So if you’re looking to register in either our Open category or the new Work Dome, it’s high time you start considering which pair you’ll be competing in.
Unless you’ve got a mint pair of shoes mothballed in your closet, or you’ve already got a made-to-order pair on the way before October 1st-5th (or the late-start window of November 1st-5th), it’s time to hit up your favorite maker or retailer and get your pair. We’ve got plenty of off-the-shelf stock models to choose from with a whole lotta patina potential—and a few makers that have some quick lead times for their MTOs.
If you’re looking for some inspiration for what kind of boot or shoe to compete in for the Dome, definitely take a look at the winners of our inaugural competition, or browse all sorts of leathers in the Patina Project app.
And then, keep reading for some recommendations that we think could quite possibly get you to the top of the podium…
We know that Horween Natural Chromexcel excels at aging beautifully—it was the winning leather of the inaugural Thunderdome, after all. While some may believe that the judges might not crown another Natty CXL pair as the next grand prize winner, there’s a lot of different patina-heavy directions this leather can go in, so don’t rule it out completely. Plenty of solid boots and shoes are available in this undyed CXL, including lots of Oak Street models like the Field Boot…
…many models from White’s, such as the 350 Cutter…
…the classic Viberg Service Boot as well, of which you can snag an exclusive unstructured-toe makeup at Brooklyn Clothing…
…Thunderdome One’s GRAND CHAMPION, which is very similar to Brooklyn’s with the unstructured toe, but features brogued toe caps and darker eyelets…
…the iconic John Lofgren engineer, available in ample stock at Standard & Strange…
…or for the more economical play, try the Thursday Captain.
There’s certainly other undyed leathers worthy of your consideration, too! For example, Horween’s veg-tanned Essex leather, which can be found on multiple models at Rancourt, including their Classic Ranger-Moc.
The waxed version of Essex, Dublin leather is another superb choice. There’s a few sizes still remaining of this particular makeup over at Withered Fig.
Going further down the Essex lineage, Derby is a Dublin leather that has been tumbled to loosen the grain a bit and make it even softer. There are still some sizes available in this Daniel tramping shoe from Tricker’s web-exclusive ConsTruct line.
Grant Stone currently has some other great natural leathers in stock, including their plain toe Edward Boot in Natural Minerva…
…and the limited-edition Natural Kangaroo Ottawa split toe boot, which finished top 25 last year.
You certainly can’t go wrong with a veg tan leather like this one from Unmarked—each pair will show its age in its own unique way.
Maryam’s fantastic horsebutt is still available in limited quantities in this OSB Trench Oxford, and its natural color is bound to unlock all sorts of patina.
There’s still a few pairs left in these special-release Mister Lous in Maryam Toscanello Horsebutt, which we deeply admire for its patina potential.
While roughout and suede are terrific leathers that can gain a decent amount of character, you increase the patina factor at least tenfold when you add wax to them. White’s has plentiful options for waxed flesh, such as these MP-Shermans, which are available in an olive shade as well as a few other colors.
Another great option from White’s if you’re looking for the comfort-chonk of a Christy wedge…
…or a 2060 wedge.
On the waxed suede front, this C.F. Stead Waxy Commander leather is a fantastic option in a natural color…
…or a dark Tobacco, just to name a couple.
These new split-toe boots from C&J are looking real good as well, with some heavy-duty soles perfect for the upcoming winter in the Northern hemisphere.
Unfortunately, Red Wing boot stock is lean everywhere at the moment. BUT, if you can find a pair of boots in your size in their Copper Rough & Tough oil tan leather, you’ve got a patina-ready pair on your hands thanks to this leather’s fantastic pull-up effects.
There are a few examples of this distressed leather on the Patina Project app, and we think there’s a lot of untapped potential here. Consider this contender a dark horse (sorry). Amazing price on these boots.
Another fantastic Horween leather to age is their Shell Cordovan, which is plentiful particularly in Alden boots and shoes. Color 8 shell tends to go from a dark burgundy to a ruby red as it gets worn in and takes in a lot of sunlight. This plain toe boot has lots of sizes available at the moment.
Black shell can age quite well too, as the black dye will eventually fade into more of a brown color. Brogue’s excellent Shogun boots are well-stocked as of this writing.
Carmina is also a great source for shell cordovan pairs, and natural shell like this ages magnificently. Their shell prices remain pretty darn solid!
Other light shades of Horween shell like this caramel variant may also offer up some patina evolution.
Horween Chromepak is high-risk, high-reward. This leather has a reputation for being stubbornly tough, and it might not give up patina easily. But, when it does…oh man. There’s still a number of pairs remaining in this Oak Chromepak Hiker over at Thunderdome sponsor Lost & Found (along with all kinds of other neat and patina-worthy makeups).
Keep in mind that Wesco’s stock boots have some gaps in available sizes right now, but if you need a good general purpose boot for the Work Thunderdome, I have been impressed by what I’ve seen of this brown Seidel oil tan leather.
- Monroe Heritage says they are currently making pairs with only 4-6 weeks of lead time.
- Jakkrabbits is also offering 4-6 week lead times on their MTOs.
- Truman Boot Co. has a number of ready made boots available, some of which (i.e. teacore and waxed flesh) have a lot of patina potential.
- Nicks Boots has various one-off makeups and seconds available to ship immediately.