How long should my work boots last?

By Todd Wells | Published: September 6, 2019
Presented by KEEN Utility

Your work boots could last anywhere between several months and several years. It all depends on a number of factors:

  • The quality of your work boots
  • The material they're made from
  • The distance you walk in them
  • The type of surface you walk on
  • How many hours you wear your work boots each day
  • How well your boots fit
  • Whether you rotate your footwear or only have a single pair
  • Contact with cutting tools or other sharp objects
  • Exposure to heat, dry conditions, rain, or moisture
  • Exposure to dirt
  • Exposure to harsh chemicals

Unfortunately, there is no way to accurately predict how long a pair of work boots will last for you. It all depends upon the factors listed above and on how well you take care of them. However, regularly cleaning, conditioning, sealing, and drying your work boots will greatly extend their life. In addition, investing in a high-quality pair of boots that's built to last will ensure you have a pair of boots that can go the long haul.

(Read about Selecting the Correct Footwear to Prevent Slips, Trips, and Falls.)

My work boots generally last between one-and-a-half to three years before I replace them, but it's not because they are completely worn out. I have had a few pairs that have suffered cuts in the leather from sharp edges and on the leather on the steel toe. Now I ensure that I buy work boots with a rubber toe cap

. I have some older pairs around the house that are still in great condition and I use them for jobs such as cutting wood or mowing the lawn.

(Learn more in Safety Toes: An Overview of the Materials That Keep Your Feet Safe.)

I have known people who claim they have gotten six to 10 years out of their work boots. To have a pair of work boots last that long, you obviously must take good care of them. One person told me he had his work boots resoled and reconditioned twice at the factory, and each time they come back completely rebuilt and like new.

It all depends on the type of work you do, however. Some manufacturers recommend never using the same pair of work boots for more than two years if you do medium-duty work. And of course, your boots will have to be replaced sooner if they are torn or a heavy object falls on them. Even if they seem fine when you inspect them visually, there could be some internal damage that compromises the safety of the boot, including its safety toe.

I recommend buying a quality pair of work boots from a reputable brand and reading online reviews prior to purchasing. Wipe them down daily, regularly condition the leather with a conditioner made specifically for work boots and seal them against moisture, chemicals and salt. If you take good care of a quality pair of boots, they will last you longer.

If you are like me, you spend a significant amount of time in your work boots. Buying a quality pair and taking good care of them can ensure they last.

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Written by Todd Wells

Todd Wells

Todd Wells is a safety professional who works to turn complex projects into successes, implementing effective safety initiatives and consistently achieving measurable positive results on his projects.

Todd is currently a Surface Safety Coordinator with Hatch and understands that world-class safety is about establishing a culture that manages risks and workplace behaviors that cost money.

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