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Updated Oct 20, 2022 10:58 AM

Red Wing differentiates itself from the field of boot brands with the style that it infuses into its boots. The brand’s Heritage collection includes boots that borrow heavily from the work boot designs of the early 20th century, which makes sense given that Red Wing has been making boots since the early 1900s. 

The best Red Wing work boots are more form than function than other work boot brands. Most of the company’s boots feature oiled leather, which gives them a richer look than a standard utilitarian work boot. Red Wing boots also come equipped with lug or wedge soles that are more streamlined than those found on other bulkier contemporary work boots. Eye catching details such as contrasting stitching and brass eyelets add to their vintage look. Though you won’t find steel toes on many Red Wing boots, they are rugged enough for the workplace. The oiled leather uppers do a great job of warding off water and they’re durably built with triple stitched seams and a Goodyear welt. If you’re in the market for a set of work boots with turn-of-the-century style, then read on to find out more about the best Red Wing work boots.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Red Wing Work Boot

Construction

A set of good Red Wing boots have a reputation for lasting a long time, a testament to the build quality of the boots. Features such as triple stitching, a Goodyear welt and rubber soles are common across the company’s entire product line. You’ll also find oiled genuine leather on most Red Wing boots. This leather treatment not only gives the boots a classic look, it also makes them more resistant to foul weather conditions and preserves the leather. Inside the boot are insoles that are made from materials that help cushion the footbed, including high density foam. 

Style

Red Wing leather work boots are about as much about style as they are about performance. Unlike brands that make pure work boots, a good chunk of the boots that Red Wing sells are purchased for their form over their function. Red Wing’s boots borrow from century-old styles that give them a vintage look that make them an attractive boot. The oiled leather, use of contrast stitching and sleek looks make them an attractive choice for casual use. In addition to appearance, Red Wing boots also tend to be lighter than other work boot brands, which not only makes them a good work boot but also a good casual boot.

Comfort

Comfort is crucial when choosing a work boot. Red Wing’s focus is on the flexibility and roominess it builds into its boots. Most Red Wing boots basically arrive broken in thanks oiled leather that makes them soft and malleable right out of the box. Most of Red Wing’s boots feature either bulbous toe boxes that allow for more room or broad Moc toes that are roomy and flexible, allowing enough space for the weare to wiggle their toes.

Shaft

Most of Red Wing’s line of work boots have a 6-inch shaft with a lace-up design that consists of brass eyelets and hooks. This design allows the wearer to fit the boots snugly around the ankles, providing excellent support during the workday.

Best Overall: Iron Ranger Red Wing Work Boot

Best Overall

Why It Made The Cut: This rugged boot is water-resistant with a double-layer toe cap while remaining surprisingly lightweight. 

Key Features 

  • Sizes: 6-12
  • Material: Oil-tanned leather
  • Weight: 2.76 pounds

Pros

  • Water resistant
  • Double layer leather toe cap
  • Goodyear welt and triple stitch construction

 Cons 

  • No steel toe cap

The fact that the Iron Ranger was designed for use by iron miners in Minnesota back in the 1930s is a pretty good indication of just how well built these boots are. They’re constructed with oil-tanned leather that has natural water and scuff resistant qualities. They also have safety features you would expect from a work boot designed for guys working with heavy equipment and large rocks, including a double layer leather toe cap, and a steel shank that protects the foot from punctures.

The Iron Ranger’s are also built to endure a beating, thanks to a Goodyear welt and triple-stitched construction. Red Wing equips the boot with a Vibram outsole, which is highly regarded for its durability, comfort, and traction. A large bulbous bump toe gives you room to wiggle your toes, while a 6.5-inch shaft and lace-up style provide a secure fit with good ankle support. While the Rangers are a great work boot, they’re also stylish thanks to high contrast stitching and brass eyelets.

Best Lightweight: Red Wing Heritage Blacksmith Work boot

Best Lightweight

Why It Made The Cut: At less than 2 pounds, the Blacksmith is one of the lightest work boot Red Wing offers. 

Key Features 

  • Sizes: 7-13
  • Material: Oil-tanned leather
  • Weight: 1.8 pounds

Pros

  • Durable oil-tanned leather
  • Stylish enough to wear out
  • Goodyear welt and triple stitch construction

 Cons 

  • No hard toe cap

Given that Red Wing is well over 100 years old, many of its boots have their roots in the early 20th century and the Blacksmith is an example of this. This set of boots is based off of the classic work boot worn in farm fields and workshops in the early 1900s. Its oiled and waxed leather and a 6-inch column, originally designed to protect Blacksmiths from hot embers that would fly off the forge, keeps water out of the boot while making them boots very durable. As with Red Wing’s other work boots, the Blacksmith features a Goodyear welt and triple stitching that adds durability, though the lack of a hard toe cap does limit their use as a work boot. The Vibram mini lug sole keeps the boots light while providing plenty of traction. 

Similar to other Red Wing boots, the Blacksmith features a bump toe that makes for a roomy toe box. Like most of Red Wing’s boots, the Blacksmith has form to go with their function. The oiled leather and brass eyelets give the boots a classic look that  makes them just at home for a night out on the town as they are in the workplace.

Best for hard Floors: Red Wing Heritage Classic Moc Boot

Best for hard Floors

Why It Made The Cut: The broad flat sole of this wedge style work boot is ideal for working on hard smooth surfaces.  

Key Features 

  • Sizes: 6-12
  • Material: Oil-tanned leather
  • Weight: 1.9 pounds

Pros

  • Flat sole distributes pressure throughout the foot
  • Durable oil-tanned leather
  • Roomy mock toe

 Cons 

  • Expensive

Working on hard concrete surfaces, such as those found on factory floors and loading docks, can be murder on the soles of your feet not to mention your knees and hips. The Moc Toe boot is a great counter to those unforgiving surfaces with its wedge style sole. 

That broad, flat outsole has greater surface area than a standard lug sole that has a gap between the heel and the toe box. This design distributes pressure across the entire foot reducing fatigue, while also improving traction on smooth surfaces. 

The thick midsole also has the added benefit of better absorbing impacts, thanks to cork filler in the midsole, a crucial characteristic when working on hard surfaces. 

Per its name, the boot has a moc toe, a common design with wedge style work boots. This toe style is roomy while allowing for flexibility when crouching or walking. A 6-inch column provides excellent support while still offering plenty of freedom of movement. And though the Moc boot is one of the pricier work boots you’ll find, they’ll last longer than most work boots thanks to its triple stitching and oiled leather.

Best for Hard Floors: Red Wing Classic Oxford

Best for Hard Floors

Why It Made The Cut: This shoe uses the same wedge sole and durable construction of Red Wing work boots. 

Key Features 

  • Sizes: 6-12
  • Material: Oil-tanned leather
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds

Pros

  • Wedge style sole adds traction and shock absorption
  • Classy enough for the office
  • Roomy mock toe

 Cons 

  • Expensive

Not all workplaces require a work boot with a full 6-inch shaft. Though the classic Oxfords may not qualify as a “boot,” but rather a shoe, they offer the same comfort and durability comfortable Red Wing work boots are known for. The shoes are modeled off of Red Wing’s classic Moc boots, with their moc toe and thick wedge style toe. This style makes these shoes well suited for walking around on hard flat surfaces such as a warehouse floor or concrete sidewalk. 

The thick wedge sole provides ample traction with its broad surface area while the thick midsole supplies plenty of shock absorption. A moc toe creates room in the toe box and adds flexibility while walking. The Oxfords have the same quality construction as other Red Wing boots with triple stitching and Goodyear welt construction. 

This shoe’s design and stylish looks make them suitable for white collar workers who spend a lot of time on their feet from nine to five but don’t require the support of a boot.

Best for Women: Red Wing 6-Inch Round Boots

Best for Women

Why It Made The Cut: This classic Red Wing boot is designed specifically to suit women’s feet. 

Key Features 

  • Sizes: 6.5-9.5
  • Material: Oil-tanned leather
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds

Pros

  • Wedge style sole adds traction and shock absorption
  • Oversized toe box 
  • Stylish enough to wear out

 Cons 

  • Expensive

Red Wing’s classic round toe boot was originally developed for farmers back in the early 1900s. When the company found out that many women were wearing men’s round toe work boots, the company decided it was time to make a version of this boot for women. Like the original men’s boot, the women’s version features a wedge sole that offers stability while also creating a thick outsole for plenty of shock absorbing cushioning. The lace up style allows for adjustments to fit the contours of the wearer’s feet while the oversized toe box preserves room in the toe box. 

The women’s round toe boot is just as rugged as the original with oiled leather, triple stitching and the same Goodyear welt found on Red Wing’s men’s boots. Inside there’s an insole that molds to the shape of the foot. Though the two boots are very similar, there are subtle differences. The women’s version has a sleeker design, is better suited for narrower feet, and is notably lighter. This pair of boots weighs less than one and half pounds. And, like Red Wing’s men’s work boots, they are stylish enough to wear out as well as at work.

Best Value: Red Wing Men’s Rover Boot

Best Value

Red Wing Men’s Rover Boot red wing boot-usa

Red Wing Men’s Rover Boot red wing boot-usa

Why It Made The Cut: The Rover is one of the more affordable boots in the Red Wing collection. 

Key Features 

  • Sizes: 6.5-9.5
  • Material: Oil-tanned leather
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds

Pros

  • Great traction and comfort with wedge style sole
  • Multiple color options
  • Affordably priced

 Cons 

  • Very little tread on the sole

Red Wing boots are among the most highly regarded and sought after workboots on the market thanks to the quality of the materials and construction methods used to make each pair. Unfortunately, that also means they’re very expensive. Well, most of them. The Rovers are an exception. 

While there are no cheap Red Wing work boots, this pair costs less than other Red Wing boots but delivers much of the same quality. With a nearly smooth flat wedge sole, they’ll grip to smooth slick surfaces. In addition to providing excellent traction, the 6-inch shaft and lace up design allows the wearer to achieve a snug fit with good ankle support. A thick midsole provides ample cushioning and shock absorption while distributing pressure evenly across the foot, keeping feet from getting sore and tired over long days of standing or walking. 

The boots also come equipped with Red Wing’s time tested construction methods, which include triple stitching and a Goodyear welt and oiled leather. As with other boots in the Heritage collection, the Rovers have a vintage look that make them dressy enough for a night out.

How We Made Our Picks

Red Wing work boots differ somewhat from other boot brands in that they are nearly as much about style as they are about function. The company’s heritage line of work boots use styles and designs made famous in the early 20th century. In assessing these boots, we used the following criteria:

  • Comfort: All Red Wing boots are designed to keep your feet comfortable over long days at work. In considering the boots for this article, we chose models that feature roomy toe boxes, soles that provide adequate shock absorption, and lace up designs that allow the wearer to achieve a snug fit.
  • Safety: Many of Red Wing’s work boots are designed with the hard core safety features found in other brands. Most do not have steel toes and padded shafts. However, many have wedge style outsoles that provide excellent traction and stability on smooth surfaces.
  • Style: Since they are such an attractive boot, many people purchase Red Wing work boots not to wear to work but to wear out. We kept this in mind when making our choices, choosing boots that were not only suitable for the workplace but also a good choice for wearing out after the workday is over. 

FAQs

Q: How much do Red Wing work boots cost?

Red Wing boots are made with high quality materials and construction methods, so expect to pay a premium for them. While there are affordable Red Wing work boots that cost between $100 and $150, most of the brand’s boots cost over $200 with some surpassing $300.

Q: Who makes Red Wing work boots?

Red Wing makes its own line of work boots. The company is based in Red Wing, Minnesota, where it has been making boots for more than 100 years.

Q: Are Red Wing boots made in the USA?

Red Wing, which was founded in 1905 in Red Wing, Minnesota, makes all of its Heritage line of work boots in the U.S. In addition to the Red Wing brand, the company also makes other boot brands, including Irish Setter Boots, Vasque, and Worx.

Q: Can Red Wing boots be resoled?

Since Red Wing boots use a Godoyear welt to connect the outsole to the insole and upper, they can be resoled. In fact, the company has a group of cobblers at its headquarters in Red Wing, Minnesota, who repair and resole Red Wing boots.

Final Thoughts

Red Wing work boots mix the iconic style of an early 1900s work boot with materials and construction methods that make them both rugged and durable. The brand’s Iron Ranger, inspired by boots made for iron miners in the early 20th century, is a great example of Red Wing’s mix of form and function. So too is the company’s Blacksmith work boot, which was originally designed to protect feet from burning embers.