As any tradesperson or outdoor worker knows, the work boots you choose can make the difference between a good day at work, and a miserable one. As the first defence for your feet against the elements, standing water, falling objects and more, it’s worth investing in the best pair of work boots to suit you and the job you do.
We’re not suggesting that you go out and spend several days’ wages on the most expensive pair you can find. Price is no real indicator of quality, and certain types of boots are better suited to different types of work.
It can seem like a big investment to start off with, but we guarantee the years of great performance, comfort, and protection you get from your work boots is worth the up-front cost. We’ve worked alongside our workwear experts to put together this guide to help you choose the best work boots for you, and get the most out of them in the long-term.
What do you want from your work boots?
Before shopping around for work boots, you should take a little time to consider:
It may seem obvious, but before investing in a pair of work boots, it’s a good idea to have your feet measured by a professional. Shoe size can fluctuate slightly across our lifetimes, and it’s predicted that around 20% of people in the UK are wearing the wrong size shoe because they haven’t had their feet measured in over 10 years.
To find out which features you will need your work boots to have, such as waterproofing, steel toe caps, or slip resistant soles, consider the kind of environment you work in most often. Steel toe caps are often a requirement in construction, but if most of your work takes place outside, you may want to consider a pair of work boots that are water-resistant or waterproof as well.
If you often work on slippery surfaces, either outdoors or indoors, keep an eye out for slip-resistant soles and shoes with good grip patterns.
As well as your environment, it’s also important to consider the tasks that you’re doing day-to-day at work. If you’re walking long distances, look for work boots that provide ankle and arch support, as well as removable insoles to ensure you stay comfortable throughout the day.
Likewise, if there’s any chance of stepping on sharp objects on-site, look for boots with steel or reinforced midsoles that will prevent things getting stuck in the boot – or worse, your foot!
Once you’ve come up with a list of features you want your work boots to have, it’s time to start shopping for the perfect pair. It can be a little daunting, with so many choices out there, but we’ve chosen a few of our favourites that we recommend for different purposes.
The Best Safety Boots
A non-negotiable on many work sites, safety work boots come with a number of features to protect your feet from falling objects, as well as sharp objects on the ground. The most common of these features is a composite toe cap, or steel toe cap, which is built into the front of the boot.
Whether you work in construction, carrying heavy materials, or removals and are often handling heavy boxes, a serious foot injury can take months, or even years to recover from. Don’t take the chance, and make sure you have a good pair of safety boots in your corner!
Our recommendation: Buckler Buckshot BSH011 High Leg Safety Boot
Our Price: £75.95
Features: The Buckler Buckshot High Leg Safety Boot includes both toe and midsole protection, so that you can step onto your work site with confidence, and a padded ankle collar for added support on long days.
Made with full-grain Crazy Horse leather, these boots are naturally water-resistant, with a thick sole that offers superior grip on mud, metal or rain-slicked wood. This great pair of work boots offers all-round protection from falling or sharp objects, and feel as comfortable at the end of the day as they do at the start.
Best suited for: Construction, trades, and agriculture.
The Best Waterproof Work Boots
If you work outdoors, or in the plumbing industry where there’s a high chance of dealing with standing water, a good pair of waterproof work boots like safety wellies can be a lifesaver. Aside from being cold and uncomfortable, when your feet are wet for long periods of time, they’re more vulnerable to blisters, tears, and even painful cracked heels. Wet socks are also a breeding ground for the bacteria that causes Athlete’s foot, and other conditions. When you’re on your feet most of the day, that’s the last thing you need!
By investing in a good, long-lasting pair of waterproof work boots, your feet will stay warm and dry throughout the day, and you’ll be more effective on-site too. Boots that are built for the outdoors are essential in professions like landscaping, gamekeeping, and security for outdoor events like festivals. Although most work boots are water-resistant to some degree, it can be worth it to opt for a pair that are fully waterproof.
Our recommendation: Amblers Millport Men’s Waterproof Non-Safety Boots
Our Price: £69.95
Features: These Amblers Millport Waterproof boots are lightweight, but highly durable and will keep your feet dry all day. The internal waterproof membrane works alongside the naturally water-resistant Nubuck leather to ensure your feet are safe from sudden rainfalls, flooded work sites, and more.
With a padded suede tongue and thick ankle collar, these boots will support your entire foot and reduce the risk of ankle rolling or other similar injuries. The thick sole and lug pattern also provide exceptional grip, whether you’re working in the mud or on slippery wet surfaces.
Best suited for: Outdoor work, including agriculture and landscaping.
The Best Pull-on Work Boots
If you’re looking for a pair of work boots that are easy to slip on and off, pull-on work boots may be the choice for you. The most popular form of pull-on boots are rigger boots, and there are a number of benefits to wearing them.
One of the key benefits of pull-on boots is that they have no laces. Although common in a lot of industries, boots with laces can pose hazards on some factory floors and work sites. They can become unlaced and cause the wearer to trip, or even get caught in certain tools and machinery. Meanwhile, pull-on work boots don’t have these issues.
The high sides and closed design of pull-on boots also means that it’s difficult for things like dirt, stone, or water to get in and cause problems with your feet. However, one of the main reasons that some workers prefer them is that they are simply so easy to put on and take off, which can save time and effort in the long-run.
Our recommendation: Dunlop Purofort Rigair Full Safety Rigger Boot Unlined
Our Price: £53.95
Features: The Dunlop Purofort Rigair is a great all-round work boot, with a number of features that place it above your standard rigger boot. As well as being comfortable and lightweight, this pull-on boot also comes fitted with a steel toe cap for extra protection on-site. It has two handy lather tabs sewn into the sites to make putting them on and taking them off a breeze, and they’re 100% waterproof too.
The sole of the Dunlop Purofort Rigair is also designed to have your back in a number of different environments. The sole is oil-resistant, anti-static and insulated to survive temperatures as low as -20℃. The soles also won’t be compromised by minerals, animal fats, oils, disinfectants, fertilizer, solvents, and a range of other chemicals. No matter where you step or what you step in, these rigger boots will allow you to do so safely and with confidence.
Best suited for: Offshore work, chemical work, and drilling.
The Most Supportive Work Boots
Most work boots come with high sides that provide long-lasting ankle support and protection, but some work boots are more supportive than others. A padded ankle collar can make all the difference, particularly if you flex your ankles a lot, work on uneven ground or walk long distances during the day. An ankle injury can be extremely serious, and have you out of commission for weeks, so it’s wise to protect these hard-working joints as much as you can.
A pair of supportive work boots, designed to support not only your ankle, but the arch of your foot, and will make a difference to both your comfort, and your overall safety on the job.
Our recommendation: CAT Gravel S3 Safety Boots Black
Our Price: £101.95 (RRP £152.99)
Features: When it comes to ankle and foot support, there are few work boots as well-designed as the CAT Gravel Safety Boot. As the name suggests, these boots are ideal for uneven surfaces, including gravel, rocks, and steep inclines. The high sides and well-padded ankle collar will protect your joints and minimise strain on them throughout the day. This supportive work boot also comes with an ERGO EVA foot bed - a removable insole to provide ergonomic support for your whole foot, particularly the arch.
The Cat Gravel safety boot also comes with a composite protective toe cap, mid-sole metal plate, and can withstand heats of up to 300℃. Water-resistant, slip-resistant and with numerous safety features, this work boot is a great all-rounder, particularly for construction.
Best suited for: Construction, trades, and agriculture.
The Best Non-Safety Work Boots
Although PPE such as safety boots are required on some work sites, for other professions where there are fewer risks and hazards, steel toe caps are simply unnecessary and add extra weight. If you don’t work with heavy machinery, materials, or are just spending the day in the site office, a pair of non-safety work boots can be much more comfortable and well-suited for the environment.
Chelsea boots and dealer boots are popular non-safety work boots, and can be worn casually outside of work too. They are durable enough to last you a long time, but won’t look out of place whilst running errands or going on a light walk, either. At Wilsons, we stock a full range of non-safety work boots, which are still suitable for many work sites, as well as for day-to-day wear.
Recommendation: Amblers Aldingham Waterproof Non-Safety Dealer Boots
Our Price: £63.95
Features: One of our favourite pairs of non-safety work boots are the Amblers Aldingham Dealer Boots, which are supremely comfortable and lightweight enough for everyday wear. With elasticated panels, the Aldingham boots can be easily pulled on or taken off. As well as being made of water-resistant Nubuck leather, these boots are also fully waterproof with a breathable membrane stitched right into the boot’s interior.
Best suited for: Everyday wear, off-site work, landscaping, and gardening.
The Best Work Boots for Outdoor Work
Outdoor work comes with its own set of hazards, so when you’re dealing with deep mud, running or standing water, as well as heavy machinery or tools, a good pair of safety wellies is essential. This variety of work boots come with high sides and are completely waterproof, like standard wellington boots. However, they also include safety features like composite or steel toe caps, reinforced mid-soles, and more.
Agricultural workers, and workers on outdoor construction sites, will certainly benefit from a good pair of safety wellies. As well as protecting your feet from getting damp, you’ll face fewer risks from materials or tools dropping from above. When a normal wellington boot just won’t cut it, it’s time to think seriously about investing in a great quality pair of safety wellies.
Recommendation: Buckler BBZ6000 S5 Waterproof Neoprene Safety Wellington Boot
Our Price: £81.50 (RRP: £98.50)
Features: When it comes to outdoor work, the strongest companion you could hope for are the Buckler S5 Neoprene Wellington Boots. Built for all-round protection, these lightweight safety wellies come with a reinforced steel toe cap and steel panel in the midsole to prevent damage from falling objects, as well as sharp objects on the ground.
But this doesn’t mean that your comfort isn’t top priority too! With detachable cushion insoles and a breathable honeycomb lining, these Buckler safety wellies will support the whole length of your foot, while preventing your feet from getting too humid. The elasticated tops also stop heat escaping, and prevent cold air or water from getting into the boot.
They are also Cold Insulation Certified, and able to withstand temperatures of -17°C for minimum periods of 30 minutes. Whatever the weather or work site, these Buckler Neoprene Wellington Boots will keep you, and your feet, feeling great.
Best suited for: Agriculture, landscaping, and forestry.
Trying on your Work Boots for the First Time
Once you’ve chosen a pair of work boots that are going to meet the requirements of your job and you have a good feeling about, the next step before committing to them is to see how you feel.
When you’re buying in a shop, most of us know that the best thing to do is to walk around for five minutes to see how your potential new work boots feel. When you stand, your feet flatten out, so boots that feel like a good fit when you’re sitting can begin to feel very tight once you’re stood up. Always take a few minutes to test them out before you buy, and ask if the shop have a slant board, which will help you understand how the shoes will fit on different surfaces.
If you wear thick socks as part of your job, make sure to wear them when trying on work boots for the first time, too. It will give you the best idea of how they will feel on a normal working day.
When ordering online, walk up your stairs, pace around your living room, and keep the boots on for an hour or so to see how they really fit. One of the benefits of buying online is that you can really take your time before committing to keeping the shoes, and most online stores have great return policies as they understand the risks involved with buying shoes online and finding the right fit.
Be aware, though, that many stores - both online and on the high street - won’t accept returns on shoes which have been worn outside, as they cannot be resold (unless they are faulty). So make sure you try the boots on indoors and don’t wear them outside until you’re confident that they’re the best pair for you.
How your Work Boots should Fit
Your work boots should fit snugly to your foot, while still giving you room to move your toes. You shouldn’t feel them pressing tightly or rubbing against any part of your feet, and they shouldn’t feel painful at any point. Wearing the wrong shoe size can have long-lasting effects on your feet, and on a work site can even lead to a higher risk of accidents.
If your work boots are too loose, and you feel your feet slipping around inside the boot, they are too large and will need to be replaced as soon as possible. Boots that are too large can make it difficult to ground yourself, and if you work with heavy tools or machinery, the consequences of your feet slipping can be disastrous. Likewise, if your work shoes are ever in danger of slipping off, they are far, far too loose and need to be replaced.
Boots which are too tight present a whole different set of issues. This could include numbness in your feet, painful blisters and if worn long enough, shoes which are too small can even impact the shape and overall health of your feet.
If you find your feet are aching a lot at the end of each day, that’s not normal, and your work boots could easily be the culprit. Though tiredness and aches can be a normal part of working a trade, ongoing pains that impact your life should never be ignored.
A good fit on your work boots, in terms of width as well as length, can have a hugely positive impact on your work life, and lead to better motivation, productivity and overall health.
The Best Work Boots for You: Final Thoughts
We hope this guide has been helpful for you. Finding a comfortable, reliable pair of work boots can be tricky, but armed with the knowledge of what features to look out for, how to find the best fit for you and what to consider before you begin your search, we hope you’ll be starting your next shift in total comfort.
Everybody’s different, and the most important thing is to find a pair of work boots that work for you, your job role, and the responsibilities you take on in your day-to-day work.At Wilsons Workwear, we’ve carefully chosen our selection of work footwear from industry-leading brands with a reputation for safety, quality and performance. Shop our full collection of safety boots, safety wellies, safety trainers, and non-safety boots online now - and enjoy free UK shipping on all orders over £50!