6 Best Roofing Boots and Shoes – Great Traction
Roofers don’t get enough credit for the hard, dangerous work they do on a regular basis. On top of being a career not meant for the faint of heart, you have to perform labor intensive work above the ground, exposed to the elements, and at awkward angles that test your balancing skills.
As such, finding the best boots for roofing is a top priority from a safety and comfort standpoint. Not only do you need to make sure you’re secure and confident in your footing (because it’s a long way down), but you also want to keep your feet comfortable during those long hours.
Your time-consuming search has come to an end. We’ve compiled all of the information you could possibly need to pick out your perfect footwear. Once we go over the important features that you should look for, we’re going to review the best boots for roofing.
Features to Look for Above All Else
Traction & Slip Resistance
This one is pretty much a no brainer. If you’re going to be facing dangerous climbs on the daily, you’re going to need shoes that can really grip, especially for traction on metal roofs. Between the different elements you’ll be exposed to and the hazards created during the job, slipping is a real concern for roofers.
High-quality traction is a must have. Without having to worry about slick surfaces and tumbling towards the edge, you can perform your work confidently. To take it a step further, oil resistance is always a plus that you can look out for as well.
But you need to consider more than just the tread. You must also make sure the traction is able to grip the variety of roofing surfaces you’ll encounter. Most roofing boots offer a wedge sole. Vibram soles, made from rubber, are often the best choice to look for. Not only are they known for their excellent traction, they are also extremely durable.
Why is Traction on Metal Roofs Important
Metal is one of the slipperiest materials you can work on and this especially applies when the metal roof is wet.
Why does metal become so slippery when you add water? For starters, metal roofs can have some sort of coating such as paint or some types of chemicals that helps water run off and stops water from gathering on the roof and freezing. This is one of the reasons why installing roofing is not just for anyone, and you should use a professional.
When you add water to these surfaces it makes them very slippery. If you are going to be working on them, make sure you get suitable boots for roofing that you know will give you the right grip or consider non-slip shoes, with a resistant rubber outsole, that are also suitable for metal roofing.
Support & Comfort
As a roofer, you’re going to constantly be challenged with awkward angles and less than ideal working conditions. Naturally, your feet are going to be taking the brunt of the discomfort and suffer from potential problems if your boots don’t offer enough support and comfort.
Arch support is another one of the top features that you should be looking for in your shoes. Constant climbs can really tire out the arches of your feet and cause fatigue to set in. Ample support will help to return energy and keep your feet going all shift long.
Comfort is something that everyone wants in their construction footwear, but it’s especially important for roofers. You’ll want to look out for comfort features that are designed to help keep the feet anatomically correct while you’re working. The last thing that you want to worry about when you’re installing a new roof under the sweltering sun is miserable feet.
Good Brands to Look Out For
Of course, what good is it going to do if you invest in a pair of boots for roofing that hit all of the above points but lack durability? Roofing is a rugged job that’s going to put some serious wear and tear on your footwear.
Starting with the bottom (the most important), you want thick, durable soles that can withstand constant ladder climbs, scuffs against rough shingles, and the intense heat during the summer months which can literally melt boots.
Even if the rest of the shoe lacks durability, the soles - whether a wedge sole, a rubber outsole or the specialised removable outsole of the Cougar Paw Performer boots - are going to make the biggest difference on the job.
Abrasion resistant boots are also a plus. Here, any pair built with rugged leather is ideal. The most durable leather is designed to handle brutal working conditions and offer your feet much needed support during steep climbs.
Depending on the amount of time you’ll actually be spending on roofs, nylon mesh is a great material for breathability, though it lacks the durability of leather. You could do far worse than a pair of leather boots.
Work Boot Ventilation and Moisture Control
Being up on a roof, directly under the sun with no protective shade, can get pretty toasty. Not only will you feel it beating down on your body, but the roof and materials you’re working with will also get scorching hot.
If you’re prone to getting sweaty feet, ventilation is going to be a top tier feature for you. Nothing can ruin your day faster than soggy socks and moist feet (especially if the shift just started). Finding boots with breathable mesh lining and built-in moisture control features can keep your feet dry and make a world of difference.
Even if your feet don’t easily sweat, the extreme heat from the tiles, metal, slate or shingle surfaces you’re working on can also transfer through the soles of your shoes. If the soles aren’t that thick, it’s easy for the high temperatures to feed into your footwear and start to cook your feet.
Reviews of the Best Roofing Boots
Timberland PRO Barstow Wedge Work Boot
For starters, these look like they’re built to be boots for roofing. Beautifully colored full grain leather and a robust Goodyear welt construction give this boot a striking appearance. The leather is also abrasion resistant, offering excellent durability. Your attention will be immediately drawn to the thick white soles (its offering of a wedge outsole should come as no surprise - it’s in the name) which provide slip, oil, abrasion, heat resistance, and electrical hazard protection, but don’t let that detract from the easily overlooked EVA midsole which cushions each step you make.
The exterior is completed with triple stitching along the seams that experience the most wear and tear and the long lasting Goodyear welt construction, making these boots extremely durable. They also come with anti-fatigue technology, and along the inside their mesh lining will keep your feet comfortable and dry.
Its sole offers great shock absorbing qualities, allowing you to focus on the work at hand without fatigued feet. For the price and number of features they come packed with, they’re easily one of the best work boots for roofing.
- Little to no break in period
- Great support for those with plantar fasciitis
- Excellent moisture control
- Robust wedge sole
- Amazing value
- Prone to rubbing around the heel area
- Toe section lacks long term durability
- A little too roomy
Cougar Paw Perform Roofing Boot
Complete with anti-fatigue technology, these heavy duty work boots were built specifically for the hard working roofer. The thick outsoles do more than just grip any roofing materials your footwear come into contact with, they also provide you with multiple layers of comfort and protection features that do a great job absorbing extreme heat and giving support.
Another unique feature about these Cougar Paws is the specially designed removable traction pad that fits securely onto the bottoms of the soles. This ensures that you’re able to climb even the steepest roofs with ease and confidence.
Inside of the flexible leather exterior, your feet will be cradled by thick cushioning that offers as much support as it does comfort. And the anti-fatigue technology combats even the longest work shifts you are happy at the end of the day. You can tell these are specially made to be boots for roofing.
- Specially made boots for roofing
- Comfortable for 10+ hours
- High-grade for slip resistant
- Good breathability
- Great foot support
- Leather scuffs easily
- Tongue can cause some pressure
- Traction pads need replacing often
- Heavy build
Thorogood Men’s American Heritage Lace-To-Toe Roofing Boots
The Thorogood brand are well-known for their high-quality work boots that can handle just about any job, roofing included. Their specialised American Heritage Lace-to-Toe Roofer Boots do not buck the trend. Beginning with the grip, these boots offer more than just a simple sole. Their Vibram wedge sole provides excellent traction that will keep you in place no matter the angle you’re climbing at.
Supple yet durable leather encases the exterior, with reinforcing along the sides which usually take the heaviest beating. You’ll notice triple stitching along the seams in addition to rivets, intended to deflect damaging blows from making contact with your slick leather boots, and a well-made Goodyear welt construction between the boot and its thick sole.
The design of these lace-to-toe roofer boots ensures that you will be firmly secured, while the low cut increases breathability, helping to keep your feet dry. Comfort features and a fiberglass shank have you covered along the inside and through the midsole to finish these top of the line boots off, making the American Heritage Lace-to-Toe Roofer Boots a winner in our eyes.
We chose this boot as the best choice. Want to see why? Watch this short video
- Full foot comfort and support
- Secure lacing design
- Durable construction
- Attractive wedge oustole
- Superior grip on all roofing surfaces
- Prone to running a little narrow
- Snug fit
Reviews of the Best Roofing Shoes
Arc'teryx Men's Acrux FL GTX Approach Shoes
Yes, these are hiking shoes but they are also roofing shoes. But don’t be fooled, they are also a suitable alternative for roofs. For the contractor that only spends some time on the roof, hiking shoes offer a great, affordable alternative to their heavier cousins. If you’re prone to getting sweaty , you may also want to consider shoes over boots.
They offer an amazingly lightweight fit and come complete with a leather and nylon mesh construction. This offers the perfect combination of durability and breathability. Along the bottom they’re built with a Vibram rubber sole, bringing high-grade grip and flexibility that doesn’t restrict your natural movements, and their long-lasting EVA midsole makes them great when it comes shock absorbing.
The low profile design is completely waterproof and you can even wear them off the clock if you want, thanks to their stylish design. They carry a fairly high price tag for a pair of roofing shoes, but their versatility and roofing capability makes them well worth it.
- Lightweight design for roofing shoes
- Excellent full foot ventilation
- Flexible yet supportive
- Fully waterproof
- The thin soles allow heat penetration
- Lacks long term durability
- No ankle protection
KEEN Men's Targhee II Hiking Shoe
They’re not going to be the most visually appealing roofing shoes, but these KEEN’s come loaded with tons of high-quality features making them some of the best alternatives to specialised boots for roofing. They’re constructed with a combination of durable leather and breathable textile that can resist scuffing while on the job, making them good footwear for all roofing materials, including metal roofs.
The rubber lugged sole has aggressive treading for superior grip and is even built to be non-marking, perfect for keeping the roof in pristine condition. With full waterproof protection, they have a slightly higher build than the average shoe to provide extra support and protection.
Inside, the metatomical footbed gives your feet support where they need it the most - even at awkward angles - and a compression molded EVA midsole keeps your feet comfortable. For a pair of KEEN’s, these shoes sport a very affordable price tag and are an attractive option for the ground and roof worker.
- Durable sole with great traction
- Support on uneven surfaces
- Secure fit with heel lock strap
- Roomy reinforced toe area
- Mark resistance
- Stock laces can split and break
- Heavier build
- Shoes absorb bad odors easily
Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator Hiking/ Roofing Shoe
Merrell really mastered it with these hiking shoes that happen to be a great alternative for anyone looking for something besides specialised boots for roofing. The fact that they come equipped with durable Vibram soles, lined with deep, aggressive tread, is a good start which makes them also roofing shoes.
Durable leather and a waterproof mesh upper are completed with a cushioned foam tongue that helps to keep debris out. Rubber toe caps and heel bumpers give these roofing shoes greatly increased durability where they need it most, and their resistant rubber outsole sits beneath an air cushion in the heel, intended to absorb shocks and add stability.
Inside, a molded footbed with additional heel and arch support, along with a built in shank, makes these some of the most comfortable roofing shoes you could have on your feet while you’re scaling roofs. If you’re in the market for shoes instead of boots, we highly recommend these.
- Keep your feet cool all day
- Comfort padding provides ankle support
- Durability in harsh environments
- No break in period
- Insoles prone to wearing out
- Outsole can scuff easily
- Not the most breathable
Understanding The Different Materials
The best roofing work boots are made from a variety of materials including:
Leather boots are great. For starters, leather is a great material for work boots upper. It’s tough, and protects the foot from materials and substances like abrasive shingle dust, asphalt cement and even tar. Quality treated leather can also protect your feet from heat and is fairly flexible, allowing you to squat and stand on slanted roofs without discomfort.
Nylon mesh is another common material used for work boot uppers. Nylon mesh is flexible, meaning you can move freely at height and up and down ladders, it’s durable and it breathes nicely.
However, shingles retain the sun’s heat and can make working on roofs uncomfortable in the summer, and nylon mesh is neither very protective nor always waterproof. The best boots for roofing feature a leather upper with small nylon mesh openings or a breathable nylon mesh that sits between the upper and inner section of the boot.
Rubber is often used for the soles of work boots, including roofing. Most roofers recommend a lugged rubber sole, which has a deep and heavy tread that offers great traction on slippery shingles.
Completely waterproof, lugged rubber soles are thick and non-marking, meaning you won’t scuff up light coloured shingles. You may have heard of Vibram soles. Vibram is the brand name of a particular type of lugged rubber sole that’s known for its superior traction and durability.
And of course, remember the shape. It’s no coincidence that most purpose-built roofers boots come equipped with a wedge in the sole.
Do Roofers Need Safety Toe Caps?
Most work boot brands offer safety toe caps. Toe caps are made from steel, alloy or other composite materials and protect your feet from cuts and crush injuries. But do boots for roofing really need safety toe caps?
Actually, as most toe caps are made from steel or alloy they are not compatible with roofing work, due to the risk of electrical hazards. Steel and alloy toe caps are also heavy and can make roofers more clumsy when working at height. Composite toe caps are a better option.
Made from plastic or carbon fiber, these toe caps are lightweight although still a little bulky. Generally, roofers do not recommend wearing boots with a full safety toe cap. Roofing work boots with a good quality leather upper or an added layer of rubber over the toe section of the shoe usually suffice for roofing tasks.
Here’s Our Chosen Winner...
After carefully working through the dozens of pairs that roofers have to choose from, we were able to narrow it down to these six. Though it was a close contest, we’ve selected the Thorogood Men's American Heritage Lace-To-Toe Roofing Boots as the best boots for roofing.
Starting with their thick, Vibram rubber sole, they’re sure to keep you secure on any roof you tackle in your line of work. They’re built with thick full grain leather that comes with reinforced stitching, and the full foot comfort and support features are of the highest-quality.
While working on roofs, you can’t go wrong with these boots. Whatever your job has to throw at them, they will take it all head on with flying colors and send you home with happy feet.