In this article, we will talk about the Red Wing Iron Ranger boots. These boots are the definition of classic.
The review you are about to read is not one of our usual ones. Here, we will not only give detailed descriptions of every feature of Iron Ranger’s but will also present to you what other users think of these boots. As a result, you won’t have to go over thousands of reviews to understand how people feel about Iron Rangers. You will have all of it here already analyzed.
To give you the maximum value with this piece, we went through 1337 customer reviews on different websites (Amazon, RedWingHeritage, Zappos, etc.).
The surprising part was that out of those 1337, only 2-3% mentioned in their review that they ride a bike. And most of the buyers have bought the boots only because they like the style. So we’ve filtered out those few reviews are from actual riders to save your time.
Now, we’ll begin from the history and features and will move to the reviews afterward.
So let’s start!
Red Wing Iron Ranger History It has all started in the mines. When the mining works have started at Minnesota’s Mesabi Range, the miners were constantly complaining about their shoes. Back then, they had been wearing shoes that would be easily torn off in the harsh conditions of iron mines. The miners needed better shoes which would be more durable to be survivable in those conditions, be oil and water-resistant and comfortable.
To give it a better and more permanent solution, the shoe company Red Wing was asked to come up with shoes that would be the right and the best fit for those miners. After thorough research, they’ve made shoes that will be durable, liquid-resistant, easy to wear, and comfortable.
When I say comfortable, I don’t mean the comfort you feel when wearing your sneakers. Comfort means they were comfortable to wear in mines where you step into things you don’t know what they are or rocks sharp enough to hurt your feet. So these shoes should have been hard enough to keep those miners away from any inconveniences.
To make Iron Ranger’s as durable as possible, Red Wing has used full-grain leather to make the shoes. If you wonder what full-grain leather is, keep reading. The rest of you are free to skip ahead to the next paragraph. Full-grain leather is the best quality leather out there.
Because this leather isn’t processed too much, it keeps its natural durability. Full-grain leather is also very breathable. You may ask “Why?”. Well… That’s because little processing leaves the upper layer of the skin on the leather, which makes it breathable.
This layer lets the skin breathe, and then it does the same for the shoes. Because it’s made of full-grain leather which is not fully processed, it might have some imperfections which are the reason behind its durability.
With full-grain leather, there are also some limitations to the color of the boots. These shoes can be only in certain colors, while shoes made of top-grain leather can have more colors as they are more heavily processed and have an additional upper layer to make sure the leather preserves its look.
Iron Ranger boots have a Goodyear Welt construction type. That might say nothing to you, but it is one of the most important parts of these boots. Let me elaborate on that a little.
Goodyear Welt is basically when the shoemaker adds an extra layer of leather from the outside of the footwear between the outsole and the insole. This layer doesn’t go all the way through the shoe. It goes in just enough to make some space between the outsole, and the insole.
This space is being filled with cork, which later takes the form of your foot while wearing it. In the beginning, it might feel a little rough. But it gets more comfortable when the shoe takes the form of the foot.
If you deconstruct the shoes, you will also find steel for the shank.
The insole of Iron Rangers is made of leather, and the outsole is Vibram® 430 Mini-lug. You should be careful about the sole when buying Iron Rangers. Some time ago the soles of the Iron Rangers were nitrile.
Then they have started producing the same boots with Vibram soles. However, on some websites, you will still find people selling old versions. All you have to do is to be careful to avoid disappointment after the purchase.
On the upper part of these boots, you will have nickel eyelets and hooks. You might think hooks are not that presentable.
But wait! Don’t you remember these were made for iron miners? The hooks are there to ensure wearing the shoes is quick as they had those mines waiting for them.
Size and Comfort
When buying Iron Rangers, it is important to remember that these are a pair of pretty steep-priced shoes. Why am I saying that? Because it is important to know if it is the right fit for your foot before you spend that much money on them. So it would probably be a good idea to go try it on before buying these boots.
When wearing them for the first time, the boots should feel a little tight on the foot, but loose enough to let you move your toes inside. Over time, the midsole and the rest of the leather will stretch molding to the feet, and feeling more comfortable on the foot.
Now that you know all about the history and features of these boots we can move to the customer reviews to see how people really feel about Red Wing Iron Ranger. This will help you have a well-rounded look at these boots.
Let’s make our way into the review world by first categorizing what we are looking at.
I bet you are more interested in the bad reviews than in the good ones. I promise to give you both.
If you are considering buying these boots, the good news is that over 80% of the reviews on Amazon.com, Redwingheritage.com, Zappos.com, and a few other websites are positive and they would all recommend these boots.
Now let’s get into each aspect of the Iron Ranger boots and see what people think, shall we?
Out of that 2% of biker reviews, only one said that he wouldn’t recommend the Iron Rangers because, in his experience, the eyelets made some holes in the tongue and the after wearing it a while his boots were worn out enough to need a slow replacement. When he took the boots to Red Wings they refused to change the outsole. There was another issue with his request.
The rest of the buyers seem happy with their Red Wing Iron Ranger
Some have mentioned that they loved the double toe cap as it is very useful for the motorcycle shifter. No need for additional shifter wear after that.
The bit of height on the shaft of the boot is perfect for one buyer as s(he) feels it supports his/her tiny ankles.
One customer has crashed in Iron Rangers. He says they were scratched and scuffed, but nothing worse happened to the boots. They are still nice and well with extra points added to their character.
The heavy and thick leather and the great construction of the boot allows some buyers to wear them for almost a decade. They also like the fact that they can take the boots to Red Wing for some repairs, to change the sole or the hells that happen to those.
The reasons for 1-star reviews were very different. Even the place they’ve ordered the shoes may affect the review.
For example, many of the buyers who’ve left a 1-star review felt like they were lied to because the boots they have ordered were with a nitrile sole while Red Wing has discontinued this version of Iron Rangers and started producing the same boots with Vibram soles. So make sure you buy the latest version with the Vibram sole when making your purchase.
Some others found inconsistencies in the positions of different parts of the boots on the outer shell. Another portion of buyers complains about the quality of the product.
Iron Rangers are portrayed as one of the most durable boots out there made for iron miners, capable to endure in tough working conditions, and changing weather. Some buyers were disappointed to see their Iron Rangers tore off after two months. On the bright side, you can always contact Red Wing to get some help in repayment.
The most common issues that occur with these boots seem to be the sole. Many of the negative reviews mention that either the soles get ripped off from the upper leather or they fall apart.
A few other comments were talking about how the speed hooks bend easily if you try to bend those with a finger. But if you are trying to damage the shoe purposely, you will definitely succeed.
Many customers recommend going to the actual Red Wing store to try the boots before making a purchase. Not only you will see the boots in real before buying them, but you will also have a salesman to help you with the sizing issues.
Some people say that Iron Rangers break in easily, others claim that the break-in period is brutal and makes them feel like they’ve got cement blocks on their feet. But they all say it was worth it and they would buy another pair.
Many people buy the boots a half size smaller than what they usually wear. That may be because it is mentioned on their website, in the “Sizing & Break-In” section that many customers buy a ½ smaller size. However, on the same website, when you go to the reviews section, you can see that over 70% of the buyers found it a perfect fit for their feet.
From riders: Most of the buyers were the ones who were looking for simple looking and tough boots. The Iron Rangers get scratched and scuffed easily, but many believe that these are not supposed to stay perfect. They think that scratches give the Rangers more character and start looking better. They claim that even though that many buyers say these boots can’t be worn in tough conditions, the boots handle the weather changes and rough working conditions perfectly.
Many of the buyers appreciate the fact that the boots are not only for bike riding. Also that they can ride the bike in them, and go to a meeting afterward, not feeling that their boots are inappropriate.
Some others like the fact that, if they apply the Red Wing Boot Oil for leather care, the color of the boots darkens over time.
Final Thoughts on the Red Wing Iron Ranger
Even though there are some negative reviews about the quality of the Iron Ranger, over 80% of the reviews are positive.
People wear it for quite some time with no complaints. They love the quality, design. They say it’s hard to break-in but over time the mold to the feet. And those who talk about the comfort they say that they have added extra insoles to the boots.
The funny thing is, that over 50% of the negative reviews asked for a replacement from Red Wing, or bought their second or sometimes even the third pair of Red Wing Iron Ranger.
Although Iron Ranger boots are known as work boots, they are being worn for various occasions. People wear them everywhere, from mining to driving, to school, to the office and even to the red carpet.
Are they safe to ride?
While they are definitely better than riding in snickers, dedicated riding boots will be safer. The main thing to consider is that your ankles are not protected as good as with riding boots. And keeping in mind the price, if you plan on wearing them for daily riding you might be better off with riding boots.
I’d love to hear your opinion on this. What shoes do you wear when riding?