By Jayden Mark
If you work in a hazardous environment, steel toe safety boots are probably on your priority list for PPE. Apart from protecting yourself from dangers, like falling heavy objects and cuts, you also need to consider your general comfort when wearing safety boots. How much the boot weighs is an obvious question.
Depending on the manufacturer, size, and how they are made, steel toe boots can weigh anything from around 3 pounds all the way up to about 6 pounds. Most weigh between 4 and 4.5 pounds on average. This is obviously a lot more than a pair of sneakers, even many other types of safety boots.
Since steel toe boots form such an integral part of workplace health and safety, I intend to provide a detailed analysis of these critical PPE items. Steel toe caps are an obvious factor contributing to the weight of a boot. Though all safety boots tend to be heavier than general purpose footwear.
Why are safety boots heavy? Is there a lighter alternative to steel toe safety boots? Are some brands better than others? I’m sure you never thought there could be so many relevant questions relating to the boots you wear to work. Well, there’s actually quite a lot to know about them and they are a very important part of your daily working life.
Knowing more about safety boots will help you make good choices when buying and wearing them. This article will empower you with the knowledge you need to make an educated and informed decision.
Factors Affecting the Weight of Steel Toe Work Boots
Heavy work boots will increase fatigue when spend long hours standing, walking, or climbing. While weight is certainly an important thing to consider when choosing the best safety boot, it isn’t that simple. Many of the components of the boot improve your comfort, and these will contribute to the overall weight.
Taking this into account, a heavier boot may sometimes be a more comfortable option. Additional padding, cushioned soles, and other comfort-enhancing materials may add weight, but they also make it easier for you to perform at your best through the course of your working day.
To understand what goes into making a work boot, we should look at all the factors that contribute to weight, allowing you to decide what is important to you.
The upper area of a boot is the part that coves your entire foot and is, therefore, quite critical. This is also where most of the weight is concentrated.
A boot upper is made from leather or synthetic materials. Often, a combination of materials are used as there are several individual components in the upper. These consist of:
Since the upper constitutes most of the boot area, the materials used in this part of the boot will have the greatest effect on the weight. Thick durable leather will weigh more than thinner leather. Synthetic materials are generally lighter than leather but are not always as tough. Other factors, like waterproofing materials, may also add some extra weight.
This is one of the more crucial parts of a safety boot as the toe cap protects your foot from an impact that could crush your foot, as well as provide protection from cuts and abrasions caused by machinery and tools. Steel toe caps are usually the heaviest. Weight can be reduced by using alloys or synthetic materials, but some alternative, lightweight materials may not offer as much protection as steel.
The shank of your work boot is an important component for general comfort. It is situated between the inner and outer soles, proving much-needed support for your feet when you walk and improving your balance. Work boot shanks are usually made from metal, which can be quite heavy, but is often the most durable. Other materials used to make the shank can include plastic, nylon, or fiberglass.
Also known as a footbed, the insole is a soft layer between your foot and the sole of your boot. It can be made from foam, leather, gel, or cork, and makes the boot more comfortable. Since the insole is made from lightweight materials, it contributes very little to the weight of a work boot. They are usually removable, allowing you to clean them to prevent odor.
Situated between the insole and outsole, the midsole absorbs impact when you walk.
This is the outer part of the boot that makes contact with the ground. It is usually made from durable rubber or PVC. Work boots generally have a slip-resistant tread and can also be oil and chemical resistant.
Lighter Alternatives to Steel Toe Work Boots
While a steel toe cap only contributes to a relatively small percentage of the weight, other types of safety toe caps are lighter. Steel is generally considered the strongest material, offering the best impact protection. Though, this is an outdated notion as some new composite materials are both lighter and as tough (or tougher) than steel.
Basically there are three categories of safety toe caps for work boots:
Alloy toe caps are made from lightweight metals that offer pretty much the same protection as steel. Alloy toe cap boots are usually a little more expensive than those that use steel.
Composite (non-metallic) materials can include plastic, fiberglass, Kevlar, or carbon fiber. Non-metallic materials are lightweight and offer an additional advantage in that they don’t conduct electricity. This makes them a top choice for workers who need to pass through metal detectors. They are also approved for electrical hazards. Though steel toe caps can also be used for electrical hazard boots.
Not all composite materials are equal. Plastic and fiberglass are cheaper than any other type of material used for safety toe caps but are not as strong. They offer less impact protection.
Kevlar, carbon fiber, and carbon nanotube safety caps offer a high level of protection with the lowest weight. However, these are rare and usually quite a lot more expensive.
Steel Toe Work Boot Brands
Work boots can be an expensive, but very necessary, investment. For this reason, it’s a good idea to choose a brand with a good reputation for design and quality. These are some of the best manufacturers of steel toe work boots.
An American brand since 1889, with factories in the US and Mexico. This is a family-owned business that has grown to compete internationally. The Carhartt range includes over 30 different work boots ranging from $100 to $200.
Originally a tractor manufacturer, Caterpillar was founded in 1925. Today this is one of the best known brands in the world, manufacturing everything from construction machinery and generators to fashionable and rugged work boots.
Caterpillar has an enormous range of work boots ranging from around $75 to $200
This is an Australian boot manufacturer, dating back to 1870. A reputation for exceptional quality has turned Blundstone into an internationally recognized work boot brand. Although quite expensive, with prices between $200 and $300, these work boots outlast most others, making them a popular choice.
Since 1952, Timberland has been manufacturing high-quality boots that have become popular for work, hiking, and as fashionable footwear. A reputation for great design and quality has positioned the brand amongst the best in the world. Prices range from $140 to $340.
Danner has been manufacturing outdoor and work boots in Oregon since 1932. These boots are as popular with hunters and adventure enthusiasts as they are with construction workers. Prices range from $110 to $430.
Originally a German brand, founded in 1952, the brand was acquired by British shoe manufacturer, R. Griggs in the early 1960s. The brand has had huge success both as fashionable boots and quality work boots.
The most popular fashion styles are still made in the United Kingdom and are amongst the most expensive. More affordable Doc Marten work boots are manufactured in Asia, priced from $80 to $170.
Jayden Mark has gained a wealth of knowledge about safety protocols in industries while working in a steel mill as well as a welder in the construction industry. He is the content editor for comfortworkboots.com where he shares his insights and expertize in his related field.
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