One of the first times that I became aware of the value of investing in quality, was when my brother got a pair of Red Wing boots.  I can’t remember how or why he got them, but somehow I became aware that these boots were special. Did I have my own pair of boots back then? Possibly, but they are long forgotten.

Let’s go back to Red Wing, Minnesota, 1905.  With the Industrial Age firmly established in the area, farmers, miners, blacksmiths, and railroad workers found themselves in need of durable boots that were comfortable enough to be worn all day.  German immigrant Charles H. Beckman, seeing this poorly shod workforce, got together with some investors to fill this need.  The Red Wing Shoe Company is formed.

Initially Red Wing produced 110 pairs of shoes in a ten-hour work day (remember, this is 1905).  Within ten years, they were meeting a demand of 20,000 pairs per year.  Soon, the Department of War came knocking, looking for a shoe to “fit all feet”.  As a result, Red Wing developed the Munson, a boot that would influence shoe making for the next 50 years.  With all our doughboys now sporting Red Wing boots, the company made a national name for itself and established a firm foothold (pun intended) in the work boot industry.

Red Wing now owns a several over brands, such as WORX, Irish Setter, Carhartt, and Vasque.  The WORX brand in particular will often bill itself as “WORX by Red Wing”, trying to capitalize on the Red Wing legacy, but for your information, WORX are principally (if not entirely) manufactured overseas.  As far as I can tell, the Red Wing brand in the only one that is still manufactured domestically.

Be warned.  It has been said that simply lacing up these boots is an act of masculinity.  Just writing this article caused my voice dropped a half-step and I grew a moustache. 

Personally, I am a fan of the Iron Ranger.  I think that’s it’s a tough-looking boot and admittedly, because I spend so much of my time in front of a computer, tough “looking” is about all I require.  Perhaps I am more suited for the Gentleman Traveler.  But the Iron Ranger is no slouch.  At the time of this writing, Amazon shoppers were giving this boot 4.5/5 stars. 

Red Wing’s crowning achievement has to be the Classic Moc Lug Boot. A completely full-function boot, practical in almost any situation you are going to find yourself in (possible exceptions include but are not limited to swimming, gymnastics, pole-vaulting and most forms of dancing).

Red Wing Shoes