Since 1905, Red Wing has built its reputation on constructing quality leather boots for work or casual wear. In an age when most footwear companies outsource their production to other countries, Red Wing boots remain American-made.
Named after the founder of the company, the Red Wing Beckman is a beautiful leather boot made to last. The Beckman is for men looking for a reliable light work boot that can easily be dressed up for casual wear.
|Quality leather upper||Expensive|
|Support and durability||Lengthy break-in period|
|All-terrain outsole||Quality control/design issues|
Quality Leather Upper
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, Red Wing has used traditional techniques to maintain the same manufacturing standards. The company has its own tannery, S.B. Foot Tanning Company, where professionals process the leather that will eventually become a Red Wing boot. The Beckman – formerly nicknamed the “Gentleman Traveler” – has been a timeless Red Wing design for generations. The boot’s minimalist durable leather upper becomes its focus, combining durability with elegant style.
Only the best pieces of full-grain leather are treated and processed into Featherstone, the type of leather that composes the upper of the Beckman. Thicker pieces make up the toe and the heel, while more flexible pieces create the gusseted tongue. Featherstone leather has a polished look, with a lighter weight and a gloss missing from other full-grain leathers. The finished leather is extremely easy to clean with a soft brush and a cloth. You can use a leather cleaner to wipe away more difficult stains. You can polish Featherstone leather to make it shine for a more elegant appearance.
Available in three different colors – Chestnut, Cigar, and Black Cherry – the Red Wing Beckman measures 5.5” from the arch. The specialists at Red Wing use the same Puritan sewing machines from the company’s inception. Along the upper, triple stitching with waxed white thread maintains durability while adding Red Wing’s signature sophisticated look. The Beckman’s lace-up vamp has reinforced lace holes for the included wax cotton laces. A calfskin interior is long-lasting, allowing your feet to slide smoothly into the boot. The long, gusseted tongue protects your feet from debris or water, keeping your feet comfortable.
Comfort and Support
In any boot, you need both comfort and support to keep your feet and legs comfortable for all-day wear. Shoemakers stretch the stitched upper over a No. 8 Last. The last is the foot-shaped mold that manufacturers use to give the new shoe the proper dimensions to fit comfortably. The No. 8 is one of Red Wing’s oldest lasts designed for many different foot shapes with a wide toe box. Although the beautiful and durable leather upper is the main focus of the Beckman, there is also superior support and comfort throughout the rest of the boot. This model’s design has a round toe with a sturdy heel cup. This gives you extra wiggle room for your toes and more heel support to create a comfortable and supportive fit.
The leather insole is a tradition that dates back to the first Red Wing boots. The moisture-wicking material pulls away water and sweat to keep your feet dry all day long. The plush leather also feels incredibly comfortable underfoot. The midsole has two layers composed of leather and crushed cork. The combination of these two materials resembles the support of modern-day memory foam. The midsole surrounds a steel shank for structural support. This part of the boot provides the shock-absorption and bounceback that relieve foot and leg fatigue, making long days on your feet less painful.
The upper, midsole, and insole all work together as one unit. Over time, after the break-in period, the leather molds to your feet. This makes the fit of the Beckman more suited to your foot and your walking style, creating a custom fit.
We love all Red Wing Work Boots for their style and their substance- click to read our review and find out why.
Even though the Beckman has a fashionable appearance, this boot has an all-terrain outsole that holds up to mild work conditions. The two-part outsole is made of leather and rubber. Using Goodyear welt construction, the Beckman has a leather welt stitched to the upper and the insole. This creates a more durable boot. Goodyear welt outsoles can also be repaired by a cobbler when they start to break down, which ensures the long lifetime of the boot.
Attached to the leather outsole is the Vibram Roccia outsole. This design uses rubber in the heel and the forefoot for extra durability. The rubber in the forefoot has excellent traction, and the heel is made of oil-resistant rubber to reduce slipping. With a defined 1.25” heel, the Beckman has the added safety feature of a ninety-degree heel for climbing ladders on a work site. Although the boot’s outsole is suitable for all environments, the materials are less durable than other work boots on the market. This makes the Beckman better as a casual boot than one for use on rough work sites.
Cons of the Red Wing Beckman
While the Red Wing Beckman has a superior construction over most leather boots on the market today, their price may make some buyers hesitate. These boots run higher on the price point than others, but their cost is justified. Other leather work boots are often outsourced to other countries, using less than superior construction techniques. Red Wing holds their products to a higher standard, using the same production techniques throughout the past century.
Even though you will spend a good amount of money on the Beckman, it will pay for itself within a few years. Where you may have to replace your other leather boots, the Beckmans will be completely broken in, still looking and feeling like new. This makes purchasing the Beckman cheaper in the long run. Even if you have to have your boots resoled, this is much cheaper than buying a brand new set of boots.
Lengthy Break-In Period
When purchasing a well-made pair of leather boots, you will deal with some break-in period. According to the manufacturer and testimonies from satisfied customers, you should buy at least a half-size smaller than your normal boot size. The Beckman runs narrow, but the upper stretches over time. Unfortunately, the Beckmans have a longer break-in period than other boots you may have tried in the past. It takes time for the insole, midsole, and upper to form to the shape of your foot. The break-in period ranges from a few weeks to a few months, depending on how often you wear the boot. When you first start wearing your Beckmans, they will feel heavy and stiff before they are completely broken in.
To protect your feet from getting too sore during this initial phase, we recommend not wearing your boots continuously when you first receive them. Wearing them for a few hours at a time at first will break them in without causing too much foot discomfort. As the boot begins to stretch and form to your foot, you will notice that the Beckmans will become more comfortable the longer you wear them. Although this method takes longer, your feet will thank you.
Quality Control/Design Issues
Although the reaction to the Red Wing Beckman has been overwhelmingly positive, there are a few design flaws in the boot. With a complete lace-up design, you will not be able to put on this boot or take it off quickly. They do not slip off until they are unlaced. The company provides laces for their products, but these laces are too short. If you like a longer shoelace, you can always replace them with ones that are long enough for you.
There is a leather trim along the ankle collar for comfort, but this strip wears down quicker than the rest of the upper. Although minor defects are usual in leather boots, some customers have complained that they received defective boots. With so many steps to create a Red Wing boot, some less-than-stellar products inevitably reach the market. Just make sure that you buy your Beckmans from a reputable retailer (online or brick-and-mortar) with a good return policy.
The Bottom Line
Despite some quality control issues, these instances are very rare. Overall, the Red Wing Beckman is a high-quality leather boot. It doesn’t have the extra durability of work boots, but they are still tough enough for a light-duty work site. The classic design is more appealing as a fashion statement: you can dress them up with a pair of jeans and a nice shirt. The finished leather requires more hands-on care, such as treating and conditioning (see link below). The company has their own line of care products that are specific to the model.
If you are willing to take care of them, this well-made boot will last you forever, making the high price tag worth the investment.
“Anatomy of a Red Wing.” Red Wing Shoes. https://www.redwingheritage.com/us/USD/page/how-made
“How to Care for Leather.” The Art of Manliness. https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/how-to-care-for-leather/
Jennifer Conerly is a writer and editor with extensive retail experience in athletic shoes and fitness she never thought would come in handy.