As a kid I was always the odd one out due to my insistence that the Indiana Jones movies were far better than the Star Wars movies, not a big crime you might think but it was enough to find me in several physical confrontations, as a 5 or 6 year old boy, with my peers (Transformers were better than both btw). The boys own adventure style of “Indy” really struck a chord with me and I hold those movies entirely responsible for my love of travel and history, so if a boot company made the very boots which were favoured by Indiana Jones himself then surely they have to be great right?
Alden come in for some criticism in certain circles for their approach to customer quality issues, if you read through some forums you will find a few horror stories about boots splitting and hardware either bending or snapping but this is not something which I can comment on as my battered 405’s are still going strong. I was gifted my boots by a friend who has always extolled the virtues of Alden and was happy to give me a chance to experience them for myself, I have since added significantly more wear to the boots and with the exception of requiring re-heeling they still have plenty of life in them. I can report no stitching issues, no hardware issues and their durability is certainly not in question with me.
Alden are a little more formal than other brands famed for their work boots, the bulk of their range is more formal, refined and perhaps more comfortable in an office environment than a factory or workshop, or trekking through the jungles and deserts as Indy himself might do, but the 405 is an exception in many ways. Aside from the much lesser known Tanker boot, it is Alden’s sole representation in the field of real work wear. Much like the Semi Dress from White’s it is a utility boot, although retaining a certain amount of formality it is designed mainly for the comfort of worker (or adventurer) who is on their feet and on the go for the majority of their day, as sure key point to the boots long term popularity. Unlike the SD it does not have so much arch support, so is better suited to someone with a slightly lower instep perhaps, but a well-worn pair if Indy’s feels very much like an old pair of slippers.
Alden are perhaps best expressed through their use of cordovan, with their long wings being a stunning example of using cordovan leather for a formal shoe, indeed they also produce the 405 in cordovan which looks incredible but is extremely expensive. It’s a personal thing but I have never seen the point of using a fine expensive leather like cordovan on a work boot when the difference in durability between it and a good quality cow leather is minimal, for formal shoes though I definitely see the point for the high gloss shine. My 405’s are made from Horween’s famed chromexcel leather, if I had bought these boots new I would have chosen a different leather as I find that CXL (as it is known) wears and marks extremely quickly, almost artificially quickly. Having said that it is a thick and durable leather, and I have no complaints about anything else used in making the boots, even the hardware seems fine to me, not as chunky or tough as White’s but definitely fit for purpose.
What you pay for 405’s varies wildly dependent upon a number of factors, the obvious ones being the type of leather, the country which you purchase from and whether the type you buy is a collaboration with some interesting and limited sole and hardware options. This is far from a cheap boot and you should expect to pay upwards of $500 unless you are fortunate enough to find a retailer having a sale, which happens more often than you might think. Whilst they are not in the Viberg level of pricing they certainly do leave a healthy dent in your wallet.
The only issue with getting a pair of Indy’s is getting the pair that you want, due to the amount of options and collaborative models available. Many of the special models are only made in limited numbers and for certain retailers, should you simply want the standard model though there are Alden retailers on most continents or you can order directly from Alden themselves.
The 405 Indy is distinctive, it has an unmistakable look especially when directly compared to its peers in the utility work boot field. The toe profile is low and flat with distinctive dual row stitching, which serves no purpose but looks nice anyway. The soft toe collapses and creases up in all the right places with wear, and looks great if you like that kind of thing, it gives the boots a real “experienced traveller” look about it, like your boots have seen a thing or two in their time.
As an all-day wear utility boot the 405 is hard to argue with, it’s lighter than the SD, doesn’t offer as much support but is arguably more wearable as a casual boot due to the design, the weight and the more broad spectrum fit due to the lack of, what can be, an intrusive arch support. I do have my doubts about the long term durability of the 405 compared to the SD, but that is more to do with the “tank like” build quality of the SD rather than a critique of the Alden boot, which easily matches and surpasses most “normal” boots.
The reality of the Indy boot is that it is in direct competition with boots like the White’s Semi Dress and the newly designed Foot Patrol from Wesco. If I were Indiana Jones, or any sort of adventurer, I would more than likely choose the SD over the Indy simply down to the fact that the SD’s can take more punishment without a notable detriment to performance , the Indy feels significantly more flimsy than the White’s boot. In terms of a comparison to the Wesco boot, I cannot really do a direct comparison as I don’t own the Foot Patrol, I do however own some heavily customised Wesco packers which fit nicely into the utility boots mould, so that will be the next boot to be reviewed in this series.