Engineer boots are one of many styles of leather boots; this type of footwear is often worn by motorcycle riders. The boots are most often made of heavy weight black leather, have a rounded or squarish toe and range in height from short (10") to extra high (38"). The most typical height is between 10 and 18 inches.
Engineer boots are designed to protect the wearer from injury to the foot and leg: for motorcycle riders, in the case of an accident while riding and to prevent burns of the rider's legs and feet from the heat of the motorcycle parts while riding. For other wearers: this style also provides similar protection for the leg and foot. They may include a built-in steel toe cap and metal shank in the sole, and often are double layered with leather for stiffness. Engineer boots typically have an adjustable leather strap across the ankle as well as an adjustable leather strap at the top of the shaft to adjust the fit. Multiple straps at the top of the shaft are also not uncommon. Soles and heels are usually made of hard rubber and may either be relatively flat or may have lugs for increased traction. The straight solid shaft with few seams could be readily waterproofed for those working in wet environments or around concrete pouring operations. Additionally lack of protruding fittings, nails or laces prevented snagging injury when working around belt drive and line shaft machinery as well as motorcycle drive belts. This was the main reason for this style being adopted by the motorcycle sub-culture.
During the depression era, Chippewa Shoe Manufacturing Company, of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, developed a pair of boots with stovepipe leg and was fashioned over their "English Riding Boot" last. In the 1960s, Sears carried the Sears branded Chippewa Engineers and showed them as worn by land surveyors, a possibility as of how the name came about. Another major manufacturer of Engineer Boots is West Coast Shoe Company based in Portland, Oregon. They began manufacturing the engineer boot in 1939. A large portion of their sales began with the shipbuilders in Portland, Oregon, building ships for World War II.
In Popular Culture
Billy Joel refers to the popularity of the Engineer Boot in '50s and '60s Greaser culture in his song "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" with the line "I remember those days hanging out/At the village green/Engineer boots, leather jackets/And tight blue jeans"