PREPS

What Are The Best Work Boots?

best-boots

It is absolutely essential that you have at least a pair of good work boots or ‘hiking’ boots as part of your overall preparedness. Why? Because the best boots are those which will hold up under the stress of hard use and will stand the test of time. It’s important.

I cannot emphasize enough the fact that there are some things that are worth spending the extra money on, and good boots are one of them.

Note: If you’re not able to shell out the bucks for the best boots, just make sure that you have a decent pair of what you can afford.

Here’s more about why you need them, and a few specific choices:


 

Why You Need The Best Boots For ‘Work’ or ‘Hiking’

Lets face it, from the standpoint of preparedness, if and when things ‘go bad’ we will all be on our feet much more than before. And in many hypothetical scenarios and circumstances this WILL be very significant. Use your own imagination to understand this fact…

A way-of-life that requires physical assertion, lots of walking, climbing, working in potentially adverse conditions, are going to require the best protection for your feet.

If you are already living a full or partial lifestyle of homesteading, you probably know quite well how important your work boots are. You probably even have a variety of boots for different purposes. For example, in addition to my own various pairs of ‘work boots’ I also have a pair of Muck Boots – which are a great investment (to keep your feet dry in the ‘muck’!).

‘Cheap’ boots will wear out faster (some, really fast) and will damage much quicker than better work boots. They will likely not be very comfortable – especially if wearing them for a long time, and may even cause blisters. It boils down to the design, construction and materials methodologies.

With that said, that is where the best work boots or hiking boots stand out… a superior design, superior construction, and superior materials. As you search for the ‘best boot’ you will discover an enormous array of styles – each attempting to appeal to your tastes, and many with purpose-designs towards a particular application our ‘use-case’ scenario.

One big difference between various boots that I have found over the years is the construction of the arch within the boot. Once you’ve worn a good boot (or shoe) with really good arch support and comfort, you will know what I mean. It makes a big difference.

I believe that most of us take our feet for granted. Until you’ve developed a blister, or slipped and twisted an ankle, or some other debilitating action that takes you off your feet, you will not appreciate the importance of being able to get around!

 

How Do I Know What’s The Best Boot?

I could ramble on about specific technicalities, however,

My general recommendation in this case is the following:

1. A good brand name! In this case, it is generally safe to say that buying a well-known very good brand name will assure that you’re getting a quality boot. Why? Because the fact that they’ve been around so long and have established a good reputation means that they are not going to damage that reputation by manufacturing an inferior product.

2. Read the reviews! While reading the manufacturers marketing feature-set is one thing, you will get the ‘real scoop’ by reading customer reviews. Amazon is always a great resource for this.

 
A few specific recommendations:

Danner boots are considered one of the best. They make LOTS of variety. Seems that every one of their boots are rated between 4 – 5 stars (the best). I searched them and discovered that this particular work/hiking boot seems to have the highest number of reviews (indicating its general popularity).

Danner Men’s Radical 452 GTX Outdoor Boot

 
…and don’t forget the importance of good socks for those boots.

 
What are YOUR recommendations for quality brand names for work / hiking boots?

Similar Posts

55 Comments

  1. Good boots should be insulated and waterproof. Also, they should have room enough for two pairs of socks. Wearing two pairs of socks not only keeps your feet warmer, but also helps prevent blisters. (The socks rub against each other instead of against your feet.)

    Another reason for making sure the boots are big enough is that they are usually long term possessions — unless you regularly work in them or go hiking or mountain climbing weekly. A lot of people have work or hiking boots that they use only occasionally. So even though they might not wear out, most people find their feet expand as they get older. You don’t want to have an emergency and get your boots out of the closet (the ones that you last wore in 2012) and discover that your feet won’t fit inside.

    1. @ DaisyK, you are so right on the foot spreading out. I had a nice pair of outdoor work boots that I had purchased more than 30 years ago as we were getting ready to clear the land that we were to build our house on. I had tried to wear them after many years of not wearing them, when we started cutting wood and found that they were too narrow and gave me blisters. I finally gave up on them and donated them to the salvation army. I still have not replaced them. I guess Ken’s article is giving me the motivation to start on that purchase.

  2. Regardless of what boot a person wears it absolutely must be snake proof. I know from very sad personal experience. It’s funny now to know that the first two words on the instructions of a snake bite kit are, “Remain Calm”. Wasn’t funny then though. Think snakes when purchasing boots, please. Mine cost nearly $200 and I wouldn’t think of wearing anything else when hiking. thanks

      1. ‘Game Winner’ is the only name I can find on the boots. They are covered in some type of very tough, thick, canvas material from sole to top, and they are almost knee joint tall. These things are comfortable, but somewhat heavy. They were advertised as waterproof, but that’s a stretch. But I would purchase them again though. Have been wearing these for probably two years under extreme circumstances in extreme terrain and they are still hanging together very good. thanks for asking, God bless and have a blessed day. PS: Prices range from $80 to about $200: Just depends on what you want and what a person is willing to spend.

        1. I have worn snake boots for many years. Mainly when I’m hunting but have worn them whenever I felt I had a good chance of encountering a venomous snake, which in FL can be anytime.

          I have worn LaCrosse, Rocky and Red Head. The Red Head(bass pro brand) are a bit less expensive but don’t hold up as well. LaCrosse are nice but the ones I had (zipper sides) were pretty heavy and didn’t fit as tight as I liked. Rocky is my preferred brand they are heavier than normal boots but they are also 17″ high from sole to top. I like the full lace up type so I can adjust as necessary.

          Most are pretty much waterproof but over time they lose that feature. I have put them through the tests running through swamps, etc while hunting and working in wet areas.

          I have never tested the snake proof part. I have come close a few times but I always spotted them before I got to close.

          Redwing and Danner make snake boots also but I have not tried them out. I checked online and they both got some decent reviews. I think I may get a pair of the Red Wing boots in the near future. I have worn regular Red Wing boots before and they always seemed to be pretty strong.

          Adapt and Overcome.

          1. I own a pair of Chippewa (sp?) snake boots that zipper from the back – good quality, but very hot and heavy. I only wear them when I anticipate working in areas where the chance of running into one is high. Otherwise – too hot to use, at least in my area.

            For general outdoor hiking in non rainy weather, I’ve had good luck with U.S. military contract (NOT fake) desert boots. Altamas, they are at least four years old and still going strong. You can find them for less money at Good Will / Salvation Army stores in cities that cater to U.S. military bases. I think I paid $12 for these there, brand new.

            I’ve heard some good comments about Danner – thinking about investing in a pair of those as well. Remember – boots need socks, invest in those as well !

  3. I wear safety toe shoes at work due to daily hazards of the job, even though no policy or requirement yet exists. (It will after the first crush injury).

    Anyway, the very best safety shoes I ever wore, I bought in Canada. The government regulates everything you can imagine up there and they really take a keen focus on worker safety. I couldn’t even tell you what brand they are because after 6 years of hard use, they are retired to my home garage now.

    They have the little green patch sewn in them declaring they meet government standards. I’ve replaced the laces a few times and they are ugly now, but still have a lot of life left in them. They are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn too. No kidding.

    I think I should clean them up and put them in my car, in case I ever need to walk home over along distance.

  4. I like Merrells. When I was working retail and walking on cement all night, (averaged 3 miles a night) I developed a shoe fetish. Cement combined with severe disc problems is a killer.

    Merrills seemed to work well and held up pretty good. They are my everyday walking shoe and go through grass and mud.

    Also have Brooks for a light weight shoe – Brooks ghost works well and is a neutral shoe.

    What happens to all of them is that grass seed heads work their way down into the mesh type fabric on the inside of the shoe.

    1. Which Merrell did you use on concrete? I am on concrete all day and need to replace my shoes.

      1. I wore/wear the regular (non waterproof) Moabs with an OTC insert. I like the gel inserts over the foam. Gel lasts a long time – foam goes flat in no time at all.

        They typically cost around $90.00

  5. EVERYBODY, has a favorite mine is a desert Rothco quick deployment boot, with laces and a side zipper…..which is heaven to me.

    Note insulated boots are great for cold weather areas, but a desert boot with insulated socks are great for cold weather if water is not a 1st tier concern.

    Note quick deployment boots are not as heavy as a combat boot nor a regular insulated trekking boot and will allow ample protection for very rocky/hills/mountain use where feet and legs start to get tired you start to trip with any boot that is too heavy. I have used regular tennis shoes which allowed me to both feel with my feet the landscape and cruise the very rocky and sandy mountains in the Northern Nevada areas longer when fellow hikers were stumbling after a few hours because the ‘Shank’s mare’ was dead tired and in turn they ran out of steam.

    As far as snake bite, it is a consideration, but to be honest climbing hilly terrain the bite tends to be focused on the arms and hands as they maybe the first target of opportunity when traversing steep areas versus the legs and feet.

  6. The real question with respect to boots is “How important are your feet?”. You can have all the guns, ammo and food in the world but if you have sores on your feet and are not very mobile you are already dead meat! Can’t afford the best boots then you better think again where you are spending your money!

  7. I have steel toe work boots for outdoor chores during warmer weather and PAC boots winter/hunting,etc. Both have enough room to allow gel inserts and thick wool socks. The wool socks wick moisture away from the skin to prevent blisters and prevent hypothermia when outside in severe cold conditions.

    I use bees wax to help waterproof the leather exterior. Always keep several sets of leather boot laces around to replace the ones come with the boots. The leather laces can also be used to replace a broken draw string of a hooded parka or storage bag. I typically use snake gathers that cover from the knees to ankles while in the woods since snakes aren’t an issue during colder weather. I still keep a snake bite kit handy just in case one of those creatures has sneaked into an elevated spot like tree limb or wood pile.

    I also have a pair of di-electric rubber boots just in case.

  8. The ONLY boots I have found to truly be waterproof day in day out are the Cabelas Perfect Hunters by Meindl.

    They are a lot more expensive than Danners, have yet to try Danners, from what I hear from friends who wear them they are just as good but not as light as the Meindl boot

  9. I wear boots made by Columbia living up here in Oregon. They are Goretex and good for the rain. The last is a bit narrow in the forefoot but they “Break themselves in” after about a week of wear. Very comfortable walking on concrete for 8+ hr days.

    Everybody has different shaped feet so a brand that works for you may not work for another person (as told to me by a cobbler that makes orthotic shoes). Find a brand that works for you.

    To prevent/minimize athletes foot, I switch out my boots every other day and use powder. The last time I used all leather boots was when I was fighting wild-land fire. It was in Southern California so the boots were not insulated. I sno-sealed my leather boots at night before I ventured out into the wet and cold in the winter and fall.

    If I were living in the snow and the ice, I would order/buy Sorel Paks with at least 1 set of replacement liners.
    If I were dragging a pirogue through the swamps everyday, I would be wearing Snake boots.

  10. I wear a boot called Western Chief, made some place in the far east, genuine leather uppers and a good gripping sole, I buy a good quality insole and use lots of Huberd’s boot grease, I’m on my second pair the first lasted 5 yrs, no complaints because I can spend 10 hrs wearing them with no foot pain.

    I use them in hunting season and I also wear them snowmobiling, comfort means a lot for my feet at 66 yrs.

  11. First let me say I hate boots, most shoes too. Had to get boots for my last job, my hubby begged me to get Red Wings. They have been the best shoe I have put on my feet!!!!!. Yes they are pricey but worth every penny. He was also having a lot of foot problems being on his feet all day. He got a pair and the foot pain went away.

  12. Timberland Pro Series, most comfortable boots I have ever worn with NO break in time that has generated sore feet with others. They are insulated.
    Just bought two extra pair cause after the collapse good boots, if available, will cost a lot more, just like everything else!!

    Cost: $100 to $110 depending where purchased.

  13. GoreTex “La Sportiva” Italian made hikers. Leather and nylon. Great tread, High enough arch, good cushion. I think I paid about $80 or $100 for them. The toe has a light coating of rubber on them to protect from kick and stumble wear. When They wear out – I hope the company is still around, I’ll get another pair.

    1. Gave me heart failure when I randomly clicked on these and came up with a pair than ran from $450 to $550.

  14. An old cowboy once told me the best way to break in a pair of boots is to stand in a bucket of clean water long enough for them to soaked thru then walk them dry. The leather will form fit to your feet and you’ll never have a blister.

    Just passing along some info from days past :)

  15. ARIATS!!! Anything by Ariat is my go-to footwear. Boots, hiking, whatever style you like or need, they conform to your feet after a few weeks. Then they fit like gloves. I have three pairs of my favorites sitting in storage, and just saw a new pair of paddock boots I MUST HAVE and will pick up next week. Many are waterproof, and there are so many styles to choose from. Been a fan since our ranching days in CO and still use them on the farm here. Love ’em!

    1. Found these on sale not to long ago and bought two pair. I need EE and was surprised to find them. I’m a carpenter and so far they appear to be great boots. I use to wear Danner’s but don’t want to afford them anymore. Bought my first pair of Danners 6490’s back in the early 70’s. Think they were around 75 bucks. Loved those things.

  16. Some people are Cash-Challenged (poor), some Height-Challenged (short), some even Brain-Challenged (liberals) …. ME well I’m Boot-Challenged. I wear soft slippers around the house, of Tennis Shoes 99% of the rest of the time….. even at work.

    SO, I was really glad to see Ken do this article, knowing darn well I need to get some “new” boots (I have 2 pair from years ago).

    BUT!!! y-all are absolutely NO help at all, there is not two comments that agree on a maker of boots.. and I see prices (yes I look up what y-all recommend) from $60 to $500… Geeeeze Louise $500+ for a pair of boots??? That’s more than my house payment… HAHAHA

    Guess I’ll just have to go to Wally World and get me another pair of tinny runners :-) :-)

    NRP

    1. Ha, Ha NRP, I’m also Cash, height, and boot challenged. Fortunately not Brain challenged. I too live in slippers around the house and sneakers for everything else. I do have a good pair of hiking shoes that I had invested in when I took up hiking after getting bored with walking.

      Which reminds me. Anyone keeping a pair of walking shoes in their GHB might want to reconsider swapping them out for a good pair of hiking shoes as you may be forced to get home running or walking through the woods.

      When I first switched to hiking, I assumed that the walking sneakers would suffice. Boy, was I wrong. The first time I hiked (for only 2 hours) I came home with more than one blister as well as a bruise on the bottom of my foot from jumping to a slightly pointed rock. At the time I didn’t realize that the support in the sole is geared for flat walking, not the uneven and rugged ground you find on trails.

  17. Depends on what you do for work.

    My boots, work or not, come from Red Wing, as that’s where I can be fitted.

  18. I have two pairs of Army-issue, medium cold-weather boots and have had them for at least 15 years. I just can’t wear them out. They are made of man-made material on the sole with a leather upper at about nine inches tall; the best boot ever for all seasons. These boots have a wonderful moisture absorbing insert that can be removed to air out or replaced with a new insert. If you keep them cleaned and polished, they will last a life time.

    1. I’m with NRP and Peanut Gallery in that you will find me barefoot or slippers most of the time.

      At The Ready, you gave me pause, as the Navy had us wearing chukka boots which were a no support, no cushion, steel toed boot. Ack!

      NRP- ever time I see your ‘name’ the song from the old show WKRP in Cincinnati rolls through my mind.

      1. @ aka
        Interesting, I was born and raised in Cincinnati, till mid junior year in High School, than San Diego for 10 years …… WKRP was a favorite show.
        NRP

  19. Chippewa for snake proof. Decent for walking and bird hunting but I would not want to do any serious hiking in mine. $220 -last about 5 years of bird hunting in TX and Kansas.

    Mendel hikers and Older stitched down Danners as they are US made. Most of Danners glued on soles are now made in China. $150-$250. Always with Gortex and used for hunting and hiking. Nothing over an 8″ boot is needed. Last about 4 years of hard hunting from the Wyoming mountains to South TX cactus.

    Work – safety toe wolverines, no Gortex as It is to hot here. 6″ or less in height. $100 + These last about a year.

    I use custom inserts in them all. My Dr. states shoes should last 6 months of daily use and then be replaced. This is due to the material losing the best effectiveness for rebounding and holding a shape. My dress shoes and sneakers are all replaced at least one a year.

    I have broken my foot 25 years ago so this has been a long journey.

    I replace every pair of laces with para cord. Para cord doesn’t stretch as bad as stock laces. Last longer and can be re-purposed by removing the inner strands and leaving the sheath. Much stronger and you get better knots than standard laces.

    Just my two cents in the subject.

  20. Every pair of lace up boots has a fire steel toggle laced into the front of the boot. Inexpensive and a solid piece of mind knowing I will always have the ability to start a fire while hunting or working out in the field.

    Go to fire steel.com to pick them up.

  21. My daily wear hiking boots are Lady Merrell. They are 22 years old and still going strong. I insert gel cells once every two years and water proof them with mink oil every two years. Still GREAT!

    My DH wears Meindl from Cabelas. I have to replace his every two years or so…he is really hard on shoes. His tennis shoes barely last 4 months! (mine go for about 4 years each pair!)

    As usual, Ken, a good and thought provoking article. Keep em coming. I truly enjoy this site (even when too busy to comment, I always read what everyone has to say).

  22. Interesting subject. Reminds me of when the Navy Seal Sniper Team arrived at our post, ready for action,wearing ‘Sneakers’, when all us Grunts were Combat Boot equipped. Lesson: Whatever makes you comfy!

  23. I’ve been very fond of the Salomon Quest boot for about six years now. I’ve not found a better ultralight and durable backpacking Gortex boot.

    Work then more exciting military training and real world work then I’m going to mention. Excellent boot and I keep a couple pairs on hand.

    Bought the wife a pair despite complaints on look and bulkier appearance to her low tops. She refused to wear for some time. Well one day it was cool and soggy out so she relented. First words out of her mouth “wow”. They’ve now become her favorite boots.

    As a guy on the ground I will spare no expense on my feet.

    I disagree though with some here saying buy big enough for two pairs of heavy socks. That is in my experience and training as a boot fitter way back when a mistake.

    If you find your feet are that cold, buy a heavy insulated boot. Have a boot for the season and duty. I use muck boots, backpacking and light hiking or trail shoes and boots. Even a couple pairs with heavy Thinsulate for extreme cold and low movement. Have the right tool for the job.

    Also sandals are key. If your wearing heavy duty boots a lot, rotate a quality pair of sandals into the rotation when practical to keep feet happy and healthy. I personally use chaco sandals. Have for more than a decade. They make a sandal with hiking boot tread and ones with aqua stealth tread too. This served me well as I own both from kayaking to hurricane relief in Texas. To Afghanistan, Africa, Europe and North America.

    I never hit the road or trail without great boots and rugged sandals. Plus supply of good socks and thank the Lord never had to much foot trouble.

    Cheers everyone and keep your powder dry.

    17

  24. I’ve had a pair of Danner Rainforests since 2003. Probably the best and most expensive boots I’ll ever own. I’ve got a pair of Carolina work boots that have stood up remarkably, some Army desert boots from the 90’s…

    I guess the point is that boots are something that you really shouldn’t cheap out on. Try them on and walk around in them if you can.

  25. To NRP: Good point to bring up cost of boots. It was another reason for me to buy Columbia Brand boots. The price is below $100 per pair. I buy a new pair about every 8-10 months as I wear them almost daily for work and whatever. They are a local company so I think that helps keep the price down.

    I have flat feet and I do not drive a desk all day long so I place a premium on comfortable footwear. Ankle high boots are needed when carrying a heavy load such as backpacks. With daily wear and carrying loads of various weight, I am willing to pay top dollar for boots with good support. Fortunately, I’ve been able to find an inexpensive compromise for comfortable and safe footwear.

    In both my job and my hobbies, it is not uncommon to get manure and/or puke on my boots on a daily basis. It is nice to have footwear I can hose off and let air dry as I continue working.

    1. @ CalifRefugee
      Well decided I need to take the deep pocket boot plunge. I KNOW I need a couple more (have two old pair) pair of good boots. Unfortunately I will not buy boots over the net unless I have tried some on, so look out local stores, Mr. Smelly Feet is on his way HAHAHA
      Want to also that everyone for the suggestions.
      NRP

  26. Thanks for providing all the links to the boots Ken. This should help me find a pair easily.

    1. I figured that it would at least help those to quickly check and see what people are talking about. Plus, being an Amazon affiliate, any sale helps towards supporting Modern Survival Blog ;)

  27. I need to get some good boots. It is so hot here though. I feel like I would burn up in them. Maybe some rugged sandals?

    I did foolishly garden barefoot the other day and twisted my ankle. SMH….not as young as I used to be.

  28. I have two pairs of Danners, one made in USA and other from Cabela was made in China. Both have been good boots, never leaked always warm. I do maintain my boots and take care of them but deer and elk hunting in Oregon can certainly test a boot. These boots have survived the hot rocky scrapes of southeast Oregon deer hunts to the snow and ice of NE Oregon elk hunts. I wasn’t surprised to see this from the made in USA Danners, as our hunting group has used Danners for years and they are our preferred boot but was pleasantly surprised with the boots from Cabelas that were made in China. The China made boots haven’t been used to the extent of the USA made Danner’s, as these have had years of rugged use.

  29. I work professionally in the construction trade and beat the h LL out of my boots all day long and run them into the ground. Best work boot for the money ($100-$130 Range)is Timberland Pro with titanium toes and water proofing membrane. If you are a hard core prepper you will need at least 5 pair. One pair should last at least 1 year of hardcore abuse in a grid down situation.

  30. Boots is the essential things for a tactical person….weatherproof, waterproof, durable, rugged so many features are required.

  31. Good boots are a critical item for any outdoor activity and choosing the right type of boot makes a big difference. Consider that a lot of boots being taunted as high quality these days have molded and glued soles and over time will begin to delaminate. The salesman will not tell you this, but the most you can hope for is 3-5 years before these type of boots begin to deteriorate. Some boots are always better than others. My example: ASOLO 520’s
    i bought new and set in my closet for years until recently i used them on a backpack trip. Total delamination on both shoes 2 miles into very rough terrain. I will never buy glued soles again, for this type of situation the Norwegian welt is mandatory. I recently bought Hanwag (German made) Norwegian welt that can be resoled as often as i need. You get what you pay for!

  32. I’ve had very good experience with Chippewa and Justin. Fitment is EXTREMELY important. About 5 years ago I was wearing a pair of boots that were to tight across the toes (I’ve got really wide feet) and I developed a callous between two of my toes. I’ve had lots of pain and shoe discomfort since then. At the time I had a choice of missing several days work until I could get boots that fit or wear the ones that were available. BAD DECISION! Make sure the fit is right!

  33. I just got a pair of Nicks smoke jumpers. They were 550 but the craftsmanship is great. I had them put one pull hole on each side.

Leave a Reply

>>COMMENT POLICY
>>OPEN FORUM for Off-Topic conversation

choose an alias name to comment

thanks for your comment...