In menswear, boots seem to exist on either end of two extremes. On one, you have sleek, elegant-looking boots exemplified by brands like Saint Laurent Paris, with narrow, aggressive profiles and a rock n’ roll aesthetic. On the other, you have rugged, utilitarian boots descended from the practical, sturdy footwear favored by blue-collar workers – loggers, firemen, factory workers, and the like. Personally, I like a balance between the rugged and sophisticated, but it usually demands a compromise at some point or another.
Today’s item under review, the Wesco 7500 engineer boot, aims to solve that problem. These boots are both elegant and rugged, a take on the classic engineer boot that ticks all the right boxes for me.
The 7500 is quite different from the standard Wesco Boss, aesthetically speaking. It has a sleeker, almond-shaped toe profile, and a Vibram 700 sole rather than the heavy tread of the Boss. It’s accented by a light brown midsole, vintage-style triple stitched uppers, understated copper buckles, and a British Tan leather upper. This makes the 7500 look much less like a typical motorcycle boot than the usual black Boss boot.
I don’t ride a motorcycle or have particular interest in them, but I enjoy some elements of the look. Much of the Amekaji look we admire from Japan is descended from biker style, so to some extent it’s all intertwined. But I try to avoid going overboard. The 7500 re-envisions the engineer boot as a more neutral casual shoe that doesn’t stick too closely to any particular Amekaji sub-genre, and works just as well with biker style, workwear, or western-influenced looks. This versatility is likely to make these boots a cornerstone of my everyday style for a long time to come.
Stitchdown construction is a Wesco hallmark, and they’re one of two bootmakers I know (the other being fellow Pacific Northwest maker Viberg) who utilize this construction for their engineer boots. It definitely gives a different vibe from the typical Goodyear welt or hand-welted construction of engineers. What’s great about the stitchdown construction is how it balances out the somewhat almond-shaped design of Wesco’s Motorcycle Patrol toe and 1339 last. The combination of these two features emphasizes the elegant and rugged aspects.
The midsole and outsole have a similar effect. I love light brown midsoles and heel stacks, which give boots a warmer, earthier look than the more ubiquitous black sole on your average boot. The Vibram 700 sole is nice and thick, but with a subtle tread pattern that’s not too aggressive. All of this contrasts nicely with the upper leathers, as well.
Finally, the shaft of these engineers is slimmed compared to a standard Boss boot, which lets it fit comfortably under jeans with a hem as small as 7.5”. I have slim legs, so I still feel plenty of room around my calves. The back of the shaft has some nice V-shaped stitching that lends the boots a unique appearance.
Construction and Materials
The 7500 is nicely constructed. The boots have a hefty gravitas about them, lacking from less expensive boots like Red Wing’s, even if they’re not quite as obsessively perfect as engineers from the likes of Flat Head, John Lofgren, Role Club, or Clinch. Quality is comparable to Viberg’s, and better in at least some respects from the Vibergs I’ve handled.
The stitchdown construction is incredibly neat. The stitches are well spaced and symmetrical, much nicer than the stitchdown Viberg service boots I previously owned. The ecru color of the stitches offers a pleasant contrast with the uppers and midsoles. The sewing of the uppers is also very well done, using vintage-style triple-stitching rather than the double stitch standard on most Wesco Boss boots. Something about the straps doesn’t seem quite as refined as John Lofgren or Flat Head, but it adds a bit of ruggedness to the boots so I don’t really mind.
The materials are impressive. The uppers are a leather Wesco calls British Tan Domane. It is a rich golden-brown hue with tons of pull-up, and a supple, oily feel. Its color and pull-up resembles Horween’s Natural Dublin leather, but without the unattractive irregularities common to that leather. The visual characteristics and feel are most similar to Chromexcel, but in a color that is in my opinion more attractive than any offering in Chromexcel. I’ve seen aged examples of boots made from this leather, and it offers impressive patina possibilities over time. After a couple weeks of wear time, there’s no sign of unattractive creasing like you’d see on some boots made from lower-quality Chromexcel.
The boots also feature brass buckles with a scuffed appearance. They’re hefty and attractive, though I prefer the ones used on the similar 7400 model.
There are a few imperfections – the stitchdown runoff could’ve been a little cleaner, and there’s a bit more excess leather around the edge of the stitchdown vamp on the right boot than the other. The stitching around where the pull strap is sewn could also have been a little bit neater. However, the stitching of the uppers and double rows of stitchdown thread are very neatly done. I’d give the stitching neatness of this boot 8.5/10.
Fit has always been the most challenging part for me, on boots in general but especially engineers. I wear a 11.5 in most athletic sneakers, but went down to 10.5 E in these. My foot is long, but with a relatively low profile and not much girth. The width is just right in the forefoot, neither too narrow or wide. I have just enough toe space in the right boot (my right foot being about half a size bigger than the left.) After tightening the instep strap, the boots are a snug, comfortable fit on my feet.
As is the case with most boots that fit me properly, it doesn’t feel like there’s much break-in involved. At first, the right boot was a little uncomfortable to get off, but that quickly went away.
I feel like I could get a slightly more perfect fit with a custom pair, the left foot based around 10 E and the right foot 10.5 E, with just a little bit of extra length added at the toe, perhaps – my right foot is almost exactly a half size bigger than the left, and I’m definitely better off sizing for the larger foot rather than the smaller one (there’s no way my right foot would have enough toe room in size 10.) But fortunately, these are quite comfortable. I wore these boots during a trip to Chattanooga this fall, and walked over ten thousand steps a day in them on several occasions, with no soreness or discomfort anywhere in my foot, besides general light fatigue from being on my feet all day. Who says engineer boots aren’t suited for lots of walking?
The Wesco 7500 is a great pair of boots that does exactly what I want – bridge the gap between rugged, work-inspired boots and something a bit more elegant. They have the over-engineered toughness of all Wesco boots, in a versatile package that can work with many styles, and don’t scream “biker boots.”
It’s also worth noting that these are a great value – at $575, they’re reasonable priced for a boot that’s well made from high-quality leather. You can buy better boots from Lofgren, Flat Head, Role Club, or Clinch, but I don’t think anybody offers a better engineer boot for the money, especially when you consider how well designed and spec’d these boots are.