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Thursday Boots Duke Review: My Experience After 2 Years

William Barton
Expertise:

Boots, Leather, Heritage Fashion, Denim, Workwear

William founded BootSpy in 2020 with a simple mission: test and review popular men’s boots and give a real, honest opinion. Since then, we've welcomed over 5 million readers on our boot reviews and boot care guides. Reach out to him for your own personalized boot recommendation at william@bootspy.com. Or join 50,000+ subscribers on the BootSpy YouTube channel, or send him a message on the BootSpy Instagram. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Apr 3, 2024
9 min read

I polled my audience of over 50,000 subscribers to find out which Thursday Chelsea boot is the best. The Thursday Legend was the top pick, but the Duke is my personal favorite.

After 2 years of wearing the Duke, this reviews dives into why I think the Duke is the best Thursday Chelsea, plus how to get the right size and care for the leather.

Feeling royal?
Review Feature Image/Icon Image source: Thursday Boot Company
Thursday Duke
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Bottom line: The Thursday Duke is an excellent everyday Chelsea boot, and the price is right. If you want a dressier Chelsea, check out Thursday’s Cavalier, but for casual and smart casual looks, the Duke is my top choice.

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Pros:
  • Six interesting and versatile leather options ensure you can find a style you like
  • With a cork midsole, Poron insole, and DuraEVA comfort strip, this boot is very comfortable
  • The WeatherSafe suede is tanned with hydrophobic compounds to its core---it’s not just coated with weatherproofing, so it’ll resist stains and water through the duration of its life
  • The construction quality and materials are well worth the sub-$200 price
Cons:
  • The only wide size is available with the Honey Suede leather

I’ve had the Thursday Cavalier for over a year now and have enjoyed it a lot. So when the Thursday Duke in Honey Suede started calling me, I didn’t think twice. 

I polled my audience of over 50,000 subscribers on YouTube to answer the question of what the best Thursday Chelsea is. The Legend won, but my personal favorite is the Duke. I’ll explain it all in this review.

I Polled 50,000 Subscribers to Find the Best Thursday Chelsea Boot

model wearing Thursday boots Duke Chelsea suede boot

The BootSpy YouTube channel has over 50,000 subscribers. Recently, I polled my audience to see if they preferred the Duke, Cavalier, or Legend.

I own all three, and I know how I personally rank them.

With over 1,100 votes, the Thursday Legend took the top spot with 495 votes.

The Duke came in second with 341 votes, and the Cavalier was third with 264 votes.

Thursday Chelsea Boots YouTube Poll Results
The Legend was the most popular. The Duke is still my favorite, though.

I’ll go into greater detail about the quality of the Duke later, but for now, I’ll say this: considering the price, these boots are absolutely worth the money. 

To me, the biggest consideration is how you plan on wearing your new boots. 

Do you need something to pair with jeans and chinos for a regular commute to the office? Something that looks good for Saturday afternoon coffee dates? Then the Duke is a fantastic choice. 

This is my breakdown of the Duke vs Legend vs Cavalier debate.

If you want something that’s more dressy, however—something that can pair with a suit—then you’ll want to try the Thursday Cavalier. The Cavalier is a bit slimmer, has a better disguised welt, and features a leather sole. It’s a better choice for more formal outfits (though any Chelsea still has a measure of casual-ness to it). 

Thursday Duke vs cavalier chelsea boot comparison
Thursday Boots Duke on the left in comparison to the Thursday Boots Cavalier on the right

Between the two, I prefer the Duke because I like the more casual style and the everyday nature of the boots works better for my lifestyle. 

Thursday Duke Overview

If you want to see where I rank the Duke compared to ALL other Thursday boots (not just the Chelseas), watch this video.

Like many of Thursday’s other popular boots, the Duke aims to offer modern style and high quality construction under $200. Thursday’s most popular boot, and my personal favorite, is the Captain (see how my Thursday Captains have held up after four years of wearing). 

Author William Barton modeling Thursday Boots Duke Chelsea boot

The Duke is more of an “everyday” type Chelsea. The rubber sole and wider construction make it less dressy than its counterpart, the Thursday Cavalier. 

But the Duke is still slim and stylish, especially when you compare it to other rugged Chelsea boots like the Red Wing Classic Chelsea and the Blundstone 500

Thursday Duke

The Duke is Thursday’s first Chelsea boot, and it brings the brand's hallmark construction quality and value for money. This is a fantastic everyday Chelsea.

Check Price

My Hands-On Review

First Impression

author modeling Thursday Boots Duke Chelsea boots

I picked up my Thursday Dukes in the popular Honey Suede. I love the color because it works equally well in fall, winter, and spring (summer is for sneakers).

I’m no stranger to Thursday Boots, so there are a few things I take for granted here that are actually quite impressive: the Duke features a 360-degree Goodyear welt (known as the gold-standard for shoe construction), a stacked leather heel, and a nice 5mm rubber toplift. 

Thursday Duke boots profile view

These features are pretty much universally standard on all Thursday Boots, but it’s worth noting because if the Duke is going to be your first pair of well-built boots, you’re going to be impressed with the jump in quality from department store boots. 

The Duke is an everyday Chelsea. It’s fairly slim and has a modern styling. But the Goodyear welt and solid rubber studded sole push it toward the casual end of the style spectrum. 

I think the Duke pairs best with jeans and chinos, though I wouldn’t wear these with a suit. 

Leather Quality and Care

Thursday Duke boots on model walking

Thursday offers six different leather options at the time of writing. I opted for the Honey Suede because I felt it was the most versatile, but I’ve also had experience with the Thursday Chrome Brown and Dark Olive Suede leather options on different boots (and I’m happy with both). 

The Honey Suede is really impressive—Thursday’s proprietary WeatherSafe suede goes through an unusual tanning process that makes this suede far more weather resistant than what many other brands offer. 

WeatherSafe suede is tanned in such a way that natural hydrophobic oils and waxes are infused into the core of the leather, so there’s no amount of wear and tear that will make the weatherproofing “wear off”.

Thursday Duke boots honey suede close up

A lot of brands advertise weatherproof suede, but it’s usually just a silicone spray coating on top of the leather that wears off after about three months of wear. That’s not the case for Thursday’s WeatherSafe Suede. 

The upper leather on my Honey Suede Dukes is 1.8mm thick, and the full grain glove leather lining adds an additional 1mm of thickness. In total, that’s 2.8mm of leather, which is plenty to keep your feet insulated in the cold, but it’s not so thick that it’s uncomfortable. 

Caring for this leather is easy—just use a suede brush once every few months to restore the knap, and if you get any stain on it, you can lift the stain with a suede eraser.

I cover how to care for Rugged & Resilient, Thursday Chrome, and WeatherSafe suede for all Thursday Boots in this video.

Sole

Thursday Duke sole detail on white background

The Thursday Duke features a rubber studded sole in the style of the popular Dainite sole, but I’ve actually found that the Thursday stud sole has a little more grip in wet conditions than a Dainite, so I prefer it. 

The midsole is cork with a DuraEVA comfort strip, and the insole is Poron. These materials combine to make for a very comfortable boot. If you’re used to Red Wings or any other heritage boot, you’ll be surprised when you slip these on—they’re as comfortable as sneakers. 

Some people say that the midsole gives out within about a year—the phenomenon is referred to as the “Thursday Drop.” I own over 12 pairs of Thursdays, many of which are several years old, and I’ve never once experienced this. Your foot should sink into the midsole a bit as the cork moulds to your foot, but that’s what breaking your boot in is all about. It only becomes more comfortable. 

Thursday Duke sole while walking detail

Overall, I’m really pleased with the sole materials on the Duke. It performs really well in the way that I normally wear these boots—it’s comfortable, lightweight, offers plenty of support, and keeps me upright on wet concrete. 

Another important note: the Duke features a fiberglass shank, which helps add arch support and stability, but keeps the weight down, which is an ideal combo for everyday wear. 

Fit and Sizing

Author William Barton modeling Thursday Boots Duke Chelsea boot 1

As with all my Thursday Boots, I ordered a half-size smaller than my sneaker size. 

I’m normally a size 10.5 in sneakers, and I got the size 10 Dukes. I did the same for my Captains, Presidents, Diplomats, etc. The fit is spot on. 

I like that the Duke also has a wide option available, though you can only get a EE/EEE size in the Honey Suede. 

Still, Thursday carries a huge variety of sizes, from 6-16, which is impressive. 

There are no pinch-points in the Duke: it’s comfortable throughout, and the narrow toe hasn’t presented any issues for me after wearing this for about 20 miles of walking. 

Before you get your Duke’s, be sure to read my entire guide on Thursday boot sizing.

Break-in Period

model standing wearing Thursday Duke honey suede boots

There’s no substantial break in period with the Thursday Boots Duke. The leather isn’t so thick that you have a lengthy creasing process, and because the insoles and midsole have a decent amount of synthetic material, they’re soft and squishy right out of the box. 

The leather will stretch out a little as you wear these more, but the Duke’s keep their shape really well. I add cedar shoe trees to my Chelsea boots because there’s not a lot of structure in the toe and they can warp as they age. I try to use shoe trees in all my boots, but with my collection of boots growing, it’s hard to keep up. 

Thursday Duke

The Duke is Thursday’s first Chelsea boot, and it brings the brand's hallmark construction quality and value for money. This is a fantastic everyday Chelsea.

Check Price

What do Other Reviewers Say?

View this post on Instagram

I’m always impressed reading through the reviews on Thursday’s site because many reviewers say they’re on their second, third, or fourth pair of Thursday Boots. 

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because I have over 10 pairs, but still…

Many reviewers who’d order the wrong size were impressed with Thursday’s customer service, noting how quickly they were either reimbursed, given credit, or the immediate exchange process. 

Thursday Boots Duke Alternatives

Thursday Boots Cavalier

Thursday Boots Cavalier model sitting

The Thursday Cavalier at one point was my favorite Chelsea boot, but the Duke overthrew it. But you may prefer the Cavalier because it’s a more dressy Chelsea. 

You can pair the Cavalier with a suit, but I wouldn’t recommend the same for the Duke. 

Because the Cavalier has a leather sole, a shorter heel, and a slimmer silhouette, it’s a better match for more formal outfits. 

The price is roughly the same and the quality is just as outstanding, so you really can’t go wrong with either boot. 

But because I rarely go formal with my clothes, and wear a lot of jeans and chinos, the Duke is still my go-to. 

Thursday Cavalier

The Thursday Cavalier is Goodyear welted, leather lined, and offers excellent value. This particular Shadow Grey version is forever battling it out for the title of my favorite casual everyday Chelsea boot, and even with 20+ pairs of shoes in my closet, it's very often my go-to.

Check Price Read Our Review
I sorta gave away my answer to the thumbnail. The Cavalier is more dressy for sure, but I like the Duke better.

My Overall Thoughts

What I Like

  • The variety of leather options is great—there are a few classic options, and a few style-forward choices available.

  • When you combine the cork midsole, Poron insole, and DuraEVA comfort strip, you get a very comfortable, walkable boot. 

  • Thursday’s WeatherSafe suede is tanned with hydrophobic compounds to its core, so it will always be weather resistant, unlike other suede boots that just have a silicon spray on the outside of the leather. 

  • The superior construction quality and materials are a phenomenal value for a boot under $200.

What I Don’t Like

  • I’d like to see more wide EE/EEE sizes available (though if you have wide feet, you can find the Honey Suede Duke in EE/EEE).

Who is the Thursday Duke for?

The Thursday Duke is a fantastic boot if you’re looking for a casual Chelsea that’s easy to walk in and you can wear often through fall, winter, and spring. It’s a versatile and comfortable Chelsea that doesn’t sacrifice on style points.

The Verdict

For the price, there’s no other Chelsea boot that matches the style, comfort, and quality of the Duke.

Of all the leather options, I like the Honey Suede because it’s such a versatile color that will match my fall, winter, and spring palette’s. And I love that the WeatherSafe suede is tanned with water-resistant compounds so that I never need to reapply waterproofing spray and I don’t need to worry about staining the suede. 

The Thursday Duke is one of my most comfortable boots because of the Poron insole, cork midsole, and DuraEVA comfort strip. They feel like sneakers, and it’s easy to put in serious walking miles with the Duke. 

If you want a dressy Chelsea you can wear with a suit, choose the Thursday Cavalier. But if you want an everyday boot that’s stylish and can take a decent amount of wear and tear, then the Thursday Duke is my top choice.

Thursday Duke

The Duke is Thursday’s first Chelsea boot, and it brings the brand's hallmark construction quality and value for money. This is a fantastic everyday Chelsea.

Check Price

FAQs

Are Thursday Boots good for rain?

Thursday’s WeatherSafe suede boots can handle rain well, and so can their full grain leathers. I wouldn’t stand in the rain for long periods of time in them, but if you’re caught in a storm, the water shouldn’t affect your boots long term.

Should I get the Thursday Duke or Cavalier Chelsea boot?

The Thursday Duke is a better choice for everyday casual wear, and the Thursday Cavalier is a more dressy Chelsea boot that can pair with a suit. Choose your boot based on formality level. The Cavalier can go more formal than the Duke, but the Duke is more versatile in the weather.

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