Work boots have the power to make your work day either bearable (perhaps even pleasant) or hell on Earth. A good pair is absolutely essential for anyone working in a field where boots are required, especially those who spend the majority of the day standing on your feet on concrete.
Don’t ever nurse swollen, achy, and sore feet again. With the right boots you will feel great even after those extended shifts.
Features To Look For In Your Boots
Always Look For the following qualities in your boots:
- Waterproof, but breathable: Wet feet are unhappy feet, but so are feet stuck in a hot, sweaty, stuffy environment, which is why the comfortable safety boots you select should keep moisture out without turning the inside of the boot into an oven.
- Roomy toe box: No one enjoys pinched, cramped toes; pick a pair of boots that gives you plenty of wiggle room.
- Cushioning and support: A boot that offers good support and plenty of cushioning can reduce overall body fatigue as well as foot pain. Many, if not most, major work boot brands use their own proprietary technology for things like their insoles and lining, so if you have a boot that you find especially good, consider purchasing that brand the next time your boots need to be replaced.
Material and construction method
The comfort of a work boot is mainly influenced by the material and method used in the construction of the boot.
Toes: Safety toes come in three basic varieties—steel, alloy, and composite—and depending on your specific situation. Steel toes are the heaviest and both they and alloy toes conduct temperature and set off metal detectors. Composite toes are usually the lightest of the three and they do not conduct temperature.
Construction: If lightweight and flexible footwear is important to you, then you should look for boots that use cement construction, as they usually weigh less and are much more bendy than those constructed using Goodyear welts. Boots put together using cement do not last as long, and they cannot be resoled, but they are the more comfortable option out of the two.
Shank: The shank is what provides arch support and it can be made out of several different materials—steel, fiberglass, nylon, and even wood are all used in shank construction. Steel shanks are the heaviest and the least flexible, so when you are shopping for comfort, look for boots that use fiberglass or nylon (work boots that use wooden shanks exist, but they are not that common), as they are much lighter and more flexible.
The Most Comfortable Work Boots 2016
American-made quality meets exceptional comfort in these Moc Toe Boots from Thorogood. Because they use Goodyear welt construction, the boots are slightly inflexible, but extremely durable due to the excellent craftsmanship and materials. These boots are triple-stitched with full grain leather uppers and a Vibram outsole—in other words, Thorogood’s Moc Toe Boot is built to last under the harshest conditions and general day-to-day abuse.
While they may be slightly less flexible than other boots (specifically those put together with cement), Thorogood packs plenty of comfort-enhancing technology into their boots. These Moc Toe boots have a removable, shock-absorbing insole, which reduces the amount of stress put on the body (not just the feet). They also use a Poron 4000 Comfort Cushion, which (in my opinion), makes your feet feel like they are standing in fluffy, supportive cloud. Additionally, these boots feature a fiberglass shank that supports the foot and adds flexibility to the boot’s construction. However, these boots are not waterproof (though that is something you can and should do yourself), nor do they have heavy insulation. These are very comfortable work boots for standing all day.
These boots do not have a safety toe, steel or otherwise, which greatly reduces their weight but, obviously, does not provide much toe and foot protection. They are slip-resistant, however, and resistant to shock. Because they lack a steel toe, Thorogood’s Moc Toe Boot is not recommended for use in industrial environments or dangerous workplaces, but it makes a great hiking boot or everyday boot.
For those looking for a steel toe boot that offers protection and comfort, the Chippewa Bay Apache Rugged Boot is the best option available, provided you are willing to spend the money. Like the Thorogood boots discussed above, these Chippewa boots also use Goodyear welt construction, although they only single-stitch their boots, unlike Thorogood. The Vibram rubber sole offers industrial-grade strength and durability, making them ideal for those who spend a lot of time on harsh terrain.
The Bay Apache boot is waterproof and insulated, keeping feet warm and dry/cool throughout the workday. They have a triple rib steel shank, which offers plenty of support, but can take a while to break in. Steel shanks add extra weight and are not very flexible; when I tested these boots, it took me about a week to break them in, during which I felt a fair amount of discomfort, but after that week, these boots became one of the most comfortable pairs that I have ever had the pleasure of wearing and reviewing.
These boots have an ASTM-rated steel toe, a rugged, slip-resistant Vibram outsole, and they are resistant to electrical hazards. Due to the presence of steel toes and the steel shank, these boots are a bit on the heavier side. These are a great product for those who need a work boot that meets all safety requirements but does not skimp on comfort. They’re just simply amazing no matter if your job requires you to walk on concrete all day or hike up hills.
These are, in my opinion, the most comfortable steel toe boots.
Durability, affordability, and comfort define this steel toe work boot. It is not often that you can find Goodyear welt construction on a boot that is typically priced between $60 and $120. Unlike the previous two entries, these boots are made overseas, which may cause some to cast dispersions on their quality, but I found them to be very well-made, especially for the price.
Perhaps their defining quality is the level of comfort that these soft toe boots offer to their wearers. Full grain leather uppers ensure breathability, while the nylon lining wicks away moisture to keep feet as dry as possible. My favorite feature, however, is definitely the sock lining, which uses Climasphere technology to keep feet warm when it is cold and cool when the weather is hot. I also particularly appreciated the cushy, padded collar, as it kept the boot from rubbing against my skin and provided extra ankle support. My one complaint was that the insole is not removable, which is quite a disadvantage for those of us who must wear custom orthotics.
As for safety, these are soft toe boots, which means they will not offer the same level of protection as their safety toe counterparts. For those whose jobs or activities do not warrant steel toe protection, the Caterpillar Men’s 2nd Shift Plain Soft Toe Boot is a fantastic, budget-friendly choice that is lightweight and quite durable.
While they may look plain on the outside, on the inside, these Timberland PRO Warrick Smelter Boots are anything but lackluster. Made using Goodyear welt construction and industrial-grade materials, it is clear that the manufacturer wanted to produce a boot that would last, even under the most extreme conditions.
The Warrick Smelter Boot is ideal for those individuals who work in hot climates, as they feature special technology that encourages air flow, and they are non-metallic, which means they do not conduct temperature. They are a bit heavier than the other boots discussed here, but make up for it with their cushy, dry, and cool interior.
These boots were designed to protect the wearer from hazards associated with smelting, such as molten metal splashback. They are the only boot out of the four reviewed here that has a metatarsal guard as well as a safety toe. These boots are resistant to slipping, heat, oil, and abrasion. Additionally, they are made with heavy-duty, self-extinguishing thread, which protects the wearer from fire hazards.
These are a really good comfortable work boot.
Comfortable work boots are not a myth—they do exist, and they are affordable, and while it may take a little searching to find your ideal pair, your feet (and the rest of your body) will thank you in the end.