- Buyer's Guide
Hong Kong, December 2019. Guard dogs gnash their teeth and bark loudly in my direction. I’m pinned down tightly behind the remnants of a short concrete wall in the mountain forest, crushing the leaves and twigs below me, trying to keep silent despite my heaving breath. Luckily, I have the night’s cloak to help conceal me… until the guards begin shining their LED tactical flashlights, cutting like lightsabers over my head. All because I wanted a photograph of the HK city skyline (good news, I got the shot).
I had already been hiking and climbing, hanging off a tall rocky ledge without safety equipment, and panicking in the darkness. And now this. Thanks to some bad intel from a terrible taxi driver, I’d mistakenly entered the property of some kind of government complex. Now I’m being hunted, likely facing some serious criminal punishment for trespassing and attempting to evade arrest.
The chainlink fence, just a few feet in front of me, and, more importantly, between the dogs and I, provides a shred of confidence, while I rapidly calculate my next move. I hear rustling in the woods. On my side of the fence. A hundred meters or so off to the right, in the thick bushes. The guards shout Cantonese orders, loudly and blindly into the void, the canines bolt towards whatever it is. It was now or never. I take the small window and sprint in the opposite direction. Forty-five minutes later, I’m out of the dense forest and onto a small residential path, finally able to focus on reducing my heart rate and calming my breath. “This is supposed to be my damn vacation,” I laugh to myself…
One Epic Search for Perfection
This epic search has taken more than a decade. Through dozens of countries. Across four continents. It has spanned well beyond one hundred thousand miles. Through some of the most welcoming environments I’ve been lucky to experience, as well as some which I was lucky enough to leave with my life. Searching, endlessly, for the perfect boot that could do it all. Something that I realized… could not be found.
I asked the expert community within our Carryology Classified group for help… and then revisited it again a year or so later. I posted in Reddit, the end of the Internet. Nothing.
This has been my mission, to find the perfect pair of boots. Boots that nail everyday, travel, and adventure. Folks, it was nearly impossible. I’ve easily purchased 30-40 pairs of high-end boots with my own hard-earned money. Some of them look beautiful and handsome, but they fail when it comes to taking them out on an adventure. Some can handle anything you throw at them, but you look like you’re coming down off of a mountain when you’re sitting down for a nice meal. I had a very specific list of requirements that were necessary… and no matter where I looked, I was only able to find 80%. That last 20% had proved to be… well, impossible. The closest I’ve found was a pair of White’s Boots (model: 350 Cutter). But even they weren’t perfect for my demanding list of features. So close… but the search continued.
Hong Kong Muse
Now, back to that mountain in Hong Kong. Let me help make sense of that unplanned adventure. Up on that mountain, fortunately my boots did their part. I hadn’t planned to have that heart-pounding experience… but my boots, thanks to their chunky Vibram soles, made me not worry about losing grip and falling to my death. Even if I had lost a grip on everything else.
After my escape, I used my phone to hail a taxi to take me back into the city. I was desperately craving noodles, because noodles fix everything. Specifically, I had been wanting to try the world’s first Michelin-rated ramen restaurant (one of the few in the world that can be enjoyed on a budget). Everything I was wearing had a dual purpose, performance yet clean, minimal lines. Western Rise pants, stretch and water repellency on a mountain, look classy in a city. An Unbound Merino t-shirt that wicked sweat but looked dressy enough for formal situations. Etc.
As I walk into the Michelin star restaurant, I look down at my big, lace-to-toe hiking boots. There was no getting around it. They were proper outdoor chunky hiking boots. That’s when it hit me… the final inspiration. I wanted a pair of boots that could go “from Mountain to Michelin”. No stops in between. Direct from A to B, and built for the unplanned XYZ, of course. If I couldn’t find them… well, then, we’d find a way to bring them into the world. One way or another.
White's: The King of Boots
I have many favorite boot brands. But they’re all favorites for different reasons. As a whole, White’s Boots, the bootmakers who have been making boots in the USA since 1853, were the very first brand I thought of for this project. There was no question. They had nailed killer collaborations before, they’re considered “the king of boots”, and they have the skills and experience to pull something like this off. They were my first choice.
So, thanks to a great friend, I was connected via email to White’s Boots President, Eric Kinney. Eric, who had worked on the factory floor of White's for 26 years before he became President (not something you see these days), agreed to take a phone call with me. He was incredibly friendly, open, fun to talk to, and he was officially into the idea. Just like that, it was happening!
Over the next several months, via dozens of emails and a handful of friendly phone calls, I give Eric my long list of requirements for the “perfect boot”. Next phase, heading to their workshop to finalize the design hands-on.
Destination Spokane: one of the USA’s oldest workshops.
Eric had carved a day out of his busy schedule to sit down and discuss the final details of the project… as well as to take me through the entire process of making a pair of these boots. From the raw materials, to finished boot.
We start with leather selection. Of course, we’re going with Horween. Since 1905, Horween has been making some of the finest leathers in the world in Chicago. We went back and forth on how many colors to offer, but ultimately we landed on two. Horween Chromexcel Black (because, obviously) and a beautifully rich warm caramel British Tan. We hand select the hides and bring them over to the clicker (pattern cutting presses).
From here, we bounce through the factory, from station to station, from expert to expert. The leather panels change hands and stations at least 20 times. Each person is specifically trained at their individual task. Slowly, these panels begin to take 3D shape. The further along we go, speaking with each individual, they tell me, if a mistake is made, the entire boot is scrapped. You can’t just magically erase holes in leather and call it “good”. This is what craftsmanship is all about.
In the end, after a whirlwind day of meeting each individual person involved with the creation of these boots through every step of the way, the boots are finished. And they are masterpieces, created by masters at the peak of their craft.
My friend, and fellow Carryology writer, Matt Ritscher, meets me in Denver. We immediately drive to the mountains to put these things to the test. Located just above sea level in Austin, Texas… I’m huffing and puffing as we climb a bitter cold mountaintop in the Rockies for some photos. After an hour or so of walking through three feet of snow on the mountain, we drive back down towards Denver. We stop off at a mostly frozen creek. I’m still catching my breath. Standing nearly up to my ankle in ice-cold water, without a drop of water getting into the boot, I look down and realize… we did it. I think I even laughed out loud. SUCCESS.
Introducing, the White’s Boots x Carryology: Khonsu Boot
Built by the very best in the business
White’s Boots have been crafting some of the world’s finest leather boots since 1853. A history and legacy doesn’t come much richer. Made in the USA, and made tough for loggers and ranchers and firefighters, from the hands of hard-working craftsmen and craftswomen, in the small PNW city of Spokane, Washington.
From Mountain to Michelin
Inspired by three different White’s Boots models: the Stevens, the MP-Sherman, and the Main Street. We took the best timeless elements of each boot, and blended them together to create the perfect iconic silhouette, clean and classy and timeless, using the famous MP Last.
The toe cap is also custom, with two rows of stitching instead of four (like on the MP), which adds extra durability but keeps the toe profile equal parts elegant and handsome.
The branding is subtle and embossed high up on the outside of the boot to be hidden with a pant leg, and inside on the insole.
Horween: the world’s best leather
Indisputably one of the world’s very best tanneries, the Horween Tannery is legendary and will supply its famous Chromexcel leather for this project, so every pair of boots will mold beautifully to your feet and develop a rich patina to tell your story, from your adventures.
All that lovely buttery Horween leather meets tough-as-nails durability thanks to double and quadruple rows of stitching to reinforce the boot throughout the upper and through the reinforced heel. While the Chromexcel will mould to your feet the longer you wear them, you never have to worry about treating these delicately thanks to White's expert craftsmanship. They know rugged construction, as their number one business is making boots for wildland firefighters, after all. Here, you've got the best of both worlds.
The gold standard of boot construction. A strip of leather is sewn around the bottom edge of the insole and upper, creating a full 360 ‘wall’ against water, waterproofing the shoe. This also provides extreme durability, and the ability for the boot to be resoled for many years to come.
Waterproof tongue construction
Custom spec, ankle height gusseted tongue. Because no matter how well the boot is made, if it uses a traditional tongue, water will just go right around the sides. So we went with a half gusset, making the boot comfortable and easy to take on/off, while allowing you to stay 100% dry while ankle-deep in water.
The perfect 5" height provides ankle support but doesn’t begin to approach the extreme height of some outdoor hiking boots.
Lace up at speed
When deciding on eyelets, it had a combination of punched (reinforced) and speed hooks for speed. When traveling, going through body scanners and metal detectors can be a huge pain when you’re removing/slipping back on footwear, especially boots. So we added four speed hooks to make that process easier/faster.
Work into your boots, faster
Those little extra details matter. And when you’re trying to work your feet into your boots, extra leverage always helps. So we added a rear finger loop with some orange pop. Just like the speed hooks, a rear finger loop helps get your boots back on your feet with speed and efficiency. It couldn’t be Carryology without a touch of orange, so we added a single orange stitch on the top. Bonus, it’s hidden discreetly behind your pant leg.
Well-proven sole / Badass performance
The Vibram 430 Mini Lug sole is a pared-back version of a classic commando lug sole. It’s slightly heeled and scored where it is not lugged, allowing the boots to maintain grip across the jagged rocks and slippery icy streams. Oil-resistant and durable. The soles are specifically selected since they offer the benefits of an outdoor boot… but when viewing the boot from the side, the lugs are hidden away from view, keeping the silhouette slim and handsome.
The midsole and shank are also leather (no cheap plastic here). Some brands use plastic here, or even metal. This all-leather construction ensures next-level comfort straight out of the box, unlike some boots that can require an uncomfortable break-in period of days... or weeks.
Custom laces from the future made from UHMWPE (the same stuff as Dyneema). The strongest and most durable laces in the world, by Ironlace. They created laces specifically for this boot, not available off the shelf. An exact fit for the Khonsu, extremely durable, and will last a lifetime.
They’re made in the USA, they’re guaranteed for life, stretch-free, 9X stronger than steel (break strength of 1,500 lbs), waterproof, will never freeze, fireproof up to 630°F, and more. There’s even a video on YouTube of a guy pulling construction equipment with his truck using a pair of Ironlace laces. No joke. In my humble opinion, they make the best laces on earth. It’s no mistake that they’re called “unbreakable” and “the world’s longest lasting boot laces”.
And hey, if you want to go full McGyver, you can likely use these indestructible laces as emergency rope to get out of a pinch. Just unlace, and McGyver away from there (we’d seriously love to hear all of your possible emergency rope scenarios in our Facebook Group, Carry Classified, ha!).
Khonsu, the spirit of travel
These boots are designed to encapsulate the spirit of travel. And like most of our collabs, we looked to the past for inspiration. To the ancient past, this time around. Khonsu, the ancient Egyptian god of the moon. His name directly translates to “Traveler”. Khonsu has also had the titles "Embracer", "Pathfinder", and "Defender" as he was thought to watch over those who travel at night.
On that mountain top in Hong Kong, perhaps Khonsu was looking over me, a traveler in the night.
Hopefully he’ll look over you too!
Sizing and Styles
Available in Black Horween Chromexcel with black hardware and black Ironlace laces.
Available in British Tan Horween Chromexcel with brass hardware and brown Ironlace laces.
Sizes and widths for 95% of human feet.
Sizes: 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, 10, 10.5, 11, 11.5, 12, 13
Width B, C, D, E, EE
Read White’s comprehensive fit guide.
Total Bespoke Experience
Each pair will be custom-made for each individual. After completing your order, White’s Boots will contact you and provide measurement information and instructions. Once you send these back to White’s Boots, they will make YOUR boots based on YOUR unique measurements. Because they are made specifically for you, there will be a 6 week lead time upon your order.
Our very first pre-order. We can’t always pull this off. But here it totally makes sense. These aren’t off the shelf. Your boots will be made for you once your order is placed.
Your first and last pair of quality boots you’ll ever need.
Built for everyday, travel, adventure.
From Mountain to Michelin.
However it is that you define your Mountain and your Michelin.
Please note, the pre-order will be open for two weeks (ending on April 28th). BUT the pre-order is capped. There is a ‘ceiling’ when it comes to producing the Khonsu and pre-orders will be closed if / when that ceiling is hit. So get in quickly!
International folks rejoice! White's Boots ships around the world! You'll just cover the shipping costs that are calcuated for your own address.
How do you score a pair of these boots for yourself?
Come here to Carryology.com and find the Exclusive Release article which will contain the link to purchase them on White's Boots.
This Exclusive Release article will be published at 2pm Pacific Time on Wednesday April 14th.
LA 2pm, 14th
New York 5pm, 14th