Patina is life when it comes to boots. And while any quality boot will look better (in my eyes, at least) with the proper wear and care, they are not all created equal.

The Stitchdown Patina Thunderdome presented by Grant StoneStandard & Strange, and Wesco is a seven-month, judged patina contest that will begin October 1 2021 and run through May 1 2022. It’s going to be an absolute blast. You can learn much more about the Patina Thunderdome here

While any boots or shoes that aren’t sneakers or sandals are permitted for entry in the Thunderdome, we thought it would be helpful to highlight some particular boots that will likely have a little extra patina-making sauce for you to consider.

Somewhat obviously, you do not have to enter the Patina Thunderdome to purchase any of these boots! But c’mon, you should enter the Patina Thunderdome.

Wesco Mister Lou Engineer Boots - Natural CXL

Standard & Strange x Wesco Mister Lou Engineer in Natural CXL: $659

If you want to live seven months of your life in engineer boots, this is how you do it. I actually have a pair of these and they are phenomenal. Really hope to see a bunch of these in the contest and watch them lap my pair in no time.

iron heart wesco foot patrol boot burlap roughout

Iron Heart x Wesco Burlap Roughout Foot Patrol: $700

The constantly restocked collab between the denim kings at Iron Heart and Pacific Northwest stalwart Wesco are built with Seidel roughout that. MP95 last, classily low-profile but very capable Vibram 269 sole. And just a damn looker.

grant stone diesel saddle tan

Grant Stone Diesel Boot in Saddle Tan: $360

Light veg-tans will do very well in this competition. Grant Stone’s classic Diesels are just waiting for the wear.

grant stone brass boot saddle tan

Grant Stone Brass Boot in Saddle Tan: $340

Or if the leather sole isn’t what you’re looking for, Grant Stone’s Brass boot on a wedge is ready for action.

rancourt harrison boot natural essex

Rancourt Harrison Boot in Natural Essex: $295

Vegetable-tanned leathers tend to age uniquely, beautifully, and really quite wonderfully. That especially applies to lighter shades, which generally darken considerably—and interestingly—over time. Rancourt’s classic Harrison has been upgraded with a 100% natural latex rubber Reltex Rally sole to make for a very capable, but also quite lightweight and comfortable four-season boot.

parkhurst natural dublin allen boot

Parkhurst Allen Boot in Natural Dublin: $338

Dublin is Essex’s waxed-up brethren, and here it’s deployed by Buffalo-based Parkurst on the brand’s new 602 last, constructed with Parkhurst’s new, beefed up build. These things will look pretty special after seven months of wear.

brooklyn clothing viberg service boot PCT natural CXL

Brooklyn Clothing x Viberg Natural CXL 2030 Service Boot: ~$730

A classic amongst classics. Natural Chromexcel loves eating up every step and getting more beautiful for it. The unstructured toe, especially with seven hard months of wear, will collapse and look verrrrrrrry nice (if that’s the look you’re going for) when it’s all said and done.

Division Road Viberg shinki camel boot

Division Road x Viberg 2030 Officer Boot in Shinki Camel Latigo Horsehide: $825

Another lighter patina-eating leather, this one from Japan’s Shinki Hikaku tannery. Just a beautifully put-together plain toe that should develop nicely on the vamp (and everywhere else). If you feel the leather sole will limit you in a competition, or the winter, there’s the…

DivisionRoad Viberg port 1071 vitello service boot

Division Road x Viberg 2030 Service Boot in Port 1071 Vitello Calf: $745

This Maryam article is without a doubt one of my favorite leathers of all time. The way it transforms is bonkers, in the classy-rugged-est way possible. And the Ridgeway sole is ready for anything. Important: as of press time, a restock is coming very soon.

viberg halkett derby boot bison calf suede

Viberg Bison Calf Suede Halkett Derby Boot from Withered Fig: $750

Viberg makeup masters WF are in a valley between custom boots right now, but these 2020 Halkett derbies are a perfect boot to put through it while maintaining a heavy dosage of class.

John Lofgren Donkey Puncher - Natural CXL Roughout

John Lofgren Donkey Puncher in Natural CXL Roughout: $975

A natural roughout is one of my favorite leathers to beat up (lovingly!). It just eats up everything—indigo denim bleed, dirt and grime, the ranch dressing I can’t seem to stop dropping on my boots—and looks more varied and better for it almost every time. Plus, you don’t really need to condition them!

trickers stow acorn

Tricker’s Stow Boot in Acorn: ~$700 From Trickers.com (although can be found elsewhere stateside for cheaper)

The country boot icon, in the most iconic leather color—few get more interesting and uniquely, classily beautiful with age.

nicks 1964 brown urban logger bootNicks Boots Urban Logger in 1964 Leather: $539+

Nicks’ new 1964 leather, developed alongside Seidel to mimic the leathers used at the brand’s outset that were ready for anything but aged soooo very beautifully, comes on pretty much any of their models. But because of the seasons the Thunderdome spans, we’re going with the commando-equipped 6-inch Urban Logger.

oak street bootmakers trench boot dr sole

Oak Street Bootmakers Limited Edition Natural CXL Trench Boot: $486

The Trench Boot is OSB’s signature, and I dare say it’s never looked better than with these Dr. Sole half-soles. Get that natty CXL moving and getting darker and more beautiful…

sagara cordmaster

Sagara Cordmaster in Black-Overdyed Badalassi Minerva Olivia: ~$400ish Depending on Specs

If you want to put in a made-to-order boot, we suggest you hurry. And we suggest this one, in a teacore veg-tan leather, from one of Indonesia’s best makers.

Meermin snuff waxy kudu

Meermin Service Boot in Snuff Waxy Kudu: $250

I have a pair of Viberg 145s in snuff naked kudu and absolutely love how it’s a quieter kudu visually, but still soft and comfortable as all hell. With the wax, these things are ready for just about anything winter throws at you. Just $250!!!