Red Wing 8111 Iron Ranger Boots – $210 – $300ish via Amazon
Note: Since it’s Amazon, price can vary depending on what size/width/color you’re looking for. Other places to keep an eye out for these to go on sale would be Club Monaco (during a tiered code promo) or on Nordstrom during their yearly anniversary sale or another big, rare sale.
Let’s face facts. The meshing of heritage, blue collar workwear with regular everyday casual wear has been taking place for a while now. Whether it is the rise of the Lumbersexual or the desire to get back to our explorer or more hands-on roots, what might be called “traditional” workwear is quietly making its way in to our daily, perhaps more tailored, wardrobe. With this in mind I decided over the winter break that I wanted a pair of boots. After combing over the Dappered Forums (check here or here for a few examples of the boot discussions taking place), I decided the Red Wing Iron Rangers were the boots for me.
Now, I am no woodsman. I don’t heat my home with wood I chopped from my woodlot, nor do I wear lot of flannel. But I do look for a quality, stylish, and affordable (on sale) product, and by all accounts the Iron Ranger fits these requirements nicely. So when the Boxing Day sales landed, and the Iron Rangers came in to in my price range, I snapped them up.
Behold, and bask in the superior constructed glory.
First things first. These are a beautifully constructed boot. The leather is quality stuff and the stitching feels equally well done. There were no loose threads that I could see, and I have to say the craftsmanship is definitely top notch. You know that feeling you get when you hold a product in your hand that you can just tell is a step above the norm? Yeah, that’s what I felt when I hefted these guys out of the box and took a look at them for the first time.
Before plunking down my hard earned money though, I did my homework. Word around the forums is that these boots run big and I was certainly no exception to this rule. For comparison’s sake I normally wear an 11D in all Allen Edmonds shoes and a straight up 11 in other types of footwear. Yet for the Iron Rangers I settled on a 10.5. I knew I’d wear these boots with standard socks, as opposed to big wooly suckers, so that might have impacted my sizing; your desired fit may vary depending on your sock of choice. Once the boots were on my feet and laced up, they felt snug, and there was no heel slippage as I walked around the store. My toes had plenty of room in the toe box and the width of the boot was good enough that my feet didn’t feel like they were being compressed into sausages.
Not a wilting flower. Big. As in, consider sizing down by half.
I have now been wearing the boots off and on for about a month and can share the following observations.
- These boots are slippery in the wet. The Nitrile Cork sole on the 8111 Iron Ranger is not the best for wet conditions. Whether walking for the bus in the rain, or just plain walking through a mall/restaurant when the sole of the boot is wet, I had to catch myself from falling a few times. Considering I live in a wet climate, I’m having to walk with extra caution when wearing these boots. The 8085 version of the boot offers a Vibram sole with mini-lugs for extra grip, but the sole just doesn’t look quite as sleek.
- The leather on the boots scratches/marks easily. If you’re looking to keep your Iron Rangers in pristine shape, the waxed leather ones might not be for you. Just the matter of running my finger nail along the leather as I was grabbing for a lace resulted in a mark in the leather. This isn’t a big deal for me as I know the boots will get worn and eventually show signs of wear, but still good to know/be aware of.
- The boots are not sleek. This last point can be up for debate as one person’s sleekness is another’s bulky. But when I put these boots side by side with my Wolverine 1000 Mile boots, the 1000 Mile to my eye is more streamline in the toe box area.
Left: Iron Rangers. Right: Wolverine 1k, with a slightly slimmer toe.
Despite these concerns, I am happy with my Iron Rangers. The boots are comfortable, random people on the street have asked me about them, and they fill a hole in my footwear collection that I wasn’t even aware was present. I’m almost disappointed that we’re on the back-end of winter, as it means my boot wearing days will be coming to an end. Like I said though – almost.
About the author: Dave I. has been a Dappered reader for several years. His interest in fashion started with shoes and expanded to encompass watches, suits, and general men’s style. When not thinking about his next purchase he can be found enjoying a pint of locally brewed craft beer.