Skip to main content
Style

Rothy's Men's Merino Chelsea Boot Review

Rothy's recycled plastic men's boots are comfy—but come at a high price

Man taking a step in Rothy's Merino Chelsea Boots while wearing boots, man standing still on rug wearing a pair of Rothy's Merino Chelsea Boots. Credit: Rothy's / Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

  1. Rothy's Merino Chelsea Boot

Rothy’s has been a buzzworthy sustainable footwear brand since Meghan Markle was first publicly seen wearing its flats—a move that apparently quadrupled its shoe sales. Like Allbirds, Rothy’s shoes claim to be eco-friendly and are machine-washable with fabrics derived from recycled water bottles.

Earlier this year, I tried one of the company’s first men’s offerings, The Driving Loafer, which I found comfortable despite its materials being too casual for my leather-loving tastes. In this final quarter, Rothy’s introduced another shoe for men that's crafted with merino wool and recycled plastics: The Merino Chelsea Boot, which cost $275. Curious to see how the men’s boots stack up to its loafers—and even approach being a good value for that high price—I reached out to the company to grab a pair for all-day wear-testing over the course of four days to find out.

What is Rothy’s?

Woman standing in Rothy's slippers, man taking a step in a pair of Rothy's driving loafers.
Credit: Rothy's

Rothy's is a sustainable internet brand that makes items from recycled plastic water bottles.

Rothy’s is an internet shoe start-up based in San Francisco that was founded on sustainable manufacturing practices. The company is similar to Allbirds in that every shoe it produces is machine-washable and made from a combination of post-consumer waste and recycled plastics taken from water bottles. How Rothy’s differs from Allbirds, however, is in its shoe styles; the company makes more formal footwear and accessory offerings, including loafers, boots, handbags, and sneakers in its online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Rothy’s launched as a women’s shoe company in 2016 but has since expanded into men’s products this year. The Merino Chelsea Boot is the newest shoe to join the men’s lineup. It comes in men’s sizes 7 to 16 and in black, dark chocolate, and bourbon (a tan brown). The boot is made of a blend of merino wool and the company’s signature plastic water bottle threading. It retails for $275.

What I like about Rothy’s Merino Chelsea Boot

Man holding Rothy's Merino Chelsea Boot in hand, close-up of upper on Rothy's Merino Chelsea Boot.
Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

These boots have elasticized camo side panels and velvety soft recycled fabrics.

Chelsea boots sometimes require a break-in period due to stiff ankle collars scraping the legs and sturdy uppers that can pinch feet. Here, the fabric blend of the upper, which reminds me of thick cotton, skips that break-in process entirely. Straight out of the box, these boots are comfy and pliable, and it’s all due to the soft, worn-in feel of the fabric. I usually wear a men’s size 11.5 in sneakers and went with the same in these boots. They fit well without any excess room in the toe box or around the ankle.

I wore these on four separate days in the same week, throwing them on during eight-hour work shifts at home and the oft errand around the city. After just a few outings, it was obvious that they’re comfortable enough for all-day wear. The insoles are lightly cushioned and don’t feel too thin, while the supple upper makes them very malleable and easy to walk in. I styled the dark tan “bourbon” pair I got from the company, which features a camouflage print on its side panels, with a pair of jeans on each day, and thought they looked more polished than my usual casual sneaker while being just as comfortable. I don’t typically wear boots, and a Chelsea would be far from my first pick if I absolutely had to—I’m not a fan of laceless boots—but these actually had me reconsidering the shoe style.

Related content

The fabric makes the boots very easy to put on, which is a relief because I hate the extra time it takes to wiggle into some boots. The upper’s blend of merino and rPET (recycled polyethylene tetraphyte—the plastic used for bottles and food containers) is slightly fuzzy in appearance yet feels tough like polyester. This textured fabric makes for a visually interesting shoe that goes beyond the typical leather Chelsea offerings while lending a feeling on the feet that leans closer to a canvas shoe than workwear or a formal dress boot. It’s also a blend that’s sturdy enough to survive the washer without the color fading—I can confirm this, too, as I washed them both pre- and post-wear.

What I don’t like about Rothy’s Merino Chelsea Boot

CClose-up of panel on Rothy's Merino Chelsea Boot, man walking in jeans wearing bourbon colored Rothy's Merino Chelsea Boot.
Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez / Rothy's

Although made with merino wool, which is said to be moisture-wicking and odor-resistant, these boots still had a smell after wear.

Boots are far from the most breathable footwear, and plastic isn’t known to be airy either. Despite being made with a blend of merino wool—a material known for sweat-wicking—these boots run hot. On my first day of wear, I tossed them on with some cotton socks and walked around my house before catching sweaty feet just 20 minutes later. When I was outside in the cooler weather, the issue of sweat felt somewhat relieved, but in direct sunlight, it felt worse, likely from the fabric heating up under the Florida sun’s rays. This wasn’t a problem I experienced with the company’s Driving Loafer, made of the same material, because it’s a smaller shoe and doesn’t extend up the ankle like a boot.

I decided to try wearing them without any socks underneath to see if it’d help my feet from overheating, and it thankfully did. The extra space freed up sans socks helped provide some room for airflow. But the problem then became less about sweat and more about fit. Sockless, my ankles had room to roam in my boots, which caused the ankle collar to tap my legs and annoy me while walking around. They also gave my boots a pretty strong odor when I pulled them off of my feet—something that merino wool is supposed to help prevent, but didn’t here. I’d much rather wear these boots with socks on, not just for a better fit, but also to prevent me from having to wash them as often. I don’t recommend these if you run hot or if you live in an area that is prone to bright sunshine and warmer days.

I’m also not a fan of the price of Rothy’s Merino Chelsea Boot. At $275, it feels like the consumer is given a tax for buying sustainable fabrics. Sure, one can argue that boots made of plastic water bottles that’d otherwise end up in the ocean is a commendable investment. But I don’t think these boots are more attractive than their leather counterparts. As interesting as it is to see recycled plastics turn into threading, the fabric on these boots look too visually similar to textiles used as furniture upholstery.

At the end of the day, such a high price for sustainable fashion begs the question: Are these boots purely for style, or is it to help our environment? If it’s the former, a more attractive boot can be purchased via a company like Blundstone or Doc Martens, which will weather attractively and cost $75 less. If it’s the latter, I'd prefer to buy used footwear of similar quality that already exists than a new pair made of these kinds of materials.

Is Rothy’s Merino Chelsea Boot worth it?

Person wearing jeans draped over bourbon colored Merino Chelsea Boots by Rothy's.
Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Cortez

Rothy's Merino Chelsea Boot runs hot, likely due to its upper being made of plastic.

I’m leaning toward no. Starting with the positives, these boots are certainly functional. They're comfortable out of the box and on the feet, well-fitting with socks, and very flexible. And they get bonus points from me for being machine-washable. But the drawbacks are that the shoe didn’t absorb any moisture or prevent odors like its material is known to do. I also find fault in the style, which I don't find as attractive as a leather boot due to its felt-like, textured appearance—something I dislike about both Allbird’s and Rothy’s shoes in general. But my biggest qualm comes from its price of $275 (oddly, $20 higher than the women’s offering of the Merino Ankle Boot). I don’t find anything special enough about this boot that makes it worth that chunk of change.

If you’re looking for a boot that’s both washable and easygoing, this may be for you. But as someone who prefers a more sophisticated or genuine look to his casual footwear, Rothy’s Merino Chelsea Boot doesn’t do much for me.

The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or Flipboard for the latest deals, product reviews, and more.

Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

  1. Rothy's Merino Chelsea Boot

Up next