Nicholas Fluhart

June 26, 2010

Engineer Boots

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nicholas Fluhart @ 10:28 pm

As an intermittent post, I thought I’d share one of my hobby interests which is collecting boots……but not just any boots: high-end engineer boots. It might sound silly (ok, it probably is a little silly), but it can be very profitable; and I’ve found it to be moderately enjoyable because I get to wear a variety of high quality boots in the process.

What is an engineer boot? Well, there is a Wikipedia article, although slightly disappointing in overall content, that explains the basics. Prices range from $175.00 for a decent quality pair to $800.00 and up for hand-stitched, custom fitted. I’ve even seen a used pair of 1960’s vintage bring $685.00 on auction. Many people confuse engineer boots with harness boots. They are both great boots, but don’t confuse the two; engineer boots and harness boots are two totally different animals with different histories. Some say engineer boots got their name from land surveyors who used them around or before the depression era at which time Sears had an add in their catalog that depicted such a use of the boots. Others contend the boots got their name from locomotive engineers. I’m not sure anyone knows for sure, but I would be very interested to learn the true history if such exists.

Why did I start wearing engineer boots? The first time I saw Fonzie kick start his bike wearing engineer boots I knew I had to have them. At the age of 17 I bought my first big street bike and my first pair of engineer boots, and I haven’t looked back. I was hooked from the first pair on, and no other type of boot has touched my foot since. I have pairs for dress, casual, work, riding, etc. in both black and brown depending on what belt or shirt I’m wearing. Engineer boots go far beyond the motorcycle. They are a great work boot, they are functional, adjustable, expensive, and lets face it, they are the best looking boot God ever placed on the face of this earth. Now that my personal bias has been exposed, we’ll move on…

I’ve had a great deal of success buying and selling engineer boots. The hobby started when I bought a pair of vintage engineers on eBay, and when I received them they did not fit. I decided to relist them and was happy to see that they auctioned for almost twice what I paid for them. From that point on, I have frequently bought and sold boots on eBay. Sometimes I score big, and sometimes I loose my can.

Below you’ll see one of the first pairs I flipped. They are Harley Davidson engineers, and this particular model is no longer in production. Brown engineers have become more common, but at that time they were much more rare. I purchased this like-new pair for $70.00. I wore them sparingly for about a year or so. They are an excellent looking boot, but the fit wasn’t quite to my liking. I listed them on auction and sold them for $120.00. Not bad…

Auctions are a gamble, and I don’t always come out so well on the profit margin, however. Below is a pair of Frye Goucho’s that were brand new. The MSRP is $210.00. I purchased them online for $125.00 intending to keep them to wear. However, they were a little loose. I auctioned them in hopes of breaking even, but they only brought $75.00 the second time around. Someone got an exceptional deal. I haven’t seen a new pair bring less than $125.00 since.

But on the whole, I have consistently come out on top. Below is a pair of tall, black, steel toes. There was no maker’s mark on these, but the vintage quality was evident. These were great boots. I wore them when riding my off-road dirt bikes. The high uppers protected me from the hot engine. The steel shank made kick starting my bikes a breeze. The right boot had a knife sheath and the left boot had a small utility pocket, great for a small tool or pistol. I bought them on eBay for $80.00. The only drawback is that they were tight in the ankles which made them heck to get on and off. When I finished with them, they auctioned for $185.00 and I shipped them to a buyer in England.

Then there are my work boots. These see very rough service, so I typically buy them for rugged durability over cosmetic appeal. For dress and casual, I typically prefer a Frye, but most of my true work boots tend to be Chippewa. It’s widely believed that Chippewa is the original engineer maker. Below is a pair of my black Chippewa steel-toe work boots that I retired after 5 years of service where they saw automotive shops, mud, water, woods, lots of oil, motorcycles, sharp objects, heavy machinery, and who knows what else. The fact that they are still intact speaks volumes.

Engineers are a timeless classic, but make no mistake, I don’t consider any engineer boot to be a “Nick-Pick” simply because it has a buckle and a strap. I require a look into the inner quality as well as the symmetry of its features, the placement of the buckles, the angle of the straps, the heel-toe ratio, the height and cut of the heel, the roundness of the toe, and the stitching. To find all of these qualities in adequate proportions in a single package, to me, represents the perfect boot.


1 Comment »

  1. Stumbled across this post. Cool read. I too love engineer boots for work as a welder fabricating bridge girders.

    Comment by Daryl Hastings — March 29, 2015 @ 6:33 pm | Reply

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