Whether you’re new to the world of Doc Martens or an enthusiast that has been on the ‘AirWair’ walk for years, I believe there’s a pair for everyone. So as an enthusiast of this legendary brand, I’ve taken the liberty to share my personal insights and viewpoints about some of the best Doc Martens offerings.
From the timeless 1460s to the distinctive utility boots, I’ve tried and tested an array of styles then given each pair a final grade, using a simple A, B, C, D system. A grade ‘A’ signifies a must-have pair that I’d reach for every day, while a ‘D’ is a style I wouldn’t consider purchasing or using my own money to buy.
This review is purely based on my individual style and tastes, so it’s important to remember that what suits me might not suit you. However, if you’re contemplating investing in a pair of Doc Martens, this review could act as a handy guide to help you understand their wide-ranging collection.
Let’s embark on a journey into the realm of Doc Martens and discover what each style brings to the table.
The Ranking System
These are the rules. I’m going to keep it very simple for ease of communication. There could be a more in-depth breakdown but I wanted to give you the best overview of multiple shoes and boots and, ultimately, my take on the best Doc Martens.
A – Represents boots or shoes that I must have, shoes that I am going to wear every day with most of my outfits.
B – Represents shoes that are nice but they’re missing something (or are over-designed) making me hesitant to integrate them into my daily wardrobe.
C – Represents shoes that are okay, but ultimately average. They’re shoes that might not be the most comfortable or go with a lot of basics. I might wear them every now and again but it’s not the focal point of my collection.
D – Represents something that I would not buy with my own money. These shoes are uncomfortable or have a difficult break-in period.
So, let’s get into it.
The first pair of Doc Martens that we’re going to be talking about are the 101s. The 101s are the little brother to the 1460s, they’re cut just a little bit above the ankle whereas the 1460s go a little higher. They’re very similar, just not as popular.
That being said, my initial grade for the 101s is a C. My reasoning is, if I have the 1460s already, why do I need the 101s? Unless the ankle cut makes a big difference for you, you aren’t really getting a different shoe.
Of course, I own a pair of 1460s that I love and wear most days, so I can admit my bias. But, if you’re looking to own a pair of the best Doc Martens, I would still recommend the 1460s for their versatility.
Next up are the 1460s, the prize winner among any of the best Doc Martens – they’re famous for a reason. The 1460s look nice, elegant, and go with a lot of different styles. Overall they exude versatility.
The 1460s have been a staple of Doc Martens for decades and thus they’ve been designed to perfection. Unsurprisingly, these boots earn an A.
Everyone knows Doc Martens simply because of the 1460s, it’s one of the boots that keeps them on the map. The break-in period is more intense but worth it for how long you’ll have them. If you’re on a budget, these boots will last you years.
The 1460s can also be utilized in various weather conditions, through all the seasons (I wear mine in the winter) and they’re simple enough to fit into multiple styles. In my mind, if you can only have one pair of Doc Martens, it should be the 1460s.
The next ones up for review are the 1461s. The 1461s are a lower cut of the 1460s, but they’re nice, they look stylish but basic at the same time, a great addition to any wardrobe. Ultimately, this is an oxford cut shoe, not a boot. So while it looks like 1460s, it adds a new layer to any look.
I really like the simplicity of it but if I have to judge, I’ll have to say the only thing that I don’t like is that it’s so similar to the 1460. Another downfall is these shoes are only suited for better weather and while they could be used in wet or winter weather, they don’t hold up the same as the 1460s.
I’m giving them a B, even a B+ because they’re nice, super stylish, well made and affordable but during the wintertime, I can’t wear them without wet and chilly ankles. I mean unless it’s like a very warm winter but I usually put them away by late fall/early winter.
Next up, the 1914s. In case you’re not familiar, they’re the tall long boots which definitely are not my style but are popular among Doc Marten enthusiasts. I have big calves and find them uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. For my bigger guys out there, even if it’s all muscle, the 1914s just won’t work for us.
Additionally, with all that leather, they’re hard to lace up and I find them even harder to break-in compared to other options on this list. These boots are best suited for a specific style, they can’t be thrown on with just any outfit, making them more of a niche purchase.
For the 1914s, I’m giving them a D, unfortunately. There are certainly people that know how to rock them but because they would be hard to use as your daily drivers, I don’t see them being worth the money when compared to other pairs.
Now we’re at one of my all-time favorites, the 2976 Chelsea boots. These boots are not part of the classic best Doc Martens round-ups, but they have a place on my shelf for sure.
Doc Martens initially released their Chelsea boots in the 70s but the design of the boots goes back to the Victorian ages. This type of boot was preferred by farmers and laborers because of the easy on-off design, the lack of laces, and the elastic gusset. Today they’re still a stylish contender whether you’re actually working in them or working to style them.
Overall, I give this design an A. They’re a classic silhouette, comfortable, and easy to dress up and down. If you’re looking for a new pair of Doc Martens, these should be top contenders.
Here come the fancy pants shoes, or as Doc Martens calls them, the 3989. These are similar to the 1461s, they look nice, they’re clean but with a little more flair. Depending on your style, and whether you’re after the all-black or black-and-white versions, I think these shoes are harder to pull off, especially if you’re after a capsule or minimalist wardrobe.
The wingtip on the 3989s does stop me from reaching for them often. I find them difficult to dress down, and for a guy like me who only dresses up occasionally, that doesn’t make these shoes worth the investment. Like a lot of the best Doc Martens, they’e great quality but because of their limited wearability, I’m giving this pair a C.
Calling all vertically challenged, the 8053s are up next. Much like the 1461s, these are simpler oxford-style shoes. The main difference is the heel height and additional padding. The cushion around the back of the heel, your Achilles area, is a superb addition for comfortability. As anyone who has worn Doc Martens before knows all too well, the heel can be the worst part to break in. I found them comfortable, they’re just not my style.
Aside from those differences, they’re identical to the 1461s. So if you already have a pair, it isn’t worth the extra money in my opinion. Additionally, if you’re already tall, adding an additional 1 ½ inches might not be for you. That leaves me with a C grade for these shoes, because unlike other options on the market, these aren’t great for everyone.
Now we’re in full platform territory. The Jadon’s stomped into the world in 2013 but still fit seamlessly into trends like they were designed yesterday. A more stylized take on the 1460s, these boots feature an inner ankle zip and the classic 8-eye silhouette. Personally, the platform look isn’t for me but, if you’re someone who likes a little bit of extra height and something a little different, these could be serious contenders.
For me, the inner ankle zip really takes away from the classic Doc Martens look. I also don’t like that I can feel and hear the zipper when I walk. For those reasons, I’m actually going to give these a C. I think it’s great how they’ve produced a platform version for most of the best Doc Martens. Ultimately, it just wasn’t for me and not something I could wear every day.
The Loafers, like the Chelsea boots, have been in the Doc Martens rotation since the 70s. I love the tassel detail. I think it adds something special without being too splashy. Trying these ones out though, I did notice they run large, though that might be beneficial if you have wide feet.
As far as styling goes, you can dress these up or down, with socks or without socks, which makes them super versatile but only amenable to nicer weather. I’ve started to notice these shoes everywhere so, if you’re looking to hop on a trend, these might be a good place to start. Unless these shoes fit perfectly into your style, you’ll most likely only wear these for certain occasions which is why I’m giving them a B.
Lastly, the utility boots. These are a great pair of boots but they’re very different from what people are expecting from Doc Martens. These boots are comfortable but would be harder to dress up compared to other Doc styles.
However, for more casual, everyday looks, I think these shoes would shine. They’re classic enough but feature a twist that really makes them unique – definitely not something everyone is going to have. For me, I think these deserve a solid B. They’re comfortable and stylish but stick to one-lane, making them less versatile thus less deserving of that big A rating.
The Full Breakdown: Doc Marten’s Tier List
Why Trust Us
Foday Kamara, a seasoned writer at FashionBeans, brings a wealth of expertise and firsthand experience to his articles on Doc Martens. His approach to reviewing and recommending products is deeply rooted in personal testing and comprehensive research, ensuring that readers receive authentic and reliable advice. For instance, in his detailed comparison of Doc Martens and Solovair boots, Foday employed a hands-on method, wearing different boots on each foot and walking over 30,000 steps to assess comfort and performance in real-world conditions?.
In his guide on breaking in Doc Martens, Foday also shares practical tips based on his own experiences with various models, offering readers a blend of expert advice and personal anecdotes. This approach reflects his commitment to providing valuable, tested insights rather than just theoretical knowledge?.
Overall, Foday Kamara’s extensive experience with Doc Martens, combined with his rigorous testing methods and attention to detail, make his recommendations and insights highly trustworthy for anyone interested in these iconic boots.
Now that you’ve read my personal ranking of the best Doc Martens styles, from the classic 1460s to the unique utility boots, the choice is up to you and what best suits your lifestyle.
Overall, the 1460s, known for their versatility and style, earned the top A grade, while the 1914s were given the lowest D rating. Of course, this review is subjective and based on my personal style and preference, but it offers a good starting point for anyone considering a pair of Doc Martens.