I don't have a lot of North American shoes - while I've bought and sold my fair share of Allen Edmonds, Alden and Red Wings, I've never liked them enough to keep them in my rotation. It's nothing personal really, they just don't pop up in charity shops here very often (or "thrift shops" as our friends over the pond call them), and I'm not confident enough in my sizing to grab them off eBay.
One maker that's always had a certain allure is Canadian maker Viberg - for a long time, they've been a brand beloved of reddit's r/goodyearwelt, and have even found their way onto Permanent Style as a recommendation.
This pair cropped up on the excellent Marrkt, and seemed worth taking a punt on - partially I just like nice hiking-style boots, and partially because I'm increasingly obsessed with tobacco brown and will buy pretty much anything in that shade.
The styling is manifestly un-elegant: maybe as a result of the prevailing design trends in North American bootmaking, but more likely because they are just a chunky pair of hiking boots, so sharp toes and fiddled soles are the last thing on the list of important features.
The leather itself is interesting - a nubuck style material that resists the elements pretty handily. There is some nice variation in the leather surfaces, especially noticeable on the above image of two panels side-by-side. You can also see in the image below, with the heel counters having two quite different-looking finishes. At the toes, however, they are relatively consistent, with some more prominent wrinkling on the left foot.
The welt stitching is neatly done, on a hefty Vibram sole that provides excellent grip. Viberg tends to use a stitchdown construction rather than the Goodyear welt found on most pairs on this blog. Disappointingly, there is some sole separation evident in the heel of one boot, which should be easily fixed with some glue, but is not what you'd expect from an expensive pair that have not seen all that much wear.
The profile view shows the overall heft of the makeup. There are some really welcome design inclusions from a practicality perspective: substantial padding at the ankles helps with comfort; robust pull-tabs at the back help when putting them one, and I'm always a sucker for a full bellows-tongue, which aids water-proofing but also prevents the tongue sliding to the side when wearing, which I hate.
I'm currently using the "default" squared leather laces for these. I'm ambivalent about these - I like the look of them, but they are a bugger to undo if they get wet, which for a pair of walking boots is a pretty sure outcome. I may replace for a standard pair of rounded laces once these wear out.
I've also noticed that the fit of these boots (and with all of the Viberg pairs I own) is better with all of the eyelets laced - with most British makers I would leave the top one or two eyelets unlaced.
They are sized Viberg 10, which is consistent in fit with the other 2 pairs of Vibergs I have, and the one pair of Thursday boots. The fit on these is more generous, presumably to accommodate a thicker sock, but they lace up tightly and comfortably.
I'm struggling to find a similar pair of these for sale by Viberg at the moment, but expect to pay around £650 - £700 for a new pair from the maker. As mentioned, these were snagged for a far lower price from Marrkt, and as ever it's worth keeping an eye on eBay.