If you’re required to wear protective footwear on the job, choosing the right pair can be overwhelming. Selecting the right shoes in general, and work boots in particular, is a more confusing process than many people imagine. But it doesn’t have to be. Take a look at the considerations below before you start your search.
Consider The Types of Work Boot Available
Your first decision will be identifying the type of work boot you need. They come in several varieties.
- Work boots
- Walking shoes
- Water-resistant or waterproof boots
- Steel-toe boots
- Insulated boots
Examine your job description and your work environment to determine which type fits your situation.
Work Boot Materials
Leather is by far the most popular work boot material because it’s breathable, absorbent, durable and practical. But depending on the situation, you may want to consider boots constructed with an artificial material like nylon, synthetic rubber, thermo-polyurethane, and ethylene-vinyl acetate.
Characteristics and Construction
If you work in cold, damp conditions, a high-top insulated boot will provide warmth while protecting against water. If, on the other hand, you work in warm conditions, you might want a lower cut, a non-insulated boot made of a breathable combination of nylon mesh and leather. Lastly, if you’re working with heavy equipment that you might drop, adding a steel toe will add another safety layer.
When it comes to work boot construction, most tradespeople prefer “stitch-down” construction for its durability and longevity. (Stitch-down boots are the only ones with the ability to be re-soled. Unfortunately, this construction is also the most expensive.
If you’re willing to sacrifice a little quality to fit your budget, you might want to pick up “cement construction” boots, which are glued, rather than stitched, together. This allows for a more affordable boot but one that is not as durable.
Finally, “direct attach” boots feature upper and outsoles that are molded together to form a unified front against the elements. They are waterproof and durable.
Work Boot Fit
Fit is crucial when it comes to selecting work boots. Ill-fitting boots can cause irritation or injury. When you try on your boots, make sure you’re wearing the socks you intend to wear with them. Boots worn with thick, thermal socks will wear differently than, say, gym socks.
Remember, when picking work boots, brand name and price aren’t nearly as important as comfort and the ability to do your job. At the same time, you should be prepared to pay $100 or more for a pair of long-lasting, first-class work boots.
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