Not all work boots are created equally. I take that back: not all work boots are created with the same job in mind. A good work boot is purposeisn’t a work boot to cover every job nor is there a ‘work boot to end all work boots.’ You wouldn’t catch a lineman wearing steel toe oxfords, and you’d be hard pressed to find a factory worker wearing logger boots on the assembly line. This section groups work boot styles by height and then by their intended application.
These low styles are popular among assembly line workers, office workers, supervisors, and factory foremen. These shoes are generally light, breathable, and well-cushioned to accommodate long hours standing in one place
Safety toe dress shoes and oxfords are popular among white-collar employees who only spend a fraction of their time on the factory floor and want to meet office dress code.
Safety toe athletics and hikers are popular among assembly line workers for their light weight flexibility, breathability, and comfort.
Six inches is generally the lowest required height for a boot with ankle support. Six inch boots come in a variety of styles: from traditional leather boots like your father used to wear, to newer hiker style work boots.
Those who require at least six inches of ankle support are generally responsible for lifting and carrying large loads in excess of 50 lbs. or are up and down ladders or ramps on a regular basis. Six inches of ankle support prevents the worker from rolling their ankles in these sorts of environments.
Eight inch work boots are for those who require or prefer more ankle support than a six inch boot. Along with their added height, eight inch work boots generally feature some amount of insulation, although there are exceptions to this. Many boot and shoe manufacturers offer six and eight inch versions of the same boot to accommodate both customers. For example, Red Wing manufactures a line of King Toe work shoes and boots which includes an oxford and a six and eight inch boot, all of which are built upon the same platform.
Most pull-on boots (‘Wellingtons’ and Western boots) are eight inches in height and are popular among those who work in metal fabrication. For welders, the absence of laces eliminates the problem of burnt laces.
Logger and lineman boots are similar in construction, though lineman boots have additional features which distinguish them from traditional logger boots. Both styles utilize a Goodyear Welt or stich-down construction (for more on welts and shoe construction visit our ‘Shoe Construction’ page). Deep lugs and high, defined heels designed to improve traction on logs and varying terrain are common on the majority of logger boots. Kilties (aka ‘brush’ or ‘tongue’ guards) are also common. Logger boots generally range between nine and ten inches in height. ‘Caulks,’ or spikes, are a special feature on some logger boots which allow for greater traction on logs.
Four additional features distinguish lineman boots from logger boots: leather side patches, steel side plates, steel heel plates, and leather half slips. Leather side patches and steel side plates protect premature wear from climbing poles. Steel heel plates provide underfoot support and protection against climbing poles (‘gaffes’), minimizing fatigue. Leather half slips provide additional support in the midsole and make for a more comfortable climb. While the majority of lineman boots are nine to ten inches in height, much taller styles are available for those seeking additional protection higher up the leg. Lineman boots feature a variety of outsoles; some feature deeper lugs, while others feature very little traction. Caulks and climbing spikes are also used on lineman boots to improve traction while climbing.
TREE CLIMBING/FORESTRY BOOTS
Generally worn by arborists, tree climbing and forestry boots offer a combination of lightweight support and flexibility with added protection from occupational hazards such as chainsaws and punctures. Unlike logger and lineman boots, climbing boots typically feature a direct-attach construction and resemble backpacking boots. External and internal metatarsal guards protect the instep from extreme drop hazards, including chainsaw drops if the boots are rated for chainsaw protection. Kevlar is often utilized to protect against chainsaw drops. Puncture resistant plates, located in the midsole, prevent sharp objects from penetrating the boot. Like logger and lineman boots, specialty climbing boots are occasionally fitted with caulks to improve traction while climbing trees.