Insulated work boots

Agriculture.com Staff 12/08/2008 @ 1:00pm

There are so many companies making boots and so many different styles of boots being made, that it's hard to say exactly what a work boot is. In this article, the focus is on 6- to 8-inch-high boots. That's a popular market segment, and most of the companies listed on page 66 offer several different styles in that segment.

Two of the biggest choices are insulated vs. noninsulated and plain toe vs. protective toe (steel or a composite safety toe). All of the companies listed sell insulated boots, and most have insulated boots with toe protection.

But your choices don't end there. There are different levels of insulation and different types of toe and foot protection.

An evening spent perusing the company Web sites will make you a more informed shopper. (In the table, you'll find Go Links that take you right to the information about each insulated boots.)

Red Wing, for example, rates its various styles of boots for comfort on concrete. Wolverine, Carolina, and others let you compare one style of boot to another throughout their lineups.

There are also several online catalogs that can help you compare brands and prices. One of the most complete is Working Person's Store. (Go to workingperson.com and do a search for "insulated work boots.")

One of the most common insulating materials is 3M's Thinsulate, which has been used in boots for 25 years. According to 3M product sheets, "Thinsulate insulation works by trapping air molecules between you and the outside. The more air a material traps in a given space, the greater its insulating value. Because the microfibers in Thinsulate insulation are far finer than other fibers, they trap more air in less space."

3M gives these recommendations for selecting Thinsulate for footwear:

200 grams for cool conditions or high activity levels.

400 grams for cold conditions or moderate activity levels.

600 grams for very cold conditions.

800 grams for extremely cold conditions with light activity levels.

1,000+ grams for extremely cold conditions with light to minimal activity level.

Those measurements are for the number of grams per square meter of insulation.

A lot of the insulated boots on the market have 200 grams of Thinsulate insulation. However, as noted in the table, you can find boots that have 400 or more grams of insulation. Carolina has an 8-inch boot with 1,000 grams of Thinsulate. Golden Retriever has one with 1,200 grams. (Typically, boots aimed at the recreation market have lots of insulation. You can find those at the same Web sites.)

Insulation is only part of the story. Keeping your feet dry is also important. Many work boots feature Gore-Tex, a fabric membrane that keeps water out while still letting your feet breathe.

According to the manufacturer, "The membrane contains over 9 billion microscopic pores, which are approximately 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water, but 700 times bigger than a molecule of moisture vapor. So while water in its liquid form cannot penetrate the Gore-Tex membrane, as moisture vapor it can easily escape."

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