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 Edmonds10
Thorogood10
Clarks Desert Boots10
Converse Jack Purcell10.5
Wolverine 1000 Mile9
Chippewa9.5

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.