Ah, these take me back in the day.
You remember the day, right?
I was 19, looking for my first pair of boots. I had $60.
I came across a pair of Timberland Earthkeepers and knew I had to get them. But they were out of my budget.
I picked up those few extra Sunday shifts at Chili’s slinging gut-busting casual-dining staples. And I got me that pair of boots.
Many years later, I put them to rest in Clear Lake, California, on the stupidest camping trip of my life (I’ll spare the details, but it should tell you something that I had a funeral for my boots and drove home barefooted).
Five years later, I saw a pair online and couldn’t resist. The nostalgia was too strong.
Knowing what I know about boots now, I figured it’d be a good chance to dive into the Timberland Earthkeeper and see how they stack up.
Timberland Earthkeepers Overview
Timberland Earthkeepers are a mid-weight boot built with recycled and sustainable materials. A big draw to this boot is its style.
Made with at least 15 distinct patterns on the upper and tongue, the complicated stitching makes this a unique-looking piece of footwear. It’s this intricate look that drew me to the boot back when I was 19.
The fabric lining is made with 50% recycled PET bottles and the sole is at least 15% recycled rubber. Also, for every pair purchased, Timberland plants a tree to help combat climate change.
Things to Consider Before Buying Earthkeepers
Timberland Earthkeepers aren’t the most rugged boots on the market. They hold up well considering the price—I owned them for about three years of heavy use before they gave up the ghost.
If you’re looking for something to keep your feet warm in a sub-freezing winter, or you need something with tons of protection and water resistance for working conditions, look elsewhere.
Earthkeepers are mostly for style, but they can easily handle a few hikes, back yard chores, and heavy pavement pounding.
They’re all-rounder boots—something I’d recommend if your budget is $150 and you want a single pair of boots that look cool but also can handle rougher treatment.
Another important note: these run a half-size to a full-size too large. I picked up a size 10 (I’m a 10.5 true-size) and they fit well. I probably could’ve rocked a 9.5, too, but I’m happy with my choice. Make sure you at least choose a half-size down.
Luckily, if a half-size isn’t enough, Amazon has a super easy and forgiving return process so you can take the next step lower. But my general guidance is that a half-size lower is all you’ll need.
Timberland Earthkeepers Review
If you get more from watching than reading, check out our YouTube review of the Earthkeepers below:
Ah, the memories. When I first opened the box, I was hit with a wave of memories. Back when I was 19, I tramped around the UK for three weeks in these boots, took a month-long cross-country train trip, and so many other things. Just seeing these again reminded me I used to live a life of adventure.
Maybe they’re my secret sauce and now that I’ve got a fresh pair, I’ll start doing cool things again.
I picked up the Brown Oiled Nubuck leather colorway with the darker rubber sole. My previous pair was the lighter reddish wheat full grain leather, which I enjoyed. Ultimately, between those two choices (you can find both on the Amazon shopping page) I went with the darker brown because it’s more versatile.
I like the nubuck leather here, as it’s soft and matte. These Earthkeepers have some burnishing at the toe, so they have a very slight shine, but it’s tame compared to other boots in my collection.
I find my Earthkeepers look best with a well-loved pair of jeans. They’d pair with chinos well, too, given their casual nature, but relaxed leather boots and jeans are an unstoppable combo.
Leather Quality and Care
Timberland Earthkeepers are made with full grain leather and the color option I picked up is a tight-grained oiled nubuck.
The texture is soft, though it’s not as velvety as the Timberland Original nubuck leather. It looks like they’d sanded the leather down less, probably because the leather is thinner than on the Original Timberland boot.
I’ve noticed that my Earthkeepers pick up scratches fairly easily, but a quick rub with my thumb usually can buff it out. That said, these will look pretty worn-in in a few months.
I think most people will treat these as a casual-exclusive boot and won’t mind a little wear-and-tear showing, but it’s worth a note.
Timberland carries something they call Balm-Proofer, which is a water-based spray that’s perfect for this material. If you don’t already have a nubuck cleaner and brush, I recommend picking up one of Timberland’s handy nubuck cleaning kits:
Nubuck is prone to water stains, so the small investment is well worth the money. If you clean and treat your Earthkeepers every six months, I’d wager you’ll get an extra year of life out of them before the sole wears out.
The sole is made with 15% recycled rubber and measures 4mm at its thinnest point. With the stacked midsole and welt, the sole measures 10mm at its thinnest point.
Timberland outfits the Earthkeeper with its rugged lug heel and sole. This boot is built for comfort, so both the insole and outsole are constructed with that as a priority.
One of my most recent boot pickups was the Red Wing Iron Ranger, and its Vibram outsole and nitrile-cork insole and the most durable materials I’ve had on my feet.
But comfort isn’t a priority there.
For most folks, you’ll get plenty of durability from Timberland’s Green rubber sole, but it didn’t last me above three years.
I couldn’t find much information online about the welt construction, but my guess is that the Earthkeeper is bond welted, which is a cemented construction. This means you may have a tough time getting these resoled, though there’s evidence that people have done this in the past.
However, when you’re dealing with a sub $150 boot, a typical resole job for cemented construction may cost half of that. I’d recommend just saving up for something Goodyear welted at that point.
The insoles are removable, which is nice for folks who have flat feet or suffer from plantar fasciitis. Once you remove the insoles, there’s plenty of room to place your own orthotics if needed.
Fit and Sizing
I’m a true-size 10.5 and I picked up the 10 because other reviewers mentioned the Earthkeepers fit on the larger side.
They were right.
Some recommend picking up a full size lower. After trying mine on, I think a full size lower would have fit, too, but the half-size is good enough to skip the hassle of returning. It seems that all Timberland boots run large, so you can also extend this strategy to other Timberland boots.
If you’re shopping with Amazon, returns are easy, so even if you find you need a full size lower, you can get the correct size quickly.
Otherwise, the fit is comfortable and wide for a standard width boot. I have plenty of room in the toes and have felt no pressure along the vamp. My heel is snug and I haven’t felt tightness in the sides.
Overall, I’m a fan of the fit—but it’s crucial that you order smaller than your true size.
There was very little break-in period with the Timberland Earthkeepers. Maybe it’s because of the softer rubber sole or the pliable full grain nubuck leather, but I didn’t have any blisters or soreness after my first wear.
I always take my new boots on a mile walk to my local brewery and back. Within those two miles, I usually have at least some minor rubbing with new boots (with my Iron Rangers, I practically had a full-blown medical emergency).
But with the Earthkeepers, I hardly felt any discomfort at all.
What do Other Reviewers Say?
Timberland Earthkeepers have racked up a 4.4-star average with over 2,500 reviews on Amazon. That’s pretty dang impressive.
Many reviewers mentioned they picked up a full size lower and were happy with that sizing. There were some QC issues that slipped through the cracks too, but speaking from experience, I’ve owned a pair of Earthkeepers for heavy walking for three years before they gave out.
Unless something has changed, these boots hold up well.
Could You Use Earthkeepers as Work Boots or Hiking Boots?
If you’re a heavy hiker or plan on using your new boots for work every day, I’d recommend something different.
You can wear your Earthkeepers hiking and as work boots, but if you make it a habit, they’ll wear out much quicker.
Earthkeepers are much better for routine city-life. They’re a mid-weight boot and that extra stitching can get caught up and torn if you do a lot of work in them.
If you’re traveling and you have a hike planned, I wouldn’t buy a new pair of boots for that one excursion. Same goes for working conditions—if they’re what you have and you only need to take care of the odd job outside, they’ll be fine.
But if you’re making hiking your hobby, I recommend Timberland’s Mt. Maddsen boot:
It’s a much lighter and more nimble for hitting the trails.
And for heavy, consistent use in working conditions, I’d go with something like the Ariat WorkHog. It doesn’t have as much stitching, has a much thicker, sturdier sole, and has a composite toe. But the WorkHog definitely isn’t as stylish as the Earthkeeper.
So can you wear Earthkeepers hiking and at work?
Yes, if you plan a few hikes throughout the year and have a couple of days of heavy work-use, Earthkeepers will do fine. But if you foresee a need (like a few hikes a month, or a few days of heavy work use per week) I recommend a specialized boot.
Timberland Earthkeepers Alternatives
Red Wing Iron Ranger
If you’ve got extra room in your budget (at least double the budget, actually), I recommend the Red Wing Iron Ranger.
It’s one of my favorite boots and has the same versatility as the Earthkeeper. But with thicker leather, a more durable sole, and a Goodyear welted construction, Iron Rangers will last longer and are much easier to care for in the long run.
If you got sticker shock from the Red Wing Iron Ranger’s above, check out the Thursday Captain. Their price is a little more palatable, and much closer to the Timberland Earthkeepers range.
The Captain has a similar sleek silhouette as the Earthkeeper, so it’s an excellent match if you’re wanting a boot mainly for style.
Built with a Goodyear welt construction, Thursday Chrome leather, and a studded rubber sole, the Captain is one of the best value boots you can find.
My Thoughts Overall On The Timberland Earthkeepers
What I Like
Timberland Earthkeepers have a unique style and they’re built with classic Timberland quality materials.
The lining is made with 50% recycled PET plastic and the Green sole is 15% recycled rubber. I like Timberland’s commitment to the environment.
These boots are comfortable right away and have very little break-in period.
The full grain nubuck leather from a silver-certified tannery is creamy-smooth and high quality.
What I Don’t Like
Timberland Earthkeepers run a full size larger than true size, which is odd.
These boots don’t insulate your feet too well, so they’re not ideal for sub-freezing temperatures.
Who is the Timberland Earthkeeper for?
Timberland Earthkeepers are a great choice for guys who want a unique-looking mid-weight boot for their everyday wear. If you live an active lifestyle and need a pair of boots that can do a little bit of everything, the Earthkeepers are an excellent value pick.
There’s no boot that looks like the Timberland Earthkeeper. It’s a one-of-a-kind midweight boot that can handle city streets as well as dirt roads.
I like that Timberland weaves their eco-conscious philosophy into every part of the Earthkeeper and there’s no sacrifice to the style.
This is an all-rounder boot. Yes, I think it’ll hold up to light-duty work and a few hikes here and there, but if you’re looking specifically for a work boot or a hiking boot, get specialized footwear.
Boots can be pricey, but the Earthkeeper is an excellent value-driven pick. At under $150, there aren’t many boots (that I’ve seen anyway) that are a better deal.
Still, I have some reservations on the longevity of the sole and stitching, and I think it’s worth a look at one of our Goodyear welted recommendations. They’re more expensive, but that extra $50-$70 might mean an extra year of life for your boots.
What are Timberland Earthkeepers?
Timberland Earthkeepers are a series of boots made with recycled materials, like the TimberDry lining composed of 50% recycled PET plastic bottles and the green sole made with 15% recycled rubber.
Are Timberland Earthkeepers waterproof?
Timberland Earthkeepers are water resistant and the leather has been treated with a waterproofing wax. Over time, they will lose their waterproofing, but if you stay consistent with care, they’ll keep your feet dry and won’t soak up water into the leather.
Are Timberland Earthkeepers good for hiking?
Timberland Earthkeepers can be used for hiking if you only make a few trips a year. If you’re a dedicated hiker, you should find a dedicated boot just for the trails. We recommend the Mt. Maddsen hiking boot from Timberland.