I keep an Excel spreadsheet of the dates and price purchased of almost all items in my wardrobe. After several wardrobe overhauls involving selling my used pieces on eBay/Grailed, the Alden Indy 403 Boot in Brown Chromexcel is the oldest footwear that continually holds a spot in my wardrobe.
Let’s take a journey back to the year of 2012, when I obsessively browsed /r/malefashionadvice and had just graduated college. The Alden Indy boot was the bee’s knees back then on Reddit (and probably still is!), the boot that Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) wore. The footwear I recall owning at that time were a pair of Allen Edmond Strands in Walnut, Clark’s Desert Boots in Beeswax, and Red Wing Beckman in Black Cherry Featherstone. I had just purchased the Beckmans a few months prior from Amazon. The Beckmans were robust and very toe structured, and gave my heels quite a time breaking them in. However, I wanted a pair of quality boots that had a slimmer toe, were made in the USA, and were also versatile in many outfits as I was still trying to find comfort in my own style!
Between the Alden 403 and 405, many more people recommended the 403 because of the interesting properties of Chromexcel . I wasn’t interested in the 404 because it appeared too rugged for me (Dark Brown Kudu Leather on a Vibram Lugged Sole). The Alden 401 in black, while also very beautiful, wasn’t one I considered because the black color would be more difficult than a brown color footwear to pair with. The appeal of the Alden 403 Brown CXL is that it would patina to show a great depth of color variation. Plus, Chromexcel has the repuation of being quite an easy leather to maintain and to care care. While the Alden 405 in a lighter brown calf/cow were was the pair that Indiana Jones wore, the Brown Cowhide leather appeared a too tan and light colored for me.
It was around the time that Uniqlo had just opened their first west coast store in San Francisco. I scoured the internet for sizing advice knowing that my Red Wing 9011 Beckmans fit well. I came to a conclusion to purchase the same size in the TruBalance last (half a size down from my measured Brannock). I embarked on a journey to San Francisco with the destination of Alden SF on Sutter Street with a determination to purchase a pair Alden 403s.
I was greeted by one of the sale associates Robert, and I requested that I wanted to try on pair of Alden 403s. I was wearing a pair of Happy Socks (relatively thin cotton socks) and the pair of RW Beckmans. I remember another customer browsing in the store complimented my Red Wings, asking which model it was. I started trying on a size 9D that I knew most likely was my true size. And I also tried on a 9E and a 9.5D. While the 9E felt comfortable initially, I knew that CXL leather would stretch widthwise (but not so much lengthwise) and went with the 9D. Robert graciously threw added in a pair extra cotton shoelaces free of charge.
Alden 403 – Indy High Top Blucher Boot in Brown Chromexcel
Price: $507.78 USD after CA Tax in 2012
- Brown Horween Chromexcel Leather
- TruBalance Last. This last fits large, recommend to size down half
- Moc toe stitching
- Neoprene Cork Outsole
- Full Glove Leather Lining
- Closed heel storm welt
- Vegetable Tanned Leather Insoles
- Made in the USA
I remember wearing the pair of 403s out the door and I walked a couple blocks to Uniqlo SF and my heels were starting to feel a bit tattered. I waggled my way back to the Caltrain and took the ride home. The Chromexcel leather started to form creases that eventually became permanent. Even though the Chromexcel leather was soft and supple, they weren’t 100% comfortable initially. It took a couple wears for them to break in. But compared to the stiff Red Wing Beckmans I recently broke in, the break-in period for the Aldens was almost negligible!
The TruBalance last is quite wide compared to Alden’s Barrie last. Actually, it’s the widest last that Alden carries and can look quite chunky top down. The TruBalance last was designed for all day comfort, and I do agree it’s the most comfiest last I own. The insole has molded well to my feet, and I can easily wear thick wool socks (Darn Tough or Smartwool) with these boots. The Alden Indy boot used to have a duck cotton lining around 10 years ago instead of the full leather lining it has today.
The stock laces that came with the boots were wide, 100% cotton, and burgundy tinted. The extra pair of laces that Robert added in were exactly the exact same ones I read several reviews that noted the laces felt really flimsy and frayed teasily with the speed hooks that came with the Indys. Feeling the laces, I definitely agreed they felt quite cheap and shortly after I ordered a pair of flat waxed brown laces on Amazon. The TZ laces that I ordered were densely woven cotten and haven’t shown any signs of wear over the years. I’d highly recommend the Brown TZ laces in 55″/140cm length which is perfect for the Alden Indy. Another alternative is the stock Alden waxed laces that come with most Alden Shell Cordovan Boots.
An issue that I have along with several others is that the tongue of the boot tends to slide outwards after lacing. The Indy boot has a free, non-gusseted tongue (a tongue sewn to the upper behind the laces, preventing debris from entering) which most prominently on my left boot tended to slide outwards after walking a few steps. I’ve heard of people who took their pair to cobblers to have them stitch the tongue to be gusseted which fixed the problem. However, I hardly felt any difference in comfort with this issue. My girlfriend once time did notice this issue when I was lacing up and pointed it out.
The brown Chromexcel leather started off as a medium brown and has darkened a bit to a deeper shade of brown. Chromexcel is an easy leather to care of, although it does scratch/nick easily. I always place in cedar shoe trees inbetween wears to absorb moisture and help minimize creases. My typical maintenance care is to wipe the boots down with a damp microfiber cloth and then to brush vigorously with a horsehair brush. The brushing will help bring out the leather’s oils towards the surface and also to provide a shine to the leather. A few times a year I use a small dab of Venetian Shoe Cream, rubbing it in with my fingers (prevents wasting cream by using a cloth) to condition the CXL and follow with a extensive brushing. Venetian Shoe Cream is what Horween Leather of Chicago recommends.
Here’s an example of how easily some scuffs can rub out with a Venetian Shoe Cream and a polished deer bone (you can use the back of a metal spoon to achieve the same effect)
One issue I will address soon is that the Foot Balance Heel included with the boot have worn away. My Alden x Jcrew Captoe boots with a dovetail leather heel (purchased not long after) are not as worn down as these.
Alden’s recrafting services does not include replacing only the heel, so I soon will have to bring them to a local cobbler. A pair of Foot Balance replacement heels can be ordered through Alden directly either through email or calling their 1-800 number. They cost around $16 for a pair.
In regards to keeping the moc toe stitching white, I use several Q-tips with a dab of dish soap and some water to go over each stitch on the moc toe. Some of the areas around the stitching will lighten up because of the soap, but the end I brush the whole area and the brown color generally restore. I don’t use any polish for the Chromexcel leather because I feel that the contrasting stitching is what makes the Indy boot what it is. Some people take Obenauf’s Heavy Duty Preservative, Neatsfoot Oil, or Snow Seal to the whole boot to weather seal them because of necessity for their their climate. In doing so, however, the stitching will likely darken. The Alden Indy 404 in Brown Kudu is a good example of how the boot looks without any white contrast stitching.
The Neocork (Cork nitrile) sole looks quite sleek and is flexible. I wouldn’t recommend this sole for snow or icy conditions, but instead would recommend a commando sole. It is a rubber lug sole that attaches to the front half of the boot. There have been a handful of Alden Indy makeups in the past that have used a commando sole. The Neocork stock sole provides a slight bit more traction than a leather sole, and I haven’t reached the point where I needed a full resole. Since I purchased the Indy, I’ve worn them about once every two weeks. For many people including me, the Foot Balance heel will wear out faster than the sole because of their gait and will need replacement first.
I’ve owned my pair of Alden Indys for more than 5 years, and even considering the new footwear brands that have emerged in that timeframe, I would still recommend them. Alden’s prices have been increasing by $15-20 dollars every year due to inflation. I jokingly say that Alden’s are worth putting money into as stock. From what I’ve seen, the 403 Brown Chromexcel develops more variation in leather than the 405 Tan Cowhide. For most people, the 403s will mesh well with their wardrobe. You can choose to beat them up like Indiana Jones or Alden footwear is generally not sleek by any means, but the Indy Boot has a much slimmer toe profile than Red Wings (see my past toebox/shoe sizing post).
Alden Indy 403 Gallery