REVIEW – Between disc golf and other outdoor activities, I tend to wear shoes out pretty quickly, so I was looking for some more durable but also classic-looking boots to replace my current pair. My younger brother mentioned Helm to me since he’s had a pair for a while that he really likes so I decided to try Helm’s new Calistoga Whiskey boots. Let’s see how they hold up.
What is it?
Helm is based out of Austin, Texas and they make leather boots, shoes, sneakers, and accessories. The Helm Calistoga is available in Sienna, Whiskey, or Merlot color and draws inspiration from life among wine vineyards. Constructed with ultra-supple, Argentinian Neymar leather, featuring a cushioned ankle collar, and Helm’s anti-slip rubber cushion sole, the Calistoga cradles the foot in unparalleled comfort.
What’s in the box?
- Helm Calistoga boots in Whiskey color
- Spare laces
- Cloth storage bag
- Model: Calistoga
- Construction: Blake Rapid Stitch construction
- Shell: Supple Argentinian Neymar leather in Whiskey
- Liner: Fully lined in natural leather
- Midsole: Helm signature white composite rubber midsole
- Sole: Helm Rubber Cushion Sole in Malt
- Eyelets: Brass finish eyelets
- Laces: Two pairs of 52 inch round cotton laces in brown
- Last: 415 lasted
- Shaft: 4 ¼ in
- Weight 1 ¼ lbs
- Country of Origin: Handcrafted in Brazil
Design and features
The Helm Calistoga boots feature Helm’s signature white midsole with a rubber cushion sole in Malt color that is resoleable. Overall build quality is excellent and you can just tell these are well made handcrafted boots. The Calistoga is water resistant and double stitched for durability. They have a timeless classic look with very nice thick leather, padded ankle collar, and full grain leather lining that should break in nicely to conform to your feet and last for years and years.
The helm website offers a sizing helper called Fit Predictor that lets you enter brands of shoes with style and size to help predict the correct size for you. I wear an 11.5D in every shoe and boot I have and the Fit Predictor naturally predicted an 11.5D would fit me best. Not so much. The 11.5D was way too big for me and I dug around and found this in depth sizing guide under their blog page that better explained how to get the right size.
After reading that I went to my local shoe store to find a Brannock sizing device and found my left foot is actually a size 12 and my right is a 11.5. Helm states their sizes run a half size bigger than Brannock in D and EE width so they recommend ordering a half size down. The Calistoga is therefore a full size under whatever your largest Brannock measurement is. Returns and exchanges are free so I sent the Calistogas in 11.5 back and exchanged them for 10.5.
I found that they actually fit really well lengthwise but are a little narrower compared to the 11.5 which I was expecting the width to be the same. I called Helm to discuss the issue and they said other feedback indicated the Calistoga’s are running a half size bigger with others so they recommended I should try an 11 and shipped them out to me for free. The 11s ended up being just right.
Helm recommended that with lace up boots it is better to go bigger if there is any tightness which I had on my left foot since it is larger than my right. I would recommend going a half size smaller than all your other shoes that you wear when ordering. If you have narrower feet then a full size down may be better for you.
Although returns and exchanges are free if you want to see some Helm boots and shoes in person first they are carried in a few stores so if you happen to live near Austin or Houston, TX you can try them in person at Manready Mercantile. The Waiting Room in Kalamazoo, MI also carries Helm. In the Pacific Northwest Revolvr Menswear carries Helm and has locations in Bozeman, Montana as well as Bend and Portland, OR. The Curator.Shop in Fayetteville, GA is the place to go on the east coast. Exact addresses can be found at this store locator link.
What I like
- Free returns and quick exchanges
- Handmade quality for reasonable price
What I’d change
- Linking their in depth sizing guide straight under the Help section rather than hidden under a FAQ section or the Blog
I really like the Helm Calistoga boots. They look great and feel like they should last a long time. Having replaceable soles is a big positive for me since I like the sustainability aspect, especially once they break in perfectly I want to wear these for quite a while. After wearing the Helm Calistoga’s for a few weeks they have broken in nicely and are super comfortable and I will definitely be getting one of their shoes or sneakers as well. If you are looking for some new shoes or boots definitely check out what Helm has to offer.