About the Author: Zach S. is an expedition and product/lifestyle photographer from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and a graduate of The United States Military Academy Preparatory School. When he’s not doing photography, he’s writing and working towards his goal of becoming a Marine Aviator. Click here for Zach’s 5 Favorites.
A few weeks ago, I received a box containing a pair of Red Wing’s new “Weekender” line Chelsea boots to review for you guys. Now that I’ve had them for a while, and they’ve been safely returned to kind folks who loaned them to us, I’m ready to write this review.
I’ve not been paid by Red Wing to do this review, so I’m coming at it unbiased. Nobody likes a shill, and so I won’t be one. As you will see it has a bit of good and bad, and while I won’t be purchasing a pair of these anytime soon, they do fill a niche that some of you may have.
The boots came neatly packaged in the standard Red Wing box, the same used for Iron Rangers or any of the other boots in their lineup. Included in my review sample were a few accessories including a suede brush, a brass shoehorn, and some shoe care spray.
These boots are light. Like, really light. I was pretty surprised by this, and immediately gave the boots a once-over, to check the quality. Usually “lightweight” and “cheaply made” are bedfellows in the world of boots, and so I was immediately suspicious. This aside, the stitching was all straight, and the suede was clean, and the boots appeared well finished. But let it be known. If you’re expecting the usual heft and solidness of a traditional Red Wing Boot? You will be sorely disappointed here.
The whole package that Huckberry sells.
You can get just the boots direct through Red Wing, for a penny less.
I was informed that this was intentionally a lighter-weight, cheaper construction boot. This relieved me, and so I adjusted my expectations a bit. As previously mentioned, the stitching was straight, and the assembly was neat and identical across both boots. These are designed to be re-soled, which is good, because the current sole is sort of a pseudo-crepe sole that I’m not thrilled with. I think a large part of the “cheap” feeling I got was due to this sole, which I was informed was selected for both weight-saving and economic reasons. This seems to be a hallmark of Red Wing’s new Weekender line.
Generally speaking, I go a half size down when I wear boots, but these were a bit snug, so I would get them true to size. Aside from the tightness, which is no fault of the boot, the fit was good. There were no loose seams to rub blisters and the large pull-tabs on the rear of the boots made wearing them easy. Given that Chelsea boots have elastic sides, if you size these properly, you’ll never need to use that shoehorn.
The “Hill” outsole is lightweight. Real lightweight.
And so textured that it looks serrated/maybe even chewed up.
I’d say they’re good for casual wear. I wear boots on a daily basis, so I could see using these for general walking around. The elastic would come in handy if I flew for business a lot and had to constantly remove my shoes. The tan suede is a good neutral, and if there are any veterans reading this, they’re almost a perfect match to the Army’s sand colored boots, and not nearly as dark as the coyote tan of my USMC boots. Ideally these seem great when paired with dark wash jeans and a casual sweater, but I’d also be okay rocking them with some chinos.
This is where your personal opinion will probably be the deciding factor. I personally think there are better American-made boots for 240 dollars than these. Chippewa has plenty of options in that range, and for a little more you’d be in the range of some of Red Wing’s more iconic shoes. While the construction of these boots is good, I don’t know that it’s any better than less expensive Chelsea boots. That being said, these are Chelsea boots, and so it’s not like you’re going to be herding cattle or storming a beach in them, so for casual wear I imagine they’ll last a long time, especially if you use the suede brush to keep them in good shape.
Ultimately, the Red Wing Weekender Chelseas are decently made casual boots by a reputable maker based in the USA. I don’t see them failing at their designed purpose any time soon, and so I give them my stamp of approval. I probably won’t buy a pair, but if you’re in need of a casual suede boot and you don’t want to be bothered with laces, purchasing from a legendary brand like Red Wing is probably a pretty safe bet.