9 Iconic Brown Hiking Boots With Red Laces 2023

Last Updated on 27/08/2023

Best Hiking Boots With Red Laces

Curious who makes the light brown hiking boots with red laces that look kind of retro and strangely familiar?

Maybe you watched the film ‘Wild’ with Reese Witherspoon and liked the look of her boots which had red boot laces.

We spent hours researching the history of the red-laced hiking boot and hours trying to find companies that still make them. What we found was that pretty much all hiking boot brands had stopped using red laces as the standard and it may have something to do with some random unpleasant history. Find out why further down.

If you have seen somebody wearing a pair of brown hiking boots with red laces that you thought looked nice, you are not alone. The first time I saw a pair I straight up asked the person what they were. If you aren’t the crazy guy or girl who talks to strangers as often as possible then this guide will save you the trouble of looking for the leather boots with red laces you saw.

Why Do Hiking Boots Have Red Laces?

The history of hiking boots with red laces is fairly undocumented however after searching for many hours the only reference we found to the significance of red laces on boots was linked to skinheads. The red laces are supposedly earned by a skinhead by shedding blood for the skinhead movement. It is hard to believe that this is why red laces were used on hiking boots.

Best Red Shoelaces for Hiking Boots
Best Red Shoelaces for Hiking Boots
Honey Badger Work Boot Laces Heavy Duty W/Kevlar

So why do hiking boots have red laces then? Our guess is that it is because modern hiking boots only started surfacing in the late seventies and the red laces stood out in the shoe store. Before this, hikers used whatever they could afford which often ended up being leather work boots. So to make the first hiking boots stand out against the other work boots, red laces were enough of a differentiator.

As materials got lighter and better traction was adopted, the red laces continued to signify that these were proper hiking boots. And so the tradition continued and manufacturers continued to use red laces. That was up until around 25 years ago when companies started to use alternative shoelace colors as a new way to stand out. Black became a clear favorite and continues to be the most popular shoelace color.

Who Still Makes Brown Leather Hiking Boots With Red Laces?

There is only one company that still makes old-school hiking boots with red laces that we have found and would trust on a long-distance walk. That brand is Danner which was founded in Portland, Oregon 1932. There are some other companies like Columbia who have the odd shoe with red laces but for the most part, it is not a part of their identity the same way it is for Danner.

What are the Best Hiking Boots With Red Laces?


Danner Mountain Light GTX

Danner Mountain Light GTX

  • MEN’S: Yes
  • WOMEN’S: Yes
  • MATERIALS: Full Grain Leather Upper, Goretex Lining, Red Laces
  • BEST FOR: Waterproofing and Durability

The Danner Mountain Light GTX Boots are some of the most waterproof hiking boots with red laces you can get. They are made from a single piece of full grain leather for the upper and fully lined with a Gore-Tex membrane to make them 100% waterproof. They are available in both men’s and women’s and have the signature style of a retro brown hiking boot with red laces and metal lace hooks.

Because the Mountain Light GTX boots are made from just one piece of leather with no seams they are less likely to rub and cause blisters, as well as making them watertight. They are stitched right around the bottom so that if you look after them and the soles wear down you can easily have them replaced without destroying the Gore-Tex membrane.

SUMMARY: The Mountain Light GTX lined boots from Danner are robust, comfortable, and completely waterproof. They are a modern remake of a classic design and are extremely well made using traditional methods to ensure they last for a long time. They look good for those who care but above all, they are some of the toughest hiking boots with red laces to keep your feet safe in all weather and terrain.

 


Danner Mountain 600 Boots

Danner Men's Mountain 600 4.5" Hiking Boot, Brown/Red-Suede, 9.5 D US

  • MEN’S: Yes
  • WOMEN’S: Yes
  • MATERIALS: Red Laces
  • BEST FOR: Comfort and Flexibility

The Danner Mountain 600 boots have red laces and are some of the comfiest hiking boots you can get. They feel more like a gym shoe and have the same kind of moisture-wicking lining that you might find in comfy pair of sneakers. They have a more modern look to them than the Mountain Light boots and use a much more flexible sole.

The sole consists of a lightweight and super squishy EVA mid-sole which provides maximum comfort and cushioning, and Vibram’s super grippy SPE (Specialized Performance Elastomer) sole and tread. The end result is total comfort with excellent grip on slippery surfaces. The only downside is that the tread isn’t very deep and so probably won’t last as long as the Mountain Light GTX boots with deep rubber lugs.

SUMMARY: The Mountain 600 Boots from Danner are lightweight, flexible, and as comfortable as they come. Danner uses their own waterproof membrane for these and the supple leather upper does an excellent job of protecting your feet. If you like the retro style of red laced boots but want something a little less chunky then these are an excellent choice.

 

 


Danner Women’s Mountain Light Cascade

Danner Women's Mountain Light Cascade Hiking Boot, Brown, 9.5 M US

  • MEN’S: No
  • WOMEN’S: Yes
  • MATERIALS: Red Laces
  • BEST FOR: Breathability

The Women’s Danner Mountain Light Cascade Boots has become iconic thanks to the film ‘Wild’ featuring Reese Witherspoon who plays Cheryl Strayed a young woman hiking the Pacific Crest Trail on her own. The movie was adapted from a book based on real-life events (thanks for all the messages). Regardless of this fact, these tan boots with red laces are awesome and designed to last a long time and are comfier the more you walk in them.

They have a luxurious Cambrelle lining that handles water resistance, breathability, and moisture wicking so your feet stay dry in the rain and puddles and don’t sweat too much in the summer. They are not as waterproof as the Gore-Tex lined boots above but they are better for summer hiking. The soles are rugged with a deep grip but they are nice and soft inside – and they also get better with age.

SUMMARY: The Women’s Mountain Light Cascade Boots from Danner are certainly one of the most durable fashion boots about there. Because they don’t have a waterproof membrane inside they breathe better in summer but the outer leather does a good enough job of keeping your feet and socks dry. Look the part and play the part – these boots are excellent for hiking regardless of their looks.

 


Danner Mountain Pass Rio

Danner Mountain Pass Rio

  • MEN’S: Yes
  • WOMEN’S: Yes
  • MATERIALS: Red Laces
  • BEST FOR: Lightweight and Durability

The Danner Mountain Pass Rio is almost identical to the Mountain Light GTX boot but as if it has been shaved down to save weight and increase flexibility. They are not quite as flexible and cushioned as the Mountain 600 boots, which have a much softer midsole, but they are still nice to wear all day long. The sole is made from VibramĀ® Kletterlift and has the same tread patterns as my old Meindl Boots.

Lined with Drilex moisture-wicking fabric also helps these boots dry fast if your feet sweat or they get wet inside. There is no waterproof membrane however these boots ARE waterproof. This is thanks to the type of leather and how it has been treated, the seamless construction, and the way the upper meets the sole and midsole of the boot which creates an impenetrable seal.

SUMMARY: The Mountain Pass Rio boots from Danner are basically like a stripped-down version of the heritage model. The soles are thinner and slightly slimmer which improves the flexibility but reduces the amount of time between resoling them. If you love the way the Mountain Light Boots look but aren’t keen on the chunky sole then these are for you.

 


Eddie Bauer K-6 Boot

Eddie Bauer Women's K-6 Boot, Paprika, 9

  • MEN’S: Yes
  • WOMEN’S: Yes
  • MATERIALS: Red Laces
  • BEST FOR: Value

The Eddie Bauer K-6 Boot is the best-value brown hiking boot with red laces at close to half the price of the Danner Mountain Light Boots. This doesn’t mean they are cheap though, they are very well made with premium materials like full grain leather and thick Vibram soles. One thing you will notice about these boots is that the uppers are made from a single piece of extremely tough leather and that the soles have plenty of grip.

If you like the style of Danner boots but don’t want to spend as much money then these are definitely the boots you want. Being stitched directly onto the sole through the leather means that you can always get these resoled in the future. Even though the exteriors are built for toughness, the inside is extremely padded and soft so you can hike for miles without getting blisters.

SUMMARY: The K-6 Boots from Eddie Bauer have the same retro look that Danner boots do but at less than half the cost. Popular as a work boot as well as for hiking, you can wear these for 12 hours and not feel like your feet are about to drop off. There is really very little difference between these and the much more expensive alternatives.

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Danner Logger 917 Gore-Tex Boots

Danner Women's 34653 Logger 917 6" Waterproof Lifestyle Boot, Monk's Robe - 8 M

  • MEN’S: Yes
  • WOMEN’S: Yes
  • MATERIALS: Exclusive Vibram 917 outsole featuring XS Trek, Red Laces
  • BEST FOR: Casual and Short Hikes

The Danner Logger 917 Boots come in two options: suede or leather uppers. Both feature a Gore-tex waterproof lining and the exclusive Vibram 917 outsole featuring XS Trek tread. These are not strictly hiking boots but you could absolutely wear them to climb a mountain. They are designed more as a boot you can wear every day and look relatively smart and casual.

The Suede boots don’t come with red laces, it is only the brown leather boots that do. The leather boots are more suited to hiking than the suede ones and won’t absorb water so much. The tread is really, really good and designed for maximum grip on any surface, slippery or rugged.

SUMMARY: The Logger 917 Boots from Danner are available in men’s and women’s and are one of the best ways to compromise between wearing hiking boots and dressing smartly. They offer a nice balance of weight, protection, and comfort so that they feel less like a boot and more like a hi-top sneaker. They will keep your feet 100% dry even if you are standing in shallow water and they are smart enough to wear in a restaurant (if you can keep them clean).

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Danner Women’s Adrika Boots

Danner Women's 30131 Adrika Hiker 5" Waterproof Hiking Boot, Sienna - 6 M

  • MEN’S: No
  • WOMEN’S: Yes
  • MATERIALS: 100% Nubuck Suede upper, Danner Dry waterproof lining, Red Laces
  • BEST FOR: All Terrain

The Women’s Danner Adrika Hiking Boots are designed specifically for women with a more streamlined shape and cushioned sole construction than the original Mountain boot. They don’t have the same retro looks but walking in them will save you from getting blisters and protect your feet. The red laces look great against the light tan leather and really help wrap the boot around your foot when tied up.

You get excellent protection against loose rocks with the rubber toe guard and a high leather rand that runs around the lower part of the boot and is further reinforced on the heel. The cushioned midsole provides plenty of impact support as well as the removable OrthoLite footbed so you don’t bruise the bottom of your feet on rocky ground. The other kind of protection you get is total waterproofing with their own Danner Dry membrane.

SUMMARY: The Adrika Women’s Hiking Boots from Danner are very similar to the Mountain 600 boot above but maybe slightly more rugged. Comfort is a key feature of these boots and there is just the right balance of support, toughness, flexibility, and forgiveness to make these your favorite boots with red laces.

 


Columbia Newton Ridge Plus

Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped, Elk/Mountain Red, 9

  • MEN’S: Yes
  • WOMEN’S: Yes
  • MATERIALS: Red Laces
  • BEST FOR: Beginners and Low Budget

The Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Boots has been around for a while and built a name for itself as an excellent beginner hiking boot. They feel like a high-top sneaker in terms of comfort and they have a lot of padding around the tongue and where the top of your foot sits. You can get this particular model in several different color combinations but we really like the light brown option with red laces.

There is a nice cushioned EVA midsole to provide shock absorption and protect the base of your foot while remaining flexible. The outer sole has a variety of grip types but nothing too deep which doesn’t help in mud. We would probably recommend the women’s Adrika boots or the Mountain 600 boots over these however if you are on a budget then these might be for you.

SUMMARY: The Newton Ridge Plus boots from Columbia are a great entry-level hiking boot with red laces that has a more modern style than the vintage-looking Danner boots. You can normally find these at most sports shops across America if you want to try them on however most people say they are true to size. I have got nothing against these red laced boots I just don’t think they have that much going for them.

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Danner Bull Run Lux

Danner Men's 31660 Bull Run Lux 6" Lifestyle Boot, Sunstone - 11.5 D

  • MEN’S: Yes
  • WOMEN’S: Yes
  • MATERIALS: Red Laces
  • BEST FOR: Urban Hikes

The Danner Bull Run Lux boots are my personal favorite in terms of looks although they are definitely not designed for hiking. The soles offer very little grip and are not made using the same hi density Vibram soles. The leather uppers, ankle support, and red lacing system are all perfectly suited for hiking and they would probably be very comfortable on flat ground but on any kind of incline you would likely suffer from slipping.

They combine all the looks and comfort but perform very differently from hiking boots. These are described as being lifestyle boots which means they are for wearing to the mall or out for dinner, not trekking through the undergrowth and muddy puddles. One thing they do very well is keeping the underside of your feet very comfortable and cushioned against impact. 

SUMMARY: The Bull Run Lux boots from Danner are like a cheap sportscar, all about image but when you look under the hood, or in this case the sole, there is nothing special there. These are perfectly comfortable and protective but they lack a crucial feature for hiking – durable soles with a deep tread for grip in loose dirt.

 


Honey Badger Work Boot Laces Heavy Duty W/Kevlar - USA Made Round Shoelaces for Boots - Red Blk, 54 in (1p)

Guide for Brown Hiking Boots with Red Laces

The first thing we need to say is that you should never buy a hiking boot or shoe based on the color of the laces, we know you are smarter than that. The benefit of using this guide is that even if you are shopping for a particular style, you will still end up with a good boot for hiking. Here are some of the things you should look for:

Comfort

Comfort is far more important than what color the laces are. You can always buy red laces separately and add them yourself. For a shoe to be comfortable it should have some cushioning inside, have some moisture control, be waterproof, be supportive, and most importantly not give you blisters. The best way to find a comfortable shoe is to get the correct size and match the fit to the shape of your foot.

Fit

Getting a good fit is always going to be tricky when ordering boots over the internet so the best thing to do is go down to a local outdoor shop and try on as many as you can. You will most likely find that one or two brands fit your feet better than others – you should stick with whatever fits you best. Then you can go home and shop around for deals or if the shop gives you good advice, then buy them on the spot.

Fit is important around your toes, under the arch of your foot, around your heel, on the top of your foot, and around your ankle. Construction and the lacing system can have the biggest impact on getting a good fit. If you can get the width and length to match your foot without feeling tight, then you will instantly know it is a good fit.

Materials

For the most part, brown hiking boots with red laces are made from leather. Leather provides the most durability and protection and has the natural tan look that you might be going for. If you are vegan, then you may have just to add some red laces to your current boots. Synthetic materials are great for out-of-the-box comfort, but in the long run, you are better off with some leather boots.

Sole

The sole is a key part of your hiking boots, and once you find a pair that fits, you will be hoping the soles are decent enough to hike in. Deep treads provide the most grip in mud and on steep rocky terrain as they have the most bite. Deeper treads also last the longest as there is more material to wear down before you lose grip.

Vibram soles are the best out there and are a sure sign of quality you can trust to last a long time. With many retro hiking boots that have red shoelaces, the sole will be stitched directly to the leather upper, which creates a watertight seal and means you can repair the soles without stitching through any waterproof membranes.

Waterproofing

For me, waterproofing is a key part of hiking boots UNLESS you are hiking in summer or doing lots of river crossings. Even if it doesn’t rain there will be times when wet morning grass soaks you through and walking in wet socks is not very comfortable. Gore-Tex is a premium waterproof membrane, but others are almost as good. Leather is naturally waterproof and can be waxed regularly to maintain this. 

Breathability

Breathability for hiking boots means that when your feet sweat the moisture has a way to escape and your feet are not completely sealed in. Waterproof membranes like Gore-Tex are designed with millions of micro-pores that let moisture permeate outwards but don’t let rain or water get in from the outside. In summer, when rain isn’t expected, having breathable hiking boots will really improve your comfort.

Red Laces

Red laces don’t mean or do anything for performance. They are merely for looks only. That being said, I really like red laces on brown boots for hiking because they are a nod to the past history of hiking, which always appeals to me. We like red boot laces made from paracord or enhanced with kevlar for the best strength.

brown leather boots with red laces for hiking

Adding Red Laces to Hiking Boots

If you already have a pair of hiking boots and like the idea of red laces then the best thing to do would be to get some aftermarket laces to put on your existing boots. You don’t just want red laces for sneakers, though, as these will break in no time with the lacing systems of trekking boots. You need proper hiking boot shoelaces like these.

Why Are Walking Boots with Red Laces So Rare These Days?

Again this is just our educated speculation, but apart from the fact that it became more common for different colored laces to be used on hiking boots, nobody wants to be associated with anything that may cause racial trauma. The fact that red laces may have been associated with skinheads in the past is enough of a reason to lose that tradition, whether the two are linked or not.

Our stance is that red laces are just a fashion statement, and 99% of people wearing them have absolutely no idea of the history behind what they may signify to some people. If you are wearing red-laced boots and have a skinhead with racist tattoos on your forehead, then we are having a different conversation, and you need to think long and hard about your life choices (on a busy road).

In the film ‘Wild,’ Reese Witherspoon’s character, Cheryl Strayed, wears a familiar-looking pair of tan or light brown hiking boots with red shoelaces. She looks good in them, and that makes us want them. The boots she wears are, in fact, the Women’s Danner Mountain Light Cascade, as featured in this guide above.

There is a moment in the film when her feet are hurting, and she reveals a gruesome injury on her toe, which results in her hurling her boots off a mountain top. This is not recommended.

Why Do Retro Hiking Boots Have Red Laces?

There was a time over 50 years ago when the majority of specialist hiking boots would have had red laces and be made from brown leather. These hiking boots are now considered retro and cool, which has seen people buying them to look a certain way. One benefit of these retro hiking boots that have red laces is that they were built to last, and even if they are 50 years old, you can still wear them for trekking.

The reason retro hiking boots had red laces was to differentiate them from workboots which were what people had previously used. Boots designed for hiking didn’t start showing up until the late 1800s, but they were custom-made for the wealthy and pioneered by explorers who needed better performance.

Do Red Laces Mean Anything About Hiking?

When you see red laces on a pair of boots, you might be wondering if this means anything special, like maybe they are waterproof or maybe they are fire resistant. This is not the case, and red laces don’t mean anything unless they are being worn by a skinhead with a bad attitude.

The only thing red laces on brown hiking boots means is that you have a small desire to stand out or that you just like the way they look.


We hope you found the hiking boots with red laces that you were looking for. I bet it was the Cascade Mountain boots, right? Let me know in the comments.

Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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