Grant Stone Diesel Boot Review: Simplicity is Powerful

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by  William Barton | Last Updated: 

Have you been hearing a lot about Grant Stone recently? Their most popular boot is the Diesel, but is it really worth the price tag?

In our Grant Stone Diesel review, we take a close look at both the boot and the brand to see if this classic-looking offering is worthy of your wardrobe.

Value for money, anyone?
Review Feature Image/Icon Image source: Grant Stone

Grant Stone Diesel

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Bottom line: 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.

Ratings:

At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Design 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  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 Horween Chromexcel upper is phenomenal, though the brand offers other compelling types of leather in this model, too
  • The 360-degree Goodyear split reverse welt is beefy and adds significant water resistance
  • Vegetable tanned leather lining and full leather heel counters feel luxurious
  • Brass hardware, leather and cork midsole, steel shank---the details all add up to a sturdy, dependable feeling boot

Cons:

  • The design is a bit simplistic, which isn’t necessarily bad, but is something to note before buying

About a year ago, I picked up the Grant Stone Brass boot and I’ve been loving it. 

So when I wanted to get something a little more simple—a plain toe boot that works in everyday situations, I started browsing the Grant Stone site. 

The Diesel, Grant Stone’s most popular boot, caught my eye. 

I decided to grab it and give it a whirl. Here are my full thoughts.

Grant Stone Diesel Overview

Grant Stone Diesel packaging with bag on white background

The Grant Stone Diesel is the brand’s most popular boot, and it’s also a very simple construction: a no-frills plain toe boot.

But don’t let the simplicity fool you. 

A plain toe boot is to footwear what lager is to beer. There’s nothing to hide behind. You either make it with superb attention to detail, or you create something completely lackluster. 

You can find the Diesel in several types of Horween Chromexcel leather, and you can also find it in various limited edition leathers like Kudu, suede, and more. 

model walking in Grant Stone boots Diesel

I picked up their best seller: Crimson Chromexcel

Some of their more exotic one-off editions might break in and crease differently, but for the most part, you can assume that any Chromexcel version will break in and patina similar to what you see in the photos below. 

Things to Consider Before Buying the Grant Stone Diesel

Grant Stone Diesel profile view

One thing I’ve noticed every time I mention Grant Stone in one of our YouTube videos: people take issue with Grant Stone’s “Made in China” stamp. 

There’s a common misconception that just because something is made in China it’s necessarily junk. It’s true: they make a lot of junk in China. But that’s because the product designers are specifying they want junk. 

Grant Stone’s boots are among the best quality in my collection. In terms of stitching density, material quality, and overall feel, I’d pick my Chinese-made Grant Stone boots over an American-made Red Wing. 

Grant Stone Diesel with packaging cotton bag leather detail

Still, many of our viewers and readers (and maybe you), prefer to buy American-made only. 

If that sounds like you, I recommend taking a look at the Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill (I have more details below in the “Alternatives” section). It’s a similar boot in quality, materials, and construction, and it’s made in Wisconsin. It’s also about 30% more expensive (purely due to US labor costs). 

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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Grant Stone Diesel Review

First Impression

Grant Stone Diesel

Grant Stone packages up their boots nicely, and both times I’ve opened a new set from the brand, I’m impressed. 

This set comes with two individual cloth boot bags, a shoe horn, an extra pair of nylon laces, and a card with notes about the details of the boot. 

The Diesel comes with leather laces already set up, and I decided to leave them in as they add to the overall sturdy vibe. 

Grant Stone Diesel on model in brown shirt and green pants

My first impression of these boots is that they’re beautifully built workhorses—from the solid brass eyelets, and 360-degree Goodyear split reverse welt, to the triple stitched upper, and natural leather stacked heel. 

It’s a plain toe boot, so there isn’t anything immediately stunning about the aesthetic. It looks basically like what you’d picture in your head if someone told you to “think of a boot.”

Grant Stone Diesel crimson chromexcel closeup

Because it uses a 360-degree Goodyear split reverse welt, the heel ends up being rather wide, and the footprint is relatively large compared to the Red Wing Iron Ranger, Wolverine 1000 Mile, and Thursday President

Leather Quality and Care

Grant Stone Diesel packaging with bag on white background 1

I have the Diesel in the Crimson Horween Chromexcel, which has a deep brown hue with rich warm notes. 

If you’ve never experienced Chromexcel before, it’s quite shiny right out of the box. It creases quickly compared to other leather, though the creasing is very fine. 

The leather is quite thick at 4mm (veg-tanned lining included). Because of this thickness, the boot feels super sturdy and secure on my foot, though it’s not too heavy. 

Horween Chromexcel is widely used by many brands, and it’s pretty much universally beloved for its classy oil-packed shine, it’s flexibility throughout the creasing points, and firmness elsewhere.

Grant Stone Diesel profile view closeup

One downside to Horween Chromexcel is that it develops superficial nicks and blemishes quite easily. If you aim to keep your boots in perfect tip-top shape, you may have to treat the Diesel with leather conditioner often to hide the minor blemishes that pop up.

As for me, I like the way Chromexcel picks up little scratches and patinas, as I choose to wear my boots in more casual situations (as opposed to formal or fancy events).

To treat this leather, my go-to is Venetian Shoe Cream. It does a great job complementing the natural Chromexcel shine, and doesn’t change the shade of the leather at all. 

Sole

Grant Stone Diesel rubber stud sole detail

Grant Stone uses their new Micro Stud rubber sole on the Diesel. It’s quite similar to the design first made popular by Dainite. 

I really like this type of sole as it maintains a low profile but still keeps excellent grip on concrete in wet conditions. As an added bonus, it doesn’t pick up rocks or chunks of mud. 

The rubber is a medium density, which gives it a balance of grip and durability. I’m always worried about durability in the heel, as I tend to wear that down faster than any other part of the sole. 

close up Grant Stone Diesel sole detail

I’m super pleased that the Diesel has two thick rubber top lifts on the stacked leather heel that add up to 8mm. When your heel wears down, you never want to let the leather start to get damaged, as that can make a resole cost prohibitive. 

With 8mm of rubber top lift, it’s going to take a long time for the heel to wear down, and I’ll have plenty of warning time before there’s any issue. 

Grant Stone Diesel sole while walking

The insole and midsole are entirely natural materials (vegetable tanned leather and cork). This makes the first few miles a little uncomfortable as leather doesn’t have a ton of natural give. But as gravity takes effect and you start to pound the cork midsole down, the Diesel definitely gets more comfortable. 

This boot also features a steel shank, which adds extra support and heft.

Fit and Sizing

model walking in Grant Stone Diesel boots

Grant Stone offers a huge variety of sizing options for the Diesel. You can find sizes 6-13 in widths D, E, and EEE. Basically, no matter what shape your foot is, Grant Stone has a fit for you. 

Some reviewers felt that the Diesel left a little extra width in the toe box, but I didn’t feel that way at all. 

Like most boots, I ordered a size smaller than my usual sneaker size. My usual sneaker size is 10.5, so I got a size 10D and they fit really well. 

For me, there’s no discomfort on the instep or around the ball of my foot, even during the break in. 

Break-in Period

close up Grant Stone Diesel crimson chromexcel leather on foot

Given that the Diesel has a vegetable tanned lining and a 4mm thick upper, I was concerned that I had a long break in ahead of me. 

I was wrong.

Like my other Horween Chromexcel boots, there was virtually no break in period for the Grant Stone Diesel.

I made sure to wear a thick pair of wool socks through the first 10 miles of walking, so there’s a chance that you might feel some rubbing with a thinner sock. But the other two boots I own with Chromexcel proved to be no issue either, so I think the leather is just really pliable and easy to work. 

I’d say the only amount of break in needed is with the insole. The footbed is veg-tanned leather, so it’s a bit stiff at first. As you walk in it though, it picks up some heat and moisture and moulds to your foot within 5-10 miles and becomes much more comfortable. 

What do Other Reviewers Say?

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From pros to everyday boot enthusiasts, the Grant Stone Diesel consistently gets high marks. 

On the Grant Stone site, the Diesel scores a 4.9 out of 5 with over 50 reviews as of writing. 

Like me, many were surprised at how gentle the break in period is, and many enjoy wearing the boot as a slightly upscale casual boot for everyday use. 

Grant Stone Diesel Alternatives 

Thursday Boots President

Thursday President

The Thursday President is an excellent alternative to the Grant Stone Diesel if your primary concern is price. 

The President is $199 at the time of writing, while the Diesel is $340. 

While I wouldn’t say that the Thursday President is comparable in quality, it does feature a Goodyear welt, solid construction, and has decent leather. It’s also a superb boot for its price. 

The Diesel definitely feels a few steps higher in quality, and it’s worth the price, but if your budget simply can’t extend into the $300 range and you need a new boot now, the Thursday President is a fantastic plain toe option.

Thursday President

The Thursday Boots President offers outstanding value for money considering the leather quality, Goodyear welt, and awesome slimmed down style. With options available in Thursday’s Rugged & Resilient leather, plus a durable rubber stud sole and plenty of cushion, the President marks an excellent balance between style, longevity, and comfort.

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Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill

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The Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill is quite similar to the Grant Stone Diesel—you can even get the Higgins Mill in the same Horween Chromexcel leather. 

The best reason to choose the Higgins Mill over the Diesel is if you want something made in the USA. 

I’d say the quality is on par, though the price is about 30% higher, hovering in the mid-$400 range for the Higgins Mill. 

This price jump is due primarily to the fact that it’s constructed in Wisconsin.

Some readers balk at the idea of a Chinese-manufactured boot (though, like I said, the Diesel is one of the best-made boots I own). If you found yourself loving the idea of the Diesel, but just couldn’t get behind the origin, I recommend stumping up the extra $100 or so and getting the Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill. 

Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill

With its elegantly slender shape and low rise, the Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill is by far the most stylistically versatile option. Unlike the Iron Ranger, you can wear these boots in smart casual situations, even ones that lean heavily into the formal side.

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My Thoughts Overall On the Grant Stone Diesel

What I Like

  • The 4mm thick Horween Chromexcel upper is extremely rugged, looks great, and feels nice. The brand also offers other cool and compelling leather types as special editions. 

  • The 360-degree Goodyear split reverse welt adds a lot of water resistance and makes for a sturdy, recraftable boot.

  • The vegetable tanned leather lining and full grain leather heel counters make the boot feel luxurious. 

  • I love the brass hardware, leather and cork midsole, and hefty steel shank. All those details add up to a dependable and stylish boot. 

What I Don’t Like

  • The boot stands out for its quality—not necessarily it’s original and unique design.

Who is the Grant Stone Diesel for?

The Grant Stone Diesel is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an everyday boot near the top of the quality spectrum.

The Verdict

I’m impressed with the Grant Stone Diesel. 

The brand first caught my attention with their Brass boot, and now these two models are probably at the top of my collection in terms of overall quality. 

I’m really enjoying how the Horween Chromexcel leather is breaking in and developing a patina. It’s not going to keep the crisp clean lines you see in the product images on the Grant Stone site—it’s going to continue to crease and get more “casual” looking over time.

That’s perfect for me, as I see the Diesel as an “everyday” type of boot. Nothing fancy, nothing too unique: just excellent materials, superb construction, and a dependable boot that’s durable and comfortable. 

Some may take issue with the “made in China” provenance. I don’t. But if you do, check out the Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill and bust out another $120 or so. 

If cash is tight and you’re not ready to drop $300+ on a pair of boots, the Thursday President is a good choice: definitely not the same quality, but a solid boot for a very fair price. 

Still, I’m really happy with my Grant Stone Diesel boots. They’re my go to right now (and probably will be throughout all fall—that Crimson Chromexcel works too well for fall colors.

If you want an excellent value for money boot on the high end of the quality spectrum, you’ll be pleased with the Grant Stone Diesel.

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.

Check Best Price
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

For a more visual look, check out the video review I made of the Diesel for our YouTube channel below:


FAQs

Does Grant Stone go on sale?

Grant Stone boots almost never go on sale. Sometimes they’ll offer closeout prices on discontinued boots, but that’s rare.

Where is Grant Stone made?

Grant Stone boots are made on Xiamen Island, China.

What is kudu leather?

Kudu leather is made from a breed of antelope. It’s known for its unique scarring across the hyde, heavy weight, and soft feel.

3 Things Every Boot Wearer Should Own

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