Thursday Boots Explorer Review: Combat Ready or Toy Soldier?

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

by  William Barton | Last Updated: 

Thursday Boots have a track record of quality, but what’s true for one model isn’t always true across the board. Have they really made a combat boot worth buying?

In our Thursday Boots Explorer review, we’re putting this rugged combat boot to the test to see if it’s as good as the brand’s other styles.

Let's get rugged
Review Feature Image/Icon

Thursday Boots Explorer

At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon

Bottom line: The Thursday Explorer is the coolest version of a combat boot I’ve seen. On the plus side, it’s rugged, durable, recraftable, sleek, and fairly lightweight for a heavy-duty boot. On the downside, it takes an outrageously long time to put on.

Ratings:

At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Design At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon
At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Quality of Materials At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon
At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Craftsmanship At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon
At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Fit & Sizing At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon
At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Value for Money At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon

Pros:

  • The Explorer balances a heavy-duty rugged look with a slimmer shape that makes for the most stylish combat boot I’ve seen on the market
  • The leather quality, construction, and other materials (like Vibram sole and Kevlar laces) are a phenomenal value for the price
  • These boots have a 360-degree storm welt, so they have a lot of weather resistance

Cons:

  • The military style enclosed lace hooks look really cool, but the boots take a long time to put on---long enough to make a point about it

It only takes one winter with a pair of canvas sneakers to realize you need something a little more “heavy-duty.”

I had that winter when I was 18. I went off to work with my little canvas sneaks, and came back with my feet nearly frostbitten. I got a pair of insulated boots the next day. 

So with winter coming, I wanted to stock up and try a cool looking pair of combat boots from one of my favorite brands: the Thursday Boots Explorer

The dark olive suede was calling my name, so I picked up a pair and have been wearing them throughout the season. Here’s what I think.

Thursday Boots Explorer Overview

Thursday

The Explorer is Thursday’s answer to the combat boot. 

This boot is closer to a more modern combat boot. More like something Danner would make for the Marines, and less like a pair of Doc Martens

It’s decked out with a 360-degree Goodyear storm welt, so it’s built to handle tough weather, and the heavy lug sole has grip through rain and snow. 

Thursday Explorer boots next to water

The Explorer comes in three different leather options at the time of writing: Black Matte, Dark Olive Suede, and Cedar. Both the Black Matte and Cedar editions are made with Thursday’s Rugged & Resilient leather, while the Dark Olive is made with Thursday’s WeatherSafe suede. 

Things to Consider Before Buying Thursday Combat Boots

model size 10 Thursday

Thursday Boots is more of a fashion company than anything. That said, they’re not like low-end brands that make stylish footwear at the expense of durability and quality.

If I were getting ready for boot camp, I probably wouldn’t pick up a pair of Thursday Explorers. I like that these combat boots have a similar style as modern combat boots like Danners. But they don’t have the same safety ratings.

The Explorer is a stylish boot. It’s built on a slim and low profile last, so it works well with slim fit jeans and chinos. Because it has a 360-degree Goodyear storm welt, it also has a lot of durability and weather resistance as well. 

Thursday Boots Explorer Review

First Impression

Thursday Explorer

The Thursday Explorer has a similar look to the Danner Reckoning, but they’re a much more fashion-forward version.

The leather upper has a very slim and low profile, which is important because the padded collar, eight-inch shaft, and thick lug sole all add a significant amount of bulk to the boot. But because it’s so slim, it still looks balanced and works well if you wear slimmer fit clothes. 

model walking wearing Thursday Explorer boots

That’s where the appeal of the Explorer is for me—it’s a heavy winter boot you can wear without looking like you gave up on the style front. 

Sure, it’s not meant for Arctic blasts, but when you pair the WeatherSafe suede with the 360-degree Goodyear Storm welt, you get a water-resisting powerhouse. 

I really like that Thursday didn’t go the direction of combat boot that so many brands try: basically Doc Martens knock offs. Instead, Thursday put their spin on modern-day combat boots and I think they really pulled the look off. 

Thursday Explorer boots in foliage

The biggest downside of this boot is that it takes so freakin’ long to put on. I did a time trial and this boot took me a full 20 seconds longer to put on than my Thursday Captain

That might not seem like a long time, but it’s a whole lot when you’re trying to leave someone’s house and you’ve already said your goodbyes and now everyone is just staring at you, waiting for you to get your boots on.

Leather Quality and Care

Thursday Explorer boots

I picked up my Explorers in Dark Olive WeatherSafe Suede. The other two options are made with Thursday’s Rugged & Resilient leather.

I prefer the WeatherSafe suede to the Rugged & Resilient line, as I like the texture a bit better and I like how it ages more. 

Both leathers have a sort of burnishing effect the more you wear them, so they patina nicely and really show how well you’ve worn your boots. 

Thursday Explorer weathersafe suede burnishing detail

True to its name, the WeatherSafe suede has a decent amount of weather resistance. The toe and heel have some wax applied, which further helps the weatherproofing and gives those parts a rugged, worn-in look. 

You won’t need to do much cleaning or conditioning with these boots, but if you get stuck in the mud, you’ll want a suede brush and suede eraser. 

Thursday Explorer boots on model

Read our breakdown on how to clean suede boots, but Thursday’s WeatherSafe is a bit unique. I tried mink oil on one spot, and the knap completely closed. 

I’m going to try Otter Wax Suede & Nubuck Cleaner after this winter to restore the weatherproof properties and I think it’ll keep that “rubbed” suede texture I like so much. 

Otter Wax Suede & Nubuck Cleaner
Check Best Price on Amazon
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Sole

Thursday Explorer vibram sole on white background

The Thursday Explorer is decked out with a Vibram Newflex outsole. This outsole is really interesting in that it feels more like a foam than it does rubber.

While I didn’t notice any difference in traction or slip resistance, the sole is significantly lighter.

When I compared the Explorer with the Thursday Logger, I found that the Explorer was actually a little over 100g lighter than the Logger (909g vs 1017g per boot).

Thursday Explorer sole detail

That was a bit shocking as the Explorer has the padded cuff and more hardware compared to the Logger, but that just speaks to how lightweight the outsole is. 

Even though it’s light, the outsole stays quite durable. I’ve put in some miles with these boots and haven’t noticed any significant wearing down of the heel. Plus, the material has a lot of shock absorption, so it’s easy to stand for long periods with these boots. 

Thursday has a memory foam insole and a cork midsole, both of which make this boot feel like a sneaker right out of the box. 

Thursday Explorer boots in foliage 1

I’ve found all Thursday’s to be really comfortable, and now that Thursday is adding a cork midsole, the boots tend to break in and mould to your foot over time, making them even more comfortable as time goes on. 

Fit and Sizing

model wearing Thursday

The Thursday Explorer fits like any other Thursday boot does, so if you have experience with the brand, get the same size you did last time (assuming that your last boots fit well). 

Order a half-size smaller than you would with sneakers. So if you’re a size 11 in sneakers, you’ll want a size 10.5 in your Thursday Boots. This is pretty common among boot brands: the same is true for Red Wing, Wolverine, Taft, and many more. 

Thursday Explorer eight inch lace up boots on cement

The Explorer is really comfortable and offers a lot of security around the ankle. I didn’t notice any pinch points or uncomfortable spots in this boot. 

At the time of writing, Thursday is only offering standard D widths for the Explorer, and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon. 

Break-in Period

Thursday Explorer profile view

There wasn’t any noticeable break-in period for me. While I picked mine up in the Dark Olive WeatherSafe Suede, my experience with Thursday’s Rugged & Resilient leathers was the same on the break-in: hardly any at all. 

I read through the reviews online for the Explorer and didn’t see anyone else mention the break-in either, so you should have smooth sailing here. 

To be on the safe side though, I always recommend committing to fewer than three miles of walking per day for the first few wears just to make sure you find yourself far away from home with sore heels. 

What do Other Reviewers Say?

View this post on Instagram

At the time of writing, there are over 300 reviews for the Explorer on Thursday’s site, which average out to a 4.9 star rating. 

The most common negative I see in the reviews focus on actually getting the boots on. It’s true: I’ve never had a boot that was so difficult to put on. But once it’s on, it’s super comfortable.

Many reviewers opted for the Explorer over the Captain because they wanted to use the boots for work or for hiking. While I recommend a specialty boot for those activities, it’s true that the Explorer is beefy enough for double duty. 

Thursday Boots Explorer Alternatives

Danner Reckoning

View this post on Instagram

The Danner Reckoning is an official boot of the US Marine Corps. It’s definitely not an alternative to the Thursday Explorer from a fashion perspective, but if you’re looking for a true combat boot, there’s none better than the Danner Reckoning. 

It made the list of my top favorite combat boots because of its durable and grippy Vibram All Terrain sole and because it’s 100% waterproof. 

So if I was looking for a pair of tough combat boots designed to take a beating, I’d pick the Danner Reckoning. 

But if you’re looking for a boot that looks stylish and still has a ton of rugged durability, there’s really no replacement for the Thursday Explorer. 

Danner Reckoning

If you want a combat boot that’s all about function, you’ll love the versatility of the Danner Reckoning. The Vibram All Terrain sole provides traction across loose sand, gravel, leaves, and snow, so these easily become your go-to beater boot.

Check Best Price on Amazon
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

My Thoughts Overall On the Thursday Boots Explorer

What I Like

  • I like that Thursday designed the Explorer to actually look like a modern combat boot—but it still has the signature slim and low profile shape that makes it look stylish.

  • The leather quality, storm welt construction, and details like the Vibram sole and Kevlar laces all add up to an incredible value for the price.

  • Combine the WeatherSafe suede and the 360-degree Goodyear storm welt, and you get a very water resistant boot.

What I Don’t Like

  • These are probably the most difficult to put on boots I’ve ever tried.

Who is the Thursday Boots Explorer for?

The Thursday Explorer is a fantastic boot for you if you’re looking for something that’s stylish enough to wear out on a Saturday night, but can also double as an excellent travel boot if you’re putting in tons of mileage over rough terrain.

The Verdict

If you can get the Thursday Explorer on your foot, you’ll love it. 

I’m serious. I’ve never had such a difficult time putting a boot on. 

But once I actually got it on, I fell in love with these boots. They’re going to be a staple for me throughout the fall and winter. 

I like the lightweight Vibram sole—the heavy lugs offer excellent traction and they’re plenty durable. 

And in addition to looking cool, the WeatherSafe suede combined with the 360-degree Goodyear storm welt make the Explorer super water resistant. 

Because my wardrobe has a decent amount of military-inspired looks, the Explorer fits right in and I’m able to wear them often. 

If you’re more conservative with your style, I’d look at the Captain—it’s a more versatile boot, but still rugged and cool looking.

The Thursday Explorer is a one-of-a-kind boot, and the quality is outstanding for the price. 

Want to dig deeper into the Explorer? Check out my in-depth video review here:


FAQs

Is the Thursday Explorer waterproof?

The Thursday Explorer isn’t waterproof, but the WeatherSafe suede and storm welt make it very water resistant. You can definitely wear these boots in the rain and snow.

How long does the Thursday Explorer last?

Under fairly standard conditions, the Thursday Explorer should last at least 3-5 years. They may last shorter if you wear them every day and don’t condition the leather.

How do I condition Thursday WeatherSafe suede?

Use a suede brush and eraser to clean any marks on your boots. You can use suede weatherproofing spray on your WeatherSafe suede to keep them watertight. I’ll be using wax to seal my Thursday WeatherSafe suede boots.

3 Boots Worth Checking Out Right Now

Aurélien Suede Chukka Boot
Embrace the Mediterranean lifestyle
Aurélien Suede Chukka Boot
Check Best Price
Comovita Chelsea Boots
Made to order in Valencia, Spain
Comovita Chelsea Boots
Check Best Price
If you click these links and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.