First released over a decade ago, the Second Shift remain one of Caterpillars most popular work boots. The reason for this simple. Despite being comfortable, durable, and surprisingly stylish given their age, most sizes come in below the $100 mark.
This not only makes them the ideal choice for budget conscious boot buyers. It makes them ideal for those who work in conditions that will destroy even the most expensive boots within a matter of months anyway (been there, done that).
As always, I’ll start with the small matter of comfort.
In case you can’t tell from the picture, these boots belong very firmly in the heavy duty category. As a result, the first day that you put them on, they will feel a little brick like. I therefore recommend at least a week of light wear before tackling a long shift.
Once the break in period is over, however, the reason for their popularity should become a lot clearer. For a low to mid priced boot, they’re significantly more comfortable than they ought to be.
The insole, while definitely a little on the thin side, is well contoured, and backed up by the Goodyear Welt sole. The inner lining is soft, especially along the top. And the result is a pair of boots that should keep your feet happy regardless of how long you’re standing on them.
One exception is if you work on concrete floors, they just don’t offer the same level of shock absorption found in more expensive boots.
Bonus points also go to the eyelets at the top. They make these boots significantly easier to pull on and off, always a nice feeling after a long day.
If there’s one thing that I will fault about these boots, it’s their weight. I’m not sure if it’s the steel toe or the overall construction but they are definitely a little on the heavy side.
The Second Shift are available with or without a steel toe. Regardless of which version you choose, you’ll also benefit from an oil/slip resistant outsole and a well positioned heel to tackle ladders with safety in mind.
There’s no steel shank, so they’re technically not puncture proof. Electrical hazard protection also fails to make an appearance. For the price, however, I’m not complaining.
Insulation levels can best be described as moderate. In other words, they are designed to be worn in average climate conditions, both indoor and out. Living somewhere particularly hot or cold? You should probably choose something else.
Out of the box, waterproofing isn’t great but that can easily be fixed with the application of a waterproofing agent. Once complete, they are completely waterproof up to around ankle length where some water will start to seep in through the tongue. Needless to say, like any six inch boot, light rain is fine, but heavy rain/snow means that some water will find its way into your socks.
Perhaps it’s the result of continuous improvements but in terms of style, these boots don’t show their age at all. The CAT marketing team call them sporty and I have to agree. Depending on your choice of steel or soft toe, there’s a decent selection of colors. And most look just as good off the job as they do on. They might be cheap but they certainly don’t look it.
Judging from both personal experience and customer reviews, you should expect between 6 and 12 months wear. 6 months if you’re wearing them day in, day out on the construction site. Significantly longer if you’re job is a little more “relaxing”. Can you do better? Yes. Can you do better at this price point? No (not in my experience at least).
As mentioned previously, these boots were first released over a decade ago. During this time, the steel toe version alone has clocked up just over 1500 reviews on Amazon. The verdict? An average rating of 4.3 stars out of 5 with the vast majority of reviews claiming to be happy with their purchase. Similar high ratings are also found on the soft toe version.
Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if these boots are still a popular choice in another decade. Comfort and durability levels can’t be faulted for the price. Despite their age, they remain stylish both on and off the job. And in terms of customer reviews, very few boots have been tested quite to this degree. Needless to say, if you’re shopping on a budget, they get my full recommendation.