What are you looking for— A fashionable, forever lasting pair of heritage boots?? Or, something like a more functional, heavy-duty, and slightly cost-effective pair of work boots?
The Red Wing has always been on the buzz for their consistency in producing top-graded heritage boots. Through their long legacy, they successfully upheld the classic and traditional craftsmanship of boot-making.
With time and public demand, they have launched a slightly modern and more functional line of work boots- the Irish Setter Shoes. Now both the brands are getting into a tooth and nailing competition for their worldwide popularity.
To get to a viable outcome, we need to dig deep into its origin.
A Little About History
Charles Beckman- a Mississippian shoe merchant, saw the growing demand for a specific type of boots for the industrial workers in his local area. Soon enough, in 1905, he figured out his target market and started his own footwear company naming after the city he lived- Red Wing Shoes.
Right after he launched, Red Wing Shoes set a benchmark straightaway with their high-grade, comfortable, and heavy-duty work boots.
Since then, their growth has been consistently cumulative, and the company expanded with time and improvement. The company then started getting a massive response from its consumers. And a big portion of their consumers were hunters and hikers.
With the increasing demand and popularity, the company thought of launching a new work boot line broadside on their heritage boots. So, they launched the new product line of boot style 854, constructed with the premium Red Russet leather, in the color of an Irish Setter hunting dog.
Honoring the loyalty of hunter consumers and the color inspiration, the new product line got named the Irish Setter Boots. That’s how the Irish Setter Boots began its journey.
Beckman’s vision for producing protective heritage work boots outgrew the small city of Minnesota. And now it’s become a worldwide popular brand for harsh-working people.
Irish Setter Vs. Red Wing
As we already know, these two brands have a mother-child relationship. So do the features in both the brand’s boots. There are many similarities and also many differences in them. Let’s check out both individually.
What’s In Common?
Similar Style Boots
Both Irish Setter Shoes and Red wing Shoes produce similar style leather boots. More specifically, the Irish setter Ashby boot comes in the same (if not, similar) style of the Red Wing Classic Moc, and so on.
Goodyear Welt Construction
Both brands produce their respective Moc Toe boots using Goodyear welt construction. But there is a slight difference in their manufacturing process.
The Redwing uses their very own S.B Foot Tanning leather to produce all their shoes. Though Irish Setter runs independently, it also uses the same material for quality assurance purposes.
So, you get a 100% quality guarantee for the materials used for both brands. What makes Redwing Shoes a bit costlier than the Irish Setter mainly lies in the construction techniques.
Both brands also use similar outsoles for their shoe lines. Most trackers and work boots by these two brands come with either rubber wedge outsole or hill.
For example, Work Chukka (by Red Wing) and Kasson (by Irish Setter) both are similar style shoes, and both have wedge outsoles. Again, Men’s logger max 9 inches (by Red Wing) and Marshall (by Irish Setter) are two similar designed work boots, and both have Hill outsoles.
So, both brands have all these features in common, but each with some twist.
Difference Between Irish Setter and Redwing Boots
The main difference is not in material quality. It’s craftsmanship.
The Red Wing Shoes started with the vision to deliver with high-grade handcrafted heritage boots. Thus they focus more on manufacturing traditional, long-lasting, and fashionable leather boots.
Whereas, Irish Setter focus on developing new features offering harsh and rough use with maximum safety.
Except for the working line boots, all the heritage shoes are designed and manufactured in the USA ensuring highest grade craftsmanship. Whereas, all Irish Setter shoes are manufactured overseas. On that note, Redwing remains slightly on top in terms of manufacturing quality.
Where the Red Wing is specialized for upholding the tradition and classic construction techniques, Irish Setter is well known for using the latest technology. The Irish Setter implemented the UltraDry, which is a moisture management technology to keep your feet dry and ensure durability.
Irish Setter has also introduced ExoFlex, and ArmTec features to extend the lifespan of their boots. To ensure a rough and tough performance, some work boots like the Irish Setter Ashby, come with the heat resistance and slip resistance features. These boots also meet the ASTM F2413-11 safety standards.
On the contrary, the Red Wing Classic Moc Toe boots don’t meet such specific requirements (but complies with minimum safety standards).
Upper and Outsole
As we said earlier, Red wing uses traditional manufacturing processes. Though both brands use S.B tanning for the upper, they use different stitching.
Red wing uses robust and thick thread stitching with simple leather paneling. Whereas, Irish Setter uses thin thread triple line stitching on more leather paneling.
There’s another difference for the break-in-period of both the brand’s boots. The Irish Setter boots are constructed using a padded and removable PU footbed and wedge outsole. Thus, it offers an instant comfort to the wearer. But, the downside of this footbed is that it’s not repairable once it gets damaged.
The Red wing, on the contrary, often uses a leather footbed, which may give you a longer break-in-period, but once the footbed gets in the mold of your feet, it will last forever. And, even if it gets slightly damaged, you have the privilege to repair your heritage boots using their authorized dealer’s network.
Fit and Comfort
Even though Irish Setter Boots offer instant comfort from the padded footbed, the fit and comfort still depend on the type and construction of the particular model you are buying. You should go through the size matching instruction to know whether you should get the same size of yours or a half size smaller.
Mostly for the ultimate comfort and fit of all leather footbed heritage footwear, Red wing suggests you get a half size smaller than yours. It may not provide instant pleasure, but it will pay off in the long run once you get past the break-in period.
So Which One To Pick— Irish Setter or Red Wing?
Well, the answer to this question lies in another question. While choosing a great pair of leather boots, let’s ask yourself what your purpose of purchasing is?
If your answer is— safety and functionality, then you should go straight for the strong and robust Irish Setter Boots. This protective footwear will save you from foot injuries in all your thrilling adventures like trekking, hiking, or hunting.
If durability and fashion is your top priority, then you should pick up a nice and classic pair of Red Wing Shoes. Though it would cost a little higher than the Irish Setter, these handcrafted heritage shoes are all worth it.
They both offer the highest quality material and construction differently. So, you need to decide which kind of purchaser you are before you choose which is the right brand for you!