Timberland Boot Company® Mudlark 3-Eye Boat Shoe
The older I get the more I find myself gravitating towards owning fewer but higher quality things. I’m also finding that the personal style that I’m most comfortable with is a kind of casual outdoorsy look – more of a modern interpretation of the classic L.L. Bean style than the Bear Grylls “I’m going to have to drink my own urine to survive” kind of stuff. So, when these Timberland Boot Company® Mudlark 3-Eye Boat Shoes arrived yesterday I knew I had found the perfect addition to my wardrobe.
This is actually my second pair of Timberland Boot Company® shoes. The first is a pair of Counterpane black lace-up oxfords I received for Christmas back in 2009. They’re a really nice modern interpretation of a classic shoe with a worn-in-right-out-of-the-box look and unique handmade details. With their thickly padded modern foam insole they also happen to be the most comfortable hard soled “dress” shoes I’ve ever worn. Unfortunately they’re black and I don’t like to wear black that much, which is strange since I’m a designer and we’re supposedly all expected to wear black all the time.
Obviously I had heard of Timberland® before but I was not aware of their handmade specialty brand. I looked up their website and and was immediately impressed with what I saw. They have a small selection of some really nice boots, shoes and chukkas. This forms a welcome contrast to the overwhelming variety of options found on most shoe company websites. I was intrinsically drawn to the Mudlark Boat Shoes since they were similar to the classic Timberland® 3 eye lug soled boat shoes that I wore all through high school. However, I had just bought a new pair of Keens and couldn’t justify spending nearly $300 on another pair of shoes. Plus, my office attire was more of the blue jeans and T-shirts variety.
Flash forward to today and I find myself in a new position where the office attire is “business casual” and I’m having to build a new wardrobe. The Keens I’ve worn for so long are a bit too casual and Bear Grylls-y and, while the Counterpane oxfords fit the definition, they’re black and don’t really have that refined-rugged-funtional look to go with the Mountain Khakis and ExOfficio shirts I’m wearing these days.
So last week I finally decided to put on my Big Boy pants and take the plunge to buy a pair of Mudlarks. They arrived yesterday and I have to say they are fantastic. The quality of the materials and construction are several notches above the typical department store Timberlands®. They smell divine, too – all leathery and rubbery, not plasticy and fake like most modern shoes. Perhaps even better than new tires… but I digress. They have a classic moc-toe boat shoe design with a slightly longer toe box which gives them a really nice modern silhouette.
The Mudlarks are made from a very thick but extremely soft leather with a smooth waxed finish. They’re unlined with the soft split grain simply exposed on the inside of the shoe for a glove-like feel. Read: “they’re like butter.”
Handemade craftsmanship details abound and there are areas where the leather has a mildly distressed look. I see this kind of like buying a lightly used car that already has a couple of door dings and rock chips – that way you don’t have to fret about getting that first one :-)
The classic Vibram lugged soles are made from medium-hard rubber and attached via a traditional handsewn welt. They have a very deep lug pattern that will provide great traction on any surface (like the snow and ice soon to come) and years of wear. They can easily be re-soled when needed without changing the look of the shoes. I love the way the lugs on the forefoot section of the sole are recessed slightly to provide room for the stitching around the perimeter. This is an appreciated quality craftsmanship detail rarely seen in today’s modern world of mass manufactured injection-molded-and-glued McShoes.
The Mudlarks came with nicely padded leather-covered molded dense rubber insoles. They were quite comfortable but not particularly supportive. They are a fine match to this type of shoe (which has very little support in general). However, I have been using SuperFeet replacement insoles in all of my shoes for a number of years now. Replacing the stock insoles with my SuperFeet provided some much needed support and made the Mudlarks feel like I have owned them for years.
I have only owned these Timberland Boot Company® Mudlark 3-Eye Boat Shoes for less than 24 hours but I can already tell that they are the perfect do-it-all shoes for me. They look great with khakis and jeans, they are extremely comfortable, well made and have that all too elusive classic rugged-go-anywhere refined look about them that will likely only get better with wear.