Doc Martens vs. Red Wings: Where Each Wins

Doc Martens vs. Red Wings: Where Each Wins

June 07, 2016

By Kayla Robbins

Doc Martens have long been a powerful name in footwear, but with recent outsourcing, some say that they just don’t make ‘em like they used to. Red Wings are another iconic brand, but will they stand up to the Docs or be crushed beneath their rugged soles? Find out as these two boots go toe to toe, being compared on construction quality, selection, durability, and of course, comfort. See who comes out the other side as victor! Your sole may depend on it!


Construction refers to how a boot is put together. Needless to say, it’s a major component of any high-quality boot. You can have the best materials available, but if they’re only connected with chewing gum and wishes, they’re not going to last very long, now are they? In order to withstand the paces of their owners, good boots must have a top-tier construction from tip to tongue.

There are many different types of construction in the industry, with more innovations being added each year, but among the best is the Goodyear Welt. This type of construction keeps everything firmly together while also allowing the boot to be re-soled when the time comes, thereby extending its useful life. The majority of Red Wing boots are made using this construction method, but the Doc Martens frequently feature a proprietary air cushion feature that makes them impossible to re-sole.

Winner: Red Wings!


Let’s not discount the importance of style when buying a boot. After all, if these things are going to last you the next several years, you’ll want them to keep looking good. Of course, “looking good” is subjective, so the more styles available, the better.

Red Wing certainly has some snazzy numbers with luscious leather and snazzy stitching. I’m also impressed with the variety of styles they have to choose from. They have everything from ranger boots to chukkas to oxfords! Red Wing has a ton of different styles suitable for both men and women that anyone would feel good wearing.

Doc Martens, on the other hand, consist mostly of same-looking, drab styles that would get tiring within the first year of wear. There is little color variation outside brown and black. Doc Martens seem to have more boots overall, but they all look more or less the same. The outliers of this are all extremely flashy designs that would not age well. But, if you’re the type that’s still wearing shoulder pads and leg warmers, you may just go for it.

Winner: Red Wings again!


A good boot needs to be able to take a beating and keep coming back for more. If it can’t do that, you might as well be buying sneakers. Durability comes from just the right combination of good construction and high-quality materials.

In the good old days, it wasn’t uncommon for Doc Martens to outlast you. Fathers would have a faithful pair of Docs for 20 years before passing them on to their children. That rarely happens anymore, though. Now, Doc Martens have become more of a fashion statement than a serious work shoe, with eye-catching designs taking precedence over quality. There is a noticeable difference in longevity between Doc Martens made in China or Thailand and those that are still made in England. The Made in England line may last you a few years, but for the other varieties it’s more often a matter of months.

Red Wings have not been immune to outsourcing woes, and many of their boots that are not part of the Heritage line are made overseas, as well. Still, they’re a better bet that will give you a few good years before giving out. Additionally, Red Wings are a lot easier to have repaired or re-soled when necessary, which can extend their life even longer.

Winner: Red Wings once more!


Comfort is the most important factor, from your underwear to your outerwear. Even if you had the best, most durable, well constructed, stylish boot available, you’d never want to wear it if it wasn’t comfortable! For our final comparison, let’s see which boot is the most comfortable for everyday wear.

As it turns out, the air cushion in Doc Martens’ signature sole may make it a pain to repair, but it also makes it a dream to walk in. They are also quite comfortable right out of the box, without the need for the blisters and soreness that come from a long period of breaking in new boots.

Red Wings need this break-in period to provide a custom fit molded around your foot. Regardless of the long-term benefits of this, the immediate discomfort involved means that Doc Martens take this category.

Winner: Doc Martens!

Other Options

In a contest between Doc Martens and Red Wings, Red Wings is the clear winner. However, there are many other options out there that could give them a run for their money, such as Chippewa, Caterpillar, Wesco, and Timberland. Picking the perfect boot for you may seem like an impossible task, but remember that you get what you pay for. With a little trial and error, you may stumble upon a boot that lasts the rest of your life.


David S

David S said:

It is possible to have Dr Martens resoled.

Tim N.

Tim N. said:

Disagree about durability. I have two pair of Dr. Martens that are worn regularly, and they are both 15+ years old. As well, neither pair has ever even needed to be resoled.

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