March 25, 2011

Timberland PRO Helix Work Boot - Review


Work boots are sort of like pick-up trucks. In the same way that there are Ford people and Chevy people, there are Red Wing people and Chippewa people. We even know some Carolina people, and we've met a few Timberland people. Brand loyalty is strong with boots, as it should be. Your feet are getting pounded on all day, so when you find a boot that works, you're going to stick with it.

We used to be in the Chippewa camp until they discontinued our favorite boot and replaced it with a crappy one that drove us crazy for a number of reasons. Then almost two years ago we switched to the Red Wings 606, which we now see as the gold standard in working footwear. They're phenomenal and we see no reason to ever look at another boot as long as we live. So then, here comes Timberland asking if we would like to try out a pair of their new PRO Helix boots. Apparently, they've got a number of interesting features that set them apart from the pack. Even with our allegiance firmly with the Red Wing family, we thought we'd give the Timberlands a shot. Why not?


So we've been wearing them for probably about a month now, maybe a little more. We've worn them just about every day and have done all kinds of work in them; we've worn them inside, outside, on ladders, and on concrete floors. We've even done some small hikes with them, even though Timberland told us these are specifically work boots and are not intended for hiking.


First off, they are freakishly comfortable. Even the Red Wings had a 'break-in' period, but these didn't. Right out of the box, our feet slid right into them and we started to hear angels singing. There is good stiff support at the ankle and the grommets are all solid and they don't look like the kind that is going to tear at the laces (Chippewa, are you listening?).


Red Wings to the right

Beyond the leather which is treated for water-resistance, there is a 'waterproof membrane built into the boots. Our experience is that this means, "a plastic bag around each foot." Which, in turn means, "sweaty feet." And we all know that's just another way of saying, "stinky boots." Timberland has evidently made this connection too because they've treated the inside of the boot with an anti-microbial agent. We've only been using the boot for a month, but there's no odor...they still have that new car smell actually.

The tread is aggressive and deep, perfect for outdoor work. There is also some traction just in front of the heel for when you're on a ladder. It's a nice touch and one that anyone who has ever been on a 40' ladder will appreciate. The safety toe is made up, not of steel, but of some high-strength alloy. This lessens the weight and they didn't seem to telegraph the cold to the inside of the boot, like a traditional steel toe.


So where do they stand in comparison to the 606s? Well, pretty good. They're just as comfortable, they seem very durable, and they're very lightweight, beating out the Red Wings by 6-1/2 oz per boot. The one edge that the Red Wings have in our eyes is that they're one step closer to a shoe. The tread isn't as deep, the heel isn't as tall, and they've got a slimmer profile. All of these things give it an edge for inside work, particularly in a finished space. We're not saying that the Timberland's are bad for this or that you're going to have problems with them, but when directly compared to our current boots, that's how we see it playing out.


But that's hardly a quibble. We were really impressed with these boots and if anyone we knew was in the market, we would absolutely suggest these. Depending on the model, they're going to be going for $130-$160 which is entirely reasonable for a good set of boots, and especially for ones of this nature.

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at March 25, 2011 6:16 AM
Recent Comments

Just checked...China. Sorry Chuck.

Posted by: Tool Snob at March 28, 2011 8:15 PM

Where are the Timberland's made? Won't buy if made in China

Posted by: Chuck at March 28, 2011 2:20 PM

The boots look great, but if you have never tried Blundstones, you're missing out.

This is a Canadian website, but the boots are made in Tasmania so I'm sure they are available in the states as well.

Never have to deal with laces, unbelievable comfortable and fewer seams equals less leakage.

Posted by: Mike Cuttini at March 26, 2011 11:03 PM

Oh yeah, the Wolverine people! Sorry.

That was one of the reasons I dumped Chippewa. Chinese-made junk. I think their logger boots are still made in the US, but everything else is overseas. The things started falling apart in no time. Not good when you're dropping $150 on a pair of boots. The Red Wings I have are US and have held up great.

Posted by: Tool Snob at March 26, 2011 9:09 PM

You forgot the Wolverine people!

I actually had a pair of USA made redwings that I loved and lasted me 5 years of everyday use. Well about a year ago I went to buy the same pair, and they were no longer made in the USA. On top of that, the quality and fit just didn't seem the same AND they were the same price as when US made.

I now shop around and buy the best fitting and feeling boot regardless of brand.

Posted by: Doug C. at March 25, 2011 11:14 AM
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