Work Shoes & Boots: 5 Things to Consider Before Making a Purchase - Go Nats

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You may have already bought footwear that didn’t suit your needs:

  • They were too warm or not warm enough
  • Your feet got wet because your work is often outdoors
  • Your feet were often sweating
  • They were expensive, so you thought they would “do the job”
  • They quickly deteriorated because the quality and material were not adapted to your type of work

There are thousands of safety footwear available on the market. Before you buy, you need to consider several important things, such as: how you’ll use them, the work environment, and the features you’re looking for.
Once determined, this will help you choose the most appropriate type of safety footwear for your specific needs.

Here the 5 things to consider before buying safety shoes or work boots, to help you find the right fit!

1. The type of shoe required:

Safety footwear comes in several different types:

  • Shoes
  • 6’’ boots
  • 8’’ boots
  • Insulated boots
  • Waterproof boots
  • Safety overshoes (temporary protection)

WARNING: In some provinces, some employers have boot-height requirements (for example:  8’’ boots). So, it’s always important to check this kind of information before you buy.

Which one do you need?
Depending on your job, do you work more indoors or outdoors? This may have an impact on the warmth/comfort you need for your feet.
The choice of footwear depends on the type of work and the level of protection required.

2. The type of protection required: 

Depending on your field of activity, select footwear with a specific type of protection based on your working environment and the associated risks.
Footwear must comply with safety standards relevant to your profession. When you see a coloured CSA logo on a shoe, it means it has been tested and its certification is recognized.

Safety symbols and associated protection:

No logo: It’s not a safety footwear or it is not certified.

Shoe only with a protective toe cap and no protective sole.

Footwear with sole puncture protection and a protective toe cap.
RECOMMENDED USE: For any industry where there is a hazard from nails or other sharp objects, particularly in the construction industry.

Footwear with an electric shock-resistant sole (dielectric or ESR).
RECOMMENDED USE: For all working environments where electrical shocks may be a hazard.

Boots with metatarsal protection. Can be external and rigid or internal and flexible.
RECOMMENDED USE: For any industrial work (mining, welding, glazing, etc.) where there is a risk of injury due to falling objects on top of the foot (the metatarsal).

Antistatic footwear
RECOMMENDED USE: Automotive industry, IT industry, etc.

 Boots with chainsaw protection.
RECOMMENDED USE: For forestry workers and others exposed to hand-held chainsaws or other cutting tools.

ASTM (U.S. certification)

Overshoe with protective toe cap designed to temporarily protect users wearing shoes without protection from impact to the toes.

3. With or without waterproof membrane

Do you work outdoors despite inclement weather?
Do your tasks involve exposure to water on your feet?

If so, it is essential to choose a rain boot or work boot with a waterproof membrane!

The waterproof membrane prevents water from entering the boot while allowing moisture to escape. This keeps your feet dry.
This feature is particularly important in the construction, agriculture, and landscaping sectors.

4. With or without insulation

When selecting footwear, you need to consider the environmental conditions in which you work.
If you work in extreme temperatures, you may need insulation to keep your feet warm. Insulated work boots come with different insulation levels, indicating the amount of insulating material used.
Determine the appropriate insulation level based on factors such as indoor or outdoor work, refrigerated areas, seasons, desired temperature and comfort levels.

The various types of insulation are:

  • Without insulation: For indoor or outdoor work in the summer.
  • 200 g insulation: Lightweight insulation, designed for 3-season use (fall, summer, and spring). This is also suitable for winter if the worker is active and not stationary – depending on the climate of the region and the individual’s tolerance to cold weather.
  • 400 g insulation: Medium insulation, designed for non-extreme winter use.
  • 600 g insulation: High insulation, designed for extremely low temperatures or prolonged exposure to the cold.
  • 1000 g insulation: Extreme insulation, designed for extreme temperatures, prolonged exposure to cold or working with limited mobility.

Also, make sure to check the comfort level of your insulated boots. It will indicate the temperature range in which your boots will keep your feet warm.
* Note that certain factors such as the user’s physical condition, duration and type of activity, humidity level, type of socks worn, and the fit of the boots can influence the comfort guide.

Certain extremely warm boots with a very low comfort level may also have a removable liner in addition to insulation (200 g or more).


5. The budget

For some, comfort and safety are priceless, while for others, the budget is more limited. This will influence your choice in terms of the quality and components of your footwear.
Therefore, it is important to establish a budget range and understand that compromises may need to be made for certain features.
If budget is your priority, consider the following secondary factors:

  • Type of outsole: The type of outsole is essential for stability, grip, or durability. Look for materials that offer a balance between lightness and robustness. For example, anti-slip and oil-resistant soles provide a better grip on slippery surfaces. Dual-density soles improve shock absorption and comfort.
  • Type of material: Footwear can be made of various types of material, such as: leather, microfibre, or nylon. Leather offers durability and breathability, while microfibre and synthetic materials offer lighter options or additional protective features.
  • Type of protective toe cap and sole: Consider the type of protective toe cap and outsole you want. Steel toe caps and protective soles are usually less expensive and provide excellent protection against impact and perforation. Composite toe caps or soles are an alternative that is often more expensive but it is lighter and nonconductive to cold.
  • Type of lining: Choose footwear with breathable and antibacterial linings. Breathable linings allow air circulation, reducing humidity and odour; while antibacterial properties prevent the proliferation of bacteria that can cause foot-related problems.
  • Insole comfort: The type of insole plays a key role in the comfort of your feet during long working hours. Consider footwear with cushioned or ergonomic insoles that offer adequate support, shock absorption and arch support. Some models offer removable insoles that allow you to insert orthotics if necessary or to dry your shoes more easily.

In summary, investing in high-quality work shoes and boots means investing in your comfort, safety, and happiness at work. Above all, it prevents foot, leg, and back injuries in the long term.


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