The Lug Sole Loafer Is Your Formal Footwear Response to Winter Weather

ATV-esque dress shoes for your feezing 'fits

December 8, 2023 10:01 am
a collage of various lug sole loafers on a snowy background
The best lug sole loafers are like ATVs for your feet.
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We’ve avoided the nasty weather thus far, but make no mistake — winter is poised to dump slush and snow galore. Which, unfortunately, means that those dainty suede loafers you secured this fall will have to retire to the closet until May. But fret not, because there’s another option available for all the formal events on your docket — turtleneck-demanding winter balls, snow-covered weddings, what have you — that call for something nicer than snow boots. It’s the lug sole loafer’s time to shine, baby.

Best Overall: Bass Weejun Larson 90s Lug Sole Loafers

Best Handsewn: L.L. Bean Allagash Bison Handsewn Loafers

Most Fashion-Forward: Camper Twins Penny Loafers

Most Versatile: Sebago Dan Lug Loafers

Most Affordable: Rhode Ashby Lug Sole Loafers

Trendiest: Dr. Martens Adrian Tassel Loafers

Premium Pick: Blackstock & Weber The Ellis Penny Loafers

Best Office: Allen Edmonds Freeport Weatherproof Penny Loafers

Best Construction: Paraboot Reims Lug Sole Loafers

Most Weatherproof Pick: Suicoke Pepper-Evab Loafers

Luxury Pick: Maison Margiela Black Tabi Loafers

What Is a Lug Sole Loafer?

For those unfamiliar with the classic slip-on’s beefed-up brother, the lug sole can be neatly parsed into two parts: lug-sole and (you guessed it!) loafer. Typically denoted by a leather or suede material, and often married with the classic penny design across the upper of the shoe, the lug sole loafer differs from its summery counterparts on account of its heavy-duty sole.

More in line with something you’d find on a hiking shoe or combat boot, the rubberized outsole of a lug sole loafer — in recent years, special outsole technology like Vibram has come to dominate the hybrid footwear’s base — performs markedly better in the uncertain and harsh climate of winter. Although they admittedly lose some small degree of formality, additional height and weathered traction allow the style to traverse conditions crippling to a regular loafer…i.e., they’re the best bet for rocking the red hot style year-round.

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How to Wear Lug Sole Loafers:

Much like their smaller-soled siblings, lug sole loafers are a dish best served with…anything, really. A pair of structured chinos or that new wool overcoat certainly isn’t out of the question, but the style looks just as good with jeans and a hoodie. Our main piece of advice? Wear socks. (Duh.)

To help you find the right pair of lug sole loafers for your little tootsies, we’ve highlighted a variety of all-terrain styles across a variety of price points and features. From G.H. Bass and L.L. Bean to Paraboot and Prada, the best lug sole loafers for men.

The Best Lug Sole Loafers for Men

The Basic Bruiser: Bass Weejun Larson 90s Lug Sole Loafers

Unsure of whether the lug sole loafer is for you? Bass’ affordable Larson proves the perfect pick-up. We appreciate the style for its down-the-middle design, versatility and throwback styling.

The Heritage Handsewns: L.L. Bean Allagash Bison Handsewn Loafers

The selling point (beyond the rugged handsewn look) of Allagash Loafers is undoubtedly the bison leather that encases the footwear. While all the loafers on this list have a sturdy lug sole, few boost uppers as durable as L.L. Bean’s reinforced upper.

The Fashion-Foward Fit: Camper Twins Penny Loafer

Is the lug sole simply not bold enough for your sartorial inclinations? Camper’s bulbous shape and eye-catching color should help you stand out just fine. That’s not to suggest that they aren’t also functional — a tractioned footbed and synthetic weatherproofing ensure they’d be right at home, well, camping.

The Dress Shoe Turned Destroyer: Sebago Dan Lug Loafer

Think of the Sebago Dan as something of a starter car — the Toyota Camry of lug soles, if you will. The shoe maintains the classic penny loafer shape and stacks it on top of a sturdy, weatherized base. They’re practically taller than a Prius…and they handle better, too.

The Classic Lug Loafer: Rhode Ashby Lug Sole Loafer

Rhode’s Lug Loafer is really middle of the road — it looks tasteful, but not formal, and treads lightly, but can still handle it’s fair share of slush. Oh, and it’s under $200.

For TikTok Tastemakers: Dr. Martens Adrian Tassel Loafer

The cult of Dr. Martens extends as far as lug sole loafers, and for those bold enough to weather the break-in period, the Adrian Tassel Loafer pays dividends (especially if you ask TikTok).

The “Heads Ain’t Got These” Loafer: Blackstock & Weber The Ellis Penny Loafer

They may be the youngest entrant in our lug loafer list, but don’t discount Chris Echevarria’s Blackstock & Weber. As seasoned menswear veterans and hypeheads alike will tell you, the modern cut and playful colorways (like a tiger camo upper) make B&W a very real contender for best footwear around.

The Salaryman Standard: Allen Edmonds Freeport Weatherproof Penny Loafer

A departure from AE’s usual delicate brogues and dress boots, the Freeport Penny Loafer can boss anything you throw at them, making them perfectly suited for CEO-types with points to prove.

The French-Made Flex: Paraboot Reims Lug Sole Loafer

French cobblers Paraboot may be known for their U-Shaped derby shoes, but don’t discount their elegant Reims Loafer, either. The strong-cut style is finished with genuine Norwegian welting, ensuring that the handsome “Lisse Marron” upper is a subtle mix of refined and sturdy.

The Kinda Loafers, Kinda Snow Boots: Suicoke Pepper-Evab Loafers

Okay, so….do Suicoke’s Pepper-Evab booties really count as loafers? Honestly, does it really matter? They’re totally weatherproof and totally badass.

The Runway-Level Loafer: Maison Margiela Black Tabi Loafers

A regular lug loafer not good enough for you? Maybe you’re ready for the galaxy-brain Margiela upgrade. Sure, they’ll cost you a pretty penny (read: 100,000 pennies). but the swag levels are unmatched. Just keep your eyes peeled for Tabi thieves.

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