The Art of Smart Purchasing: Work Boots

The Art of Smart Purchasing: Work Boots

For many physical jobs, the importance of work boots cannot be understated. A higher quality (and more expensive) shoe not only lasts longer, but needs less breaking in, and gives your feet the support they need.

The Art of Smart Purchasing: Work Boots

This post will be useful to you if you are buying new work boots or if you’re looking to join a construction site and want to make the most of them. We mention reasons why you may want to upgrade and buy high-quality, and mention some of the common foot problems most blue collar workers have with foot pain.  

Carl Richards Chart

Carl Richard, economist, outlines the long-term satisfaction born of buying high-quality goods. 

7 Reasons to Spend More Money On Your Work Boots

1. You only have the two feet you were born with. Keep them protected and in relatively good shape - because the older years don’t wait for anyone.

2. "Two things a man should spend good money on his boots and his bed, if you're not in one you're in the other" -Tyler Ruthenbeck, personal trainer

3. “You get what you pay for.”

4. New York Times writer Carl Richards breaks down why the poor remain poor and why the rich continue to remain rich --- in this quote:  

“Good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford $50 had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in 10 years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet. This was the Captain Samuel Vimes “Boots” theory of socioeconomic unfairness.” -Carl Richards

5. "We’d never criticize someone for spending money on their feet.” 

6. “You’ll be taken more seriously at the job site. They are evaluating you on the construction equipment you come in with. Having a mid to high end boot - whether it be steel toe or not, can help make the difference with a finicky employer.” -Joe Zandry, construction worker, retired

7. If you've worn cheap shoes your whole life, you'll pay way more at the doctor than you ended up saving on all those cheap work shoe pairs. The money cost turns into a health cost, and the healthcost is significantly higher. 

Would You Pay $357 For a Pair of Boots?

Mechanic, farmer, and handyman Chase5726 did. In this video he breaks down his $357 cost for a pair of Redwing 4448. Here are the key points: 

Red wing shoes Chase

$265 on the boots
$60 on Dr. Scholls insoles

Chase worked in a job that had him slugging through hydraulic fluid (comprised grimy oils, petroleum, and chemically abrasive butanol). Conditions were tough. He recalls days when the hydraulic fluid would seep inside the shoe, and he could feel it on his skin. Nevertheless, the pair of boots lasted him 2.5 years, which is why, at the time of the video’s recording, he opted to purchase another pair.

On Your Feet All Day With Work Boots

If you’re walking a lot, either in a field, or through an Amazon warehouse, you need shoes that you can put miles on. Steel toed boots may not be the best option for this. Search instead for a comfortable pair of sneakers, running shoes with ankle support, or even a pair of hiking shoes. 

Hiking shoe

Foot Problems Caused By Bad Shoes

When shoes don’t fit, or don’t break in properly, or continued to be used with moisture inside, you’re going to have a bad time. Rubbing, swelling, and binding of feet - or a part of the foot - can cause minor issues to develop over time. While minor, these bunions can escalate into plantar fascitis or metatarsal foot pain. 

8 Common Foot Problems and Their Causes

1. Athlete’s foot – Bacteria growth from poor ventilation and excessive heat
2. Blisters – Ill-fitting boots will little or too much room inside. Also can be caused by sweat or wet socks
3. Corns and calluses – Not enough room in the toe box and repeated pressure on the same spot
4. Ingrown toenails – Narrow boots that cause toes to press against one another
5. Swelling – Tight boots and a lack of mobility
6. Fallen arches – A lack of arch support and padding
7. Aching feet – Not enough shock absorption and support for walking on hard surfaces
8. Bunions – Tight boots that squeeze the toes together

Industries Where Work Boots Are Used

industries where work boots are used

Image property of Calzatech

Not mentioned on this list but still important: Delivery Drivers, Welders, Electricians, Plumbers, and Firefighters. 

(Did you know Leather Care Supply has a discount for military, firefighter, and service members whenever they purchase shoe care products here). 

service members in boots walking

On the Job Functionality

Depending on your profession, you may be needing one or more of these additional functionalities in your shoe: 

1. Anti-perforated sole

2. Heat and flame resistant

3. Oil & Hydrocarbon resistant

4. Impact Resistant

5. Anti-static 

6. Reinforced Toe (commonly known as steel toed or hard toed boot)

7. Water resistance

8. Shock Absorption

calzatech functionality

Best Brands of Work Boots 

After scouring through Reddit, interviewing friends of mine in construction workers, and reading thorough guides (like this one) on the subject of work boots, I've put together a list of the best workboot brands. This list is by no means extensive, but serves to highlight some of the highest-tier key players in the work boot game. 

1. Red Wing

2. Thoroughgoods

3. Timbaland Pro 

Worst brand = Caterpillar

red mud shoe boots clay

Best Shoe Products for Blue Collar Workers

High-quality work boots are a big investment that you should protect. Good maintenance will help retain the protective and insulating parts of the boots, as well as freshen up and make the leather more pliant.

Tuff Toe polyurethane adhesive with abrasion, chemical and water resistant abilities. It is designed to give your shoe toe another coat of protection & provide long term protection for your footwear.

KG's Boot Guard heavy duty laces. Whether you're a wildlife firefighter or in the military, laces like these are braided for extra durability. 

Read more about callous protectors, foot gyms, and foot massage balls in the article "Foot Health Products Make a Difference"

Why Write About Cheap Work Shoes

My parents were immigrants to this country and had to work hard in order to make their kid a writer. Unfortunately, my mother, who works as a cake decorator in a bakery, still experiences the discomfort of rubber slip shoes. In addition, she has always been frugal, and opted for cheap WalMart pairs (as opposed to the more expensive ones that would have been kinder on her feet, but $150.00+). 

I wrote this article because I've seen first hand how difficult it is to work in kitchens, catering trucks, out in the hot field, or busy rushing orders in a manufacturing facility. I hope this article helps and informs blue collar workers to better take care of their shoes and health. 

Money's always an issue, but it's better to pay double now, then pay a podiatrist or doctor thousands of dollars when you're old and broken. At that point, the damage is irreversible. 

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  • Alex Pop
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