Timberland Basic vs Premium: Is Basic Better?

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William Barton Avatar by  William Barton | Last Updated:  Feb 08, 2021

The Timberland Basic is generally about $30 less expensive than the Premium. Besides that, there’s almost no reason to buy it over the Premium. The support and cushion is much worse compared to the Premium, though the leather is similar quality. However, you don’t get the two-toned sole or the iconic contrasting stitch.

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If you’re set on getting a pair of Timberlands, invest the small amount of extra money to get the Timberland Premium. It’s going to last much longer and look better than the Timberland Basic. I don’t recommend either for working conditions, but for fashion, it’s better to stick with the icon rather than a knock-off.

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Pros:

  • Decent nubuck leather upper
  • 100% waterproof
  • Fully lined with Primaloft insulation
  • 100% waterproof and insulated
  • It’s an historic style icon
  • The insole and sole is quite supportive and adds a lot of shock absorption

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have the same iconic sole
  • Lacks the contrasting stitching
  • Much less padding and support on the insole
  • The sole is cemented instead of Goodyear welted, so you may have trouble resoling

I get it: you’re thinking about getting your first pair of Timberlands so you can capitalize on that iconic style. 

But Timberland has so many boots available, it can make your head spin. Basic, Premium, Pro, etc.—what does it all mean?

In this review, I’m going to resolve the Timberland Basic vs Premium debate so you can make the right choice and get the best boot for your situation. Let’s dive in.

Timberland Basic vs Premium Overview

Timberland Basic vs Timberland Premium Boots Side by Side
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Timberland Basic Timberland Premium
Upper Nubuck Leather Nubuck Leather
Sole Non-removable low-density foam High-density removable anti-fatigue insole
Outsole Single-piece Rubber Lug Two-toned Rubber Lug
Warranty 60 day returns 60 day returns
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Timberland Basic 6-inch Waterproof Boot

Timberland basic boots stacked

The Timberland Basic boot looks a lot like the Premium, but there are a few key differences. 

First, the sole is a single mould, and is a light butterscotch color, which is the biggest stylistic difference. The stitching on the Basic is roughly the same color as the leather, too, so there isn’t as much contrast compared to the white stitching of the Premium. 

While the Timberland Basic is about $30 less expensive, the insole is made of thin, low density foam and can’t be removed. There’s also low density foam in the heel. The upshot of this $30 savings is a less comfortable boot with about 50% of the shock absorption. 

Still, it’s a handsome waterproof, Primaloft insulated boot with a classic look. 

Pros:

  • It’s less expensive than the Premium.
  • For the price, it’s a decent all-round boot, especially considering the waterproofing.

Cons:

  • It looks like a knock-off Timberland Premium.
  • The insole and midsole have thin low-density foam inserts, which don’t offer much shock absorption.
  • The padded collar is made with a PU leather, which is prone to cracking and doesn’t look good. 
Timberland Basic 6-inch Boot

While the Timberland Basic is about $30 less expensive than the Premium version, the insole is made of thin, low density foam and can’t be removed. There’s also low density foam in the heel. The upshot of this $30 savings is a less comfortable boot with about 50% of the shock absorption. Still, it’s a handsome waterproof, Primaloft insulated boot with a classic look.

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Timberland Premium 6-inch Waterproof Boot

Timberland premium boots stacked 1

The Timberland Premium 6-inch Waterproof Boot is what Timberland boots on the map. While it was a workwear staple through the 70s and 80s throughout New England, the boot’s popularity skyrocketed in the 90s when hip-hop culture embraced the style. 

Now, Timbs are world-renowned and have been worn by dozens of the world’s most famous celebrities. 

Pros:

  • With 100% waterproofing through the leather and sole, plus 400g of Primaloft insulation, this makes for an excellent winter boot.
  • The Gripstick heavy rubber lug sole does well in wet or icy conditions.
  • It has a handsome, iconic style. 
  • It features a high-density removable foam insole. 

Cons:

  • The sole is cemented on, which poses some long-term durability issues in heavy working conditions. 
  • They run about a full size too large. 
Timberland Premium 6-inch Waterproof Boot

The Timberland Premium 6-Inch Waterproof Boot is a handsome and iconic design and it’s built well. The quadruple stitching, Primaloft insulation, thick rubber heel, and padded leather collar are all designed to go the distance, whether for work or for style. The biggest drawback is the cemented sole construction, which simply isn’t as strong as a Goodyear welt.

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You might only notice a few differences between the Timberland Basic and Premium at first glance, so I’ll go through each aspect of these two boots, part by part so you can make the best choice.

Style

Timberland premium boots profile view

Both the Basic and Premium are built on the same last and have generally the same design. The big differences are in the materials used. 

However, there are a few key style differences that are worth noting:

The stitching on the Premium is white, and on the Basic, the stitching matches the color of the boot. It’s a subtle difference, but the white stitching is part of the iconic look.

Timberland basic vs premium stitching heel counter

The only other major aesthetic difference is in the sole. The Basic features a butterscotch colored one-piece sole with a new-age tread pattern. The Premium Timbs have a two-toned polyurethane sole with a more traditional tread pattern. 

It might not seem like a lot, but the contrast between these two boots makes the Timberland Basic look more like a knock-off boot, even though it’s a genuine Timberland product. 

Leather Quality and Care

Both the Premium and Basic use the same leather from tanneries in the Dominican Republic. The leather isn’t particularly great in either case, but the quality is on par with what you’d expect from any sub-$200 boot. 

They both have full waterproofing, and when I tested each out, there was no difference there. The Basic does just as well as the Premium in wet winter conditions because of the waterproofing and the 400g of Primaloft insulation.

The leather is a wheat-colored nubuck, which is the outer layer of the cow-hide, sanded to give it a suede-like texture. However, nubuck and suede are different beasts, and nubuck proves to be a bit more rugged, though it does stain easily. 

Your care routine will be the same for either of these boots, so when the time comes, check out our full guide on how to clean your Timberlands

Sole

Timberland basic vs premium sole comparison diagram

I briefly mentioned the difference in the two soles above, but this is the make-or-break category when choosing between the Premium and Basic

I must say, I really don’t like the tread pattern of the Basic. 

It’s like Timberland wanted to switch things up to a more futuristic look, but honestly, they’re doing too much. 

I love that classic, beefy rubber lug sole on the Premium.

Timberland premium sole side view cropped

But besides the visual discrepancy, the insole, midsole, and outsole all make the Premium a much more comfortable boot. 

Let’s start with the insole: the Premium has a removable high-density foam insole. I think it’s plenty comfortable as is, but it’s a game-changer if you have flat feet or plantar fasciitis and need a custom orthotic insert. You can still get the right fit for your boots and just switch out the footbed for the most comfortable experience possible. 

The Basic boot only has a thin low density foam insole, which doesn’t offer much support or shock absorption.

Timberland basic sole side view cropped

The midsole is also vastly different, though you’d never be able to tell. The Basic uses all low-density foams in the midsole, which don’t do much to cushion or support your foot, while the premium uses some recycled high-density foams.

Not only should the Premium last longer, it’ll also be more comfortable for longer, too. 

Fit and Sizing

timberland boots with ankle cuffed 1

Because both boots are built on the same last and have the same basic construction, they fit the same, too. 

All Timberland 6-inch Boots run a full size too large. Timberland suggests that you buy a half-size smaller than what you would with a pair of sneakers, but I found that to still be a little large. So I recommend that anyone with a size 11 foot pick up a size 10, etc. 

A lot of people love Timbs because they offer up to size 17, which is rare for a boot brand. Many dudes with huge feet opt for Timberlands simply because they’re the only boot readily available.

Standout Features

Sole

Timberland basic vs premium sole comparison diagram

The sole is the most easily recognizable difference between the Basic and Premium. NYC city dwellers love their Timberlands, and they’re quick to tell you they’d rather go without shoes than be caught wearing Basic Timberlands. 

Now, I’m not that hard-line, but their point is well-taken. The butterscotch colored sole of the Basic Timberland is made with harder rubber and has a low-density foam midsole and heel pad. 

Style aside, the sole of the Basic doesn’t offer as much shock absorption, grip, or durability when compared to the Premium. 

However, when you consider style, too, the Premium is a winner all around. 

With a sticky urethane lug tread pattern, the Timberland Premium is a pleasure to walk in, especially when conditions are wet or icy. 

The sole of the Premium is much better than the sole of the Basic.

Better Sole
Timberland Premium 6-inch Waterproof Boot

The Timberland Premium 6-Inch Waterproof Boot is a handsome and iconic design and it’s built well. The quadruple stitching, Primaloft insulation, thick rubber heel, and padded leather collar are all designed to go the distance, whether for work or for style. The biggest drawback is the cemented sole construction, which simply isn’t as strong as a Goodyear welt.

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Padded Cuff

Timberland basic vs premium heel cuff comparison

The padded cuff on the Premium and Basic might look the same at first glance, but the material is different, which makes a big difference in the long run. 

The Premium cuff is made with genuine leather—it’s not excellent quality, but it should hold up decently over time. 

The Basic cuff is made with PU leather, which is a plastic-coated composite leather. It doesn’t feel nice and the stuff will likely start to crack at about 12 months. And there’s not really anything you can do to prevent it. 

While the padding is the same for both, the Premium ankle cuff is going to look better for much longer. 

Insole

Timberland premium high density foam insole 1

The insole is the biggest factor in the comfort department, and the Premium wins big here. The Basic features a thin, low-density foam insole that can’t be removed. 

The Premium has a high-density removable foam insert that’s quite comfortable. But I love that it’s removable because it gives folks the option to add their own orthotics if they have flat feet or plantar fasciitis. 

I don’t add custom inserts into my Timberlands, and I’ve found that this orange insole has a decent amount of arch support on its own. It’s very comfortable right out of the box. 

Timberland Basic vs Premium: Which is Best for You?

Timberland Basic vs Timberland Premium Boots Side by Side

When deciding between the Timberland Basic and the Premium, it really comes down to how much quality you’re willing to sacrifice for the cost. 

At the time of writing, there’s only a $30 difference between the Basic and Premium ($160-$190). 

If you’re looking at that kind of minimal price difference, there’s no situation in which I’d recommend the Basic. 

Our Winner
Timberland Premium 6-inch Waterproof Boot

The Timberland Premium 6-Inch Waterproof Boot is a handsome and iconic design and it’s built well. The quadruple stitching, Primaloft insulation, thick rubber heel, and padded leather collar are all designed to go the distance, whether for work or for style. The biggest drawback is the cemented sole construction, which simply isn’t as strong as a Goodyear welt.

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However, I think the Timberland Basic is attractive if you can find it around $100 (which I haven’t seen).

The Timberland Premium, though, is a solid deal sitting under $200, so save up for a month extra if you need to so you can get the real thing. 

For a visual comparison, be sure to check out my boot battle video over on our YouTube channel:

FAQs

Are Timberland boots worth the money?

Timberland Premium boots are fairly priced and are a good investment. I like them more for their style than their working application, but in either case, they should last long enough for you to feel like you got your money’s worth.

Do Timberlands get more comfortable?

Timberlands will break in a little the more you wear them, though not by a significant amount. The leather is a bit stiff out of the box, and as that creases, your boots will be more comfortable. However, if you’re feeling a lot of discomfort on the footbed, you may want to consider returning them for another size as the insole should be comfortable right away.

Are Timberlands good for walking all day?

With the urethane sole and high-density foam insole, Timberlands offer a lot of shock absorption, so they’re a great boot for walking all day.

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