There is NOT a single all-terrain, all-weather, cheap but long lasting work boot. When it comes to choosing the top work boots consider durability, price and style and pick two of those. You can’t have them all.
There are a number of factors you need to consider before you purchase the most suitable work boot for standing or walking all day according to your specific needs. These include estimating your budget, what you will use them for, what extra features you definitely need, what material, construction method and type is suitable for you and is appropriate for your job.
We’ve compiled a detailed guide below walking you through each of these, giving you as much information as possible. We’ve also featured the top brands in the industry there. For a quick judgment, here is a quick roundup of the most popular and bestselling safety boots currently in US, they will help you choose quickly. For those of you who want to know more, there is a link to a comprehensive review of the model underneath each image:
Work Boots Buying Guide – How To Pick The Best?
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”, or in other words you need to decide what you want. There are six main factors to consider before you start your journey to picking the right work boot no matter whether you are a hardworking man or woman. Let’s break them down in this list:
According to toe protection:
Those are essential for keeping your toes safe from injuries and are often a requirement for many jobs. They will ensure that your feet are protected from impact and crushing when working with heavy machinery at a construction site. Because of the extra reinforcement, those dependable work boots won’t adapt with time – you should pick a pair that fits your feet well from the start. There are three types of materials that protect the toes: steel, aluminum and composite:
– steel toe boots – Steel is the standard material which is used for safety toes. However, it is also the heaviest one. Steel conduct temperatures, and are usually avoided is the work is to be done in cold weather conditions.
– Aluminum is not as popular as steel. It is lighter, but bulkier. Offers the same protection and is not suitable for cold environment.
– Composites vary, but the most popular are plastic, Kevlar and carbon fiber. They are lighter than steel and more importantly, can be used in all weather conditions because they don’t conduct temperatures.
• Metatarsal guards are commonly associated with the safety toes as well. It is an additional plate on top of the metatarsal bone of your foot, and protects much larger area – not only your toes. Usually found in the most dangerous professions, where additional protection is required – workers like welders, loggers, or heavy construction workers. The downside here is that it adds to the weight of the work boot, and makes it heavier.
• Plain-toe working boot
Those are regular ones without additional protection of the toes. They are best used in safer environments that do not require lifting heavy objects and therefore have low risk of injury. This boot fits in the middle of the safety spectrum as they provide additional protection to the feet compared to traditional shoes. Often times they have other features such as slip-resistant soles or good insulation on the inside.
According to features:
• Waterproof boots
If your job requires working in wet conditions, or you live is a state with particularly rainy or snowy weather. They come in variety of materials: typically leather or nylon mesh. The leather waterproof shoes are bulkier and heavier than regular ones. When the material is nylon mesh, the boots are significantly lighter and there is additional waterproofing layer. By making this layer via spraying the work boot with waterproofing agents, the manufacturers reduce the total weight and produce lightweight boots.
• Insulated boots
The extra insulation inside keep the feet warm in colder weather. Some of them can be worn in really low temperatures, as low as -30 degrees! Much like the previous point, one should invest in insulated pair ONLY if he actually needs them. The insulation ranges wildly – from 200G (the lowest) to 2000G (the highest) to match the winter conditions. The more insulation there is – the heavier, bulkier and less flexible the work boot is. Match the insulation to your usual working conditions. They cannot be worn in the hot summer months, which require uninsulated or even breathable boots.
• Puncture resistant – a special outsole is used here, that prevents sharp objects like nails penetrating the footwear and causing serious injury to the worker. Again, this is an excellent feature if you are working in the construction industry where the danger of stepping on a nail is almost unavoidable.
• Slip resistant boot
Those are a special type and are usually used by people working in food industries, factories or on ships. Slip resistant soles are made of special rubber that prevents slipping on wet floors.
• Oil resistant – although they often get confused or interchanged, this is entirely different from the previous type. Oil resistant means that the boot, its outsole and upper part are designed to resist to oils. However, you cannot walk on oil splits without falling unless specifically indicated. It simply means that the material won’t deteriorate quickly when covered with oils.
Additional support – some jobs require more support for calves and ankles, and so look for 6+ inches high boot
Heat resistant – These boot models offer additional protection in high temperature working conditions such as firefighting and welding. Their soles incorporate special high-temperature resistant materials which absorb the heat without allowing it to reach your feet and cause bad burns. These must comply with the special standards for their respective industry-so make sure to check whether or not it complies with the requirements of your job.
Electrical protection – reliable electrical hazard protection is crucial for electricians. Depending on the specific working conditions, electricians can choose between different types of EH rated boots. These are three main types of Electric hazard rated boots – non-conductive, antistatic and conductive. The first protect the worker from possible electric shock from running into live electric currents. The second one is used in environments where there is risk of static electricity buildup and are usually combined with special Electric Static dissipating flooring to further reduce the risk of static energy accumulation. The third one is static dissipating and not electrical resistant, which makes them suitable for people handling explosive or volatile materials.
• Logger boots
Specifically made for the people in US working in one of the most dangerous industries. This special line of booties reflects the high requirements of its users. Not only this they protect the feet from fallen objects, but they have also anti-slipping and anti-twisting properties, have higher heel, thicker soles and ensure better traction on rough terrains, and make the working conditions much more bearable and favorable to the worker. Lineman and wildland firefighters use variations of this type of boots.
The work boot should match the work requirements, otherwise you will be either spending a premium for features that you never use or you will limit your budget and compromise on features you actually need just to save (in most cases) few bucks. Well informed buyers consider exactly which boot features they need, which are in the ‘desired’ category, which are ‘must-have’ and they know their budget. It is the only way to make sure you get the most value for your hard-earned money.
Both men’s and women’s work boots are typically made of one of those three materials: waterproof leather, full-grain leather or nylon mesh. Each of the materials have its pros and cons, and is suitable for different job.
- The waterproof leather is a good choice as it is not only waterproof, but also very durable. The only downside is that is it quite expensive.
- Full-grain leather is extremely durable and is water-resistant, but is heavier and bulkier and does not have good breathability. The good side is that buying a pair of these won’t break the bank.
- Nylon mesh is very light and breathable, and is also very flexible and comfortable. The disadvantage here is its lack of waterproofness.
Although many don’t mind what is the color or origin their footwear have as long as they fit their purpose, there are others that are looking specifically for black work boots or even for work boots made in USA by Americans. According to us, this is a personal choice and is definitely not in the must-haves category.
The material is only one side of the equation, the other one is the boot construction method which is used to make them. It is a long topic and is discussed in separate point below.
Finally, don’t forget the eyelets. If those are too sharp, they will rub against the laces and tear them easily.
Decide on your budget, and put a rough limit to the maximum budget you are inclined to spend on this purchase. Do you need just the basic essentials of a work boot, or you actually require something more?
For us, budget work boots translates into affordable but dependable pair covering just the basics. The price is somewhere around the $100 range. If you need something more expect to pay about 150-200$ for your new work boot.
Have you ever wondered what the difference between a pair which costs $50 and one which is $500? Apart from quality of leather, popularity of brand and county of origin, the biggest factor is the construction method use in the making. This is the way in which the upper part is attached to the sole. There are three common construction techniques, which are used when making work boots (in order of strength):
- Stitch down construction (Goodyear Welt)
Stitchdown is the traditional shoemaking method. With this method the outsole is stitched to the upper of the boot. There are some variations of this method. The most popular variation is Goodyear Welt, which is named after its inventor Charles Goodyear, Jr. This method uses a leather or synthetic welt, which is a strip of material which is attached both to the upper of the boot and to the sole. All footwear which is produced that way is very durable.
This method is the only one of those mentioned here, that allows replacement of the sole and adds years of life to the boots.
- Cement method
This the most popular, cheapest and quickest boot construction method of all three. This method uses adhesive to glue or cement the upper and the sole of the boot. This is the quickies method of all three and therefore with the lowest price tag. However, boots constructed that way are less durable than those constructed using the other two methods. Sole cannot be repaired or replaced. Once the sole starts to separate from the upper, you have to buy a new pair.
- Direct attach method or Molded construction
The outsole of the boot is molded directly to the upper part. Basically, a mold is attached to the upper and then the molted rubber is poured over to form the sole. This method creates very durable work boot and is only inferior to the stitch down method.
Finding tough and rugged, preferably most durable work boots is the ultimate goal for those seeking quality. Often times, brand does not matter here. Factors that contribute to durability are the quality of the boots’ materials, construction method used for the sole, stitching quality. The higher the quality, the longer they will serve, so consider spending more if you want to use a pair longer time. Boots that are made using the tried and tested Goodyear welt or another strong welt construction will be able to endure much longer than those made using the direct attach method. They will withstand years of working in severe conditions. However, you will also have to take a good and regular care of them. Maintenance is crucial here if you want to prolong their life. If you have two pairs and rotate them, you will substantially prolong the life of both, because you will give them time to dry out completely before the next use.
The slogan “boot brand simply does not matter’ is not applicable here. It really DOES matter in this case. The longest lasting work boots are usually product of the most trusted brands such as Timberland, Red Wings, Wolverine, Keen, Justin, Carolina, and Caterpillar.
Be particularly wary about counterfeit products. Cheap imitations are exactly what the name suggests cheap and therefore cannot match the original. The most popular boot models of the manufacturers typically have fake imitations so buy only from authorized retailers or from reputable online stores.
Quite underestimated feature, but quite important. Dragging your feet in too heavy boots all day inevitably leads to sore feet in the evening. Our recommendation is to avoid additional features you don’t really need.
Break in period
If you want to start using them at work immediately after you receive the box, pay attention to this factor. Some boots need time to adapt and you won’t feel comfortable in them for two to four weeks. After that time, they will feel like second skin. For those of you who can’t or don’t want to wait, we’ve compiled a list of the most comfortable work boots right here. However being comfortable right out of the box comes at the price of less durability. One rugged work boot is made of tough, high quality materials that need up to a month to be broken up well and conform to your feet. We have a full article on how to break the work boots quicker and easier with actionable, step–by–step guidelines.
Most Trusted: Top Brands in the Work Boot Industry
Although there are plenty of different manufacturers on the market today, we’ve limited our choice down to the top 5 brands in US. Read through the list to get to know the best and most trusted work boot brands.
What to Do When Feet Hurt? Tips for Improving Foot Comfort and Safety at Work
If you have ever made the mistake of wearing working boots which do not fit you well or have not been properly broken in to work – you are well aware of the misery of having to spend long and painful hours before going home to kick them off and treat your sore and blistered feet.
There are ways to help avoid such unfortunate situations, and to make certain that your feet feel both better and provide the proper protection while you are doing your job, so that you can be fatigue and sore-free at the end of the long day at your workplace.
Take care of any underlying conditions
First of all, it is vital to know that if you have underlying medical conditions such as Arthritis, Diabetes, flat feet or plantar fasciitis, your feet may be prone to problems regardless of all other factors, so medical attention needs to be undertaken in a timely manner.
If you do not have any such painful medical problems, then there are two other main factors which can cause foot pain at work, namely: the hard surfaces you walk and stand on for hours as well as wearing the inappropriate type of boots at work.
The harm of spending hours on hard surfaces
Standing on hard surfaces such as concrete floors can cause foot fatigue and pain and can also lead to bothersome leg or back pain too. Walking on the hard concrete floors can also cause quite a bit of shock and pain to your feet, legs and back as well.
The truth is that once your feet start feeling sore and painful – your whole body seems to start aching and feeling uncomfortable as well. This can cause you to lose your ability to properly do your job and can lead to more serious health issues for your feet and body too.
Wearing the right work boots is vital
The key to ensuring comfort for your feet and yourself at work is getting the most suitable work boot for standing or walking on concrete all day.
A good quality boot should provide sufficient support to your foot at all times. This means that you should look for the most suitable support for your feet depending on your arch and gait type.
Also, they should have outsoles which provide comfortable cushioning and shock absorption in order to reduce the stress on your feet from standing and walking on hard surfaces all day long.
Get proper fitting boots
One of the most crucial steps you need to take to ensure that your work boots do not cause you pain and misery is to get ones which fit you properly. Never ever be tempted to wear a boot which is too small, too large, too tight or too wide just because you like how it looks or how it matches your clothes. You are not at a fashion show. Also, narrow boots or models that crush your toes together can also cause you a lot of pain and discomfort as well as increase the risk of suffering from an injury on the job too.
Getting boots which fit your foot size and form is the first priority to keep in mind when shopping for high quality work boots for every day use. Always try them on in the evening when the feet are at their largest size and use the same type of socks you will be using at work. Trying on only one boot in not enough, as human feet are not exactly the same – always choose in accordance with the larger foot. However be wary of choosing too big of boots. They should feet snug, but neither too loose not too tight.
In some cases, adding custom-made orthotics or additional insoles which provide more cushioning or arch support could do wonders for your overall comfort at work as well.
Keep safety in mind
Apart from being comfortable, good work shoes should help protect your feet and you from possible injuries, such as: punctures, fractures, sprains or lacerations, as well as form tripping, slipping or falling over. Depending on the line of work you are in, you should look for work boots that provide tested and rated protection from the possible work hazards such as: falling or rolling heavy objects, slipping on slippery conditions, electrical hazard protection, metatarsal protection, proper insulation, breathability, ankle and foot support and others.
Choose specialized work boots over the standard ones
Luckily, there is a wide range of specialized, high quality work boots which provide a wide variety of reliable protection from one or more of these or other hazards. It is crucial that your employer performs a risk and hazard assessment for your job and workplace so that you know exactly what kind of protective boots you may need for your job. Also, employers are in charge of managing these risks and limiting the hazards, as well as creating proper work design as well as sufficient rest periods ensuring that you do not remain standing in one fixed position for hours.
It is also imperative to note that wearing cushioned, protective and supportive work boots can help you prevent the risk of developing painful inflammations and other health problems in your feet and legs, which in the long run can lead to more serious chronic conditions such as arthritis or rheumatism.
Other tips to help resolve foot pain and problems
Boots which have moisture wicking and breathable features as well as anti-microbial treatment can help keep you away from having sweaty feet, developing fungus, foul odor and other problems too.
In order to ensure that your feet remain healthy and pain free you should also make sure that you wash them properly and regularly, wear clean socks and choose a work boot model made of natural rather than synthetic materials.A bit about us:
Hello and welcome to My Bootprint – the one stop information source for best work boots for men and women! Our focus is on providing quality and in-depth information for various kinds of the top working boots to help you choosing. We’ve been there and know that finding the most suitable work boot is not easy. Quite the contrary, it is really difficult to find the best balance between your particular needs, your budget, durability and comfort of the shoes. There is no one-fits -all pair. Please read through the boot guides and summaries of features here, check the comparison tables and make your choice.
We are well aware how important it is for every hard-working man and woman to have good, reliable boots and to feel comfortable during the long hours at work. Choosing a good pair should not and could not be underestimated. Poorly fitted footwear can turn a hard day at work in a real nightmare! On the other hand, carefully selected shoes can protect your feet from a wide variety of hazards and problems: from exposed nails and electrical hazards to slippery surfaces, hard rain and low temperatures.