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Footwear for farmers

Durability. Comfort. Protection. These three words are the foundation on which work boots are built. Yet, not all work boots are created equal. There are several styles and features available. The right pair, tailored to meet the demands of your job, will keep your feet happy all day long.

A good pair of work boots should be as important as the tools in your shop. Before you step into a new pair of boots, consider these five features.

1. Outsole material. The outermost layer of the sole of a boot, the outsole, is available in three options.

• Rubber outsole offers excellent performance when it comes to abrasion-, oil-, and slip-resistant features. It is a top choice for work sites with rugged terrains, because it provides maximum traction on both wet and dry surfaces.

• Thermoplastic polyurethane outsole is long-wearing and is abrasion-, oil-, and chemical-resistant. Designed to be tough, it typically resists splitting and is more lightweight than rubber.

• Polyurethane outsole provides a lightweight, flexible, and comfort-enhancing option to the typical rubber outsole. Yet it still provides abrasion-, slip-, and oil-resistant qualities.

2. Toe style. Steel and composite are the two most common toe cap types.

“Steel-toe caps have long been the standard toe-cap material, offering maximum protection from sudden impact or compression,” says Roger Huard, vice president of product development for Wolverine. “Composite-toe caps are gaining popularity, because they meet American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards but are lighter than steel.”

Construction; Upper materials; Outsole; Lining Toe style

They also are often more comfortable in extreme weather conditions, because they are less conductive in heat and cold.

Toe protection should also meet or exceed ASTM standard F2415-11.

3. Construction. The way a boot is constructed affects its weight, flexibility, and longevity.

“A good pair of work boots should be as important as the tools in your shop.”

“Different construction methods provide different benefits,” notes Huard.

Direct-attach or injection construction is when the sole material is permanently and chemically fused to the upper. “This construction is very lightweight and is generally the most flexible type of construction,” says Huard. “It also has the added benefit of being watertight.”

Goodyear welt construction stitches together the upper and inner sole with a strip or welt. This process extends the footwear's life because boots can be re-soled or repaired.

Cement construction means the boot's outsole and midsole are cemented permanently to the upper. This construction is lightweight and flexible.

4. Lining. When it comes to farming, waterproof boots are a necessity. “The most reliable waterproof work boots on today's market feature waterproof leather combined with a waterproof membrane lining, like Gore-Tex, within the boot. That keeps moisture out while allowing for air circulation,” notes Huard.

To keep feet warm in cold weather, an insulated lining, such as Thinsulate, is a feature worth considering.

5. Upper material. The upper material you choose will depend on your work environment.

“Leather is the tried-and-true upper material in work boots,” says Huard. “It is, by nature, quite durable and breathable, so it's a good choice if you're on your feet for hours at a time. Leather provides a customized fit, because leather molds to your foot with wear. There also are many waterproof leathers available.

“Synthetics are often more lightweight than leather,” he says. “They feel more like a sport shoe, while maintaining the durability of a traditional leather upper. Synthetics can also be waterproof.”

Protect your investment

Work boots can range in price from $90 to more than $200. Properly caring for your boots will protect and lengthen the life span of that investment. Two common factors of poor boot maintenance are neglect and over-oiling.

Keep your boots clean by brushing off dirt and mud since either can ruin leather over time. Most boots can be washed on the outside with a boot cleaner and water. Avoid using soaps and detergents.

If your boots get soaked, stuff them loosely with newspaper and leave them to dry in a warm place. Never place them near a fire, heater, or other heat source.

Remember, boots need to be conditioned from time to time, especially if they're made of leather.


Today's market is full of innovative comfort and performance technologies. By doing a bit of research beforehand, you can target exactly what features you're looking for.

Below is a small sampling of work boots that are available.

Companies like Case IH, Caterpillar, and John Deere offer boots that bear their logos. 

This 6″ work boot (CMW6239) is constructed of oil-tanned leather in a pebble-brown color. It features a waterproof membrane and direct-attach welt construction. It is insulated with LiteFire, which is a heat-reflective technology. Has an OrthoLite insole and padded collar, plus an OrthoLite comfort tongue. MSRP is $174.99.

Carolina's 6″ waterproof, insulated, broad-toe work boot (CA5521) is a Gaucho Crazy Horse leather upper with a composite safety toe. It includes waterproof Scubaliner, Pillow Cushion insole, removable AG7 polyurethane footbed. It has a cement construction and a rubber outsole. MSRP is $135.

FLXpoint waterproof composite-toe boot (G6644) is full grain leather and is fully lined with breathable moisture-wicking material. It features a Georgia Waterproof System, integrated TPU torsion stabilizer, oil-resistant outsole, padded collar, polyurethane midsole, and direct-attach construction. MSRP is $154.99.

Foundation steel-toe work boot has 5-mm CR flex-foam bootie with four-way stretch nylon, which is waterproof and lightweight. It has seamless, full-coverage, quick-clean rubber outlays. The outsole is rubber. Diamond-textured toe and heel reinforcement resist scuffs and scratches. In black (FRST-000) and brown (FRST-998). MSRP is $159.95.

Red Wing
This 6″ work boot (2260) features waterproof hazelnut tramper leather with Thinsulate insulation. It has direct-attach construction. The insole is Texon; the outsole is TPU/PU. It has a nonmetallic toe and a defined heel. MSRP is $189.99.

Premium 6″ waterproof boot (6131R) features anti-fatigue technology, premium waterproof leather with direct-attach seam-sealed construction. Padded collar makes a comfortable fit around the ankle. Has a rubber lug outsole. The footbed and shaft are lined with soft leather. The toe box and forefoot are lined with breathable fabric. MSRP is $180.

A Corsair work boot features Wolverine Contour welt construction, which contours to the shape of the foot. Other features include a waterproof leather upper, ArmorTek guard, and MultiShox rubber lug outsoles. Available in brown and black, in 6″ and 8″ heights, and in a Wellington style. MSRP is $157 to $177.

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