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6/13/2020 11:06 AM


Anyone have experience with White's Boots?


Looking for boots for hiking/camping. I'm not devoted to leather or synthetic either way- just want something relatively dependable.

*must be Made in USA


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6/13/2020 12:49 PM

It might help if you elaborate on what you mean by hiking/camping. How heavy of a load will you be carrying? What kind of terrain will you be traversing? Are you going off-trail? Are you venturing into alpine country, or slogging through dense forest and swamps? Will you just be walking, or will you also need to be able to do some form of climbing?

When I lived in Fairbanks, AK, every smoke jumper I knew wore Whites boots. (I was never a smoke jumper.) I've always heard good things about them. That said, modern hiking boots have come a long ways.

I've been rather impressed with my Salomon Quest 4D boots for day hiking, and backpacking with light loads. For light mountaineering, I have a pair of La Sportiva Makulus that are still going strong. Unfortunately, neither of those boots are made in the USA.


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6/13/2020 12:59 PM
I have walked thousands of miles in Smoke Jumpers. Extremely heavy compartively, comfortable, but not that great for hiking or backpacking due to the weight, higher heel, and lack of ankle support.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
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6/13/2020 11:25 PM
Whites are absolutely rock-solid, but as Scot notes, they’re not exactly light weight. I live close to Whites, and I’ll actually be in there tomorrow (sunday), if you want any info on a specific model, eg. The hiker.


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6/14/2020 5:39 PM

I have a pair of White's Outdoorsmans, lower heel, waterproof, great ankle support, heavy but not like cement shoes.  Great small business in US, mine have been high quality.  Recommend for the reasons/use you gave as your motivators.  

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6/15/2020 10:24 AM
Not really sure what you plan on using the boots for. Whites used to be the only boot I would get for work (Wildland Fire). The first pair I had as a rookie were hand me downs that were nearly as old as I was at the time, they were rebuilt on multiple separate occasions. Unfortunately their quality dropped significantly when the ownership changed hands. I was barely able to get two seasons from the last two pairs of boots from Whites when I was able to get 4-5 seasons typically before a rebuild. In the last couple years I switched to the Fire Prevention side of the shop and with that switched from the old style leathers to the Lowa Tibet GTX. They're about perfect for everything I do including my weekend backpacking trips and different hunts. Unfortunately they do not hold up well in the heat ash of a busy fire season so I still keep my Nick's Smokejumper style boots in the truck. Sometimes the old solution is still the best. I hope my ramblings didn't muddy the waters too much. Cheers!
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8/22/2020 11:43 AM
The most important thing about boots for long distance walking/hiking is fit. I don't care how "good" the boot is, if it doesn't fit right it's going to be uncomfortable in short order, and painful eventually. I'd argue that even for heavy duty backpacking fit is *at least* as important as stability.

Here's a list of boots made in America: https://runrepeat.com/catalog/made-in-usa-hiking-boots I looked at several other lists, and there's a HUGE overlap.

If you're not really doing a lot of rucking/backpacking then you might want to look at some of the Chippewa and Thorogood lines.

I like the looks of these, but OMG pricey for something that isn't really a backpacking boot: https://oakstreetbootmakers.com/footwear/outdoor-boots

Another search you can do is "Berry Compliant". This will mostly get you a list of military style boots, which can be used for rucking/backpacking and hiking. Might not always been on the most supportive side, nor on the lightest.

All that said, if you're just trying to avoid giving money to our sworn enemies, lots of the good backpacking and *good* hiking boots are made in Europe: Alico, Lowa, Asolo, Hanwag et. al. I've replace my Asolo Fugitives with Hanwag Lhasas, and while I've not had a chance to do a long backpacking trip in them, for the little hiking I've done they've been very good. And the soles are (allegedly) replaceable.
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8/23/2020 8:22 PM
Love my 90s era White's. Solid as hell, comfortable once you break your feet into them (no I didn't accidentally reverse that), good for standing in hot ash, you'll never worry about snakes, they look the business. They're not good for hiking, even worse off trail, there's nothing supportive about them, and if you get the logger / smoke jumper, they can be a real ankle turner. If I was still in the Hotshot business today, I'd be wearing Scarpa Fuegos. For what you're talking about, Fuegos are much heavier duty - and heavier - than you need.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
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8/29/2020 10:27 PM
Note that the 25V last used in the White’s and Nick’s smoke jumper boots is narrow in the toe box and shrinks over time. Despite being custom measured and built, the custom part only applies to the upper.
If you are doing a bunch of downhill travel your toes will likely mutiny.

I say this as a guy who mostly loved my Nick’s boots, spent fourteen years in two pairs of them, and was even married in them.

The narrow toe box is a problem, and it is what ultimately drove me out of that last style. My toes were killing me both times I hiked the Grand Canyon.
For what you pay, both companies should offer a last that fits wide or damaged toes.
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9/1/2020 11:42 AM

> For what you pay, both companies should offer a last that fits wide or damaged toes. 

In my rather extremist position, if a company doesn't offer most or all of their shoes in a wide, normal and narrow fit at a minimum, they are making shoes to be seen in, not to be worn for serious purposes, and that the company really doesn't care about how the shoes fit. 

New Balance is the best I've noticed in this regard--of companies that don't straight up offer full custom fitting. Alden at one time would do a "custom" build where you could get a wide forefoot and a narrow heel. Never could afford their shoes, and they're more office and city shoes anyway. 

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9/1/2020 11:57 AM
I'm with the Hill Brothers. Having spent thousands of miles in White's Smokejumpers as a USFS Engine Crew guy and later a Type2IA/Type1 Cert crew I wouldn't have traded my original (now 20 years old) or my lace to toe (ca. 2013) Smokejumpers for anything. They're great for what they're great for. And that isn't general hiking, backpacking, or the like. I would definitely go elsewhere for those purposes. I still wear my Whites, still cherish them, they're still bombproof. But if I'm doing more than walkabouts and scouts around a campsite I opt for my other hiking boots. Had a few guys on my crew that wore Scarpa Fuegos and they loved them. If I hadn't already sunk another $*ahem* buck$ in a second pair of White's I probably would have considered that route.
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