Red Wing Iron Ranger Vs. Wolverine 1000 Mile - Which Is the Best Men's Boot? - (2022)

It’s here: the ultimate boot showdown.

The question of Red Wing versus Wolverine has been the most hotly debated since time immemorial (or at least since online message boards were invented) and with good cause. The two companies’ flagship boots — the Iron Ranger and the 1000 Mile — are true icons of American footwear. Both companies are super old, both boots are considered by many as the perfect entry level boot, they both have 270-degree Goodyear welts, and they both have cult followings. These are some of the most popular boots in America and because they’re so close in price, well, people are constantly comparing the two.

Which comes out on top? While they have a lot in common, there are also a lot of key differences to take into consideration, particularly with regard to the leather, the sole, and most importantly how they aged — I have owned and worn both boots for months and unlike a lot of comparisons out there, I didn’t buy try on both boots and return one after walking around my living room. I’ve trudged through storms, hiked through blizzards, conditioned and re-conditioned these bad boys. And I think theres a pretty clear winner.



Table of Contents

First Glance

Red Wing Iron Ranger

I own the Amber Harness Iron Ranger, which is the most popular version of the boot. (Yes, they’ve darkened a bit since I bought them — Obenauf’s Leather Oildid a great job of keeping the leather moist over the years, but Red Wing’s own boot oil probably would have been better for maintaining the color.)

The defining feature of the Iron Ranger is the toe cap, which critics correctly call bulbous but I really like. It really emphasizes the fact that unlike the 1,000 Mile it’s not a remotely dressy boot. This is comfortably a work boot, designed to be reminiscent of the footwear Red Wing used to make for the iron miners toiling inside the Mesabi Iron Range in Minnesota.

The functional aesthetic is further emphasized by the triple stitching, the shiny nickel eyelets, the thick oil-tanned leather, and the sole. The sole has traditionally been cork but if you’re buying Iron Rangers today, you’re in for a super functional Vibram sole; Red Wing changed all of the models’ soles from cork to Vibram in summer 2018.

(Video) FIGHT! Red Wing Vs. Wolverine: Which Is the Better Boot?

Red Wing Iron Ranger Vs. Wolverine 1000 Mile - Which Is the Best Men's Boot? - (1)

Wolverine 1000 Mile

It’s instantly apparent that this is a more versatile boot. There’s no toe cap, there’s much less triple stitching, and the eyelets are more subdued. Like the Iron Ranger it has a 270-degree Goodyear welt and a cork midsole but the shoe aims for the title of all-rounder.

It’s a pretty wide, to be fair — there are no illusions that this can double as a dress shoe, but the Red Wings are more outdoorsy and knockaround. The 1000 Mile is less eye catching, less unique, and blends more easily into khakis and a button down. Can you wear it with a suit? No. Is it inconspicuous? For sure.

The leather is prettier, though, and less raw around the edges than Red Wing. Wolverine has opted for the world famous Chromexcel leather from Horween Leather Company, which has a rich pedigree and a richer depth of color, which I’ll discuss in more detail in the next section.

[Related: The 10 Best Dress Boots]

Red Wing Iron Ranger Vs. Wolverine 1000 Mile - Which Is the Best Men's Boot? - (2)

Red Wing vs Wolverine Leather

Red Wing Iron Rangers

  • Oil-tanned leather
  • Harder to wear in
  • Aged very well

This is an oil-tanned leather and to be honest, it’s a little hard to tell where it comes from. Red Wing proudly owns their own tannery, S.B. Foot Tanning Company, but the language on their site doesn’t actually state that this boot’s leather is made there. (It’s much clearer for certain leathers, like their Roughout.)

In any case, it’s a nice, full grain leatherthat’s remarkably thick, certainly more than two millimeters. That means they’re no fun to wear in (expect blisters) but over the year that I’ve owned them, the leather has slowly and molded to the shape of my foot. That’s the thing with full grain leather: it becomes more you as it ages. This boot was more rugged and stiffer than Wolverine’s, but it can take more of a beating.

As I mentioned above, I conditioned my Iron Rangers withObenauf’s Leather Oiland it worked a treat; the only complaint I have is that it darkened them a lot. People still like them, but I might have gone with Red Wing’s mink oil-based leather oil if I’d known the leather would change so much. (And if I weren’t so squeamish about using mink oil.)

Red Wing Iron Ranger Vs. Wolverine 1000 Mile - Which Is the Best Men's Boot? - (3)

Wolverine 1000 Mile

  • Chromexcel leather
  • Creased significantly
  • Plenty of loose grain

Chromexcel is a beloved leather from Horween Leather Tannery in Chicago that’s used in a ton of high end men’s boots, from super-expensive boots like theViberg Service Boot and the Alden Indy 403to regular-expensive boots like the Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill. It’s a combination tanned leather that’s made with 89 separate processes over 28 working days, during which the leather is stuffed with oils and waxes to produce an impressive depth of color. When compared to the Iron Ranger, the top finish is quite a bit more vulnerable to scratches and nicks, which is probably the biggest complaint with Chromexcel.

The leather is pretty hard wearing, though, and when it comes to taking care of Chromexcelyou can be comfortable with just using Venetian Shoe Cream, which Horween themselves recommend. Wolverine likes to suggest their own leather conditioner that’s made from mink oil and pine pitch, but you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, here. VSC works fine, butSaphir’s Renovateur is also one of Horween’s favorites if you’re more partial to a shiny boot.

(Video) Red Wing Iron Ranger vs Blacksmith - 10 Differences You Should Know

Now, I’ve worn better Chromexcel than this. It was much easier to wear in than the Iron Ranger, but withinone weekthe boot developed ugly creases all over the the shaft and the toe break. No, I wasn’t using shoe trees, but this wasone weekof wear. I can only conclude Wolverine’s leather selection isn’t top notch.

[Related: Venetian Shoe Cream vs Saphr Renovateur]

Red Wing Iron Ranger Vs. Wolverine 1000 Mile - Which Is the Best Men's Boot? - (4)


Red Wing Iron Ranger

  • Cork or Vibram outsole
  • Cork midsole, leather insole
  • Steel shank

My pair have a flat nitrile cork outsole, but as mentioned above if you bought your pair during or after summer 2018, you probably got the updated version with a 7-millimeter thick Vibram sole. Vibram is a great Italian rubber that has superb grip in rain and snow, but even my cork soles had decent grip, much better than the 1000 Mile.

After the outsole there’sa steel shank for arch support and stability plus a cork midsole and leather insole, both of which slowly molded to the shape of my foot. That sole combined with the (reluctantly) malleable leather made for a shoe that really fits like a glove after the gnarly break-in period.

The Goodyear welt is also worth mentioning since it boosts water resistance, but both boots have the same welt so it’s not great for comparing the two.

Red Wing Iron Ranger Vs. Wolverine 1000 Mile - Which Is the Best Men's Boot? - (5)

Wolverine 1000 Mile’s sole, fresh out of the box

Wolverine 1000 Mile

  • Leather sole
  • Vibram heel
  • Cork midsole, leather insole
  • No steel shank
  • Less durable heel

The undisputed loser of this section, Wolverine’s flat, butyl-treated leather sole has very poor grip. While it does gradually improve as it gets worn in, you’re rewarded with a very ugly, scraped up outsole that I didn’t love at all.

There is a Vibram heel to help reduce slippage and absorb shock, and I do have to hand it to Wolverine in that regard: it absorbs shock better than the cork sole from Red Wing. But since that shoe now has a Vibram sole I’m confident that today’s Iron Ranger has eclipsed the Wolverine in this regard.

There’s also no shank, soa dress boot, plus the heel of my 1000 Miles started to detach after about a month of wear. The Iron Ranger, on the other hand, has no issues with the heel after more than a year.

Red Wing Iron Ranger Vs. Wolverine 1000 Mile - Which Is the Best Men's Boot? - (6)

(Video) Wolverine Boots vs Redwing Comparison

Red Wing Vs Wolverine Sizing

  • Order a half size down from sneaker size for both boots
  • Red Wing has more arch support with shank
  • 1000 Mile has better heel support

The sizing is about the same for both brands: you should order a half size down from your sneaker size. I’m between an 11.5 and a 12 on a Brannock device but I’m a solid size 11 in both the Red Wing and the Wolverine boots.

Width-wise, Red Wing has D and EE, Wolverine D and EEE. Folks with narrow widths are out of luck.

Red Wing vs Wolverine Price

Red Wing Iron Ranger

Both on Amazon and on Red Wing’s official site, these shoes run about $349.99. The price can fluctuate a bit and on Nordstrom in particular, they frequently go on sale for under $300. But if you want a pair of these bad boys today, head to Amazon for the best price.


Wolverine 1000 Mile

One pair will set you back $385 on Wolverine’s site but they’re also a little cheaper on Amazon, selling for anywhere between $320 and $360. It’s rare to see them under $350, though, so Red Wing is the clear winner on price.


Red Wing Iron Ranger Vs. Wolverine 1000 Mile - Which Is the Best Men's Boot? - (7)

Red Wing Iron Ranger Vs Wolverine 1000 Mile: Who Wins?

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the 1000 Mile if you were trying to decide between the two and you wanted a more formal boot that wouldn’t lookasout of place with nice khakis. If versatility and dressiness is what you’re after, the Wolverine — while far froma dress boot — is your best option.

But if you’re just looking for a high quality boot you can wear with jeans or khakis, go with the Iron Ranger. It’s cheaper, it has better grip, it’s better at supporting the foot, and most importantly it ages much, much better.

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(Video) 1 YEAR with the RED WING IRON RANGER (2021) STILL Worth It?

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Red Wing Iron Ranger Vs. Wolverine 1000 Mile - Which Is the Best Men's Boot? - (8)

By day: Manhattan-based journalist with reporting experience on four continents, published in Vice, Men's Health, Popular Science, and a bunch of other places.By night: ravenous consumer of anything and everything related to high end men's boots.Stridewise is where I nurture a maniacal obsession with footwear and share my findings. Say hey: [emailprotected]

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Are Red Wing work boots comfortable? ›

Red Wing Shoes is a premier work boot company, making some of the finest work boots. The SuperSole 2.0 boots are all made with a comfortable dual density outsole. A very soft inner part of the outsole allows for great relief while walking or standing for long periods of time.

Are Red Wing Iron Rangers worth it? ›

At more than double the cost of the Thorogood, the Red Wing Iron Ranger is the priciest boot on our list but it's also the best. With no compromises on materials, construction, fit, or aesthetics, the Iron Ranger is our recommendation for the best entry level Goodyear Welted boot.

Do Wolverine 1000 Mile boots have a steel shank? ›

There's also no shank, so a dress boot, plus the heel of my 1000 Miles started to detach after about a month of wear.

Are Red Wing Iron Ranger boots waterproof? ›

Boot 8111, the Red Wing Iron Ranger, is premium 6 inch boot built from S.B. Foot Tanning Company's Amber Harness Leather. This oil-tanned leather is stain proof, waterproof, sweat resistant, and features an extremely natural aesthetic that makes it one of our most popular boots.

Are Red Wing boots made in USA? ›

The Red Wing Shoe brand is primarily handmade in the USA with American materials at the company's plants in Red Wing, Minnesota; Potosi, Missouri, and Danville, Kentucky.

Why are Redwings so expensive? ›

Red Wings do carry a premium price tag but are made with premium materials. The uppers are S.B. Foot full-grain leather and feature vegetable tanned leather midsoles and cork filler help mold to your foot as you wear them.

How Long Will Red Wing Iron Rangers last? ›

How long will Iron Rangers last? It depends on how well you care for them and how you use them. If you're using them for everyday wear, they can easily last several decades if you condition them two-three times a year, add shoe trees, and resole them when needed, too.

Are Redwings made in China? ›

Only the Heritage line is made in the United States. Their work boot lines and other brands they make (Irish Setter Boots, Vasque, and Worx) are made outside the USA in Asia, primarily China, Korea, and Vietnam.

Can you wear Iron Rangers in the rain? ›

The Red Wing Iron Ranger is a 6 inch premium boot constructed from Amber Harness Leather, a purpose built, oil tanned leather from the S.B. Foot Tanning company. The leather is waterproof, stain proof, and perspiration resistant, all without sacrificing an extremely natural look.

How long do Wolverine boots last? ›

The 1000 Mile boot is Wolverine's crown jewel and the original, first introduced in the 1910s. It got its name because it was built to last for 1000 miles of wear.

Where are Wolverines boots made? ›

Wolverine USA Made Boots

These "Made in the USA" boots start with the best materials from around the world and then they are handcrafted in factories across America; including Wolverine's factory in Grand Rapids Michigan.

Where are Wolverine 1000 Mile boots made? ›

Wolverine 1000 Mile Boot Overview

Wolverine has been making boots in Rockford, Michigan since 1883.

How often should I oil my Red Wing boots? ›

We recommend to treat your boots 4-5 times (it depends on usage of your boots and weather conditions) a year, especially in winter months.

What size Iron Ranger should I get? ›

For most people, you want to order the Iron Ranger a half size smaller than your standard sneaker size. So if you wear a size 11 (US) in sneakers, you're best bet is a size 10.5. That said, because of the bump toe style, if you have more narrow feet, you can order a size 10 for a snug and secure fit.

Are Wolverine boots made in China? ›

Frye, Wolverine, and Chippewa have only certain styles that are still USA made, everything else is made in China.

Is Red Wing going out of business? ›

The iconic Red Wing Stoneware pottery company will close its doors in September, the company's owners announced on Facebook Monday. The company cited low-cost competitors as a reason for ceasing manufacturing and sales.

Where are Redwing boots manufactured? ›

As you might already know, all the Red Wing Heritage boots are manufactured in the USA by hand. We've had a tour through the Red Wing Shoe Factory Plant 2 in Red Wing, Minnesota where almost all of our Red Wing Heritage boots are manufactured.

Who makes Red Wing boots? ›

All Red Wing Heritage boots are made from leather tanned at S.B. Foot Tanning Company. Owned by Red Wing since the 1980s, the tannery has been providing leather for Red Wing since they opened their doors in 1905.

Who owns Red Wing Shoes? ›

The Sweasy family of Red Wing, Minnesota, solely own Red Wing Shoe. Until the 1970s, Red Wing's reputation rested primarily on a wide variety of footwear marketed as "work shoes," emphasizing their practical applications in the workplace.

How do I make my Red Wing boots more comfortable? ›

Thick socks help with sore feet,” he says. After about 100 wears, if they get very wet, very dirty or you feel like it: wipe them clean with a wet rag. Apply your favorite Red Wing Leather Care (plain old Mink oil works just the same) product. Let it set.

Are Iron Ranger boots good for work? ›

It's going to be kind of right in the middle it's not the most excellent leather i've seen in terms

Can you wear iron rangers with a suit? ›

Iron Ranger with suit - Iron Rangers are not traditionally associated with a suit, but if you know how to work with colors, they work pretty well together. For instance, a dark brown Iron Ranger fits perfectly with a grey suit for an office look, while a black boot works with a black suit.

How many years do Iron Rangers last? ›

Well one of the reasons it's so tough to break in a new pair of these boots, is because the leather is very rigid, but this is also what makes the Iron Rangers so durable. They really are well-built and if you're not doing intense work in them, they should absolutely last a lifetime.

Is Red Wing boot USA legit? ›

I was almost fooled by a site that claims to be a USA outlet version of Red Wing's online store. They seem to have every version of Red Wing boots available in all sizes, all for over 50% off retail. This is a scam site.

What work boot is made in USA? ›

Two key footwear brands of work boots made in America are Danner and Thorogood. Danner has been producing USA made boots in their Portland, Oregon plant for years and has reinvigorated their in-house manufacturing.

Do Red Wing boots have a steel shank? ›

Most Red Wing boots are made with a traditional welt attachment, which requires about a dozen steps: It begins with the filler, which adds cushioning. Then, a shank of metal or plastic is glued on before the filler is added.

Can you use Iron Rangers for hiking? ›

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.

Can you wear Red Wing boots in summer? ›

Another option but I wouldn't normally wear black I would wear Brown usually during the day in the

Can you hike in Red Wing Iron Rangers? ›

So if you're you know working in the city or somewhere like that you can understand just how tough

Do Wolverine 1000 Mile boots run big or small? ›

Wolverine 1000 Mile Fit and Sizing

They definitely run big, meaning you should order a smaller size than you normally wear.

Do Wolverine boots have a lifetime warranty? ›

Answer: Wolverine generally only grants a one year defect policy. However, I would take them back to the store of purchase or a Wolverine retailer and show them the problem. I have a feeling that they will at least give you some sort of store credit toward a new pair.

How do you break in a Wolverine 1000 Mile boot? ›

Fit you can take if you have stairs in your house or just right outside of your apartment or house i


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