Dominating the hiking footwear market are well-known companies like Salomon, Merrell, and Keen. But what about smaller market holders like Red Wing hiking boots? Understandably, many hikers and campers are loyal to their tried-and-true hiking footwear. After all, your choice in hiking boots can make or break your next hiking or camping trip. But what if Red Wing hiking boots do live up to the company's reputation for comfortable and durable construction? Well, you'd be missing out by not giving these hiking boots a chance.
Since Red Wing hiking boots aren't available in most outdoor retail stores, shoppers often have to go out of their way to give them a try. And before you drive to your nearest Red Wing Shoes retail location, you probably want to know how these shoes stand up to the top dogs in hiking footwear. You'll also want to know how they compare to the competition.
The Importance of Good Hiking Boots
Hiking boots are a sturdy footwear option for the avid hiker or camper. These boots certainly aren't a requirement for hiking through the wilderness. But they can help protect your feet and ankles throughout your trip. Hiking boots generally extend above the ankle. That is essential to prevent your ankle from rolling, which can result in a sprained or broken ankle. An injury to your ankle joint can make walking back to civilization difficult or even impossible.
Hiking boots also usually feature thick, non-flexible soles. When we're out hiking, the terrain we encounter can range from soft sand to jagged rocks. In soft-soled shoes, these rocks would leave bruises on the bottoms of your feet and make your hike extremely unenjoyable. Many styles of hiking boots also offer some level of water-proof treatment. The extra protection provided by hiking boots keeps our feet pain-free, at least for the most part.
While most of the benefits of wearing proper hiking boots go to your feet and ankles, they are also crucial for your whole body. Hiking boots generally have very grippy, strong tread. This tread can be the difference between slipping on a wet rock, which is dangerous and potentially life-threatening -- or standing firm. While trail running shoes and hiking shoes also offer good grip options, they don't quite match the tread featured on the soles of popular hiking boots.
How We Reviewed
For our review of Red Wing hiking boots, we started by looking at the models of Red Wing hiking boots currently available. These include the TruHiker, Fuse FX, Trbo, and Tradesman boots. We looked at the key features and product specs of these hiking boots, as well as pricing and customer reviews. Unfortunately, the only customer reviews available for Red Wing hiking boots come from the Red Wing website itself. So potential bias needs to be considered when looking at these ratings and reviews.
To compare the Red Wing hiking boots against other competing shoe models, we found a couple of the most popular hiking boots currently available on the market. These include the Salomon Quest 4D GTX and Merrell Moab 2 hiking boots. Again, we looked at product specifications and features that made these boots stand out. We also looked at pricing and customer reviews for each of these hiking boot styles.
Pricing & availability
Most hiking boots range from around $100 to over $250. Price differences are a result of materials, special features (like steel toe inserts), and brand name recognition. While some hiking boots are cheaper than $100, these are usually close-out styles or discount brands that use lesser-quality materials.
Most hiking boots are available at a variety of retail stores and websites. Red Wing hiking boots are only available from Red Wing retail stores and authorized dealers. The other hiking boots in our review are from places like REI, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Cabela's.
Red Wing Hiking Boots
Red Wing Shoes started in the early 20th century in Red Wing, Minnesota. Charles Beckman saw a need for high-quality footwear that would serve industry workers like miners, factory workers, and farmers. Beckman's goal was to create a shoe that protected workers in dangerous environments while also remaining comfortable throughout a long workday. Today, these shoes are still popular among workers in a wide variety of industries throughout America.
While Red Wing Shoes is mostly known for their work boots, they also manufacture a number of hiking boots. These Red Wing hiking boots might not share the popularity of their work boots, but they use the same renowned manufacturing techniques and materials. However, do Red Wing hiking boots provide the same comfort and durability as their famous work boots? Or are they just an attempt to enter a niche of the footwear market without truly understanding the needs of hikers and campers? That's what we sought to find out.
Red Wing TruHiker Boot
The Red Wing TruHiker Boot comes in a variety of colors and ankle heights, ranging from three inches to six inches. The TruHiker #8675 boots feature a five-inch ankle rise and brown leather exterior. The TruHiker boots are waterproof and feature electrical hazard protection. While there aren't many situations in the outdoors in which you would need to worry about electrical shock, the extra protection certainly doesn't hurt. The upper of these Red Wing hiking boots is canvas and leather, the insole is Texon, and the outsole (the part of the shoe that meets the ground) is the Vibram Summit TC-4 Plus sole. Red Wing Shoes claims that these shoes have the highest slip resistance offered by their products.
These Red Wing hiking boots have a rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars on the Red Wing website. Customers say that the TruHiker boots trend a bit large in both width and length. Positive reviews mentioned that these Red Wing hiking boots are comfortable and long-lasting. Some reviewers also praised the moisture-wicking and temperature regulating abilities of these hiking boots. Negative reviews complained that these boots are made in China and are extremely heavy and uncomfortable. The Red Wing TruHiker Boot #8675 runs for between $185 and $205.
Red Wing Fuse FX Hiker Boot
The Red Wing Fuse FX Hiker Boot features a five-inch ankle height and comes in black with three different accent color options. We looked specifically at style #6605, which is a black exterior with matte gray accents. Like the TruHiker boots, these Red Wing hiking boots are waterproof and offer electric shock protection. But the Fuse FX boots also feature a non-steel toe. While this doesn't provide the same protection as a steel toe, it can help cut down on the bulky weight. The outsole of these boots is the Rubber OmniTrax. Like the TruHiker boots, Red Wing gives these a high rating for slip resistance.
These Red Wing hiking boots have a rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on the Red Wing website. Customers stated that these hiking boots were true to size in both length and width. Positive reviews mentioned that these shoes offer plenty of breathability, water resistance, support, and comfort. One reviewer complained that these hiking boots offered no slip resistance on ice, snow, or any other slick surfaces. The Red Wing Fuse FX Hiker Boot costs between $180 and $200.
Red Wing Trbo Hiker Boot
The Red Wing Trbo Hiker Boot comes in four different colorways, all variations of brown and black leather with some orange accents. We looked at style #6603, featuring brown-gray leather and orange accents. These Red Wing hiking boots have a five-inch ankle height. They are waterproof, offer electrical hazard protection, and have a non-steel toe. The upper is leather, the insole is Bontex, and the outsole is the Traverse. Like the other Red Wing hiking boots above, Red Wings Shoes designates the Trbo boots as having their highest level of slip resistance.
These Red Wing hiking boots have a rating of 5.0 out of 5 stars on the Red Wing website. However, there's only one review currently posted, so take it for what it's worth. Customers stated that these hiking boots were true to size in width and length. The single review mentions that these hiking boots are incredibly light and comfortable. The Red Wing Trbo Hiker Boot sell between $170 and $190.
Red Wing Tradesman Hiker Boot
The Red Wing Tradesman Hiker Boot comes in three colorways and features a five-inch ankle height. We looked specifically at style #6614, which is all black. Like the other Red Wing hiking boots in this review, they are waterproof and shock resistance. They also feature the non-steel toe seen in the Trbo and Fuse FX styles. These hiking boots feature a leather upper and VersaTrax outsole. Like all of Red Wing Shoes' hiking boots, these shoes have their best slip resistance. Style #6614 is unique in its inclusion of the BOA Fit System. Rather than tying like a traditional shoelace, this system uses a dial at the front to achieve a perfect fit.
These Red Wing hiking boots have a rating of 5.0 out of 5 stars on the Red Wing website. Customers state that these shoes are true to size in length and width. Again, this shoe's rating only includes two reviews. These reviewers showed intrigue for the BOA Fit System and mentioned the boots' comfort, support, and durability. The Red Wing Tradesman Hiker Boot runs for between $200 and $220.
The Competition: Salomon and Merrell
If you've been a part of the hiking and camping community for any length of time, you're probably aware of some of the big brands in the marketplace. Two of these major companies are Salomon and Merrell. While these certainly aren't the only options for hiking boots, there are countless hiking brands out there; many hikers opt for them because of availability and reputation.
For our review, we chose two popular pairs of hiking boots that share similar features and structure to the Red Wing hiking boots above. Depending on your needs and personal preferences, you can also find hiking boots with higher or lower profiles, or made of entirely synthetic materials. However, those styles are for a different review.
Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX Hiking Boots
These Salomon hiking boots feature an over-the-ankle fit and a leather upper. These boots also include waterproofing, removable OrthoLite footbeds, and antimicrobial treatments to fight odor. Salomon boasts that these hiking boots are new-and-improved for better grip on all slippery surfaces.
The Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX boots are rated 4.3 out of 5 stars on the REI website. Customers stated that these hiking boots are true to size. Positive reviews praised these shoes for their comfort, stability, and traction. Negative reviews experienced issues with these boots not being waterproof, falling apart around the edge of the sole, and not offering enough support. These hiking boots retail between $220 and $250.
Merrell Moab 2 Hiking Boots
Merrell hiking boots come in a range of ankle heights, including low and mid. Like the other hiking boots in this review, these boots are waterproof. The exterior of these boots is leather, the insole features an air cushion in the heel, and the outsole is the Vibram TC5+ with extra deep lugs for grip.
The Merrell Moab 2 Mid Hiking Boots are rated 4.3 out of 5 stars on the REI website. Positive reviews mentioned that these boots were lightweight, breathable, and durable. Reviewers also mentioned that, despite the deep lugs on the outsole, these hiking boots didn't get weighed down by stuck rocks and mud. One reviewer stated that they'd owned these hiking boots for over ten years. Negative reviews complained that the insoles were too thin, weren't truly waterproof, and tore with regular use. These hiking boots retail for $120 to $140.
Our Final Thoughts on Red Wing Hiking Boots
When it comes to choosing a reliable pair of hiking boots, you want to choose a pair with a strong, positive reputation. Unfortunately, Red Wing hiking boots don't have the recognition that other hiking boot brands do. Plus, Red Wing hiking boots only come in men's sizes. While women can certainly wear these shoes, they'll need to convert their shoe size. Those with smaller feet probably won't find a pair that fits. On the other hand, both the Salomon and Merrell hiking boots mentioned in our review come in both men's and women's sizes.
We're not saying that the Red Wing hiking boots in our review are bad shoes in general, just that there are better options for hiking. If you're on the hunt for a new pair of hiking boots, then it certainly doesn't hurt to try out a pair of Red Wing shoes if you have a local retailer. But we also don't think these boots are going to overtake the hiking footwear market anytime soon.