Buying a pair of work boots? You’re about to invest A LOT of money into something you’ll be wearing for hours a day. The last thing you want is a pair of boots that ruin your feet and back. We’ve put together this guide to help you find the perfect blend of protection and comfort regardless of your budget.
- What to look for
- What to avoid
- How to find the PERFECT fit
- Secret factors to finding the perfect work boot that most people ignore
The only thing worse than spending Sunday shopping with your wife? Spending Sunday shopping for work boots and getting a pair that make your feet feel like 4th and long when you come home from work every night.
This guide help you avoid all of that.
How Will you Use the Boots?
All work boots are not created equal. A farmer is going to want very different work boots than an oil rig worker, or even an assembly line worker. If you’re not entirely sure how you will be using your work boots, now is the time to find out.
Contact your supervisor, foreman, or HR person and ask them about the work you’ll be doing. Get their recommendations about what features your work boot should have. You might even want to ask them if they can recommend a particular brand.
Starting to Shop
Now it’s time to hit the stores. Just keep a couple things in mind while browsing…..
First, don’t worry about the price, at least not before you’ve settled on the pair you want. These boots are going to make your feet comfortable and safe. Don’t sacrifice either of those to save a few dollars.
Second, try on every pair of work boots before you buy them. This is extremely important. If you don’t, you’re making a very expensive bet. If the work boots don’t fit, you’ll either have to grin and bear the discomfort for about ten years until the boots wear out and you need new ones, or spend another $300-$500 on a pair of work boots immediately.
Work Boot Features to Consider
Almost every work boot has three core components you’ll need to consider:
- Construction—Cement or welting construction?
- Toe—Steel toes or no?
- Sole–Rubber outsoles, Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) outsoles or ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) midsoles?
All work boots are not created equal. The way in which your boots were assembled will have a huge effect on your comfort and safety.
A boot made using cement construction means that the boot’s sole is cemented to its upper portion. This type of construction gives you the most lightweight work boot, not to mention the most affordable. If the sole is damaged or worn out, though, you won’t be able to replace it.
Welting construction, on the other hand, is a lot more durable and will give you a work boot that will outlast one made with cement construction. The two types of welting construction—Blake welting and Goodyear welting—involve the upper being stitched onto the sole. The Goodyear welting method actually involves double-stitching the sole to the upper. Work boots constructed by Goodyear welting are easily the most durable, but also the most costly.
Boots made with welting construction are good to have when you’re doing a lot of walking or climbing, and their durability means they can stand up to wet and cold climates. They can also be repaired when the sole starts wearing out.
Steel-toes or No?
Steel-toed boots do a marvelous job of protecting your feet from harm, but they’re also bulkier than other work boots. Steel-toed boots also conduct temperature, so they will feel colder in the winter and warmer in the summer.
If you’re interested in getting the benefits of a steel-toed boot without the drawbacks, you might want to try a composite toe made from plastic, carbon fiber or even Kevlar. This option is ideal for people who want the extra toe protection but don’t want their toes to freeze in the winter or roast in the summer.
Be a Sole Survivor
You’ll also want to consider what kind of sole you want on your work boots. Slip resistant soles are almost always an advantage, so stay away from any boots that don’t have them.
Work boots come with three different types of soles.
- Rubber outsoles make slip-resistant soles even more so, thanks in large part to the natural gripping property of rubber. They can be extremely useful to anyone working in a wet or damp environment.
- Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) outsoles are more elastic. They can resist splitting, abrasion, and damage from oil and chemicals better than other soles.
- Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) midsoles provide more cushioning than the other two soles, giving them more stability and making work boots with these soles an excellent choice if you suffer from back or knee pain.
Get a Good Fit
Why spend hundreds of dollars for work boots that hurt your feet? You’re going to want a pair of boots that are slightly snug, but not too tight.
In order to ensure that you’re getting a good fit, go shopping for boots in the afternoon or evening. Since your feet swell up throughout the day, you’ll be able to tell how the boots will fit when your feet are at their largest at the end of a long, hard work day. You’ll also want to bring along a pair of work socks to make sure you’re getting the most accurate fit.
Buying work boots can seem overwhelming with all the choices out there, but shopping for them is actually simple. You just have to know what you need the work boots to do, and then find a pair with the features you like and a fit that will keep your feet comfortable.