Those looking for a moc style boot have surely come across two of the most famous brands of American origin, Thorogood and Red Wing.
At first glance, the footwear of both brands seems identical, with the same oil processing of the leather, white soles with raised heel and cork midsole to keep the foot in a comfortable position.
In reality, the two brands are profoundly different and their quality and design changes not only for the leather used, but also for the hooks and simplicity in the fit.
Today we’ll see these differences and try to understand which of these two brands would be the better choice and for which occasions.
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A Short History of the Brand
The Thorogood brand is part of the employee owned Weinbrenner Shoe Company, whose history began in the late 1880s in Wisconsin, USA. thanks to the experience of Albert Weinbrenner, a craftsman who put all his knowledge into the production of work boots.
After working as an apprentice for his father repairing shoes, in 1892 he left while he was only 27 years old, and founded his company with his business partner Joseph Pfeifer.
The company was growing fast and in 1905 it was producing 2500 pairs of shoes per day.
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These quality work boots produced by Weinbrenner were made for lineman (those who installed phone cables), for mine workers, woodcutters and in general for all those doing hard work in the outdoors and in difficult places.
The durability of the boots has played an important role in the success of the company which, at the beginning of the 20th century, also supplied the American army.
With the introduction of the Thorogood brand in 1918, the work boots by this brand became the most popular products of Weinbrenner.
In 1964, the “Hike ‘n Camp” model (now the “814-4201” model) was launched. It became the official Boy Scout boot.
The Weinbrenner company has been owned by its workers since 2000, and today it is the largest producer of “Made in USA” shoes and boots in America with over 125 different designs.
Materials and Manufacture
What distinguishes Thorogood shoes from other products is their manufacturing which follows the Goodyear welt construction that is considered the best technique even if it needs more time.
The resulting products are synonymous with good craftsmanship, resistance and durability.
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The construction methods of handcrafted boots are handed down from generation to generation following the “old ways” although they require more time for the creation of the final product.
This attention to detail has made Thorogood one of the most famous “Made in USA” work shoe brands.
For their boots, they use high quality leathers, following “the old way” to create an indestructible product.
They have also created their own synthetic outsole called MAXWear™ which is available in the MAXWear Wedge™ and MAXWear90™ options and Made in USA. (source)
It is durable, comfortable and lasts about 20-30% longer than the competition according to the estimations.
Occasionally, Thorogood sources materials from other parts of the world also, for example Spanish outsoles or eyelets from Italy, as per their needs.
Now let’s answer some frequent questions that we see people ask about this brand:
Where are Thorogood boots made?
65% of Thorogood boots and shoes are made in USA, more precisely at the two factories in Wisconsin. 72% of their sold products are made in America. (source)
This, along with the fact that this question is so frequent, goes to show that many customers, us included, value more brands which still produce in their place of origin.
Are Thorogood boots true to size? How do they fit?
In general, Thorogood boots run true to size and fit as expected. Of course, this depends on the model and your type of foot, because for example we have found people stating that they run a half-size smaller.
You also have to consider the break-in period (usually not very long) and if you will wear them with thick socks.
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For this comparison we have picked two pairs of boots by Thorogood. Let’s take a look!
Thorogood Men’s American Heritage 6″ Moc Toe Boot
This Thorogood model (model number 814-6201) is characterized by the polyurethane MAXwear Wedge sole that ensures the best position for the foot, a removable footbed with shock absorption, and comfortable insoles.
Made in USA with 100% genuine leather, it comes with a design that gives style and elegance to the shoe despite being a work model.
The special processing with oil and quality materials provides durability and resistance.
The boot is enriched with special stitching that make the aesthetics particularly interesting and refined, as the small details add value to the product.
Thorogood Men’s American Heritage 8″ Moc Toe Boot
This other model (model number 804-4208) comes with a high-quality workmanship resulting in a durable and resistant product that ensures the foot is comfortable and favors a good posture.
The ankle-high boot protects the most delicate area of the foot and the quality leather provides durability and resistance.
The fit is very comfortable and the boot comes with lace-up closure, MAXWear Wedge outsole that is slip resistant and steel safety toe cap.
The prices of the various Thorogood boot models are in the medium-high range.
The average price is around $200, but it can reach $300 in some cases, for example, their most detailed models with a design that allows you to protect the most delicate areas of the foot.
Are Thorogood Boots Worth the Price?
Considering their manufacturing process and the quality materials, Thorogood products have the right prices that allow you to spend what is necessary for a shoe that lasts over time and offers maximum comfort.
These are models that can be worn on various occasions, they are versatile but above all, comfortable and safe.
The use of carefully selected materials and handmade workmanship, in our opinion, justifies mid-to-high-end prices and is synonymous with quality.
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2. Red Wing
A Short History of the Brand
The Red Wing Shoes brand takes its name from the city of Red Wing, located in Minnesota, USA, where it was founded by Charles H. Beckman in 1905 and where he produced mostly work boots.
The company’s mission is to provide comfortable and safe footwear for workers to wear during a hard day.
The brand’s handmade products follow the manufacturing techniques used since the first models, in fact the company’s aim is to ensure only the best quality for its customers.
The resistance of these shoes allowed Red Wing to supply American soldiers during the two world conflicts.
Red Wing shoes were used by workers in the mines but also by farmers and those who were looking for resistant and durable, but at the same time, comfortable shoes.
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The quality and commitment of the company has been key to its success and the significant expansion of its production in a short time.
Originally focused in work boots, in the last years Red Wing has also offered fashion oriented shoes that can be worn in everyday life in the city with casual outfits.
Today the Red Wing Shoe Company, Inc. is still a privately-held company and still based in Red Wing, Minnesota.
It has over 2000 employees and its shoes and boots can be found in more than 100 countries around the world.
Materials and Manufacture
For over 100 years the Red Wings company has been producing work shoes in the same way that the founder Beckman presented himself on the market with the first models.
The careful eye towards customer needs has ensured quality and convenience for a brand that has been able to evolve by taking advantage of new technologies to improve its products.
Sustainable materials for the environment and modern craftsmanship have allowed them to make ever better shoes.
Over time Red Wing has expanded its production not stopping at work boots but also producing Oxford shoes, hiking shoes and much more.
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The production continues to be located in the USA although some materials are now also imported from abroad.
Over the years, the brand has become known for using technologies and manufacturing processes such as “Welt Construction”, protective steel toe, Sweat-proof insoles, Urethane Sole Technology (later known as SuperSole), ComfortForce system, etc.
As for sustainability, in 2017 they signed a 25-year contract to use solar power in their facilities in Red Wing, Minnesota, and in 2019 introduced a new footbed made of algae biomass.
Let’s continue with some frequently asked questions:
Where are Red Wing boots made?
The majority of Red Wing boots are made in the USA using American materials at their facilities in Red Wing, Minnesota and Potosi, Missouri.
Their collections also include boots which are made or assembled in the USA with imported materials or components, and boots which are made in Asia (China, Vietnam, Cambodia). (source)
Are Red Wing boots true to size? How do they fit?
Red Wing boots usually run true to size or in some cases, in men’s models, a little wider. So, depending on your foot shape, you may need to get a half number smaller. (source)
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We have picked these two pairs of boots by Red Wing:
Red Wing Heritage Men’s Classic Moc 6″ Boot
These Red Wing boots (Style 875) are among the company’s iconic and most requested models. The Traction Tred sole made of synthetic material allows you to keep the foot in the best possible position.
The height also adds to the comfort of the shoe. The leather is of high quality and makes the model durable and comfortable.
Thanks to the Norwegian welt construction and the stitching that makes the boots look like moccasins, they are versatile and also suitable for casual wear.
Red Wing Heritage Men’s Iron Ranger 6″ Vibram Boot
Red Wing’s Iron Ranger shoes are also part of the company’s most popular styles.
This is a quality model made of 100% genuine leather that adds to the durability of the boots. The rubber sole provides the right support to the foot and at the same time is comfortable and of high quality.
The model comes with Goodyear welt construction, bump toe, and with visible stitching that gives the shoe its characteristic design.
Red Wing’s prices are in the medium-high range, suitable for those who want to make a small investment and buy a long-lasting and quality shoe that does not follow trends but can be defined as an “evergreen”.
On average Red Wing boots cost around $250, with some models that can go above $300.
Are Red Wing Boots Worth the Price?
The beauty of these boots is timeless, which is why the price is a little higher than the classic models of lesser known brands.
The high price, in our opinion, is also justified by the quality of the raw materials used to give life to each single model, and by the care and attention to detail that make each shoe unique and original.
The hand of an expert shoemaker can be recognized in the various Red Wing models, thanks to the craftsmanship with which the company has continued to produce shoes for more than 110 years without lowering its standards.
3. Which Brand is Better?
The differences between these two brands, although not too obvious, are there.
In general, we can say that Thorogood shoes are much more “massive”, while Red Wing shoes are much finer and more elegant and therefore also suitable for informal contexts and perfect as shoes for casual wear.
The leather used by the two brands is of the highest quality and their manufacturing ensures durability and style.
If we had to choose, we would pick Red Wing leather, as we like more how it looks, for example the Iron Ranger model that we saw above.
In our opinion, Thorogood boots are better for work also thanks to their resistant non-slip soles and safety features, while Red Wing footwear would be our choice for everyday life in the city.
There is also a subtle difference in price, as Red Wing is a little more expensive than Thorogood.
In addition, Thorogood has a wide range of models you can choose from with over 100 different designs, and this may help you find that specific model you were looking for.
All in all, the quality of both brands is unquestionable – we gave you our opinion, but the final decision will depend on your personal taste, style, foot shape, budget and what you are looking for in a boot.
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Readers, what do you think of these brands? Have you tried any of them? We’d love to read your experience in the comments below.
I was a long time red wing boot wearer 15 years or so but the last time i went in to purchased my new boot my style where now made in China and they costed more then the last time I bought them so I purchased thorogood boot instead of red wing I have never been happier for the lo at five years now I’m on my 3rd pair
Thorogood boots are way more comfortable out of the box than redwings and I love how there is more room in the toe of a thorogood boot.
Not sure when you last looked at either a Redwing store or their website, but they have been making casual/dress boots for a long, long time. On top of that, they make a lot more of their boots and shoes specifically for different types of tradesmen and work environments.
As far as quality, I’d place Both of these brands up there together.
One of the main reasons I chose Redwings over Thorougood was because it is not as easy to find them in stores as it is Redwings. Not to mention that Redwing has their own stores all across the country, so getting a professional fitting as well as free servicing and then rebuild process is a lot easier.
I’ve tried to buy boots online, and that was a horrible experience with sizes not fitting properly and having to send them back. So again, brick and mortar wins.
Again, both brands are great quality boots. If they were both in front of me, it would come down to how they feel on my feet.