Category:  Mike Garner Outdoors

Street Warrior

I can’t deny the classic engineer boot has been a running theme for me these days. But, I make no apologies. The boot became an instant favorite back in January when I pulled them on for the first time. And I may have been content to move on to the next pair of boots – but then came WarBikes!!

A docu-reality series about custom motorcycles inspired by vintage World War II aircraft, the show is the perfect blend of horsepower and history designed to create awareness for a historic fleet of warbirds and to help the organization that keeps them in the air. The Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force at Falcon Field in Mesa, AZ supports a fairly large group of aircraft including the B-17 Sentimental Journey – our inspiration for the latest bike build.

As a television writer and producer, I could not have asked for a better backdrop or storyline. Honoring the men and women who built and flew these historic planes takes passion and teamwork. It also takes a hands-on master craftsman and a special shop to deliver. Ralph Randolph, a commercial airline pilot and custom bike builder, is that guy, and his shop, Knockout Motorcycle Company in Mesa, AZ, is that place.

The mystique of the motorcycle, popularized in the 1950’s, has never been stronger. The success of custom build shows and shops across the country are proof positive. So, when pre-production discussions turned to wardrobe the vote was unanimous – don’t change a thing. Putting the Street Warrior Series to work on the set of WarBikes was really a no-brainer. Is there a more instantly recognizable motorcycle boot on the planet? I don’t think so.

I opened the box and pulled out the stovepipe topped, buckle-clad boots with the smooth black finish and one image came to mind – Brando in The Wild One. If you’re not familiar with the film you’ve undoubtedly been exposed to its influence – look no further than this boot.

As a total motorcycle rookie I’ve always been curious where quality footwear fits into the mix. I’m told that next to the helmet, a comfortable pair of boots with great ankle protection and durable rubber soles are the best you can wear.

For me, the old adage “Where the rubber meets the road” finally has relevance.



Flying Over Mesa, Arizona

You wouldn’t think flying in a vintage World War II era T-6 Trainer would evoke thoughts or memories of rugged outdoor footwear. And, I have to admit the thought didn’t immediately cross my mind. But, somewhere over Mesa, Arizona, that’s exactly what happened.

I recently found myself working in the back seat of a T-6 Trainer, flying at a comfortable cruising altitude of 3,000 feet and moving along at a steady 150 MPH. While capturing some beautiful HD footage of vintage aircraft in formation the thought occurred to me, I was wearing a pair of boots that could have easily been found in that same plane 70 years ago.


The North American T-6 Texan was a single-engine trainer aircraft used to train pilots in the United States Army Air Forces, United States Navy, and the Royal Air Force, among others. The plane was first flown in 1935 and was in full-blown production by the late 1930’s.


The popular warbird aircraft is the subject of a project I am producing called WarBikes. The only “outdoorsy” thing about the series is the fact that we are shooting out-of-doors. Not the typical sports afield type story most boot guys would associate with the Chippewa brand.


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Nevertheless, the classic engineer boot would have been found on land surveyors, ship builders, and no doubt engineers connected with everything from public works projects to aircraft manufacturing – thus the name.

What’s not surprising is the fact that a product designed with practical utility in the late 1930’s would find a home in fashion today. Such is the case with the engineer boot. The stovepipe tops and the adjustable leather straps across the ankle and top of the shaft allow for the perfect fit.

Ironically, the Chippewa Shoe Company of Chippewa, Wisconsin, originally produced the boot. Although their address has changed the boot hasn’t.

What more can you say about a tough good looking pair of boots suitable for everything from riding motorcycles to flying planes?


SHOT Show 2010

As a life long sportsman and admitted outdoor footwear addict, I could not have found a more appropriate place to kick start a little boot dialog than one of the industry’s most demanding proving grounds – the 2010 SHOT Show.

Don’t laugh. I’m serious. With 700,000 square feet of smooth concrete and poorly padded carpet, the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV, presented an ideal opportunity to test the comfort and fit of a good pair of boots.

And I wasn’t the only one. The ultimate shooting, hunting, and outdoor trade show featured miles of aisles with 1,633 exhibitors, 31,280 buyers, and 1,804 media professionals. Almost everyone covering the same ground the same way – on two feet.


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I chose the best of both worlds; a great fitting all-leather boot with ample support and more than enough style to pass as a working media professional. The classic engineer boot in tan bomber jacket leather was perfect with jeans and a button-down shirt. And the distinct Chippewa brass buckle set me apart from the rest.

The idea that you need loose, steep, or even rugged terrain to properly scrutinize your footgear is fairly inaccurate. The simple fact that Mother Earth is comprised of shock-absorbing soil and vegetation is often overlooked.

The shock of concrete floors is transferred from the foot, to knees, to hips, and lower back. And it’s that prolonged exposure that creates the discomfort and fatigue often associated with long hours on convention floors or chasing billy goats up and down rocky peaks.

Nevertheless, in four days on the SHOT Show floor I averaged almost 7,000 steps per day or about 3.5 miles. That’s according to my trusty Walking Shop step counter, (kind of dorky but effective.) In the end it was the feet that told the story. Great fit. Successful show. Not a bad test.

So, I beg the question. How do you put your outdoor footwear to the test?

Mike Garner Outdoors
mike garner outdoors

Chippewa has teamed up with Mike Garner, a lifelong sportsman and television personality with a love for everything outdoors, to bring you Mike's journey across the United States in his Chippewa boots.

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