Work boots have become massively popular in the last five years, enjoying a newfound level of popularity as part of the resurgence in vintage American workwear clothing. While work boots used to sit in the closet until there was heavy lifting to be done, they’re now a popular choice of footwear for everyone from hipsters to white collar workers.
Many companies have capitalized on the new popularity of work boots, creating their own “vintage” style boots. While the cheapest options are found in the usual high street stores, you’ll get the best quality boots (at a surprisingly reasonable price) by buying from a boot maker with a good history.
Two companies that fit this category are Red Wing, a company based in the city of Red Wing, Minnesota, and Wolverine. Both companies offer quality work boots that are made in America. Two of their most popular models are the Red Wing Iron Ranger — a heavy duty work boot — and the Wolverine 1000 Mile Boot. Below, we’ve compared the two.
Before we get into comparing the shoes, let’s look at what they both have in common. Both are made in the USA. Both are Goodyear welted, making it easy to replace the soles as they wear out. Both use thick, comfortable leather that provides plenty of foot protection when worn.
The biggest difference between the two pairs of boots is the style. The Red Wing Iron Rangers have a bigger toe cap — a feature that some people like to poke fun at as a “clown shoe” design. They generally don’t look quite as sleek and stylish as the Wolverine 1000 Miles, which have a thinner profile and a smaller toe cap.
On the construction side, the Red Wings are our pick. The Wolverine 1000 Miles have a leather sole, which wears surprisingly quickly when they’re used frequently. Many people have to replace the sole on their Wolverines within the first 12-24 months of use. The Red Wings, on the other hand, have a thick cork sole that can really take a beating.
Overall, our pick is the Red Wing Iron Ranger. It’s a little less sleek and stylish than the Wolverine 1000 Mile boot, but the higher quality sole and extra durability make it a better option from a durability and value for money standpoint.