Best Work Boots … Buyers Guide for all Occupations

worker explaining safety footwearIf there’s one thing you can’t be without once you clock in, it’s a high-quality pair of work boots. They’re essential no matter what industry you’re in. The right pair of work boots will keep you safe from whatever the job throws at you and ensures that you stay comfortable the entire work day. With that being said, not all work boots are made the same.

Best Work Boots

The best pair of work boots for you will depend entirely on a few different factors. These factors include the type of work you’ll be doing while you wear them, what type of environment you’re in, and whether or not you suffer from a medical condition that needs special attention.

It’s important to take these considerations into account when looking for the right pair of boots. Certain design elements and materials are great for one job but can prove to be dangerous for another.

To find out what work boots are best for your particular needs and jobs, pick a selection in the overview below that applies to your current situation.

 

Find the Best Work Boots for…  Select an Industry:

 

  • Construction Workers

  • Concrete Workers

  • Carpenters

Construction WorkersThe work environment of construction sites is riddled with hazards. Work boots should have durable toe caps and metatarsal guards to prevent crushing injuries. Boots should also be shock-resistant to avoid injuries from equipment and live electrical wiring. A puncture-resistant plate is also recommended to keep the bottom of the foot safe.

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Concrete workerWhen working with concrete, it’s important to stay safe from falling objects and slipping. A non-slip sole with waterproofing features will provide stability and comfort when working with wet concrete while a steel toe cap and plate will protect from falling hard concrete. If you’re walking on concrete all day, it’s also good to get boots with ample padding and comfort features.

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CarpentersThe best type of work boot for carpenters will provide good general protection and comfort. Steel toe caps and a metatarsal shield can keep the feet safe from falling equipment. Durability is also key, so boots should be made from thick materials that are resistant to tears.

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  • Roof Mechanics

  • Plumbers

  • Painters

RoofersBoots for roofers should be resistant to punctures from fasteners and debris. The outer material of the boot should also be made to overcome the abrasive damage from shingles. To prevent slipping on the roofing material, an anti-slip sole is also recommended.

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PlumberMoisture resistance and an anti-slip sole are key in the plumbing industry. The work environment is often wet and dirty. The boots should be easy to clean to ensure that accumulated grime from walking through muck is easy to get rid of. Padded collars and cushioned footbeds are also recommended for workers that are on their feet most of the day.

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PaintersWork boots for painters should include features that add both stability and protection. An anti-slip sole will prevent slips on paint. It’s also good to have waterproofing features and the ability to easily clean the boots in the washer after a day of painting. Boots should also have extra padding and support for to make climbing up ladders all day easier.

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  • Farmers

  • Landscapers

  • Lumberjacks

FarmerThose working in agriculture need to have ample toe and upper foot protection from the gear and equipment. It’s also a good idea to have anti-slip soles and waterproofing features to ensure that water and mud don’t get into the boots. Because workers are often on their feet for a long time, a shock-absorbing heel is needed as well.

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Gardening and LandscapingTo ensure that the feet stay dry in the mud, boots should be water-resistant. They should also have a non-slip sole for stability. To protect from heavy machinery shoes should be made with a material that’s resistant to cuts and abrasive damage. Another great feature to look out for is the ability to clean boots in the washer.

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Lumberjack with chainsawThose working with a chainsaw need a lot of protection throughout the foot. Steel toe caps and upper foot shields can stop the spinnings blades. An additional layer of material that’s resistant to tears and abrasive damage is also recommended. Depending on where the chainsaw will be used, it’s also a good idea to go with anti-slip soles to ensure that falls don’t occur when holding the chainsaw.

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  • Delivery Drivers

  • Restaurant Workers

  • EMS Workers

Delivery DriverTruck drivers have to handle heavy cargo and machinery on a regular basis. To avoid injury, it’s a good idea to go with boots that have a durable toe cap and metatarsal shield. Comfortable footbeds with plenty of padding and a shock absorbing design will also help to avoid pains after a long day on the job.

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restaurant workersSlippery floors from accidental spills and messes are common in both the dining and kitchen area of a restaurant. To prevent falling and injury, restaurant workers need to have anti-slip soles. Furthermore, shoes should have an easy-clean design that can be thrown into a washing machine for added longevity.

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best boots for ems workersDue to the unexpected nature of EMS work, it’s important to get boots that are well-protected and comfortable. Waterproofing features are recommended to stay dry in variable work environments. Furthermore, protection from biological hazards and pathogens will prevent illness and disease. Boots should also be breathable and easy to clean.

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  • Firefighters

  • Welders

  • Electricians

fire fighters walking towards fireBoots for firefighting need to have ample protection from various elements. They should have a solid toe cap to prevent injury from debris. The entire shoe should also be clad in a composite material that doesn’t conduct heat. Other important features should include a shock-proof sole, a waterproof design, and side zipper that makes it easy to put on at a moment’s notice.

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man weldingWelders are exposed to flying sparks and molten metal, so work boots need to be designed with safety in mind. The top portion of the shoe should be snug and secure to prevent hot materials from touching the skin. Quick-release features are also recommended so that it’s easy to remove in a hurry.

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Electricians

Electricians are exposed to live wires and a dangerous work environment. Work boots need to have an electrical safety rating with a shock-resistant sole. The sole should be made from a non-conductive material like rubber. Additionally, the toe should be protected with a composite cap rather than a steel one.

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foot specific work boots medical conditions

Best Work Boots for Wide Feet

wide feetOne of the leading causes of injuries in the workplace for those with wide feet is poorly fitted work boots. While the fit is important regardless of the type of boots you get, it’s even more important if you have wide feet. Standard boots can pinch your feet and cause blisters. Even worse, the protective elements of the shoe will fail to properly protect you. To ensure that you have the protection you need, look out for these features.

Wider Sole and Forefoot

Pain is felt on the soles and forefoot. It’s the widest part of the foot that can be pinched and blistered with standard shoes. It’s important to find boots that are specifically designed with wider feet in mind. The sole should be large enough to slide your foot into but snug enough to cushion the sole from shocks. The same goes for the forefoot.

Larger Toe Cap

Injuries from a small toe cap are far too common among workers with wide feet. The toe cap is meant to protect your foot. However, standard caps don’t cover all the toes on wide feet. This could lead to severe crushing and injury should an accident occur. Luckily, manufacturers also create caps that are designed for wider feet. They tend to have a square shape to accommodate all the toes. Your toes should be directly undeath the cap without chafing on the sides.

Wide Metatarsal Shield

Like toe caps, it’s imperative that metatarsal shields are fitted correctly to ensure that the top of your foot is safe from crushing. Regardless of what material it’s made out of, it needs to extend beyond the natural width of your foot. If you experience blisters from constantly rubbing on the shield, it’s too small. The shield should feel invisible and comfortable.

Well Rated Options for Wide Feet

ImageNameMaterialSolePriceRating
ImageNameMaterialSolePriceRating
KEEN Utility Men's Milwaukee Wide Work BootKEEN Utility Men's Milwaukee Wide Work BootLeatherRubber$$4.4
Timberland PRO Direct Attach 6Dockers Society Slip-ResistantLeatherSynthetic$4.2
Dr. Martens Men's Ironbridge Wide ST Work BootDr. Martens Men's Ironbridge Wide ST Work BootLeatherSynthetic$$4.4

 

Best Work Boots for Diabetics

Diabetic footWhile diabetes affects the entire body, complications often arise in the feet. The condition affects circulation to the lower body, which could ultimately result in life-altering issues. For diabetes sufferers, finding the right pair of work boots is more important than ever. The goal is to find shoes that are comfortable and supportive while minimizing injury to the feet.

Wide Fit

It’s important to go with boots that are wide in all parts of the foot. Diabetes can cause the feet to swell up, so it’s good to have extra room to prevent constriction. This can help to prevent abrasive injuries and blisters.

Large Toe Box and Cap

The toes are the most susceptible to injuries for diabetes sufferers. Even the slightest irritation can cause issues. A deeper toe box will provide some extra wiggle room while providing ample protection from accidents. The toe cap should be durable and large enough to encompass all the toes safely.

Seamless Anti-Microbial Liner

The lining of the boots needs to be soft and free of bumps. Raised stitching can cause irritation and blisters. The lining needs to be smooth and comfortable, especially if the boots are to be worn all day long. The liner should also be treated to have anti-microbial properties. This can help to prevent possible infection.

Heavy Padding

The more padding, the better. Additional cushions throughout the lining and sole of the boots can help to prevent discomfort and irritation. It’s also good to get boots that have cushioned tongue and collar. A non-padded collar can cause abrasive injuries through regular activity.

Shock Absorbent Sole and Heel

To make the boots as comfortable and non-irritating as possible, the soles should be thick and shock absorbent. A deeper insole that cups the heel will spread the force of impact and prevent jarring pain throughout the leg. For more extreme cases, it may be a good idea to get boots with a sole that rocks. A curved sole replicates the natural motions of the foot, absorbs shock, and provides stability.

Recommended Options for Diabetics

ImageNameMaterialSolePriceRating
ImageNameMaterialSolePriceRating
Drew Shoe Men's Pioneer BootDrew Shoe Men's Pioneer BootLeatherSynthetic$$$4.2
Orthofeet 481 Men's Comfort Diabetic Therapeutic Extra Depth BootOrthofeet 481 Men's Comfort Diabetic Therapeutic Extra Depth BootLeatherSynthetic$$$4.8
Apex Men's 6Apex Men's 6" Ambulator Biomechanical Lace BootLeatherPolyurethane$$$4.0

 

Best Work Boots for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar FasciitisPlantar Fasciitis is a painful condition caused by inflammation of a large connective tendon in your feet. Pain from the condition typically occurs by standing on your feet for prolonged periods of time. It can affect you as you work and long after you’ve left. To help minimize the effects of the condition, you need to choose a boot that’s designed with comfort and support in mind.

Contoured Footbed and Arch Support

The condition is irritated when your feet aren’t in the proper position. Because the swollen tendon stretches from the heel to the toes, pain is often felt in these areas. A footbed that’s shaped to accommodate a healthy foot position can relieve strain. A raised arch will reduce pressure on the ligament. This will result in less fatigue and pain.

Shock Absorption

The insole and outsole should be designed to absorb the shock of moving. This is especially important if you work on hard surfaces like concrete. Walking on a tough surface can send the shock directly into your heel to irritate the ligament. Go with boots that have many shock-absorbing features. The insole and outsole will work together to alleviate pressure as you work.

Lace-Up Design

While zippers and straps may be more convenient, nothing beats the security of laces. Boots with laces that extend up the ankle can provide you with the adjustability you need. They make it possible to get a snug fit and prevent your feet from slipping out of the safe position created by the footbed.

Moderate Heel

It’s important to get boots with a balanced height. Higher heels tend to put pressure on the ligament. It throws off your foot position and creates tension. On the other hand, too low of a heel eliminates the benefits gained from a contoured footbed. Pressure will be targeted to the heel and arch. Heels with a medium height create balance and stability.

Well Rated Options for Plantar Fasciitis

ImageNameMaterialSolePriceRating
ImageNameMaterialSolePriceRating
Caterpillar Men's Second Shift Steel Toe Work BootCaterpillar Men's Second Shift Steel Toe Work BootLeatherRubber$4.4
Thorogood Men's 814-4200 American Heritage 6Thorogood Men's 814-4200 American Heritage 6" Moc Toe BootLeatherSynthetic$$4.4
Wolverine Men's W02072 Athletic Mid BootWolverine Men's W02072 Athletic Mid BootLeather Rubber$$3.9

 

Best Work Boots for Sweaty Feet

Sweaty FeetSweating is completely natural and can help to regulate your body temperature. However, sweating in a stuffy work boot can ruin your work day. Excessive sweating can lead to irritation and bacteria. While boots are known for their thick and durable build, there are ways to keep the sweat at bay.

Breathable Fabrics

Fabrics like mesh and Gore-Tex are must-haves if you have sweaty feet. These fabrics allow air to enter your boots so that sweat can evaporate. Mesh is typically incorporated into the design through panels. It’s often used on the sides of the boots, on top of the toes, and along the tongue. Gore-Tex, however, is used in the lining. It’s a waterproof membrane that happens to be very breathable.

Ventilation Holes

Like breathable fabric, ventilation holes promote airflow to keep you dry. Boot manufacturers will incorporate these holes discretely. They’re just large enough to let air in without exposing too much of your feet to the elements.

Anti-Microbial Lining and Footbed

Boots can get pretty hot as you wear them, even with a bit of airflow. When you throw sweat into the mix, boots become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. An anti-microbial coating or fabric can help stop bacteria in its tracks.

Well Rated Options for Sweaty Feet

ImageNameMaterialSolePriceRating
ImageNameMaterialSolePriceRating
KEEN Utility Men's Flint Mid Work BootKEEN Utility Men's Flint Mid Work BootLeatherRubber$4.3
Wolverine Men's W02072 Athletic Mid BootWolverine Men's W02072 Athletic Mid BootLeather Rubber$$3.9
Red Wing Heritage Moc 6" Boot oilRed Wing Heritage Moc 6" BootLeatherSynthetic$$4.4

 

Best Work Boots for Flat Feet

flat feetIf you have flat feet, you understand the struggles of having to stand on your feet all day. While the condition isn’t life-threatening, it can cause immense discomfort. Flat feet occur when the normal arch has fallen. Whether you’ve had the condition since birth or started showing symptoms as a result of age or injury, it’s important to get the right boots that address your unique issues. Here are some features to look out for.

Arch Support

Boots can help to create an artificial arch as you work. This arch is located in the very center of the footbed and helps to raise your fallen arch. This improves your foot’s ability to absorb shock and weight as you work. You’ll notice an improvement in comfort and foot fatigue even after you’ve spent all day on your feet.

Higher Insoles

Your boots should also provide adequate support to your sole. Go with a slightly thicker insole that’s firm and durable. It will help to absorb shock further while providing you with a bit of a footrest. It won’t just affect your sole, but also the center of your foot. This extra height and support will work with the raised arch to position your foot in a way that improves function, mobility, and stability.

Plenty of Padding

Go with boots that have plenty of padding and gel cushion. While arch and sole support will do wonders for your comfort level, it doesn’t hurt to add a bit more cushion for ultimate comfort as you work.

Well Rated Options for Flat Feet

ImageNameMaterialSolePriceRating
ImageNameMaterialSolePriceRating
Caterpillar Men's Second Shift Steel Toe Work BootCaterpillar Men's Second Shift Steel Toe Work BootLeatherRubber$4.4
Thorogood Men's 814-4200 American Heritage 6Thorogood Men's 814-4200 American Heritage 6" Moc Toe BootLeatherSynthetic$$4.4
Wolverine Men's W02072 Athletic Mid BootWolverine Men's W02072 Athletic Mid BootLeather Rubber$$3.9

 

Best Work Boots for Narrow Feet

narrow feetNarrow feet can be difficult to shop for you if you don’t know what to look for. Like with wide feet, it’s important to get shoes that fit correctly and have safety features adapted to the unique shape of your foot. Failure to do so can result in a constant loose fit. Your feet will slide around as you work, resulting in blisters and abrasive damage.

Thinner Sole and Forefoot

Pay attention to the width of the sole and forefoot. These are the most vulnerable areas of your foot that can ultimately affect your overall comfort, performance, and fatigue level. Many manufacturers offer width sizing that goes down to extra-narrow options. Often represented by a letter, these sizes refer to the width of the sole and forefoot.

Lace-Up Closure

Another great feature to make shoes fit you perfectly is a lace-up closure system. While most work boots have laces, some models have laces that extend from the top of your foot all the way up the shaft. This design feature can make the sides and top of the boot come in for a snug fit.

Extra Cushion

Typically, cushions and pads can make the overall lining thicker. Go with boots that have a thick layer of comfort padding. Not only will extra cushions help to provide you with a tighter fit, but they’ll also help to prevent blisters from forming.

3 Well Rated Options for Narrow feet

ImageNameMaterialSolePriceRating
ImageNameMaterialSolePriceRating
Ariat Mens Devon Pro Vx PaddockTimberland PRO Men's 26011 Direct Attach 8" Soft-ToeLeather Rubber$$$4.4
Dickies Men's Trader 6Dickies Men's Trader 6" Leather ShoeLeatherSynthetic$$$4.0
Work Boots, Mens, 13, D, PU Midsole, 6inH, PRLeatherRubber$$---

 

environmental specific footwear

Best Work Boots for Cold, Snow and Other Winter Conditions

hot and cold weather conditionsIf you work in a colder environment, there’s an additional set of obstacles you have to overcome to remain comfortable and safe. Shoes need to be able to keep your feet insulated. They should be thick enough to keep the cold out while also providing you with the protection and stability you need to perform your job. Whether you’re working in a cold facility or out in the snow, there are a few different features you should look out for.

Insulation Level

Work boots made for cold environments incorporate thick insulation throughout. The insulation prevents cooler air from entering your shoe while also preventing your natural body heat from escaping. Manufacturers provide different ratings based on the amount of insulation a shoe has to give you a better understanding of the protection the boots offer.

200 grams of insulation material is great for standard winter temperatures down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. 400 grams of insulation provide a bit more protection. They can keep you safe in the same temperature range as 200-gram insulation. However, it’s designed for workers that don’t move around. Between 800 and 1000 grams of insulation provide the most protection from the elements and are designed to keep you safe in anything lower than 30 degrees.

Support and Protection

Another thing to look out for is composite, nylon, or fiberglass material. Instead of going with steel toe caps, opt for composite. The material doesn’t transfer temperature like steel does. The same goes for shanks. Nylon or fiberglass shanks can provide you with the support you need for the job without making you colder in the process.

Waterproof Design

If there’s one thing that can bring your temperature down or cause hypothermia, it’s moisture. Melted snow or ice can easily seep into a standard work boot. Those made for cold environments should have a sealed design. There shouldn’t be any access point or vulnerable spots. Durable waterproof materials and design are key to staying safe.

 

Best Work Boots for Hot / Summer Conditions

Boots in hot weatherIf you’re working outdoors in a hotter climate, you’ll instantly feel the effects of poor boot choice. Whether you’re a roofer or work in construction, long hours in the sun can be difficult and very tiring. While it may not seem like much, a few comfort features in your boots can help you work harder and prevent fatigue after you clock out.

Ventilation and Breathability

One of the most important features you need to look out for is ventilation. Mesh panels and circulation holes promote airflow throughout the boots. The ventilation design is often discrete as to not sacrifice durability and safety. It can make your boots breathable and work to help prevent sweat. The design regulates the air temperature inside your shoe for maximum comfort and safety.

Moisture-Wicking Technology

Ventilation holes and mesh work in tandem with moisture-wicking fabric. This unique fabric is used to line the inside of the boot and footbed. Instead of soaking up your sweat and causing discomfort, the fabric uses the natural airflow to promote evaporation.

 

Best Work Boots for Wet Conditions

When you’re working in wet conditions, your main priorities should be safety and comfort. Wet floors are a leading cause of workplace injuries. Beyond that, you need to be able to protect your health by avoiding wet feet and bacteria growth. There are a number of features to look out for when choosing boots for wet environments.

Waterproof Design

waterproofFirst and foremost, you need to get boots that are completely protected from moisture infiltration. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than soggy socks and a persistent squishing sound as you walk.

Waterproof boots are completely sealed. The various parts of the shoe are adhered tightly and reinforced to prevent water penetration. Some boots also come with a removable liner to make them more manageable in the workplace.

Resilient Materials

The two most common materials used for waterproof boots are rubber and leather. Rubber repels moisture and is pretty resistant to minor abrasive damage. Some manufacturers use rubber for the upper portion of the boot to accommodate those that may have to walk in deeper waters. Leather is also a great material because it’s naturally resistant to water. Manufacturers will implement some extra precautionary measures to ensure a tight seal.

Anti-Microbial Lining

This special lining will help to keep bacteria at bay. They often utilize natural agents, such as silver, to prevent the growth of bacteria. As a result, your boots are easier to take care of and much safer on your feet. The linings fight off odor-causing bacteria, leaving your boots free of smells and helping you avoid foot fungus.

Anti-Slip Soles

Slip resistant soles are a must-have if you’re constantly around water. Special designs on the sole are created to redirect water away from the boots with every step. Falls occur because a thin layer of water prevents you from making contact with the floor. Anti-slip soles help to provide grip at key points along the bottom of your shoe for support and traction.

Safety Criteria and Symbols

Safety Criteria and Symbols

worker explaining safety symbolsAs you search the market for that perfect pair of work boots, you’re likely to come across a number of strange symbols and markings. They’re typically placed on the box and even on the shoe itself. These symbols aren’t just for show. They represent safety codes and classifications. They’re meant to give you an idea of what type of safety features the boots hold.

While these marking may be confusing at first, it’s important to understand what everything means to ensure that you get boots that can keep you protected on the job.

Safety Regulations

Above all else, your boots need to comply with basic safety regulations. These regulations are put in place by a few different governing bodies around the world. All safety work boots must comply with the minimum requirements. Depending on where you are in the world, boots will comply with PPE, CSA, or ASTM standards. The International Organization for Standardization, or ISO, also has a set of current standards that work boots must legally meet. This standard is called EN ISO 20345:2011.

Common Abbreviations You Need to Know

  • P – Penetration resistance
  • C – Conductive
  • A – Antistatic
  • I – Electricity insulating
  • E – Energy Absorbing
  • HI – Insulation against heat
  • CI – Insulation against cold
  • WR – Water resistant
  • M – Metatarsal protection
  • AN – Ankle protection
  • CR – Cut-resistant upper
  • WRU – Water penetration and absorption upper
  • HRO – Outsole resistance to hot contact
  • FO – Fuel-oil resistant outsole

Common Symbols You Need to Know

SymbolMeaningBest for
SymbolMeaningBest for
CSA Green TrianglePuncture-resistant sole and a "Grade 1" toe cap.Heavy industrial work and environments with sharp debris and large equipment
yellow trianglePuncture-resistant sole and a "Grade 2" toe cap.Light industrial work that requires puncture and toe protection
Blue square"Grade 1" toe cap with no puncture-resistant soleIndustrial work that doesn't need puncture protection
gray square"Grade 2" toe cap with no puncture-resistant soleWork that doesn't need puncture protection
White rectangle with orange “Omega” symbolElectric shock protectionWorking around live wires and electrical conductors. Resistance decreases over time and if in a wet environment.
Yellow rectangle with black Static dissipationWorking around combustible fuels or equipment that can be damaged by static electricity. Boots shouldn't be worn around live wires and electrical conductors.
Yellow rectangle with black Puncture resistance, a "Grade 2" toe cap, and extra static dissipationWorking in industrial environments with debris, combustible fuels, and hazards that can be affected by static electricity. Boots shouldn't be worn around live wires and electrical conductors.
Red rectangle with white “C” symbolElectrically conductiveWorking in environments where electrical changes can harm workers and equipment. Boots shouldn't be worn around any live wires or electrical conductors.
Black rectangle with white Metatarsal protection and protective toe capWorking in industrial environments that contain heavy materials and equipment that could crush the foot
White rectangle or square with green fir tree symbolProvides protection against spinning blades and chainsawsWorking with chainsaws and other sharp cutting tools
Black boot with white hammer and “MT” symbolMetal or steel toe cap for impact and compression protectionIndustrial work with no electrical hazards
Black boot with white hammer and Composite toe cap for impact and compression protectionElectrical work or industrial work around live wires and conductors
Black boot with Steel plate for puncture protectionIndustrial work in an environment with sharp debris and no electrical hazards
Black boot with "CP" symbolComposite plate for puncture protectionElectrical work in an environment with sharp debris

 

Designs and Used Materials / Types of Work Boots

 

work boot parts materialsWhile some of these design choices are a matter of preference, they can also affect the boot’s ability to keep you comfortable and protected.

Closure Design

The way boots are put on and secured can affect its comfort and fit. Manufacturers can utilize a few different closure designs to make boots more convenient. Some even combine these designs to provide you with versatility.

Pull-On Boots

Also referred to as slip-on boots, these options are known for their convenience. They’re quick to pull on and take off. There’s no fiddling with laces or other closure systems. However, their downside is that many slip-on boots remain loose. They have to have a bit of extra room around the ankle to accommodate your foot slipping in.

Lace-Up Boots

Most boots contain laces. The laces allow you to get a snug fit each time you put the boots on. Some models have a lacing system that extends quite far up the boot. Depending on how long the laces are, these boots can require a bit of time to put on. However, their added security is well worth it.

Zip-Up Boots

Zippers can be used to provide you with flexibility. They’re often included as a secondary option alongside laces. Straps may also be placed along the collar of the boots to secure the top. Zippers are usually located on the side of the boot and run up your ankle. They can make putting on the boots easy without sacrificing the fit you get from the laces.

 

Upper Material

The upper material refers to the exterior of the boot. It’s the part that’s exposed to workplace hazards and play a big role in the safety of the boots. They’re the first line of defense from accidents.

Leather Boots

Some of the most popular boots on the market are made from leather because of its durability. High-quality leather is naturally waterproof and thick enough to withstand some wear and tear. While the material may seem uncomfortable at first, it becomes more pliable after it’s broken in. Once that break-in process is over, you can expect a custom fit that works around the unique contours of your foot.

Rubber Boots

Also referred to as wellingtons, rubber boots are great when you’re working in wet environments. They’re completely sealed and virtually impenetrable by water if they’re in good condition. Thick rubber is also pretty resistant to abrasive damage. Furthermore, the material is easy to clean with a simple rinse. The only downside is that they don’t conform well to the shape of your foot and can be rather loose around the ankle area.

Synthetic Boots

Synthetic materials offer great durability at a fraction of the cost as leather. Synthetic leather, while not as waterproof, can stand up well to the rigors of daily work. Nylon is another great option that’s typically more comfortable to wear. Nylon boots are lighter and often made with mesh panels for breathability.

 

Soles

types of work boot solesThe soles of your boots keep the bottom of your feet protected. They work with the uppers to protect you from all angles. Soles can also affect how your feet are supported.

Rubber Soles

Rubber is a great material for soles. It provides traction on a number of different slick surfaces, making it naturally slip-resistant. Furthermore, rubber is resistant to abrasive damage and oil for durability. Many manufacturers include other materials into the rubber for additional benefits and better durability.

EVA Soles

Ethylene vinyl acetate is often used on boots that are designed to tackle pain and stability issues. It can be used to construct soles that have different levels of softness throughout. Doing so manipulates the way weight and pressure are spread throughout the sole as you walk. It’s often used for boots that need to be light and flexible.

TPU Soles

Thermo-polyurethane is very strong, but also lightweight. It’s a hardy material that can withstand abrasive damage, splitting, light punctures, and chemical damage. These soles are easy to spot due to their distinct stripped look. This is a result of the manufacturing process, which involves stacking layers of hard and soft material.

 

Heights

boots height

The vertical portion of your boots is also referred to as the shaft. Heights are generally separated into three categories, though manufacturers create boots with a range of specific measurements.

Ankle-Height Work Boots

These boots closely resemble a traditional shoe. Some manufacturers choose to place the collar just under the ankle while others cover it slightly. The benefit of ankle boots is their flexibility. Your ankles aren’t limited, so you have complete mobility. They’re great for workers that need to make agile movements on the job.

Mid-Calf Work Boots

Mid-calf boots are fairly common. As the name implies, they extend beyond the ankle and end on the calf. The main benefit of a longer shaft is increased protection and stability. Mid-calf boots can keep part of your leg safe from debris, molten metal, and much more. If your work pants are tucked into the boot, you’re essentially sealing your leg off from harm. Additionally, longer shafts keep your ankle stable. They can prevent your ankle from giving out as you move through the workplace, preventing sprain injuries.

Knee-High Work Boots

If you’re looking for the most protection possible, knee-high work boots are your best bet. They extend 12 inches or more above your ankle, often ending just below the knee. They protect most of your lower leg while also keeping your ankle stable to avoid injury.

 

Safety Toes and Guards

Toe protection, metatarsal guards, and sole plates all work to keep you safe from the many hazards you may face. Toe caps are fairly common, but additional protection is also available. These guards come in a number of different materials.

Steel

steel saftey toe capSteel toe caps and guards are very common because of their strength and durability. They can hold up well to minor accidents and help save your foot in larger ones. However, they should never be worn in areas exposed to electricity or extreme temperatures as its a conductive material. Steel is also quite heavy and cumbersome.

Composite

composite safety toe capComposite protection components are a lighter alternative to steel. Because they’re not made from metal, they can be used in virtually any workplace environment without worry.

They’re made from a variety of different materials like kevlar, carbon fiber, and more. Some manufacturers even combine the materials to take advantage of different properties.

 

Foot Problems Caused By Work Boots

Work boots are meant to protect you from whatever your job may throw at you but they can only do that if they fit your needs. It’s still important to take every precaution to ensure that boots fit correctly and have the features that you need to stay comfortable and safe. Beyond the obvious work hazards, there are a number of common foot problems that workers face. Most of the time, these problems are easily avoided. All it takes is a bit of knowledge and extra consideration while choosing the right work boots. While minor, these issues can affect your overall health, comfort, performance, and safety.

Common Issues and Their Causes

  • Sweaty feet – A lack of air circulation
  • Athlete’s foot – Bacteria growth from poor ventilation and excessive heat
  • Blisters – Ill-fitting boots will little or too much room inside
  • Corns and calluses – Not enough room in the toe box and repeated pressure on the same spot
  • Ingrown toenails – Narrow boots that cause toes to press against one another
  • Swelling – Tight boots and a lack of mobility
  • Sprains – Not enough ankle support and poor traction on the soles
  • Fallen arches – A lack of arch support and padding
  • Toe pain – Tight toe caps or narrow boots
  • Aching feet – Not enough shock absorption and support for walking on hard surfaces
  • Bunions – Tight boots that squeeze the toes together

All of these issues can be avoided by choosing shoes that address your specific fit, environmental needs, medical conditions, and work environment. There are also a number of precautions you can take while you’re at work to avoid problems. While these issues aren’t immediately dangerous, they can be pretty painful and lead to a host of significant problems if they’re not dealt with.

 

Lifespan & Maintenance

High-quality work boots are a big investment that you should protect. With proper care, boots can last for many years. All it takes is a few minutes to keep them in good condition and avoid having to purchase a new pair every few months. Furthermore, good maintenance will help to retain the protective qualities of the boots. Regardless of what type of shoe you have, you need to provide short daily maintenance and an occasional deep clean

Regular Maintenance

Get Rid of Dirt

When you get home from work, hold off on relaxing for a moment and give your boots a quick cleaning. If your boots have accumulated dirt or grime throughout the work day, you need to get rid of it. Leaving it on will only cause the materials of the boot to deteriorate faster. Use a damp cloth with some water to wipe your boots clean. Alternatively, you can rinse heavier messes off with the hose.

Clean Off Salt

This only applies if you’ve walked through snow and salt. Salt is often used to improve traction on icy surfaces like sidewalks and roads. Unfortunately, salt can quickly deteriorate materials like leather. To get rid of it, mix two parts of water with one part of vinegar. Then, dampen a towel and dissolve leftover salt you can’t see. After that’s done, use a cloth to wipe away excess solution and leave your boots to dry.

Dry Storage

You should never leave your boots out in the elements. Instead, keep them in a dry and well-ventilated area. This will help speed up the drying process after you cleaned them off. Not only that, but dry storage can help to evaporate sweat in the liner and prevent bacterial growth.

If you want to go the extra mile, invest in some cedar shoe trees. The cedar wicks away moisture while giving the boots a nice scent. They’ll also help to retain the shape of boots.

 

How to Clean Work Boots

Boots should be cleaned thoroughly at least once a month to preserve the quality of the material. This is especially important if your boots are made from leather. Before you start cleaning, remove the laces and liner. Then, use a stiff brush to get rid of dried dirt and grime. Make sure to clean both the uppers and the sole.

The way you continue cleaning will depend on the material of your boots. If you have a non-leather boot, you can use a water-based cleaner. Mix your cleaner with some more water and use a damp cloth to apply it to your boots. If you’re dealing with stubborn stains, you can also use the brush in circular motions. Once it’s fully covered, rinse the boots off and let them dry.

With leather, it’s important to get a moisturizing cleaner. Standard cleaners can dry out the leather and cause it to crack. Simply dampen a towel with the solution and gently rub the boots clean.

 

How to Care for Leather Boots

Leather boots require a bit more care than other materials. The natural material is very porous and prone to drying out. To make sure that the boots stay supple and safe, you need to condition them and apply a waterproofing product.

Conditioning

Leather is a lot like skin in the sense that it gets discolored, wrinkled, and dry as it ages. To prevent this, it needs regular moisturizing. The process is fairly easy and can help to make the material more flexible. There are a number of products you can use. Options like mink oil, saddle soap, and conditioning cream are fairly easy to find. You can use a cloth to apply the product to the boots thoroughly. Make sure to get into seams and any creases that may have formed. Rub the solution in so that the leather absorbs it fully. If any excess is left over, you can remove it with a dry rag.

Waterproofing

While manufacturers apply a waterproofing coating, it can fade over time. You need to apply a solution after cleaning. Wax, sprays, and creams can be used. Pay attention to the directions of the product. Some waxes require you to apply it to the boots when they’re wet while other need the boots to be dry. You can apply a few coats to get the desired level of water protection. If the product leaves a haze, simply use a stiff brush to rub it off once the product has dried.


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