Are you in need of a rugged, versatile boot that can get you from A to Z without a hassle?
Well, in this Thursday Boots review, we’ll be “exploring” the Explorer and why this might be an excellent choice for you if those beautiful yet uncomfortable dress boots just aren’t cutting it. The Thursday Boots Explorer was made to join you on any adventure while also keeping your feet comfortable. This is a solid boot that can take a beating with grace and is bound to keep kicking for years.
But why Thursday Boots? Maybe you’ve stumbled upon one of their numerous online ads and asked yourself if this brand is worth the hype or just a bunch of smoke and mirrors.
As a former team member at the Thursday Boot Company flagship location in New York City, it’s pretty safe to say I’ve garnered some experience with this brand. Thursday holds a special place in my heart, but I don’t let biases hinder objectivity. This company is relatively young and still has plenty of growing pains, but the products are generally high-quality. I’ve tried on nearly every men’s boot Thursday offers, and, in my opinion, the reigning champion continues to be the Explorer. So, what sets this boot apart from the others?
Let’s dive right into some pros and cons of the Explorers in this Thursday Boots review.
First off, let’s talk about who these boots are for and the role they’ll play in your wardrobe. The Explorers are not a formal pair of footwear, and they’re more in line with the rugged, workman style of Timberlands. I wouldn’t recommend wearing these for a nice dinner or to that important job interview coming up. No, these boots are for when you need to get things done. They’re constructed to be reliable while providing sustained comfort and flexibility. If you lean toward the workman aesthetic or are searching for something utilitarian, these boots are solid contenders.
The Thursday Boots Explorers are currently offered in three colorways: black matte, cedar, and dark olive suede. I own two pairs of Explorers, one pair in black matte and one in a discontinued shadow gray suede. Although the shadow gray suede is no longer available, the dark olive suede shares many similarities and essentially serves as its counterpart. The black matte and cedar offerings are made from a rugged, nubuck-style leather reminiscent of Timberlands. The dark olive suede is a much softer leather with a waxed finish around the toe and heel, resulting in a burnished look.
Overall, the entire Thursday boots line is constructed from high-quality leather for the price point, and the Explorers are no different. The rugged and resilient leathers are hands-off in terms of maintenance, and the suede is much more robust when pitted against other suedes on the market. All Thursday boots undergo a proprietary weathersafe treatment to handle rain, snow, and whatever else is thrown at them. This is especially true for Thursday’s suede options, dispelling the common belief that suede can’t hold up against the elements very well.
The midsole of the Explorers consists of five layers: a strip of leather, cork, compressed cardboard, fiberboard, and the foam insole, which makes direct contact with the foot. What do all of these fancy layers do in terms of comfort though? In my opinion, they make for a great wearing experience that only gets better with time.
The presence of a cork layer is a classic technique used in boot manufacturing because it easily molds to the foot. The cork sole is what makes these boots feel like yours over time. The materials in these layers combine classic and contemporary technologies for a high comfort level. In my experience, standing for a few hours in these boots may cause slight discomfort, but this is often minimal and no different from any other boot on the market. Beyond that, the Explorers have taken me on more adventures than I can count and never let me down.
All Thursday Explorers come with a genuine Vibram sole. If you’re unfamiliar with Vibram, it’s one of the best manufacturers producing high-quality, durable outsoles today. The tread on the bottom is also pretty aggressive, which means these boots will thrive in slippery conditions.
The outsoles on my three-year-old pair of Explorers, which I’ve put a few hundred miles on, have only recently begun to show high levels of wear (as seen in the picture below). I wore these boots all over New York City, walking an average of six miles daily. The soles are thick, and I can see them holding up longer than mine with moderate usage.
Sizing & Fit
Across the board, Thursday Boots generally recommends men go a half size down from their standard shoe size; the same is true for the Explorers. The suede Explorers are naturally more forgiving at first than the nubuck options. My black matte Explorers were extremely tight and rigid the first time I put them on, but after a bit of wear, they’ve softened up considerably. I still prefer my suede pair in terms of overall comfort, but both excel in this regard, and nine times out of ten, I reach for the Explorers over other boots in my collection.
The toe-box of the explorers is also slightly wider than other Thursday Boot styles such as the Captain and Diplomat. This means the Explorers might be a good option for those with wider feet or specific toe requirements. Although, I should mention that Thursday Boots offers wide sizes (EE/EEE) in certain styles and colorways, but not for the Explorer at this time.
The Explorers offer standard lacing with nine pairs of eyelets and speed hooks at the top to make the process as efficient as possible; however, getting these boots on and off is the trickiest part of the package. It takes a few extra seconds to put these on compared to boots with fewer eyelets.
The break-in period for the Explorers is relatively straightforward. These boots only require a few days or, at most, a few weeks to become accustomed to your feet. The best way to expedite this process is to wear your boots often, even while watching Netflix on the couch. Simply having these boots on, gives the leather and midsole time to mold to your feet. Of course, don’t wear these boots past the point of pain or discomfort.
Thursday Boots should always be relatively comfortable right out of the box because the break-in is much more minimal than, say, a pair of Iron Rangers. If these boots are immediately uncomfortable when you first put them on, you likely have the wrong size. Luckily, Thursday Boot Company offers free returns and exchanges within 30 days of your order so you can ensure the best fit.
We’ve established what these boots are made for, but can they walk the walk? I’m a die-hard Explorer fan, so I’ve put both of my pairs through their paces. Last year, I decided to wear my shadow gray Explorers during The Great Saunter, a walking race in New York City, where participants must attempt to walk the entire 32-mile perimeter of Manhattan in a single day.
I ended up walking 37 miles, after getting sidetracked a few times, and was on my feet for over 12 hours straight; these boots performed phenomenally. The previous year I also participated in the race and wore dedicated running shoes, but I actually had less pain and a faster recovery after wearing my Explorers. This was my ultimate test to see how much “exploring” the Explorers can do, and they passed with flying colors, even during the intense rain storm that hit about midday.
The Explorers feature a Storm Welt Construction, which is essentially a Goodyear welt but thicker for extreme conditions. This is why my feet remained dry while the rest of my body was soaked. The beauty of Thursday Boots is that nearly every boot in the men’s line comes with a Goodyear welt or Storm welt, meaning your boots are durable and can be resoled to extend their lifespan.
My three-year-old pair of Explorers have been through the wringer, and they’re still kicking (literally). I can likely get one more year of usage out of them before needing to get them resoled. From there, I believe this pair could last me several more years.
Ways to Wear
Typically, this design is worn with tapered cargo-style joggers tucked into the boot. This look shows the boot off in all its glory while conveying a rugged, militaristic look. Additionally, they can also be worn with regular or bootcut pants, which will cover the shaft of the boot. This is how I prefer to wear my Explorers because it’s a much more subtle look.
What We Like
1. The comfort and reliability are unmatched when pitted against many other boots on the market. The comfort even exceeds some athletic sneakers I’ve owned.
2. The style is excellent if you’re aiming for a rugged, minimalist aesthetic. The profile is sleek, and they typically serve to compliment an outfit rather than be the star of the show.
3. They do what they were made to do: explore. These boots thrive while hiking on a trail, working on the job site, or when you’re just trying to get things done.
Flaws But Not Deal Breakers
As previously mentioned, the biggest hurdle someone may face when wearing these boots is getting them on and off. You cannot simply “slip off” the Explorers like a pair of sneakers or Chelsea boots, which may be an issue for some people. However, I feel the trade-off of a few extra seconds to put these on is worth what you get in return. Once the Explorers are on your feet, you’re good to go all day.
What Are Customers Saying About The Product?
The Thursday Boot Explorers have a majority of positive reviews on the brand website, coming in at 4.9/5 stars with 714 reviewers at the time of this writing. Many positive reviews urge the reader to “buy these boots” and exclaim how excellent they are. However, a product never goes without some negative reviews.
Most of the negative reviews for the Explorers revolve around customer service and how the boots look in person versus online. I can personally attest that the matte black and cedar boots look nearly identical in person, but the dark olive suede can vary a bit in appearance. It’s understandable why people might be disappointed if the color doesn’t match the pictures exactly, but not all leathers are created equal, and variations are generally unavoidable. Thursday Boots are made in small batches and hand-crafted, so every pair has a personal touch.
Thursday Boots Review: Final Verdict
Overall, the Thursday Boot Explorers are great for those frequently on the go who want a reliable pair of boots. The Storm Welt Construction stands up well against rain, and the Vibram outsole is great for traction in slippery conditions. These boots are versatile enough to hit the trail or just take you around the city without a sweat.
If you’re not sold on the brand after this Thursday Boot review, what are some alternatives in this category? Well, the obvious choice is the Timberland 6-inch boot. The silhouette and design aesthetics resemble the Explorer, but it’s a far more recognizable brand.
Another option is the Doc Martens 1460 lace-up boot, again, more recognizable than Thursday and incredibly popular with younger crowds.
What about a higher-end option? Well, the Allen Edmonds Chapman Combat Boot is a great choice if you have extra cash to spend. These boots are made with a Storm Welt Construction and are advertised to be waterproof as well.
All Thursday Boots are made and treated with a water repellent coating, even the suede options, which means they can handle rain with ease. The Storm Welt Construction found in the Explorers essentially renders them waterproof when partially submerged underwater.
Both pairs of my Thursday Explorers are extremely comfortable and even contend with some dedicated athletic shoes I own. Over time, the leather softens up and the boots mold to your feet, resulting in a uniquely “you” experience.
My suede pair of Explorers are going on four years of hard wear and tear, yet they still have a lot more life left in them. These boots are also resoleable which extends their lifespan even further. How many years you get from them really hinges on your maintenance habits and how hard you wear them.