Walk around the Outside office on any given day and look down and you'll find at least four or five of us wearing the Blundstone 500s. There's a very practical reason for this: The 500 is pretty much the best all around boot you can own. They're swank enough for office attire, from jeans to a suit, and rugged enough for slogging through mud and snow. Like the Bic lighter, the no. 2 pencil, the Leatherman multitool, and Carhartt work pants, the 500s are simply classic. All we ask is that you don't mess with them. "They're forever," one of my colleagues said.
Blundstone should know what they're doing. For 135 years, the company has specialized in one style of boot, a slip-on, slip-off, all-purpose leather kick that has enough style for a SoHo nightclub, the cojones for a biker bar, and the rugged bare bones to stand up to the elements. I wouldn't wear my 500s hiking the backcountry in winter, but for just about anything else, it's one-stop shopping. I've worn them road-tripping up into the Rocky Mountains, out to a cowboy bar in Santa Fe, and to Thanksgiving dinner with a sport coat and collared shirt.
The boot is built with a 2.5-millimeter leather outer, and each side of your ankle is wrapped in a trademark swatch of elastic that stretches down to just above your arch. This eliminates the laces but not the comfortor a snug fit. Double stitching around the elastic and down the front of the shoe, where the tongue would beas well as reinforced stitching on the heel, where my shoes tend to wear out firstgive the areas of highest wear and tear a little backbone, and nylon loops at the front and rear of the cuff boot make for easy on and off. The tread is ample but not as deep as a work boot, giving it a dressy-casual appeal. Plus, with injection molding, the leather upper and the dual-density polyurethane footbed literally fuse together, a process the company claims will last beyond the standard stitch.
Snag a pair and with any luck you won't have to buy another pair of shoes for a hell of a long time. One thing: Watch out for the sizing. Blundstones come in Australian measurements, so if you're a size 12 here, you're an 11 there. $140; www.blundstoneusa.com
See the December issue of Outside for a look at the new 490 Bloke, a cousin of the 500 with a reinforced toebox and more modern styling.