Soon after I received my new camp mocs this summer, I decided to test them out for their originally intended purpose: camping.
To give a quick history lesson, camp mocs were created almost 80 years ago on the East Coast of the United States. Inspired by Native American handsewn moccasins, the camp moc became a modern-day innovation to a historically-proven design. Maine hunters and shoe manufacturers came together to create a shoe that incorporated durable, oily, water-resistant leather uppers and flexible rubber soles. The result became an instant classic and, although it was originally worn “around camp” and for light-trail use, East Coast prepsters and Ivy Leaguer’s adopted the camp moc as a campus-appropriate slip-on in the 1950’s. From there, the shoe eventually made its way into American closets as a seasonal Fall staple. Over the last thirty to forty years, the style has gone through arguably too many renditions while many companies used cheaper leathers and rapid (cheaper) construction techniques. However, we turned back the clock all the way to the beginning and used the most appropriate (and original) leather imaginable– Horween’s Chromepak to construct these the old way—by hand sewing each and every pair.
If you’ve ever been camping, you know that as comfortable as running shoes are, they don’t hold up against the elements. It rains? You have soaking wet and soggy shoes. It gets hot? Well, you’re wearing socks and laced up shoes– not exactly the easiest to slip-off and on again to give your feet some air. When I felt these shoes for the first time in our headquarters, I knew they would not only perform but also offer the right amount of ease and comfort that I look for in a casual slip on.
Over the course of my weekend in Wisconsin’s 68,000 acre Black River State Forest I wore my Northland’s down dusty roads, through meadows of weeds and wildflowers, over sandy hills, and certainly around the campfire.
When the shoes were caked with enough dirt and soot to make an onlooker think these were brown and not red, I experienced the superb water-resistant qualities of the leather firsthand. I proceed to clean my camp mocs by pouring water over the uppers from my water bottle and used a rag to remove the layers of dirt that had built up from the day’s excursions. Probably the simplest form of shoe care out there…no polish, no brush, just water and a rag… can’t beat that. Besides, who brings shoe polish into the forest?
Not only were these water-resistant and easy to maintain, but they hugged my feet in no-time at all. The leather’s oily finish was so pliable it enveloped my foot after my first wear. Plenty of cushioning inside and a flexible outsole made these feel a lot like slippers.
When I returned to the city on Sunday I needed a haircut, so I tried out an old-school barbershop in town and walked in wearing jeans and yep, the same shoes I roughed it in just a day earlier. When I sat in the barber’s chair, the barber’s eyes fell right to my feet (and not my head) as she admired the depth and richness to the hue of my red Northland’s.
This was all three weeks ago. To date: lots of head turns, lots of compliments, and lots of occasions where these have made an appearance. Because they’re so versatile from a style standpoint, I plan to throw on some thick socks when the weather takes a turn for the worse and wear these all the way until the snow flies.