Red Wing Iron Rangers: 2 Year Review

Red Wing Iron Ranger Boot Review & Torture Test

b3There is nothing quite like a good pair of boots. They look great, they keep your feet warm, they get you across all kinds of terrain, and they’re fit for most conditions. The boot really is one of the best do-all footwear choices. The first boots were a combination of separate garments: leggings, ankle wraps, soles, and tops combined into a single unit with cloth or leather. Eventually, those components were joined together into a single pair of protective, supportive, long-lasting shoes. Boots were the original wayfarer, soldier, or explorer’s footwear- and they still are. I purchased the Red Wings Iron Rangers thinking they would be a do-all, buy-for life, seven league pair of boots.

b62 Years of Use

I wore these boots nearly every day for two years. I still wear them frequently. At the time that I purchased them, I hadn’t much considered the various kinds of boots or their applications. I bought the Iron Rangers thinking that (as the name implies) they could do just about anything. The outsole (bottom of the boot) is made of a nitrile cork, a rubber composite. I learned quickly that these smooth soles do not perform well in slippery conditions or hiking, and that water is bad for these boots no matter what kind of home treatment you put them through. To my credit, I faithfully followed the maintenance instructions every month. I clean, cream/buff, and oil the boots every 30 days or so. I want to say that this pair truly have been through the ringer: countless miles of hiking, daily use, snow, rain, rocks, sand, mud, and all other kinds of leather-wrecking conditions have done their best to take the Iron Rangers apart.

Walk Softly and Slip on a Big Slickb4

The boots are phenomenally comfortable after their week (or more) long break-in period. New leather is stiff and relatively unforgiving. Plan on blisters if you wear these suckers every day after buying them. Your pain will, however, pay off. Once the leather and cork soles mold to your feet, this pair of boots will be yours. Unless you are in some kind of foot-rearranging accident, or moisture cracks the insoles (we’ll get there), you’re going to love how they feel. As the leather wears in, it also becomes softer. With regular oiling, the only thing you’ll even notice when they’re on your feet is the weight. Being a boot ignoramus, I figured that smooth leather soles wouldn’t be a big hindrance, but these things are almost tractionless. That’s an exaggeration: but, anyone who has worn boat shoes or loafers on a slippery surface will understand. That truly is my only complaint about these boots.

Not for a 10 Mile Rainy, Creek-Riddled Hike & Not for a Snow Stormb8

Now, the salesman should not have told me that these $300 boots could “do it all.” I also should have had common sense. Knowing what I do now, I wouldn’t take these on a big outdoor excursion. I would take the waterproof, vibram-soled, clomp stompers that I have now. Keep in mind that this is (retrospectively) a torture test. After a number of camping trips, hikes, wet episodes, and one epic snowstorm, I discovered that the insole was cracking and curling. It was very uncomfortable. To Red Wings’ credit, not only did they repair it by crafting a new insole (for free), but they delivered the boots to my door b5when they were done. That is the primary reason that I went back to them for my current hiking boots instead of giving another brand a shot. Along with the cracking and curling episode, there are a few stitches undone, pitting in the leather, the usual scrapes and scratches, and deep-set lines in the tongue. None of these cosmetic issues really bother me, and I’m actually planning on purchasing another pair that I’ll keep out of the woods. I have every confidence that as long as I don’t use them for the wrong thing, they’ll hold up indefinitely with regular maintenance.

Red Hatchet Says…

I would buy these boots again. I am going to buy these boots again. They look great, and they’re perfect for comfortable daily use. They’re not made for the harshness of the great outdoors, and they do require a bit of TLC every month. They don’t do great on smooth, slippery, surfaces, but they’re a damn fine pair of boots. It’s not until you get to cleaning them for the first time that you really get to understand the craftsmanship and expertise that goes into crafting them. Oiling the Iron Rangers almost takes you back in time to a place where you got boots repaired instead of trashing them- you took care of your belongings because they took care of you.
They may not be up to the harsh conditions of the frontier, but they’ll do you good on all of those days that you’re not out wrestling gators and bears. For that kind of boot, check out the Red Wings 409 8-inch. Review coming soon.