Finding the right pair of boots is not easy. The last thing you want to do is waste hundreds of dollars on a pair that doesn’t look right, doesn’t serve the right purpose, or feels like a bear trap when you walk around in them all day. After buying 100s of pairs of boots for all occasions, we’ve created a checklist of the most important factors for buying the perfect pair of boots. Check all of these boxes and you’ll find the perfect pair every time. Guaranteed.
If you’re getting boots for work, steel or aluminum-toe boots are your best.
Steel-toe boots will protect your toes from being injured by falling objects. Keep in mind that steel and aluminum are conductors (you can see them at the symphony all the time!), so if you’re working outdoors or in extreme temperatures, the metal will heat up or cool down accordingly.
This could also be an issue if you work with electricity. Composite-toe boots are an equally durable kind of boot made with kevlar, plastic, or carbon fiber. If you find yourself outdoors a lot (you’re a logger, arborist, or you always lock yourself out of your house after work), then composite-toe boots might be the right fit for you.
Finding the Perfect Fit
This is where the majority of buyers make their mistake. There’s a secret to finding the perfect pair of boots that we finally discovered after working in dozens of different pairs: you should only try on boots when your feet are swollen (WHAT?!).
Seriously, throughout the day your feet will swell as you work. If you want to find the best fit for working, you need to get your foot all swollen up first. That way you can tell which pair will feel best when you are on the job.
The best way to get your foot swollen is to walk around for at least 30 minutes before trying on anything. You could always roll your ankle while playing basketball the night before you go shopping, but that’s a bit overboard if you ask us.
If you must go to the store early in the day, a large, warm, pair of socks will also help you accurately find the correct size. You want your boots to grip your feet in a way that’s both snug and flexible.
If your boots aren’t flexible, you might find yourself unable to perform certain tasks as efficiently as you’d like. Sometimes the tasks you need to accomplish at work won’t budge without some extra elbow grease, so you have to get your flexibility from somewhere, and it might as well be your boot.
You should not only test how easy it is to move your foot around with the boot on, you should also test how easy it is to perform routine tasks when trying on the boot. This might be difficult in store, but at least try jumping up and down, standing on a shelf, or lightly jogging. If it’s too difficult to do any of those things, then move on to the next pair.
A Thought on Traction
Slipping and falling is the cause of over a third of workplace related injuries. It’s ironic considering it’s also the easiest thing to prevent. Slips can be easily prevented with the correct sole.
High grade rubber soles will do the trick (they won’t pull a rabbit out of a hat, but they’ll keep your feet on the ground for sure!). If you’re working in construction, walking up and down ladders, or toiling away on uneven or slippery surfaces, then a rubber sole is all you need. If you work in an industry that involves oils or chemicals (or if you’re cutting some serious rug on the dance floor), then thermo polyurethane soles might be more up your alley. They can handle more wear and tear than your average rubber sole.
Waterproofing and Insulation
If you’re working in extreme (Mountain Dew required) temperatures, a well insulated boot is an absolute MUST. If you’ve ever encountered somebody who’s had wet socks for more than a couple of hours, you can see the pain and anguish in their eyes. Check the Thinsulate level of your boots before buying (Thinsulate is an insulation material that’s measured in grams per square meter. The higher the rating the warmer the boot).
Your goal here is comfort. Insulation will keep your feet warm and snug in cold weather (it’s like a blanket and cocoa for your feet). Waterproofing will keep you dry and comfortable as well (plus, if you’re looking for stealth in a snowball fight, you don’t want that *squish *squish* noise giving you away). The best way to get the right level of protection is to search online and do your research (read reviews!).
There are plenty of things to take into account when searching for the perfect work boot, but only a few of them actually matter. It all comes down to protection, fit, and comfort. Make sure to follow these criteria if you want to find the perfect boot for your work conditions, feet, and work responsibilities!
The right pair of work boots is not easy to find. Any time you are going to make a big investment that will determine the quality of your work, you have to put a lot of thought into finding the best fit. When shopping, make sure you consider:
- Toe protection: Steel or aluminum-toe are best but depending on conditions you may need a composite-toe boot.
- Swell up your feet to get the best fit: Your feet swell while you work, so make sure to walk around a lot before trying boots on.
- Recreate work tasks to determine flexibility: Jump up and down, jog lightly, or even climb a ladder if you can. That way you’ll simulate your work environment and make a better decision.
- INSULATION MATTERS: Forget about aesthetics. Tell me how warm the boot is. If you’re working outside, that’s all that matters.