies shoe, so you’ll size up 1.5.

What I Like

  • This boot closely resembles the Jadon, from the chunky sole to the shape and lacing.

  • There’s zero branding on this monochrome boot, for a clean and simple look.

  • Despite its gigantic outsole, this boot is surprisingly comfortable and easy to walk in. 

What I Don’t Like

  • Similar to the ICHIGO, this boot is technically a woman’s shoe, so men’s sizes above 10 aren’t always available.

What Other Reviewers Say

Since this boot sports such a particular style, it gets a particular audience. Reviewers include guys and ladies who love punk, goth, or techno styles, or those who like to incorporate bold pieces into their streetwear.

The Verdict

The Steve Madden Bettyy is for you if you love the look of the Jadon, but not the price. It’s also for you if you love that hardcore thick outsole style, but would rather sport it without any brand recognition.

Best Jadon Alternative
Steve Madden Bettyy

The Steve Madden Bettyy is for you if you love the look of the Jadon, but not the price.. It’s also for you if you love that hardcore thick outsole style, but would rather sport it without any brand recognition.

Check Price

Most Color Options: Dream Pairs Platform Combat Boots

Most Color Options
Dream Pairs Platform Combat Boots

If you’re looking to start a collection of different colored 1460 alternatives for the price of just one pair of Dr. Martens, the Dream Pairs Platform Combat boot is for you. It’s a functionally effective boot that’s stylish and affordable and has more color options that most other alternatives.

Check Price

If you love that Dr. Martens combat boots come in several colors, the Dream Pairs Platform Boot may be the alternative for you. It doesn’t come in endless shades you can choose from four colorways, including white. 

There’s a crimson-hued burgundy option, an “olive black” variation that’s really an earthy green, and a dark navy. There’s also a classic and neutral black boot, which is fully monochrome.

It’s obviously a budget alternative to the 1460s, but it’s a rain boot so water resistance is one of its main functional strengths. It’s infused with service boot qualities, but it’s definitely not a combat boot. It’s made of rubber, after all.

What I Like

  • The four unique color options provide a level of customization.

  • As a rain boot, this rubber shoe is easy to maintain and exceedingly water resistant, even in heavy rain and in the face of splashes.

  • The easy lacing and moderate ankle hole make this shoe easy to take on and off.

What I Don’t Like

  • There’s zero attempt at an insole with these boots. You’ll definitely need to buy inserts, and even then, it’s not meant for all day wear.

What Other Reviewers Say

It’s so water resistant, many even mention that they use it at the pool deck or while showering at their local gym or health club.

The Verdict

If you’re looking to start a collection of different colored 1460 alternatives for the price of just one pair of Dr. Martens, the Dream Pairs Combat Boot is for you. It’s a functionally effective rain boot that’s stylish and affordable.

Most Color Options
Dream Pairs Platform Combat Boots

If you’re looking to start a collection of different colored 1460 alternatives for the price of just one pair of Dr. Martens, the Dream Pairs Platform Combat boot is for you. It’s a functionally effective boot that’s stylish and affordable and has more color options that most other alternatives.

Check Price

Most Rugged Looking: Bruno Marc Military Boots

Most Rugged Looking
Bruno Marc Military Boots

The Bruno Marc Military Boot combines a hardcore biker style with a sleek shape and stylish, almost dressy heel. The result is a boot that looks robust, but is fashionable enough to pair with fitted upscale jeans.

Check Price

Neither the 1460 nor 1490 are particularly tough-looking, regardless of which of their countless variations you’re looking at. Go for the Bruno Marc Military Boot if you’re looking for a fashion shoe that’s a tad more intimidating. It looks like a hardcore biker boot, but way more stylish and comfortable.

The Bruno Marc Military boasts a multi-section vintage style. It’s adorned with heavy-duty metal accents and synthetic materials throughout, including zippers on both sides of the upper and a buckle on the outside. You don’t want to be kicked by this boot. 

As another pleather offering, the upper is definitely shiny. However, far from a plasticky smooth aesthetic, a grain-like texture is added to the material. Visually, this matches the boot’s industrial armor-like look.

Regardless, the shape sits close to the foot, while the stacked heel adds a touch of stylish contrast. 

What I Like

  • The vintage motorcycle style looks rugged, but the slim silhouette adds a fashion-forward quality that doesn’t take away from the masculine design. 

  • The stacked heel and layered outsole is stylish and distinct. 

  • It’s immediately comfortable and doesn’t need breaking in like a real leather biker boot does. 

What I Don’t Like

  • The sizing is ineffective on two accounts. It’s a whole size too large, and it runs really narrow. Men with slightly wider feet can try sizing up. If this leaves too much room length-wise, try adding insoles.

What Other Reviewers Say

This popular boot has an extremely dedicated fanbase, and makes almost every Dr. Martens alternatives roundup. Many love that Bruno Marc offers a slim motorcycle boot, instead of the typically humongous ones.

Reviewers warn that this shoe is tough-looking, not actually tough. People who use it for motorcycle riding deplete its lifespan significantly. According to several accounts, wearing them everyday in non high-impact situations will give you a good year.

Also, reviewers note that while the inside zippers are functional, the outside zippers are just there for looks.

The Verdict

The Bruno Marc Military Boot combines a hardcore biker style with a sleek shape and stylish, almost dressy heel. The result is a boot that looks robust, but is fashionable enough to pair with fitted upscale jeans.

Most Rugged Looking
Bruno Marc Military Boots

The Bruno Marc Military Boot combines a hardcore biker style with a sleek shape and stylish, almost dressy heel. The result is a boot that looks robust, but is fashionable enough to pair with fitted upscale jeans.

Check Price

Most Comfortable: Duke’s Austin Leather Boot

Most Comfortable
Duke's Austin Leather Boot

The 1460 is known for being an easy shoe to stand in all day. They’re not as great to walk in all day, especially right out of the box. Comfort-wise, the Duke’s Austin Boot succeeds on both fronts that the 1460 falls short.

Check Price

The Duke’s Austin Leather Boot sits somewhere between true leather boot and fashion boot. The last is a well-oiled full-grain leather, the tongue is suede, and the rest of the upper is synthetic leather.  

Still, it’s a step up from a cheap pleather shoe. It’s not triple-stitched anywhere, except for where the shaft is attached to the front. The overall approach here is that Duke’s is economical, but shells out where it counts most.

The Austin is comfortable right out of the box, and built for all-day wear. The insole is well cushioned, made from premium and breathable latex foam, which is great for shock absorption. To fight odors, there’s a full-grain leather cover over this cushioning.

What I Like

  • The upper is made partly with a durable and well-oiled full-grain leather. 

  • The cushion insole is a premium latex foam for long-lasting support, comfort, and effective shock absorption. 

  • Since it’s partly synthetic, this shoe is lightweight and breathable. 

What I Don’t Like

  • The description claims it’s built with a full welt, which seems to imply it’s stitched on. It’s definitely glued on.

What Other Reviewers Say

This boot is comfortable right out of the box. Many who live in hot environments point out how this is an excellent shoe for warm days. The full-grain leather portion of the upper isn’t that thick, and the fake leather portion is obviously lighter than real leather.

It claims it’s a full-grain leather boot, which is only half true. It claims it’s built with a full leather welt, which it may be, but the sole is not stitched to the upper, but glued on. Fortunately, you’re reading this review and know what you’re getting if you do opt for the Duke’s.

The Verdict

The 1460 is known for being an easy shoe to stand in all day. They’re not as great to walk in all day, especially right out of the box. Comfort-wise, the Duke’s Austin Boot succeeds on both fronts that the 1460 falls short.

Most Comfortable
Duke's Austin Leather Boot

The 1460 is known for being an easy shoe to stand in all day. They’re not as great to walk in all day, especially right out of the box. Comfort-wise, the Duke’s Austin Boot succeeds on both fronts that the 1460 falls short.

Check Price

Best Tall Boot: Bates Paratrooper Boot

Best Tall Boot
Bates Paratrooper Boot

Though they have the exact same shape and design, the Bates Paratrooper Boot leans harder into function, while the 1914s, and Dr. Marten boots like it, lean more into the fashion side. However, for about the same price, the Bates shoe has a better balance of aesthetics and practicality.

Check Price

The Bates Paratrooper Boot has a lot in common with the Dr. Martens 1914, but is a lot more practical and functional. This is unsurprising, since Bates’ main audience is the military and police forces. 

First off, there’s more sections on the patent leather upper, providing a more modular pliability once it’s broken in. The 1914 doesn’t have as many built-in bend points. 

Second, the side zipper allows for easy on and off, and even has a two-button flap on the collar that covers and secures the zipper.

And since it’s a real-deal paratrooper boot, its rubber outsole is truly high-performance. Many reviewers who use this boot professionally attest to this.

What I Like

  • Unlike the 1914, this is a genuine army jump boot, built for long-lasting durability, ease of movement, and functionality.

  • The side zipper provides you with a quick way to get this boot on and off, while the two-button top flap ensures the zip is secure.

  • The treaded rubber outsole provides excellent traction.

What I Don’t Like

  • The break-in period is substantial, both in length of time and level of pressure.

What Other Reviewers Say

Many suggest oiling them in the evening, then walking around in them the following morning, and continuing to do this until they’re broken in.

Reviewers who use this boot professionally rave over the rubber outsole. One even mentions that he securely and steadily walked over a damp, downed chain-linked fence, uphill.

Bates is known for their customer service, and several reviewers attest to this. There are plenty of examples in reviews that mention a broken snap or a torn flap, and how they simply sent the boots back to the company with a letter of request. Bates will often fix the issue and send it back. 

The Verdict

Though they have the exact same shape and design, the Bates Paratrooper Boot leans harder into function, while the 1914s, and Dr. Marten boots like it, lean more into the fashion side. However, for about the same price, the Bates shoe has a better balance of aesthetics and practicality.

Best Tall Boot
Bates Paratrooper Boot

Though they have the exact same shape and design, the Bates Paratrooper Boot leans harder into function, while the 1914s, and Dr. Marten boots like it, lean more into the fashion side. However, for about the same price, the Bates shoe has a better balance of aesthetics and practicality.

Check Price

Best Value for Money: Amazon Essentials Lace-Up Combat Boot

Best Value for Money
Amazon Essentials Lace-Up Combat Boot

While Dr. Martens fashion appeal is more widespread, the Amazon Essentials Lace-Up Combat Boot is for the chic in-the-know fashion person. And even if that’s not important to you, it’s a more practical, versatile, and classy option.

Check Price

The Portuguese-made Amazon Essentials Combat Boot can be found at a much lower price compared to the 1460, and the quality is there. It’s sleeker, less clunky, and more elegant. It may not be as immediately distinct as a Dr. Martens shoe, but you get a less for-the-masses fashion industry-approval.

Unlike most combat boot-inspired shoes, the black-soled version of this boot can be dressed up pretty easily. This makes it the most versatile shoe on the list. It’s made of a slick black calf leather, but still sports a grippy rubber outsole. The white contrast sole version is a little bolder than the all-black, but can still be dressed up. It would just be more fashion-forward and less traditional.

And not to keep docking Dr. Martens on this topic, but the Amazon Lace Up has metal eyelets and a back zipper making it easy to take on and off.

What I Like

  • Boasts a sleek, elegant, and fashionable style that can be dressed up or down.

  • It includes functional qualities, including a rubber sole for traction and back zipper for convenience. 

What I Don’t Like

  • Like James Stewart’s Tissot watch, this fashion treasure can be pretty elusive.

What Other Reviewers Say

There’s an almost need-to-know quality about this shoe, so most of the reviews come from those good old-fashioned high-fashion industry editors and, to be frank, gatekeepers. 

They love the streamlined look of the shoe and how it combines qualities of combat boots with Derby shoes. They also praise the softness, fine grain, and durability of the calfskin upper. While functionality isn’t always the main priority in fashion industry circles, reviewers welcome the grippy outsole and back zipper since it doesn’t get in the way of the simple and clean design.

The Verdict

While Dr. Martens fashion appeal is more widespread, the Amazon Essentials Combat Boot is for the chic in-the-know fashion guy. And even if that’s not important to you, it’s a more practical, versatile, and classy option.

Best Value for Money
Amazon Essentials Lace-Up Combat Boot

While Dr. Martens fashion appeal is more widespread, the Amazon Essentials Lace-Up Combat Boot is for the chic in-the-know fashion person. And even if that’s not important to you, it’s a more practical, versatile, and classy option.

Check Price

Key Things to Consider When Buying Doc Martens Alternatives

Dr Martens 3
The Dr. Martens 1460

Here are some things to consider and decide on when buying alternatives to Docs. 

  • Budget: If you’re looking for a cheaper option, keep in mind how much you’re willing to pay and what you’ll compromise. For example, the ICHIGO costs less than a 1460, but the faux leather isn’t as durable.
  • Quality vs. Aesthetic: Relatedly, the ICHIGO and the Amoji look more like Dr. Martens, but have spottier construction. The Thursday and the Montoro are of much higher quality, but aren’t as aesthetically close as the ICHIGO and Amoji are. Not a lot of higher end boot makers are in it to copy other designs, so decide where you fall in this range.
  • How Similar: Accept the fact that, as mentioned, Dr. Martens isn’t generous with their designs. You won’t get every iconic design feature in one shoe. Decide what qualities you like most about the brand, and choose your alternative based on that.

How to Spot Fake Doc Martens

Dr Martens 1460 model on metal floor side view 3
Real Dr. Martens 1460s

If you’re wondering whether that pair of Doc’s you’re eyeing is a fake, there are a few tell-tale signs that a pair of boots didn’t get its doctorate (i.e. isn’t Dr. Martens).

Check the Box

Your Doc Martens should come in a box with a big “Dr. Martens” logo on top. Normally that goes without saying, but many Doc Martens alternatives have generic brown boxes with no official logo on them. This is the first and most obvious sign you’re dealing with something less than legit.

Also, check to see that the side label of the box has the correct information of your new boots. If the size is wrong, or if the label suggests another model, like the Jadon (if you think you’re getting the 1460).

Mislabeled boxes often mean something’s off.

Details on the Shoe

Check the insole—many Doc Martens alternatives don’t feature any sort of logo on the insole, but all Dr. Martens shoes and boots have a logo right on the heel. This will either say “Made in England”, “Bouncing Sole,” or “Air Cushioned Sole.”

The outsole should also have brand markings on it, usually around the arch of the foot. If your boots don’t have any markings on the sole, it may be an issue.

Alternative Doctors

If you’re looking for a 1460 alternative that doesn’t break any laws, ICHIGO has you covered.

Best Overall
ICHIGO Ankle Boots

While Dr. Martens has a tight grip on the 1460’s design, this ICHIGO Ankle Boot is as close as it gets without having to find a seedy alley. It checks all of the aesthetic boxes you'd want at a more friendly price.

Check Price

Unless you want more colors, in which case, look to the Dream Pairs variations for that.

Don’t want to spend more than what a night out normally costs? Go for the affordable Vostey Motorcycle Boot

Meanwhile, the Bruno Marc is tough and rugged looking, while the Bates Paratrooper is tough in function and build.

On the other end of the spectrum, Duke’s Austin Boot’s soft insole provides all-day comfort.

The Thursday Explorer and the WANT Montero are both fashionable and well-made. And if you want the Dr. Martens Jadons but not at the Jadons price-point, the Steve Madden Bettyy is nigh identical.

Steve Madden Bettyy

The Steve Madden Bettyy is for you if you love the look of the Jadon, but not the price.. It’s also for you if you love that hardcore thick outsole style, but would rather sport it without any brand recognition.

Check Price

FAQs

Why do Doc Martens have yellow stitching?

They add the yellow stitching as a way to distinguish their brand. Today, it’s a proprietary design that other brands are barred from using.

How can you tell if Doc Martens are fake?

There are three ways. If they don’t have air-cushioned insoles, they’re fake. Illegal alternatives often only care about aesthetics. Second, check for any branding errors. Finally look inside the shoe to see if there’s branding on the interior. Most alternatives manufacturers only care how it looks on the outside.

COMMENTS

Leave a comment... Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read More Columns