The Rangers usually wore grey or dark green cloaks with no identifying ornaments except a six-pointed cloak-clasp in the shape of a star. Another identifying feature was that all of them wore a green longcoat. Equipped primarily with swords and bows, they were quick, versatile, and experienced riders.
Characteristically elusive and enigmatic, the Rangers spent most of their lives in the wild, visiting towns and villages only on rare occasions. The Rangers were led by Chieftains. These Chieftains could trace their lines back to Isildur himself and his father Elendil. Though the Chieftains were designated figures of authority for the Rangers, the scattered people had no official headquarters or capital after the disintegration of Arnor and possibly lived in temporary camps scattered about the wilderness.
For over a thousand years, the Rangers of the North faithfully preserved the Line of Elendil and the ways of the Dúnedain and the ancient heirlooms of the Heir of Isildur such as the Shards of Narsil, Star of Elendil, Sceptre of Annúminas, and the Ring of Barahir. Like all Dúnedain, they were very friendly with the elves particularly those of Rivendell where each heir would be born and raised. They secretly guarded and protected Eriador, which included the Shire unbeknownst to its people from spies and invaders.
At the time of the War of the Ring, the Rangers of the North were led by Aragorn, future king of the reunited kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor. But despite Aragorn's leadership, most of the Rangers remained scattered and diminished. Therefore, when the ranger Halbarad endeavored to aid Aragorn in the War, he could muster no more than thirty Rangers to join him.
The term 'Rangers of the North' was often used by those who lived in the southern lands of Rohan and Gondor, perhaps to distinguish these Rangers from their distant relatives, the Rangers of Ithilien. Like the Rangers of the North, the Rangers of Ithilien were also Dúnedain, but they belonged to the Southern kingdom of Gondor. The ancestors of the Rangers of Ithilien had been divided from the Northern Dúnedain for some three thousand years.
One notable Ranger of Ithilien was Faramir, who was the brother of Boromir and son of Denethor, Steward of Gondor. Faramir led the Rangers of Ithilien for an undisclosed period of time during the War of the Ring.