By the mid-1930s, America’s railroads were pushing the nation out of the Great Depression.
The US was approaching its golden age for manufacturing, with the Midwest at its beating heart.
Engineers on the rails went day in and day out shoveling coal into fiery furnaces, fueling a triumph over our biggest economic breakdown. That heroic effort required footwear up to the task. During the 30s, a rugged, tall-shafted harness boot was invented: the engineer boot.
Recently, I picked up a version of the engineer boot: the Juneau from Milwaukee Boot Co. The brand aims to bring the spirit of American manufacturing back to its home-town.
I put the Juneau through the paces to see if it’s as tough as Milwaukee Boot Co suggests. So how’d it do? Keep reading to find out.
Milwaukee Boot Co Juneau Overview
The Juneau is a classic example of an engineer boot: a tall, unformed shaft that rests mid-shin, with a buckle along the instep and another above the ankle.
I picked mine up in black because it’s totally badass, enough said. The Juneau has a few features that make it different from other engineer boots, but the most striking difference to me was the shape.
All Milwaukee Boot Co boots, including the Juneau, are built on a last with a beefy bulbous toe. The result is a masculine silhouette that’s ideal for big dudes. It’s the kind of boot that makes you want to kick a door down, if that makes sense.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Engineer Boot
Long gone are the days of shoveling coal into a freight train engine. But that doesn’t make this style obsolete.
Engineer boots are popular with bikers and rock’n’rollers alike. The instep is simple, and the added hardware along the top of the ankle adds a touch of bravado.
Some models in this category are difficult to pull on, but with the Juneau’s easy side-zipper, the buckles are more for show.
This isn’t a skinny-jean boot. It’s a hefty beast prized for its ruggedness. So before you go picking a pair of Juneau’s up, make sure you’ve got a good use for it (like kicking down doors, riding choppers, or shoveling anything).
Milwaukee Boot Co Juneau Review
Milwaukee Boot Co does a nice job with the presentation of their boots. I ordered mine online and shipping was quick.
The box has all that midwestern old-school manufacturing vibe that really hits me in my America.
The Juneau is equipped with a YKK zipper on the side, so it’s really easy to slip on. As for the style: I dig the buckles. They’re a departure from my usual style, as I normally go for slimmer Chelsea boots.
But compared to two other titans in the boot space, the Red Wing Iron Ranger and the Wolverine 1000 Mile, the Juneau maintains a similarly robust profile.
All three are similar, with the Juneau being a bit more rounded overall. Because the shaft is fairly unstructured (like all engineer boots) this style doesn’t really work well with skinny jeans. Straight cut denim makes more sense, and when you add a cuff—that’s where the money’s at.
Made with richly textured full grain leather, the Juneau is tough.
The burnishing around the heel and toe help give the boot its structure, but the shaft around the shin is where you really get to see this boot’s delicate side. The leather is nice and pliable, and so far I haven’t had any issues with it rubbing or knocking against my shin.
Full grain leather is easy to care for and it’s a simple process to remove scuffs and most scratches.
The interior of the Juneau is mostly unlined 2mm leather, though the inside of the vamp is fabric lined, presumably to keep costs lower. Overall, this is my only gripe with the boot. It doesn’t have the best insulation, which is fine in most cases, but if you’re rucking through a tough winter, you’ll want to have an excellent pair of thick wool socks.
Milwaukee Boot Co’s boots are welted on a heavy, husky rubber lug sole, which helps give the Juneau its signature robust style.
The boot features a 270-degree Goodyear welt, which is great news for anyone who likes to keep their boots around longer than five years.
With Goodyear welted boots, cobblers can easily switch out the sole once it wears out. Given that the Juneau uses high quality full grain leather, what you’re getting is a boot that has the ability to age like wine when cared for properly.
The Goodyear welt also helps a lot with water-resistance. It’s not waterproof, but your feet should stay dry if it rains or if you have to make a quick pass through the snow.
I’m a fan of the deep rubber lugs—these offer a ton of traction, which is a point in their favor for winter use.
I picked up the Juneau in my true size and it fits well. For many boot companies, it’s recommended that you size down a half-size, but that’s not the case with Milwaukee Boot Co.
If anything, the boot fits a little snug. But when you’re working with full-grain leather, a little snug isn’t a bad thing. I’ll continue to break the boot in, so it will loosen up around the sides and will fit perfectly.
When trying on your boots for the first time, wear them indoors for a few hours to make sure they fit well before you walk outside and void your return policy.
If they’re too loose, or they cause a tingly sensation, you have the wrong fit. Luckily, returns and exchanges are easy with Milwaukee Boot Co, so as long as you haven’t worn your boots outside, you’ll have no problem getting the right fit.
My Thoughts Overall On the Juneau
What I Like
The full grain leather upper is soft, rugged, and durable.
A 270-degree Goodyear welt makes this boot easy to resole so you can own it for years and years.
The mixed leather and foam insole offers much more cushion than other legacy brands.
The heavy rubber lug outsole has a lot of traction, which is great for winter.
What I Don’t Like
The full grain leather upper is soft, rugged, and durable.
Who is the Juneau for?
The Juneau is an excellent boot for anyone looking to step into the world of fine, Goodyear welted footwear. At an affordable price point, you get the benefits of the classic construction style with a lot of comfort features added in.
Milwaukee Boot Co is a new brand, but that doesn’t mean they’re new to building killer boots. The Juneau is proof they’re hip to what guys like us want: a full-grain leather, Goodyear welted boot that’s going to last for years and look good while doing it.
The only letdown I had on this boot was the insulation-factor, which could have been better. But then again, a thick pair of wool socks on the coldest days should do the trick of keeping my feet warm.
Besides that one gripe, the Juneau is an excellent entry-point into the world of boots. And trust me, it’s a slippery slope (one that’s worth sliding down, in my opinion).
If the bulky silhouette fits your style, whether it’s biker or punk-rocker, the Juneau has longevity. It’s more than a piece of footwear—it’s an investment.
This Goodyear welted engineer boot is a beefy riders boot. Made with full grain leather and a custom rubber lug sole, it's got durability and style for miles.
Why are they called engineer boots?
In the first half of the 20th century, engineers wore calf boots to protect their shins and calves from sparks created by shoveling coal into train engines.
Are engineer boots in style?
Engineer boots have a very specific style—one that lends itself best to bikers and rockers. If you have an edgy, dark style, engineer boots are an excellent fit.