Red Wing Blacksmith vs Iron Ranger Comparison

Because of your loyalty to a brand, you may consider buying one of two models within the same brand name. Such is the case for the Red Wing Blacksmith vs Iron Ranger, two sister boots from the same company but with different features.

In the past, we have done other similar articles. For example, we did the Danner Mountain Light vs Mountain Pass side by side comparison.

Since 1905 when Charles Beckman established the Red Wing Company, they have been making boots with advanced technology and high quality materials. Therefore, it is little wonder that this is one of the most popular boot companies in the USA today.

We also looked at Danner High Ground vs Pronghorn. In today’s article, we are doing a similar thing.

We are taking two Red Wing brands and we are comparing their features side by side.

Red Wing Iron Ranger vs Blacksmith Boots Features and Specs

This is where everything starts. When buying boots, you always find so many choices in the market. You can find it hard to get the best one unless you compare the features side by side.

Here, we shall look the design and build quality of both boots, the soles, insoles, shaft, support features and many more.

1. Design and Build Quality

We must agree that both the Iron Ranger vs Blacksmith have incredible build and design quality.

Again, this is something that we have come to expect from Red Wing Boots. They come in almost the same shaft size, heel size and all. Still, even with many similarities, these boots are different.


Image of Red Wing Iron Ranger vs Blacksmith
Red Wing Iron Ranger Boots

The Iron Ranger weighs 907g while the Blacksmith weighs 823g. Not much difference there but still, it is something worth noting.

The shaft sizes for both boots are 6 inches, but the Iron Ranger is slightly longer at 6.5 inches.

Toe Designs – Round Toe vs Cap Toe

The most outstanding difference between the Blacksmith vs Iron Ranger is in the way that the toes have been designed. First, the Blacksmith has a round toe while the Iron Ranger has a cap toe.

The round toe is also referred to as a plain toe in many circles. The reason for that is that it looks plain, without the embellishments that come with the cap and moc toe designs. Therefore, the front upper of the boots seems to have been made from one piece of leather.

The Cap toe on the other hand has an extra piece of leather sewn onto the toe box area. This makes it super strong and at the same time, it makes it look paneled even though it is not.

Therefore, you can see that the difference between the toe area designs of the two boots is not only aesthetic, but it is also structurally different.

2. Outer Sole Differences

Red Wing is known for pairing their strong and durable uppers with some of the best outsoles in the market. Therefore, in this Iron Ranger vs Red Wing Blacksmith review, we can say that they have kept up with the tradition.

First, both boot models come with Vibram soles. Now, if you have been around the boot industry for some time, you know that Vibram is the Holy Grail for boot soles.

Blacksmith sole

But then, Vibram comes in so many designs! In the Iron Ranger or Blacksmith boots, the soles are different. The Blacksmith comes with Vibram 430 Mini lug outer sole.

This is a great sole and the lugs keep it stable on almost all grounds. It can perform very well on muddy terrains, rocky areas and slippery conditions.

You will notice that the lugs are more pronounced and they are not too deep. Therefore, getting stuck mud out need not be too hard. Besides, bigger lugs also contribute to more weight.

Iron Ranger Outer Sole

The Iron Ranger can come with the Vibram 43 Mini lug that we have discussed above. However, by option, it can also come with the Nitrile Cork sole.

So what is a Nitrile Cork sole? It is made with a special material, which is a mix of rubber and cork. This sole is stronger and more lightweight than rubber.

In addition, the sole is more comfortable, more flexible and it is also slip resistant. It can prevent slipping in water, oil, grease and other conditions. This sole has a sort of bounce to it and it feels quite good to walk or stand in for long hours.

If you are in the construction industry where you know you will be mixing concrete, nitrile cork soles are the best. The reason for that is that these soles do not leave marks on the ground. Lastly, these soles last longer than leather insoles and they never crack.

3. Iron Ranger and Blacksmith Upper Material

The uppers of these boots are basically the same. They come in leather, but it is finished in different ways. For example, the Red Wing Iron Ranger boots come in full grain leather.

It has many benefits! First, it is so refined, easy to treat and can last a long time in great shape. The reason why this is referred to as full-grain leather is that it comes from the topmost layer of animal hide. Therefore, the grains of the leather are more pronounced and the boots look awesome.

Blacksmith – oil tanned leather upper

On the other hand, the Red Wing Blacksmith come with oil-tanned leather. That is a fancy name right there, but it just means that the leather retains its natural look for a long time.

The leather looks natural and not overly processed. Therefore, the Blacksmith boots exude a quiet chic and sophisticated look.

Image of Red Wing Blacksmith boots

In the areas where one panel meets another, the seams are put together so well. The boots will go through their lifetime without the seams coming apart.

The boot upper also largely determines how the boots look. In this case, the Blacksmith looks really cool. You can wear it to work outside or to the office with your formal suit. You can also wear the boots casually with slim-fit pants.

The Iron Ranger boots also look stunning, especially because the cap toe paneling breaks the monotony. Whether you wear them with work outfits or with your casual wear, they look good on your feet.

4. Waterproof Ability

It has always been hard for boot manufacturers to make boots breathable yet at the same time waterproof. However, this one has achieved just that with the Red Wing Blacksmith vs Iron Ranger.

First, both boots come with Goodyear Welt. This is a strip of leather that is the buffer zone between the out sole and the boot upper. Goodyear Welt makes boots even more waterproof. At the same time, if you ever need to replace the boots soles, this should be very simple.

The boots are treated with a super thin waterproof membrane that keeps the water out. However, the leather pores are not closed and so your feet are able to breathe all the time. Even when you walk through stagnant water and snow, your feet stay dry and comfortable all the time.


Both boots are not lined. Therefore, they offer no insulation at all. These boots will not keep you warm if you stay in snow or ice for too long.

5. Support

One of the most important things to have in a pair of boots is support. In this case, we are talking about the entire foot support, which mostly comes from the shanks.

Both the Blacksmith boot and Iron Ranger boots come with steel shanks. A steel shank is a flexible, thin piece of steel that is laid between the outer sole and insole. It helps support your foot when you are walking.

It also keeps the sole of the shoes aligned when you are walking, while at the same time keeping it quite flexible.

The areas of the foot that need most support are the arch, ball of foot area and heel area.

Whether you have flat feet, low arches or high arches, you can wear these boots. However, you might have to replace the stock PU insoles with custom insoles that offer support right where you need it.

What to Buy Between Red Wing Blacksmith vs Iron Ranger?

Now that you have seen most of the features that these boots come with, which one should you choose between the Red Wing Iron Ranger vs Blacksmith? Well, you have to know about the prices!

These boots are not going to cost you a fortune. However, designed to last years on end, they are not cheap either. There is a perfect balance between the price and the features and you will definitely get great value for the money.

We feel that whichever boot you buy between Iron Ranger or Blacksmith boots, you will love it! However, these boots do not have steel toes, so you might not be able to use them for jobs with risks of heavy objects falling.