If you’ve looked at footwear like Sagara’s Cordmaster monkey boots, the Nicks Boots x Rose Anvil ND1, Division Road’s 300 LTT Oxford, or Stitchdown’s own White’s Oxford collaboration, you may be curious about the distinctive patches that can be found on the medial sides of these pairs.
These are commonly known as lineman patches, meant to protect the user’s boots from heavy wear due to climbing up poles or trees.
“Now hang on,” you might be saying. “What’s a lineman? And why would they be climbing up poles or trees? Don’t they have giant trucks with big long things attached for that??”
Well, Jimmy—can I call you Jimmy?—a lineman, or lineworker, is someone who constructs or repairs power lines and other electrical transmission equipment. Oftentimes, these power lines are situated atop wooden poles, which are generally easier to repair and maintain than buried power lines.
The lineman’s job means they often have to get up these poles to work on the electrical equipment. Bucket trucks are usually the go-to utility for working on these power lines, but sometimes the poles are located on rough or difficult-to-reach terrain. In that case, the lineman has to shimmy his way up the pole to reach the power lines. You can see a demonstration of their technique here:
From that video, you can see that by using gaffs, the lineman can put a great deal of stress and wear on the insides of his boots. For that reason, a lineman patch makes perfect sense for lengthening the lifespan of the boots. (Side note: are lineman boots the original pair that could “Stand The Gaff,” Wesco??)
In a way, it’s not all that different of an idea from putting on an additional layer of leather for a cap toe. Also, like a cap toe, the lineman patch is yet another feature in a long line of footwear design decisions that were originally made out of necessity, and then over time have been adopted as a marker of style.
For companies like White’s, putting these patches on pairs like the White’s Boots x Nepenthes Poleclimber Oxford—or Division Road’s fabulous burgundy CXL model with an unstructured toe (sizes still available as of press time!) aren’t there so much for functionality as they are for acknowledging the company’s legacy of making boots for folks like linemen and arborists.
If you’re curious about the other ways lineman boots are built for the specifics of climbing poles, trees, and other high places, check out this video from JK Boots where they showcase their Climber boots:
So there you go! That’s what a lineman patch is for. Neat, huh, Jimmy?