We’re big fans of Red Wing work boots and BOA’s innovative lacing system. So, when we had the opportunity to put our feet in a pair of Red Wing Apex BOA work boots, we jumped at the chance to put them to the test. This wasn’t simply a matter of putting BOA’s system on a pair of classic Red Wings, so we had some questions right out of the gate.
- Comfortable to wear all day right out of the box
- BOA lacing system makes for easy on/off and tightening adjustments
- BOA side orientation offers even presuure and no tongue shifting
- Made using post-consumer recycled materials
- Red Wing waterproof treatment
- EH-rated, slip resistant
- Lightweight design with an aluminum safety toe
- More expensive than other cement construction medium-duty boots
BOA Fit System
If you’re new to the BOA fit system, it’s a lacing design that uses thin cable that adjusts with a ratcheting twist mechanism at the top of the boot. One of the reasons we like it so much is that small adjustments throughout the day are simple—just twist to loosen or tighten. Your feet swell as the day goes one, so making those fast adjustments is much more convenient than having to untie and retie the laces.
I have to pass a checkpoint that requires the removal of my shoes. While other teammates have to lace/unlace their boots, I can very quickly get out of and back into my boots thanks to the BOA system. The system is easy to manipulate but I did have the BOA dial hang up on releasing the cables on one boot occasionally. If that happens, you just need a little extra tug to get it to release. Most of the time, though, it was quick and easy to remove and put the boots back on and cinch up the cable. I also like that the cable system made the entire boot feel evenly snug with no pressure points or loose areas.
What’s different about this execution is that the adjustment mechanism moves to the outside of the boot rather than keeping its traditional orientation in the center above your metatarsal. That makes it a little bit easier to reach down and adjust on the fly. However, I was concerned that I might bump or scrape it, and possibly cause some damage. I didn’t experience that, but there was a benefit I wasn’t expecting.
Work boot tongues can be hit and miss as they wear in. About half of the time, given the narrow shape of my ankle, the tongue seems to migrate to one side or the other—it never stays in the center. With the sort-of-side entry of the lacing system and the fact that the tongue is fixed solidly to the other side of the boot, the tongue had no choice but to stay where it was designed to be. I appreciate the design as it reminded me of my old ski bindings. No migrating tongue meant that the cables never had a chance to dig in or change the lace-up pressure as the day wore on.
Red Wing Apex BOA Work Boot Basics
The Apex is a hiker-style design that focuses on maintaining a light weight without compromising durability and safety. At the time we’re writing it’s only available in black.
Red Wing also has its eye on sustainability, using post-consumer recycled plastic in the outsole, midsole, bootie, footbed, and laces. That said, the boot doesn’t feel like it’s made from plastic just for the sake of using recycled materials. Our crew couldn’t tell the difference between the Apex and other work boots with a combination leather/mesh upper.
As far as typical work boot features go, the Apex includes Red Wing’s waterproofing process, an aluminum safety toe, a slip-resistant/heat-resistant outsole, and an EH rating.
Red Wing Apex BOA Work Boot Fit and Comfort
I normally wear a 10.5 regular, so that’s the size I ordered. By my estimation, the boot runs about a 1/2-size large and a 10 would have been a little better fit for me. With standard socks, they felt a little loose, but snugged up by wearing thicker Dickies socks instead.
The connection type is cement. While that’s the weakest of the three standard connection types, it’s the most flexible, making these boots ready to wear straight out of the box.
Thanks to the combination leather/mesh upper, you get a good amount of airflow. It allows any moisture around your feet to escape more quickly and keeps your feet cooler throughout the day. It’s a great option for mild and warmer months. If you’re in a warmer climate like we are in Florida, it’s a 4-season boot.
I wore the boots daily for walking/standing over mostly concrete and asphalt for 7-8 hours a day during my testing. My job requires me to be on my feet for most of the day and I found that these boots, while safety-toed, wore more like my Merrel hikers for their dexterity and out-of-the-box comfort. They did not require a “break-in” period at all. I was able to put them on and forgot I had them on as they were comfortable all day long.
Red Wing Apex BOA Work Boot Price
The retail price on these boots is $269.99, and you can find them at your local Red Wing retailer. They come in 1/2 sizes from 6 – 12, and whole sizes up to 15 from there. Like most work boots, you have D regular and EE wide widths. Unlike most, you also have a H wide option as well.
There’s also a standard lace-up version of the Apex for both men and women. However, the BOA version is currently only available in a men’s fit.
The Bottom Line
Red Wing Apex BOA work boots wear more like hikers than standard work boots and offer all-day comfort. Based on my experience, the design team did an excellent job of taking a fresh look at comfort by pairing the proven design of the BOA lacing system with a new orientation. It’s a well-designed medium-duty boot, and the use of recycled materials in the construction is a bonus.