Standing all day on rooftops, hot pavement, and cold scaffolding, your work boots can be as important a tool as your cordless drill. And thanks to new technologies in materials and construction, as well as some existing proven offerings, there are plenty of options for your feet that not only keep you safe, but that also protect all day, last a long time, and, of course, make you look pretty good doing it.
Comfort and durability are two of the key details workers are looking for in boots, some manufacturers say. And they're there: Boots that are tough enough to stand the test of time?but don't feel so tough on your feet.
"They certainly want durability," says Mike Donabauer, vice president of marketing and planning for Wolverine Footwear. "?but now we're able to provide that durability and also give them lighter weight, more flexibility, and increased comfort."
In addition to comfort and flexibility, the growing number of younger workers is leading the charge for footwear that function like work boots, but offer the feel of athletic shoes. It's also increasing attention on aesthetics, especially as workers desire to be able to go from jobsite to after-work social settings (or client meetings) without having to remove their boots.
Here's a run-through of some of the newest boots to hit the market that boast new technologies in comfort, support, and styling.
Wolverine's Multishox boots, introduced last year, feature multiple compression pads in the heel and forefoot that respond to the individual's unique foot movements to absorb shock and return energy. An advanced polyurethane in the midsole is 30 percent lighter than other mid-sole materials, the maker says. Also included is a comfort flex arch for extra support, a comfort gel insole for extra cushioning, and a slip-, heat-, and abrasion-resistant rubber outsole. Goodyear welt construction ensures durability. 800-545-2425; www.wolverine.com.
The Timberland Pro Series includes the Titan work boot, which features a titanium alloy toe that provides the same protection and compliance as a steel toe, but with a lighter weight. The boots include the PowerFit Comfort System of zoned insoles and flex grooves that provide greater range of motion, support, and cushioning. The polyurethane midsole with high-rebound heel insert provides cushioning and energy return and a nylon diffusion shank offers torsional rigidity. A soft-toe version also is available. 800-258-0855; www.timberland.com.
DeWalt's line of work boots provide comfort and durability. The Foundation boot has the company's Flexible Technology with Heel Protection System that does not require breaking in and features a flexible PVC insole for instant comfort and less fatigue, a heel support system for stability and support, a removable cushioned football with gel heel pad for lightweight cushioning and shock reduction, and Goodyear welt construction for durability. Six- and 8-inch models are available in three upper styles. 800-433-9258; www.dewalt.com.
To combine the durability of a work boot with the feel of an athletic shoe, CAT Footwear's iTechnology features a hard-wearing outsole and Goodyear welt construction for strength and resilience combined with an athletic heel cradle for all-day comfort and a molded polyurethane footbed for additional shock absorption. In addition, the boots are designed for style with contemporary design details added to the classic upper look and a unique outsole design for each style. 800-789-8586; www.catfootwear.com.
To create its line of footwear, Michelin Footwear Technologies harnesses the expertise of its parent company, tire maker Michelin, to create specially engineered soles that function like the tire treads they're modeled after. For example, one tread is modeled after the Pilot Exalto, a tire designed to perform in dry or damp conditions. Its bi-material sole has an abrasion-resistant perimeter with sharp edge lugs that provide more traction, along with a softer center portion of the heel and forefoot for traction in wet conditions. The interior shoe design, for which the company consulted doctors and other experts, was inspired by the cradle effect of an automotive racing seat, resulting in a chassis-based system that cradles the foot with a built-in orthodic. A buffer between the toe and the steel toe prevents pinching. 888-432-7749; www.michelin.com/footwear.
For its work boots, LaCrosse now offers the Quad Comfort 4x8 system, which boasts four cushioning layers from the footbed to the outside, including Quad Core, an industry-first cushioning in the insole board that replaces zones in the hard insole board in the heel and forefoot with cushioned shock pads that relieve pressure without compromising support. Other features include Hyper-dri barrier lining for waterproof protection, a long-wearing, slip-resistant outsole, and a dual-density polyurethane midsole. 800-323-2668; www.lacrossefootwear.com.
West Coast Shoe Co. offers customized boots and fitting to ensure the right fit–and a unique look–for each user, including selections for lacing, heel, outsole, toes, and other options. The boots are handcrafted using a 155-step process; the sturdy boot design is the same as the company's original. The company has enhanced its aesthetic options, including adding new leather options and new colors for the boots' heavy stitching. A variety of job-specific styles are offered, including Jobmaster and Timber. 800-326-2711; www.westcoastshoe.com.