Work boots - need 'em!
November 9, 2009 11:32 AM   Subscribe

So, know of any good work boots?

After going through a couple of cheap pairs of work boots in the past 5-6 years, I'm looking to make an investment in a nice pair that will last a long time. The normal use case would be yard work, snow shoveling, etc. - not much much walkin' around town or anything like that. The primary value proposition for me is (1) durable, (2) comfortable, (3) warm & dry. I'm aware of brands like Red Wing, Timberland, and Wolverine, and I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on those and any others. Thanks!
posted by brandman to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (27 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
You've said Red Wing. They're worth it.

Fitting really matters with boots, more so than shoes, so try and go with a bricks-and-mortar shop, or if you buy online, be prepared to order a couple of sizes and keep the one that fits. And get your feet measured with a Brannock.
posted by holgate at 11:36 AM on November 9, 2009


I've had great success with the non-decorative steel-cap Timberlands, had a pair of Doc Martens that were 2x as much and were garbage. I also had columbia work boots and they too were junk.

Vasque makes my favorite boots of all time, but don't know if they make a work boot.
posted by TomMelee at 11:38 AM on November 9, 2009


I am pretty happy with my Red Wings (not sure of the model) for yard/stream work - warm and dry. They were too slippery for working with a trail crew on a mountain so I got some Kayland Zephyrs (review) they are very good, though I think they run a bit big and wish I had a chance to try them on before purchasing online.
posted by shothotbot at 11:40 AM on November 9, 2009


Can't speak from personal experience, but I've heard good things about Blundstones.
posted by handabear at 11:41 AM on November 9, 2009


I (a female) have had a pair of steel-toed Red Wings for the last 4 years, and they are wonderful. There was a small break-in period, but now they are one of the best fitting pairs of shoes I own - it's too bad I only use them for field work. I can also attest to their durability - mine have been through hell and back and will probably last another 4 years easily.
posted by tryniti at 11:51 AM on November 9, 2009


Nthing Red Wings. They will serve you for a long time, and you will be sad when they finally wear out, after all those years.
posted by Danf at 11:51 AM on November 9, 2009


Red Wings.

American made too, if that matters to you.
posted by unixrat at 12:03 PM on November 9, 2009


Big fan of Wescos. If your feet are in any way odd or hard to fit, you owe it to yourself to experience the bliss of custom shoes at least once in your life. Plus, once you wear them into the ground, the boots can be rebuilt. Sure they are spendy, but so is buying a new pair of boots every couple of years.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:10 PM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I always had good luck out of Wolverine Durashocks. Wore them back when I used to lay brick, and when I used to go around changing forklift tires. Not much call for work boots now as I have joined the cubicle brigade.
posted by te1contar at 12:13 PM on November 9, 2009


I had a pair of Timberlands just like this for about seven (7!) years and I can't recommend them highly enough. I wore them any time I had work to do or the weather was bad. This included a period when I worked in the stockroom of a supermarket hauling heavy and gross dairy products around. I just got rid of them because I was moving around a lot and they take up a lot of space in my suitcase.

I put them in the freebox where I left them, and they were gone in 10 minutes.
posted by thebergfather at 12:16 PM on November 9, 2009


Again Red Wings, The most comfortable work boots I have owned. Use my for working around the house and yard. I have had my for several years.
posted by tman99 at 12:26 PM on November 9, 2009


Yes, much love for the Red Wings. Their durability certainly justifies their cost, especially if you plan to use them on a regular basis for a period of years.

The range of styles includes many different sole types, which can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of a boot. Loggers need a heel to provide catch and "traction" as they walk over slippery round surfaces. Likewise those spending days up and down ladders. Carpenters typically prefer a wide, flat, soft bottom but with some height at the heel for comfort. And so on. With Red Wings you have the option to pick a boot that combines the sole you prefer with the style of upper you want. Over the years, I have re-soled a single pair of boots I love three times now, making them essentially better than new.

I have weird feet. Flat, very wide, and curved. Fit is important, and Red Wings come in different widths which is important for long-term or heavy wear. An important thing to remember...certain models are going to be very stiff and awkward when you first try them on. There is a break-in period before they actually become the boot they are going to be. Don't be too harsh in judging the comfort during this period. With any decent boot, you need to take the time (and sometimes discomfort) to break them in. They pay back generously on this commitment. With every year of use, mine become better than they were the year before.

I have the Gentleman Travelers, but the qualities that make the Red Wings a great investment are in all their models.
posted by nickjadlowe at 12:32 PM on November 9, 2009


Wolverines are really comfortable, but in my experience, they tend to wear out pretty easily. I think I've gone through 3 pairs in 5 years.
posted by chicago2penn at 12:33 PM on November 9, 2009


Was just stopping in to shout RED WING, but others have beaten me to it already.
posted by chez shoes at 12:35 PM on November 9, 2009


Another brand to look at that I swear by is Rocky. Their "Ranger" model has lasted me 8+ years in that role, after a few summers of every day wear for outdoor work.
posted by Amby72 at 12:46 PM on November 9, 2009


I used to sell these things to pretty hard workers, and I'd put you in a pair of Red Wings. If, for some reason, they didn't fit well, I'd put you in Chippewas. Both are rugged and comfortable as hell, and everybody who came through my store always glowed about them. I'd also shy away from basically anything else.

(And, I think most models of both are American-made, but I think their budget lines are made in China. I'd shy away from those lines as well.)
posted by General Malaise at 12:49 PM on November 9, 2009


Oh, and I'll second everything that nickjadlowe above wrote.
posted by General Malaise at 12:50 PM on November 9, 2009


For people who depend on their footwear for their living Danner boots are good, Drew's boots are great, and White's boots are superb.
posted by X4ster at 12:54 PM on November 9, 2009


I know a couple of UPS delivery guys who wear Asolo's top of the line leather TPS 520. While they are hiking boots, they are tough enough to withstand most punishment. Also, they are goretexed and have vibram soles for a variety of conditions.

The UPS guy I talked to (who convinced me to get Asolo's) said he had purchased multiple pairs (even though he gets two to three years of nonstop daily abuse) because he was worried they would stop producing them. They are expensive but that's what you get when you go with quality.
posted by ghostpony at 1:07 PM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really like Ariat. Though their line tends more towards riding and western they do have a decent selection of work boots, with or without steel toes. I've had a pair for 3-4 years worn regularly, and sometimes daily, and they're holding up just fine. Eventually I'll have them re-soled but that won't be needed for some time.
posted by 6550 at 1:12 PM on November 9, 2009


Yup, Red Wing, things are bloody bomb proof, I have spilled molten bronze on them on a couple occasions. Also walked around for a while with a 3 inch spiral nail jammed into the heel (soft ground, thought my boot felt a little funny). They just keep trucking. Plus, if you melt out the stitching they will restitch it for you for free.
Blundstones make a really comfy steel toe as well, but I find the elastic gives up after a year or two.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 1:13 PM on November 9, 2009


I am a big fan of Blundstones. They are available in steel toe and and are very comfortable. I've had my most recent pair for about 4 years with no problems. They won't give you as much support as a pair of lacers or heavy duty hiking boots, but they offer much more support than any timberlands I've had the misfortune of owning in the past, with the added bonus of not being boat-anchors. Barring water over the top they are waterproof (120 miles of torrential downpour on a motorcycle will find ALL potential leaks) and since they do not have a gore-tex liner they are never too hot (and I wear wool hiking socks 95% of the time, even in hot weather). They are serviceable in the hands of a good cobbler when the sole wears down, and look smart enough that I can wear them on my bike (and feel safe), with shorts on a hike, or with wool slacks and a sport jacket for dinner and a night out. Yeah, definitely a fan.
posted by chosemerveilleux at 1:49 PM on November 9, 2009


I wanted to jump in and point out that not all Red Wings are manufactured in the United States any more. I was searching for a pair of comfortable boots last summer to wear casually instead of my oversized steel-toes, and settled on a pair of Corcorans, which was the only brand that I could find in an afternoon of shopping that was made in the USA. It's a good-lookin' boot, I got one with a rubber sole and it provides plenty of grip, even on wet tiles.
posted by burnfirewalls at 1:54 PM on November 9, 2009


These boots come with a personal endorsement from the most unimpeachable man in the construction industry.
posted by Dasein at 2:24 PM on November 9, 2009


Muck boots! I can't believe that nobody has mentioned these. I got them when I moved to a farm and I've kept them around for everything from corn mazes in the rain to gardening to shovelling snow and I LOVE them. Easily the sturdiest pair of shoes I've owned and I've owned a LOT of boots.
posted by youcancallmeal at 3:30 PM on November 9, 2009


nth Blundstones.
posted by pompomtom at 8:14 PM on November 9, 2009


I swear by Blundstones.
posted by ob at 8:54 PM on November 9, 2009


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