Choosing the best work boots is one of the most important job related decisions a person can make. Choosing the right boots can mean the difference between comfort or pain. In many professions it could even mean the difference between safety and serious injury or even death. Figuring out which boot is best for you can be very difficult with all the options available. What attributes should you be looking for? What brands are best? These questions and more are the focus of this article. When your health is on the line, taking the time to invest in selecting the best pair is critical. And if an accident should happen, having the top boots for the job will be priceless.

Our Picks for the Top Work Boots

 
Picture
Name
Price
Rating
#1Timberland PRO Men's 26036 Direct Attach 6" Soft Toe BootTimberland PRO Men's 26036 Direct Attach 6" Soft Toe Boot $4.6 out of 5 stars
#2Thorogood Men's American Heritage 8" Plain Toe BootThorogood Men's American Heritage 8" Plain Toe Boot$$$4.9 out of 5 stars
#3Keen Utility Men's Atlanta Cool Steel Toe Work ShoeKeen Utility Men's Atlanta Cool Steel Toe Work Shoe$$4.7 out of 5 stars

Safety First for Work Boots

In April 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released an update to the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System (OIICS) which is used in the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) and the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII). Among their findings in each census were a staggering 2,986,500 non-fatal injuries and illnesses in the private industry with nearly a million of those resulting in days away from work. As reported by United States Department of Labor, 666 out of 4,600 fatal injuries on the job were at least partially caused by falls, slips, and trips.

Safe work boots is essential to protecting the feet and toes, and improving traction and stability in a variety of conditions and situations. Foot and leg related injuries are among the leading causes of days away from work. Preventing these types of injuries is essential to productivity and profit.

Work Boot Construction

How a work boot is constructed one of the most important factors when picking the right footwear for your needs. It will have an influence beyond initial cost and will extend to its performance, comfort and longevity. One of the most durable techniques is the Welt construction. In this construction a welt (strip of leather or synthetic material) is stitched to the upper and insole of a shoe, as an attach-point for the sole. The space enclosed by the welt is then filled with cork or some other filler material (usually either porous or perforated for breathability), and the outsole is both cemented and stitched to the welt. Some welt-construction processes use double stitching for maximum durability and stitch the upper, outsole and innersole securely together through a leather welt. Boots made this way are among the most rugged you can buy, making them a good choice for heavy-duty jobs that may involve extreme conditions and work environments.

The direct-attach method is another common technique. This is a method of construction that molds the outsole directly to the leather or fabric of the boot. This bond created is very strong and typically lasts longer than cement construction. It uses a mold attached to the upper part of the boot that’s injected with molten rubber to form the sole. Direct-attach boots are comfortable, lightweight, durable and shock absorbing. For jobs that require fast movement and traction are needed, these types of boots offer excellent stability.

Cement construction is the third most used construction process. It uses a durable and flexible high-strength adhesive to bond the out-sole to the rest of the boot. Boots constructed using the cementing method are often less expensive and can offer lightweight comfort features that make them a good choice for light-duty jobs involving extended time on your feet.

Furthermore, if you work indoors or in warm weather most of the time, you might prefer boots made from a combination of leather and nylon-mesh because these boots tend to be less water-resistant and ideal attributes for hot and dry environments. They are also lightweight and flexible. Leather boots take longer to break in and are less breathable than boots made of a combination of materials, but they are highly water-resistant and supportive. However, one positive is that they generally last longer. Other options for your boots include waterproof liners and padded insoles. When choosing the right boot for the job, remember to keep in mind your needs and the option available.

Safety Features of Popular Work Boots

There are several features of safe footwear that may be very important depending on the situation.

  • Caterpillar Men's Diagnostic Steel-Toe Waterproof BootSteel-toe boots offer reinforced tips for jobs that require you to work with heavy objects. However, there are other materials that work just as well, if not better, when weight and comfort are also important considerations.
  • Waterproof and protection from caustic chemicals are also common safety features of work boots. In addition, acid-resistant soles are available if required.
  • Electrical hazard boots are insulated, offering protection from electrical charges up to 600 volts in some cases. Boots that protect from shock are the most commonly required; however, with the computer industry and others that involve sensitive technology, preventing static discharges can be just as important. The ultimate in protection from electrical shock is achieved when all components are nonconductive. ASTM tests boots for resistance to electrical conductivity, resistance to electric shock and static dissipative performance. A boot can be rated for electrical-hazard use, or for its static dissipating abilities, but not all boots have both. Make sure you select the boot that meets your job requirements as directed by OSHA.
  • Slip-resistant boots have special soles that provide traction on wet or oily floors.
  • Insulated boots can keep your feet warm if your work requires you to spend time in cold weather.
  • Additional options may include all-terrain, medical and soft-toes work boots.

Our Picks for the Top Steel Toe Work Boots

 
Picture
Name
Price
Rating
#1Chippewa Men's 9" Waterproof Steel-Toe Super Logger BootChippewa Men's 9" Waterproof Steel-Toe Super Logger Boot $$$$4.6 out of 5 stars
#2Caterpillar Men's Second Shift Work BootCaterpillar Men's Second Shift Work Boot $4.6 out of 5 stars
#3Timberland PRO Men's Pitboss 6" Steel-Toe BootTimberland PRO Men's Pitboss 6" Steel-Toe Boot $$4.4 out of 5 stars

Popular Brands and Prices

Choosing the right brand for the right price can be a difficult decision. Some work boot brands offer boots specifically designed for loggers, rangers, farmers, mechanics or even miners. Popular brands include Ariat, Michelin, Wellington, Timberland, Red Wing, Caterpillar, Dexter Fargo, Rocky and Doc Martens.

Price will vary depending on category of shoe, the brand and where you buy them, but generally, you should expect to spend at least $90 for a good rugged pair of work boots, or even as much as $200. As with many thing, you get what you pay for.

Specific boots required for some jobs.

Maelstrom LANDSHIP 8'' Military Tactical Boots with ZipperSome jobs have specific requirements for the footwear of their employee or worker. Railroad, logging and ranch work are jobs that may require ankle support. For example some of these jobs will require at least a 9″ boot with a snug fit to support the ankle and lower calf. Workers who climb ladders or towers may be required to pick a boot with a minimum heel height of 3/4″ and a 45-degree bevel for sure footing on every climb. This is because heels that are beveled too much can cause a boot to slip off a rung.

Finally, law enforcement, military or security jobs may demand boots that blend comfort, performance and safety features. These types of work boots are called duty boots. As with most boots, they are available in a variety of configurations to fit specific requirements and applications. If you are a member of one of these groups, finding the top footwear may be life or death.

Final Thoughts

For many blue-collar workers, a good pair of work boots is as essential as the tools they use on the job. Selecting the right boot for the job is vital for efficiency, success, and profitability. Ultimately, it will depend on your needs and which boots you are most comfortable with.