A Guide to Selecting a Pair of Construction Boots
If you engage in construction or electrical work, it’s important that you have adequate footwear. You’ll need a shoe with special protection for your toes so that you don’t get injured from falling objects. If you work with high voltage, you may need special shoes with insulation to protect against electrical hazards. You may also require soles that will maintain traction even on slippery surfaces, and that are thick enough so that they won’t get punctured by sharp objects. All told a good pair of construction boots is a necessity.
We’ll go through some features of special construction boots. We’ll examine when should you insist on steel-tipped shoes, and when are composite tips enough. Or what you can expect from boots to protect against electrical hazards. And we’ll help you decide when you’ll need low-cut, mid-calf, or knee-high boots. You’ll know what to look for to get construction boots that offer adequate protection, and are also comfortable!
What is the shaft of a construction boot?
The shaft of a construction boot refers to the part of the boot that covers the upper portion of the foot, or the ankle, and sometimes extends higher up the leg. The shaft of a construction boot is typically made from durable materials such as leather, synthetic materials, or a combination of both. It should offer protection against hazards like falling objects, impacts, abrasions, and environmental elements encountered in construction sites. There are three different heights of shafts that you’ll see among construction boots:
Low-Cut or Ankle Boots: These boots have a shorter shaft that generally sits just above the ankle. They provide flexibility and ease of movement, making them suitable for lighter construction work or when more freedom of ankle movement is desired. The Skechers Men's Greetah Construction Shoe is a low-cut shoe.
Skechers Men's Greetah Construction Shoe
Mid-Calf Boots: These boots have a shaft that extends to the middle of the calf. They provide more coverage and support compared to ankle boots and are commonly used in various construction applications. The Timberland Pro Men’s Pit Boss Soft Toe Work Boot has a 6”-high shaft.
Timberland Pro Men’s Pit Boss Soft Toe Work Boot
Knee-High Boots: These boots have a shaft that reaches up to or just below the knee. They provide maximum coverage and protection to the lower leg and are often preferred in rugged construction environments or when additional leg support is needed. An example is the Wolverine Men's Rancher 10" Square Toe Steel Toe Work Boot, whose shaft measures 11.5” from the arch of your foot.
Wolverine Men's Rancher 10" Square Toe Steel Toe Work Boot
The height of the shaft is an important consideration when choosing construction boots as it affects ankle support, protection, and the level of coverage required for the specific job or work conditions.
What are Electrical Hazard Construction Boots?
Construction boots designed to be safe against electrical hazards, often referred to as Electrical Hazard (EH) boots, should possess specific features to provide adequate protection. Here are some key elements these boots typically have:
Insulated Soles: EH boots have specially designed soles that provide insulation against electrical currents. They are made of non-conductive materials, such as rubber or high-density polyurethane, which help prevent electricity from passing through the sole and reaching the wearer's feet.
Non-Conductive Construction: The entire boot, including the upper portion, should be made of materials that are non-conductive and do not conduct electricity. This helps minimize the risk of electrical current flowing through the boot and coming into contact with the wearer's skin.
Compliance with Safety Standards: EH boots should meet relevant safety standards established by organizations like the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These standards ensure that the boots provide the necessary level of electrical hazard protection.
Markings and Certifications: Look for boots that are clearly marked as EH-rated or have appropriate electrical hazard certifications. This indicates that the boots have been tested and certified to meet the required safety standards for electrical hazard protection.
It's important to note that EH boots provide insulation against electrical shocks in dry conditions. They are not designed to protect against immersion in water or high-voltage electrical hazards. For those specific situations, additional safety measures and specialized boots may be necessary.
Types of Construction Boots
There are several types of construction boots designed to provide safety and comfort for workers in the construction industry. Many combine several desirable features at once. Here are some common types:
Steel-Toe Boots: These boots have a reinforced steel cap over the toe area to protect against impacts and compression from falling objects or heavy machinery. An example is the Cat Footwear Men’s Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot.
Cat Footwear Men’s Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot
Composite-Toe Boots: Similar to steel-toe boots, composite-toe boots have a non-metallic toe cap made of materials like carbon fiber or Kevlar. They provide similar protection but are lighter and do not conduct heat or cold like steel. An example is the Keen Utility Men’s Davenport 6” Composite Toe Insulated Waterproof Work Boot. The composite toe makes it 10% lighter than a steel-tipped boot. It’s also waterproof, slip-resistant, and offers electrical hazard protection.
Keen Utility Men’s Davenport 6” Composite Toe Insulated Waterproof Work Boot
Electrical Hazard (EH) Boots: EH boots are designed to provide insulation against electrical hazards. They have soles that are resistant to electrical shocks and protect the wearer from accidental contact with live electrical circuits. An example is the Skechers Men’s Greetah Construction Shoe.
Skechers Men’s Greetah Construction Shoe
Slip-Resistant Boots: These boots have outsoles specifically designed to provide excellent traction and reduce the risk of slipping on wet or oily surfaces commonly found on construction sites. An example is the Ever Boots “Tank” Work Boots for Men. They’re not waterproof, but they are oil- and slip-resistant.
Ever Boots “Tank” Work Boots for Men
Waterproof Boots: Construction sites often have wet and muddy conditions, so waterproof boots are essential to keep feet dry and comfortable. They are typically made with water-resistant materials and have sealed seams. An example is the Wolverine Men's I-90 Waterproof Soft-Toe Romeo Slip-on Construction Boot.
Wolverine Men's I-90 Waterproof Soft-Toe Romeo Slip-on Construction Boots
Insulated Boots: When working in cold weather or in environments with low temperatures, insulated boots help keep feet warm by providing additional insulation and retaining body heat. An example is the Cat Footwear Men's Diagnostic Hi St Work Boot. It includes 200 grams of Thinsulate insulation against the cold, as well as slip-resistance, waterproofing, and electrical hazard protection.
Cat Footwear Men's Diagnostic Hi St Work Boot
These are just a few examples of the types of construction boots available. It's important to choose boots that meet the specific safety requirements of your work environment and provide a comfortable fit for long hours of wear.
What reviewers say
We went over some customers’ impressions of the construction boots that they bought:
Regularly use hard wax shoe polish: One customer who bought the Timberland Pro Men's Pit Boss 6 Inch Soft Toe Work Boot said that proper maintenance of his rough-leather boots was very important. That included using hard wax shoe polish that contains clay and carnauba wax. The wax will moisturize the leather and protect it from water damage. Also, hard wax shoe polish will protect the leather from abrasions from sharp rocks or lumber.
Important for people standing all day: Customers who bought the Wolverine Men's Loader 6" Wedge Boot said that people who use other brands of construction boots regularly complained of pain in their feet. When they changed to the Wolverines, they said it felt like they were walking on clouds!
Good for hiking as well: The thick soles on many of these construction boots will also provide protection against sharp objects. Also, since the leather typically has been softened to not cause chafing and irritation, these boots will not cause blisters when hiking long distances.
Here are some tips about features to look for when choosing construction boots:
Comfort considerations: Certain construction boots will have features so that you’ll stay comfortable during a full day at work. The Wolverine Men's Loader 6" Wedge Boot has a padded collar surrounding your ankle, which allows your feet to stay cool. Even though the leather may be a bit stiff at first, you can expect the boot to get more comfortable as you break them in.
Thickness of the soles: You’ll see construction boots with rubber or soles from man-made materials. Rubber soles have better slip resistance on oily surfaces, and are usually more durable than man-made materials such as polyurethane (PU), ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), or thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). On the other hand, soles from these man-made materials are typically more lightweight, provide more cushioning, and have better resistance to industrial-type chemicals than rubber soles.
Steel-tipped vs. composite-tipped boots: Steel-tipped and composite-tipped boots both protect your toes. But which should you choose?
When to prefer steel-toe boots: If there’s a risk of heavy objects falling or rolling onto the feet. Also, industries such as construction, manufacturing, and heavy equipment operations often require steel-toe boots due to the nature of the work and the potential for heavy objects. Also, steel may transfer heat or cold, making you feel colder in cold weather and hotter in hot weather.
When to prefer composite-toe boots: Certain work environments, such as electrical or electronic industries, strictly prohibit the use of metal components due to electrical conductivity risks. Composite-toe boots are a better alternative because they are made of non-metallic, non-conducting, and non-magnetic materials like carbon fiber or Kevlar. They also provide comparable protection against impact and compression while being non-conductive. Composite-toe materials are also lighter, so you won’t get fatigued so much from wearing them.
We went through some of the features of the best construction boots, whether they’re for protection against dropping heavy objects on your foot, or against slipping or electrical hazards. Consider the amount of mobility, comfort, and type of protection that you require, and select a pair of construction boots accordingly!