At hazardous workplaces, steel toe boots are crucial. Many work injuries come from trips, slips, cuts, rolling, and falling objects. A good pair of work boots can prevent most of them. That is why the Department of Labor OSHA makes safety shoes mandatory at certain worksites.
Steel toe boots can do excellent jobs protecting your feet. But since they are made of heavy-duty materials, they can be uncomfortable from time to time. For people whose jobs involve carrying heavy loads or standing and walking long hours, safety footwear can be a nightmare.
So, how to make steel toe boots more comfortable? Most importantly, you need to buy the right safety footwear. Then, spend some time breaking in the boots. Finally, use the help of good socks, heel, toe pads, and proper maintenance to enhance comfort.
Table of Contents
- What You Will Need
- Steps to Make Steel Toe Boots Comfortable
What You Will Need
1. Your steel toe work boots
Later in this article we will provide tips on buying new boots. If you don’t have a pair of steel-capped boots yet, no worries, keep reading for further information. Otherwise, grab your boots and proceed.
Also known as steel-capped boots or steel toe caps, steel toe work boots are highly sturdy and durable. In terms of protection level, no material can bypass this metal. Naturally, the hardness of steel can cause discomfort for the wearers. If your feet regularly feel pain after a long day at work, you are not alone. It is a common problem among boot wearers.
Before you jump right to the next step, kindly check to make sure your boots’ toe caps are from steel. If they are from composite materials or alloy, the procedure is slightly different.
2. Good socks
A good pair of thick and durable socks can support your feet while keeping them warm and odor-free during long days at work. If you are like me, chances are you never pay attention to sock fit and materials. No wonder why we are uncomfortable wearing them. Since we are making serious effort to stop steel toe boots from hurting, pay attention to these when choosing socks:
- Materials: Cotton is the easiest to find, but not necessarily the best. Polyester or synthetic blends are way more comfortable and moisture-wicking. For those who prefer natural fabric, bamboo or merino are great. Also, some socks feature paddings in the ball and heel of the feet. Look for those if you want extra cushioning.
- Fit: The socks should fit snugly. Any redundant fabric can cause chafing and blisters. They shouldn’t be tight either, or your feet might feel strain. The thickness of the socks is as important. Thick socks can provide better cushioning. But if your work boots are a bit tight, thick socks can squeeze your feet and make you feel extremely unpleasant.
3. Heel and toe pads
If wearing socks is not your jam, grab heel and toe pads. Remember to check the size and make sure they fit in your boots.
For a quick fix, you can use the help of a band-aid. But they are not sustainable as you cannot use band-aid every day, and they do not provide much cushioning.
Steps to Make Steel Toe Boots Comfortable
Step number one and two are for people who intend to buy new work boots. They include tips to choose and break in the boots properly. If you are working with your good old pair of safety boots, skip the first two and jump right to step number three.
Step 1: Get the right boots
Like any type of shoes, right fit is the key to make work boots comfortable. Besides causing blisters and chafing, the wrong boots can lead to more serious symptoms like foot pain and deformities. The safety features of work boots leave less room for the feet than regular ones. Therefore, when buying online, consider going a half size up.
If you can try on boots in store, remember to wear your favorite pair of socks to get a better fit. The length, width, and instep of safety boots must fit snugly. The upper part should have room for the toes to move freely without rubbing against the shoes. Apart from a good fit, to maximize the boots’ comfort, you should also notice other features.
- Style: Work boots come with slip-on and lace-up styles. Even though slip-ons give you the ability to put them on and off quickly, lace-ups provide better fitting in the long term. As leather stretches over time, you can always tighten the laces. Plus, if you get ankle pain easily, lace-up boots give the ankle more support.
- Boot height: 8 to 10-inch boots are better to protect the knees and ankles under harsh working conditions. But tall boots are heavy and less comfy. If not necessary, you can opt for 6-inch boots. They are lighter and offer more flexibility.
- Weight: A work boot weighs from 2 to 3 pounds but a steel toe boot can weigh up to 4.5 pounds. Keep the number in mind and avoid the unnecessarily bulky safety boots on the market.
- Breathability: Some waterproof materials can make a boot highly unbreathable, leaving your foot sweaty and hot all day long. To make work boots more comfortable, look for ones that have good air circulation. Many manufacturers advertise this feature in their boots. A helpful tip is the lace-up styles are naturally more breathable due to the laces and eyelets.
Step 2: Take time to break in the boots
All boots require a period of break in to feel more comfortable. Skipping this period and wearing them straight away is not recommended as you might have to carry loads, climb trees, or stand all day at work. Before putting them in good use, take your time to break in the boots with the following steps.
- Wear them around the house: Walking, standing, and bending in the boots will help soften and stretch the leather to the mold of your feet. You should wear them for a few hours every other day. Remember to put on socks, toe, or heel pads as you regularly do. After one week, the boots should be good to go.
- Further the process: Use your hand to manipulate the leather to further the process. Bend, twist, and stretch the leather and the soles so they can soften faster. However, be gentle not to damage your boots. Be aware that leather and rubber will stretch over time, don’t overstretch them during the break in period.
- Store the boots with shoe trees: This will help keep the boots’ form after breaking in and stretch them a bit more. If you don’t have shoe trees available, crumple some papers and stuff them in the boots.
Step 3: Wear a good pair of socks
Socks play a huge role in the overall comfort of a footwear. When your boots fit properly but they feel unpleasant, the problem might be the socks or the fact that you don’t wear socks.
As mentioned above, a regular pair of cotton socks might not be helpful. Instead, choose a thick pair of polyester or bamboo socks with additional cushioning in the toe, ball, and heel areas.
Step 4: Add heel and toe pads
If thick socks don’t do the trick for you, insert heel and toe pads into the boots. In case you don’t have socks or pads available, wrap a band-aid around the area that is in pain. The band-aid will keep the area from rubbing against the shoes.
Step 5: Maintain the boots properly
Lastly, for a pair of safety footwear to feel comfortable, you must maintain them properly. Steel-capped boots require extra care as the leather has to bear the weight of the steel. Follow these tips to keep the boots at their top shape:
- Wipe off dust and debris on the boots, ideally at the end of every workday.
- Wash them with soap and water using the right techniques once a month to avoid build-up grime.
- Condition the leather with mink oil or wax after washing.
Purchasing work boots is not difficult, but it does take effort to maximize their comfort level. Now, you no longer have to hesitate when buying a nice pair of steel toe boots. Their protective benefits are definitely worth the time you spend to make them more comfy. Plus, the steel toe tips on how to make steel toe boots more comfortable are simple and easy to follow.
It is our pleasure to have you here. Please feel free to leave us a comment should you have any further questions. We are more than glad to help. See you next time!
Veronica is our content editor. She is a talent in delivery. Her main work is editing and writing articles that are both informative and simple to follow. She is in charge of synthesizing our understanding of what personal protection equipment (PPE) is needed in each job, how to best apply it, and how to visualize that equipment.