The inaugural Stitchdown Patina Thunderdome was, well, pretty huge.

502 pairs and contestants with an an estimated 25 million steps taken in them. Made by exactly 100 brands. 271 different leathers. Contestants from 29 countries around the world (shout-out Cyprus!). 17 pairs of handmade boots. Literally every square ounce of boot-and-shoe-loving enthusiasm that could be wrung from this world of ours.

But now it’s time to make it even more huger. Enter the newest Thunderdome component: the Work Thunderdome category, presented by Nicks Handmade Boots.

The best and most pointed feedback we got after Dome 1 was: the true workboots, worn for true work-work, just didn’t get their due. And we honestly agreed. This is not a knock on the esteemed judges! They were an incredibly educated, knowledgeable group that used their experience, personal taste, and worldview to pick a remarkable range of winners. But they just aren’t work-work people. They saw beauty a different way.

Well now it’s time to open up the aperture a bit.

The 2022-23 Stitchdown Patina Thunderdome—which begins on Oct 1, 2023 and runs through April 5, 2024—will have two entry categories: “Work” and “Open”, each with their own distinct judges and prize lineup.

Nicks Handmade Boots

So Wait, Which Thunderdome Category Should I Enter?

It’s all one gigantic contest that footwear lovers around the world can come together around. And you do NOT NEED TO DECIDE NOW if you’re entering the Work or Open Dome. All you need to do is get on the pre-registration list with your email right through here and become a member of the rollicking Stitchdown Premium community by Sept 30, 2023.

But again, the judging and prizes are distinct for each category. So which one will be the best fit for you?? Let’s define both:

You should enter the Work Dome instead of the Open Dome if you:

  • Work professionally in a field or trade that will consistently subject your boots to significant exertion and wear.
  • Plan to do serious projects around your home or elsewhere throughout the course of the Patina Thunderdome that would subject your boots to significant exertion and wear.

You should enter the Open Dome instead of the Work Dome if you:

  • Wear “work boots”—or any other type of footwear—but work in an office, from home, or any other situation that doesn’t put an uncommon amount of daily stress on your footwear.

Pretty simple, right? But of course there will be questions! If you have one—about which category of the Thunderdome you should enter, boot eligibility, or anything else, just email me at

Pre-Register for the Stitchdown Patina Thunderdome Now

The Work Dome Judges

While we’re speaking to other potential judges currently—at least two more will come on board in the coming months pre-Dome—we feel incredibly confident in our first pick: Carl Murawski.

Carl couldn’t be more perfect for this. The man knows his boots, and his leather like few others (and his YouTube-ing—if you don’t already watch and subscribe to Carl’s channel, you absolutely need to). But he also knows work, man. Carl’s worked for decades on the railroad, an unforgiving job if there ever was one.

Now Carl might tell you “hey I’m just an electrician!”, because 1) that’s indeed what he does, so thank you for being accurate Carl, and 2) he knows there are people out there pushing MUCH harder on their boots every singe day. Those people are his colleagues, his peers. Those are the boots he sees constantly. Carl knows what honest wear and care looks like, and I couldn’t be happier to put my trust in him and our other forthcoming judges (to be announced soon!) to choose the exact right slate of winners of the Work Dome.

This judging isn’t an easy task. No it is not. So thank you Carl, for your service. We’re gonna beat you and the other judges up like a pair of beloved work boots.

Also you should definitely listen to Carl’s episode on the Shoecast—it’s fantastic.

Nicks Boots—Stitchdown Patina Thunderdome

The Incredible Work Dome Prize Pool

All hail Nicks: this prize list they have so thoughtfully put up is completely insane:

  • 1st Place: $5,000 cash
  • 2nd Place: Nicks Made-to-Order Pair
  • 3rd Place: Nicks MTO pair
  • 4th Place: Nicks stock pair
  • 5th Place: Nicks stock pair
  • 6th Place: Nicks stock pair
  • 7th Place: Nicks stock pair
  • 8th Place: Nicks tool belt
  • 9th Place: Nicks tool belt
  • 10th Place: Nicks tool belt
  • 11th Place: Nicks belt
  • 12th Place: Nicks belt
  • 13th Place: Nicks belt
  • 14th Place: Nicks ultimate boot care kit
  • 15th Place: Nicks ultimate boot care kit
  • People’s Choice Award for the Work Dome: Nicks MTO pair
  • Exceptional Nicks Pair from Open and Work category of the Thunderdome: Nicks MTO pair

So Come Join the Fun!

How can you not?!? You can pre-register for either category of the Thunderdome right through here—just be sure to get your (new, unworn!) pair lined up for the initial photo entries Oct 1-10 2023.

If you have any questions at all, never hesitate to DM me on the Discord or shoot me an email at—happy to help with anything at all.

See you in October!

Pre-Register for the Thunderdome
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