Red Wing 9874 vs. 8849: A Classic Boot Comparison for the Modern Consumer

Red Wing boots carry with them not just a sense of style but a storied history, steeped in American tradition. For well over 100 years, they’ve been the go-to for anyone in need of boots that are as tough as they are timeless. Within the revered Heritage line, two boots often spark discussion among aficionados: the Red Wing 9874 and the Red Wing 8849. Both feature the beloved moc toe and wedge sole, yet they cater to distinct tastes and needs.

Let’s walk through the nuances of the 9874 and the 8849, comparing their designs, the unique features they boast, the way they hug your feet, and the patina they develop. By the time we’re done, you’ll be equipped to choose the pair that doesn’t just fit your feet but also fits the story you want to tell with every step you take.

Design of Red Wing 9874 and 8849

When you set your eyes on the Red Wing 9874 and 8849 boots, you’re immediately struck by their distinct feature: a U-shaped toe box that’s reminiscent of a moccasin’s design. It’s a throwback to the 1950s when Red Wing first introduced this style for those who spent their days working the land or traversing the woods – a boot that didn’t just look good but performed well on any ground. Plus, with their laid-back yet rugged vibe, these boots are the perfect complement to a pair of well-worn jeans or some comfy chinos.

Now, while they may look similar at first glance, the 9874 and 8849 have their own unique flairs, especially when it comes to the leather. Take the 9874 – its Black Klondike leather has a cool trick up its sleeve. It starts off with a black paint finish over a brown base, which gracefully chips away over time to reveal a rich, brown color underneath, giving you that coveted vintage look. On the flip side, the 8849, is made from Black Prairie leather, which is a smooth-finished leather that has a subtle brown pull-up effect. This means that the leather changes color slightly when stretched or creased, giving the boot a rich and natural patina over time.

Walking in these boots is a breeze, thanks to their Traction Tred outsoles. The white rubber wedge is not just for looks; it’s there to give you a cushy step and steady traction without weighing you down. And let’s not forget the Goodyear welt construction – it’s old-school craftsmanship that means your boots are stitched rather than glued, keeping them solidly in one piece. So when the soles eventually wear down, you can just get them resoled and they’re as good as new. It’s a bit like giving your trusty boots a new lease on life.

Features of Red Wing 9874 and 8849

The differences in the salient features of Red Wing 9874 and 8849 are very similar to the Red Wing 9875 and 875 that I introduced before.

The Red Wing 9874 is a boot that pays homage to vintage style. It sports a classic imprint on the upper shaft that echoes the style of the 1950s, when boots were as much about function as they were about form. The gusset tongues boast an embossed detail and the woven Irish Setter label that give a shout-out to their heritage as part of the original Irish Setter hunting boot series. Durability is key with the 9874, so it’s reinforced with a quarter stitch at the moc-stitching’s stress point. Tying it all together are the dark brown heavy leather laces, and it’s all packaged in a special shoebox that’s a throwback to the old Irish Setter cartons.

On the other end of the spectrum, the 8849 model sports a sleek, minimalist design that’s clean and contemporary, foregoing any imprints or branding on the shaft or tongue. Its black Taslan laces and matching black stained welt give it a smooth, uniform look that’s effortlessly modern.

Each pair of boots comes equipped with durable brass eyelets, ensuring the laces hold securely and are simple to fasten. The interior boasts a leather insole alongside a cork midsole that gradually takes on the contour of your foot, offering a fit that feels tailor-made and exceptionally comfortable.

Fit of Red Wing 9874 and 8849

Crafted on Red Wing’s legendary No. 23 last, both the 9874 and the 8849 models share this iconic foundation, a favorite for its accommodating fit. The No. 23 last features a roomy toe box and a fit that works well for a variety of foot types and sizes. However, it’s known for its slightly larger sizing, so you’ll likely need to go down half a size to a full size from what you usually wear with EE width. For instance, if a size 10 is your go-to, you might find that a 9.5 or even a 9 in these boots offers a better fit.

When it comes to fine-tuning the fit, the socks you choose and how you lace up can make a big difference. Thicker socks are recommended for that extra layer of cushion and warmth, and the laces can be tightened or loosened to achieve the perfect snugness. It should be noted that the leather shoelaces of 9874 cannot be tied as tightly as Taslan shoelaces. Initially, the boots may feel a bit stiff, but give them time—they’ll break in, soften, and shape to your feet, promising a more comfortable fit with each wear.

Price of Red Wing 9874 and 8849

Because of its scarcity, the Red Wing 9874 is more expensive than the 8849. Although these boots are made in the USA with quality materials and craftsmanship, the red wing 9874, like the red wing 9875, is only available in select markets.

Klondike has a thicker black layer and a more tan/orange base color. The black layer takes longer to wear off and it has more contrast than the Prairie. The Prairie is more matte and the Klondike is more glossy. Klondike has more of a bright yellow interior color, while Prairie is more of a tan/brown color. This is why red wing 9874 can offer a high premium on the used market.


Wrapping it up, you can’t really lose with the Red Wing 9874 or 8849 boots. They’re sturdy, cozy, and have that classic style that just doesn’t quit. Whether you’re hitting the trails, clocking in at the job site, or just going about your day, these boots are up for it all. They’re the kind of timeless that doesn’t just go with anything but lasts through everything.

Now, it’s the leather that sets these two apart – the 9874 with its golden tea-core fade and those old-school details that tell a story, and the 8849 with its subtler tea-core matte finish that’s all about modern, understated cool.

So, Which one do you prefer? If your heart beats for that authentic, vintage vibe, the 9874 could be calling your name. But if your taste leans towards the sleek and clean, then the 8849 is whispering your way. They’ll be turning heads and taking names for years to come.

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Stan is an adventure enthusiast with a love for the outdoors and American heritage brands like Red Wing and Filson. With a background in environmental science, Stan combines his outdoor experiences with a commitment to sustainability. His reviews go beyond functionality, exploring the brand ethos and craftsmanship. Stan inspires readers to choose gear that's durable, environmentally responsible, and true to American craftsmanship, making his advice indispensable for outdoor aficionados.

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