Timberland or Red Wing? These are two seriously iconic boots that are renowned for completely different reasons. Both brands fall into the category of the All American Work Boots that most folks, honestly speaking, are wearing because they look cool, keep your feet dry, and last for a great course.
The reason we arrived at these two boots, the Timberland 6″ Premium Waterproof boot and Red Wing Iron Ranger- is that if you’re trying to choose between Timberland and Red Wing boots, you’ll probably think about the stated models.
Each of these is a flagship model from their respective brands. Let’s have a brief history of each brand before getting closer to the individual features:
History of Timberland Boots
Timberland was first founded in 1928 in Boston, Massachusetts, the US, by Nathan Swartz. The company has its headquarters in the U.S, New Hampshire, and Stratham. They started by producing humble yellow Timberland for construction workers, which was introduced by Sidney Swartz in 1973. The boots gained massive popularity for cosy winters due to their ability to keep the feet warm.
Later on, many artists like Britney and Jay Z started wearing them for their shows and concerts. Other milestones include the introduction of the 8″ waterproof design. Today, the design of the boots are available in different colors and styles. Not to mention their distinctive insoles, made using anti-fatigue technology.
Red Wing Work Boots History
Red Wing is an American footwear company that was founded by Charles H. Beckham in 1905. As the name suggests, the company is based in Red Wing, Minnesota. Within a period of 10 years, the brand was capable of manufacturing +200,000 boots for the American soldiers during WWII warfare.
Made in the USA with classical construction techniques like cutting, tanning, fitting, lasting, bottoming, and boot finishing, this brand transforms premium materials into supremely durable footwear.
Note: Timberland focuses the most on making shoes for everyday wear, which will also be our main focus on this review. Red Wings, on the other hand, focuses on producing working boots. We chose to base our review on work boots from both brands as comparing casual boots would be like comparing oranges and apples.
Red Wing Vs Timberland: What’s the Difference?
This part highlights some of the critical features that set these two models apart, to start with:
Area of Application
While timberlands are mainly designed as everyday footwear, Red Wings are meant to be worn as work boots. The basic designs featured by Red Wings make them great options that go effortlessly with a range of outfits, some of which are formal and casual.
On the other hand, Timberlands boots are mostly used as regular shoes, which can serve as ideal alternatives for multiple outdoor activities such as hiking. They are relatively chunky boots, compared to some of the Red Wings’ models like the Iron Ranger.
Leather & Built Quality
Many people think Timberlands are made from suede, but it’s actually nubuck. The difference between these two leather types is that if you think of calfskin as a loaf of bread, suede is derived from the fluffy inside, while the nubuck is made from the outer surface.
The difference between nubuck (like on Timberland) and full-grain leather on the Red Wings) is that the leather has been sanded or buffed to obtain a slight fuzzy nap of protein fibers.
Therefore nubuck is way much tougher than suede, yet it still feels a little fuzzy and does stain quite easily. And while that doesn’t mean it can be cleaned, it’s a little harder to maintain your Timberlands boots than for the Iron Ranger.
Red Wings’ leather is mostly oil tanned. They are chrome tanned and then oiled to make the construction a little more hardy and water-resistant. In fact, when you think about boots that look cool with age, you’re definitely thinking of the Red Wings. The Iron Ranger, for instance, features thick leather (2-2.2 millimeters). The full-grain is also made with the outer surface of the animal skin.
Though rough and tough, Red Wings leathers aren’t like Timberland. They are not as fuzzy and are much more oily and stain-resistant.
Here is the real takeaway: Aside from the different look, Red Wings are way easier to keep clean compared to Timbs. You don’t need a shoe cleaner, which is the case when you want to clean your Timberlands. You can simply just wipe them down with a damp rag.
The break-in period of shoes varies from design to design. Borrowing inspiration from numerous Red Wing boots reviews, it’s important to note that the boots typically take around two months to break-in properly. Timberland boots, on the other hand, might take several days to break in before adapting to the contour of your feet.
Timberland boots boast this remarkably grippy Gripstick sole, which is derived from 10% recyclable materials. In addition, you’ve got a rubber midsole and a urethane insole, as well as a foam footbed. All this foam and rubber are meant to offer excellent shock absorbency during performances.
Red Wing boots are generally made employing a method called Goodyear Welt construction. This means the upper and the cell aren’t attached to each other. Instead, they are attached to a “welt” in between them. As such, any cobbler can easily resole them when the time comes, making them able to last up to a couple of decades. A massive advantage compared to Tims.
On the flip side, while the Timberlands won’t last as long as the Red Wings, they are waterproof, whereas Red Wings are just water-resistant. Of course, you can use it on Red Wings in the rain and snow without a problem, but it’s not considered waterproof. If you stroll in the rain or puddle for a long, your toes will probably get a little wet.
It’s good to state that Timberland isn’t really resoleable. Their type of construction is called bonwelted, which simply means the sole and the upper are glued together or rather cemented. However, some people online have it that they can resole Timberlands if you mail them the shoe. But in any case, you can’t take your Tims to a cobbler and get them resoled like you can with Red Wing boots.
Overall, Red Wings feature a much more traditionally made outsole compared to the Timberlands. Between the outsole and the upper part of the boot, there’s a layer of cork and leather insole. While this makes the sole resoleable, it’s really an old fashion way of making classic, heritage boots.
There’s probably not much to say here. Timberlands generally cost around $160 and $198, while the Red Wing comes in at around $300 and $329. At nearly half the price, the Timberlands certainly wins under this aspect.
Why You Might Want to Pick Timberlands
First, Timberlands appears to be more iconic than Red Wings. In fact, before getting into boots, most people hardly know what an Iron Range is, but they’re more likely to have heard of Timberland boots.
This footwear is everywhere, meaning you will be wearing a piece of cultural history when you buy them. They are perfectly usable and pretty well priced, making them one of the most durable budget boots on earth.
Besides that, they’re half the price of the Iron Ranger; Timberlands boots have got way better shock absorption. They are waterproof, offer excellent grip, and are well insulated. Moreover, they don’t have a tough break-in period. These are some of the reasons why you might want to choose Tims.
Why You Might Want To Choose Red Wings
Just like Tims, there are several things people love about Red Wing boots. First, some users stated that specific models like the Red Wing Moc come with duller, fuller grain upper construction that can’t be compared with the glossier cheap-looking leather featured by Timberland boots.
Also, Red Wing boots don’ seem to develop creases on the toe area as opposed to Timberlands, which is a sign of more premium quality. When you buy Red Wings, you will get a full leather insole, steel shank, and a carefully welted boot, which is not the case with Timberlands.
The overall construction is much easier to clean. Not to mention that the cork and the leather insoles are designed to mold to the shape of your feet. While that’s actually a significant difference, it’s a great explanation of why many guys get so attached to their boots. Besides, the outsoles can be resoled multiple times.
Coming down to aesthetics, you might wonder if there’s any benefit to the Red Wing boots. Well, the explanation is rather subjective, but we’d say that Timberlands are casual street, while Red Wings are a bit more classic.
In other words, Red Wings look good on 20-year olds as well as 60-year old seniors. Older adults would look a little out of place in Timberlands. Red Wings are somewhat less youthful and more classic, which is, from a different perspective, a pro and a con.
Perhaps the deal breaker for most guys is the price range, which is fair. However, you might want to consider that Red Wing boots do last much longer than Timberlands, probably because the leather is thicker, resoleable outsole, and overall better construction. Remember that you almost certainly can’t resole Timberlands, but any cobbler will easily the Red Wing’s Iron Ranger.