In the boot world, the names Nicks Handmade Boots and White’s Boots are spoken with a hushed reverence.
Both are American made brands with hard earned reputations of making the best boots money can buy, and doing it the old fashioned way—by hand.
Both products are top-notch.
In my opinion, while Nicks may not have the long, storied history of White’s, they offer the same level of craftsmanship at a lower price point, which makes them a better value. But let’s look at the details and see which are best for you.
Nicks vs White’s Overview
|Upper Leather||Tanneries including Seidel (Work), Horween (Heritage) and Wickett & Craig (Veg Tan), with some exclusives that are easier to break in and more weather resistant||Tanneries including Horween and Seidel with options from horsehide to shark skin for a seriously unique boot|
|Construction||Hand-welted, McKay lockstitch||Hand-welted, stitchdown and Goodyear welt|
|Outsole||Vibram soles with work, wedge, heritage and tactical options||Vibram and Dainite soles with work, wedge, heritage and sport options|
|Lead Time||18–35 weeks||20–24 weeks|
|Shop Nicks||Shop White’s|
Let’s start with the older of the two brands.
Edward White started making boots in Connecticut in 1853, before the Civil War. The brand spent years fitting boots for loggers in the Shenandoah Valley before ultimately relocating to Spokane, Washington where they still operate today.
White’s made a name for themselves among loggers, construction workers, and Wildland firefighters. White’s Boots has been owned by LaCrosse Footwear (which also owns Danner Boots) since 2014, which in turn is owned by Japanese retailer ABC-Mart.
Nicks Handmade Boots
Nicks is the younger of the two brands in this challenge, but it has been around for a good while.
Founded by Nikolai Blahuczyn, a Russian immigrant who trekked hundreds of miles by foot running from the Germans during World War II, repairing people’s shoes in exchange for food and shelter along the way.
He began his bootmaking career in 1963 working at White’s, and started his own business in 1980. Nicks Handmade Boots is still a U.S. family owned and operated business.
Features Face to Face
At the end of the day, both Nicks and White’s boots are at the top of their game, having more commonalities than differences between them.
The two brands even respect what the other is doing. But some details could be key differentiators for you.
Both Nicks and White’s offer numerous styles such as work, logger, fire & duty, dress and hiking boots.
Each offers beefy, durable footwear and aesthetically that’s what you get. But in terms of sheer number of styles, White’s offers almost twice the number of options as Nicks, so they have a “leg up” in that category.
These two companies both use high quality materials, especially where leather is concerned.
For example, both Nicks BuilderPro and White’s Original Smokejumper (both brands’ best selling models) use Seidel 7–8 oz leather. White’s has some more exotic offerings, like horsehide or shark skin (for non-work boots).
But Nicks has several exclusive leathers that are easier to break in and more weather resistant. Personally, I value comfort and ability to shed water over uniqueness. I’m going with Nicks in this category.
If price is a secondary consideration and you’re looking to get a pair of boots that will last you the rest of your life, check out Nicks. Yes, they cost a pretty penny and your order can take up to six months to get to you if you get a customized boot, but the quality is unmatched.
Sole Quality and Construction
The two brands offer some of the heaviest soles you can get, and both have options for extreme temperature resistance.
Both offer multiple arch profiles for customized support. Both use a leather midsole and shank. Both utilize hand-welted stitchdown construction and are resoleable. I’m calling this one a tie.
The White’s Packer is a tough and rugged boot that’s maybe a little too beefy for my needs. But I still love it. If you need a boot that’ll last through years of tough work, the Packer is a fantastic choice. If you’re looking for something more for everyday casual wear, I would stick with White’s casual line.
The pair of brands are relatively small operations, and both are in high demand. If you order a pair of boots from either brand (especially if you go custom, which you totally should), you’re probably going to wait several months to get them.
Nicks and White’s have excellent customer service and will go the extra mile to give you the best possible purchasing experience and make sure you get a product you are happy with. Again, no clear winner in this category. Or maybe both are winners—customer service goes a long way.
White’s vs Nicks: Which Is Best for You?
I’ll say it one last time: Nicks and White’s are some of the best made, toughest boots out there.
If you buy a pair from either brand, you’re getting something special, hand-crafted and built to take a beating (and keep your feet intact in the process).
- Go with Nicks if:
- You want more bang for your buck: Nicks boots tend to have a lower price tag
- You want a shorter break-in period: They tend to be more comfortable out of the box
- You value supporting a private, U.S. owned business
- Go with White’s if:
- You want variety: White’s has almost twice as many styles as Nicks
- You value legacy: They have been making boots for more than 150 years
- You want “the original”: many of today’s work boot styles are based on White’s early models
The Overlander is a classic work boot with thick USA tanned leather and a Vibram lug sole. These things are no-nonsense, tough as hell (seriously, they attach the soles with screws in addition to the double stitching!) and just may outlive you.