For my 1 Year 1 Outfit experiment I needed one pair of shoes that I could wear for all occasions, all seasons, and that I could rely on to last comfortably over 365 days of wear. This boiled down to actually choosing two pairs of shoes: a pair of Strike Movement runners for working out and wearing with shorts and a pair of Viberg Service Boots for everything else.
Viberg was a natural choice for this challenge; they’re a family company that has been making quality boots in Canada for close to a century. They are legendary in the logging industry for building incredibly durable, comfortable, stitch-down leather boots so I knew they could take a beating.
Their fashion boot line-up features the same high-quality, tried and tested crafting expertise mixed with slim lasts and beautiful leathers. For my do-everything, be-everything pair of boots I went with a pair of Viberg’s Brown Chromexcel Service Boots on their 2030 last.
When I first pulled these boots out of the box I was floored by the quality. They felt hefty and solid, yet nicely balanced, the leather was thicker than anything I’d seen before in footwear, and the attention to finishing details like the clean white double rows of stitching were stunning. I was smitten with these boots from day one.
Chromexcel is tanned in Chicago by the venerable Horween Leather Company and makes a great do-it-all leather. It may not be as dressy as calf or as flashy as cordovan, but chromexcel is thick and durable, it develops a beautiful patina over time, and it shines up nicely with a little brushing.
The waxy, oily nature of this leather means that is fairly waterproof and even hiking in Costa Rican rainforests my feet never got wet. Chromexcel is a pull-up leather, which means that lighter colors will be pulled to the surface where the leather creases, scratches, or scuffs, it is also fairly soft so it gets surface scuffs somewhat easily.
I freaked a little when my dog put a big scratch across the toe, but the scratches and scuffs also buff out pretty good and either go away with wear or just add to the character.
My boots were comfortable right out of the box and required very little break-in, over time the leather does stretch and form to your foot so now they are by far the most comfortable pair of boots I’ve ever worn.
Viberg offers a few different sole options on their boots. In this case I chose a boot with their Dainite soles, which offer a nice balance between having the durability of a rubber sole that can handle all weather conditions, while still being low-profile and dressy.
The Dainite soles are very hard, which took some getting used to coming from wearing rubber wedge soled or crepe soled boots, though even after a full year’s wear and hundreds of miles walked in them they aren’t showing a ton of wear. The heels will probably need replacing in the nearish future.
The only time that these soles are a little less than ideal is on slick wet surfaces. Walking on in from the rain to tile floors can be a bit treacherous and trying to hop across a river on moss covered logs requires a little extra care.
One pair of boots, 365 days
I wouldn’t normally advocate hiking in your dress shoes, but for my 10 item wardrobe that is exactly what I needed to do. I wore these boots camping and hiking in ankle deep mud and then would wipe them off, give them a stiff brushing with my horsehair brush and throw on some Venetian Shoe Cream every couple months and if anything they are looking even better than they did on day one.
It’s also not recommended to wear the same boots every single day as leather footwear benefits from a rest day. I think it helped that I don’t wear shoes indoors at home and I put cedar shoe trees in nightly (loosely with the heel sticking out the top so as not to affect the unstructured toe).
While Vibergs may not be as dressy as a pair of Carmina or Edward Green boots, I found that they are still plenty slim when compared to the more bulbous, blocky shapes of other work-boot manufacturers. I probably wouldn’t wear them with a suit, but they worked well for any of the dressy situations I found myself in over the year.
Vibergs are at the top end of the price spectrum for casual footwear, but after visiting their factory to see the care they put into production first hand and after spending a year with a pair on my feet I can firmly say they make excellent boots.