Made In The USA: Woobies MOD-1

There were 1,400 pairs of Vans skate shoes made in the United States last year. I now own two pairs of them: one in white, one in black. Unfortunately for me, they were so expensive, and so irreplaceable, that I have yet to lace either pair up. Yes, I know that’s ridiculous.

When I read about the WOOBIES MOD-1, however, I thought that I might have stumbled on an affordable alternative. The WOOBIES website and marketing materials are primarily focused on “first responders” and military types, but the phrase “skate shoe” does appear. And the price is right: $85, just a bit more than a set of Ultracush-equipped Vans Pros. So I ordered a pair. They’re produced intermittently so it took a while for the Mod-1s to arrive. So… are they a great alternative to Vans?

The answer, as Juan Peron’s advisors say in Evita, is… a qualified yes.

In terms of style and construction, the WOOBIES MOD-1 owes a lot more to the Converse Chuck Taylor than it does to any skate-specific shoe of yesterday or today. Everything, and I mean everything, is dyed black. Construction looks sturdy and there is a lot of thick stitching visible.

Comfort is also remarkably good, with insoles that are softer than those of the Vans Ultracush shoes. I wore them barefoot for a day, which is kind of a litmus test for skate shoes, and had just one issue: the hard rubber toe cap can be felt while the shoe breaks in. It remains to be seen how well they will wear in the long term, but I think it’s safe to say that they are going to be a durable and comfortable alternative to sweatshop-made sneakers and skate shoes.

There’s just one problem: the soles are clearly made for police/fire/EMS/military applications. It’s a sort of sticky-ish rubber with a channel pattern that is obviously meant to clear water and offer a grip edge no matter what angle the shoe meets something like a ledge or rough surface. Against a BMX pedals, however, they are just about useless. The random channel design means they don’t sit evenly on the capscrew pins found on virtually all modern BMX/mountain bike pedals. So there’s no way I would wear them for anything more serious than a ride to the grocery store.

Most of my readers won’t have that particular requirement. They will see the MOD-1 as the cheapest USA-made sneaker on the market, one that proclaims no branding or bizarre aesthetic ideas. I’m hoping that more of these basic, staple-ish products return to our country as time goes on. The MOD-1 is a good start.

43 Replies to “Made In The USA: Woobies MOD-1”

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Until recently, Five Ten climbing shoes were made on a separate line in the USA, while the rest of the shoes were made in China.

      Now they are all made in China.

      Reply
    • AvatarArk-med

      Some of Keen’s hiking boots are also made in the USA. I picked up a pair last week for about $100, discounted from $180 because they were being replaced by a newer design. Let’s see how they hold up on my hike at Zion in a couple of weeks.

      Reply
  1. AvatarRick Turley

    Thanks! Just ordered a pair of the same. With senior citizen-hood on the near horizon, I am starting my search for comfortable shoes. I’ve vowed never to be one of those white sneaker wearing men in mom jeans so I hope these help with that.

    Reply
  2. AvatarJim N

    Good looking shoes. And it’s nice to see made in the US at a sub 100 price point. Especially in a shoe that should be good for all day wear for most jobs. The made in the US columns may be the best part of your site by the way, even if I did originally follow you over here from TTAC.

    How wide do they run, for those of us with non standard feet?

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      My left foot is an Allen-Edmonds 10E in most lasts and my right foot is an Allen Edmonds 10.5D. I wear 10.5D in NB and 10.5 in Vans. The 10.5 is a loose but useful fit.

      Reply
      • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

        How large do they run in general? Their smallest size is a 9 and I wear an 8.5. Their other styles don’t have half sizes and they say to order then next size up but since the MOD-1 comes in half sizes I’m thinking that their sizing might be more accurate and a 9 would be too big.

        Reply
      • AvatarJim N

        I was afraid you were going to say that. I’m a 10.5 EEE in the 511 last, maybe a 4E if they made it. Probably won’t fit, but I’ll order a pair to check anyways. Keep up the American made columns – my wife and I both love them.

        Reply
  3. AvatarJosh Howard

    We should get them to make a pair with a revised heal that is sufficient for car pedal use. These could be really cool and inexpensive shoes for the cars and coffee crowd. Maybe I should give them an email?

    Reply
  4. Avatarnobody

    Have you ever tried Hersey Custom sneakers (or their off-the-rack, but still US-made, siblings, Victory Sportswear)? Since even 3E New Balances are snug on my bread-loaf feet, I’m considering the custom route for sneakers. And if they actually fit right, the prices seem worthwhile. But I’m hesitant to drop the $150 pattern fee, especially with a company whose website looks like it was made in 2001.

    Reply
  5. AvatarCharles Altemus IV

    I wonder if they would work for actual skating. I’ve had all kinds of foreign-made shoes that dont hold up, even if they are labelled as “skate shoes”. I’ve got DC’s now but they leave much to be desired.

    Reply
  6. AvatarI COME IN PEACE

    Any more you can say about the insoles? Years and years of wearing Chucks has finally brought my feet to the brink of falling off and I can’t wear them and their ilk (Vans) all day long anymore. Do these have lots of cushion for the pushin’?

    I’ve been rocking some Adidas throwback looking sneakers with ‘Cloudfoam’ insoles that are pretty comfortable….I got them because they were a lot cushier than the actual running/trail shoes they had at the store.

    Reply
    • AvatarVTNoah

      Protip: Snag yourself a set of superfeet insoles and slide them into your Chucks or Vans. Immediately makes those shoes bearable. Really will make any shoe feel 100% better and they last for years. I’m still using my first set from 10 years ago.

      Reply
      • AvatarI COME IN PEACE

        Been there. I have rocked orange Superfeets in the past, and they work pretty well, but I thought they had a shelf life? Maybe they’re not as long lasting as ones made 10 years ago?

        Nowadays I prefer not having to shell out another 30-50 bones for insoles on top of the price of the shoes themselves.

        Reply
  7. Avatar-Nate

    Sounds O.K. for the price, the sole would *instantly* pack full of greasy grit in my travels plus I got a foot skewered & smashed once so steel shanks & toe caps are a must have for me .

    Kudos for being American made -and- affordable .

    -Nate

    Reply
    • AvatarVanillaMidget

      I can tell you for sure they will not clog with dirt and pebbles. There is a lot of tapering inside the channels so they do not clog. I have over 150 miles on mine so far. They also have great slip resistance (not as good as kitchen shoes because the rubber is harder).

      So it’s a good all-around sole with excellent wear properties and traction. As for skatebording and BMX, I can’t comment.

      Reply
  8. AvatarAndrew

    That’s actually a neat find. My work dress code requires shoes that are all black, and a slip-resistant sole is useful given the amount of condensation we get.

    Reply
  9. AvatarVTNoah

    Been meaning to check these guys out but everytime I went to order they were on hiatus. Glad to see they are shipping. Will likely order a pair.

    Reply
  10. Avatarjc

    As to riding a bicycle, get rid of the aggressive pedals and ride plain rat-traps. Problem solved.

    After decades of riding in cleating shoes, I finally ditched the whole “special bike shoe and pedal” thing, and now I can hop on the bike any time I want, ride anywhere I want, and when I get there I just step off the bike and walk around because I’m wearing whatever shoes I happened to be wearing when I hopped on the bike.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      This weekend at Angelfire I jumped a 35 foot tabletop. There may be someone who can do that on rat traps without slipping but it ain’t me!

      Reply
  11. AvatarDaniel J

    I wish I could find quality USA shoes for my needs.

    Hoka one one Clifton’s for running and mizunos/Asics for everyday stuff. Used to dig the NB 993 made in the USA but they’ve gotten too hot and stuff for me.

    Reply
  12. AvatarShrug

    On the subject of shoes, I took a job recently that has me on my feet pretty much all day. Any shoes you’d recommend for such a thing? I wear Nike Frees at the moment, and they are quite comfortable I will say, but I would very much prefer not to support sweat shops and child labor by buying Nikes.

    Reply
  13. AvatarShocktastic

    I bought a pair after reading this article. I wore out a 12 year old pair of plain canvas Keens recently and these are the more Plain Jane replacements. The sole is not very grippy and they have little arch support. Don’t buy these if you have wide feet. I like the very simple aesthetic. Most of the SWAT guys I know like Danner Stalwarts but that might be a local preference. I find the markup on Chuck Taylors obscene; at least these shoes have a lining (same material as on the outside). I am satisfied with my purchase and grateful to Jack for his Made in America postings.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Thank you for reading and for taking action on it… let me know how they hold up! Mine have been very good so far.

      Reply

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