Red Wing recommends sizing a half-step or a full step down from your normal sneaker size.
But that begs the question: what should I do? A half size smaller? Or a full size smaller?
I put out a poll to the 30,000+ subscribers of the BootSpy YouTube channel and over 500 people responded to what size they got for their Red Wing boots.
While these poll results might initially seem confusing, they reveal a truth about the fit and feel of Red Wing boots based on the “last,” or form the boot is built around.
I own five pairs of Red Wings myself, but I’ve also talked with several brand representatives at their stores to get a sense of how a variety of people fit into Iron Rangers, Blacksmiths, Moc Toes, Classic Chelseas, and more.
The short answer is: a half-size down from your sneaker (Brannock) size.
There’s a bit more detail to go into, so if you want all the gritty points, I’m going to cover exactly how Red Wing boots should fit so you can get the right size Red Wing the first time around.
The Complete Guide to Red Wing Boot Sizing
Let’s go back to those poll results:
If sizing was obvious, wouldn’t the results all be skewed heavily toward a single answer?
47% of respondents said they order their Red Wing boots 1/2 size smaller than their Brannock measurement. Your Brannock measurement is likely the most common size you have in your closet. It’s what most sneaker brand and dress shoe brands use.
However, 26% of respondents get a full size smaller than their Brannock reading, and 24% get their true Brannock size.
Very few people (4%) get 1.5 sizes smaller. I’m willing to bet those folk have more narrow than standard feet.
The reason for such a discrepancy in my poll results is because Red Wing boots are actually a lot more forgiving (in terms of sizing) than people expect. And that’s because of the “lasts” Red Wing use to make their boots.
What is a Last, and How Does That Affect Red Wing’s Fit?
A “last” is the form used to stretch the leather around to make the boot. It determines the shape, fit, and feel of the boot.
Red Wing’s Iron Ranger, Blacksmith, and Classic Chelsea are built on their No. 8 last, which has a “bump toe.” This gives the wearer more vertical room in the toe box so their toes can stretch out more.
The Red Wing Moc Toe is built on the brand’s No. 23 last, which also has a lot of room in the toe and has even more room in the instep (or the top of the foot).
This is another cause of confusion for a lot of people: some people get a different size in their Iron Rangers than they do their Classic Moc Toe boots.
But the benefit of these roomy “lasts,” or boot shapes, is that even when people size down a full size, they usually still have room for their toes to feel comfortable.
Why Getting a Brannock Reading Is Important
At the top, I mentioned you should get a half-size smaller than your sneaker size. But what if you don’t wear sneakers? Or all your sneakers are different sizes? That’s why knowing what your Brannock size is so important. It gives you a baseline to start at.
You don’t need to buy a Brannock. You can just go to your local shoe store and ask them to measure your foot. Make sure you do this in the afternoon as your feet will swell more and will be the biggest they get.
Write your Brannock size down. You’ll get a length and a width (D, E, EE, or EEE).
My Brannock size is a 10.5 D.
All of my Red Wing boots are size 10 D.
Red Wing boots are notoriously roomy, and that leads to a lot of confusion as to what size you need when shopping. It’s easy to walk into a store and get what you need, but shopping online is a whole different story.
Which Red Wing Boot is Right for You?
If you’re going back and forth on which Red Wing boot you should get, take the quick seven question quiz below and find the best Red Wing for what you need.
Red Wing Iron Ranger Sizing (How the No. 8 Last Fits)
The Red Wing Iron Ranger is built on Red Wing’s No. 8 last. Both the Blacksmith and the Classic Chelsea are also built on the same No. 8 bump toe last, so all sizing advice for the Red Wing Iron Ranger will apply to the Blacksmith and Classic Chelsea.
Red Wing Iron Ranger
Red Wing Blacksmith
Red Wing Classic Chelsea
This means there’s plenty of room for your toes to spread out, and can actually feel like a looser fit than you’d normally get.
For most people, you want to order the Iron Ranger a half size smaller than your standard sneaker size. So if you wear a size 11 (US) in sneakers, you’re best bet is a size 10.5.
That said, because of the bump toe style, if you have more narrow feet, you can order a size 10 for a snug and secure fit. That extra room in the toe is handy for narrow-footed fellows.
The Iron Ranger is unique in that it should be quite snug around the sides of your foot when you first put it on. You know you’ve got the right size if your heel is secure and there’s room to wiggle your toes, but there’s a slight squeeze along the sides of your arch.
That portion of the leather stretches quickly, so you’ll break that in in a matter of days. If it’s not snug in the sides, your foot will slide around, causing endless blisters and soreness.
If you want to skip the soreness and blisters, get a good pair of wool socks. My favorite are from Camel City Mill—they have two types: the Lightweight and the Heavyweight. The Lightweight will help if your Red Wings are just a bit too big, and the Heavyweight will help give you more volume and padding throughout.
The Heavyweight from Camel City Mill is the best work sock you can get for a steel toe boot. The padding is heavy in the heel and toe, but since it's made with Merino wool, this sock is also very breathable and won't make your feet sweaty.
That said, don’t mistake the break in period for over-tightness, either. Iron Rangers do require a few weeks of break-in, and blisters can form during that time.
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The Blacksmith is built on the same last as the Iron Ranger, so everything I said about the I.R. stands.
It’s always best to try on any pair of boots in store if you can, but not everyone lives close to a Red Wing store or has the time to pop in.
Red Wing also offers the Iron Ranger in a EE width, which is suitable for anyone with a wider foot. Again, the same trick applies here: if your foot is quite wide, a EE width, sized a half-step down is your best choice.
If your foot is super wide (like you barely fit into EEE boots), try ordering the same as your sneakers. Chances are you’ll have a lot of extra room in your toe, but the fit will be relatively good considering how wide your feet are.
Red Wing Moc Toe Sizing
Like other Red Wing boots, the Red Wing Moc Toe fits large, so your starting point should be a half-size smaller than your normal sneaker size.
Red Wing uses leather from their own S.B. Foot Tanning Co. which tends to break in and stretch a bit the more it’s worn. This is a desirable quality in leather, but it can cause some folks to buy boots that are larger than what they really need.
When trying on your Red Wing Moc Toes, it’s good to feel a snug fit around the sides of your feet. It’s ok if it even feels a bit tight.
However, you shouldn’t get a Moc Toe that cramps your toes, and your heel should sit securely in place.
Because Moc Toes have a lot of room in the front for your toes to wiggle around, you shouldn’t run into any cramping issues up there. But as I said, getting a half-size smaller than your sneakers should give you a snug fit in the sides with plenty of room in the toe.
As you wear your Moc Toes, they’ll break in and the tightness around the sides of your foot will fade away and leave you with an ideal fit.
Just like with Iron Rangers, if you have a more narrow foot, you can try ordering a full size smaller than your sneaker size. There’s so much room in the toe, you can get away with it.
With both Iron Rangers and Moc Toes, you can’t do the “thumb press on the toe” trick. It won’t give you any valuable information. You have to judge the fit based on how it feels on the sides of your foot.
Red Wing Moc Toes are available in three different widths: D, E, and EE. I only recommend the EE if you have very wide feet. If you’re not sure, order the E, and get a half-size down. Chances are it’ll fit a big snug on the sides, and that’s exactly where you want to be.
The Red Wing Classic Moc Toe boot has quite a large toe box, which can be off-putting for some, though it’s an ideal match for American Heritage workwear aesthetic. The Puritan Triple stitching, 360-degree Goodyear welt, and thick full grain leather footbed all make for a beast of a boot that will easily last years.
Red Wing Boot Size Chart
If you want to be extra-sure of your sizing, or if you’re not sure what your sneaker size is, you can use this handy Red Wing boot sizing chart.
However, it’s important to note that even when measuring your foot with a tape measure, make sure you’re measuring to the furthest part of your heel (not where it falls on the tape measure).
I’ve added a picture describing what I mean below the chart for reference. I use the width of my finger to get the perfect fit.
Is Red Wing Sizing the Same as Irish Setter?
Irish Setter is owned by Red Wing, and everything above stands for them, too.
While it’s always a good idea to check specific models, Irish Setter boots generally fit a half-size larger than sneakers, and folks with narrower feet can step a full size down.
Irish Setter also offers a decent range of E and EE width boots, so there shouldn’t be any trouble if you have wider feet and need a quality outdoors boot.
The Irish Setter Mesabi is our top logger boot pick if you’re looking for protection at every angle. The steel toe and full-grain leather uppers effectively guard your feet from falling and rolling logs, while the proprietary waterproofing system staves off moisture inside and outside of the boot.
How Do I Stretch Red Wing Boots?
If you’re still in the first few weeks of owning your Red Wing boots and the sides are still fitting too snug for comfort, my advice is to tough it out and break those bad boys in. That’s the best way to stretch the leather at a rate that won’t damage it.
But, if you’ve been wearing them for a few weeks and they’re still a little too tight, then there are a few methods you can use to stretch out your boots and get the perfect fit.
If this is the route you’re going, I recommend reading our full guide on how to stretch leather boots.
But for the short version, there’s two ways of going about it:
1.) The cheap newspaper trick. Crumple a bunch of newspaper into your Red Wings, and liberally spray shoe stretching formula onto your boot. Take out the newspaper, and spray the inside of your boot. Put on a thick pair of socks and wear your boots for several hours. You don’t need to be walking anywhere—just around the house is fine. This will add a crucial few cm to the size of your boots and break them in much faster.
2.) Get a shoe stretcher. This is a better option if you find you want to stretch multiple pairs of shoes. It’s less harmful to the leather, and you can reuse your shoe stretcher over and over again. You’ll need an aluminum shoe stretcher, which I’ve linked below. Toss that in your Red Wings and dial it up to a light pressure. Leave it overnight and test the fit.
For this method, it’s best to keep the pressure very light so you’re only stretching a little at a time. Once you stretch the leather, it doesn’t come back, so you never want to overdo it.
How Are They Fitting?
Red Wing boots are some of my favorites. I always go back to them time and time again because they’re rugged, stylish, and I don’t have to worry about caking them in mud.
I’m excited for you to get a pair yourself, whether they’re going to be your first pair with the brand, or your tenth.
I’m curious to know, which Red Wing boots are you getting? I ranked my Red Wing collection from worst to best in this video here if you want to see which one’s I liked the most.
How do you size Red Wing boots?
Order a half-size down from your sneaker size. If you have narrow feet, try ordering a full size lower. You won’t get any help from pressing your thumb down on the toe because Red Wing boots have so much extra room in the toes. You should judge the sizing based on how snug the fit is on the sides of your feet. It should feel snug, but not tight. You shouldn’t feel any tingling in your feet after a few hours.
How tight should Red Wing boots fit?
When you first get your Red Wings, your heel should be secure and you should feel a snugness in the sides of your feet. If it feels tight, you should move a half-step larger, or possibly go with an E or EE width. It’s important to get a snug fit, however, because Red Wing boot leather stretches and forms to your foot during the break in.
Do Red Wing boots stretch out?
Red Wing leather tends to stretch a bit during the break in period, so don’t worry if the boot fits a bit snug when you first try it on. To keep your boots in prime condition, always put in a shoe tree when you’re done wearing them so excess moisture doesn’t deform the leather.
Are Red Wings worth the money?
Red Wing boots have excellent construction and will last decades with the proper amount of care. If you’re down to your last $300, there are other more important things to buy, but if you’re ready to invest in high quality footwear, Red Wing is a solid play.