What’s something you always let yourself splurge on? For me, it’s Goodyear storm welt shoes and boots. If you’ve never heard of Goodyear storm welt construction, that’s because it’s one of the best-kept secrets of footwear connoisseurs. The best-dressed people I know all love a welted sole.
What is Goodyear storm welt?
Let’s start with the basics: what does “Goodyear storm welt” even mean?
Well, a “Goodyear welt” is when the sole of the shoe is wider than the upper. A leather rim (the “welt”) stretches from the bottom of the upper to the edge of the sole, and the sole is stitched to this leather rim. The welting process was invented by Charles Goodyear, Jr, son of the famous chemist who created the chemical process for hardening rubber called vulcanization. Vulcanization allowed rubber to be used in a variety of applications, but most notably in tires and footwear soles.
Goodyear welt comes in a few different variations, including a “hand welt”—which means the stitching is done by hand—and “storm welt”—which uses a wider leather rim and folds it upward against the upper for a more moisture-resistant seal.
Take, for example, Thorogood’s best-selling American Heritage Goodyear storm welt work boots, made by expert union craftsmen right here in the USA. Notice the expert double stitching around the edge of the outsole, providing beautiful color contrast and a good, tight seal. For more details on how these boots are made, Thorogood has posted a YouTube video with footage from the factory so you can watch the master craftsmen at work.
So why do footwear aficionados shell out for storm welted Goodyear shoes? Because they love them! Let me count the ways:
1. Water resistance
Goodyear welt—and especially Goodyear storm welt—construction creates a tight seal to prevent water from getting into the shoe. This contrasts with another stitched shoe design called “Blake stitching.” In a Blake stitched shoe, the upper of the shoe is stitched directly to the sole. This creates pores in the sole where water can seep in. As a result, those who wear Blake shoes often complain about water getting into their shoes.
Goodyear welt construction adds an extra moisture barrier: the welt. Goodyear storm welt enhances that moisture barrier even further: by folding the welt, it doubles up the seal.
If you’ve owned both shoes made of synthetic materials and shoes made of leather, then you’ll be very familiar with the durability of leather shoes. Whereas a synthetic will often wear out within a year or two, leather shoes can last for a great many years. With a leather shoe or boot, the weak points become the construction and the sole. Either the upper starts to separate from the sole, or you wear out the tread. Goodyear welt solves these problems.
A welted sole shouldn’t ever separate from the upper. Instead of using adhesive or rubber cement, as stated, with Goodyear welt, the upper is secured to the sole with stitching. And Goodyear welt stitching is a genius design. It uses a series of double lockstitches to ensure that if one stitch breaks, it won’t unravel the rest of the seam. And if for some reason the stitches do break, the seam can be restitched and repaired.
As for wearing out the tread on your sole, one great thing about Goodyear welt boots is that they can be resoled and repaired. Rather than throw out your $200 pair of boots when the tread wears out, you can pay $90 to have your boots cleaned and resoled or $125 to have them completely restored. This adds years to the life of your boots.
In the end, investing in a pair of quality handmade boots will save you money overall. It can feel less expensive to buy cheap synthetics, but don’t forget that with synthetics you’re buying a new pair every year or so. That’s ultimately more expensive when you tally up the cost. Plus, all those synthetic shoes are piling up in landfills somewhere. Buying quality leather storm welt shoes is great for the environment because you produce less waste.
Quality handmade items are great for their functionality and durability, but it’s their beauty that’ll make you click the button to buy. And I don’t just mean the physical beauty of high-contrast stitching on a dark leather upper. There’s an emotional kind of beauty to them too. It’s hard not to feel a soul connection when you handle a pair of welted sole boots made by a third-generation craftsman right here in the USA. They’re a symbol of a simpler, more traditional, more sustainable way of life. They represent how if we just slow down and put in the painstaking work, we can hold together as a people and weather any storm.
Shop now for Goodyear storm welt Thorogood boots
When it comes to Goodyear storm welt boots, one footwear brand stands out. No one does Goodyear storm welt construction quite like Thorogood does. (Mind you, this is a tricky brand name to spell. It’s not Throughgood, Thurgood, Thorogoood, or Thoroughgood, although their boots are thoroughly good.) Their American Heritage, 1957, and Wellington series are among our best-selling storm welt boots. Most of these boots come in waterproof, insulated, and safety toe versions. They also tend to be Electro-Hazard (EH) rated to resist up 50,000 volts. For the best storm welt work boots that money can buy, browse our Thorogood collection for Thorogood boots and shoes today and look for the characteristic double-stitched sole. You won’t regret investing in boots that will last; you won’t regret investing in yourself.