Rant: Boots with zips, really?

I like a nice pair of boots. Not because I have any particular need for the ruggedness, but because I like their look, their no messing sturdiness, and well, just because. I do have a strong opinion when it comes to boots though and that is that if you’re going to wear boots, you should wear boots. Not play-boots. And real boots have laces, eyelets and speed hooks. Zips are not a feature.

The Red Wing 877, high shank, long laces, eyelets only, no speedhooks.

The Red Wing 877, high shank, long laces, eyelets only, no speedhooks.

Boots will by their very nature demand more lacing. They go higher, they need lacing up, such is life. If you want to wear boots this is something you just have to accept. Some boots, like my 8″ tall Red Wing 877s are arduous in this respect, as there are eyelets all the way up. Putting them on or taking them off involves unlacing more than half the eyelets, and this is no small task. They feel really good when they’re on though.

Red Wing Ice Cutters, a balance of eyelets and speedhooks make life easier.

Red Wing Ice Cutters, a balance of eyelets and speedhooks make life easier.

Other boots will have part eyelets and part hooks. This saves time, every time. The only real disadvantage is that the hooks tend to eat up the laces, so it becomes a question of cost versus time. If you’re of an economy-orientated mind and have too much time on your hands.

What I really wanted to express my total disdain for was something I came across when I happened to find myself in a local shoe shop recently. What in the name of manliness is this crap?

Plenty of eyelets here, boots look ok! At least from this side!

Plenty of eyelets here, boots look ok! At least from this side!

The boots themselves look like acceptable boots. Fair leather, some craft gone into them, they laced up with brass eyelets. The sole looks a bit like nasty folded rubber, but all in all they’re not bad.

Ah, but from the inner side we see the zips. And even a snap button to hold the zips up.

Ah, but from the inner side we see the zips. And even a snap button to hold the zips up.

So what is this we find on the inside? A zip? Christ, man, there are 7 pairs of eyelets do run the laces though and you’re not man enough to get them on and off without a zip? I was about to say this is deeply tragic, though only in a man/boot/what is the world coming to sense. It’s a strange design twist to not even put the zipper of shame on the inner side though, proudly displaying it on the outside like this does not bode well for the wearer, unless he likes being soundly mocked.

And another boot with a zip. This is bad.

And another boot with a zip. This is bad.

The same brand came up with this one. I first noticed the tweediness poking through the zipper, so I was almost sucked into thinking that these looked quite nice. Almost. That zipper stuck out like a sore thumb, but this time it’s on the inside, so a little less easy to spot. Eagle eyed readers will spot the total design failure though. Take a few seconds to evaluate, get in nice and close. Can you see it?

Yes, indeed. Well spotted. Not only are there 5 pairs of eyelets, but they’re topped with 2 pairs of hooks, so these boots are actually easy to get on and off, even without that stupid zip.

A random of boots with broken zips from Google Images.

A random of boots with broken zips from Google Images.

In addition to the testosterone depleting nature of zips, zips also break. Swiftly and often, and they will either need repairs or the boot is junk. Boots without zips will last for years. Just ask your mate with the calculator watch which makes more sense. Of course, chances are his boots zip up.

That’s not the worst I’ve seen though. I noticed just the other day a girl wearing boots with zips up both sides. So there was a zip for decoration and a zip to enable the long boots to be removed. I wanted to take a photo, but wearing a long dark coat probably already had me gathering perv points, so I decided to just stroll on by.

WDW suggests the double zips might be useful for ladies with fat ankles, though I’m undecided whether that helps matters. Oh, she also suggests that fussing about with lots of eyelets on tall bots is silly nerdiness and that zippers are ace. I won’t ask her opinion in the future.

The boots that inspired this piece are by a Swedish brand. I refuse to mention names, but their “about us” pages claims they are “... all about denim, but not denim… Our core values as a footwear brand are firmly rooted in the urban-denim culture of the wet and misty Gothenburg environment. This is where we get our inspiration.

All I can see are those zips.


  • Brian in Alberta 03/12/2015 at 15:34

    I generally agree with you but we are talking about fashion. Here in Canada the temperature sometimes drops a bit but contrary to popular belief Canadians don’t spend the winter wearing mukluks. For commuting to work or school a relatively lightly insulated boot is all that’s required. And because you may be putting those boots on and off several times during the day, often in a crowded entryway, zippers are a great convenience. Boot styles designed as “commuter boots” often only have a zipper but many people want the look of a lace-up. So boots are manufactured with both closure systems. Canada has a number of makers who specialize in this type of boot; Anfibio is one of my favorites (https://www.bottesanfibio.com/store/men-boots). An added bonus of zippers in cold climates is that they don’t freeze-up as badly as laces.

    • Well Dressed Dad 07/12/2015 at 10:21

      I’d actually argue that zips will freeze up worse than laces, and be more prone to break or cause annoyance when frozen. Granted, it might be handy if either lace or zip is frozen to have a backup, but … a man doesn’t need it. Heck, why not add in some velcro as well? 🙂

  • Dauvit Alexander 06/12/2015 at 11:08

    It is a perennial question of design: does it have utility or is it a decorative whim?
    If the laces – or zip – serve no useful purpose, get rid of them. The boot will be better-designed.

    • Well Dressed Dad 06/12/2015 at 11:11

      In this case there are fully functional laces, yet a zip as well? I was quite baffled!

    • Brian in Alberta 06/12/2015 at 17:05

      Dauvit, your a skilled jeweler; “decorative whim” is at the core of your art. Fashion would be boring if function was the only criteria in clothing design.

  • Brandon 07/12/2015 at 17:04

    I agree, WDD. Zippers on footwear are always unacceptable. Apart from being totally redundant when laces are already present, the vast majority of zippers are of terrible quality and once broken, can be a pain to repair, if at all possible. They are almost always a sign of poor quality footwear. Not to mention, in my opinion, they look absolutely terrible 100% of the time, in my opinion.

    Like WDG, my partner feels differently from me, haha. After she bought some expensive mid-calf Doc Marten brogue boots with side zips that broke (twice) she still wants more zipper boots!

    • Well Dressed Dad 07/12/2015 at 17:33

      Thanks for confirming my most certainly correct point of view! And what is up with the ladies? ?

    • Kevin S O’Donnell 16/11/2023 at 01:07

      I totally agree with you. Zippers on men’s lace-up boots is a bit like cheating IMHO. Keep things straightforward and have laces only.

  • Will 29/11/2016 at 20:14

    Amusing rant. Particularly because a line was drawn regarding “manliness” in attire on a site that could be described as a blog for dandy men. Additionally, after invoking manliness you proceed to show appreciation for the fashion of the shoe and design.

    With that said, I can understand a distain for certain designs in clothing and gear. I don’t mind zippers, I had a pair of boots with side zips years back that handled well in adverse conditions with considerable weight and mileage placed on them. They were a recommendation by one of the guys in my squad( at a time when squad was not slang).

    With that said, I’m enjoying your site and will forward it on to other like myself that have a hard time cleaning up let alone looking the part of a fashionable gentleman.

    • nick 29/11/2016 at 20:17

      Thanks for the feedback, Will. I’m not sure about being described as a blog for “dandy men”, mind you. There are many a blog out there that are orders of magnitude dandier than mine!

      • Will 29/11/2016 at 20:27

        Haha, very true. Glad I found your site and appreciated your write up on the Red Wing boots. Buying my first pair and was getting cold feet, WDD has set me at ease.

        Again, glad I found your site.

  • Ted 09/08/2017 at 21:59

    Lots of masculine appeals for a blog about fashion.

    • nick 10/08/2017 at 08:19

      Thanks Ted, I’m glad you appreciated it! I’m a little offended at my little blog being described as about fashion though!

      • Ted 11/08/2017 at 23:02

        What else do you consider it?

        • nick 13/08/2017 at 11:32

          Kind of the opposite really. Fashion is all about rapidly changing styles, I’m about styles that are more constant. The fickle nature of fashion holds very little interest to me, so if the blog comes across as such, I have failed in my mission!

  • Brooke Garro 24/12/2017 at 10:08

    I Google “boots with zippers are bad design” to see if there was anyone else out there who felt the same.
    I’m a woman.
    I refuse to wear any shoe with a zipper.
    Why put an excellent buckle or laces on them if you’re going to add a zipper?
    Doesn’t this mean added more steps to the production process as well as increase of materials?? It’s like breaking the window of your car to climb in instead of just opening the perfectly good door already there!
    I just don’t get it.
    And what’s worse, they’re everywhere!!!

    • nick 16/04/2018 at 10:00

      Just goes to show that while Viberg may be a firm favourite with the footwear fanboys, they’re not above dropping a real clanger when they go outside their core business of expensive premium workboots…

  • Laszlo 29/11/2019 at 14:51

    Most def agree, they ruin the goodlooking boots with zippers.

  • BB 17/01/2020 at 21:44

    OK. I understand every ones points of view.
    Now see it from another point of view!
    I spend a lot of time online searching for boots with zips!
    My husband can only where boots with zips because of his instep as he cannot get any other style on and he cannot where shoes.
    We have bought boots from UK, USA, Hong Kong, Holland, Australia and Switzerland. Next stop China!
    Not all feet are the same!
    PS. Any ideas?

  • SJB 19/04/2020 at 09:20

    The equestrian market is chocka block with this sort of design, the zipper is for rapid on and off (riding boots are often swapped several times a day for a wellie or something else for yard work), the laces are to customise the fit which you can’t do with a zip. Trust me, I know, I have a short “paddock” boot from Ariat with only zippers and they were okay to begin with, now they’re starting to give I can’t tighten the fit.

    • nick 20/04/2020 at 13:24

      Granted, for this very niche application the combination has merit, but the application my rant was about was far from this 🙂

  • Alan Strom 12/01/2021 at 02:58

    In the voice of JANICE from the TV show FRIENDS “Oh… My….. God ”
    I don’t care about fashion, never have never will!!!
    I will wear whatever is presentable and practical.
    Recently, I was trying to get my size 9 foot into a favourite pair of boots and as I pulled on the loop it tore off in my hand.
    I’ll have to take them to be repaired.
    The ease and convenience of a boot that opens up wide for your foot to slip into and then ZIP UP is what want.
    I look back fondly, to a pair I had as a younger man, they were fantastic.
    As the great ROCK band DEAD KENNEDYS said many decades ago
    ” Give me convenience or give me death ”
    This of course, was a sarcastic and satirical comment.
    Homer Simpson thought that 40 seconds was too long to wait for something in the microwave.
    In a ‘free’ western democracy I have the right to choose what type of boots I want to wear.

    • Ed Archer 23/11/2021 at 01:43

      I agree with you dude. This article screams gae and low testosterone. What kind of man gets offended by a boot zipper? Real men prefers practicality. We wear practical things. I have a zipped boots with laces: laces for adjusting fit, and zippers for convenience. Saves time for a busy man. It’s another story if it’s something more dressy but it’s a casual boot for spirit’s sake.
      And oh, jackets with lots of pockets. They look ugly for some, but it is very convenient. Same analogy.

  • Bex Eliot 27/11/2021 at 17:23

    Oh I know this was a long time ago but YES! WHY a zip on lace up boots? At least most mens boots DON’T have zips. Nearly ALL womens boots do. Like we’re incapable of tying laces? Ok on knee high boots I get it – a lot of lacing to do every morning. But ank;e boots? In the name of God WHY??????

  • Bex Eliot 27/11/2021 at 17:24

    Oh and the last guy to comment? Gay or ‘gae’ is not an insult buddy. This isn’t 1967.

  • Brian Dougan 11/07/2022 at 07:16

    I’m bit late to the discussion. (July/2022.) Dating myself–In 1972; I bought a beautiful pair of kid leather Florsheim boots. No laces; but a zipper on the “unseen” side of the boot. Fast forward; 2022. I’ve undecided about two almost identical boots; same brand. Zipper; or no zipper? I was leaning toward the no zipper pair, and this (funny) blog clinched it for me. Leave the zippers on pants. Zippers on boots plus laces?–Convenience aside; isn’t that like wearing suspenders–and a belt? Maybe not apples and oranges; bit imo it’s a clashing; redundant look. One or the other; not both. BTW–Can you imagine warriors wearing zipped combat boots? Lol.

  • Bella 17/12/2022 at 03:05

    Wholeheartedly agree… I thought I was the only one – female to boot (small pun intended) -I’m finding it increasingly difficult (nigh on impossible) to find lace-up boots without the infernal side zipper. Even DM’s – DM’s FFS – a boot which gained both fame and notoriety for their yellow laces and number of lace eyelets back in the day, with n’er a zipper to be seen!
    There are some beautiful boots out there for us laydeez…. But I want mine fully-laced and zipperless… not much to ask is it?
    Is it?

    • nick 17/12/2022 at 08:30

      You might want to check out Solovair, still made in the same factory where they made Docs (before DM moved production to wherever would make them cheapest), same quality and many of the old styles. More laces than any sane person could wish for! 🤗

  • Duncan T Miller 22/08/2023 at 15:04

    I ware boots to protect my feet at work. I adjust them with the laces and take them on and off with the zippers. Well Dressed dad, Have you ever owned boots with zippers?

    • nick 24/08/2023 at 08:39

      Of course not!

  • AR 16/10/2023 at 17:31

    I suffered a motorcycle accident 4.5 years ago that took my right leg below the knee. After 20 operations, a prosthetic leg, and many hours of training and exercise, I can walk pretty well and do most tasks independently. It was only last year that I started getting back into fashionable footwear as I was tired of wearing sneakers all the time. They don’t tell you that shoes and boots can be a pain to get on and off prosthetic legs, not to mention pants. Now I wear pants with side zippers and have recently bought new service style boots with side zippers as well to make taking on/off these items much easier. I used to be like the author where I totally disdained zip up boots. But now that I’m forced to weat them, I am totally wondering where my disdain came from. Laces are for fit and the zippers serve as convenience without, in my opinion, detracting from the look of the boot. Anyhow to each their own but I say don’t be influenced by what others define as masculine to be afraid to wear what works best for you.

  • PJ 29/11/2023 at 15:45

    I wear boots for several functions. Construction goes the loggers with a 15 min tie up time. Hiking also needs a snug lacing.
    But i am a career firefighter, boots are on/off all shift. For me zips is saving time (and yes time can be critical) My first pair were the aftermarket tie in the zipper between the lacing grommets. They could be kept relatively snug.
    Nowadays many companies make side zips in 6”, 8”.
    Downside is I can never get a real secure fit wearing, after many ankle injuries I can use the support. So I bounce between 6”, 8” trying to find a happy medium between speed and stability.

    Zips have a use, but you wouldn’t catch me wearing them outside of working shift

  • Adam Barlow 24/02/2024 at 10:19

    I love boots! But recently suffered nerve damage from spinal Degeneration.
    This paralysed my right toes and causes them to drop.
    With lace boots I often get my toes curled underneath, removing all the laces everytime to get my foot in properly is a real pain in the ass.

    I personally prefer the look of lace ups so zip and lace is a great option for me.

    Also l have to wear a foot/ ankle brace which attaches to my laces, I know spoils the look but at least I can walk☺️

    BUT I must say before my foot dropped you would NEVER have caught me waring them!

  • Steven 05/03/2024 at 15:42

    Zipup boots have their place in professions like firefighting, where seconds count. I am required to wear safety boots around the firehouse and need an option other than tying and untying laces to get into my pull on bunker boots we don’t wear around the firehouse to limit transferring of carcinogens and other materials from car accidents etc. to our living areas.

    I see the application for any job that has reason for quick donning and doffing of footwear, but on my days off I prefer the look and security of a full lace boot for sure.


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