You can wear these waterproof work boots with confidence
If you prefer suede boots, you know what wet weather or a dirty job site can do to them: serious damage. As such, you won’t (or at least shouldn’t) see many trudging through fresh snow or wading through an ankle-deep puddle in their sleek Chelseas. These tasks are best saved for boots designed to get dirty – the ones you don’t have to worry about ruining.
They were built to withstand the dirtiest, wettest and wildest (you name it) workdays or weather conditions. Which are they? Well, there are duck, mud, rain and snow boots, but there are also general purpose work boots. While the former don’t protect much more than water, the latter are often equipped with protective toes and padded collars. They are best suited for places where injuries could (but hopefully won’t) happen.
What to look for
With work boots, whatever your job, you want a design that can perform everyday but also protects your feet from moving vehicles, heavy objects or slippery floors – whatever the day throws at you. Versatility is important, but so is comfort. If your job requires work boots, it’s fair to say that you probably work standing up. A comfortable insole is a must, but most boots are big enough to accommodate an insert – like Fulton’s cork, which molds to your foot with wear.
Other must-haves include a high collar, reinforced toe, lug sole and non-slip tread. Tall boots can protect your ankle as well as areas where trouser hems might be exposed when you stand up. Steel toes are a smart choice, but they are expensive. Most people can get by with a reinforced toe box alone. The lug sole and non-slip tread ensure control on slippery surfaces, in muddy work areas or on debris-covered jobsites.
And, as we say with all boots, really, an expensive boot is almost always worth as long as its features justify the price – not just its aesthetics. Not only do great boots last longer, they also look better as they age, saving you the money you’d otherwise spend every year on a new pair.
Terms to know
A steel toe is the surest way to ensure that yours won’t be crushed under moving machinery or unwanted raw materials. Of course, there are other options – a cap or aluminum – but steel is the stronger choice.
Electric Shock Resistant (ESR), Heat Resistant (HR), Acid Resistant (AR), Electrical Hazard (EH)
These are all ratings that determine whether a boot will prevent electric shock if you walk on exposed wire, maintain high temperatures, protect against acid erosion, and more.
A membrane, in this industry, is a protective layer that separates the wearer inside the boot from the elements. Membranes are also often breathable, so they keep you dry while letting sweat evaporate.
A leather boot can be waterproofed using an oil coating. Most oiled boots also require minimal care and maintenance – just cleaning and conditioning every few months (or sooner if you really put them to the test).