Let me begin by saying that these are all great boots, if you are fortunate to own any of these then I have no doubt that you are happy with them and each pair is undoubtedly worth your investment in terms of both finance and the time to make them yours. I consider boots to be life essentials, as I have grown older I have come to truly appreciate just how high up the tree of requirements a top class pair of boots is, they are literally the foundation to everything else that you wear and a truly great pair will serve you for many, many years.
My personal taste is for boots which can serve a variety of purposes, whether I am walking in the woods with my dog or polishing them up to wear with a nice pair of jeans, or even trousers, for a more formal setting. With the exception of my Viberg engineer boots I think that the other three pairs can do these jobs perfectly well, the Vibergs are my “man sneakers” , and perform that job exceptionally well but undoubtedly one for which a cheaper pair of boots would do the job just as well (I paid significantly less than half the retail price for my Vibergs).
For me all the brands and boots have different areas of strength and weakness’, Whites are the best on price and offer a variety of options, plus their arch support makes them perfect for people with a high instep and there is no denying that the Semi Dress is a great looking boot. On the other hand the arch ease isn’t for everyone, they are pretty heavy, and if you really wanted to be super picky you could say that the finishing of the boots is perhaps not quite to the standard of the other brands, whilst still being completely functional, but that is what happens with handmade boots.
The Vibergs are immaculately finished, but the buckles could be improved and the price point is bordering on insane. The Aldens retain the optional formality afforded by the Whites boot, whilst being lighter and more comfortable for people with a lower instep, but they are a little more pricey, they are not custom built and there have been quite a few more reported quality issues in more recent times. In Wesco you have possibly the ultimate in tough and sturdy boots, which you can custom order and they will be lasted to fit your feet, but they can be very heavy and quite expensive, though not to the level of Viberg.
An obvious point to remember is that I have been strictly discussing the boots in my possession as the example of their brand, so many of the issues I have raised can more than likely be altered by changing a few options. If you don’t like the sound of heavy Wesco’s then change the leather, lower the heel and remove the lining, if Vibergs are proving too expensive then try to be patient with the second hand market. Speaking of buying used, there are virtually always some really nice pairs of Whites to be found second hand on eBay for very little money if you are looking for somewhere to start, same goes for Aldens.
The conclusion which I draw from all this boot talk is that the most important factor in selecting new boots isn’t the leather, the last, the weight, the height or where it was made, the most important factor is the person who is wearing the boots. We all have different tastes and we all have various amounts of tolerance for what could be viewed as imperfections, not to mention that we all work to different budgets. The key point to this is that in these four brands, Whites, Viberg, Alden and Wesco we have the pinnacle of what is available out there as a work wear styled boot, and when you reach the very top of three then all differences and inconsistencies we discuss are really splitting hairs.
The intent here was to see if there was a discernable difference between the brands based on my boots, so far as I can see there are negligible differences, but what has come out of this which interests me is that brand loyalty at top end of the boot game is foolish as you are denying yourself so much pleasure from experiencing the rest.