19 Best Work Boots (Review) In 2022
- 1. Timberland PRO Pit Boss Steel-Toe Work Boots
- 2. Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift Work Boots
- 3. Thorogood American Heritage Work Boots
- 4. Timberland PRO Direct Attach Soft-Toe Boot
- 5. Ever Boots Tank Edition Leather Construction Boots
- 6. Skechers Men’s Verdict Boot
- 7. Keen Utility Pittsburgh Steel Toe Work Boot
- 8. Irish Setter’s 6” Work Boot
- 9. Ever Boots Ultra Dry Premium Waterproof Work Boot
- 10. Kingshow Water Resistant Rubber Sole Boots
- 11. Thorogood American Heritage Moc Toe Boot
- 12. Carhartt Men’s 6” Composite Toe Boot
- 13. Timberland Basic Contrast Collar Boot
- 14. Timberland PRO Soft-Toe Direct Attach Boot
- 15. Irish Setter Ely Steel Toe Work Boot
- 16. Maelstrom Zion Earth Brown Waterproof Work Boot
- 17. Red Wing Heritage Roughneck Lace-Up Boot
- 18. Timberland PRO Men’s Powertrain Mid Alloy-Toe Industrial Boot
- 19. Condor Arizona Men’s 8” Steel Toe Work Boot
You’re starting a new position, running through the soles on your old boots, or you’ve been let down by a brand that lowered their production quality—whatever the case, you don’t just need new boots, but the best work boots possible. We’ve broken down the top brands, models and materials that make durable, long-lasting work boots that maximize your comfort and protection. Before slipping into your favorite work socks, it’s time to take a look at the twenty best work boots out there and then delve into a brief guide on what makes them the best.
The Best Work Boot
1. Timberland PRO Pit Boss Steel-Toe Work Boots
100% leather construction
Steel toed w/ 6” of height
Mild water resistance
Timberland may have been built with function in mind, but they’ve become one of the most stylistically iconic boots in the world. They put function and flair together for the Boss boot, giving you excellent protection from the 100% leather construction and steel toe box. Timberland’s boss boot, when compared to other brands and user reviews, was found to be the longest-lasting boot that various tradesmen and laborers rely on. With all the praise and adulation these boots deserve, it should be noted that the insole isn’t the most comfortable, and an added layer or replacement should be on your to-do list if you grab a pair. The only area that Timberland fell flat is in pricing: there’s anywhere from 10% to a 90% increase on price depending on size, yet they still remain more affordable than many of their competitors. Make sure you also check our guide to the best winter boots.
Superior outsole traction are slip, oil, and abrasion resistant
Longest lifespan of any work boot on the market
Wide price fluctuation based on size
Insoles aren’t the most comfortable
2. Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift Work Boots
Full steel toe for better protection
Cushioned collar provides better stability and comfort
Cat’s steel toe work boots raise our expectations, especially when you look at what they’re made of, and the affordable price that they’re asking. With a quick lace-up system and wide-spread aesthetic appeal of an engineer boot, there’s a lot to love about Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift Work Boot, such as the padded ankle collar for enhanced support and comfort. They didn’t extend that padding to the tongue, which was a bit of a disappointment, but did manage to create a more hospitable housing for your feet. There’s a removable sock liner that makes cleaning a breeze, and keeps odors at bay with sweat-wicking technology at the same time. The only aspect that we would say is severely lacking is the quality of the insole, which we recommend replacing after three to six months of daily use with a more padded version.
Removable sock liner keeps things comfortable and odor-free
Nubuck leather exterior holds up against major stress and abrasion
Basic rubber insole will need to be replaced after a few months
Tongue collar isn’t padded
3. Thorogood American Heritage Work Boots
100% tobacco oil-tanned leather construction
Storm welt construction prolongs lifespan
Thorogood isn’t the first boot brand that comes to mind, but after this, these guys will be on our radar forever. Thorogood designed a boot that suits the laborer, the electrician, basically anybody that’s standing and walking for extended periods of time. The 1.25” heel and rubber footbed aid in shock absorption, working right alongside the removable footbed. For the price and longevity of the boot, we would have liked to see the option of adding a safety steel or alloy-toe cap, but that’s just not an option. After about three to six months of use, you will begin to wear down the traction system on the outsole. Thorogood American Heritage Boots aren’t built for super slick conditions, but do serve as one of the most versatile work boots we’ve ever had the pleasure of testing. If you need nice looking boots,check out our guide to the best Chelsea boots.
Removable shock absorption footbed
Contour keeps you comfortable on long, 10-hour+ days
No safety toe option available
Traction system on the outsole is one-dimensional and easily worn down
4. Timberland PRO Direct Attach Soft-Toe Boot
Outsole traction reacts to pressure to adapt to all situations
Padded tongue and collar
Primary leather construction
It’s hard to ignore Timberland’s presence in the footwear world, and when you pair the quality of the Direct Attach model of their PRO lineup against other brands, well, you need to give credit where credit is due. Thanks to Thermolite insulation, these boots work well for just about any weather condition, and the lack of a steel toe means you won’t be conducting frigid air. Built primarily out of leather and designed with a padded tongue and collar, these are designed to keep your feet comfortable throughout your work day. These boots have an average lifespan of about 2-3 years with most users, on occasion up to 4 years, but rarely more than that. Our only major gripe with the construction is that the insole is very poor quality and should immediately be replaced before even using these boots.
Fully antimicrobial footbed lining
Thermolite insulation turns these into all-weather boots
Insoles should be swapped out before use
2-3 year life expectancy
5. Ever Boots Tank Edition Leather Construction Boots
100% leather construction
Durable rubber insole
Comfortable padded collar
Reasonably priced boots often come with their slew of issues, but Ever Boots doesn’t try to hide their shortcomings with snappy marketing. Ever Boots Tank Edition Leather Construction Boots are not long-term boots, but hold up extremely well for about six months to nine months of use (which is why the warranty is only three months). If your job pace is rough, and the hours are extremely long, Ever Boots and their steel shank fatigue-preventing boots will help you stay on your feet without falling prey to exhaustion. With a comfortable padded collar and decent insole, you’ll feel right at home the moment you slip these on. All-leather construction, comfort and support, all at a quarter fraction of the big league boots: that should be enough to last you for the time being. You may also like to check our guide to the best Chukka boots.
Includes a steel shank in the outsole to prevent fatigue
Insulation ensures year-round use in any environment
Very low three-month manufacturer warranty
Average six-month lifespan
6. Skechers Men’s Verdict Boot
100% leather construction
Full padded collar
We all remember Skecher’s commercials from the 1990’s, but who would have thought they made top-quality adult work boots for men? Skechers Men’s Verdict Boots are long-lasting, all-leather and designed to withstand the brunt of your workday, which is why they’re made waterproof right up to the collar. On average, these run about half-a-size too small for most users, and we recommend ordering a half-size up just to be safe. Skechers keeps the price affordable, but confusing, because your size is going to dictate anywhere from a 1.0x to a 2.75x fluctuation in the price tag. Even though these are still worth it at the peak price, it makes the purchase process a bit odd. Stomp out the rubber insole for as long as you’d like, because these are going to last about 2-3 years, and in some cases upwards of five.
Fully waterproof up to the collar
Long average life expectancy
2.75x price fluctuation depending on size
Typically run half-a-size too small
7. Keen Utility Pittsburgh Steel Toe Work Boot
100% Nubuck leather construction
Removable EVA footbed
Large steel toe box for extra room
Keen’s iconic boots have suited hikers, casual wearers and workmen for years, and their Pittsburgh Utility boot is perhaps one of their greatest advancements yet. With a removable EVA footbed for cleanliness and comfort and a large steel toe box for extra room, there’s a lot of consideration for the working man in terms of comfort. While they’re comfortable and built nice, the heel lock plates could start to rub against your heels as these boots degrade with time. Keen’s average boot life is 2-3 years, but this specific model rarely makes it past a year. The main benefits of this boot are the oil and slip resistant outsole, as well as the Dry-Lex interior to wick away sweat, and prevent that stagnate odor from arising. If you need help breaking in your new boots, check out our guide to the best shoe stretchers.
Outsole is non-marking, oil and slip resistant
Dry-Lex footwear lining helps to wick away sweat all day
Average one-year lifespan
Heel locks cause discomfort as boots age
8. Irish Setter’s 6” Work Boot
Full leather construction
ASTM and F2413-11 safety standards + electrical hazard protection
Irish Setter may not be cheap, but it’s an investment that will long outlast cheap boots any day of the week. Set to last for a minimum of three years, Irish Setter’s 6” work boot comes with a full leather construction, as well as meeting all ASTM and F2413-11 safety standards. From light waterproofing to electrical hazard protection, you could call these armor for your feet, and you wouldn’t be wrong. These are heat resistant up to 475 F, but what they lack on is traction. The outsole is only designed to keep you standing against light duty use, so you won’t find any slip or oil resistance here. Padding is also an issue if you tend to get red around the ankles, because the reinforced leather padding only goes about halfway around the cuff. These will last you for ages with a bit of TLC.
Heat-resistant outsole lasts up to 475 F
Extremely long life expectancy
Difficult to get good traction
Collar padding is minimal
9. Ever Boots Ultra Dry Premium Waterproof Work Boot
PU midsole offers better flexibility
Full leather construction
It’s a bit odd to advertise that your boots run half-a-size larger than your competitors, especially when they actually arrive half-a-size too small more often than not. We like Ever Boots, but this pair was a bit odd to review. Ever Boots Ultra Dry Premium Waterproof Work Boot has a solid, durable construction made out of a PU midsole and all-leather exterior, as well as ample padding in the collar and the tongue, all adding to the fully waterproof design that makes these such a viable option. Ever Boots ironically aren’t meant to last forever, but they really sunk low with this warranty: you only have thirty days from the purchase date to activate it, and it’s solely for waterproof features. You’ll experience top-notch traction from the multiple contact points on the outsole, as well as experience the ultralight construction of the entire boot. To keep your boots as good as new, check out our guide to the best shoe protection spray.
Multiple traction points on the outsole provide better all-around grip
Extremely lightweight on your feet while offering great protection
Weak warranty only covers thirty days of waterproof-related issues
Tends to run half-a-size small despite advertising that they run big
10. Kingshow Water Resistant Rubber Sole Boots
Synthetic leather construction
Durable rubber midsole
Sturdy metal eyelets
It’s rare that you find a diamond in the rough like Kingshow Water Resistant Rubber Sole Boots, but they’re there. This is the most inexpensive pair of boots we’ve been able to find that still bolsters good quality, and as you progress in this list, you’ll be amazed at what brands this cheap boot had beat. For one, there’s a great deal of traction, but only in dry environments. We couldn’t find any confirmed information about waterproofing or oil resistance, but it works well as a day laborer’s boot. The tongue and collar are padded, though they do begin to fray easily after you’ve been using these boots for about a month. These won’t last you forever, but it’s a cheap way to get quality boots on your feet that aren’t going to leave them sore at the end of the workday. Between the rubber midsole and the metal eyelets, it’s built sturdily to help you get the job done.
Two series of impact resistance and anti-slip on the outsole
Comfortable padded tongue and collar
Collar frays after light use
Average of six months of use
11. Thorogood American Heritage Moc Toe Boot
100% full-grain leather construction
Fiberglass shank provides better stability during use
MAXWear wedge slip resistant outsole
Thorogood popped out of the woodwork for us, but they’ve proven to be a reliable, quality brand. Their steel toe box provides a ton of room to wiggle around, while the removable shock absorbing footbed allows you to maintain these boots with absolute ease. While the full-grain leather exterior is nice, you will notice that the first sign of wear and tear in these boots will be in the stitching, generally after about six months of use. The odd thing about Thorogood American Heritage Moc Toe Boot is that the laces don’t appear to want to stay closed: you may find yourself adjusting or re-doing them throughout the day. From the fiberglass shank in the midsole to the slip resistance rating, these are great for a one- to two-year boot. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the best slim calf boots.
Crush-proof steel toe box provides plenty of room
Removable shock absorption footbed makes cleaning and maintenance a breeze
Stitching will be the first thing to go, boots are not waterproof
Laces come loose throughout the day
12. Carhartt Men’s 6” Composite Toe Boot
100% full-grain leather construction
EVA midsole for increased stability
Meets all ASTM and F2413-11 safety ratings
Carhartt isn’t a brand you hear about very often, but after Carhartt Men’s 6” Composite Toe Boots, you won’t be able to forget them. First and foremost, your size is going to heavily sway the total cost of these boots, so keep that in mind before delving in. Between the cement construction and the Rugged Flex technology at work, these bend and move with your feet to provide a smoother step, and full protection along the way. Despite being made of 100% full-grain leather, the water resistance rating on these is below average, so we don’t recommend them for dirty jobs that tread water. The collar and tongue cushioning feel excellent on your feet, but that’s also accompanied by a very heavy overall weight that will have you dragging your feet at the end of the day. Durable and built for years to come, but not for first-timers.
Rugged Flex helps to move with your feet for smoother gliding
Oil and slip resistant
Advertises water resistance, but even that is a stretch
Very heavy on your feet
13. Timberland Basic Contrast Collar Boot
100% leather construction
Excellent traction and grip with multiple points of contact on outsole
Fully padded collar provides ample comfort
Timberland Basic Contrast Collar Boot is the yellow boot that started it all. Timberland recommends that you buy these half-a-size down from your normal shoe size, and it’s rare to get that sort of upfront information from a boot company. They put their best foot forward with this design, but it does need to be updated. For one, the eyelets aren’t weatherproofed like the rest of the boot, meaning that they’ll sustain some rust and discoloration after a few weeks of wet work. Pair that with the insoles being of fairly low quality, and it’s a bit disappointing, but there’s still plenty of love about the original yellow boot. You’ll experience traction that keeps you perfectly in place, as well as quality padding on the entire collar for all-day comfort. If you need a year-round boot for multiple jobs, you’ve just found it.
Built for year-round use with decent insulation
Fully waterproof up to the collar
Synthetic insole padding doesn’t last for long
Eyelets are not weatherproofed, will rust without proper treatment
14. Timberland PRO Soft-Toe Direct Attach Boot
100% leather construction with a soft toe
Pressure-reactive outsole grip
Electrical hazard protection system
Similar to the model we’ve reviewed in the #4 spot of this list, Timberland’s PRO series continues to amaze and exceed expectations, but this Direct Attach model fell a little flat in a couple of areas. We love the aesthetics of the original yellow boot, but the tongue lacks any sort of padding, and can irritate your shins during long days. You get a great arch with a comfortable fit, though there is a trend of problems in the toe box where it fits narrower than expected. Timberland’s outsole is always spot-on, because it reacts to pressure and grips according to the situation. Between the removable polyurethane sock liner and the immense amount of insulation, these boots are primed for year-round use in just about every work condition, and include electrical hazard protection.
Superior insulation (400g Thinsulate)
Removable polyurethane sock liner is easy to clean
Common issue where toe box fits narrower than anticipated
Tongue has relatively zero padding
15. Irish Setter Ely Steel Toe Work Boot
100% leather construction
Highly adjustable lace-up system
Removable polyurethane footbed
Some people say that the longer it takes to break in a boot, the better it is. That’s not the case, and while Irish Setter’s Ely model is a great boot, it’s very tough to break-in an get used to. The full leather construction is durable, and helps prevent electrical hazards by encasing your crush-proof steel toe box, though you won’t find much in the realm of collar padding and stability. The removable polyurethane footbed allows you to clean these more efficiently, but also have a hard time fitting back into place as they were when you got them out of the box. Most of all, Irish Setter’s V-grip on the outsole is the main reason to grab these, offering some of the best slip resistance that we’ve ever had the pleasure of testing out. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best mountaineering boots.
Superior slip protection thanks to the PU V-grip outsole
Steel toe meets safety requirements and is impervious to electric hazards
Collar padding is lacking
Extremely long break-in period (not attributed to higher quality)
16. Maelstrom Zion Earth Brown Waterproof Work Boot
Available in either soft or composite toe
Includes a one-year manufacturer’s warranty
Shock-absorbing EVA midsole
Now isn’t that a mouthful? Maelstrom’s Zion boot sits at an attractive price, and regardless of what size you choose, that price isn’t going to go up by more than 3%, period. That’s a breath of fresh air compared to leading brands, but the one thing that the Zion boot doesn’t have is footbed support. These are hard on your feet, which is why we recommend grabbing a separate pair of insoles to pad everything out. While there are a few claims against it, our pair of Zions were fully waterproof just as listed, and the shock-absorbing EVA midsole helped out with resistance and sustainability during use. No matter what size you choose, the toe box seems to fit fairly narrow, so if you’re able to you might want a half-a-size larger boot to account for this.
Attractive price with minimal price fluctuation based on size
Fully waterproof from heel to collar
Each size fits fairly narrow
Requires an additional purchase of a comfortable insole
17. Red Wing Heritage Roughneck Lace-Up Boot
100% leather construction
Low 0.75” heel
Red Wing’s Heritage premium boots come with an excellent true-to-size fit, but on average they all appear to have a narrow toe box that gives a slightly cramped feeling. That brings the comfort down a notch, but the full-grain 100% leather construction and comfortable collar keep things feeling nice. Red Wing’s Heritage boot doesn’t come with any waterproofing, so a spray will need to be applied before use. Between the quality leather and insoles, these boots only take about two weeks to break in, but on average users reported short 2-3 year lifespans. Our selection of the best hunting boots offers some great footwear so check it out.
High true-to-fit rating
Average two-week break-in time
Narrow toe box on nearly all sizes
18. Timberland PRO Men’s Powertrain Mid Alloy-Toe Industrial Boot
Polyurethane midsole prevents static
Mid-alloy toy cap
Tight ghillie-style lacing
Timberland created iconic style for every boot they’ve put out, and the Powertrain boots are no exception. While they look fantastic, that’s not what we’re here for. The Powertrain boot comes with a nearly perfect fit thanks to the cement construction for flexibility, and the ghillie-style lacing system to tighten or loosen based on your personal preference. The main issue is the synthetic exterior and upper construction, which isn’t nearly as durable as leather, even though you’re paying similar price tags. Speaking of price tags, there’s anywhere from a 5% to a 30% price increase based on your size. The mesh antimicrobial interior remains comfortable and breathable, while the polyurethane midsole adds excellent stability and balancing. Check out our buying guide with best welding boots currently available.
Unique construction lets you break these in faster
Antimicrobial mesh lining remains breathable and sanitary
Price fluctuates up to 30% based on size
Fully synthetic exterior doesn’t last as long as leather
19. Condor Arizona Men’s 8” Steel Toe Work Boot
Includes a one-year manufacturer warranty with purchase
ASTM and F2413-11 certified steel toes
100% genuine leather upper
Condor is one of America’s go-to boot manufacturers, but it turns out they may be better for casual wear depending on what job field you’re in. There’s absolutely no waterproofing to this boot, which eliminates it as an option for many jobs, but there are plenty of reasons to keep it in the running apart from it’s rock bottom price. Condor Arizona Men’s 8” Steel Toe Work Boots come fully slip and oil resistant, giving you better traction in almost every situation. They’ve also used their proprietary AM-TECH build on the outsole, creating a perfect seam between it and the rest of the boot. With such great attention to detail on the enclosure of these 6” boots, they aren’t very breathable, leading to foot sweat and odor at the end of the day. The padded tongue collar and comfortable lacing system keeps them light on your feet. Be sure to also check out our list of the best wading boots for more great items like this.
Condor-specific AM-TECH outsole creates a flawless seam
Slip and oil resistant outsole
Not very breathable
Work Boot Buying Guide & FAQ
We all want the best work boots, but what does that truly entail? We wanted to find out, which is why we’ve put together this buying guide to describe every detail you should look for, and devised a foolproof method to properly clean your work boots to keep them looking like new for years to come.
How We Chose Our Selection Of Work Boots
Reviews - User reviews are the bread and butter of any product page online, and they help us to sift through the court of public opinion to determine what’s worth our time to inspect and test, and boots that aren’t even worth the box that they come in. We’ve taken the best approach to put the very best work boots forward, so you don’t have to spend hours upon hours reading reviews.
Brand - There are plenty of off-brand products in just about every category, but you can’t fake a good quality work boot. The moment your foot sinks inside of it, you know the difference. Brand matters a lot here, which is why we looked at domestic production, high-quality material allocation, long histories of good reviews and happy customers, and warranty information and fulfillment by each brand on our list.
Price - You get what you pay for, but not everyone can afford the very best. We’ve taken most of the guesswork out of this for you by weeding out unnecessarily expensive or questionably affordable boots. You need to pay for proper protection, and it’s true that more expensive work boots typically last longer due to better quality, but we have found and tested plenty of brands that don’t cost an arm and a leg for peace-of-mind-level protection.
Features To Look For In Work Boots
Steel Toe Cap Types - There are varied opinions on steel toe boots and with that a ton of myths surrounding them, same as running myths. Steel toe cap boots are superior to standard leather work boots because they offer crush and puncture protection, an invaluable level of peace of mind that you need when the worksite is littered with potential threats.
Sole Plate Protection - There’s always something that could go wrong, so consider sole plate protection to be insurance against the unknown. These plates not only provide better stability and prevent leather warping over time, but they act as puncture resistance against unforeseen objects that you might step on. This is practically a must for construction workers who fluctuate from site to site.
Waterproofing - It’s going to get slippery at some point while you’re trying to get the job done, and waterproofing ensures that your boots won’t immediately deteriorate from direct contact. Waterproofing is attributed to two factors: added protective coatings or sprays, and the build of the boot. The former can be applied at home (as we’ll talk about in a moment), but it can’t beat the natural waterproofing of a tight-stitched pair of boots and quality craftsmanship.
Durability - Leather, steel toes, quality laces, stitching strength—there’s a lot of ways to determine durability. Look at your current pair of work boots, and find the most damaged areas. That’s likely correlated to your job and the specific tasks you have to carry out, so find boots with additional durability in those areas (or higher quality materials than your current pair).
Ankle Support - The reason the cuffs are so high on many of these boots is to stabilize your ankles. Men’s work boots are designed to prevent ankle injuries from a slip or fall, while also giving you the stopping power you need to tackle those harder-than-they-should-be tasks.
Comfort - You’re wearing these for six to twelve hours a day (at least); comfort is key, especially if you hope to get years of use out of these safety boots. We’ve done our best to find the most comfortable work boots, but it also depends on your feet: it’s important to get the best work boots for your condition, whether it’s being flat-footed or requiring better arch support. Comfort is highly attributed to the insole quality and the angle of the heel, as well as breathability.
Slip Resistance - Most jobs that require waterproof work boots mean you’re consistently getting into slippery situations, and slip resistance matters. No two boots are created equal in these regards because no manufacturer can account for all variables. Slip resistance ratings are laboratory-based and usually only tested on flooring materials that rank high in causation accident reports.
How To Clean And Maintain Work Boots
Maintaining and cleaning are two different things, which is why we wanted to show you how to do both simultaneously. Use these cleaning methods and preventative maintenance tricks to keep your work boots in full form long past their warranty expiration date.
- Use a dry cloth to remove as much gunk from the exterior as possible. We don’t know what job you’re doing, but there’s likely to be contaminants and stuck-on gunk from whatever it is that you’re doing. You won’t be able to get everything off, but 90% of all debris should be removed to continue.
- Clean or replace your insoles. If you’ve dished out the cash on a high-end insole, then you need to properly clean them or replace them from time to time. There’s a lot of sweat and odor buildup that happens in your boots, and we can’t dissect them to clean the inside with a scrub brush. Take care of your insoles and place them aside for now.
- Get a soft bristle brush and a bowl of warm water with two drops of dishwashing soap inside. Mix it with the brush, and gently clean your boots from the exterior of the heel working your way down. The most difficult areas to clean will be the seam between the boot and the outsole, and the rigid grooves on the bottom of your boots.
- Apply a leather conditioner to the outside. Depending on which brand you use, follow the instructions to a tee.
- Use a spot of leather polish to return the luster to your boots.
- Weatherproof the exterior of your boots with a waterproofing spray. Depending on what your job is, you’ll have to do this once a month, or as infrequently as six months, but no longer than that. This protects your boots from nearly all future harm, but it does wear off as time goes on.
- Return your insoles, apply Odor Eaters to reduce bacterial buildup, and you’re good to go.
Work Boot FAQ
Q: What are the different heights of work boots?
A: You can find work boot heel heights anywhere from 3/4 of an inch, up to two inches. Depending on what task you’re regularly performing in your job, you’ll need different heights. Be sure to ask for the OSHA guidelines in your specific job via your manager or operating personnel expert so you can meet all the necessary guidelines on heel and overall boot height.
3/4” - These boots are usually multi-purpose, average work boot heights. The hell isn’t too high, but as a result, you won’t be treading any water in these boots if you want the outsole to remain intact.
1”/1.5” - You will see a lot of insulated work boots (some with a steel cap) in this height range. These generally have better waterproofing, and of course, the higher heel means you’ll be able to tread through more without getting tripped up.
1.75”/2” - This is when you’re getting to the big leagues. Farm work, heavy-duty wet work, and other dirty jobs require bigger boots.
Pay attention to the angle on the heel as well. It’s rare to see anything outside of a 45-degree angle because this is what you’re likely used to wearing and have been wearing all of your life. Whether you’re in a pair of lightweight work boots or those designed for heavy-duty, a 45-degree angle helps retain the natural feeling of walking on your bare feet.
For the actual height of the boot itself, you’ll see a lot of 6” tall boots up to 8” boots that offer enhanced ankle protection. When you get above 9-12”, you’re in the early realm of cowboy boots for literal ranching. The taller the boot, the more ankle and low calf protection you have, but the more difficult they’re going to be to put on at the start of every workday.
Q: What is the best way to break-in work boots?
A: Most people prefer full leather work boots, though you will run into material meshes in pairs of winter work boots from time to time. Regardless of what material or style you’ve gone with, they’re all going to broken in relatively the same way. Here are some tips to get it done the right way.
A few things to do:
- Only use your work boots at work. If you’re using them for leisure, you’ll be breaking them in, but not in the way that you need. Wearing these boots exclusively to work breaks them into work conditions, and when you wear them outside of work, you’re wearing them down more than you need to be.
- Apply leather conditioner from time to time. Breaking in your boots means cracking the leather and bending the materials, but a bit of conditioner can help protect the materials even after you’ve put them through immense stress.
- Unlace them when you get home, don’t pull them back from your heel and pop them off your feet. You’re stretching out the collar every time you do this, which is going to ruin the fit after a short period of time. Unlace them, place them in a cool and dry area to avoid mold buildup and the right areas of your boots will break-in.
- Keep in mind that it can take up to six weeks to properly break-in your work boots, so don’t be discouraged if it appears to take a while to get the job done. Avoid shortcuts that include extreme heat and water treatments, or “break-in hacks,” so you don’t damage the integrity of the leather and soles.