Stand and Deliver: The 14 Best Work Boots

A nice pair of shoes will let you go jogging or look nice when you’re trying to make a first impression, but they won’t get things done. That is what work boots are for. When you put on your finest sneakers you are saying that you’re ready to mosey down the boardwalk snacking on a hot dog. When you strap in to your boots, you are saying that you’re preparing to get down to business. You’re ready to tread through the muck and the blood to get where you’re going come hell or high water.

When you’re preparing for a long day ankle deep in a dirty job, you’ve got to have something on your feet that will protect them, support them, and work as hard as you do. You need something able to keep your toes from being broken, keep your arches from falling, and keep blisters from growing even after a double shift. They have to be light enough that you can move but thick enough to tread on embers as you kick ass and take names. Whatever your business, we’ve found the 13 best work boots to keep you covered.

Caterpillar Second Shift ST

Caterpillar Second Shift ST

Pro: Very sturdy
Con: Not ideal for walking or running

Safe and Sound: Rapidly becoming the workman’s go-to boot, the Second Shift can be found on job sites around the world because they combine comfort that works all day with the protection required for everything from climbing down a mine shaft to waltzing around a machine shop. The low price might be confusing, and in all honesty we couldn’t figure it out ourselves. The full grain leather body and reinforced toe will ensure that whatever your task you’ll never have to worry about your feet suffering. With deep treads and a thick sole you can expect to avoid taking a spill even when going across oil, gravel, or ice. The problem is they are hefty and will wear you down if you do a lot of walking or running. Comfortable and safety conscious, but capable of causing fatigue. [Purchase: $63+]

Wolverine Marauder Thinsulate

Wolverine Marauder Thinsulate

Pro: Very warm
Con: Can suffocate your feet

Winter Wear: Nearly all work boots work reasonably well as winter boots too since their superior protection makes them warm and partially waterproof, but the Marauders are a special breed. The lower profile version is good at keeping out the cold, but if you upgrade to the Thinsulate style, you’re really prepped for spending some time in the great outdoors. The high collar fits comfortably into your pant leg and avoids allowing any snow or wetness to sneak in over the wall. On the inside, a comfortable mesh lining helps prevent discomfort or abrasions from ruining your day, even after hours spent treading rough terrain. Extreme climates are no challenge and the leather exterior will keep snow and slush from seeping through, even at the seams. It’s doubtful that you will need thermal socks when wearing the Marauders. The only trouble is that they can become stifling if the sun suddenly comes out. [Purchase: $120]

Rothco Deployment Boot

Rothco Deployment Boot

Pro: Excellent air flow
Con: Wear out quickly

Tactician: Made with the military man in mind the deployment boot is a stealth and protection combo that is light enough for stalking and silent movement but strong enough to support you for hours of marching or just sitting in the back of a humvee. The suede body is soft and supple and will break down after extensive wear. Don’t expect much in the way of protection from cold weather, but do expect these to allow your feet to breath comfortably even during desert operations. If you expect to be spending some time in the sandbox, you won’t be disappointed with this offering from Rothco. Just don’t ask for much longevity as they are designed to wear out like most tactical equipment. [Purchase: $62+]

Danner Mens Radical 452 GTX

Danner Men’s Radical 452 GTX

Pro: Fit tightly
Con: Requires extra time to break in

Shoe-In: The Radical GTX is as close to a shoe as you can find in a work boot and are made for speed rather than invulnerability. The nubuck liner and Gore-Tex body will keep your feet warm without causing them to scream for air. They’re reasonably waterproof, but you still might want to think twice before submerging them in a steam, though they will dry off rapidly. Then neck isn’t very high but they lace up securely and make you feel like you are wearing a much taller boot. The high, rigid arches give good, solid comfort though they can feel a little too stiff at first. Expect to spend a little more time breaking these in since they seem to have the DNA of hiking boots. Not ideal for anyone who requires hardiness, but those that need the ability to move quickly will appreciate them. [Purchase: $128]

Timberland PRO Pitboss

Timberland PRO Pitboss

Pro: Thick outersole for better protection
Con: Heavy

Fights Frying: Welders and electricians alike agree that there are few work boots better for keeping both flames and frayed cords from doing damage to your feet than the Pitboss. They hit all the criteria set down by ANSI and OSHA for helping keep your body safe from sizzling. The rubber sole is extra thick which can cause problems if you’re hot-footing across a girder, but for keeping sparks from breaking through it is ideal. The liner is removable so that you can wash it separately to combat odors or bacterial growth. The grounding is second to none while the deep treads and improved support will allow you to be comfortable even if stuck bending over or hunched down for long periods of time. The extra protection means more weight which will make field work or skipping through meadows difficult. [Purchase: $83]

Original MuckBoots

Original MuckBoots

Pro: Sheds dirt easily
Con: Poor ice traction

Water Wary: Never again will you need to bother stuffing your feet into waterproof socks before going to a job. Even if you expect to be wading in a septic tank, the MuckBoots will keep you high and dry. The stretch nylon works to accommodate whatever other footwear you choose while also snapping down tight to prevent leaks. Grime, muck, and dung fall away easily from the rubber overlay so you won’t have to worry about tracking foulness or filth around with you wherever you go. The diamond tread will give you good traction even when submerged though it doesn’t work well on ice, so be careful if going out in the winter. Well reinforced at the toe and heel but don’t expect excessive support at the arch or the ankle. [Purchase: $90]

WORX Cordura ST

WORX Cordura ST

Pro: Heavy-duty
Con: Can slip off

Hard Core: These have earned the beefcake award since they are made to take punishment. They are slip resistant even if walking across oil and the synthetic mesh body helps turn away sharp objects to minimize puncture potential. They are long, tall, and have a huge steel toe that makes them heavy as hell. You’ll never be fleet of foot while you have these on, but you won’t need to be. The dura welt seams are intended to last for years. Since these are slip-ons they are better for guys who expect to keep their feet on the ground. Any climbing or acrobatics will be difficult in the Conduras and the heavy body makes them very likely to slide off even if you are just climbing a ladder. The tread and traction are good even on ice and snow. [Purchase: $160]

Timberland Excave

Timberland Excave

Pro: Work well in hot and cold weather
Con: Bulky

Puncture Proof: The Excave is all about keeping your feet from taking an injury. They have a steel shank and an exterior metatarsal guard that is meant for working in shops or on sites where metal is flying and injuries abound. They lift your foot up and away from danger with the thicker sole while the leather and textile upper prevents punctures from above. The collar is highly adjustable so you can tighten it down or let it flap in the breeze however you wish. Works equally well indoors as out so you’re fine whether in the garage or stepping out around the sawmill. The insole is treated with antimicrobials to help reduce odor and keep your feet healthy. Truly a work boot for all seasons. [Purchase: $120+]

Keen Utility Tacoma

Keen Utility Tacoma

Pro: Improved agility
Con: Loose fit at the toes

Lightweight: One of the biggest complaints about work boots is they can keep you safe or they can be light enough for lots of walking. Rarely can they do both. The Tacoma is meant to bridge that gap. The steel toe doesn’t cover as much of the foot as other boots since it is made with agility in mind. They didn’t necessarily skimp, they just reduced the coverage over the smaller toes where impact is less likely and fewer accidents occur. The collar has very thick padding that make the Tacoma comfortable and cradles your ankle throughout the day. The toe box is wider than most and gives you extra air insulation to fight the elements. They work just as well for scrambling or climbing as they do for labor meaning they can be used as hiking boots if you need something protective when out in nature. [Purchase: $140]

Irish Setter Wingshooter

Irish Setter Wingshooter

Pro: Allows for quiet movement
Con: Limited insulation

High Tops: Some jobs are more interesting than others. Irish Setter dazzled us with their winter hunting boots, and the Wingshooter is another example of why trackers everywhere enjoy this brand. The prairie outsole provides just enough protection while still letting you feel the earth beneath your feet. You’ll never have to worry about making too much noise or snapping an inopportune twig just before you take your shot. The Wingshooters come with either a 6 inch or 9 inch height, though we prefer the taller model for improved support during long walks, especially in wet or cold weather. The soft sides can let cold come in so if you intend on spending your time hunkered down in a blind, you’ll need to add some layered socks to stay warm. These aren’t thick enough for kicking in doors because they are built for comfort and stealth. [Purchase: $144+]

Justin Double Comfort

Justin Double Comfort

Pro: Moves weight toward the front
Con: No steel toe

The Arch Duke: Under the prairie sky, comfort can be hard to find unless your feet are sitting in a pair of Justin’s. The western style work boot shifts the weight of the wearer toward the front to help prop up the center and relieve stress on the flat-footed. Even those without fallen arches will find the tilt helps improve balance and literally keep you on your toes so as to reduce pressure on the spine. Not only are they comfortable, but since they are built for riding the range they won’t hold dirt, grit, and mud as much as boots with a deeper tread, though their traction is still fairly good. The soft toe and sides are good for sitting in a stirrup but the lack of a steel toe can make them a liability if you work in one of the heavier industries. [Purchase: $117+]

Ariat Maverick

Ariat Maverick

Pro: Western style
Con: Picks up rocks

On the Range: Ariat has long been trusted by ranch hands and the great state of Texas, but the Maverick style is a slightly different breed. The soles have enough tread for even roughneckers out on oil rigs in the gulf coast to feel safe and secure walking around under the slickest of conditions. The enhanced square toe offers improved protection against stubs or stomps while still offering the old-school western appearance. The very wide tread helps channel water away, but will pick up larger grit and stones so make sure you’ve got a good pocket knife to keep them clean. [Purchase: $170]

Dr Martens Fusion

Dr. Martens Fusion

Pro: Slip-on
Con: Limited support

Simply Stylish: When you’re on the job, how sexy your feet look is a very distant thought from how safe they are, but that doesn’t mean you want to look second rate when you grab a couple of drinks at the end of a long day. The Fusion is a mixture of hip chelsea boot and comfortable work boot for kicking around the factory floor. The slip-on style works well for quick removal if necessary but won’t give you heavy support or stability up the ankle. Don’t try wandering too far off the beaten path or climbing any trees in these. They are strictly for urban or industrial wear. The outsole is well textured to avoid falling and the moisture wicking will keep sweat at bay. [Purchase: $95+]

Red Wings Classic Moc

Red Wings Classic Moc

Pro: Extra cushioning for standing on hard surfaces
Con: Soles can wear out quickly

Completely Classic: Red Wings are simplicity defined for the work boot. Like Converse tennis shoes there is something timeless about the build of Red Wings. The flatform soles are ideal for walking around a garage and give extra traction on concrete while providing the flexibility for when you need to get around, beneath, or behind a project. The comfortably cushioned midsole helps keep fatigue from standing on hard surfaces to a bare minimum. They can take a little time to break in, but once they’ve been through the grinder they will fit like a second skin. Some recent changes in the company have caused soles to wear thin quickly which means rough riders might need to make a few adjustments, but overall these are still a timeless boot. [Purchase: $185+]

Get The Goods

HiCONSUMPTION'S DAILY NEWSLETTER

Sign up for HiConsumption The Goods

© HiConsumption | DMCA

Back To Top