When it comes to affordable American made work boots few brands compete with Chippewa and Thorogood. Both brands offer handcrafted work boots that feature premium leathers and time-tested constructions. In this Chippewa vs Thorogood comparison we are going to take a closer look at the two brands and explore who makes the better work boot.
A history of Two heritage brands
The Chippewa story begins in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin where the brand was founded in 1901. Over the years Chippewa has focused on making high quality boots for loggers and engineers. While not all of their footwear is still made in America, they keep true to their heritage through their Original Chippewa line of boots for men and women. Their Original Chippewa offers American made boot in logger, motorcycle, engineer and popular heritage work boot styles.
Thorogood American Heritage
Like Chippewa, Thorogood has a long history of American bookmaking starting in 1892 with the introduction of their “jobber” work boots. The jobber boot was one of the first safety work boots for those in construction and manufacturing. Today, the Thorogood brand is owned by The Weinbrenner Shoe Company and have exported part of their manufacturing overseas. A portion of the Thorogood line is still handcrafted in the Weinbrenner footwear manufacturing plant Wisconsin under the American Heritage line. Thorogood American Heritage boots can be easily identified by the small American flag fabric tag attached to the outside of each boot.
Thorogood vs Chippewa Boot Styles
One main difference between American made Thorogood and Chippewa boots is their signature boot styles. While Thorogood American Heritage specializes in 6” and 8” wedge sole work boots Chippewa offers more variety with their handcrafted heritage style lace-up and logger boots.
Although Thorogood does offer some heeled options, they are best known for their signature wedge sole styles. Their most popular style, the 6" moc toe boot is an iconic work boot that pays homage to it’s American workwear roots. These American Heritage boot styles are offered in both non-safety toe and safety-toe options. All Thorogood American Heritage boots are made with a goodyear welt construction and can easily be identified by the Made in U.S.A. tag attached to the side of each boot.
Chippewa styles are offered in handcrafted light duty heritage style boots and heavier duty logger styles. Although Chippewa also offers wedge sole options that compete with Thorogood, they specialize in logger boots which feature a higher shaft and thick lugged soles. Made in USA Chippewa boots can usually be identified by the small American flag pin on the laces, although not all American made Chippewa boots have them.
American Made Work Boot Styles
For those looking outside of heritage work boot designs both Chippewa and Thorogood offer modern work boots that are American made. Chippewa does a great job at including safety features in their work boots such as safety toes, special Vibram anti-slip soles and padded collars for comfort.
Thorogood has similar work boots in their American Heritage line that offer a lot of the same safety and comfort features. Since both the Original Chippewa and Thorogood line are similar in quality, choosing between the two comes down to the specific safety features you need and style preferences.
It's worth noting that not all Thorogood and Chippewa work boots are made in America. So make sure to double check where the specific model you are buying is manufactured before purchasing.
Leather and Construction Comparison
When it comes to leather and construction both boots have many similarities. Both brands use high quality full grain leathers in their American made boot lines. One main difference worth noting is Thorogood’s use of oil-tanned leather which results in a softer and more pliable leather that easily molds around the foot over time.
When compared to Thorogood leather, Chippewa does not offer too much of a difference when it comes to leather variety. Although Chippewa’s leathers are not as soft or pliable as Thorogood’s oil-tanned leathers they are at around the same quality as far as ruggedness. The choice between the two comes down to preference on whether you prefer the “oiled” leather look vs a rugged work boot leather.
Thorogood vs Chippewa construction: Thorogood uses goodyear welting on all of their American Heritage boots. As a result Thorogood boots can be resoled over time giving you the option to extend the life of the boots for many years. Chippewa construction varies per boot model. Most of the Original Chippewa line does use goodyear welt construction but it’s not uncommon to also see storm welts and various other constructions.
Chippewa vs Thorogood Soles
Another sizable difference between the two boot brands is their choice in outsoles. Chippewa varies in outsoles with the most common being the Vibram Stockbridge and Vibram Logger outsoles.
With the Vibram Stockbridge you get a thinner dress profile that has channels in the middle for traction. The Vibram Logger outsoles come in a variety of flavors but all offer great outdoor traction and stability. If you are looking for American made work boot with real traction, going with a these thicker lugs is your best bet.
Thorogood offers most of their American Heritage boots with a MaxWear Wedge sole. Because of the shallow lugged nature of a wedge sole, they do not offer the best traction but they do have their pros. Wedge soles are very comfortable thanks to their spongy polyurethane material that evenly disperses weight. These soles are best for those who spend long days on their feet.
A major con of Thorogood's MaxWear Wedge soles is that they tend to wear out a lot faster than the Vibram lugged soles found in Chippewa boots. Because of this you will find yourself resoling your Thorogood boots more often which will cost more money over time. If you would like to learn more about the differences between wedge and heel soles please check out our Wedge Sole vs Heel Work Boot guide.
Thorogood vs Chippewa Comfort
Where Thorogood really shines is in comfort and feel. Right out of the box Thorogood American Heritage boots feel comfortable and need little break in. This is due to the suppleness of the leather in the uppers as well as the MaxWear Wedge polyurethane outsoles. Inside each Thorogood boot you’ll also find a removable shock absorption footbed that acts as a comfort cushion for your feet.
Since Chippewa boots are made with a tougher leather expect a break-in period in the beginning. One thing we like about Chippewa leather is that once the leather softens up it will mold to your feet over time and fit like a glove. Chippewa includes a variety of Texon insoles for extra comfort that vary per model. While not padded, Texon insoles help with breathability and waterproofing.
Chippewa does many things well when it comes to their Original Chippewa American made boots. For one, they strike a nice balance between style and utility. Chippewa’s 6-inch lace-up boots look more like a casual boot thanks to it’s slimmer soles but the rugged leather on the uppers tells a different story. Paired with thicker logger outsoles, Chippewa boots can be true work horses.
For those who need heavier duty work boots, Chippewa offers made in the USA boots with safety toes and other safety features we have come to expect in a modern day work boot.
When it comes to out of the box comfort Thorogood does the better job when it comes to day-one comfort. A big con is that wedge soled boots tend to wear out a lot faster than lugged soles. So keep this in mind when choosing a pair of Thorogood American Heritage boots. But nothing beats the iconic moc toe style that runs through the American Heritage line. It’s a timeless style looks great with both work and casual wear.