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Choosing the Right Work Boots for Your Job

Tue August 07, 2018 - National Edition
Vincent West

Although there are many parts that go into making the perfect work boot for each profession that requires one, ultimately choosing what fits your needs best is not complicated at all.
Although there are many parts that go into making the perfect work boot for each profession that requires one, ultimately choosing what fits your needs best is not complicated at all.

Choosing the right boot for your job can be tricky, especially with so many makes and models out there. However, having the right footwear so that you feel comfortable and protected while at work can certainly make your workday easier.

Although there are many parts that go into making the perfect work boot for each profession that requires one, ultimately choosing what fits your needs best is not complicated at all. This short guide will teach you how to do just that.

Toe Protection

Construction sites are wrought with hazards, which is why wearing protective gear is highly important. Work boots fitted with the appropriate toe protection material are important. The toe protection fittings should be ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials)-rated. There are three types of protective toe caps:

1. Steel Toes

These are heavy, compact and make the most traditional form of protective toe caps. Steel material conducts temperature, so your feet will likely get cold during winter. Additionally, if you work on a construction site that has metal detectors or magnets, steel caps may not be an ideal choice.

Over time, footwear manufacturers have improved steel toe caps and are now producing asymmetrical safety toes. This kind is contoured to the shape of your feet and toes, thus reducing weight without compromising on protection.

2. Aluminum Toes

These are ideal for construction workers looking for a lightweight toe cap. Aluminum toe caps are thicker than those made of steel, but they don't conduct cold temperature.

3. Composite Toes

These are made of plastic, carbon fiber and Kevlar. Composite toe caps are light but thicker than steel. They don't absorb heat or cold and are excellent alternatives for employees working in areas that should stay metal-free.


Modern boots have soles designed for specific industries. Employees working in the construction industry, for example, should choose work boots fitted with ladder treads to provide added protection against slipping when climbing.

Loggers, on the other hand, should use work boots that have a deeper tread to provide additional stability on any terrain. For them, a pair of high heel logger boots with extra traction and support could be just what they need in order to protect their feet against harsh terrains and avoid injuries.

Here are different types of soles you are likely to find on the market:

1. Thermo Polyurethane Outsoles

These outsoles are abrasion- and chemical-resistant. TPU outsoles are designed for rough terrains and are lightweight than other outsoles.

2. Rubber Outsoles

Rubber is the most common outsole component for manufacturing and construction work boots. It is oil, abrasion, and slip-resistant, which are essential features for such work areas. Vibram makes a high-performance rubber as it provides adequate traction for dry and wet surfaces as well as rugged terrains.

Add a Metatarsal Guard

The metatarsal guard protects the upper part of your foot and toe from nails, welding embers, or other heavy objects. Also known as a met guard, this nifty little piece can make all the difference, no matter what your profession is. As an added tip, if you work around fire a lot, be sure to choose work boots fitted with Kevlar fibers as they are fire-resistant.

Choose Comfortable Insoles

Most boots come fitted with generic insoles that provide relief for a few days. These cushioned inserts lack structure, hence offer minimal support for your feet to make it through the day. Look for insoles that provide adequate arch support for your feet. However, manufacturers have caught on to this issue and have started improving on it. For example, Timberland now makes special Anti-Fatigue insoles that are a perfect solution for this problem.

If you have high arches, choose a boot that can offer quality arch support -- it'll help distribute your weight across your foot. Flat-footed people, on the other hand, should use footwear with a deep heel cup to stabilize the back of the foot while distributing weight across the base uniformly.

What is more, the right kind of socks will help increase the comfort of safety toe boots. Look for socks that are thicker in the heels and toes. Socks with ribbing along the instep are also great for a boost of comfort. Added thickness will help reduce toe holes from ripping into the socks, while also providing a cushion against the safety toe, while the ribbing under the instep will provide better support.

Boot Construction

Today's footwear brands feature improved construction designed to increase comfort and durability.

Here are the most common and important types of boot construction you need to know about:

  • Cement Construction. These kinds of boots have their soles cemented to the upper part of the boot. While the work boots are light, the soles are irreplaceable once they wear out. This part of the construction is used to create a more flexible fit. Thus, the shoe remains flexible in cold temperature, which reduces break-in time.
  • Welted and Stitch Down Construction. These work boots have the inner and upper sole stitched using a leather strip. This boot construction allows the boots to be repaired or re-sold, thus extending the life of footwear.
  • Height. While tall boots offer adequate protection, they are heavier and hinder flexibility. Short boots are light and ideal for all-around use. More height means more ankle support, but also less freedom to move. Depending on the work environment, each supervisor or company can set height requirements for work boots.
  • Water Resistance. Work boots fitted with treated leather are ideal if you are working in wet construction sites. Some boots feature breathable materials that let out moisture, though they feel hotter than regular fabric or leather boots. Depending on whether the boot has waterproof construction or is just lined with waterproof materials, it will be either breathable or it will retain more heat.
  • Insulation. No matter the make and model, work boots are generally insulated. In fact, insulation in work boots is a given because it adds an extra layer of protection and comfort.

Vincent West is a fresh Engineering Design graduate with a strong interest in all things DIY and construction gear, Vincent West is the mastermind behind He's now keen on spreading the word on what he has learned and continues to learn through research and practice.