Are you looking for a new work boot?
I know the feeling.
There are a few big names you hear again and again: Thorogood, Red Wing, Georgia.
The list goes on and on. But I want to save you some time and cut straight to the point.
A while back I picked up the popular Thorogood Moc Toe and after several tests, I see where this boot fits into the workwear landscape.
Let’s dive in.
Thorogood Moc Toe Overview
The Moc Toe is Thorogood’s most popular boot. Thorogood is a US based brand, and while they’ve started to make some of their boots overseas, the Moc Toe is still proudly made in the USA.
The brand is owned by Weinbrenner Shoe Co., an employee-owned, Union-run Wisconsin company.
Thorogood released the Moc Toe in 1964 as the Hike n’ Camp, the official boot of the Boy Scouts.
But now these boots have a different reputation: they’re nearly ubiquitous at all construction sites because of their balance of weather resistance, comfort, durability, and price.
There are several versions of the Thorogood Moc Toe available. This review covers the 814-4200, which is the most popular (6” boot made with Oil-tanned Tobacco leather). You can also find the same leather 6” boot with a steel toe, or you can opt for an 8” version that offers a little more ankle support.
If the Tobacco leather isn’t your jam, Thorogood also offers the same styles in their black oil tanned leather, and a deeper matte brown Crazy Horse leather.
Things to Consider Before Buying Thorogood Boots
Thorogood boots aren’t necessarily stylish. These are tough work boots.
While you can wear these as part of a rugged workwear inspired outfit, I’m going to gear this review more toward the guys who need a sturdy pair of work boots.
If you are looking at these from a fashion perspective, I recommend you check out the alternatives section below where I have more details on the Thursday Diplomat and Grant Stone Brass.
Another important consideration for many working guys is where their boots are actually made.
It’s rare to find a US-made brand for under $250, and Thorogood fits the bill. This brand is proud of its origin (they’ve been USA made since 1892).
I don’t assign any additional value to where a boot is made—it’s really my job to state the objective facts and compare how these boots perform against other brands.
But I know a huge portion of our readers will choose a USA-made brand every day of the week. So if that’s you, take note: Thorogood is a legit domestic brand.
Thorogood 814-4200 Review
I love the box that the Thorogood Moc Toe comes in—it’s totally bespangled and decked out with stars and stripes.
I think I actually heard an eagle scream in the background when I opened the box up.
This review will specifically focus on the Tobacco 6” Moc Toe (814-4200), but much of the information still applies to the 8”, steel toe, and other leather options.
The first thing that stands out is the shape—it’s made with a classic Moc Toe construction, which has a u-shaped piping detail running at the top of the toe box.
The tobacco leather has a beautiful golden shine to it, and I like the contrasting white stitching running along the upper. All versions of the Moc Toe have a white wedge sole, four eyelets and three speed hooks, and multicolored laces.
There’s a significant amount of triple stitching along the upper, which is important for durability as these are usually the first parts to break apart. And of course, the USA flag tag is proudly displayed on the outside of the boot.
It’s handsome for a work boot. But it’s a bit bulky to wear as a fashion-forward boot. If you like the moc toe style but want something much slimmer and more stylish, I’d opt for the Thursday Diplomat.
That said, I wouldn’t trust the Thursday Diplomat under harsh conditions as much as I trust my Thorogood Moc Toe.
The Thorogood Moc Toe features a 360-degree Storm welt, which is a type of Goodyear welt. The brand likely uses a synthetic welt, which helps cut down on cost and weight. While these boots aren’t technically waterproof, the Storm Goodyear welt gets them pretty dang close.
If your job site has an occasional downpour, snowy walk, or muddy puddle, these will keep your feet dry.
Leather Quality and Care
The quality of the oil-tanned tobacco leather is solid. It’s hard not to compare the Thorogood Moc Toe to the Red Wing Classic Moc, and between these two, Red Wing definitely has thicker and superior leather.
That said, the Thorogood Moc Toe is a good $60-$90 less expensive, depending on where you buy.
I still think the Thorogood oil-tanned leather is an excellent value. While it may not be quite as thick as Red Wing’s, it’s still quite sturdy, pliable, and because it’s so packed with oils, it barely requires effort to maintain.
What kind of leather does Thorogood use?
Thorogood uses oil-tanned full grain aniline leather for their boots. The leather goes through a vegetable tanning and tumbling process, and then is packed with oils, which means the resulting leather is soft, pliable, and requires very little care. Thorogood leather develops a nice patina over the years and will develop unique creases that shape to your foot.
It may seem like this leather picks up scratches easily, but it’s a pull up leather, meaning you can usually rub most scuffs out with your thumb (thus redistributing the oils). This also means that truly deep scratches can often be smoothed over with a light conditioning.
For work boots like this, I’d condition with mink oil. Yes, you’ll darken the leather by three or four shades, but mink oil will go a long way to further protect and waterproof your leather.
If you’re wearing these on a job site and you’re not particularly worried about the color of the leather, use mink oil on these boots a few months after you first get them (or mink oil them right away to get the waterproofing benefits).
If you want to preserve the color, I recommend Bick 4. While Bick 4 doesn’t penetrate super deep into the leather, it’ll freshen up your Moc Toe and keep the leather flexible without any cracking.
Thorogood originally used a Vibram Christy sole, which has long been the gold standard in the industry for this type of work boot.
But the brand moved to their own custom MAXWear slip resistant sole for durability reasons.
While the Vibram Christy performs a little better in oily conditions, the MAXWear sole resists abrasion much better.
So rather than needing to get a new sole after 12 months of hard wear, you’re looking closer to 18-24 months of tough wearing before needing a resole.
Note: it’ll only need this resole if you wear your boots every day at a job site. I’ll probably never need to resole these boots because I swap out between so many other pairs of boots.
The most unusual thing about the Thorogood Moc Toe is the insole and midsole. While many American heritage brands feature leather and cork throughout the midsole, Thorogood uses a Poron insole and all synthetic fibers through the midsole.
They also feature a fiberglass shank instead of a steel shank.
There’s a bit of a tradeoff here: the synthetic materials make the Moc Toes much more lightweight than their Red Wing counterparts, which can really add up when you’re wearing them for 12-14 hours a day.
But they’ll never break in to be as comfortable as a pair of Red Wings. For those who’ve worn boots with a leather and cork midsole—they’re much less comfortable up front, but over time they fit perfectly because the leather has shaped to your foot.
That said, the Poron insole is removable, so you can actually add your own insert, which isn’t something you can do with any of the other brands I’ve mentioned. So if you have flat feet or need extra arch support, Thorogood actually offers you the ability to customize your arch, which is really cool.
Fit and Sizing
I’m normally a size 10.5 in sneakers and I picked up my Thorogood Moc Toe boots in a size 10 after following their sizing instructions.
They feel quite snug at the ball of my foot, and if I were to order again, I’d opt for the 10.5. Another good option would’ve been the 10EE wide size.
Thorogood offers a huge range of regular (D) and wide (EE) sizes, so there’s a good chance your size is available.
My heel slipped around during the first few wears, but it settled in as I continued to break the leather in.
Are Thorogood Moc Toe boots comfortable?
Yes, Thorogood Moc Toe boots are comfortable. They fit a bit snug in the sides, so order your regular sneaker or dress shoe size to get the most comfortable fit. Otherwise, the leather is very supple and the Poron insole makes for a cushy experience.
When you’re looking for your size, I recommend picking your sneaker size. So if you’re a 10.5 in Nike’s, you’ll be a 10.5 in Thorogoods.
While the break-in wasn’t as intense as my Red Wing Iron Ranger experience, I felt that the Thorogood break-in actually lasted longer.
There weren’t any blisters, and I definitely didn’t get close to the point where you just need to get your boots off right away. You know the feeling.
But there was some snugness in my right foot and slippage in my heel that took about 10 miles of walking to break-in. While the sole is flexible right away, some slight sizing issues made it take a bit more time to work the leather to a fully comfortable place.
How long does it take to break in Thorogood Moc Toe boots?
Many people say that Thorogood Moc Toe boots don’t take any time to break in. My experience was a bit different, and while they were never seriously uncomfortable, it took me ten miles of walking to stretch the leather to a point where there was no rubbing or slipping.
What do Other Reviewers Say?
Many reviewers mention feeling the same snugness I felt in the front of the foot. Like me, several just powered through and broke the boot in, and now they love the fit and feel.
Common complaints are with the eyelet at the top of the boot above the speedhooks. I agree with that—it just doesn’t seem necessary.
But the majority of reviews are five-star because this boot is such a tough workhorse and can take a beating.
Thorogood Moc Toe Alternatives
Red Wing Classic Moc Toe
Red Wings are about $60-$90 more expensive, depending on where you buy them and if there’s a sale going on. They’re heavier, but the insoles are made of leather and cork.
So while they’re less comfortable out of the box, I can vouch that they’re more comfortable about 6 months in.
The Red Wing Classic Moc is going to last a good 6-months to a year longer than Thorogood, just because of the slightly higher quality leather and the more natural materials used through the insole and midsole.
Both are USA made, so you can’t go wrong there.
- Need a custom insert for Plantar Fasciitis, flat feet, or just extra arch support
- Want a lighter boot for comfort
- Want a more budget friendly option
Then get the Thorogood Moc Toe.
But if you:
- Want something a little more durable
- Has more color options
- And is a bit more stylish
I’d opt for the Red Wing Classic Moc.
Thursday Boots Diplomat
This one is for the guys who are into workwear fashion. I don’t recommend the Thursday Diplomat for work. But it’s definitely the most stylish moc toe boot I’ve ever worn.
It’s much slimmer and sleeker, and looks better with a pair of slim jeans.
It’s not that the Thursday Diplomat isn’t a sturdy boot—it features a 360-degree Goodyear welt and has excellent construction quality, but it just doesn’t have the same safety features as the Thorogood.
In a working application, definitely go with Thorogood. For style, definitely go with the Thursday Diplomat.
Grant Stone Brass Boot
The Grant Stone Brass Boot looks to me like a dress moc toe, if there is such a thing.
Of all these boots, the Grant Stone Brass is the best quality, but also the most expensive. It’s also heavy.
Grant Stone is one of my favorite brands because their quality rivals some of the big American brands like Alden, who sell their boots for $500-$600, but because Grant Stone is manufactured in China, they’re able to keep their prices lower in the mid-$300 range.
Like the Thursday Diplomat, the Brass Boot isn’t a working boot either. But if you’re just in the market for a really high quality boot that looks stylish, the Grant Stone Brass is one of the best values you’ll find.
My Thoughts Overall On the Thorogood Moc Toe Boot
What I Like
With a 360-degree Storm Goodyear welt, this boot is very water resistant and durable.
The full grain, oil tanned tobacco leather needs almost no maintenance, even when it takes a beating.
The MAXWear wedge sole has great slip resistance and the heel doesn’t wear down super quick like other competitors’ soles.
You can find this boot in an 8” and steel toe version.
What I Don’t Like
There are three eyelets, three speedhooks, and then a final set of eyelets—I’d rather have speedhooks all the way up. The last eyelet seems to defeat the purpose of speedhooks.
The fit is narrow at the ball of your foot. I think opting for your sneaker size (or dress shoe size) is the way to go.
The break in wasn’t super uncomfortable, but it did take a while before my heel stopped shifting around and the leather settled into my foot shape.
Who is the Thorogood Moc Toe for?
The Thorogood Moc Toe is an excellent boot for you if you’re looking for a rugged, durable work boot that’s relatively inexpensive and can take a beating without needing much care on your end, but still last a long time.
The Thorogood Moc Toe might be my new favorite work boot.
The leather and construction is hardy, so I’m confident these boots can take an absolute beating and still hold together for years.
I think it’s less stylish than the Red Wing Classic Moc. If you’re looking for a beefy boot that plays as well on the job site as it does at the bar, then I’d probably fork over the extra bit of cash and get the Red Wing.
If you’re only in it for the style, then I’d definitely check out the Thursday Diplomat or Grant Stone Brass.
But I’m assuming you’re looking for a decent work boot with a great value. And that’s what the Thorogood Moc Toe is.
With a 360-degree Goodyear Storm welt, these boots are practically waterproof (though not entirely), and the leather is solid enough to last for years.
The abrasion resistant sole is key for wedge soles like this—it’ll hold up well to tough job sites (though it loses a few points for slip resistance with oil on concrete because of its harder composition).
Next time I’m heading for a long day of work outside, I’m lacing up my Thorogood Moc Toe boots.
What are moc toe boots good for?
Moc toe boots are great for working conditions. The construction offers more structure around the toe, thus making them a safe choice for warehouse pickers, construction workers, and any other sort of manual labor.
Are Thorogood boots worth the money?
Yes, Thorogood boots are absolutely worth the money. They have similar mid-tier material and construction quality to brands like Red Wing, but they’re less expensive.
Does Red Wing own Thorogood boots?
Thorogood boots is owned by Weinbrenner Shoe Co., not Red Wing. However, Red Wing does own Vasque and Irish Setter boot brands.