Winter is coming, and it’s coming fast. And for those of us in the construction industry (or any skilled trade really), it’s nothing but a headache. Darker days, colder conditions, and even the basic risk of slipping on ice are all serious issues we’re going to face in the coming months.
I can tell you this much – if you don’t have a good pair of boots ready to go, then you might be in trouble.
And don’t think the same old worn-out pair you’ve been wearing all year is going to be enough. Working construction in the winter is a whole other ball game, for one simple reason…
Unless you live somewhere that has really mild temperatures, you’re going to need insulated boots.
I don’t need to tell you how much worse your job is when you’re walking around all day with cold feet. You end up plodding from one spot to another, desperate for the chance to take off your boots and get some feeling back in your toes. Not something I enjoy, anyway!
Buying a good pair of winter construction boots is an important decision. If you don’t make the right choice, you could be in for days, weeks, or months of discomfort, wishing you had taken the time to pick the right pair for your needs.
Here in this article, I’m going to give you some advice on how you can avoid wasting your money, and find the perfect pair of construction boots for your situation.
Buying construction boots – what do I need to look out for?
I’m not going to bombard you with a ton of complicated stuff you need to think about when you’re buying your boots. This isn’t something you need to waste too much time on.
In fact, you probably already have a pretty good idea of what you’re looking for, but I’ll give you a few things to keep in mind anyway.
Grip:This probably goes without saying, but make sure that the boots you’re buying have a decent non-slip sole on them. In the winter, rain and snow make concrete surfaces a lot more dangerous to walk on, so this is essential.
Waterproof: This isn’t absolutely necessary, but if you’re going to be working in any kind of exposed environment, you should have it. There’s nothing worse than walking straight into a puddle and feeling the water start to soak through your shoes, dampening your socks, and making you regret your life choices.
Important tip! If you’re buying waterproof boots, make sure that they’re actually waterproof, and not just water-resistant. You’ll be glad you took the time to check if it’s ever an issue.
Steel-toe protection: Again, this is probably pretty obvious, but make sure that the boots you’re buying come with protective reinforcement in the toe (if you need it). You might have to have a certain level of protection for your job, so be sure to check with your supervisor, or your local relevant authority.
Standard steel-toe protection offers protection against 75 lb weight dropped from a height of 1.5 feet (18 inches), as well as keeping your feet safe from compressional forces (static weight).
Modern boots come with a lot of different materials in the toe protection. Some are steel, some are aluminium (lighter than steel, so the boots aren’t as heavy), and some are composite materials. Make sure to check what kind of toe comes with the boot you’re buying. They’re all good, but you may need something specific for your purposes. Whatever you do, don’t forget to look for this.
Boot height: If you’re working somewhere that gets a lot of snow in the winter, then you should probably try to get a taller boot. You don’t want your ankles to be exposed to the cold, so something that goes a bit up your calf is a good idea. You want to find out what the shaft measurement of the boot is (the vertical height). Look for a measurement of 6-8 inches as standard. Certain types are even bigger than this, so if you’re going to be working in areas with heavy snowfall or rain, you may opt for something on the taller side.
Sole thickness: Again, not the most important factor, but you should definitely think about it if you’re working in very cold environments. In these places, the ground you’re walking on will be cold… so you want a thick sole between your foot and the ground. Additionally, the rubber soles on some cheap boots isn’t built to withstand very low temperatures. You could be in for a nasty surprise if your boot gets stuck to the ground because the rubber froze onto it.
Boot size: This goes along with the point above. If you’re expecting to be working in very cold environments, it’s probably a good idea to get a boot that’s about half a size too big. This gives you room for a decent insole and a good pair of warm socks.
Insulation: This is absolutely essential for winter – your feet would freeze otherwise. The gold standard in insulation these days is “Thinsulate”, but there’s plenty of good options out there, so don’t worry about it too much. Depending on how cold the conditions you’ll be working in are, you might need more insulation than is standard. We’ll discuss that in more detail below, but you’ll have to make a judgement call. If in doubt, you should err on the side of too warm than too cold. These are winter boots, after all, so getting too hot in them won’t really be a concern.
Well, I think that’s enough of that. Now, let’s move on and look at some good winter construction boots for you to consider.
The Top 5 best winter construction boots
1. Iron Age Men’s Steadfast IA0161 Work Boot
The cheapest entry on this list, these Iron Age boots start from around $40 (depending on your size).
They tick all the major boxes – they’re waterproof, have 200 grams of Thinsulate lining (enough for “cold” weather), a decently thick sole, removable insole, and they are “ASTM F2413 Safety Standard Compliant” (steel-toe capped, plus some other stuff).
The biggest potential issue with these is that they’re just above ankle height. As we said before, if you work in an area that gets a lot of snowfall, this could be a problem.
That aside, these are a solid pair of boots, and are a good option if you’re on a budget.
Wolverine make great work boots, and this pair in particular has some really nice features. It covers the basics well with its solid, no-slip sole, steel-toe cap, removable insole, and waterproof lining.
As well as this, it has 400 g of Thinsulate lining, which makes it great for colder conditions.
I’ve found that the boot is quite lightweight, so it doesn’t restrict movement too much. To round off the benefits, it also has a quality shock-absorbing heel, meaning your feet don’t hurt quite as much at the end of a long day.
The boot is also taller than the Iron Age pair, so it’s a good option if you are working in areas with lots of snowfall.
The price is also higher with these – they start at about $90 on Amazon, depending on size.
3. Timberland PRO Men’s Boondock Waterproof ST Work Boot
Now we’re getting into high-end offerings.
Starting at over $200 on Amazon, these boots come with a hefty price tag. However, there’s no doubting their quality – Timberland live up to their excellent reputation with this pair of work boots.
They come with the standard stuff you should be looking for – waterproof construction, lightweight insulation, steel-toe cap, solid sole, good grip… all good features.
However, the thing that really sets them apart is their shock-absorbing, fatigue-minimizing design. Timberland offers a 30-day Comfort Guarantee to all customers – if you’re not happy with the comfort within 30 days (giving you time to give them a full trial), then you can return the boots for a full refund.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m buying a pair of $200 boots, then I want a guarantee like this to be in place.
Some people call them the best boots they’ve ever owned. By all accounts, they’re a good option if you’ve got the money for it.
One thing I don’t like is the lack of a removable insole – but assuming that you buy a pair that’s a little big, you’ll have room to insert your own insoles anyway.
4. Rocky Men’s Ranger Steel Toe Insulated GORE-TEX Boots
First things first – these boots look great. I know, I know, that’s not the best reason to buy something… but if you think you might wear them anywhere off the job site, then maybe you should consider it!
Rocky’s Ranger Boot offers everything we’re looking for in a boot. It has steel-toe protection, a good sole, it’s relatively tall, and it’s waterproof. As well as all this, it also has 600 g of Thinsulate insulation, which means it’s perfect for people working in very cold conditions. Having this level of insulation is also good if you don’t move around a lot during the day (e.g. if you’re driving a machine).
A lot of people love these Rocky boots because they have little to no break-in time – you can put them on and get going immediately.
These boots run true to size, so if you’re ordering, just know that the size you’re getting is the size you think it is. If you want to leave some room for thick socks or an insole, you’ll need to order them a half-size of full-size bigger.
Prices start at ~$145 on Amazon. They’re not the cheapest entry on this list, but they are more affordable than the high-end Timberland option. Depending on how much you use them (and what you’re doing), you could get years out of these boots, so they’re definitely not a bad investment.
5. Chippewa Men’s 8″ Insulated Steel Toe EH 73040 Logger Boot
Chippewa boots are made in the USA, which is something a lot of people care about.
This helps to explain the price too – starting at $180, they’re a higher-end option. However, if you’re interested in supporting American business, then you probably don’t mind paying a little more for quality domestic products.
The boots are definitely well-made. They have all the essentials you’re looking for. The sole is solid, they’re pretty tall, they’ve got steel-toe cap protection… all good stuff.
They also come with 400 g of Thinsulate insulation (just like the Wolverines), which means they’re good for colder environments.
The main thing you need to know about these boots is that they’re not waterproof. They are water-resistant, but they’re not waterproof.
Now, depending on what your job is, this might be a deal-breaker… but if you don’t strictly need a waterproof pair, they can be a good option.
If you work in wetter conditions, you might want to give these a miss.
The boots listed here are all good buys, but don’t forget to consider your own specific needs when buying boots. Make sure to visit some stores to try on a few different sizes and styles in-person before buying online – this will help you to figure out what size you should order when the time comes.
That’s all for today’s article. Whether or not you end up buying a pair of boots from this list, remember to think about the different points listed above.
You need to find a pair of boots that is perfect for your situation. Only you know exactly what you need, so think carefully about it, then make your choice.