Some of the boots on this blog have spent years on my feet. Others, for one reason or another, less than a week. But one thing that they do all have in common is that they’ve all been personally purchased and personally tested.
In other words, I’ve made no shortage of work boot related decisions. Most have worked out very well. Quite a few however, have resulted in both wasted money and worse, painful feet.The subject of this article is the latter.
Most poor work boot decisions boil down to one or more key mistakes. Here’s what not to do when buying new boots.
First off, we have the obvious; buying the wrong size. This can be tricky when purchasing online but like most people, the convenience, selection and pricing wins me over nine times out of ten.
The key to avoiding this mistake at least 90% of the time is to do your research. Amazon allow people to vote on how well a boot or shoe fits and label the result “Expected Fit”. Aim for boots that score at least 70%.
And secondly, check individual reviews.
Some reviews are useless but quite a few comment on sizing issues like how they compare to boots of the same brand, how wide/tight they are etc. If multiple reviews state the same problem, pay attention and shop accordingly.
Boots can obviously be returned if you get the wrong size but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating at the time.
Being overly Budget Conscious
Most people, myself included, shop with at least one eye firmly on the price. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this.
At the same time however, like everything else, you get what you pay for. And in the case of work boots, what you get is something that you’ll be wearing 40 hours plus per week.
Personally, I avoid Red Wing because I can’t justify the price tag. But at the same time, I will pay extra for something like Keen because they keep my feet happy and most pairs last for a long, long time.
In other words, be budget conscious but don’t be cheap.
A solid pair of boots can, and should be treated as, a long term investment in the comfort of your feet. It’s also worth noting that cheap boots wear out faster, so you don’t really save money in the long term anyway.
Right Boots, Wrong Job
This is a mistake that I’ve made twice now. It doesn’t matter how perfect a pair of boots are if they’re not designed for somebody in your working in your specific environment.
In other words, if you work on cement floors, you need boots with serious shock absorption. If you work primarily indoors, you need boots that are a little light on insulation. And if you spend all day on your feet, you want something light, and again, seriously shock absorbent.
Right Boots, Wrong Feet
If you have a history of painful feet, don’t necessarily blame your shoes. There’s any number of feet abnormalities that you could have and until you know what the problem is, finding a pair of boots that help to solve it will prove impossible.
There’s a big difference between a construction worker and a foot doctor so I’m not going to go into detail here. But if you’ve tried multiple boots and your feet still hurt, get your feet checked before throwing good money after bad.
Most foot problems are easy to treat once the problem has been identified.
Forgetting About After Work
If you have the discipline to change your shoes after work, you can skip this part. If you work on the rail road, you can skip this part too. Ankle protection and style are mutually exclusive.
But if you want a pair of boots that you can wear outside the workplace, don’t forget to factor in style when making your choice.
These days, it’s surprisingly easy to find a pair of boots that look just as good on the town as they do on the construction site. Personally, I wear some type of work boot day in, day out.
This can also go a long way towards justifying hefty price tags. At least that’s what I tell my wife anyway.
Some brands you can’t really go wrong with. Keen is a good example. On the pricier end of the scale, there’s also Red Wing. I’ve yet to regret a single purchase from either manufacturer despite the sticker shock of the latter.
Other brands however are a little more hit in miss. Case in point, Timberland. Most of their boots are excellent. They’re easily one of the most popular manufacturers out there. Some of their boots, however, have major design defects.
My point is simply not to base your purchase decisions on brand name alone. Research individual boots, not their manufacturer.