The 5 Best Work Boots for Sore Feet: Reviewed
There are few things worse than experiencing sore feet on the job. We’ve all been there. Long hours, physical work and protective clothing geared more towards functionality than comfort. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Numerous technological advances, big and small, have made modern work boots more comfortable than ever before, and it’s now possible to buy a pair which gets the job done and provides you with enough comfort and support to make a long shift bearable.
But where to begin? With so many manufacturers out there, it’s hard to know which brands live up to their lofty claims and which ones will leave you disappointed. And when you’re spending over a hundred bucks on some work boots, you want to be sure of what you’re getting.
Thankfully, we’re here to help. We’ve tried and tested an array of products to form our definitive list of the 5 best work boots for sore feet. These beauties will serve you well on the job without compromising on comfort.
But before jumping ahead to the best 5, take a look at our guide to the things you need in a pair of boots if you don’t want it to punish your feet:
How to choose the best boots for sore feet
Look for good arch support
This is possibly the most important thing to consider. Solid support in this department will not just ease the burden on your feet but provide the foundation for your legs, hips and back.
It works by spreading the force of each step across your entire foot, reducing the pressure that is ordinarily focused on your heels and the balls of your feet. This reduction in pressure alleviates the burden often placed on the ligament which runs between your heel and your toes. The result is a huge reduction in the pain felt after a long day on your feet. It can also help to prevent the onset of conditions such as tendinitis and plantar fascia.
Insoles are underrated
Good insoles really enhance how comfortable a pair of boots will feel when worn for a prolonged period of time. Not all boots come with them. You can of course buy your own later, but a pair that comes with them as standard is not to be sniffed at.
Pick a weight that’s right for you
This is simply a case of picking boots to meet your day-to-day needs. Yes, bigger and bulkier boots tend to offer greater levels of protection and are sometimes equipped with more additional features, but you carry that extra weight with you every minute of the day. And they say an extra pound on your feet is equivalent to carrying an extra five in a backpack.
Traditionally, heavier boots have been thought to offer greater support, but better materials and more sophisticated technology means that is no-longer the case. Don’t be fooled into buying an unnecessarily heavy-duty pair if you don’t need them. There are plenty of solid light-weight work boots out there.
Outsoles make a world of difference
This is an obvious one, but it’s worth stating nonetheless: cushioned outsoles will make your feet infinitely more comfortable.
Every boot on this list has a great set of outsoles. But if you do decide to go rogue and look for a pair we haven’t recommended, be sure to treat comfortable and durable outsoles as a prerequisite. Your feet will thank you for it.
Maintain your boots properly
This is less about picking the right pair of boots and more about getting the best out of them – no matter what you choose. Here are a few quick tips:
• Allow them to dry fully after each use: they’ll last longer if you don’t dry them with excessive heat.
• Keep them clean: this is especially applicable to leather, which will dry out if coated with mud.
• Use conditioners: this will keep leather supple, and ensure the boots fit comfortably for longer.
• Rotate your boots: this makes the above steps easier. Buying two pairs and wearing them on alternate days should make each pair last longer than buying them one after the other and using them until they’re worn out.
Our Choice for The 5 Best Work Boots for Sore Feet
So now you know what to look for in a pair of work boots if you want to keep your feet comfortable. Whether you already suffer from foot pains at work or you just want to avoid them, there’s a pair of boots out there that’s just right for you. Here are the ones we think will do the trick:
Wolverine Men’s Floorhand 6 Inch Waterproof Soft Toe Work Shoe
These ‘work shoes’ by Wolverine are built for comfort. For starters, their full-grain leather uppers and lightweight cement construction are designed to make the Floorhands as flexible as possible, and you can feel it within seconds of putting them on for the first time.
They’ve been carefully designed so that the upper bonds to the outsole in a way that allows the boot and the sole to flex in unison at the most essential points. And we think this works very well.
The rubber lug outsole is also incredibly thick, and has great shock absorbing properties. When it comes to additional support, the Floorhands also boast a rubber midsole and durable nylon shank in addition to a removable full-cushion insole which is designed to mold to your foot after several wears. Oh, and a waterproof membrane will ensure your feet stay completely dry, no matter what the conditions.
The only downside is that these boots aren’t exactly packed with safety features and are lacking safety toes. But they’re not short of durability. After wearing them a few times, we’re confident they’ll last.
There are certainly more robust work boots out there to try and help with foot pain. But if avoiding sore feet is your priority, the Wolverine Floorhands could be the ones for you.
• The most flexible work boots we reviewed
• Removable full-cushion insole
• Low on safety features
KEEN Utility Men’s Flint Mid Work Boot
With the Flints, KEEN have created something that’s somewhere between hiking footwear and a work boot. And we’re big fans of the result.
These boots offer a snug fit and are comfortable straight out of the box. A detachable metatomical footbed has been carefully designed to match the natural contours of the foot and guard against heel pain. And this works well in tandem with a stability shank and dual-density midsoles. To cut the jargon, the Flints are incredibly forgiving on your feet, no matter how long you work in them.
The ankle cut is also nice for the extra mobility that it affords, while a thick padded collar and tongue hugs your foot tightly without ever feeling suffocating. The material and cutout panels in the sides ensure these boots are very breathable – certainly more so than any 100% leather boots we feature on this list – though, impressively, they are still partially water repellant.
Our favourite feature by far, though, is the innovatively designed steel toe which can sometimes add to sore feet. Asymmetrical toe boxes, moulded differently for the right and left feet, fit beautifully without even a hint of pinching – no matter how much your feet flex while working. They’re also quite roomy, so rubbing along the tops of your toes will not be a problem.
One final plus is that the boots are available in both regular and wide fit, so you won’t have to compromise on sizing.
When it comes down to it, the Flints are great all-rounders. There are enough safety features to match most standard work boots, but these have ingeniously incorporated in order to afford the wearer maximum comfort. When it comes to the battle of comfort versus functionality, these boots truly provide the best of both worlds.
• Detachable metatomical footbed makes them comfortable for longer
• Ankle cut for increased maneuverability
• Great ventilation
• The comfiest set of steel toes on the market
• Only Partially waterproof
SAFETOE Steel Toe M8025 Safety Shoes
At a glance, you could be forgiven for thinking these were an ordinary pair of chelsea boots. They’re certainly the most stylish pair of work boots to feature on this list anyway.
The first giveaway that they’re actually a little more than leisurewear is the weight. Reinforced toe caps certainly make these feel heavy when you first put them on, but in reality they’re still less weighty than a lot of other work boots. And the extra protection afforded by the steel toes gives them the added bonus of being fit for most heavy-duty working environments.
In addition to this, the M8025s come with steel midsole platework that’s designed to be impervious to penetration by nails, and a thick rubber outsole which is both slip and oil resistant. In terms of comfort, SAFETOE have also provided a shock-absorbing insole to add extra cushioning to each step you take.
The laceless, pull-on, leather design of these boots also offers more than just a hint of sartorial elegance; they hug the feet tightly and offer a great deal of protection against outside moisture, while elastic side gores make them fit very comfortably around the ankles.
The only downside is that they didn’t feel particularly heavy-duty compared to many of the other boots on this list, but that’s reflected in their modest price tag.
We’d probably place these boots somewhere in the middle of the list. A definite contender if you’re looking for something a little different.
• The best looking pair of work boots on this list
• Solid steel toes
• Elastic side gores make them very comfortable on the ankle
• Modest price Tag
• Neither the most comfortable nor the most durable pair of boots on this list
Carhartt Men’s 6′ Force Blk CMP Toe-m
Their name is quite a mouthful, but otherwise, these boots from Carhartt are very simple. The Force Blks are not packed full of safety features, and lack the wide array of clever design work we’ve seen in many of their competitors on this list – but they were such a great pair of all-rounders that we felt obliged to include them.
Put simply, Carhartt have produced a pair of boots that is lightweight, very comfortable, and decent looking. The uppers are 100% leather – available only in a striking jet black. The bright white synthetic soles keep the weight down but offer sufficient protection against shocks – and look great alongside the black uppers.
The ankle support afforded by the Force Blks is among the best we tested and the midsoles provide decent support. They soles are also very flexible, while the uppers offer a decent amount of resistance to water.
They also feel very durable for such a lightweight pair of boots. Of course, these boots fall down when it comes to safety features, but if you’re looking for a robust pair of light work boots, you could do far worse.
• Good looking
• Very comfortable
• Fairly basic design
• No real safety features
Timberland PRO Men’s Hyperion Waterproof XL ST Work Boot
And last but not least, we have the Timberland Hyperion Waterproof XL ST Work Boot. In many respects, these boots are the polar opposites to the Carhartts: they are absolutely chocked full of features that will keep your feet both safe and comfortable.
We’ll start with Timberland’s trademarked TiTan XL safety-toe cap, designed to be lighter than standard safety toes without compromising any of the protection they offer. In addition to this we have thick, Vibram soles that offer great shock absorption, a dual-density footbed with Timberland’s inbuilt dynamic anti-fatigue technology, and an EVA midsole – meaning your footsteps will be padded while your feet are being guarded.
The leather uppers are fully waterproof, but ventilation is good thanks to a mesh lining which also happens to come with its own anti-odor treatment.
For such a robust boot, they also take surprisingly little time to wear-in. It’ll probably take less than a full shift for them to feel comfortably adjusted to your feet – which is rare in such a heavy-duty pair of work boots.
The only downside we could think of is their relatively high price tag, but it seems fair given everything that you get for your money. Overall, the Timberlands are a great pair of work boots that are also surprisingly comfortable.
• Very robust
• Fit for even the most heavy-duty jobs
• Fully waterproof
• Surprisingly comfortable
• Not the most comfortable pair on this list
And our winner is…
The KEEN Utility Men’s Flint Mid Work Boot
It was a close one, but the Flints by Keen just edged out the Timberlands. It’s true that the Timberlands are the more robust pair of work boots, but we were looking for the perfect combination of functionality and comfort.
And in that department, the Keens come out on top. Comfy and light enough to wear hiking and equipped with the most ingeniously designed set of steel toes of any pair of boots on this list.
The Flints are perfect for someone looking to avoid sore feet during a long day on the job.
Should I order a size bigger when buying work boots?
This actually varies a lot from brand to brand. Some manufacturers are very good at getting their boots to fit like an ordinary shoe. Others actively advise you to order one size up or down. You should always check the manufacturer’s advice before ordering.
Can I wear ordinary socks with these work boots?
Even with the boots on this list, you’ll still feel a very small amount of rubbing between some parts of your feet and the insides of the boots if you wear them for prolonged periods of time. But if you wear a thick pair of socks, you won’t even notice. Thin socks are also inadvisable in the winter – when keeping your extremities warm is vital.
Which work boot brand is the most reliable?
Different brands excel at making different types of boots. There are lots of very reliable manufacturers out there – not a single one that is far more reliable than the others.
There are some cheaper manufacturers which produce low-quality products, but all of the brands we review produce high quality products which we have used and feel comfortable recommending.