Even though I review quality gear on a regular basis, I am by no means a guy who likes to have doubles and triples of something. I prefer to get the best I can within my means and take care of that investment. When my old boots finally kicked the dust, I wanted something with heirloom quality and a timeless design that will look as good in 2099 as it did in 1929. It was a pretty easy choice, The Redwing Iron Ranger Boots.
The Copper Rough & Tough Leather is sourced from S.B. Tannery in Minnesota. It’s a oil based tan that yields a water, stain and sweat resistant finish. Redwing recently upgraded the soles to Vibram 430 mini lug. You still get the same sleek side profile, but enhanced traction. Nickel eyelets and hooks house the laces, and a Goodyear welt ties it all together. These have a steel shank (typically a steel plate that provides structure and support to the boot sandwiched between the soles) Each boot weighs about 1lb 12oz. We see triple stitching along high stress areas and raw grain leather on interior.
As one who handles a lot of leather goods, I know you got to give a little to get a little. You can’t just slip these on and go hiking. They’re stiff, tight and firm. When breaking in boots, I’ll usually just throw them on while going out for a few errands, then give it a day. After a few weeks of moderate wear they’ll start to conform. The rumours are true though, these boots run large. I typically wear a size 10, and opted for a 9.5. The width is great and will stretch, but I still have a good half to three quarters of an inch play in the toe. This doesn’t really bother me as are snug and I’m not tripping. If you’re ordering online, I’d recommend ordering a full and half size down, and just returning the pair that doesn’t fit as well.
One of my serious concerns with the Iron Rangers were warnings from previous owners about the cork outsole performance on slick surfaces. I’m happy to report that the Iron Rangers have a new Vibram mini lugged sole that has great grip. In the winter, I insert a shearling sole into these boots, and paired with some thick Merino socks you can pretty much tackle any cold weather activity. The gusseted tongue does an excellent job at keeping out water and debris as well.
This style’s origins have roots in Minnesota’s iron mining history. Originally produced to withstand the insane work environments of the miners. Probably the most notable feature on Iron Rangers is the dual layered toe cap. I really appreciate the look it provides. The Copper Rough & Tough Leather is for me, hands down the best looking color you can get these boots in. The warm, golden hues really pair well with any pants you throw at them. If this makes sense to you, I really believe these boots are the ugliest the first day you get them, and then they just keep getting better looking after each use.
There’s a reason Redwing Iron Rangers are unanimously regarded as one of the best boots around. The proof is in the pudding; top quality materials and expert craftsmanship. You can find boots that cost twice as much, but you’d most likely not be getting much more return. With the ability to resole, I could easily see wearing these boots for the next decade.