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Redwing

 
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I want to start a market garden and small farm. I'm wondering what are the best shoes/boots for this kind of work? I'm thinking damn expensive Red Wings because they last forever. And i like pull on ariats and wolverines but ive heard they dont last long.
 
pollinator
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my brother just told me about trying to find quality footware.....he's a ups driver of 30 years plus and needed hard core boots/shoes...this is what he found over the years:

-many USA shoemakers put out great shoes/boots made here in the USA under a name, say Redwing, Hot Flyers
-then, when the public begins to recognize these particular boots, the company would then farm the work out to china and the long lasting Redwing Hot Flyers from china would fall apart in 9 months or six months
-once word got out, then the company would make another long lasting boot under another name and pull the same trick again.

He found the best results after hours of googling:  the guys that work on powerlines, lineman, order from special sites. so if you google for lineman boots then google the sites that pop up for "made in USA"

.....even on the lineman sites, it was hard to find the boots "made in the USA" but those are the ones that will last.....and the company name will vary.....I will ask him tomorrow and post for you his latest find
 
pollinator
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My Redwing boots will last a long time, probably forever, because they are so uncomfortable, I never wear them. They were the most expensive boots I ever bought too, at just over $400

I typically get Carolina Boots because they are warm, wear like iron, and are cheap...

Sometimes the most expensive things, do not last the longest, or are even the best.
 
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It seems like folks on Reddit are still pretty positive about Redwing's quality, but I don't have any firsthand experience. I'm still waiting to find some Iron Rangers as factory 2nds so I can pay $200 for 'em instead of $400…

Lineman boots would be a good avenue to explore, since from what I hear those guys are harder on boots than just about anyone in the world. Just make sure you understand the tradeoffs you're making. My experience with those sorts of specialty products is that they tend to be highly optimized for just a few variables. Lineman boots might be a bit heavier, less comfortable, and less fashionable than other boots you could buy, and they might not even be the most durable in absolute terms, but they will probably be the most durable per dollar spent! So if all those other things aren't important to you, they might be a great choice.

I bought a pair of classic Blundstones after scoping out what our guides were wearing when we toured a working organic cocoa farm in Australia. I figured anything good enough to be a daily driver there would be good enough for my non-jungle-based garden needs 😆. They've been great for me so far, though I'm just an hobbyist so I haven't really put them through the wringer. There are some complaints around about Blundstones' quality since they offshored manufacturing, though it's hard to tell what proportion of those complaints are about the boot quality vs. sour grapes over Blundstone laying off all their Australian workers.
 
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About five years ago I visited the Red Wing factory. Was looking for a pair of high quality boots made in the USA. That's their big advertising theme. When I noticed some were made elsewhere I asked about that. They told me that all of their products that involve glue were made outside the USA. That seemed to be about 75% of their product line.  
 
Travis Johnson
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The town where my wife is from, once had a big shoe factory. EVERYONE worked there including her grandparents and parents. Today White Mountain Shoe has about 20 workers out of the hundreds they used to have. All they do now is take orders, have shoes made in China, and then ship them back to New Hampshire. The shipping Department repackages the shoes with a nice American flag, and consumers are not the wiser.

I was in a building today that use to make Etonic sneakers when I was a kid; it is a governmental office building now.

As kids New England was known for their shoe factories, but it is all but gone now. But all is not bad, Harald Alfond, who owned Dexter She Factory which was huge in the 1980's, sold out at just the right time, he made so many millions of dollars that he had a trust fund set-up as a philanthropist. I got $1000 from that trust fund just for having sex...yep...just for having having sex...well...okay, it is a little more than that. Every child born in Maine is given $500 by the trust fund. My two daughters have trust funds set up in their names that is accruing interest from his generosity.

We still have one shoe factory in Maine, but it is barely holding on. If a person really wants to buy shoes made in the USA, I know first hand New Balance sneakers are made in Skowhegan, Maine. They are holding on because it is a requirement of the US Military's to have their uniforms made by USA companies. New Balance provides the sneakers for the US Military.
 
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Dear hubby and I got Redwing Boots before we ever had kids.  My Redwings have been to a lot of states while we were hiking.  Dear hubby wore his as work boots and hiking boots.  Mine look brand new while his look well worn.

Redwings are too nice a boot to be abused in all the dirt and mud of farming.  These are the boots I wear for that: Amazon Link



Here are some threads:

https://permies.com/t/47502/work-boots-vegetable-farming-drip

https://permies.com/t/99961/Excellent-Rain-Muck-Boots-Honeywell

https://permies.com/t/70742/Muck-boots
 
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I think the Promiscuous Pollinator does most of his market farming barefoot.
My favorite heavy duty boot is a Whites which was made in the USA.
 
pollinator
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> Redwing

I have bought their slip-ons for the last 20 years. I wear one pair 16 hrs/dy 300 (or so) /yr. Nasty way to treat a shoe. Maybe average 10+ hours/wk of construction work, the rest just carrying me around, covering my feet. I retired the last pair after 4 years when the uppers over the steel toe started to sprout holes. Would have kept them on for dirty work, but just don't have that much space or need. Wouldn't be surprised if made in China, but they have worked for me as well anything I've ever heard about, much less seen. Can't recall the last time I shined them - probably  never; maybe cleaned a couple times. Like I said - nasty way to treat shoes. The _average_ life span seems to be 3-4 years.

Maybe some sewn shoes could be repaired longer, don't know about that. For buy-it/use-it-til-death they work pretty well. But I suspect there are others as good.


Regards,
Rufus
 
Mike Barkley
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Found it! That person had a good solution.

This thread reminded me I never did find a great "buy local" source for boots. I'm leaning towards trying the home made method again. Have made many pairs of soft soled moccasins & boots. It's fairly easy with just a little practice & they can be made to look excellent with just a little more practice. Hard all natural soles are more challenging but seem like a good skill to work on.

It also reminded me of the only pair of Redwings I ever owned. They were triple layered insulated winter boots & rather expensive for the time. Barely broken in if at all. Wore them on a rainy fishing/camping trip & they got soaked the first day. They were left too close to the campfire that night. They shrunk & curled up so bad they were completely ruined. Sigh.  


 
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danner makes some good boots too
 
Rufus Laggren
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Mike

I'm  not certain - been a long time since I did the soaking/toasting brutality to leather footwear  - but I think they can be brought back. Takes time. Seem to recall either soaking again or oiling, maybe both. Then gentle "working" the leather as it absorbs the fluid. Did I say takes time? IIRC, it's like a dried sponge: Bend it too soon, before it absorbs enough to flex a little, and you break it.

Guess maybe google would spit out an answer if you coax it right...


Regards,
Rufus
 
Mike Barkley
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haha    Way too late & too severe for that. They were crispy critters. Toasted & crunchy. Soaked them in various oils & bear grease for a month or more to no avail. Forty years ago. But if that accident had not happened those boots might still be in decent shape now. Haven't lived in extreme cold since about a year after that so they would not have been used very much.

I still have the Buck Special 119 knife from those days. Still in excellent shape despite heavy use & even abuse at times. As well as it's newer baby siblings bought since then. The smallest one I use almost every single day, several times a day, for almost everything a knife is needed for. Another buy it for life product!

 
pollinator
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Red Wings are hard to beat, and yes they do make a number of their boots over seas. All of the Irish Setter line is over sea construction. If it has a Goodyear welt on it without a stitch through toe it was USA made.
The old 953 is still going strong although I hear they will be discontinued one of these days. I hope that is many years away as it is my #1 boot by a long shot. By the way, I'm a Red Wing Shoe store manager. We have a lot of farmers in my area and the 953 with it's smooth sole is about as good a boot as you can get in my opinion. Red Wing leather from S.B Foot tannery, stitched together and the sole direct attached in Potosi, Missouri. I regularly have customers come in for a new pair that had their last pair for 6 plus years.

Travis, sounds like you got a pair of Loggermax boots. I'm curious if you were fitted for them or ordered them without being able to try them on. The higher end Loggermax boots do have a rough break in period. Kinda like the Heritage series Red Wings.

Ian, what Iron Rangers are you looking for? What size?
 
Ian Young
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Caleb Mayfield wrote:Ian, what Iron Rangers are you looking for? What size?



I really like the copper color, though I'd probably settle for one of the other browns if the right one came along. The plan is for these to work as fairly-dressy shoes but also be ones I can wear outside in the terrible MN winter conditions.

I'm not sure about sizing. I typically wear US 9.5 but it sounds like Iron Ranger sizing can vary quite a bit from normal. I tried some different Red Wing boots on in a store a while back and they seemed fairly true to size, but I don't know if that carries over to the Iron Rangers.
 
Rufus Laggren
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Mike, sounds like you gave those boots everything but mouth to mouth resuscitation! <g>

> winter conditions...

= lots of water and wet, every day, right?

I was taught that in very wet conditions, the shoe or boot s/b waterproofed with an applied goop. In by-gone days that was some kind of oil, but now I think most of the retail stuff is silicone based. It's a trade-off between keeping the materials somewhat dry, ie. water proof, and allowing them to "breath" and lose the moisture from within quickly. The devil's own choice.


Regards,
Rufus
 
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When I was young working in the woods. We used a product called "loggers world wax oil". We kept in a coffee can with a paint brush.   Paint it on as you got out of the truck in the morning.
It worked very well, but not to sure how environmentally friendly it was.  I could walk thru creeks all day and my socks got oily but not wet. Leather uppers only lasted 2-3 years before needing a rebuild.
Now I use Obernaufs boot grease. All natural good stuff.  The uppers are at least 6-7 years old ... my feet can get wet but not to bad. Its a toss up.
https://www.obenaufs.com/  the heavy duty L.P. is what I use
 
 
 
Caleb Mayfield
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Ian Young wrote:
I'm not sure about sizing. I typically wear US 9.5 but it sounds like Iron Ranger sizing can vary quite a bit from normal. I tried some different Red Wing boots on in a store a while back and they seemed fairly true to size, but I don't know if that carries over to the Iron Rangers.



The Heritage stuff does size differently. Iron Rangers tend  to fit half to full size smaller than what you normally wear in a Red Wing. So you are probably looking at a 9.0 or 8.5 from the sounds of it. If you wore a size 11 in Rangers I could make you a heck of a deal on a pair of 8114's. All black with the original smooth nitrile cork sole.

As for care and waterproofing/conditioning, I like the Red Wing All Natural Boot Paste. I'd bet the Obenaufs stuff Thomas uses is similar. Red Wings is a mix of Mink Oil, Beeswax, and Pine Pitch. It is really great on new leather gloves. Makes them last a lot longer and are a bit grippy instead of being slick.
 
Travis Johnson
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When I used to wear work boots, to put on mink oil I used to use a hair dryer. that got the leather nice and warm, then I liberally applied the mink oil, then used the hair dryer again to really drive it into the leather. I had to do it about every week because the acid in the manure of animals plays havoc with the boots, but it works well.
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