Most helpful critical review
167 of 196 people found the following review helpful
Great looking, well made casual boot, but don't expect serious performance
on April 3, 2011
Purchased these boots in Amber Harness brown in a Red Wing store in Oklahoma City. I want to love these boots. Unfortunately, I don't.
First of all: GO DOWN AT LEAST 1/2 SIZE FROM YOUR "NORMAL SIZE"!!! A lot of other reviewers have said this, and they are exactly right. These boots run BIG.
These are awesome looking boots. They look with amazing with jeans, and go with any other casual outfit you can come up with. They are substantial boots - not too big, not too small. They don't have the ridiculously chunky "frankenstein" look of some work/hiking/motorcycle boots. The leather is very high quality with a uniform color and oil finish. Construction is VERY high quality. Triple-stitched seams and welted outsole of this quality are rare in a boot at this price point. Best of all, they are made in USA. Nice.
NOTE**I was measured by a Red Wing salesman, and I spent about an hour trying on multiple sizes and widths. I am absolutely sure that any of the issues reported below are NOT due to an improper fit!**
My main issue has to do with the (lack of) contour on the back of the boot, the heel counter, and the lack of arch support.
If you look at a true side view of the Iron Ranger, notice that the seam from the heel to the top of the boot is basically straight. That is, there is very little curve up and over the top of the heel. Compare pics of the Iron Ranger side by side with the Red Wing Beckman (or Red Wing Gentleman Traveler) or White's semi-dress and you will see what I mean. The Beckman/Gentleman traveler has much more of a contour over the heel and along the back of the ankle/achilles. Now look at your foot - it naturally curves inward from the top of your heel, over the achilles tendon, then curves back outward as you move up your ankle/leg. This lack of curve over the heel results in excessive vertical heel slip in the Iron Ranger. I do realize that a small amount of vertical heel slip is normal (desireable, actually) when boots are brand new. However, this vertical heel slip should all but disappear as the soles start to loosen up. On my Iron Rangers, the vertical heel slip continued to increase the more I wore the boots. I was almost "walking out" of the boots after a week of daily wear. After two weeks, I was actually able to pull them off while they were still laced (it was really hard, but I did it).
A heel counter is the stiff leather part of a boot or shoe directly behind your heel. This is the part of a well-made boot that keeps your heel from moving laterally (side-to-side) inside the boot. The Iron Rangers felt great in the store. Minimal lateral heel slip. After two weeks of wear, my heels are moving freely from side to side inside the boot. Not good. The heel counter leather in the Iron Ranger is just not stiff enough for a "real" work boot. Let me stress that this is the way the boots are designed, definitely not a construction error or a bad piece of leather.
These boots have almost no arch support. When I tried them on in the store, there was an acceptable amount of arch support. Not as much as I would have liked, but enough that I bought the boots. These boots have a cork footbed with a leather insole. Any arch support that was there out of the box has basically been "squashed flat" as the soles compress/break in. Maybe this is good if you have flat feet. I don't know - I have "normal" arches. If you plan on standing for long periods of time, do not buy Iron Rangers. Buy something with good arch support. Your feet and your back will thank you. Some reviewers have suggested after-market insoles. Only problem is, if you buy properly fitting boots, there is not really enough room for additional insoles in these boots.
Some reviewers have said that these boots require a serious break in. In my opinion, they do not. If you have never worn high-end all leather shoes or boots before, I can understand why you might think these boots need to be broken in. If you HAVE worn high-end work boots, hiking boots, or cowboy boots, the Iron Rangers will feel like tennis shoes after about an hour. Everyone's feet are different and some people may like this. To me, this is a negative. Boots should not be painful when new (if they are, it means they don't fit properly). However, boots should not give/stretch/soften up as quickly (or as much) as my Iron Rangers did (especially in the heel). They are only going to get softer over time, and I was hoping for a boot with significantly more support.
Red Wing has a 30 day unconditional comfort guarantee, even if the boots have been worn. I took my boots back to the Red Wing store, and the salesman agreed to exchange the Iron Rangers for a pair of Beckman/Gentleman Travelers. He didn't have them in stock, so he special ordered the boots in several sizes and widths. That kind of warranty is unheard of these days.
Iron Rangers are NOT work boots. They are actually a VERY well-made casual boot that is made to look like a true work boot. These boots look great (that's why I bought them). If you want a casual boot for going out, or just wearing around for a few hours at a time, the Iron Rangers will work great for you. If you plan to use these for ANY amount of work, or if you plan to stand in these boots for long periods of time, look for a different boot.
Red Wing's unconditional 30 day comfort warranty is incredible. Even though I don't like the design of the Iron Rangers, Red Wing definitely earned a repeat customer, and I absolutely recommend their high-quality boots to anyone.