Fall Boot Series: Red Wing Iron Ranger

A classic look that will never go out of style.
My Iron Rangers are size
9.5
My other sizes are:
Allen Edmonds 10
Thorogood 10
Clarks Desert Boots 10
Converse Jack Purcell 10.5
Wolverine 1000 Mile 9
Chippewa 9.5

When you’re looking to invest some hard-earned money into a pair of boots, there are a few things on the requirement sheet. Soft, full grain leather. Good year welt construction for extra durability. A beautiful silhouette that looks great on a date or on your day off. Added points if they’re made in America. For many, the first choice to satisfy this list is Red Wing’s Iron Ranger 8111 Boot.

Affectionately known as Iron Rangers due to their toughness, the local hard-working miners of the Mesabi Iron Range in northern Minnesota performed grueling hard work, and needed a hard-working boot to keep them on their feet. The Iron Ranger boots were originally designed in the 1920’s with an extra leather cap-toe to provide more toe protection. (Interestingly, Red Wing would be one of the first to introduce steel toe footwear a decade later.)

The Iron Rangers feature Texas steer, full-grain, oil tanned Amber Harness leather, that while tough and durable, is also supple and comfortable. The sole of the boot is a nitrile cork sole, a durable material that sheds water and oil. It won’t dry out and crack like a rubber sole, and is more durable than a leather sole. However, due to its smooth surface and lack of lugs, walking in slippery conditions requires care. The heel is nail seated so it can be rehealed or completely resoled.

Just like their Beckman brethren, the Iron Rangers feature a triple stitch sewn by 100 year old Puritan sewing machines, with the cap toe actually being quad stitched.

Even Red Wing admits their boots need broken-in to be comfortable due to the tough leather used, but I found my Iron Rangers to be perfectly comfortable out of the box. I had no trouble walking a mile to and from a friend’s place on Day 1, and I can only imagine how great they’ll feel completely broken-in. Much more comfortable than my Red Wing 875’s were out of the box. The Iron Rangers feature a full-grain leather footbed, adding durability, as well as a moldable quality, allowing the insole to conform to your foot.

Many guys wrestle between buying the Iron Ranger and Wolverine’s 1000 Mile Boot. Both are sharp, long-lasting boots, and the decision really boils down to which design is favored, and whether a cork sole or leather sole is preferred. Either would be a great investment.

Pick up a pair on Amazon for $310.

Primer’s Fall Boot Series

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.

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  • Devon Caldwell

    Andrew, great write up, but I think you definitely should mention that you can often find these beauties on Sierra Trading Post for about half that price if you’re persistent.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Aren’t those typically factory seconds?

      • Marc

        Yes, they usually are from my experience looking.

      • http://Batmannananana.com/ Caesar Merlin

        still not a bad price for a good boot

    • Brian Six

      I picked up mine from Nordstrom duriing their yearly sale for around $200.

  • James

    Love the look of these, but I was really worried about the cork sole being slippery on wet surfaces. Do you think it is slick enough that it warrants putting some kind of rubber half sole on?

    I ended up choosing the Chippewa Service Boot which has a Vibram sole for this reason.

    • Cole

      if you live where there’s snow on the ground often and you don’t have another boot to go to in that case, then yes, traction is not going to be the best for you.

  • http://kalebcoleman.com/ Kaleb Coleman

    I really dig my Indy Alden 405’s, freaking tanks…

  • kryogenix

    Scored a pair of these on Amazon during a lightning sale, first quality and free shipping for 198.00$. Love them.

  • Tucker

    Love these boots! Got them at their factory store. I’ve mink oiled them a couple times through a couple winters now, and they are easily my most second-skin comfortable boots. They also look great with anything from jeans to dress casual. Only downside! They have no tread on the bottom, so they are a bit slippery in the ice/snow if you’re not careful, but not so much that you can’t wear them in winter, just don’t plan on running down an icy sidewalk and you’ll be fine.

  • steve

    I got a pair two weeks ago at nordstrom rack for 158. Was super happy

  • Adam

    Will you be posting any boots that will work with dress clothes for when you have to dress up nice but the weather won’t cooperate?

  • Ben

    When you mention boot silhouette what are you considering? What shapes would be considered most versatile and desirable?

  • Guest

    Thanks for the write up Andrew. Headed out to pick up a pair soon. What color is the model used in the photo spread?

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Hey Drew, Mine are the “amber” color.

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  • Rick Fisher

    Hi Andrew,
    Great write-up! While your comparative shoe sizes are very helpful, might I ask what your size is on a Brannock?
    Thanks,
    Rick Fisher