R.M. Williams Dynamic Flex Craftsman Boot

My favorite Chelsea boots out there, stylish and comfortable.

Back in December, my wife gifted me a pair of these R.M. Williams Dynamic Flex Craftsman Boots which I had been drooling over for some time. A perfect gift. The jump from Blundstone to R.M. Williams is akin to the jump from Seiko to Rolex — both great, but you know, there’s an upgrade there.

What I didn’t expect is how comfortable and easy these boots would be, and generally how good they are. So allow me to expand some on that.

Build Quality and Materials

The boot upper is a single piece of yearling leather, with a leather and rubber sole. And not your typical loafer leather and rubber, where the heel has a bit of rubber but the rest is leather — no this is essentially rubber where you walk. The sole is a full Goodyear welt as well, so these should last a long while.

The big change with these is the dynamic flex sole, which R.M. Williams explains as:

With its unique combination of leather and rubber panels, the Dynamic Flex sole is engineered for flexibility and softness. A removable comfort insole allows space for orthotics.

Essentially, from the profile, this boot looks like it has a leather sole. But when you look at the sole, you’ll see that the center of the front portion of the boot is rubber, and a similar treatment was done to the heel. You get the best of both worlds: the comfort and traction of rubber, with the low profile and sleek look of leather.

And in practice, it’s fantastic.

Wear Experience

There’s three aspects to wearing these I want to talk through: comfort, style, and durability. Generally, these boots check all the boxes for me, but there’s enough in each section to talk through on their own.

Starting with comfort, and specifically with foot fatigue — which is what most tend to think of when they talk about shoe comfort — these Chelsea boots sit somewhere in the middle area for comfort. If the most comfortable shoe would be a foam sole running shoe, and the most comfortable Chelsea being something like a Blundstone, the RM William sit just after the Blundstone in comfort. The insole offers a nice bit of padding, and the rubber has good shock protection when walking, but the overall cushion effect is not there.

Another way to think about this is walking on a surface like cobblestone. With a sneaker, the sole sponges to grip around the unevenness. With a firm work boot, the sole is rigid enough to keep your foot from flexing. With these dynamic flex soles, you have enough flex such that your foot and the sole moves around the unneveness. That’s not ideal for long term comfort. Luckily that’s a niche scenario, but it should give you an idea of how these feel. If you are used to a leather sole boot, these are much more comfortable for all day wear than something like that, but they are still far from a running shoe.

The other factor of comfort is a two part: warmth and all day walking. These boots do run a little warmer than I would have initially expected. Partly this is because of how much more snugly they fit (sizing will be tricky here, so read their guides carefully). That said, these boots never get too hot, I simply notice my feet are a little warm — fantastic in the colder months. For all day walking, my feet have yet to sweat out, and generally I can wear these boots for a solid 10+ hours without issue. They are usually the boots I travel with now, and as such I’ve had no comfort issues. I’ve done nearly 14,000 steps in a day wearing these without issue.

Even when new, I had no break in issues, or blisters anywhere to be seen. Though the comfort does set in better over time as the leather shapes to your foot.

This brings us to style: these are very good looking Chelsea boots. They fall much more in the dress Chelsea vein than they do a work boot — in fact firmly in the dress category. That does not mean to imply they are ‘dressy’, but that they are rather sleek in shape around the foot, with a very low profile sole on them. When you see them visually, you are not thinking they are hiking or outdoors boots — they would be out of place there.

The big question for me was how much the slim rubber sole detracts from the aesthetics and styling of the boot — and to my eye it’s nearly indistinguishable from a leather sole. Which essentially nets you the benefits of both, without any of the downsides. It’s very well executed and I would buy another pair with this setup again in a heartbeat.

Of course, buying a $500 pair of boots, means you want them to last. Not even owning them a year, I can’t comment on this very much. I can say that the boots do not mark up easily on the upper leather. Where many of my newer leather shoes have many more marks, this leather seems very hardy to resist any scuffs. I’ve seen no deformation on any part of the shoe, no break down on any internal structure of the boot, and on top of that, the leather looks extremely well matched between the boots.

There’s only one downside I am confident on: dust. These boots, or rather the leather upper, seem to be a magnet for collecting dust. I feel as though I am constantly wiping these boots off when I pull them out to wear — which is something I do not experience with other boots.

I also question replacing the sole on these. While Goodyear welted, so I know it is possible to replace, but how do you get this specific sole? I am unsure if any cobbler can order it, or if the boots need to be sent back to Australia for repair? That would be crazy, but it is something I am very curious to find out more about in the future.

Overall

These are my favorite boots. When you start selecting a pair of boots to travel in, you know you’ve found your boots. I walk and stand in these boots at least three times a week, and each time I am enamored with the look and wearability of them.

I highly recommend them.

Buy here, $539.

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