Chippewa vs Red Wing boots: Which Brand Is Superior?
Are you in the market for a new pair of work boots? Can’t decide between Red Wing and Chippewa? By the end of this Chippewa vs Red Wing comparison, you’ll know exactly which brand you should go for.
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Chippewa and Red Wing are two juggernauts in the work boots and safety shoes market. Both brands flaunt a wide range of products for different work environments, from light-duty jobs to the most hazardous of jobs.
That being the case, it can be challenging to settle on one of these two leading brands. Lucky for you, I have everything that’s worth considering mapped out for you in this comparison post, so stick around.
Chippewa vs Red Wing: At a Glance
If you don’t have time to go through the entire comparison, here’s the gist of Chippewa boots vs Redwing boots:
- If you’re looking for a pair of Made in USA work boots
- If you’re a motorcycle rider, engineer, concrete worker, or warehouse worker
- If you’re looking for the best range of logger boots
- If you’re looking for a boot with a short break-in period
- If you want the most value for your hard-earned money
Buy Red Wing:
- If you’re looking for the best leather varieties
- If you work on slippery floors and need lots of traction
- If you want a large, defined, and structured toebox
- If you’re looking for the best customer service
- If you’re looking for boots with more visual appeal
Chippewa Pros and Cons
- Wide range of American-made work boots and shoes
- Offer remarkable protection at a reasonable price
- Chippewa produces engineer men’s boots in the USA
- The boots are built with an emphasis on functionality
- Chippewa boots and shoes typically run true to size
- The leather variety used for the uppers may age poorly
- Not as aesthetically appealing as Red Wing’s work boots
Red Wing Pros and Cons
- Produces some of the best moc toe boots on the market
- Red Wing boots are remarkably durable and offer great traction
- The boots are made with an emphasis on versatility
- Red Wing offers better customer service than Chippewa
- Red Wing boots are made with some of the best leathers
- Red Wing boots are a bit more expensive than Chippewa boots
- It may take you a while to completely break in a pair of Red Wings
- Many work boots are made in China.
Read Also: Check my Carolina Vs Red Wing comparison article.
Chippewa vs Red Wing: Brief Overview
In this section of the comparison, I’m going to shed some light on each brand’s history very briefly. I’m also going to tell you what you should expect from both brands, as well as highlight some of their most notable models.
Chippewa Brand Spotlight
Founded in 1901, Chippewa is one of the oldest footwear brands in the world. The brand is known for its high-quality work and recreational boots, but it also provides casual options for both men and women.
The two adjectives that perfectly describe Chippewa work boots are ‘rugged’ and ‘comfortable.’ That being so, Chippewa boots are perfect for concrete workers, warehouse workers, loggers, and engineers.
It’s worth noting that Chippewa is becoming more and more popular among the fashion community, thanks to the Apache line, which strikes the perfect balance between aesthetic appeal and practicality.
It’s also worth noting that Chippewa collaborated with J. Crew before, which made way for the Chippewa for J. Crew Plain-Toe Renegade Boots.
Most popular lines:
- Chippewa Apache
- Chippewa Edge Walker
- Chippewa Homestead
- Chippewa Arador
- Chippewa Valdor
- Chippewa Cross Terrain
- Chippewa Bolville
- Chippewa Serious Plus
- Chippewa Fabricator
- Chippewa Paladin
Red Wing Brand Spotlight
Red Wing is one of the giants of the work boots industry, alongside Timberland, Wolverine, Thorogood Boots, and the likes. It has been around since 1905, which makes it almost as old as Chippewa.
To a lot of people, Red Wing is synonymous with the Heritage line, which is an iconic line of American-made shoes that combine traditional construction with timeless design.
The Heritage line is made up of three main models: Iron Ranger, Classic Moc, and Blacksmith. There’s also the Sawmill, Weekender, and Roughneck models, but they’re not really that popular.
It’s worth noting that Red Wing manufactures footwear under other brands, including Worx, Vasque, and Irish Setter boots. Note also that a large portion of Red Wing’s “Work” line—different from the Heritage line—is constructed in China.
Most popular lines:
- Red Wing Iron Ranger
- Red Wing Classic Moc
- Red Wing Blacksmith
- Red Wing King Toe
- Red Wing Supersole
- Red Wing DynaForce
- Red Wing Burnside
- Red Wing Traction Tred
- Red Wing Logger Max
- Red Wing Truhiker (hiking boot line)
Product Range Comparison
Now that you know a little bit about Chippewa and Red Wing Shoe Company, it’s time to put each brand’s product range under the microscope. Which brand offers the best work boots? Which one has the best moc toes? Let’s find out!
Both Chippewa and Red Wing have an impressive range of work boots. No matter your profession, you’re guaranteed to find a Chippewa or Red Wing work boot that meets your requirements.
Seeing as it’s beyond the scope of this comparison to analyze every single product from both brands, I’m going to focus more on Chippewa loggers vs Red Wing loggers.
The Men’s 9-Inch Waterproof Insulated Steel-Toe EH Logger Boot, also known as the Super Logger, is Chippewa’s most popular logger boat. It’s made entirely in the USA and it features Goodyear welt construction, Chip-A-Tex Waterproof Bootie, and Ruby Dri Lex 20000 lining. It’s also ASTM-rated for electrical hazards.
The Chippewa Men’s 8-Inch Waterproof Insulated Steel Toe EH 73050 Logger Boot is also quite popular. It’s not all that different from the 9-inch. What distinguishes this model is its Texon insole and 400 gram 3M Thinsulate.
A favorite of mine is the Chippewa Men’s 73101 8-Inch Lace-To-Toe Logger Waterproof Boot. It looks super sturdy and, dare I say, aggressive. It flaunts a rubber sole, medium arch, leather construction, and removable orthotics.
Please note that all of these Chippewa logger boots require a brief break-in period. They might feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but once they’re broken in, they’ll feel as comfortable as a pair of sneakers.
When it comes to Red Wing logger boots, the LoggerMax Men’s 9-inch Insulated Waterproof Safety Toe Boot 4416 reigns supreme. It flaunts full-grain waterproof leather, a Vibram sole, Goodyear welt construction, and 400G Thinsulate.
Sadly, the LoggerMax 9-Inch isn’t the most widely available Red Wing logger boot. Popular alternatives include the 620 model and the 2219.
Please note that the 2219 model has received negative reviews with regard to the build quality, so I wouldn’t recommend opting for that specific model.
Rugged/workwear-style boots are basically casual work boots that can be worn inside and outside your work environment. Such boots provide great protection while maintaining a casual look.
The best workwear/rugged style boot from Chippewa is the Service Boot. It manages to provide remarkable protection without looking like a tank.
The Chippewa Service Boot features Goodyear welt construction, a rubber sole, a lace-up ankle, and a Vibram outsole. Sadly, the Chippewa Service Boot has been discontinued.
Red Wing has plenty of work boots that double as excellent casual boots. The best of the bunch, however, is the Iron Ranger, which happens to be my personal favorite Red Wing boot.
This remarkable boot is built with natural leather and features a Nitrile sole, commodious bump toe, leather heel pocket, and double-layer leather toe cap.
Red Wing Iron Ranger vs Chippewa Service Boot? I’m learning towards the Iron Ranger.
Rugged-style boots are defined by their versatility. These boots don’t sacrifice function for form. They’re highly protective yet they’re suitable for everyday wear. Let’s see what both brands have to offer in this category.
The Men’s 6-Inch Rugged Handcrafted Lace-Up Boot is definitely the most popular rugged-style boot from Chippewa, and it’s not hard to see why.
This 6-inch boot flaunts burnished leather, which gives it an appealing worn look. It also incorporates a lace pin that has an image of the American flag, a debossed logo on the side, and a contrast midsole.
On top of that, this Chippewa boot features a removable cushion insert, a Vibram outsole for maximum traction on dry and wet surfaces, and D-ring lacing hardware.
The Red Wing Heritage Men’s Blacksmith Vibram Boot is just as impressive as Chippewa’s 6-Inch Handcrafted Lace-Up Boot. It’s part of the Red Wing Heritage boot line, so it’s made entirely in the US.
The Blacksmith Vibram Boot features a classic round toe, triple-stitched construction, and Goodyear welt construction. It also flaunts a steel shank and Vibram 430 mini-lug outsole. It’s one of the most durable options on the market.
I’d call it a tie between Chippewa and Red Wing when it comes to rugged-style boots, though I’m more fond of the way Chippewa’s Handcrafted Lace-Up Boot looks, aesthetically speaking.
Moc Toe Boots
When it comes to moc toe boots, both Chippewa and Red Wing have a lot to offer. We’re here to determine a winner, though, so let’s get into Chippewa moc toe vs Red Wing moc toe.
The Original Chippewa Collection Men’s 6-Inch Moc-Toe Boot is regarded as Chippewa’s best moc toe boot. It’s made entirely in the USA, like all Chippewa products, and I can assure you that it’s built to last.
This boot is 100% leather and it features a Vibram sole, rolled moccasin toe, contrast stitching, nickel eyelets, and a lace front. It’s available in four different color options: Black Whirlwind, Tan Renegade, Crazy Horse, and Cordovan.
The Red Wing Heritage Men’s Classic Moc 6-Inch Boot (875) is, in my experience, one of the best moc toe boots to have ever blessed the footwear market, alongside the Style 8890 model.
This is a Heritage boot, so it’s made entirely in the US. It’s 100% leather, with a synthetic sole, waterproof upper, and Norwegian welt construction that ensures strength and durability.
In terms of popularity, the Red Wing Classic Moc Boot is way more popular than Chippewa’s moc toe boot; deservingly so. If I had to choose, I’d certainly go for the Red Wing boot.
I’d also recommend checking out Danner Boots and Thorogood moc toe boots.
Currently, Red Wing no longer produces engineer men’s boots in the USA; only in Europe. They do, however, provide engineer boots for women. So, for the sake of this comparison, we’re going to focus on engineer women’s boots.
The Women’s 1901W14 from Chippewa is a cost-effective leather moc toe boot that’s perfect for demanding and even hazardous work environments.
This boot features a rubber sole, full-grain leather upper, non-removable Texon insole, maple leather heel, steel shank, Vibram Heritage outsole, and Goodyear welt construction for waterproofing.
Here’s an interesting fact: Chippewa’s original engineer boot from 1937 was made using Horween CXL, which is widely recognized as the world’s best leather, especially for bootmaking. Click here to learn more about Chromexcel leather.
The Heritage Style 3471 Classic Engineer Women’s Tall Boot is considered Red Wing’s best engineer boot for women. It flaunts a rugged look with leather straps, brass buckles, and a pull-on design.
The boot is made entirely in the USA, seeing as it belongs to the Heritage line. It features Nubuck leather, a polyurethane traction Tred outsole, Goodyear welt construction.
Which brand wins? I’m going to give the win to Chippewa since they produce engineer boots for men and women. If we’re strictly talking about engineer women’s boots, I’d call it a tie.
Both Red Wing and Chippewa produce high-quality, highly fashionable Oxford shoes that are perfect for both casual and formal settings. Let’s check out each brand’s best offering.
The Original Chippewa Collection Men’s 4-Inch Plain Toe Oxford is a stylish leather shoe that’s made entirely in the US. It features a Vibram sole, Poron-padded insole, sewn-seat Goodyear welt, and maple leather cover.
This shoe is featured in four appealing colors that will most definitely complement casual and formal outfits. When it comes to balancing function and fashion, Chippewa is certainly a tough brand to beat.
Red Wing’s Weekender collection is home to some of the most stylish Oxford shoes out there. Several models come to mind, including the 3302, 3303, and 3304. Sadly, it seems like Weekender Oxford shoes are unavailable in the US.
That being said, you may want to check out the Heritage Men’s Postman Oxford and the Heritage Men’s Classic Oxford. Both shoes are pretty fetching.
Looks like we have yet another tie between Chippewa and Red Wing.
Not all leather varieties are made equal, with some being more durable and comfortable than others. In this section of the comparison, I’ll be highlighting the different leather varieties utilized by Chippewa and Red Wing.
- Horween CXL
- Graphite full-grain
- Aged bark
- Bourbon brown
- Copper rough and tough
- Amber harness
- Oil-tanned leather
- Oro-legacy leather
- Briar oil slick
Next, I’ll be analyzing the different materials utilized by Chippewa and Red Wing for their soles. I’ll be looking at insoles, midsoles, and outsoles.
- Insoles: The insole is the part of the boot/shoe that’s located right beneath the foot. It helps provide cushioning and support. Most Chippewa products feature an Iron Texon or Cushioned insole.
- Midsole: The midsole is the layer found between the inner sole and the outer sole. It’s there to absorb shock. Chippewa utilizes Iron Rubber and Iron Real Flex midsoles for its products.
- Outsole: The outsole is the outer portion of the shoe or boot. Chippewa’s products typically incorporate Vibram outsoles, seeing as they strike an excellent balance between comfort and durability.
- Insoles: Red Wing shoes and boots typically feature Comfort Force footbeds. These are heel-to-toe layers of polyurethane material that absorb impact shock. They’re also covered with suede for moisture management. Note that some Red Wing shoes and boots use a leather insole.
- Mid Sole: Red Wing’s shoes and boots incorporate hard midsoles to ensure a longer lifespan. Cork filling is usually utilized in Red Wing boots, and then the midsole is sewn using 360-degree or 270-degree welting.
- Outsole: Vibram and lug soles are Red Wing’s go-to when it comes to outsoles. Vibram outsoles deliver durability and functionality, whereas lug soles focus on traction and weather protection. Traction Tred is another popular outsole used by Red Wing. It’s a non-marking outsole that delivers remarkable cushioning.
Both Chippewa and Red Wing Shoes flaunt a wide variety of styles. Generally speaking, Chippewa’s products tend to have a more minimalistic, almost-archetypal look than Red Wing’s.
Looking at both brands’ websites, it’s clear that Chippewa has more variety than Red Wing. Chippewa offers logger, lace-up, pull-on/Wellington, wedge, and even snake boots.
Chippewas’s products are also categorized in terms of features. You can find waterproof, insulated, met-guard, puncture-resistant, heat-resistant, safety toe, and electrical hazard boots.
With regard to Red Wing, you can find safety toe, soft toe, waterproof, and CSA boots. It’s worth noting that both brands offer footwear for men and women.
It’s also worth noting that while all of Chippewa’s boots and shoes are made in the USA, the Heritage line is the only line from Red Wing that’s made entirely in the US.
Chippewa Sizing vs Red Wing Sizing
Depending on the style, Chippewa men’s boots run sizes 6 to 16. Chippewa boots also come in different widths, including D, E, and EE. Widths may be labeled as medium, wide, and extra wide for some lines. Generally speaking, Chippewa boots run true to size.
As far as Red Wing boots, sizes for men range from 7 to 16, depending on style. You can also find styles that are available in half sizes. Red Wing boots tend to run true to size or larger to size by half an increment.
The most notable construction difference between Chippewa and Red Wing is that the vast majority of Chippewa’s products are made in America, whereas a large portion of the Red Wing’s production is in China.
Despite being relatively cheaper than Red Wing boots, Chippewa boots flaunt remarkably solid construction. To add, Chippewa is no stranger to premium materials, from Horween leather to Vibram soles.
Chippewa produces its shoes and boots with an emphasis on functionality more so than aesthetic appeal. I’m not saying Chippewa’s products are ugly; I’m just saying they’re more practical than flashy.
Welting-wise, Chippewa typically uses 360-degree or 270-degree Goodyear welt on most, if not all, of its boots.
One thing that’s worth pointing out about Chippewa boots is that some of the leather varieties used for the uppers tend to age poorly. I haven’t experienced this with any of the Chippewa boots that I’ve tried, but other users have.
Red Wing boots are built just as solid as Chippewa; even the ones that are made in China. It’s known that Red Wing makes its boots by employing a 270-degree Goodyear welt with a robust, 11-nailed heel construction.
Red Wing is also known for its large, structured toebox. Not everyone is fond of that toe box style, but it’s one of the things that help set Red Wing boots apart.
The main concern with some of Red Wing’s boots is that they exhibit loose grain wrinkling. This problem isn’t all that prominent in the Heritage line, though.
Speaking of which, Red Wing’s Heritage line flaunts Stitchdown construction, which is considered the old-school method of stitching boots. Boots made with this method tend to be quite costly.
Also, Red Wing is well-known for the triple stitch that is sewn by the Puritan sewing machine.
Safety Features and Protection
Red Wing and Chippewa boots share a lot of the same safety features. Of course, safety features will differ from line to line and from model to model.
Some of the safety and protective features you’ll find include waterproofing, insulation, static dissipation, puncture and heat resistance, and protection against electrical hazards.
Generally speaking, Chippewa boots are viewed as more protective than Red Wing boots. There are, however, a couple of characteristics that may tempt you to opt for Red Wing.
Red Wing boots are viewed as more suitable for working on rig floors. Thanks to their use of Traction Tred, Red Wing boots are more reliable on slippery surfaces.
You can ask the nearest Red Wing store to apply Tuff Toe to your work boots for more protection. It’s basically a polyurethane adhesive that offers great chemical, water, and abrasion resistance.
Leather boots can be extremely uncomfortable to wear when you first buy them. Generally speaking, new boots need 80-100 hours to break in completely.
Does this apply to Red Wing and Chippewa boots, though? Unfortunately, yes. Red Wing boots require even more time to break in than Chippewa boots since they typically feature hard midsoles.
That being said, I don’t recommend walking around for eight hours in your new boot every day to break them in faster. Take it a few hours at a time.
After they break in, both Red Wing and Chippewa boots will become very comfortable.
Chippewa and Red Wing are two of the top work boot brands in the market, so it would be far-fetched to think that their build quality is anything less than stellar.
Both brands utilize high-quality materials for their products, so you can expect a great deal of durability from both. But what about resoling? Can Red Wing and Chippewa boots be resoled?
Boots that feature any type of welt construction, where the upper and lower portions of the boot are stitched, can be resoled. On the other hand, boots that utilize gluing or cementing instead of welting cannot be resoled.
Stitched Red Wing boots can definitely be resoled. However, It’s recommended that you don’t resole Red Wing boots more than 2-3 times. If they’re still in good shape after the third resole, you can go for a fourth one.
As far as Chippewa, stitched boots can be resoled. There’s also an excellent boot restoration program that encompasses renewal and repair done manually by expert craftsmen.
It’s also worth noting that if your boots have a Vibram sole, you can mail them directly to Vibram for a custom resole. Click here to learn more.
When it comes to conditioning, you can use mink oil or boot oil to condition your Red Wing or Chippewa boots. Make sure you clean your boots before you apply a conditioner. Ideally, you should condition your boots once a month.
If you have any questions with regard to taking care of your work boots, be sure to reach out to the brand’s customer service. In my experience, Red Wing’s customer service is one of its strongest suits.
Where Are Chippewa Boots Made?
The vast majority of Chippewa boots are made in the USA—in Missouri and Carthage. A small percentage of Chippewa boots are made in China, though.
Where Are Red Wing Boots Made?
Red Wing’s production is the opposite of Chippewa’s. A large portion of Red Wing’s production is in China. The brand’s Heritage line is the only one that’s made entirely in the US.
Red Wing boots are generally more expensive than Chippewa boots. Red Wing boots cost anywhere between $100 and $400, whereas Chippewa boots range from $130 to $350.
Where to Buy Chippewa Boots?
The best place to buy Chippewa boots is Amazon. If you prefer in-store shopping, you may want to check out Boot Barn. I wrote a whole article on the best place to buy work boots.
Where to Buy Red Wing Boots?
Unfortunately, not a lot of stores carry Red Wing boots. That being said, the best places to buy Red Wing boots are Amazon and RedWingShoes.com. Click here to find the nearest Red Wing store.
Red Wing vs Chippewa: Verdict
Chippewa or Red Wing?
Both Chippewa and Red Wing have a lot to offer. After all, they’re two of the very best work boot brands out there. But since we’re here to crown a winner, I’m leaning more towards Chippewa.
The fact that the vast majority of Chippewa boots are made in the US is enough for me to crown Chippewa the winner, but that’s not all there’s to it.
Chippewa boots are remarkably sturdy yet they’re priced cheaper than Red Wing boots, which are not all made in the US. On top of that, Chippewa boots are more widely available and they run true to size.
To sum up, if you’re an engineer, logger, warehouse worker, or concrete worker, I’d highly recommend Chippewa. If you work on slippery floors, like in an oil field, you’re better off with Red Wing.
I’m Shaun Williams, editor-in-chief of Workwear Digest. My objective to help fellow blue-collar workers make informed buying decisions when choosing their workwear. I have over 15 years of combined experience with many industrial and manual labor jobs. I started out as a construction laborer and a part-time driver, then I worked as a heavy equipment operator. Currently, I work as an estimator for a local landscape company.