There are no plain one-size fits all types for work boots; however, there are plenty of modifications that can be made to a work boot and you have plenty of options at your disposal. All of these options will have an effect on price, many will have an effect on safety, and many will have an effect on comfort. It’s important to understand the differences between these options.
Buying the right safety toe work boots can be quite a pain in the butt. There are so many options and you don’t want to waste your money buying something that isn’t going to be just right for your needs on the job and just right for your own personal comfort. Good work boots aren’t cheap, so you need to know the options available to you.
First you should consider toe protection. If you work in construction, lumber or carpentry and a number of other industries you will likely need toe protection. Anytime there is a risk of something falling, you really want to err on the side of caution and protect your feet from damage.
So what kind of toe protection should you choose?
Steel Toe: Toes made of steel are the oldest and most common version of toe protection available. They are tried, tested and true for crush protection, however, relative to new technology they are heavy, conduct electricity and transfer cold into the boot making your feet colder than they need to be for cold climates.
Composite Toe: Toes made of Kevlar and Plastic and other materials meant for situations where metallic materials are not an option or are not allowed. These toes will not conduct electricity and are good at providing crush protection, though arguably not as good as other metallic options. Composite is also nicer because it doesn’t transfer cold into the boot.
Aluminum Toe: Toes made of aluminum serve the same essential purpose as steel, except they are an upgrade. Aluminum toes are just as durable as steel and weigh less. These are still metallic toes and if electricity could be an issue you are better with Composite toes.
Carbon Fibre Toe: Carbon Fibre is the lightest of all of the options and provide good protection, but still not the same kind of protection offered by the heavier options.
Other options to consider are the height of the shoe/boot. Do you need a boot? Boots are higher than shoes and provide ankle protection. What size boot do you need? The higher the boot the less mobility you will have around the ankle and lower leg, but the higher the boot the more protection you will have.
Do you need your boot to be waterproof?
If you’re going to be working while it’s raining or snowing you’re going to need waterproof protection. Waterproof is a necessity for anybody working outdoors in cold climates.
Does your job require you to have slip protection? Is there oil on the shop floor, possible acids? Do you work around or in a very hot area do you need heat resistant boots? Do you need to make sure that your boots won’t scuff a floor you’re on?
Often because of the utility available when it comes to picking working boots a lot of people will not seek the same level of comfort that they would when they were picking running shoes or dress shoes. You think well I need all of these different features so I shouldn’t complain, but trust me. You should complain. You’re going to be on your feet for 8-12 hours a day, you’re going to need to make sure your shoes are comfortable. So make sure that they fit and are one of the top-rated comfortable boots.
Do you need more protection on the bottom or top of your foot?
If there is a chance that you could step on a nail or some other sharp object you should be looking to get a boot with a puncture plate so that you can’t impale your foot. If you’re working with very heavy equipment that could fall on you, such as metal that might crush your steel toes you should consider metatarsal covering to add extra protection for the entire top of your foot.
There are many options to choose from obviously and there are always new technologies and materials being utilized. Take your time and make the best choice make sure to ask other people who work with you about their choices and reasons and check out your company’s employee manual on the subject.