Here is a detailed guide on buying comfortable work boots for your job. The guide is also applicable to steel toe boots or composite toe boots. Here are the most important factors you should consider when buying safety shoes.
Getting a good fit work boot is essential for foot comfort. Take your time to ensure the work boots you’re buying has the right fit. Boots that are too narrow or short can be uncomfortable, while boots that are too big allow for too much movement and cause hot spots and blisters.
Make sure any new boot you try on fits:
- The instep should be snug without being tight. If this instep is loose it causes the heel to slip too much. If it’s tight, it can be painful for the heel and toe. Find the right instep by considering different widths.
- You must be able to rest the ball of your foot on the ball of the boot. The ball of your foot will be too far forward if work boots are too short. It will force the toes into the toe box of the boot and cause pain.
- Ensure that laces are snug and hold your feet in place comfortably. They should prevent feet from sliding forward without being so tight.
- Don’t forget that feet swell during the day, especially when the weather is hot. Consider to buy your boots after working hours, if possible, as this is when feet are at their biggest.
Overall weight is bound to be a factor that impacts foot and leg fatigue. Heavy work boots fatigue legs and feet faster than a lighter boot. It’s a common misconception that heavy boots are more durable. Heavy boots are more fatiguing, but are not necessarily more durable.
Full-grain leather boots and welted construction boots are very durable and are a great choice for most jobs. However, there are limitations to how light they can be because the raw materials used is heavy. There are plenty of synthetic and mesh boots made to be as light and durable as possible to be used for work. While leather is still the traditional for work boots, synthetic materials have a number of benefits and are being used in work boots and continuously tested and improved. Trying work boots with synthetic materials is great for decreasing the overall weight of the boot which reduces fatigue.
Another major factor in fatigue is the overall balance of boots from heel to toe. When boots are toe-heavy they can cause sore shins and shin splints, which forces larger muscles to work harder to compensate and speed up fatigue in those muscles. It becomes a cycle of soreness that cause yet more fatigue and may cause a serious injury.
Consider the balance of a work boot when holding it. Is the toe heavier than the rest of it? Steel-toe caps are an industry standard and protect toes to ASTM standards, however technology continues to be innovated. This includes the creation of composite, aluminium, and carbon safety caps that are much lighter than steel while still protecting feet; offering protective but light and balanced boots.
Cushioning is vital for comfort, but more cushioning isn’t always better; it’s good to find boots that have the necessary amount of cushioning for your job.
Well-cushioned insoles are best for people who are standing all day and people who are subjected to vibration such as on the factory floor or using a jackhammer, and won’t be needed to move around a lot during the day.
Work Boots that are well cushioned are not effective for people who needs to walk around all day at the job, and can actually increase fatigue. Consider how much extra effort it takes to walk on sand compared to concrete given that it shifts and doesn’t return energy as you move. People who move a lot get a more natural flex with design features such as a toe-spring – where the toe on the boot curves up slightly – particularly with welted boots. Boots with stiffer frames that absorb shocks closer to the ground – rather than having a soft material by the foot – are able to absorb shocks and return energy to wearers to allow for more effective energy use. Hence these type of work boots are best for people who needs to walk all day.
New work boots usually come with generic insoles that are no good for supporting feet, never mind your work. A cheap insole from a drug store wouldn’t be much of an improvement either. They may offer some initial relief but they lack the structure necessary to support your feet throughout the day. You need insoles that provide arch support.
Dual layer memory foam insoles with deep heel cups and shot contoured arch support is recommended for people with regular arch and high arch feet. Insoles with add-on orthotic pieces are best for flat arch feet because they offer extra support. It’s best to have the choice to switch between rigid and semi-rigid orthotic arch support. The orthotic insole should still have a soft memory foam insole base to provide shock absorption and cushioning.
Most people overlook the difference the right pair of socks can make, but that doesn’t make them any less important. Get some high quality work boot socks. Heavy duty socks are durable and more comfy. Hiking socks are a good choice too as they dry quickly, helping to keep sweat-free in the summer.
When it comes to water the first defense is, of course, waterproof leather and a combination of an internal seam in the boot. This is a cost-efficient and effective level of waterproofing for people who occasionally work in a wet environment such as rain and mud. Waterproof leather stays breathable and is durable enough to keep feet dry and cool.