I was out in the woods on an icy day when Jocko Willink suddenly emerged from a bog.
He had war paint on his face and was in full uniform. Naturally, I was pretty startled.
“Have you tried Origin boots yet?” He asked.
Frightened, I had to admit that I hadn’t.
Suddenly, Joe Rogan did a triple-somersault from the trees above, slapped the Origin Maine Lincoln 1861 Big Lug boot on both of my feet, and leapt back into the woods.
Jocko nodded in approval and slowly sank back into the bog.
Origin Boots Overview
After getting into Jiu Jitsu and following Jocko Willink for a while, I learned that he’s an investor in the company, Origin Maine. And then I learned Origin actually makes boots. As a professional boot reviewer, I was all over it.
Origin is one of the most transparent USA-made boot brands I’ve come across. There are some brands (cough, Thorogood, cough) that source their materials and do a lot of assembly abroad, only to finish the boot in the states and slap an American flag on it.
Which, to be fair, is still a good thing. But Origin boots are nearly 100% USA made, which is something very few brands can truthfully say.
Origin breaks down where their leather is from, the sole, all the way down to where the thread is from. It’s pretty impressive.
The only part of their boot that isn’t from the US is the midsole, and after following the boot industry through the past three years of supply chain issues, I’ve seen that sourcing leather like this at a reasonable price has been such a difficult problem, good companies have had to stop production entirely.
So while they’re so close to 100% USA-made, I’m confident they’ll find a way in the next year or so to start sourcing that midsole from America as well because I get the sense Origin is genuinely committed to American-manufacturing.
Things to Consider Before Buying Origin Boots
There are five different types of boots, and there are several varieties of each model depending on the type of sole you want.
For example, when I was shopping for my Lincoln boot, I could choose black or brown leather, and for each of those leather options, I could choose a heavy lug sole, a mini-lug sole, or a Vibram Christy wedge sole.
I’ll dive into the differences and what you can expect from each type below in the “sole” section to help you make your decision. But given the look of the boot, I went with the Big Lug sole.
Origin boots are pricey, but they use excellent leather from Seidel Tanning and of course use US labor.
Finally, take note of the wait time before ordering—at the time of writing, Origin has about a 4-week lead time before your boots will arrive at your door. That might seem like a long time compared to your standard mall boot, but for handcrafted boots, that’s pretty standard. After waiting 9 months for my Nicks, nothing phases me any more.
Origin Lincoln 1861 Boots Review
I must say, these boots are pretty ugly in my opinion. This is obviously subjective, so the rebuttal “nuh uh” is perfectly valid.
Origin has a few unique flourishes—they have a swirly-stitch on either side of the boot at the waist. It’s a call-out to the Origin logo, but the brand has actually gone and used that design to sew in an extra layer of roughout leather in those areas on the inside of the boot.
I’ve never seen a brand reinforce that area, and I’m not entirely sure it’s going to help meaningfully with the longevity of the boot, but it’s cool to see that the external stitch was more than just decoration.
The Lincoln is a cap-toe boot—some brands make their boots with a decorative toe cap, but the Lincoln actually has two layers of leather at the toe. As you would imagine, that doubles the durability at the toe.
Leather Quality and Care
There wasn’t a ton of information I could find about where this leather comes from, though I believe Origin is now using Seidel leather, which is a well-known and well-respected American leather tannery from Milwaukee.
I have a few other pairs of boots with Seidel leather: notably, my White’s Packer boots use Seidel leather, and those things are intensely durable.
The upper is a rich pull up leather, meaning it’s packed with oils and waxes and doesn’t need much care to keep it weather resistant. You don’t need to baby the leather at all. And for a lot of scuffs and scratches, you can just rub it with your thumb.
The leather is 2.5mm thick, too, which is solid. And given the fact that the back stay and toe have two layers of leather, you’ll have 5mm of leather at the most vulnerable parts of the boot, which is a ton of leather.
I noticed the upper is heavily corrected, meaning much of the character of the grain has been sanded out. The roughout side of the leather seems to have a pretty hefty layer of wax tanned in, so I have no worries about getting this leather wet.
Origin uses a pretty simple stitchdown construction. I feel like the front half of the boot is built like a tank but the back half is a bit questionable.
The sole is made up of four major parts: the high density PU insert, the foam footbed, the vegetable tanned midsole, and the Vibram lug outsole.
There’s no shank in the Lincoln boot, which is a bit concerning as the vegetable tanned midsole will start to break in and flex a bit, and that can cause a pinching at the front of the heel for some guys.
As for the construction, the upper leather in the front half is stitched down to the midsole (hence the name “stitchdown construction”). Then the Vibram lug sole is cemented and screwed into the midsole as well. So the front of the sole is basically never going to split.
But starting at the waist of the boot, the boot is mainly cemented, though there is a structural stitch that runs through the insole and midsole. This leads to lower water resistance, and I’m not 100% confident in the heel of the boot because you can see where the leather is lifted above the midsole. That’s by design, but it seems like water can just fly right in.
As far as the components go, Origin uses USA-made Vibram rubber soles for all their boots.
You can get a mini lug, heavy lug, or the Vibram Christy sole, which is a wedge sole type.
I recommend the Christy wedge sole if you struggle with knee or back pain—the added arch support has helped a lot of guys I know with those issues.
As for me, I went with the heavy lugs because the Lincoln is a beefy looking boot and I think the Big Lug sole is the most fitting looks-wise.
I have dozens of boots with Vibram rubber soles, and the quality is fantastic. They offer excellent grip, and balance durability and shock absorption really well.
Fit and Sizing
Origin boots are true to Brannock sizing, which is different than most other American heritage brands.
You should get the same size in your Origin boots as you would sneakers or dress shoes.
So if you’re a size 11 in Nike, get a size 11 in Origin boots.
If you’re a size 10.5D in Red Wing, get a size 11D in Origin.
Origin also offers EE wide sizes for all their boots, which is great.
The break in period is really light with Origin boots. Because they have foam insert and foam footbed, there’s really not too much leather to break in underfoot.
And because the upper leather is a chrome tanned pull up leather, it’s quite soft and flexible right away.
You shouldn’t have too tough of a time breaking these boots in, especially compared to other boots that are made with natural materials throughout the insole (like leather and cork).
What do Other Reviewers Say?
A lot of reviewers seem surprised at the comfort because these are such tough looking boots. The bison leather Origin boots are popular as well.
As far as sizing goes, most reviewers also found them to be true to Brannock sizing. So whatever your regular sneaker size is, get the same for your Origin boots.
Origin Boots Alternatives
Red Wing Iron Ranger
The Red Wing Iron Ranger is roughly the same price, but overall, I think it’s a better, more durable boot. And it’s made in the USA.
The biggest difference is that Red Wing uses a leather insole, leather midsole, and cork filler. It also has a steel shank.
While Red Wing’s are much less comfortable out of the box, the insole is going to offer support and feel much more comfortable in the long run because the leather compresses, fits the shape of your foot, and you still get the support from the shank.
I’m not inspired by the heavy use of synthetic parts in Origin’s insole—I just don’t see it lasting as long as good ol’ uncomfortable leather.
Ok, if you thought $300 was expensive for a pair of boots, try doubling it.
But if you really want the best of the best, check out Nick’s Handmade Boots.
Their Americana is 100% USA made and is one of the sturdiest, most durable boots on the planet. Woodland firefighters rely on Nick’s, which is saying a lot for their longevity.
Be prepared for weeks of pain while breaking them in. And be prepared to spend more than you thought possible. Sound good? Surprisingly, it is good.
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.
My Thoughts Overall On Origin Boots
What I Like
The material quality and construction is fantastic.
I love that the toe cap and heel both have two layers of leather, so the most vulnerable part of the boot have a hefty 5mm of leather.
Origin does more than most other brands to make sure all their components are sourced in the USA (including the thread and eyelets).
They’re fully recraftable for decades of wear.
What I Don’t Like
The fit is a bit narrow in the forefoot and wider in the heel, which creates some heel slip, though that diminishes as the boot breaks in.
There’s no shank in this boot, which I can foresee becoming an issue for arch support as the leather midsole starts to break in more.
Who is Origin for?
Origin boots are made for you if you want to support American made products and you want a beefy boot that doesn’t need much care or attention and will last a long time.
I have a lot of respect for Origin boots, but overall, I think the Red Wing Iron Ranger is still a better buy for the money.
The main thing that worries me about the Origin Lincoln is that the insole is basically all synthetic materials and there’s no steel shank.
Once the leather midsole starts to break in more, there’s nothing but soft squishy insole material to offer arch support (which it doesn’t do really at all).
While this makes Origin boots comfortable right away, the insole is going to be the first thing to break down. The rest of the boot is built like a tank. The leather is going to last forever, the outsole will probably go five years of hard wearing—but the all-synthetic insole doesn’t have the same staying power.
Compare that to a natural-insole boot like the Iron Ranger or the Nick’s Americana: they’re very uncomfortable out of the box, but a year in, they’re some of the most comfortable boots you can own and they still give plenty of arch support.
I love that Origin is so committed to USA-manufacturing. And I love that they show where each piece of their boot actually comes from. So many American-made brands source materials from all over the world and then just assemble in the States. But Origin goes all the way and sources just about everything from home.
Does Jocko own Origin?
Jocko Willink is a co-owner of Origin Maine.
Can Origin Maine boots be resoled?
Yes, any cobbler can easily resole Origin boots. And because of the stitchdown construction, they can basically be resoled an infinite number of times. Just make sure not to wear down the leather at the forefoot too much where you see the stitch.
How do you care for Origin boots?
Origin boots are made with pull up leather, so they don’t need much care at all. But to recondition them, I’d use Venetian shoe cream. If you want a layer of water-proofing and don’t mind darkening the leather, use Obenauf’s LP. Otherwise, use a pair of cedar shoe trees and brush them with a horse hair brush.