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How to Choose the Right Pair of Work Boots

Academy Staff
7 min read

Why Do We Need Work Boots?

From head to toe, what you wear to work makes a huge difference. You need support, comfort, and above all else, you need tools to get the job done right.

Whether you work in large warehouses, fast-paced service and healthcare jobs, hard-hitting construction jobs, long-day farm and ranching jobs or in a hazardous environment like oil and gas, there are work boots and safety shoes that can help you do that job to the best of your ability and beyond in a safe manner.

Work boots provide the assistance you need to get the job done to regulatory, safety, and your own personal standards. There are waterproof work boots, steel toe work boots, slip-resistant work boots, and more – all designed to help you stay comfortable and supported on your feet however and wherever you work.

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What are some good work boots?

Finding the proper work boots for the right job is simple, but it still requires some groundwork. Start first at the toe. The safety toe of the work boot provides occupational safety and health protection that meets the safety standards and requirements of both, your job, and the ASTM. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) is a developer of international voluntary consensus standards used by many industries for safety regulations. There are 4 common types of safety toes:

Soft Toe Work Boots

If your workday does not require ASTM certifications and does not have to meet safety regulations, then reach for soft toe work boots. These boots are made with rubber or fabrics to offer lightweight protection ideal for the speed and safety you need when working on at-home projects, in Farm and Ranch industry roles, and landscaping jobs.

Steel Toe Work Boots

Steel Toe Work Boots provide the highest level of protection for impact and compression hazards. Made of steel, these work boots are designed for foot protection when impact and compression are a potential on-the-job hazard. Whether you are working heavy-pounding and hard-hitting construction jobs or heavy-lifting warehouse jobs, steel safety toe work boots will benefit you and your safety throughout the time you spend out on the site.

Composite Toe Work Boots

Crafted of materials like carbon fiber, Kevlar, or plastics, composite toe work boots protect your toes from hazards, without all of the weight that a steel toe work boot features. This makes them a more efficient choice for longer workdays. Composite toes do not conduct heat or cold as easily so those who spend long workdays on farm or ranchland where one experiences extremely high or low temperatures would benefit kindly from these work boot types.

Alloy Toe Work Boots

Which are the best lightweight safety shoes? Boots, or steel alloy toe work boots, are constructed with lightweight materials like aluminum and titanium. Strong like steel, they provide the compression and impact resistance you need to stay safe on almost any regulation job site, while keeping you light on your feet to match and meet most of your most demanding job requirements.

Needing More Foot Protection?

Do rubber boots keep you from getting electrocuted?

Not necessarily, but an EH Rated Work Boot provides the best electrical protection. If a work boot is an electric hazard-rated work boot (EH Rated Work Boot), that means that those safety shoes are non-conductive and can withstand electric shock up to 18,000 volts. They maintain this maximum level of protection at 60 hertz for one minute with no current flow or current leakage under dry conditions.

Slip-Resistant Footwear and Safety Shoes

Like soft toe work boots, slip-resistant safety shoes are also often not certified by the ASTM. Work boots for men and women that boast “slip-resistance” are referring to slip-resistant outsoles. These durable outsoles are made of proprietary compounds to deliver maximum surface grip and often feature a wide heel construction to supply increased surface area. With a wide variety of tread patterns to provide oil and clog-resistance, slip-resistant safety shoes offer a major assist as you handle tough, slick, and slippery conditions often seen in the service and healthcare industry.

Which safety shoe construction is the best?

Once you have your toes covered with the right protection for you, it is time to select the best boot build for your workday:

Cement Constructed - Cemented Construction work boots add lightweight, affordable support to your workday. Using only adhesives to secure their uppers to their outsoles, shoes made with a cemented construction are the most common sports shoe types but not the most durable. What cement constructed safety shoes usually lack in strength they make up for in style and comfort.

Goodyear Welt - Strong, water-resistant and durable, Goodyear Welt work boots can stand up to tough days doing tough jobs. With durable leather or other materials strapped around the perimeter of the shoe and then stitched to both the uppers and the outsoles, these types of work boots may be heavier but can be trusted to deliver a reliable, long-lasting performance.

Vulcanized - When it comes to Vulcanized work boots and safety shoes first you take rubber outsoles, then you treat those outsoles with a combination of heat and chemicals. Lastly, after the treatment process, those outsoles form tight bonds with the uppers. These bonds will remain strong and work as hard as you do. While Vulcanized work boots often fall flat in arch support and style options, they hold strong and perform reliably with heat-resistance and durability.

So Which Safety Shoes Are the Best?

Your best safety shoes are not only determined by which toe type, protection, and boot construction are best, but also if you can wear them for the work that you do. The simplest way to find work boots and safety shoes is by shopping for the best workwear by your industry. However, it is recommended to first revisit your workplace footwear guidance to be sure your safety shoes are in accordance with all workplace regulations and guidelines. Whether you work in the Farm and Ranch industry, Oil and Gas, Construction, Warehouse, or Service jobs there are work boots for your job that will add support, comfort, and protection to stay safe while working.

With the proper work boots, your feet are ready to take on even the toughest tasks. While shopping for work boots, always look for the most proper and snug fit. It is always advised to try on boots with the same socks that you’ll wear in them. Consider picking up a pair of workwear socks before purchasing your boots to help find the best fit. After that, you will have the best safety shoes or work boots to best optimize your performance.

Don’t forget to also pick up shoe and boot care supplies to keep your new work boots and safety shoes working as hard as you do without a misstep. Find the right work boots for your profession, workplace standards, or industry requirements online and in-store at your nearest Academy Sports + Outdoors.