Chippewa vs. Red Wing

by Purposeful Footwear - Last Updated: February 16, 2019

Can’t decide between Chippewa and Red Wing? I was in the same flustering situation. So to end the debate, I decided to put both boots to the test. Now a few months after my research, I’ve come to a conclusion. In my opinion, the winner between these two work boot mega manufacturers depends on the buyer. Yes, both Chippewa and Red Wing have something to offer, and because they can be immensely different, choosing the right one ultimately depends on what you specifically need.

Image of the Red Wing Heritage Men's 6 Inch Moc Work Boot, Concrete Rough and Tough, 10.5 D US

When you work a difficult, demanding, and hazardous job, protecting yourself is of utmost importance. So aside from wearing the proper protective gear, it’s vital that you also invest in a good pair of work boots that keep your feet comfortable and safe throughout the day. Because most employers won’t hand out work boots as a part of the employment kit, it’s ultimately your job to find the right boots for yourself.

Chippewa and Red Wing take pride in their reputation as two of the best work boot manufacturers in the market. And with such high praises being awarded to both companies, choosing which of the two best suits your needs can be a bit of a challenge.

What exactly is it that pits these two companies as such close competitors? Find out why I think they’re both worth your buck.

More About the Chippewa Brand

Chippewa was established way back in 1901 in a small factory in Wisconsin. Built for engineers and loggers, this footwear brand was designed to give hard workers a reliable everyday companion that they could depend on through thick and thin.

Today, Chippewa continues its legacy of expertly crafted work boots, and has even dabbled in other footwear niches as well. Their uncompromising quality and standards have effectively pushed them to the top as one of the most prominent work boot brands. Plus, at reasonably affordable prices, they’re definitely a winner for buyers who want quality boots on a budget.

More About the Red Wing Brand

Starting out in 1905, Red Wing was established with the vision of manufacturing boots that used only the finest materials available. So the company worked to create its own source of high quality leather which it continues to use to this day.

Since its founding, Red Wing has become one of the biggest work boot juggernauts in the market. Boasting a wide range of footwear choices that ensure the highest level of durability and quality, Red Wing takes pride in its ability to design and manufacture footwear choices that are guaranteed to last. This is all thanks to their dedication to use nothing short of the finest leather put together with expert craftsmanship and unwavering attention to detail.

Boots and Shoes for Men

The biggest market for both Red Wing and Chippewa is the men’s market. Being that most blue collar workers are men, both companies have come out with wider offerings for their male consumer base in order to meet the demand for this type of footwear.

In the men’s department, these brands have a number of different designs – from traditional leather work boots, to reinforced hardy outdoor boots, and even casual shoes for everyday use.

Chippewa’s Top Contenders

One of Chippewa’s best men’s work boot designs to date is the Rugged Handcrafted Lace-Up Boot. The boot boasts premium burnished leather and a reinforced Vibram sole. With this killer combo, this boot can make navigating dangerous work environments easy and hazard-free.

Image of the Chippewa Men's 20065 6

Despite its worn look, the Rugged Handcrafted Lace-Up Boot doesn’t compromise durability and resistance to wear and tear. The high quality leather uppers are made to last, giving you a work boot that you can rely on for many years after purchase. Plus, the Vibram outsoles feature tightly packed treads that guarantee mighty traction on both wet and dry surfaces.

Another one of their more popular designs is the 6-Inch Plain Toe Boot.  Featuring a sleeker, slimmer silhouette, these boots are the perfect picture of form and function in one. The boots feature the same high quality leather upper and the slip-resistant Vibram sole. This entire design comes together via industry-standard Goodyear welt construction.

Image of the Original Chippewa Collection Men's 1901M15 6 Inch Plain Toe Boot, Black Whirlwind, 8 D US

Although it does make a very worthy work boot, the Plain Toe Boot from Chippewa also makes a great choice for those who just want a fashion forward footwear option thanks to its sleek, clean, and stylish aesthetic.

Now, if you’re not interested in buying a boot, then Chippewa might have something for you nonetheless. The Original Plain Toe Oxford is a stylish casual wear staple that no dapper dude should be without. All together, the shoe was built with the same durability and comfort characteristic of the Chippewa brand. So it makes the perfect choice for guys who want a durable shoe for everyday use.

Red Wing’s Top Contenders

In Red Wing’s corner is theIron Ranger 6-Inch Work Boot. Made from the company’s signature natural leather, this boot features a slightly more polished appearance. This becomes apparent when you compare it to the Rugged Boot from Chippewa. The Iron Ranger also comes with a slightly higher shaft, giving you greater leg protection. This as well offers improved resistance to exaggerated ankle movements.

Image of the Red Wing Heritage Iron Ranger 6-Inch Boot, Amber Harness, 10 W (EE) US

In terms of durability, the Red Wing does just as good as the Rugged Handcrafted Lace-Up Boot. The only real difference between the two is that the Red Wing uses a synthetic sole. Even then, it offers similar traction on different surfaces.

Another honorable mention from Red Wing is the Classic Moc 6 Inch Boot. Using leather and a white Traction Tread outsole, this boot can give you serious support for everyday use. Not to mention the fact that they’re just as equally good looking as the Chippewa Classic Plain Toe Boot. So, these boots will work just as well as a fashion forward casual outfit essential.

Image of the Red Wing Heritage Men's 6

For something a little more laid back, Red Wing also offers shoes like the Weekender Oxford Shoe. These shoes were designed to be used as everyday shoes for casual outfits. However, it still boast the uncompromising build quality that Red Wing is known for. Another thing is that the shoes age beautifully, as wear and tear gives them greater character and personality.

Women’s Shoes and Boots

Because both brands are focused on targeting men, they don’t really have such an extensive collection of choices for women. Nonetheless, there are a few picks available for female buyers.

With Chippewa, designs for women are significantly different from their men’s selection. A great example of this would be the 8-Inch Lacer Boots for women. Featuring a unique aesthetic and a pointed toe box, this boot also comes with a kiltie detail. All together, these give it greater personality and style for casual wear purposes.

The Waterproof Insulated Logger Boot for women on the other hand is a little more robust. With its slightly elevated Vibram sole, 100% full-grain leather uppers, and secure lacing system, this women’s boot design crosses the boundary between fashion and function.

Image of the Chippewa Women's 8

On the other hand, Red Wing’s boots for women are pretty much just sleeker versions of the men’s line-up. For instance, the women’s Iron Ranger and the 6 Inch Moc Toe Boot are almost identical to their men’s counterparts. They do boast the same robust construction however, which makes them a great pick nonetheless. This is especially true if you’re not really in the market for a fashion boot.

Image of the Red Wing Heritage Women's 6 inch Moc-W Work Boot, Oro Legacy, 8.5 B US

Then again, if you do want a Red Wing women’s boot that prioritizes fashion, there are choices. For instance, the Clara Boot is a common choice for women who want a stylish pick. This high heeled leather boot wasn’t designed for work and outdoors. Instead, it was built to give your outfit a pop of personality. The faux-wood texture used for the heel gives it undeniable appeal, while the black rubber outsole works to give traction and robust style at the same time.

Image of the Red Wing Clara Womens Clara Boot (9.5)

The Bottom Line

Again, taking all the factors into consideration, it’s really hard to choose a winner between the two brands. At the end of the day, they both provide sturdy designs that use high quality materials. Plus, they offer a variety of choices perfect for work and leisure.

So if I’d have to choose a better brand, I’d have to say that the choice depends on the buyer. Chippewa and Red Wing both provide great options, and their designs even resemble each other in some ways. If your concern is durability, support, comfort, or any other facet of footwear performance, I’d say that both companies excel in all aspects.

For those in search of something a little more fashion forward, both Red Wing and Chippewa have something to offer. With lots of picks that prioritize stylishness, you can definitely find a choice that meets your fashion standards.

Ultimately, the only real consideration I can see is the cost. Because the Red Wing brand is slightly more expensive than Chippewa, the price might be something to factor in. This is especially true if you’re working within a budget, in which case Chippewa would be the better pick. Otherwise, the choice depends on which brand (or footwear design) just tickles your fancy a little more.

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