Customer Review

147 of 170 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great looking, well made casual boot, but don't expect serious performance, April 2, 2011
This review is from: Red Wing Heritage Men's 6-Inch Iron Ranger Boot (Apparel)
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.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 13, 2011 12:32:05 AM PDT
B. Sheppard says:
What has been your experience with the Beckman's? Do they hold up as genuine work boots? If not, what is your recommendation for attractive, high quality, comfortable boots for long periods of standing and climbing?

Posted on Nov 19, 2011 7:09:18 PM PST
Jahana says:
Good review even for a "negative" review. I'll give them a try, subject to advice of sizing down. Can't lose with 30-day guarantee. Plus, this supports a USA company not crappy goods from Slave-Mart. Thanks for taking the time.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2012 1:07:49 PM PST
Andrew says:
I tried the Beckmans for 10-15 minutes in the store. They had better arch and heel support than the Iron Ranger. However, I did not buy the Beckmans, so I can't really comment on them. I ended up ordering a new pair of custom White's semi-dress boots. If you have never worn White's boots, do yourself a favor and give them a try. They are not cheap, but they are worth it. I can stand in them all day (literally). At the end of the day, I don't want to take them off. They really are that good. I'm not a climber, but I do a lot of off-trail hiking. My current hiking boots are stock (non-custom) Limmer Standards. Best hiking boots I have ever worn.

Posted on Oct 16, 2012 8:57:59 AM PDT
Luke in Iowa says:
I bought a pair of black Iron Rangers and have the same worry you do. No heel shape so I'm worried they are going to come on and off like elf shoes. Also I know they're going to catch the back of my pants as well as get full of dirt and sand if I go out into the field. Thanks for your honest review. I'm going to return the boots for the 9214 style boot which has a better heel contour.

Posted on Feb 9, 2013 5:59:24 PM PST
The Heritage line of boots do not have the 30 day guarantee.... call and ask. The Iron rangers fall under this line.

Posted on Jun 15, 2013 2:37:59 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 16, 2013 1:45:09 AM PDT
DMW says:
I agree with much of what you say, as to well made in general, but these boots while well-made are no more so than Thorogood (USA), Justin (USA), Chippewa (USA) or Boulet (Canada), whose products are "Made in North America (USA/Canada)", not to mention that, at these prices, there are many fine Northampton (England) shoemakers such as but not limited to: Loakes, Sanders, Grenson, etc., among many others whose products are hand-crafted (bench-made) in the traditional craft style in England. Also, at these prices, opening up to consumers become custom and/or exotic leather options as well. Of course, exotic leathers do not exactly make for a rough and tough work boot, then again, the Iron Ranger while a very nice urban life-style boot from Redwing's Heritage line-up isn't a work boot. It is to be noted that Redwing has different divisions, from hiking (Vasque marque) to actual work boots (labour and safety approved) which it produces under its own name as well as under the Irish Setter marque. In terms of fitment, likewise agree that it's at least a half-size too big, in terms of length but true to size when it comes to the width; the Iron Ranger and most of the Heritage line-up are a true D width, and this boot being welted and unlined means it stretches via wear (in terms of width, not as to length), and those with D- (narrow) feet might even consider going a whole size down in light of this.

The 1/2 size (length) will accommodate wider feet, but big and tall men with wide feet might also wish to look at something else. Yes, Goodyear-welted boots will "stretch" as the boot conforms to one's foot with wear, and in the case of the Iron Ranger a 1/2 size (width) is readily conceivable as it's unlined. This is likely to come as good news to those with a D+ foot, but at this price I would expect the boot to be fully leather-lined, which it is not. Leather-lining is important for many reasons, and not just aesthetics, namely: fit/comfort as well as shape retention thus durability over time, speaking thus to quality (or the lack thereof). In terms of the heel, also agree as to the cut, and while a little heel slippage is normal on first wearings (to be expected), one's foot should not ride in the heel area of a boot, such that this boot may not be for everyone: different sizes, styles and lasts for different feet, we are not all the same size/width, and stands to reason that we cannot all squeeze into and/or shore-up the sizing of a boot so as to make it work for all of us, nor at these prices should anyone have to either. There are a great many other options out there, and fit is everything. Either the shoe/boot fits or it does not. Simple. But if, like myself, you like the style and are a true D (or thereabouts), then it's a nice boot and with proper care even though unlined should provide many years of service, as is the case with all Goodyear-welted footwear (being recraftable, unlike cemented rubbish from the Far East).

With proper boot socks and an insole, I was able by going down a half-size to achieve a very good fit. I do not believe they're "better" than Chippewa, Justin, Boulet or any number of other "Made in North America" Goodyear-welted footwear, but they are nice. (If you want the best--a loaded term, as in best what? I'm referring to quality in terms of materials and method of construction, hand-work, QC, etc., whereas others see it in terms of value--then might I recommend checking out Viberg, Canada, which is considered among if not the very best in the world right now, and so nice to see North American makers still in the "game", but at the top of that game still, I agree!). That having been said, I personally really enjoy my Iron Rangers: I like the style, and on my feet by going 1/2 size down they are a good fit and therefore comfortable.

Those with wider feet --unless you want to damage your feet and/or enjoy pain--might really wish to look at other options be it by Redwing or other makers for reasons already said, it being my understanding that Redwing's comfort guarantee does not apply to the Heritage line-up as well.

Posted on Sep 18, 2013 6:24:32 PM PDT
Mountain Man says:
I talked to a Red Wing store owner and he said the 30 days guarantee is for comfort only. This tells me you can't take them back becuz you just don't like there looks, etc etc. To get your money back requires the boots go back to the store you bought them. You can exchange them for another pr at a different store.

Posted on Oct 16, 2013 2:03:48 PM PDT
Knit Knots says:
Excellent review. I've been looking at the Iron Rangers for a while, and I'm beginning to realize they are like the Beats headphones of boots. Are there any stylish boots you recommend for long walks/hiking/working?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 22, 2013 9:07:46 AM PDT
Peter DeMars says:
I wear a 10 1/2 but because I have a wide foot I often have to go up to 11. Both the 10 and 10 1/2 Iron Ranger were too narrow and too long but the 9 1/2 EE fits great. So for those who have Fred Flintstone paddles for feet (like me), try a full size smaller than you would normally wear in EE. (The Beckmans are not available in a wide.)

Posted on Apr 23, 2014 5:02:20 PM PDT
C. Poole says:
I 100% agree with your review. I caught these on sale at the local Red Wing store and got fitted for the proper size. I love the boots, but the right heel slips way too much - to the point where I get a blister from walking in them. i had hoped that it would go away after the boots broke in, but now I see that this isn't likely to happen. I am unfortunately past the 30 day window.
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Location: Oklahoma City, OK USA

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