Are Red Wing Boots Good For Hiking? What You Need To Know
If you’re planning on hiking, having the right boots is of critical importance. Hiking demands strong footwear that provides the support and comfort you need. Not everyone hikes often enough to have a dedicated pair of hiking boots, and you may be wondering if Red Wing boots are good for hiking.
While you absolutely can hike in Red Wing boots, they are not intended to be hiking boots. Due to their weight and lack of comfort, Red Wing boots are best for short and simple hikes.
Red Wing boots were originally designed for workplace use combining extreme durability and comfort, debuting in 1905.
They are now highly fashionable and prevalent across many styles. Their distinctive look, durability, comfort, and versatility is what has kept Red Wings so popular for so long.
How well Red Wing boots will work for you while hiking depends on a few different factors, which we’ll break down for you below.
*Note that while Red Wing has begun making boots specifically for hiking in recent years, most Red Wing boots are work boots, which is what we’ll be focusing on in this article.
Red Wing Boots Vs Hiking Boots
There are a few key differences between hiking boots and Red Wing boots, and choosing the right one can make a huge impact on your experience depending on which activity you’re doing.
Let’s break down the major points to consider when choosing hiking boots vs work boots.
The weight of a hiking boot is much lighter than a Red Wing boot, and this weight can really make a huge impact on the enjoyability of your hike.
Red Wing boots are designed for safety and injury prevention, so features like steel toes are often included, which add extra weight.
Hiking boots are usually equipped with rubber toe caps which will still provide the bump and abrasion protection you need.
The added weight of Red Wing boots will add to the amount of energy you spend on your hike, so pay close attention to the total weight if using a work boot on your hike.
Most hiking boots include grooves and patterns that are designed to provide extra grip or traction on a variety of surfaces.
Red Wing boots usually feature simpler sole patterns with shallower indentations, offering a bit of slip resistance, but not nearly the amount of grip that most hiking boots will offer.
Consider the type of trails you’ll be hiking, along with what ground conditions and weather you’ll be hiking in, as hiking boots offer much better performance – especially in wet, snowy, or muddy conditions.
The soles of Red Wing boots are designed with protection and puncture-resistance in mind.
This typically means that they have stiff rubber soles for safety.
Although this is a great safety feature, it’s not such a great feature when hiking.
The rigid soles of Red Wing boots will reduce your grip on uneven terrain, affecting your stability.
Hiking boots are designed to keep you comfortable over long distances, and the materials hiking boots are made from are designed to absorb shocks as you hike.
Simply put, most Red Wing boots will not provide extended comfort for longer hikes.
Depending on the terrain you’ll be hiking, you may encounter streams or other bodies of water that you’ll be crossing.
Most of today’s hiking boots offer waterproofing and quick-drying capabilities, allowing the boot to dry as you continue to hike.
Most Red Wing boots may be water resistant, but will absorb more water and take longer to dry than hiking boots will.
Ankle support in hiking boots vs Red Wing boots is a very important factor to consider, especially if you’ll be carrying a backpack.
Depending on your needs, hiking boots can come in versions that support you with a low, mid, or high-cut profile, as where Red Wing boots almost exclusively offer mid or high-cut protection.
What Features Should I Look For In Good Hiking Boots?
The three key features you should look for in a good hiking boot are the type of hiking boot, the fit, and the components the boots are made of.
We’ll walk through each below.
Types of Red Wing Boots For Hiking
There are many types of hiking boots available, and all the options can be overwhelming. Make sure to pick the right type of hiking boot for your intended use.
Let’s break down the most common types of hiking boots you’ll encounter while looking for your next pair.
These low-cut models offer flexible midsoles and are best used for day hiking.
Day Hiking Boots
Day hiking boots come in mid and high-cut options and are best for day hiking or shorter backpacking trips with lighter loads.
They’re easy to break in and have decent flex, but they don’t offer as much support as proper backpacking boots.
You’ll want a pair of proper backpacking boots if you’re doing trips spanning several days, or going deep into the wilderness.
These boots usually come in high cut only, wrapping around the ankle to give extra support.
Backpacking boots are durable and offer stiffer midsoles than lighter boot options, and have the support you’ll need both off and on the trail.
Waterproof vs Non-Waterproof
Hiking boots come in both waterproof and non-waterproof options. Waterproof boots are great at resisting moisture, but are less breathable.
The choice is up to you, but be sure to select the right option for your needs.
If you’ll be hiking in snow, crossing streams or creeks, or otherwise getting outside in wet conditions, you’ll absolutely want to opt for a waterproof hiking boot.
If you don’t plan on hiking in these conditions, you can go non-waterproof.
Minimalist, Barefoot, and Zero-Drop Hiking Shoes
These shoes are intended to minimize padding and support to allow you to get as close as possible to a barefoot experience while still providing some protection and grip.
Choosing this type of hiking shoe is largely up to personal preference, and you’ll need to try them on to see if a barefoot-feel is right for you.
What To Know About Hiking Boot Components
Hiking Boot Uppers
What material your boot is made from determines critical factors like weight, durability, water resistance, and breathability. Read on to see what materials you’ll come across when shopping for hiking boots.
Full Grain Leather
-Full-grain leather is durable and resists abrasions, and also offers great water resistance. You’ll typically find full-grain leather used in backpacking boots.
-Full-grain leather is not as breathable or as light as split-grain leather or nylon. Also, full-grain leather boots take longer to break in.
Split Grain Leather
-Split-grain leather is usually combined with nylon to offer a breathable and lightweight hiking boot.
-Split-grain leather will result in a lower cost boot, but also is less resistant to water and scuffs.
-Nubuck leather is simply full-grain leather that has been buffed to look like suede.
-Nubuck is durable and resists abrasions and moisture, and is flexible too.
-Expect nubuck leather hiking boots to take longer to break in.
-Nylon, polyester, and synthetic leather are all materials used in many of today’s hiking boots.
-Compared to leather, synthetics cost less, break in more quickly, are more lightweight, and dry faster.
-The trade-off with synthetics is that they can wear down faster than leather.
-Waterproof hiking boots feature breathable and waterproof membranes (like Gore-Tex and eVent) to keep water off your feet.
-You’ll be sacrificing breathability with waterproof hiking boots, which can lead to sweaty feet in warmer hiking conditions, but waterproofing is a must if you’ll be doing longer hikes in wet conditions.
-Vegan materials are made without any animal ingredients. Modern vegan hiking boots are beefy enough to provide plenty of protection and come in waterproof options.
-Some hiking boots offer added synthetic insulation to provide additional warmth, which is a plus if you’ll be hiking in snow or colder conditions.
Hiking Boot Midsoles
The boot’s midsole provides cushioning for the foot and helps to absorb shocks.
The midsole provides stiffness to the boot, which can provide better comfort and stability when hiking on rocky and uneven terrain.
Most midsoles of Red Wing boots are made from either EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) or polyurethane.
-EVA is lighter, less expensive, and provides more cushioning than polyurethane, and comes in different densities to provide more support in needed areas within the boot.
-Polyurethane is more durable and firmer than EVA, making it a common choice in backpacking and mountaineering boots.
Hiking Boot Internal Support
-Shanks are inserts between 3-5mm thick that are placed between the hiking boot’s outsole and midsole to provide stiffness and load-bearing.
-Shanks vary in length, ranging from covering half the boot or all the way to the entire length of the boot.
-Plates are semi-flexible, thin inserts that may be found in boots either alone or in conjunction with shanks.
-Plates allow additional foot protection against uneven terrain like tree roots or rocks.
Hiking Boot Outsoles
Rubber is the main material used on nearly all outsoles of hiking boots. Sometimes, additives like carbon are included to increase the rubber’s hardness.
This hardness is great for durability, but can get slick on wet terrain, especially off trail.
Lug Pattern Outsoles
-Lugs are bumps on the outsole designed to provide traction. Mountaineering and backpacking boots feature deeper and thicker lugs to increase grip.
-Wide-spaced lugs help to shed mud and offer good traction.
Heel Brake Section
-The heel brake section of a hiking boot’s outsole is specially designed to increase heel grip to reduce your chances of sliding while hiking steep declines.
-Opt for a hiking boot with a heel brake on the outsole if you plan on hiking steep terrain.
Crampons are hiking boot attachments that improve mobility on snow or ice, typically in ice climbing.
If that’s something you’ll be doing, be sure that you pick a boot that offers compatibility with crampons.
Tips For Hiking In Red Wing Boots
If you’re looking forward to sporting your Red Wing boots on your next hike, follow these simple tips to ensure you have the best experience possible.
Make Sure Your Red Wing Boots Are Broken In
Take it from us: you never, ever want to go on a hike wearing brand new Red Wing boots.
It takes a little time to break them in, and the discomfort you’ll experience won’t be worth the great style you’re sporting.
Test For Proper Fit – And Lace Up Right
Make sure your feet can’t move too much side-to-side and there are no areas where you feel pinching in your boots. Also pay attention to your toes inside the boot – they should never touch the front, and if they do, you risk bumping them and getting black toenail (no fun!).
Once you know the fit is good, then experiment with lacing them up at different tightness levels to make sure you are minimizing friction and giving your ankles good support.
Wear Proper Hiking Socks
If you’re set on wearing your Red Wing boots while hiking, do yourself a huge favor and wear a pair of well-fitting hiking socks. If you’ll be going on a longer hike, bring an extra pair along to change into for prolonged comfort.
Waterproof Your Red Wing Boots
If you’ll be hiking in rain, mud, or crossing small bodies of water like creeks or streams, you’ll definitely want to plan ahead by waterproofing your Red Wing boots.
Not only will this keep your feet dry, but you’ll also keep your boots looking great long-term. We recommend Nikwax Leather Waterproofing Wax for Leather for waterproofing Red Wing boots.
Hiking Boots vs Red Wing Boots – Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Go Hiking In Red Wing Boots?
You can certainly hike in your Red Wing boots – we typically advise that a hike here or there is fine, and the flatter the trail, the better.
If you find yourself hiking more than once or twice a year, it’s a great idea to invest in some hiking boots.
What Kind Of Hikes Are Good To Use Red Wing Boots For?
Typically, short and simple hikes are fine for using Red Wing boots.
If you’ll be crossing water, or hiking on muddy or wet terrain, we highly recommend using hiking boots.
Do Hiking Boots Meet OSHA Guidelines?
Generally, hiking boots are not OSHA approved – OSHA and ATSM standards are specific in nature to work environments, and thus don’t apply to hiking boots.
However, that doesn’t mean that hiking boots aren’t meant to protect your feet.
Hiking boots offer sole protection, grip, toe protection, and ankle support, which are the key safety features you should consider when choosing a hiking boot.
Are Red Wing Boots Good For Hiking? Wrapping Things Up
Although we don’t recommend Red Wing boots for serious hiking, you’ll be just fine to use them on short and simple hikes – just be sure to wear hiking socks and make sure those Red Wing boots are broken in before you go.
Ultimately, if you see yourself hiking more than once or twice a year, it’s time to pick up a pair of dedicated hiking boots.
The traction, weight, flexibility, and waterproof features of hiking boots will make your hikes more enjoyable and allow you to stay on the trail longer.
Have any stories from hiking in Red Wing boots? Please share them below, and let us know if you have any questions.
If you’re looking to get further into hiking, take a look at our top pick for the best men’s hiking boots under $100, the best women’s hiking boots under $100, and our guide to how should hiking boots fit.
Do Birds Fall From The Sky If They Stop Flapping Their Wings?
As humans, we are just amateurs in the skies who keep comparing the avian creatures based on a few facts.
From aviation, we know how much energy is needed to take off in the air.
Birds have a high metabolism. They need an immense amount of energy to take flight in the wind for hours, days, and even months.
Both large and small birds have different sizes and shapes of wings to create a lift to take flight. In addition, birds have hollow bones with more air spaces inside their bones compared to chickens.
Do birds fall from the sky if they stop flapping their wings?
No, birds do not fall from the sky unless they are killed mid-air by hunters or other predators. Birds can sustain soaring for a longer time in heavy wind and thermal conditions.
Imagine swimming in a stagnant water body and giving a solid push, then you stop your movements – do you immediately immerse in the water? No, both you and birds in the mid-air have built some momentum.
With the help of momentum, birds don’t stop right away in mid-air and won’t fall immediately.
Instead, they would glide down to the ground by spreading their wings out even though they no longer produce lift.
Predatory birds such as eagles, vultures, and kites use this method to capture their prey at high altitudes.
These incredible birds fly in mid-air for more than five hours and cover a distance of 100 miles without flapping their wings. During take-off, they use 1% of their time and energy aloft flapping their feathers.
Which birds can travel long distances without flapping their wings?
The above are soaring birds that can sustain for extended periods without flapping their wings and allowing air to do the work for them.
When young birds grow and attain the size of the raptor, to survive in the competitive environment, they rely on different types of flight: gliding and soaring.
By soaring flight, birds reach high altitude and get energy from the atmospheric air currents, and travel fast to their destination.
When birds glide, they create updraft force using their wings to keep them floating in the air and dive down to the ground. Bird species use gliding and soaring flight in many ways to survive in mid-air.
Andean condors are inland crown soaring species, and the heaviest birds weighing around 35 pounds make fewer flaps while traveling than other free-ranging avian species.
Researchers found that even young Andean Condors spend about 99% to soar in their flight time, and they used to flap their wings only during take-off and landing.
Albatrosses are the ultimate soaring birds in the sea, and they have the largest wingspan among avian species. At a time, Albatross’s long wings, about 11 to 12 feet, help their thin bodies stay aloft for longer days.
In addition, they spend around 1.2% to 14.5% of flight time remaining in the wind by slowly flapping wings.
How do birds glide without flapping their wings?
In gliding flight, birds do not flap their wings but spread them out of the body. When they move in the mid-air, their wings change their body position into a slight angle and deflect the wind downward.
It causes a reaction force (lift or updraft) in the opposite direction and acts perpendicular to the wings to keep birds from falling.
The air resistance brings the body and wings down to the ground, and the lift force causes the bird’s speed to slow down.
To withstand the pressure, birds tilt forward and go into a shallow dive to maintain forward momentum.
Can birds sleep in their flight without falling from the mid-air?
Yes, birds like Frigate birds travel continuously for one to two months and use their half-brain to take naps during soaring or gliding flights.
Throughout the whole day, like sharks and cetaceans, Frigate birds would control their cerebral hemispheres and allow switching sides to awake and asleep of the brain.
Frigate birds take 10-second bursts of total sleep when they fly on rising wind currents to gain altitude and help to float in the wind.
Usually, birds take an average nap of 42 minutes per day during long flights. However, on land, birds sleep more than 12 hours in one-minute bursts per day.
On the whole note, birds do not fall from the sky if they stop flapping their wings.
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How to Tie Hiking Boots for the Perfect Fit Every Time
Learn how to tie hiking boots in different ways to help fix your boot wearing problems!
Learning to tie your laces when you’re a kid can be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding skills to master. Such a simple thing. So you’d think that knowing how to tie hiking boots up as an adult would be just as straight forward? Well, if you have regular sized and shaped feet, and you choose the right hiking boots to suit said feet, lacing your boots should be a breeze. You probably won’t need to ever consider lacing your hiking shoes or boots in any way that is different to what your folks taught you.
Got irregular shaped and sized feet? You’re not the only one! And unless you’ve spent a lot of time trying on every hiking boot in existence to find a boot that feels great, you may need to do some sneaky adjustments with your laces to get the perfect fit.
What’s the problem with your hiking boots or hiking shoes?
Believe it or not, there are a ton of different ways to tie your hiking boot laces. And unless you just love learning new stuff, you’re probably here because you have a problem with your boots that you want to solve before you give up and go buy a whole new pair of boots.
So what’s your problem?!
Click one of the below common hiking boot issues that best applies to you. It will tell you which knots will help with your problem, and how to tie your hiking boots in a different way.
This could be because your heels are lifting up in your boots as you walk. Heel lock lacing should help this. If this doesn’t help then you may want to look at what hiking socks you are wearing. You may need something with extra cushioning, and ensure they fit well and are not too big.
Some laces do that! And it’s often round laces that don’t want to stay tied up. If tying your troublesome laces in a double bow still doesn’t help, then the try the Surgeon’s knot. It’s a really simple knot, but it’s super secure.
If you loosen the whole lacing system it’s likely you’ll lose lots of the support from your boots. So try window lacing which take the pressure off whichever section of your laces are causing you the most discomfort.
Foot lock down lacing systems should help with this. They can be a bit complex and it may take a bit of trial and error to make sure your feet are comfortable. But it’s definitely worth experimenting with.
If this doesn’t solve the problem then try a thicker pair of socks. And if there’s still no improvement you may have to opt for a new pair of boots that are specifically designed for narrow feet.
Hopefully you’ve opted for a hiking boot with a wide toe box. But if pressure build up as you walk then you’ll need to use toe relief lacing which should loosen the boot across the toes and not elsewhere.
This may be because you’ve not tied your boots tight enough! But let’s assume you’ve explored that option. The next thing to try is heel lock lacing which secures the foot to the back of the boot. If this still doesn’t help then it have a go at foot lock down lacing.
Try using the Surgeon’s knot. It’s a really secure knot that doesn’t loosen as quickly or easily as a regular lace knot.
No problem. Relaxed ankle lacing creates a little more space in the calf area without having to loosen the rest of your laces.
It may be that your laces are just a little tight in this area. You can’t loosen the whole of your laces or you’ll lose lots of support. So try window lacing which allows you to just loosen a small portion of your laces.
Sounds like you need to give your ankles a little more space inside your boots. Relaxed ankle lacing should help this. If you’re still finding your high boots uncomfortable then you may need to try out low cut hiking boot instead.
How to tie hiking boots
- Wrap the ends of your laces around each other as you would to tie off, but don’t pull the laces tight
- Wrap the laces round each other a second time and THEN pull the ends of the laces tight
- Either secure the ends of the laces around the next lace hooks to continue lacing, or tie off with your normal bow
What it does: This is a very secure knot that is used in a number of the below lacing systems.
Use this lacing if:
- Your laces keep coming undone
- Your boots tend to loosen as you hike
- You are using heel lock lacing (below)
Heel lock lacing
- Put your boot making sure that your heel is as far down to the back of your boot as possible.
- Find the point on the front of your ankle where your foot meets your leg and identify where this is on your boot
- Lace your boots as normal up to this point and then tie a surgeon’s knot (see above)
- Run the laces up to the next hook to lock off the knot and tie another surgeon’s knot
- Finish lacing as normal up to the top of the boot
What it does: Locks your heel down into the back of the boot to prevent foot movement inside the boot.
Use this lacing if:
Toe relief lacing
- Completely un-lace your boots – yep, the whole lot!
- Re-lace your boots as normal but miss out the first eyelets altogether
What it does: Gives temporary relief if your toes or bunions start hurting.
Use this lacing if:
- Your toes are killing you during a hike
- You have bunions
- Your boots are tight across your toes
NOTE: If your toes always hurt in your boots then you may not have the right boots for you. First try wearing thinner socks, and if this doesn’t help then it might be time invest in a new pair.
- Identify the main point of pressure and untie your laces to just below this point
- Re-lace by going straight up the next hook above this point (instead of straight crossing over)
- Now cross the laces and continue lacing up to the top of the boot as normal
What it does: Alleviates pressure on the top of your feet.
Use this lacing if:
- You have high arches
- You have high volume feet
- You feel pressure or discomfort on the tops of your feet
Relaxed ankle lacing
- Lace your boots as normal
- Run the laces over the top of the top loops
- Tie off as normal but below the top loop
What it does: Provides a little more space and movement between the collar of your boots and your calves and ankles.
Use this lacing if:
- You have wide calves
- You have excess pressure on your ankle bones
- Your boots rub at the calf
NOTE: Window lacing above the ankle also works if you need even more movement through the ankle.
Foot lock down lacing
- Identify the points in your boots that feel especially spacious
- Unlace to the lowest point and add a surgeon’s knot at this point and continue lacing
- Repeat the surgeon’s knot in any other spots that you feel need to be extra secure
What it does: Secures your foot nicely into the boot in all places.
Use this lacing if:
- You have narrow feet
- You have flat or low volume feet
- Your toes bang on the front of your boots when walking downhill
So there you have it! Now that you know how to tie hiking boots in several different ways, or even in just the one way that you need, you can be confident that your boots will keep on giving you as much comfort as they ought. And if you’ve tried everything and you still find hiking boots uncomfortable then you may need to step over the light side and give lightweight hiking shoes a go!
About the author
Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard and hiking small mountains and big hills.