Thorogood vs Red Wing Boots: A Consideration

by Mar 25, 2019Brands, Shoewear0 comments

I like to think of moc boots as elegant shoe tanks. With mocs you never sacrifice sturdiness for a shoe that looks boring or out of place.

Thorogood and Red Wing are two brands that offer some seriously kickass mocs. If you feel lost and torn about picking one, that’s pretty understandable.

Honestly, I’m a bit of a Red Wing fanboy. I love their Heritage series! While not a moc, my 6″ round Red Wing is THE everyday shoe for me.

But I was never looking for an ultra tough work boot. I was in for a durable leather beauty that will last me for a decade while I roam around cities and mountains. Something that will endure some beating, but not extreme amounts of it.

However, you might be looking for dedicated work boots. The ones that will be your best pals in times of heavy DIY projects or construction work. A pair that will be beat down a lot.

In this case, the Thorogood 6″ moc toe is the most practical purchase. Yes, even though I’m a Red Wing fanboy.

So, why? I mean, there’s still the Iron Ranger which is Red Wing’s standard for toughness…

Let’s dig a bit deeper.

Red Wing vs Thorogood boots:
Several notable differences

Owning a pair of Red Wings means style. They look classy, you can actually feel the elegance of ages in their Heritage series.

They are refined, look sharper, and their leather is somewhat smoother to fit this sophistication.

Red Wing boots – including their hardcore mocs, are made for medium intensity workloads and stress.

However, Thorogood were made to excel at boots made for some darn serious situations. I’m talking about the usual hazards of more challenging DIY projects or construction work.

The best example for this is this American Heritage 6″ moc. It has a steel toe for extra protection – something that even Red Wing’s Iron Ranger lacks.

Thorogood vs Red Wing: IF you need extra protection, the steel toe 6" moc from Thorogood takes the cake.

Another big deal with Thorogoods is their MaxWear sole technology.

Remember when Vibram was the leading sole technology? Rubberized toughness that made your work boots both oil and slip resistant, and provided sturdy traction.

Thorogood improved Vibram with MaxWear – the rubber evolved to polyurethane. These new soles last longer (on average 20-30%) and provide even better resistance to slippage. As a cherry on top, they’re also way more flexible and significantly lighter.

Sure, Thorogoods don’t look remotely as presentable as Red Wings. They are bigger, and there’s a little bit of a clunky feeling to them sometimes. The toe boxes are slightly uglier, the stitching too square-ish.

But if you want a tough work boot, do you really care that much about looks?

You want something tough that gives you extra protection. If it’s on a good price, even better.

Which, by the way, is another advantage of Thorogood – they’re generally better priced than Red Wing moc boots. (Read: significantly cheaper without sacrificing their performance/durability.)

Three remarks about convenience

First: How important is lacing to you?

Sometimes I wish my otherwise outstanding Red Wings had speed lacing hooks. You can see three pairs of them only on the Iron Ranger, sadly. This can feel a bit limiting for those who prefer faster, easier lacing.

Thorogood however implement speed lacing hooks in several of their work boots. In fact, most of their tougher moc shoes have them. Unlike the Iron Ranger, the hooks have been moved slightly lower which is more convenient in my opinion.

With the Iron Ranger, they start from the very top of the shoe:

Speed lacing hooks: Only the Iron Ranger has these from Red Wing's lineup. Thorogood work boots feature more speed hooks.

Second: Let’s talk about shanks.

In other cases, you need additional support between your insoles and outsoles. Yes, I’m talking about shanks – these miraculous sidekicks helping our feet stay cozy.

Shanks are made of steel, fiberglass or Kevlar. Steel shanks are a classic, while fiberglass is a more modern take on shanks. I have no preference whatsoever.

The thing is, from the Red Wing shoes, only the Iron Ranger features a sturdy steel shank. Thorogoods once again offer more variety, with a significant portion of their mocs offering fiberglass shanks.

Third: Cushioning, footbeds, insoles and such.

No issues with either of these brands. Thorogood scores higher in terms of shock absorption in their footbed, definitely. Yet Red Wings wrap your foot around in a very cushion-y way and in my personal experience they have been a bit easier to break in.

Generally, you won’t be looking for additional insoles or cushioning. For those who still want an ultra ultra comfortable insole, consider reading my comparison of Powerstep and Superfeet insoles.

Concluding thoughts

In my case, I don’t need high-performing work boots suitable for more intensive, hazardous environments like construction work. Which is exactly why I usually stick to Red Wing’s line of shoes.

For activities that call for some serious beating down, however, I really recommend you to swap to Thorogood work mocs. They look a bit plainer compared to Red Wings, yes.

However, the cost performance with them is simply brilliant. You get affordability paired with construction that has been specifically thought out for extreme workloads. It’s a nobrainer.

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Ex-digital nomad, DIY enthusiast and an appreciator of cozy foot wear. Always ready to give lifestyle tips for men. Tea, not coffee is my fuel for writing.