High-quality work boots are one of the most important tools for any job. Like other tools, however, which boots you choose will depend on a variety of factors, from the hazards associated with your job to your personal comfort needs. With an overwhelming number of brands, sizes, styles, and features to choose from, one thing is for sure — before you go shopping, you need a game plan. Use the following criteria to help you narrow down your options and find the right boots for your job.
Start by talking to your manager and the HR department if your company has one. Your employer may require specific safety features to align with OSHA standards.
Safety toes are among the most common features in work boots. If your worksite includes metal detectors, choose boots with a composite toe. Composite toes are also better at insulating your feet from hot or cold temperatures. Aluminum toes are the most lightweight option, while steel toes are thinner but heavier. All three types will offer great protection from heavy objects.
Metatarsal guards provide another layer of protection not only from heavy objects but also from embers, making them essential for welders, construction workers, and firefighters. If you work near fire, look for boots and laces made from a fire-resistant material like Kevlar. Consider whether you need boots that are puncture-resistant or waterproof, and pay attention to the outsole material. Some boots offer electrical resistance, superior grip, oil resistance, or chemical resistance for added safety.
If your job requires work boots, you probably spend a lot of time on your feet, which means your boots need to be comfortable. Ask co-workers or others in your field about the most comfortable boots they have found. What works for them may not be the best option for you, but they can give you some idea of what to look for.
Available comfort features include insulation, padding, shock-absorbing midsoles, and anti-fatigue insoles. Orthotic boots and sole inserts are available, too, if you need them. In general, people with high arches will need boots with great arch support, while those with flat feet will need a deep heel cup for stability and weight distribution.
To ensure that you get the right size, shop for shoes in the early afternoon or evening when your feet are at their largest, and wear your usual work socks.
Finally, take some time to research the durability of different options. High-quality work boots boast better materials and construction. Boots with welt construction, as opposed to the cheaper cement construction, can be resoled instead of replaced. Pay attention to the materials used in the soles as well as the upper, and commit to taking care of your boots. You can take steps to help them wear better and last longer, such as cleaning and oiling them regularly.
No matter what your job requires, it’s important to find work boots that will keep your feet safe and comfortable during long days. Follow the tips above to make sure you find the right boots for your job.