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Nicks BuilderPro Boot Review: The Last Work Boot I’ll Ever Need

Travis Khachatoorian
Expertise:

Boots, Heritage Fashion, News, Journalism

Travis is an Emmy and Edward R Murrow award winning journalist with 10 years reporting experience with NBC and CBS. He's followed stories around the world: into the path of Hurricane Michael in Florida, with Alaskan dogs on the trail of The Iditarod, and in the belly of a C-130 with US Paratroopers off the coast of Australia. Travis left the news to live a less action packed life with his wife and son in Southern California, but he’s still passionate about quality reporting and heritage style boots. Read full bio.


Published: Jun 5, 2024
7 min read

Nicks is synonymous with tough boots built-right. The company is based in Spokane, Washington and embodies the legendary status of Pacific Northwest bootmaking. 

It’s always exciting when Nicks release a new boot design, but I’d argue, it’s just as important to pay attention when they drop a new boot “last”.

Their latest boot last release is called the ThurmanNW, and this one’s blueprint dates all the way back to WW1.

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So how does this more-than-a-century-old design feel when paired with Nicks’ flagship work boot? 

This is my experience wearing the BuilderPros ThurmanNW Last for the past six weeks.

BuilderPro ThurmanNW Last Boot Overview

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The BuilderPro is what Nicks has dubbed “the work boot that started it all”. It’s made to make sure the people doing the toughest work in the world don’t have to worry about their footwear failing them.

This boot is built to order and comes in a variety of customizable options, including boot heights from six to ten inches, a hard toe or a soft toe, a variety of lasts, and three different edge colors.

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What’s not interchangeable? The fact these boots are hand built in the USA, and that they’re built with a thick, high quality leather.

The particular BuilderPro boot I’m reviewing includes a 10” height, and was built on the ThurmanNW Last with a Moderate Arch. 

Nicks BuilderPro ThurmanNW Boot

This hefty work boot has it all. Thick, high quality leather, rock-solid construction from top to bottom, and a comfortable fit you can wear all day long.

Check Price

My Review of the BuilderPro Boot

First Impression

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My Nicks BuilderPro boots arrived 22 days after my order was submitted. That’s an amazing turnaround time for a built-to-order boot, especially since their website says to expect an 18-35 week lead time.

The BuilderPros were securely packaged, and they included a small jar of leather preservative and a quality assurance tag that showed the journey this footwear took as it was passed from craftsman to craftsman to my doorstep.

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As I pulled the boots out for the first time, I immediately noticed that these were definitely the heaviest pair of boots in my collection. From the dense Vibram V100 Lug rubber sole, to the incredibly thick leather upper, the BuilderPro looks and feels like a beast of a boot.

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I slipped it on, and my foot popped right into place. There was no heel slippage, the arch of my foot felt secure in place and my toes had plenty of room to wiggle about. 

I did notice quite a bit of rubbing from a piece of leather on the top of my foot, which is not an area I’ve experienced irritation from previous boots.

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I laced up the boot with a provided kiltie, and the upper comfortably hugged against my calf. I walked around my house, and I couldn’t believe that a boot this thick and heavy was already flexible. 

My worries about a painful break-in period quickly melted away.

Leather Quality and Care

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The leather on my boot is incredible.

It’s thick, durable and rugged, yet incredibly smooth and soft to the touch. 

Although my boot is ten inches tall, there wasn’t any scarring or irregularities on the cowhide. It arrived as a nice, blank leather canvas ready to be beat up.

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This boot is unlined, and the roughout part of the leather inside the boot that rests against my sock is supple and comfortable. 

The leather is said to have a good amount of weather resistance to rain and mud.

Sole

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The Vibram V100 Lug sole is about as rugged as they come.

The bottom of this boot includes about a half inch of dense rubber along the toe, and a 1.5 inch mix of rubber and leather along the Moderate Arch heel. 

The whole sole is secured with a whole slew of unseen nails, glue, and 9 screws in each foot. Needless to say, I don’t anticipate the bottom of this shoe coming undone until I get it resoled many years down the road.

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The leather upper is attached to the insole via stitchdown construction along the toe. This includes two rows of dense threading that has so far done a great job of keeping any moisture from getting in the boot. 

Fit and Sizing

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The Munson-inspired ThurmanNW last is a whole lot of words that can sound pretty confusing, so here’s my breakdown.

A military doctor named Edward Munson studied the feet of a couple thousand soldiers during WW1 in an effort to build the best boot last possible: one that’s comfortable, ergonomically sound, and built for performance over style. Using precise measurements and x-rays, he ultimately wrote a book on his findings and created the Munson last in 1912.

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Evolution-wise, the human foot hasn’t changed since the creation of this last more than 100 years ago, so Nicks is now utilizing this historic foot molding in their latest BuilderPro model. They’re calling their version the ThurmanNW last. 

Is it named in honor of the badass, mustached Yankee’s player Thurman Munson? I don’t know, but I sure hope so. 

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Thurman Munson

OK, history class over. Now onto how it felt for me.

The ThurmanNW last is the right shape for my foot. My toes aren’t crowded, and my foot feels secure in place. 

This boot is exactly what I needed this spring. Although it’s built with tradesmen, mechanics, warehouse workers, construction workers, and loggers in mind, I am none of the above. 

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What I am is someone who does a whole lot of home improvement. This boot went through the rounds for all of my big Springtime projects on the list: digging drainage holes, building my son a new sandbox, painting, and bushwhacking through dense weeds. 

Through long days, I did not develop any hotspots or blisters on the bottom of my foot. The boot felt secure and good-to-go from start to finish of a long work day.

Break-in Period

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Breaking in the BuilderPro was a breeze.

The thick rubber Vibram sole took a bit of loosening up, but the insole along the bottom naturally flexed with my foot the first time I crouched down.

My biggest complaint with the break-in has been the rubbing along the top of my foot from a stiff piece of leather inside the boot. It took about two weeks for that leather to loosen up, and now I don’t notice it at all.

My Thoughts Overall 

What I Like

  • This boot surprisingly doesn’t overheat my foot on a hot day. I live in Southern California, and I haven’t felt uncomfortable in the heat, even after taking this on a four mile hike with very little shade.
  • The tough sole and thick leather leave me confident that nothing is going to puncture through my footwear.
  • This is an unlined boot, meaning there’s no mesh, foam, or other junk stuffed inside your shoe that can degrade, break-down or grow smelly bacteria.
  • I’m confident that with proper care, this boot will last a lifetime.

What I Don’t Like

  • This boot is not built for any kind of running or jogging. Fast walking is all good and fine,  but once you try to make the motion of running, the overall weight and thickness of the sole bogs you down.
  • The Munson inspired last is comfortable, but it comes at the cost of being a bit more wide and bulbous in the toe. You must wear straight leg jeans or your feet are going to look enormous.
  • Lacing up a ten inch boot can be daunting if you know you’re only going to be wearing your boot for a quick project outside.

Who is the BuilderPro for?

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If you work in a trade that requires long days on your feet, then the BuilderPro is a no-brainer. It’s a rare mix of tough, rugged, cool, and comfortable.

If you don’t work in a trade (like myself) but like to work on your house, I’d argue that this is also a worthwhile investment.

This boot is built for anything I could possibly throw at it. I can also tell from the gentle rolls developing in the uppers’ pressure points that the leather is going to age beautifully.

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There are two philosophies when it comes to work boots: buy cheap and replace every two years, or splurge on a $600 boot and keep them around for a lifetime.

If you’re tired of watching your work boots break down and would rather watch your work boots grow in character, the BuilderPro is for you.

The Verdict

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This boot is clearly built by people who care about bootmaking.

From the sturdy pull tabs on top, to the high quality stitching along the upper, to the comfortable last, it’s clear why Nicks, one of the PNW’s most acclaimed boot brands, has made this their flagship work boot.

I can’t say this for every boot in my closet, but I have no doubt my BuilderPros are going to be around for decades to come.

Nicks BuilderPro ThurmanNW Boot

This hefty work boot has it all. Thick, high quality leather, rock-solid construction from top to bottom, and a comfortable fit you can wear all day long.

Check Price

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