Helm Zind: 100 Business Casual Wears
The Helm Zind is an affordable, well made, and surprisingly durable option for a boot you can wear at the office or the bar.
The Helm Zind isn’t a true work boot, and isn’t the most supportive choice.
|Materials||Combo-tanned leather / Rubber & Leather Outsole|
|Weight||774 g / 1 lb 9.3 oz|
|Country of Origin||Brazil|
Back in July, 100wears first took a look at this pair of Helm Zind boots. I would encourage you to read the review if you’re interested, but here is a quick summary. They were great for business casual and a night out with your friends. The stand out was the leather, and its ability to change color in seemingly every way. The only real drawback was that they were not built for the jobsite.
Since then, I’ve worn that pair of boots 100 times and for just over 100 miles. They’ve seen downpours and sunny days, beer spills and bick 4 conditioner. It’s time to dive in and see how they have held up – and if you should consider a pair.
About 100wears follow up reviews. When wearing a pair of boots or shoes 100 times, I always aim to wear them for the environment they were designed to be worn in. No penny loafers in the snow, and no work boots on the beach. In the case of the Helm Zind, they were primarily worn in urban environments – to the office, out for dinner and drinks, etc. Rain was not a concern, but I did not wear them in icy or snowy conditions.
This pair of boots was provided by Helm for the purpose of review; however, this is not a sponsored post. Helm was not given the opportunity to review the post before it went live, or edit anything said. Everything below is my honest assessment of the boots after 100 wears.
When I first received this pair of Helm Zinds, one of my favorite parts of the boot was the teak leather. I’m happy to report that is still the case here.
It’s gone on quite the transformation since new. Within the first few wears you started to see really crazy pull up develop, but around 50 wears the whole thing started to mellow out to a golden brown. I didn’t do it on this pair, but I bet this would be a great leather to leave on the windowsill to sun-fade.
If you were looking for contrast – like I was – scrapes and bumps bring back the brighter tans. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t embrace this a bit. I ended up being less careful than I would otherwise. Kicking this or that to get a few bright spots on the boots.
While I am a huge fan of the leather overall, I will note that this particular make up did tend to develop fairly deep creases. That’s somewhat to be expected with thicker, harder leather like what Helm selected, but still worth being aware of.
On the exterior, everything held up amazingly well. There is no frayed stitching, loose panels, etc. Remember – this is a pair I bumped and bruised in order to get a specific look. The only real item on the upper that I’d say could be improved was that the corner of the insole came loose on one of the boots after a handful of wears. I glued it back down with a bit of shoe goo and neither it or the other boot gave me any problems since.
Mid and Outsole
The biggest difference to me after wearing these boots so much is how I feel about styling the midsole. I don’t mean the white line – which has managed to stay white after cleaning amazingly well.
No, the entire midsole stack has a presence to it that starts to come through as the upper flattens out and takes the shape of your foot. I didn’t really realize it at first, but over time it differentiates itself from the “tall dress shoe” vibe and more into a genuine boot over time.
I’m not sure this is something to worry about – or celebrate. Instead, this pushes the boot into a slightly more casual vibe than it would have been otherwise. Opens up more options for faded denim as you lose options for pressed trousers.
When it comes to wear on the outsole, there was surprisingly little. I’d say that there is at least ¾ of life left in the soles. This is all the more impressive when you consider the toe is leather. Those little metal pegs must be doing a good job keeping everything from wearing too quickly. The rubber section has not even worn down to the stitches.
After wearing the Helm Zind 100 times and for 100 miles, I can say that they definitely fit in best on the dressier side. Though, if you wear them hard, they can do the casual look a bit better than I originally thought. All that being said, if your main goal is casual wear, I think the Hollis (priced at $295) or Lou (priced at $265) would be a better pick up.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised just how well they have held up. I would never expect a pair of boots at this price point to be falling apart after 6 months, but other than a bit of glue coming unstuck soon after getting them, they really feel hardly worn.
Since I’ve been wearing these mostly to the office, I’ve found it easiest to style them with cotton chinos and an oxford. Out of the box you might be able to get away with something that has a crease, but as the leather develops and picks up highlights and lowlights, that’s a tougher look to pull off. Initially, I’d stick with dark denim, but as you lose the ability to pull off dressier outfits, faded denim begins to work better.
Fit & Comfort
After wearing the Helm Zind, I am confident in my original suggestion to go with your typical stitched footwear sizing unless you have a narrow foot. If you are a narrow footed guy, I’d consider going a half size down. The good news is that Helm offers free exchanges and returns. If you don’t get the sizing right the first time, it’s easy to fix.
If you’re in between sizes, I would suggest going up, rather than down. In the interest of providing as much information as possible, I will note that Helm recommends the opposite. The thick leather can be tough to break in, and in reinforced areas like the toe box it will not stretch.
I took these in my typical boot size of 12 D, and I’m certain this is the correct size. For comparison, I wear a size 12 D in most Alden lasts, and an 11.5 E in Viberg’s 2030. For a full list of sizing for every shoe reviewed on 100wears, click here.
I’m not going to lie. Breaking in the Helm Zind was pretty tough – probably the toughest of any pair I’ve owned. Including other Helm boots. The thick midsole and stiff leather just don’t create a soft pair out of the box.
I found that it took around 25 wears before I was able to wear them without thinking about the break in. If you don’t have that much time, a heavy coat of conditioner should do a good job of speeding this up.
Once they were broken in, however, they were surprisingly comfortable. I always have a bit of hesitation about foam on the insole. Man-made materials tend to wear out. However, at least in the time I’ve worn them, there has been no change in the padding feel. I’m sure that it will wear out eventually, but since it’s replaced with their resole package I don’t have any real concern with this material.
One thing that has changed, though, is the support. While not as extreme as in other boots that use cork in their construction, the leather under the insole has done an unexpectedly good job at compressing to the shape of my foot. There isn’t a right or wrong when it comes to arch height, but I typically prefer a pair with higher arches – which is hard to do in a Blake-Rapid construction.
I wouldn’t say these qualify as “high arch,” but they’ve done a better job at shaping to my arch than other Blake Rapid brands I’ve owned.
Ease of Care
Caring for the Helm Zind has been about as easy as a leather boot can be. These have seen 3 coats of Bick 4 – once when I got them, once around 50 wears, and once for these pictures. Other than shoe trees, these have not seen anything else in the way of care.
I should point out, Helm themselves recommend Otter Wax leather oil. While I have not had any issue using Bick 4, Otter Wax isn’t significantly different in price if you don’t already have a bottle hanging around.
I found that this leather doesn’t respond much to brushing. Obviously, you’ll want to brush off dirt and such, but I personally wouldn’t include it as part of your care routine if they are already clean.
One drawback of the durability of the outsole was that I was planning on sending these off to Helm to check out the resole process and provide an update on their service. That may need to wait a bit longer. If you want to resole them, you can do so through their partnership with NuShoe. The package is $110 per pair, plus $25 total shipping.
Pricing & Value
While it seems like everything has gone up in price during 2022, Helm has managed to keep the Zind at the same price it was in the original review: $295. You can even get it for $250 if you sign up for their email list and this is your first pair.
That is already a fairly appealing price point for a pair of boots, but after seeing how durable these are, I’m all the more impressed. I have no doubt that you’ll be able to get 300-400 wears out of them before a resole, and then several resoles before the uppers die on you.
In other words, by the time all is said and done, you’re probably only paying less than a quarter per wear on them. When it comes to price-per-wear, I’m not sure there is much out there that will come close.
In today’s boot zeitgeist, it seems like everyone always wants to go bigger. Slapping Vibram 100’s on everything, or going for 10-inch height on your engineer boots. I’ll admit that I’m guilty of it too. However, it’s important to remember that something that offers well proportioned style will almost certainly make you look better 99% of the time.
That is where the Helm Zind thrives. They are a pair of quality boots, at and affordable price, and you can wear them in a place like New York, DC, etc. without raising an eyebrow. Go with a pair in brown, and you can let other pieces of your outfit do the talking.
If you need a pair of boots that doesn’t shout “LOOK AT MY BOOTS,” and instead just want something that is affordable, well made, and good looking, the Helm Zind should definitely be on your list.