Initial Impressions, Red Wing, Stitched Footwear

Red Wing Moc Toe (875): The (2nd) Red Wing Classic

Price: $310

Why Buy?

The Red Wing Moc Toe offers great materials and made-in-USA construction for a price that’s hard to beat.

Why Avoid?

The Red Wing Moc Toe gets left behind in quality and comfort by some of the newer, albeit more expensive, options.


ModelMoc Toe 875
MaterialsLeather / Blown Rubber
Size12 D
Weight928 g / 2 lb 0.7 oz
ConstructionGoodyear Welt
Country of OriginUnited States


Red Wing is one of the most storied American boot brands out there. Pretty much the only company left that offers what could be considered affordable(-ish) prices for an entirely made-in-USA boot (including leather). While the Iron Ranger came out first, personally I’ve always felt that the most classic design for the brand was this. The Red Wing Moc Toe.

The Red Wing Moc Toe, also known by its model number 875, is the second moc toe launched by the brand. The major difference compared to the original 877 model was the shorter 6-inch height. Designed to crib a moccasin’s look, even if it’s not actually built that way, the boot was aimed primarily at hunters and was quickly adopted by farmers as well.

Of course, over time, the hunters and farmers moved onto other, more modern, options. Red Wing needed to figure out what to do with their older patterns. This led to the launch of the Red Wing Heritage line, with the Moc Toe leading the way. This leads to a bit of back and forth with the Iron Ranger. The Iron Ranger came first, but Red Wing said the moc toe was the original classic. Who actually wins is your call.


Today, you’re much more likely to find this pair of boots in a New York bar than a tree stand. Though, that hasn’t done much to diminish the appeal of the Moc Toe. However, I have a confession to make. Even after owning more than 100 different pairs of shoes to review, I have never actually owned a pair of Red Wings.

I figured what better way to start than what the brand themselves viewed as the beginning of their heritage line. Are they worth the hype? Let’s dive in and find out.



Taking the Red Wing Moc Toe out of the box, the biggest thing that stands out is that everything is very boot-like. Both the good and the bad.

On the plus side, the stitching is thick, the leather is tough, and they are put together in a way that can only be done with some machines involved in the process. Say what you want about hand made, but the misaligned panels on my Nicks drive me insane and have gotten worse with time. Give me the panel alignment of Red Wing any day.

On the negative, it’s clear these boots were packaged in a way to get them out of the door quickly over ensuring they looked best out of the box. There are surface level scrapes and discolorations all over both boots. The waterproofing on the threads is also still sitting on top of the leather. Neither of these are deal breakers, especially at this price point, but when you ask why this pair cost less, this is one of the reasons why.


Of course, you can’t miss the Oro Legacy leather. It’s extremely loud. It’s become the go-to color for Moc Toes for so long that you might not realize how bright it is, but when you’re actually trying to put an outfit together it’s hard. Denim makes them the focus of your outfit, and it’s close but not close enough to tan.

You also can’t forget the high toe box, a defining feature of the Red Wing Moc Toe. Most other options in this range are much lower volume.

A rolled top and full-length leather insole finish off the primary materials. Silver, polished eyelets house the classic brown-and-yellow laces every other company has copied.

Mid- and Outsole

Just like the upper, the bottom half of this boot is very much what you would expect from a well-made entry level boot.

The welt is the thickest welt I’ve ever seen. I have to imagine the workers in Minnesota go home and curse this welt every day, as it’s got to be a huge pain to deal with. This pain is visual as well: the welt is not the cleanest construction out there. If the extra durability is worth the trade off in visual appeal is a reasonable debate, but this is the “looks” section and visually there are better options.


Moving further down, the white rubber slip sole is glued to a white foam outsole. This outsole features red wing branding, and again is the design that everyone else copies.

Also, in the interest of honesty, while this pair is great, the first pair I received was sanded down past the welt stitching. Swapping that pair was quick and easy, and I imagine yours would be too if you’re in the same situation.


Reading through this summary, you might think this is a bit harsh on the Red Wing Moc Toe. And this summary kind of is. That being said, I don’t think you should hold that against the boots. All of the draw backs: the color, the welt, the packaging, are not done because the brand doesn’t care. Each of them are because Red Wing is being true to the original boot.

At the end of the day, the Red Wing Moc Toe is the daddy. If you want something changed, you can find a different boot that does it (sometimes even from Red Wing themselves). But if you want the Moc Toe boot, this is it.

That doesn’t change that an orange boot with a 2-inch-tall toe box is not easy to style. It isn’t. Personally, I’ve found that a pair of chunky, olive work pants I have are the only thing that I really like with the boots. You might be more creative than I am, googling will give you countless ideas as well, but I can only speak to my experience.


Fit & Comfort


Built on the 23 last, Red Wing describes the Moc Toe as having “extra room in the forefoot and instep to fit a variety of foot shapes.” I think the term that the current president would use to describe that is “malarkey.”

The Red Wing Moc Toe has, bar none, the narrowest toe box of any pair of boots I’ve tried on. I think that most people will be able to make these work, but I would say a non-insubstantial number of people probably won’t be able to wear these without going for a wide size.

I’ve been told this improves with time (keep an eye out for a 100-wear review in the future). However, pinched toes can cause a lot of medical issues so be sure that you don’t wear them if they are uncomfortable.

Red Wing suggests going down a half or full size from Brannock, but I personally don’t agree. I got these in my typical stitched footwear size of 12. This is what I take in Alden and Allen Edmonds, and is a half-size up from Viberg. The toe box contributes to this sizing, but I don’t think they would work lengthwise either.


Setting aside the last, I’m going to make a controversial statement about the Red Wing Moc Toe. It’s not that uncomfortable out of the box. You’re going to read about the horrific break in, but I’d say that is very much overblown. At least, overblown for people who bought the correct size.


Sure, the insole is pretty flat and will need to compress for you to get some arch support. And sure, the leather is not as flexible as something like Chromexcel. However, other than those two things these boots feel as good as anything else in this price range.

The foam outsole does as good a job as any you’ll find on a boot, and the construction does a good job of supporting your foot without forcing it into a specific position.

These boots will improve with time, just like any else. However, if you were thinking of buying something else due to the break in, don’t worry.

Materials & Construction


The Red Wing Moc Toe is made of the same stuff that Red Wing has been building these boots with for decades. Starting with the most famous, the upper is made of primarily Oro Legacy leather. A chrome-tanned leather made by Red Wing-owned SB Foote tanning; it’s designed to resemble the original Oro Russet these boots first came in. Using minimal dyes, the leather should allow for a lot of patina over time.

The rest of the upper sees metal eyelets and, the only surprise for me, a synthetic roll at the top. I really would have preferred this to be leather – or to not exist at all – but it’s not a deal breaker.


Under foot, you have a full veg-tanned insole, which should take the shape of your foot over time. This sits on top of a surprisingly thick layer of cork, a rubber slip sole, and then the blown rubber outsole. On the outsole, blown rubber tends to have better grip but less durability. Honestly, I found there isn’t much grip either way and the better durability would be nice. But, classic is classic.

These materials are nothing to scoff at, and raise no concern with price.


The Red Wing Moc Toe is made using a goodyear welt construction, though there is a big asterisk on that.

It’s true that there is a welt connected to the upper and sewn to a piece of rubber. However, unlike most goodyear welted boots, the welt is only sewn to the 1/8-inch-thick rubber slip sole. The outsole is actually glued onto the slip sole like a cemented shoe.

There are a variety of reasons for this – biggest is that sewing through that outsole would rip it to shreds. However, you should be aware that you will lose some durability compared to a shoe with threads all the way through.

Ease of Care

Leading right from construction, the good news of the Red Wing Moc Toe having the outsole glued on is that it’s actually easier than most to resole. Cobblers will be able to simply pull off the outsole (or sand it down, depending on condition). They then clean up the slip sole and glue a new one on. This should end up being a bit more affordable. It also has the added benefit that the welt is not being resewn, so most people will be able to get more resoles before needing a rewelt.

Of course, all your other standard leather footwear items apply. You’ll definitely want to use shoe trees in these when not in use. Red Wing sells an (extremely overpriced) option for $84.99. Typically, I note that it looks nice in a closet, but I can’t in good conscience suggest them with that price. And no, you don’t need “boot trees.”

Instead, I’d head over to Amazon and find anything with good reviews made of cedar. Should come in at 1/3rd the price of the Red Wing option.

You’ll also want to condition the boots every so often. For a chrome tanned version like this, once every 4-6 months should be enough for most people. If you’re wearing your boots hard (such as in wet weather, dry weather, etc.) you might want to go to every 3 months or so. Generally, with Oro Legacy, if it feels dry, a condition is a good idea.

Red Wing also offers a conditioner that isn’t quite as outrageous as the trees, however I recommend Bick 4. It’s more affordable for a given size, and should do a better job.


The Red Wing Moc Toe MSRPs for $310 (suggest checking for current prices at Stag Provisions and Franklin & Poe), an increase of $10 since I bought my pair just a few weeks back. However, even with the price increase, this makes these boots some of the most affordable options out there for what you get. These significantly undercut brands like Nicks, Whites, JK, and other “work boot” brands. Even non-work boots, like Allen Edmonds and Oak Street Bootmakers are more.

However, there are a couple comparisons to note.

The first obvious comparison is the Thorogood Moc Toe priced at $250. Sure, this boot comes in a bit lower than the Red Wing, but there are material component tradeoffs. Further, it’s pretty easy to find Red Wing’s on sale around holidays – the same isn’t true for Thorogood. It wouldn’t be hard to actually pay less for the Red Wings.

The other obvious comparison is the White’s Perry. Coming in at $330 – and equally easy to find on sale around holidays – this is much closer to the Red Wings in design and price. The construction of the Perry is give and take with Red Wing, losing leather some places, gaining it others. White’s name definitely carries more weight, based on reviews it looks like the Perry might have more QA issues. Honestly, it’s a toss-up between the two.  

Are the Red Wing Moc Toe Worth It?

Yes, the Red Wing Moc Toe boot is worth it. Sure, there are little things here and there that I would change, but that could be said of almost anything. If you want the Moc Toe boot, the 875 is it. I’d be lying if I said I had not considered the 1907, which is built on a different last and has a few other upgrades. However, I knew that if I did so and saw another guy wearing these, I would have felt like I didn’t get the right pair.

This boot doesn’t just do a good job, but comes in at an extremely appealing price. With enough patience, you can find these well under $250 and (with a few resoles and some care) they should last you more than a decade of wear. Your all-in cost for these might end up lower than buying a couple pairs of Vans every year. That’s affordable.

I should be clear – if you already own a pair of the higher end brands, you probably would see Red Wing as a step down. The polish isn’t on par with them, and you can’t compare Red Wing with Alden, Viberg, etc. Nor should you, they are in entirely different price brackets.

If you’re a collector with four figures worth of boots already, and somehow like me have not already picked up a pair, you can probably skip these. However, if you’re looking for a pair of well-made boots that come in at a price that won’t cause you to miss a rent payment, these are an astonishing option.

The hype around these boots is justified.