Viberg set themselves apart from other boot makers in a number of ways, firstly they are made in Canada rather than the USA, secondly they remain family owned by the Viberg family, thirdly they are the most expensive of the brands which I am looking at by a not insignificant margin, and lastly they straddle the line between work boot and fashion more blatantly than the other brands. Viberg have a reputation for flawless construction, many fans of the brand will tell you that the fit, materials and build on a pair of their boots is unsurpassed by other brands, that is a bold claim indeed. I must confess that I have only ever owned one pair of Viberg boots so my experience is admittedly limited, but I have looked at and handled many other of their designs so I am not without experience, and I have stated in the past that Viberg are a brand that I find it hard to love for a variety of reason, but I do love my Viberg boots, and I will tell you why.
My boots have a loose stitch on one of the toe’s, I made a bit of a fuss about this the last time that I spoke about them as I had expected genuine flawless quality which is harsh on the brand as they had not fostered this perception in me, rather some enthusiastic wearers had. I could now attempt to list the other flaws I found with them but it would be an exercise in futility as there aren’t any, and the fault which they do have is pretty minor to be fair, I would need a macro lens to highlight it. Everything else is tight, solid and exactly as you would expect. In terms of stitching the boots are uniform, triple stitched in areas and extremely neatly done.
I bought these boots with the infamous white wedge sole on to use as my “man sneakers”, I bought them for comfort and convenience and at first I thought that I had made a massive mistake. After one day of wear the heel of my right foot was devoid of skin from the inner of the boot rubbing against it, I sought advice from experienced wearers of both Viberg and engineer boots (as this was my first pair of either) and was told to persevere. I gradually wore them a little more each day over my patched up foot and within 10 days they felt like slippers. The boots are a 10D, which is a UK 10D as Viberg use UK sizing, and they fit true to size.
I have heard through forum whispers, which I cannot substantiate, that Viberg use better cuts of leather than other companies. I have no idea if this is true but I will say that the surface of the leather upon first receiving these boots was completely blemish free and uniform. The leather used on these is Vibergs own black smooth leather and rough out, both are thick and sturdy and certainly feel like great quality leathers.
As these are engineer boots I can’t talk about the lace loops or speed hooks, but I can talk about the buckles which look great and feel nice but are not particularly substantial, this doesn’t bother me but it is an observation. The Vibram sole is the same as you would find on any number of other work boots, views on its quality are a matter of opinion but I think it serves a purpose.
Well, they’re more expensive than just about everyone else. These boots retailed for £600 on Oki Ni, I paid £180 for them from eBay, I would not have paid full price for them but for the price of a pair of Red wings (UK price) they represented exceptional value. Vibergs pricing is controversial and nonsensical to some, but the truth is that if they are worth the money to you then they are worth the money.
Thanks to Vibergs ability to position in both the fashion and work boot market they have managed to find themselves quite a number of retailers, as well as retailing through their own website. Something which they have stopped doing recently due to capacity issues is custom builds, which is a shame because they made some really nice looking ones for people with great taste, and some butt ugly ones for people who think they have taste. To my knowledge the Short Shift engineer boots are not currently available from anywhere.
As Viberg is split between the work boot side of things and the more fashion oriented side of things so is there design ethic. On the work boot side of things there is nothing startlingly out of the ordinary, smoke jumpers and lug soled work boots are normal, well made and a tad boring, on the other side things get more interesting. If I could characterise the Viberg aesthetic in one word then that word would “clean”, what they do is derive inspiration from vintage military, civilian and hiking boots and then smooth out all the rough edges, for a prime example of this take a look at the ever popular 1950’s service boot.
The short shift boot is not a particularly original design, it is in fact extremely reminiscent of similar styled Red Wing shirt engineer boots fitted with a wedge sole, but is a little neater around the edges. The toe profile is much improved, not at all bulbous, the mid sole is perfectly finished and the entire build feels undeniably like a quality piece of craftsmanship.
Well, like I said earlier, I bought these to be my “man sneakers”, now I’m advancing in years I find it harder to convince myself to buy a pair of Jordan’s or Air Max but I still like the comfort of a more padded and flexible sole. I have always found things like Converse and Vans to be uncomfortable due to my high instep and their uncompromising flat sole, so my options are somewhat limited, unless I opt for a boot/ shoe with a Vibram wedge sole as an everyday piece of footwear, which I have.
After an initial break in they have become supremely comfortable, and I love having something that I can just slip on and off (handy for visiting people homes). Being engineer boots they don’t work with some cuts of denim, but they improve the stacking on my Samurai 710’s beautifully, which makes them perfect partners.
Next up, the Alden 405 Indy Boot.