J.Crew’s New Cascade Boot Beats Options From Better Known Boot Makers

There are two types of hiking boots: the more technical versions of the style; and old-school hiking boots with the alpine prowess that made them popular in the first place. You know, things like sturdy soles, heel support, leather uppers, and lace toe closures. While they might not be as comfortable as the technical types, they’re still as hardworking as they look.

That’s especially true for J.Crew’s new Cascade Boot, a clear riff on the touring styles that came before it, like Danner’s Mountain Light or Paraboot’s Avoriaz. Most importantly, however, is that the Cascade boot from J.Crew costs half, if not less, the aforementioned two boots. ($228 vs. $440 and $476, respectively.)

J.Crew Cascade Boots

J.Crew Cascade Boots

  • Vibram outsole is on par with more expensive boots
  • The boots are super comfortable, even after being on your feet all day
  • Crinkle leather wears well
  • The “Made in China” could deter fans of American manufacture

What’s Good About the J.Crew Cascade Boot

It is well done.

Most people probably don’t think of durable shoes when they think of J.Crew – just basics (but they’re getting better). Sure, the brand did a number of collaborations – with New Balance and Diemme – but its own in-house designs never really caught on, save for the 1990 MacAlister boot, a much-loved suede chukka regular J.Crew buyers.

The Cascade Boot, however, is a serious step forward. It’s heavy, with a weight you’d expect from a more well-known shoemaker (like Danner or Filson). The upper is tumbled leather – so is the collar – and the material feels like it will last, even when you slip through the lacing of its speed hooks. Everything is put together using a sewn construction and double welt. The stitched construction, as the name suggests, features an upper sewn to the midsole. One of the oldest building methods still widely used, it was developed in Dutch South Africa.

That same midsole sits on top of a Vibram outsole, the maker of the original rubberized hiking outsole. They existed before, but they were flat, which meant the traction control was, at best, below average.

jcrew waterfall boots

Evan Malachosky

jcrew waterfall boots

Evan Malachosky

It looks like a heritage design.

Like I said, there are a lot of boots that look like these. In fact, many times older people said “I had a pair like these” or “Are those Danners?” They look a lot like those – and those from Diemme, Paraboot and Fracap – especially if your pant leg covers the top collar. This is the distinguishing feature, in my opinion, which separates these from those.

Otherwise, these look totally old – in a good way. The outsole has the same separate, raised heel, and the boots arrive laced up with bright red hiking laces. You can however, as I did, replace them with a green set, which is included in the box.

It’s surprisingly comfortable, even for a hiker.

On a recent trip to Colorado, I couldn’t pack my bags too a lot. I had a wedding to attend and a few other events I needed to dress up for – that meant I needed two suits, dress shirts and shoes. (These things take up a lot of space in a suitcase.)

It was also fall, which meant cooler temperatures and, well, falling leaves — and, unlike the rest of the year in colorful Colorado, some rain. Boots made the most sense, but I also needed a pair I could potentially hike in. These fit the bill, but I wore them the rest of the trip as well. They were about as comfortable as my favorite sneakers (Converse Chuck 70s), and they looked a little more polished, which was perfect for the time between events where I saw in-laws and other spectators. .

It’s affordable, especially when compared to competitors’ designs.

The Cascade boot from J.Crew is just $298. Of course it’s not nothing, but that’s $200 less than big brand boots (at least in terms of boot manufacturing). And for those who will say, well, “J.Crew just isn’t as good,” ask 18East Antonio K. Ciongoli about their quality control.

“Poor quality calls always show me how little most people know what real quality actually looks like,” he said in a chat room (as style writer Derek Guy pointed out). They may use the same suppliers and materials as the “top” brands, but order their designs on a larger scale, which makes them cheaper for you, the consumer.

jcrew waterfall boots

Evan Malachosky

What’s Not So Good About The J.Crew Cascade Boot

“Made in China” might deter fans of American manufacturing.

Grant Stone knows this dilemma well. While J.Crew’s website simply says “Imported”, a label inside the boot clearly states… “Made in China”. But that’s not a bad thing. Many well-made things come from factories in China, overturning a long-held misconception that Chinese products are inherently bad.

They dyed my socks.

My only real complaint after over a month of wearing them was that even now they dye my socks. The tongue folds in on itself, so there’s a black leather material that forms a V underneath. Every time I take them off, I see this exact shape screen printed on my socks – even my favorite, cream-colored ones. A wash didn’t fix them, but who cares, I guess? These will be my socks from now on.

J.Crew Cascade Boot Verdict

If you love the look of hikers but don’t want to spend half a thousand dollars on a pair, go for these. They are just as well made and just as (if not more) comfortable.

J.Crew Cascade Boots

  • Vibram outsole is on par with more expensive boots
  • The boots are super comfortable, even after being on your feet all day
  • Crinkle leather wears well
  • The “Made in China” could deter fans of American manufacture

BUY NOW (J.CREW)

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