Recently, I've become a sucker for good boots. Good products in general - things that will last close to a lifetime. Enter Red Wing Boot. You can't really go wrong with any model but in this case I'm going to talk about the Iron Ranger. It is, in my opinion, the best boot money can buy.
After researching dozens of boot makers, buying some, and countless Pinterest boards, my favorite and the best boot I have found is the Red Wing Iron Ranger.
It wasn't nearly the cheapest, sure. They'll run you $300 new, from a Red Wing store. But I'd take something that'll last 20 years, and pay a little extra for it vs. something I'll pay less for and that'll blow out in 6 months.
Why boots, might you ask? Who puts research and thought into boots? Well, someone who was once addicted to shoes. I've since moved on and have come to realize quality over quantity is incredibly important, especially when it comes to footwear.
Footwear shouldn't be skimped on. If you're going to be wearing them year round - like you could with a pair of Iron Rangers - I highly recommend you do your research and are prepared to spend a few extra pennies on something that'll last.
The Road to the Rangers
Oh man - where to begin. Ahh yes, the beginning. That's right.
So the first pair of "boots" I got were two very cheaply made, yet very expensive boots from Banana Republic. They were on sale, yet still very expensive. Anyway, they inspired me to buy better boots the moment I put them on.
From them I graduated to a few pairs of Clarks, which were great, but were a silhouette I couldn't quite pull off. I like wearing my shoes fairly loosely - meaning I don't like the look of very tightly tied sneakers or boots. And Clarks Desert boots you can't really wear too loosely. I didn't think I'd ever find a boot that I jived with!
So, how did I stumble across Iron Rangers? Well I had a pair of 1907 moc toe boots that were way too big for me as I'd come to find out. So I did some research and came across what is called Goodyear Welt.
A Goodyear welt is a strip of leather, rubber, or plastic that runs along the perimeter of a shoe outsole. This helps with boot longevity and is very aesthetically pleasing when it comes to boots. Plus, they are easy to recraft, more weather-resistent, and plenty of workboots on the market are crafted as such.
First, I judged the boots on their aesthetics. And let’s be honest, these boots are very stylish. The can be worn to your job at the ad agency, or on a hike. If you wanted something for actual manual labor, you'd want a clunky steel-toe.
Firstly, I fell in love with the aesthetics of the boot itself. Aesthetics is the design and overall look of the boot. And let’s be honest that these are boots you’re buying for appearances–if you wanted a boot for real work, you’d get something ugly with a safety toe. Being in love with the look of the boot, it was a sure thing I was going to buy a pair as I walked into the Red Wing store. I was worried about the fit, though.
Having had a pair previously - granted a totally different model - I didn't know what to expect. So I got my foot measured and found out I needed a half a size down from my normal shoe size. So I went from a 10 to a 9.5, and they honestly fit like a glove.
Like, you hear people say "fit like a glove", and that's great, but these fit like an actual foot glove. It was crazy. They popped into place, almost. Having already fell in love, I only need to take a few test steps before telling the salesmen, "I'll take 'em!"
Gulp - these things weren't cheap. I know I mentioned it above, but the price will always stick out in my mind. Clocking in at just over $300 - they took a good chunk out of my bank account. Which is fine - because quality should win every time. And these are a huge W in my book. In fact, I loved them so much, I bough another - much cheaper - pair on Amazon only a few weeks later. The reason I didn't initially buy them on the 'zon was simply because of fit. I knew my 1907 Moc Toe's were a bit on the big side, but I didn't know how big. So it's safe to say, if you're buying Red Wing's online, go a half-size down. They'll stretch, too, because of the high quality leather they're made out of. So fear not should you need to order a totally foreign size.
Background and Details
Aside from a few, very minimal design tweaks, the boot itself was inspired by boots worn by mid-century iron miners. It's versatile enough to still do that were an iron miner wish to wear them today, but also go well with todays fashion-forward folks.
For all you fashion-minded folks be warned, these things take a while to break in. And when I say a while, I mean a good 6 weeks of solid wear. I personally like to wear my boots more loosely, really give it that Wu-Tang Clan vibe, so I had to break them in extra long. But the minimal amount of pain and overall weird feelingness (I hate wearing very tightly tied boots), the wait was totally worth it.
The Iron Ranger is put together with triple-stitched waxed threads and, should anything go wrong with the boot, just send it back and the adjustments will be made free-of-charge. Both of my pairs were great straight out of the box but, honestly, even if there were a few mark-ups I wouldn't care. These things are meant to be worn, and worn ruggedly. So the most dusty and ripped up they look, it just adds to the character of the boot.
Overall, I highly recommend these boots to anyone looking for a good pair. One downside is, with one of my pairs, the sole itself doesn't have any traction. It's summer in Minnesota currently, so I don't care too much, but come winter time these babies may be staying inside. That is, unless I wear them enough to build some traction into the sole.
Regardless of my future wearing these, please go get yourself a pair if you're in the market for a new set of boots. You'll be glad you did!