Buying Work Boots or Shoes? Choosing, Caring and Beyond
Things get messy when any of these happen to your work footwear:
- You pick the wrong or less appropriate ones,
- Fail to detect the necessary features,
- Or end up using them for a short period.
These are the feet. After all, they carry our body weight and influence everything throughout our lives.
Table Of Contents
- Four Basic Requirements of Best Work Boots and Shoes
- 1. Durability (vs. Price)
- 2. Comfort (and Fitting)
- 3. Safety (and Support)
- 4. Look (and Style)
- Things to Consider Before Buying Work Boots or Shoes
- Consider Latest Products
- Fitting and Break-in Time
- Insole, Midsole, Shank and Arch Support
- Outsole and Heel
- Breathability and Odor Control
- Leather quality
- Tongue and collar
- Construction and sewing/gluing
- Cement construction
- Goodyear welt construction
- Both blended
- ASTM, ANSI, OSHA or other safety measures
- Taking Care, and Getting the Most Out of Your Precious Foot Hardware
- Change daily
- Get the mud off
- Clean, but…
- Do not abuse the features
- Add-ons and care products
- Be anatomical!
Four Basic Requirements of Best Work Boots and Shoes
Every job requires specialized foot hardware. Even everybody and their habits are different.
However, there are only four core aspects to fulfill at first. This data is backed by an impressive number of scientific research and stats:
1. Durability (vs. Price)
What makes a pair best? Well, we pay so we can use them. Longevity is one of the most critical portions here. When a pair falls apart in a short time, though it has everything- what’s the point of buying them?
We bring our unique measurement of price vs. durability here. In other words, how much do you have to pay for a month of use?
ShoeAsk follows a good in-house calculation:
If the projected monthly expense stays within 8 dollars, the pair will get 5/5 for durability. Otherwise, the marking falls. If the boots are specialized, extra protective or extremely comfortable, we raise the bar. $10/month or even 11 is worth 5/5 for longevity.
2. Comfort (and Fitting)
And what if a very durable pair turns into- say, something like two bricks? Yes, we must find boots with the most extended period of comfort. ‘Comfort’ is the magic cloak here. Under it, nearly every other section falls. A pair provides comfort as a whole- not exclusively in the orthotic insert, leather or collar per se. What if your pair has all the comfy hardware, but they eventually fail to fit? Or they take eons to break-in?
The good thing is, top brands are well aware of these issues. They happily replace the shoes and boots if not fitting well. The best brands even give you a break-in time. Not broken correctly in within a month? Return them.
3. Safety (and Support)
Right after comfort, safety comes. A long-lasting pair which provides comfort and can’t save our toes, arch, heel or the entire feet? Shameful! We need them for work after all!
They must support your body weight, the format you walk, and they must be shaped according to your job needs. Maybe abrasion resistance in certain areas. Maybe antimicrobial treatment is required. The thing is, you may need Goodyear Welt; cement construction may not support your job needs and vice versa. Some even need a mixed assembly.
If you do not need protective toes, it’s a literal extra weight you are bearing.
4. Look (and Style)
Now that we’ve settled every other essential thing, it’s damn important to look good and feel great at work, right? Brands like Red Wing, Danner, Rocky or Timberland are well aware of that.
People should judge you by your hard work, dedication, expertise and capabilities to work with a team. It’s your skill-set and your experience, right? The sad part is, even you don’t judge yourself right while wearing `inferior’ stuff!
Productivity increases if you merely wear good looking things. Personal life is easy, but in a professional environment, you need to be recognized and treated accordingly right away you meet a stranger or the boss. Cute boots will simply help you coordinate better with the team and subordinates. Nice boots will create a chance of conversation, ease the situation and let you advise the co-workers all of which will give you a dopamine shot.
So,` fashion’ is not merely fashion, it’s a professional investment which would eventually help you climb the invisible ladder.
Yes, that’s what is in our mind all the time. Choose a pair to gain a slight edge over everything. We’ve done a great deal of research on these topics and have built up a colossal list of nearly ninety best work boots.
Things to Consider Before Buying Work Boots or Shoes
There are certain things you should check before purchasing a pair of shoes or boots for the workplace. We’ve discussed these following invaluable features in other articles: Safety toe (steel, composite, met guard, aluminum, alloy, and soft toe), electrical hazard, waterproof, lightweight, winter/snow, affordability and heritage/classic boots. We’ve discussed durability, comfort, expert opinions, trade recognition, etc. There are a few more factors to consider:
Go for a reputed brand and product even if they are a bit more expensive.
A penny saved is not always a penny earned. Sometimes, it turns into something like: you can choose better shoes, you can replace them, but you can never replace or choose your feet. The editors of ShoeAsk are very cautious while grading and recommending footwear. That’s because we have seen deformed toes, that’s a lifelong worry. That happened just because they did not want to spend money on shoes while working in a busy environment.
Consider Latest Products
Consider from brands and series you trust.
It’s a continually overlooked point. Considering the latest shoes does not mean that you may go for any trending brand or product. Instead, stick to the reliable ones. Only they can yield the best possible new footwear. If you have chosen any series or boot class, look for the latest one.
You don’t have to buy that new one, just in case you miss any new features or upgradations! After all, good old brands are always fighting a battle to provide the best possible features. For example, we prefer comp toe- which is backed by calculations. Maybe your favorite series used to make steel toe ones, and now they are making some comp toe! It is right in several ways- perhaps they are reducing weight, increasing cushioning, upgrading insoles or sharpening-up energy return features. Some of the latest boots feature bloodborne pathogen protection which was rare in the old day models.
Get the boots made for your job.
An extra feature is not always useful. Every element comes at a price, or, at least at a loss:
Steel toe is heavy.
Insulated shoes are warmer.
Waterproof boots tend to be less breathable.
If you’re a teacher, for example, you would probably never need steel toes, which are costly, bulky and comparatively heavy. What if you need steel toe? We would say, a composite toe is right for all of the `steel toe’ jobs! CT saves you extra weight while performing the same.
Fitting and Break-in Time
Some fit well out of the box, and others don’t. Some may need a decent break in time while it’s worth and others don’t deserve it. Some of the boots tend to run large, small or narrow. You better get a pair which tend to be true to size. We are delighted to provide you with this information in each pair presented here.
Insole, Midsole, Shank and Arch Support
We must admit that natural walk is a huge issue. Human feet are designed to walk on soft and uneven terrain. That’s the fundamental thing about foot anatomy. We no more set our feet on soft sand, dirt, or land formations while walking in our professional environments. We don’t get soft grass to cover arch support for us. There is no small pebble to help our feet mold around for natural relief. Having sand grains or pebbles under our feet is natural and healthy in the long term.
All said the majority of us are now overweight if lucky enough to not get obese. Extra body weight can eventually damage or deform our legs in many ways. In order to walk on plain even and hard concrete, asphalt or tiled surfaces, we need to provide the natural-looking supports.
Arch support is not a must for everyone. But developing plantar fasciitis, facet disease, spinal arthritis, fallen arch or chronic foot pain is not a good idea. Some are naturally prone to these while others are not.
Whether there is a support for your arch or not, a pair of good insoles may help you in some ways. They can prevent extra pressure on each and every part of your feet, which may result in natural healing chances.
But what about the midsoles? There’s not much we can do except choosing the right pair from the right brand. Hence, midsoles are crucial!
And the good old most overlooked shanks! Shanks provide the `solid feel’ under your feet. They determine whether the boot will be flexible or not. Having said that, TPU shanks provide you support to climb a ladder or curve your boot while working and the metal shanks turn your boots into a solid safe. Again, it’s all about the nature of the job.
Outsole and Heel
Slip resistance, puncture proof, abrasion resistance and/or more…
Some outsoles are meant to work hard. Others are made to stay safe on slippery surfaces. Some are even puncture proof which will help work in spaces where sharp metals, plastic or glass is abundant. It’s all about the work-neighborhood. Don’t put yourself in an uncomfortable zone by choosing a pair with unusual heel support features. We would say, these are not designs, rather design-flaws if the heel doesn’t make you comfortable enough.
Breathability and Odor Control
Well, it sucks when you are sweating within your shoes, and it stinks after a successful work shift. Breathability is the feature which can help you with this particular problem. Some of the footwear solve this problem with a breathable design, others do it with the material, and very few care to include some anti-odor elements which are most antimicrobial treatment.
Not every pair of boot is cleanable, and cleaning process is not the same. Some are wipe-friendly; some are cleaned by polishing while others stay safe after a wash.
As you may know, cleanability mostly depends on footwear skin quality and treatment. Look for full-grain leather or suede leather. It is not wise to compromise on the leather quality or choosing the synthetic ones.
Tongue and collar
Together, they form some severe issues. Is there a risk of getting hit on the upper front parts of your feet? Is it a pair for the upcoming winter? Do you feel comfortable if support is provided around and above ankles? Or maybe your skin above ankles get scratched every now and then. Choose accordingly, you will find plenty.
Construction and sewing/gluing
As technology evolved, sewing became less discussed while it is a prime point till now. How can you make sure that your boots are coming with a superior thread of nice fabrics? How can the stitching be determined? Well, we can’t do much at this point. Yes, we can look at the product stitching, check whether they are sewn once, twice or thrice. The second and final thing you can do to stay safe is: just look for a reputed brand, a good series and a trusted product that is well-known for durability. There are usually three types of constructions:
That’s the one meant to provide greater flexibility. You can bend, twist and even crawl with these boots.
Goodyear welt construction
Usually coming with glued double or triple stitching these are tougher. Harder. Durable. Go for this feature if you need your feet to be steady and stable as a rock. These contain corks taking shape with the feet over time.
Need some more flexibility and reliable support as well? You can get both by a hybrid construction. Welt on the heel part and cement construction on the rest. Check out this smooth, informative Youtube video from Red Wing.
Okay, it’s a tricky part. If you are in Texas, you may not need insulation at all. Moreover, it may cause some serious problems regarding sweating, feeling too warm and stinking. On the contrary, if you are living in the northern states of the US or Canada, you surely need some insulated boots to do well during the prolonged blizzard feared winter. If you need to move more or stay indoors, pick up low grams of insulation. Otherwise, choose the longer, bigger, thicker ones.
ASTM, ANSI, OSHA or other safety measures
People get tired of seeing the ASTM and ANSI measures. We’re no exceptions. The point is, these short `gibberish’ phrases describe a lot which will help you more choosing the right pair. They just tell you that you are safe. After you have selected a pair for work, or even while choosing one, our care guide (the next segment) would guide you through.
Taking Care, and Getting the Most Out of Your Precious Foot Hardware
Want an extra healthy comfo-durability for your best work boots instead of the regular wear-off rate? Everybody does, especially whenever they get their A-list specialized boots. Here’s the deal:
Invest in more than one pair.
It is clearly seen that two pairs at a time last as long as three consecutive pairs. Try to choose similar products from the same brand. By this, your feet will feel more accustomed. The plus point is, they stay better for a more extended period, stink less, get the ‘healing time’ and stay comfortable nicely.
Get the mud off
Do not let anything stick to your footwear whether it is mud or not. An extra layer of things on your boots will definitely block your leather from softening. That’s what cause leather cracks. Moreover, the color may fade away, which is disgusting.
Be soft and gentle while cleaning them.
And clean them while the spot is not persistent. Some even dip their boots in detergent water. Polishing the pair may save the leather. Take care of your outsole treads also if they are slip resistant- if mud and dirt block them, you can fall. This wiki-how article is a good one. Oh, and don’t forget to check this article on leather care.
Do not abuse the features
Yes, a waterproof pair should not be carelessly put on water for a more extended period of time.
Whenever you misuse an excellent feature, two things happen, they start wearing off. Whenever a pair starts wearing-off, the first thing you notice is a change in comfort level. And comfort compromised means everything compromised. At the end of a wear-period, it’s going to be, to be frank, pain in the- you know where. Do not overuse or misuse the features.
Add-ons and care products
Get some value-added benefits.
An inexpensive pair of insoles and comfortable cotton socks can do the rest of the comfy magic- if you need that. Maybe it will be better for you to add some mink oil for waterproofing. Wearing leather footwear? Do not neglect shoe cream. If you use cream 4-6 times a week, the leather will soften up. You will not see the cracks and tears here and there. These will extend your leather lifetime 2x-5x. Most of us do not care for a brush. Use cotton sheets if you need to use swatches.
Watch your habits and reshape those.
As you know, there are very few essential must-haves for a pair, and the rest lies at your hand. These may seem too far, but everybody can easily watch their walk-habits. It’s not necessarily about the footwear, instead of the feet.
Our feet were not meant to carry a constant extra weight, which is unfortunate but common. These are neither intended to stay on concrete or asphalt continually.
- Grow a habit of sitting every now and then.
- Try meditation, it will reshape your unnoticed habits.
- If you have a chance to lay down, do it with or without a bed; feet will heal more.
- Over-through stress and anxiety.
- Watch how your body weight is distributed while you stand or walk. Most of us do not distribute weight properly and live with that.
- Reduce extra weight by controlling food habit.
- If you can manage to stretch your body every now and then, this can influence your well-being. Build a habit of spreading the legs and feet.
- Try to walk barefoot for a while, preferably on natural and suitable surfaces like grass, soil, sand or even mud/wet surfaces.
It would be great hearing from you. Let us know opinions as well.