High-quality protective gear is the key to enjoyable and successful welding projects. Although some newbies may not realize this yet, work boots are one of the most important pieces of this puzzle. A well-made pair of welding boots provides both comfort and protection against flying sparks, spatter, sharp and heavy objects, and other professional hazards.
Aside from eliminating or significantly reducing the risk of foot injuries, quality welding boots also enable you to work longer, which is always a huge plus. Now, aside from that, I know that many welders want to look good while working. If you’re one of them, you’ll be glad to learn that there are plenty of stylish welding safety boots that go with practically every casual outfit.
When it comes to choosing work boots, Red Wing is one of the most reputable footwear brands you can opt for. Thanks to their functionality, durability, and aesthetic appeal, Red Wings are extremely popular among professionals and ‘regular’ folks.
Selecting the very best Red Wing boots for welding isn’t an easy task as there are so many options to choose from. Luckily, you don’t have to spend hours researching and reading reviews online to make a smart shopping decision. This article has all the information you need to figure out which of the Red Wing models listed below is ideal for you.
Best Overall: Red Wing Men’s Iron Ranger 6” Boot
The Iron Ranger is probably the most easily recognizable Red Wing footwear style. This collection was named after the Iron Range area near Lake Superior in Minnesota to honor North America’s biggest iron ore producer and its hard-working miners.
The Iron Ranger 6” Boot is the most iconic Red Wing work shoe because it provides excellent protection. Handmade with full-grain leather, this Red Wing model is suitable for both beginners and experienced welders. Additionally, the Iron Ranger 6” Boot features a double-layer leather toe cap that will ensure that your toes don’t get hurt in case you drop a heavy metal piece while working. It also features a bump toe that allows you to move your toes more freely.
Another great reason to get your hands on this gorgeous Red Wing work boot as soon as possible is its versatility. The top-quality leather upper and the nitrile cork sole are made to adapt to your feet. In other words, the more often you wear these boots, the more they’ll mold to the shape of your foot.
Last but not least, the Iron Ranger 6” Boot is tastefully designed with nickel eyelets and hooks. You can decide between two color options: Amber Harness and Black Harness.
- Made of impressively durable leather;
- Features a Goodyear welt and triple-stitch construction;
- Comes with a steel shank;
- Extremely comfortable due to the extra wiggle room;
- Fits different foot shapes;
- Easy to care for.
- A bit pricey;
- Doesn’t come with rear pull loops.
Red Wing’s Iron Ranger 6” Vibram Boot is my second pick for three main reasons. Firstly, this boot is made of top-grade waxed nubuck leather which is resistant to wear. Leather is an absolute must when it comes to welding boots because it’s the only material you can rely on if you want to properly protect your feet during working hours.
Secondly, this Red Wing model is built with a Vibram 430 Mini-lug sole which is oil-resistant, grippy, and long-lasting. This is a great advantage because welding requires stability when standing. In addition to this, the Iron Ranger 6” Vibram Boot features a steel shank. This piece is added to protect the bottom of your foot from any potential injuries, prevent punctures, and strengthen the boot.
Thirdly, just like the previous model, the Iron Ranger 6” Vibram Boot provides ample room for your toes and is designed to create a personalized fit over time. This means you won’t have to deal with blisters and chafing.
However, these boots aren’t flawless comfort-wise. The lining isn’t made of a breathable material, which is why you’ll need to get yourself a few pairs of moisture-wicking socks. After all, you’ll be exposed to extremely high temperatures in the workspace.
The Iron Ranger 6” Vibram Boots come in 4 different colors, including Black Harness, Charcoal Rough and Tough, Copper Rough and Tough, and Hawthorne Muleskinner. Aside from pairing them with your work attire, you can also combine them with a nice pair of jeans and hit the pub with your friends for some after-work fun.
- Made of 100% top-grade leather;
- Features a sturdy welt construction and strong hardware;
- Comfortable and easily adaptable to different foot shapes;
- Features an oil-resistant and durable Vibram sole;
- Beautifully designed.
- A bit hard to break in;
Most Durable: Red Wing Heritage Men’s Blacksmith Vibram Boot
The Blacksmith Vibram Boot was primarily designed to protect the wearer’s feet from hot cinders at their workshop. Today, this 6-inch work boot is extremely popular among welders and metalsmiths in general. This is so because the shoe provides outstanding durability and tasteful round-toe styling.
Red Wing’s Blacksmith Boot is made of premium-quality leather. It features a three-quarter Goodyear welt, a Vibram 430 Mini-lug outsole, dull gilt hooks and eyelets, and a steel shank. Welding boots that come with a steel shank are a smart choice because the flat and thin steel piece maintains the boot shape, improves stability on uneven terrains, and increases arch support.
Additionally, the Blacksmith is designed to keep your feet comfortable by adjusting to them and creating a customized fit. Unfortunately, you’ll have to endure a week of break-in pain before you reap this benefit. It’s totally worth it, though. Take a look at the product images on Amazon if you’re not sold on this investment yet—you’ll be able to shine them up and incorporate them in practically any casual outfit of yours. Talk about versatility!
- Made of oiled and waxed nubuck leather;
- Features a Puritan triple stitch, a Goodyear welt construction, and a long-lasting synthetic sole;
- Offers reliable all-season traction;
- Creates a comfortable and personalized fit;
- The laces are somewhat short and a bit waxy.
Most Budget-Friendly: Red Wing Heritage Men’s Classic Moc 6” Boot
If you are on the hunt for reliable welding shoes that won’t break the bank, then you should consider buying the Classic Moc 6” Boots. These briar oil-slick leather boots were primarily made for sportsmen, but thanks to their exceptional comfort, steady traction, and longevity, they became popular among farm and factory workers as well.
The 6-Inch Classic Moc Boot delivers a lot of bang for your buck. It features a Traction Tred outsole and Goodyear welt construction. The rubber sole is relatively hard-wearing and comfortable, while the Norwegian welt construction improves the boot’s overall strength and durability.
The briar oil-slick leather makes this work boot stain and perspiration-resistant. Plus, the upper is waterproof. These qualities might not matter much to you if you weld in a shop, but those who work in a shipyard will appreciate the extra protection as they know that water and welding machines form a dangerous combo.
In addition to wearing these boots when on the job, you can incorporate them into your everyday wardrobe as well.
- Made of waxed full-grain leather;
- Features a thick synthetic sole;
- Stain and perspiration-resistant;
- Not suitable for heavy-duty welding projects.
Most Lightweight: Red Wing Heritage Men’s Work Chukka
Last on our list is Red Wing’s Work Chukka. This boot isn’t as reliable for heavy-duty welding sessions as our previous picks, but it’s definitely worthy of your consideration. In addition to being extremely lightweight (it weighs only 1.19 pounds), the Work Chukka is also exceptionally comfortable. The white Atlas Tred polyurethane outsole is shock-absorbent and provides great grip.
The all-leather footbed lining is possibly my favorite thing about this work boot. It keeps your feet cool and dry, which is more than welcome for welders. Plus, the boot comes with three pairs of nickel eyelets and hard-wearing laces that allow for a comfortable fit. The beautiful leather, the subtle stitching, and the tasteful hardware make the Work Chukka a great choice for after-work, night-out ensembles as well.
Sadly, the Work Chukka doesn’t feature a shank or a safety toe cap, meaning it might not protect your foot from heavy objects. This makes the Work Chukka suitable only for lighter work.
- Built with waxed full-grain leather;
- Made to adapt to the wearer’s feet;
- Offers ample room for your toes;
- Provides climate control;
- Features a flexible rubber sole that makes it great for bending and kneeling;
- Comes with a resoleable welt.
- Doesn’t feature a shank;
- Suitable only for light-duty work;
- A bit expensive.
Deciding on a pair of Red Wing boots for welding can be a difficult task as there are so many amazing options to choose from. Consider the following important factors to narrow down your choices and make a smart shopping decision.
Materials and Comfort
When looking for a nice pair of welding boots, the materials they are made of should be the first thing you check. This is where leather is an absolute must. Leather welding boots will not only protect you from professional hazards like flying sparks, toxic spills on the floor, heated metal pieces, and other heavy objects, but they will also create an optimal temperature for your feet.
Aside from being heat-resistant, many quality leather work boots are also waterproof. Finally, leather is an extremely durable material, meaning you won’t have to invest in a new pair in the foreseeable future – if you take care of them properly, that is. Luckily, all Red Wing models reviewed in this article are made of high-grade leather. When it comes to leather types, many experts agree that full-grain leather beats all the rest simply because it hasn’t been sanded, weakened, or corrected in any way. This is, without a doubt, the strongest and most reliable material for work boots.
Comfort is a key factor as well. Welders spend a significant portion of the day on their feet, which is why you should go with a pair of boots that can mold to the shape of your feet. Be prepared to endure a week or two of pain until you break them in. It’s a small price to pay for many years of personalized comfort, though.
A welding boot’s sole is another important piece of the puzzle. To avoid ending up with a puncture wound as a result of stepping on a nail or some other sharp object, pick a pair of work boots with thick and long-lasting soles. Chemical and slip resistance is another desirable quality here. This is so because a welder’s workshop floor is often oily due to the anti-rust oils and stamping lubricants they use. Lastly, keep in mind that resoling your work boots is worth spending a few extra bucks.
For increased protection, opt for a pair of Red Wing work boots that feature a safety toe cap. This will eliminate or significantly reduce the risk of getting your toes hurt if you drop a heavy load. Since you won’t have to deal with any major toe injuries, you’ll be able to complete your work faster if that’s what you want.
Red Wing offers work boots with steel and non-metallic toe protection. Both are suitable for mid and heavy-duty work, but non-metallic toe caps are lighter, which makes them the obvious choice for many welders.
Steel shanks improve the overall functionality of welding boots, too. A steel shank is a thin and flat piece of steel sandwiched between the outsole and insole of the boot. It provides many benefits, but balance and arch support are definitely the key ones. Although overlooked by many, steel shanks are an irreplaceable part of a nice work boot.
Even though none of the models on this list has this feature, a metatarsal guard is a very useful personal protective equipment item, as well. Met guards prevent injuries to the top of the foot from heavy falling objects. I don’t think this feature is a must, but do check out Red Wing’s WORX Met Guard Boot if you think it’ll improve your performance through the comfort of knowing your whole foot’s safe.
I’m well aware of the fact that most welders do their jobs away from water. However, shipyard welders work on small yachts, cruise ships, and aircraft carriers, which means they can come in contact with water. High-voltage welding machines and water don’t exactly go well together, which is why buying water-resistant work boots is a must in such cases.
Quality is never cheap. Many of us have learned this the hard way. Plus, having to constantly repair your welding boots and/or replace them with a brand new pair every year is a complete nuisance. This is why I recommend investing in a top-rated Red Wing boot regardless of its price. Trust me, this is how you’ll save money in the long run.
In case you’re shopping on a budget, prioritize the material as well as the functionality features. If you have to, always value durability and comfort over aesthetic appeal.
Best Red Wing Boots for Welding: Conclusion
Each and every one of the Red Wing boots reviewed in this article is an amazing choice. Before making a final decision, here’s a brief summary of our top 5 picks.
The Iron Ranger 6-Inch Boot is at the top of our list because it offers everything a welder needs. In addition to being exceptionally durable and comfortable, they are also very stylish. Just a little all-natural boot oil is all it takes to keep them in excellent shape and wear them both in your workshop and after work. This Iron Ranger model is ideal for all types of welding, which makes it the best investment a blacksmith could make.
Red Wing’s Iron Ranger 6-Inch Vibram Boot runs a close second. Yes, it’s a bit pricey, but it’s totally worth it. Since it’s made of high-grade nubuck leather, it’ll survive years of wear and tear. The oil-resistant Vibram sole is what I love most about this beautifully made boot. Balance and stability won’t be hard to maintain with the Iron Ranger 6-Inch Vibram Boot.
If you’re looking for a pair of work boots that will last many years, then I suggest going with the Blacksmith Vibram Boot. In addition to being durable, the Blacksmith is also highly wearable and versatile. As the name suggests, it’s made to protect your feet and ankles from sparks and the heat in your shop.
The most affordable model on our list is the Classic Moc 6-Inch Boot. This waterproof boot is ideal for shipyard welders and metalsmiths with light-duty projects. Steer clear of this model if you’re in need of flawless protection as it features a moderately hard-wearing synthetic sole.
The Heritage Men’s Work Chukka is a wonderful choice if you’re after a light and comfy welding boot. However, it’s not suitable for heavy-duty projects as it doesn’t feature any of the crucial safety parts such as toe caps and shanks.
What is the most popular Red Wing boot?
The Iron Ranger is without any doubt the most sought-after Red Wing boot style. Named in honor of the Iron Range area’s dedicated miners, this timelessly beautiful Red Wing work shoe weds functionality with longevity. Many celebrities have been seen rocking Iron Rangers as part of their relaxed yet pulled-together outfits, including Bradley Cooper and Oprah Winfrey.
Does Red Wing make a steel-toe boot?
Yes, it does. Red Wing has a safety toe footwear collection for men, part of which are dozens of steel-toe boots. There are both lace-up and pull-on models. This safety feature meets the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) safety standards.
How long will Red Wings last?
If looked after properly, Red Wing boots can survive 5 sole replacements. Depending on the frequency and intensity with which you’re wearing them, that can mean 5 or 25 years. You should also take into account the harshest environmental factors like rain and snow. To extend their lifespan, make sure they’ve dried completely before wearing them again.
How do you break in Red Wing boots fast?
Although there aren’t any magic tricks to break in a pair of Red Wings overnight, there’s a way to make the whole process a bit more pleasant. To soften the leather and make the boots more comfortable, apply some mink oil or leather conditioner when they arrive. Repeat this every week until your Red Wings are broken in and continue doing this once every month to keep them in great condition.
Are Red Wing work boots worth it?
100% yes! Red Wing work boots are worn by countless Americans thanks to their exceptional construction, long lifespan, and impressive versatility. But you don’t have to be a metalsmith or a construction worker to appreciate these shoes. You can easily add them to your casual fall and winter wardrobe and pair them with your favorite jeans. They’re worth every cent. Trust us, once you go Red, you never go back.