5 Features to Look For in High Quality Work Boots

Work boots are so important on a job site that showing up without them means you’ll be sent home, losing a day of work if not completely losing your job. But with the wide range of styles and prices of work boots out there, how do you know you’re getting the right boots for the job? Here are a few things to look for in high quality work boots to ensure you’re getting all the protection you need.

The Top Features To Look For

What’s the toe made of?

To protect your feet from being injured by falling objects or impacts, protective toe caps are a must. There are two main types of toe protection out there: steel and composite.

Steel is the gold standard for toe protection as it is tough and can take multiple impacts while still retaining strength. Composite-toe boots -- which provide protection using a combination of materials such as carbon fibre, plastics, Kevlar or fibreglass -- offer a lighter alternative to steel toes. Keep in mind that they are more expensive and, while they protect as well as steel from a first impact, composite material can be critically weakened after that impact and will need to be replaced.

Puncture protection

Worker about to step on a sharp nail wearing work boots

On work sites where nails or other sharp objects are hazards, puncture protection is also important. As with toe caps, you can find soles that are protected from punctures using steel, or using newer materials such as Kevlar, fiberglass or graphene. The newer materials are lighter and less heat-conductive than steel, but come at a higher cost.

Do they slip or grip?

The variety of non-slip soles you can find on work boots is mind-boggling. One rule of thumb is, if you’re going to be working outdoors or in environments with a lot of debris on the floor, a deep, wide tread is best. Such treads, however, tend to wear out more quickly on flat, dry surfaces such as the concrete floor of a warehouse. For these environments, a flatter, narrower tread will likely last longer. Whatever tread you choose, make sure you get a sole that’s also oil and chemical resistant to resist degradation by these substances.

Features to keep the temperature controlled

Whether you’re working outdoors in the cold or pouring molten steel, you’ll need the right boots to protect you from extreme temperatures. A good heat-resistant boot will offer protection up to 300 degrees, while extreme-cold work boots can be rated for -148 degrees. This kind of insulation can add as much as $100 to the price of work boots, but it is very important. If you work somewhere where you may encounter extreme temperatures, you’ll need more than an extra pair of socks.

Two thermometers, one showing hot the other cold

How they feel on your feet

Be they steel toe or composite, insulated for heat or cold, it’s vital to remember that these boots are going to be on your feet for eight, 12, maybe 24 hours at a time. Comfort is key. The most expensive boots aren’t always the most comfortable, so once you’ve figured out what other safety features you need, take the time to find boots that fit properly. If they feel like they may need some breaking in, do that before taking the boots to the job site. And if you’ve tried breaking them in and they’re still uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to return them. Work boots are made to prevent injuries, not cause them.

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