Even those who know nothing of work boots have probably heard of Timberlands, and the majority of those who are familiar with the brand equate its product with, if not Beyonce and Jay-Z, a steel toe. But how true is this seemingly universal claim? Based on the evidence we can provide: not entirely. This article will provide all the facts you need to know about Timberlands, their history, and their claim to fame, the steel toe.
What Makes Timberlands Special?
Timberlands in Culture
For those who work in a hazardous environment, safety is always of the utmost importance. Workers need helmets for their heads, masks or glasses for their faces, and gloves for their hands. While all of these items are necessary, not all have been the subject of such a material culture as the work boot, namely, the Timberland work boot. The boots have graced the feet of A-list celebrities ranging from Britney Spears to Pharrell Williams, and been bedecked with unexpected additions such as stiletto heels and honeycombs. As a result, the brand’s name has come to connote something far beyond its humble blue-collar beginnings in New England.
The History of Timberlands
Indeed, fashion and celebrity were not the intention of Timberland’s founder, Nathan Schwartz. Originally working under the name of the Abington Shoe Company, Schwartz’s goal was to create the first completely waterproof leather. The company succeeded in 1976, and it was this year that the Timberland Waterproof Boot was launched. It was so popular that the company changed its name to reflect the name of the boot: Timberland. Today, when one pictures a Timberland boot, it is probably the yellow nubuck work boot that has defined the company since its start.
No matter what activity you plan on engaging in, the odds are that Timberland has created a boot to fit your purpose. For, in the real world, what most people want from their Timberland boots is simple: function and protection. Hikers setting off on grand adventures are not looking for boots that command attention; they just need their boots to be waterproof as they are fording creeks and trudging through mud puddles. And construction workers do not need their boots to look unique; they just need them to save their toes from being crushed when working on high-risk and unpredictable sites. Provided below is the basic information you need when choosing the right Timberlands for you.
Are All Timberlands Steel Toe?
In a word: no. Though the work boots that tend to define the brand are indeed crafted with a steel toe, not all footwear you can buy from the Timberland brand comes with this feature. Timberland’s stores and website offer a large selection of boots and shoes for a diverse range of functions.
Non-Steel Toe Footwear
Just because you want to buy a pair of Timberland work boots does not mean you automatically must purchase a pair with a steel toe. Some sites even promote sections specifically allocated to work boots without steel toes. Boots that do not contain protective toe elements are listed as “Soft Toe” so you can be sure what kind of toe and protection level you are purchasing.
In addition to their work boots, Timberland produces sport shoes, fashion boots, and waterproof boots, among many others, none of which necessarily come with the steel toe (the product name and description will typically specify the type of toe protection). The brand also offers sport shoes and slip-on shoes for women, which too may not contain the steel toe.
Other Protective Options
However, do not think that you must choose between steel-toed safety and no protection at all. Timberland has created comparable “Composite Toe,” and “Alloy Toe” safety options. Timberland’s trademarked CarbonShield™ technology defines the Composite Toe, which provides protection without any metal on the toe. This helps the boots to be more lightweight, which many believe makes the boots more comfortable. In addition, Composite Toes are better for extreme weather than steel toes are, as the metal in steel toes makes temperature regulation difficult. However, Composite Toes are not as strong as steel, and so the wearer should be extra careful when working in hazardous areas and handling heavy objects.
Like Composite Toe boots, Alloy Toe boots are lighter than steel toes, as they are made with aluminum, titanium, or combinations of other lightweight materials. They also provide more toe room than steel toe boots. Alloy Toe boots tend to be more expensive than the other two varieties, and notably they can conduct electricity, which may be undesirable for those who work with electricity, though this is a trait of steel toe boots as well.
Timberlands for Recreation
As described earlier in this article, the Timberland brand was not founded on what is known for now, steel toes and fashion, but on its waterproof leather. In fact, the iconic Original Timberland Boot we tend to think of now is not the steel-toed variety, but the 6-inch Premium Waterproof Boot. Timberland has since expanded its line of waterproof footwear to include hiking boots and shoes, Oxford shoes, casual boots, winter boots, and of course women’s footwear. In additional to their waterproof offerings, Timberland also now sells sneakers designed for running and hiking, as well as boat shoes for the water-inclined.
Where Can I Purchase Timberlands?
Timberland footwear is available to purchase on a multitude of websites, including the brand’s own site, www.timberland.com. If you’d prefer to try your shoes on before you buy them, you can visit various shoe stores, sporting goods stores, department stores, and even Walmart.
Though still largely imagined as a yellow, steel-toed work boot, the Timberland brand has proved to be more than its popular image in culture. No matter what kind of Timberlands you end up deciding to go with, you can rest assured that you have chosen a practical product with a strong and unique history that will work to protect your feet so all you have to worry about is what you want to do with them.