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Winter Footwear: Making The Transition To Keep Your Feet Warm

By Rob Chernish
Published: November 16, 2014 | Last updated: March 8, 2018 02:16:07
Key Takeaways

How to choose the right winter footwear

It is a sad day when the temperatures start to drop below zero and you're forced to trade your favorite summer footwear for winter boots. But for every athlete, worker, or safety specialist, there comes a time when you know that you have to make the seasonal footwear transition. This year, ensure you choose a style that fits your lifestyle and budget.

Pretty much anyone can get away with wearing heels, runners, and even flip flops in the middle of winter, but not for very long. On average, how far do you have to walk to work per day? Is it just a short distance from your vehicle, or are you in a heated parkade? Or maybe you work from home. The bottom line is that choosing a style of footwear largely depends upon the conditions of your lifestyle.

No doubt, you have a favorite pair of shoes or boots. What makes them your go-to shoe? Generally, people will choose their footwear based on looks or comfort, or based on whether or not they fit the minimum safety requirement. Sometimes these two variables are also influenced by the cost of the footwear. What other pairs of shoes or boots do you enjoy wearing? Do you like them because they make your feet look pretty, or perhaps they are soft and make your feet feel good? Comfort, looks, and protection level are all important elements when it comes to choosing a style that is right for you.



Comfort is more than just how your foot feels in the boot. Everyone wishes for a Cinderella story when putting on a new shoe or boot the first time, but finding the perfect match on a first date rarely happens. You want a good fit and the feel of the boot can change dramatically over time, so consider the overall build of the sole of the shoe or boot. Does it have a reinforced wooden or steel shank to provide safety and support? Or is it just a combination of materials without any real backbone? When you want a shoe or boot that will last for years, and eventually migrate into one of your favourites, then you will want to put some money into a boot or shoe that has a wooden, steel, or alloyed supporting sole, as this is the area that provides direct support for the arch of your foot.

Footwear is typically made available for three general types of feet. Stability, cushioning, and neutral. It is important that you choose a shoe or boot that is suited to your type of foot, so be sure to know what type of foot you have, and what types of shoes are best for you. Ask the sales associate to assess your foot if you are unsure.


Style is important, and when you roll onto the scene in a new pair of boots, you will want to have the confidence that you are being trendy. This doesn't mean that you have to design an Ugg boot with a steel toe for work, but there is some merit to adding some creative elements to your boots to make them more unique, and more visible for safety. Depending on what industry you are working in, the color of the boot might matter. If you typically work in low visibility environments, you will want to have a boot that stands out and gets you noticed for safety reasons.

The height of your boots or shoes might not matter to you, but depending on your industries standards, you might require a 6, 8, or 11 boot. Be sure to ask what height of boot you require.

There are plenty of brands to choose from online, as well as in-store, and shopping can be quite fun. Specialty workwear stores are becoming more common, so the variety of safety footwear that there is to choose from is growing.


Many boots are required to have the CSA Certification to meet workforce requirements. The Canadian Standards Association, or CSA standard is well-known, and many manufacturers have certified boots for men and women in the field. These winterized boots will also come with a temperature rating that depicts the insulation quality within the boot.

Most winter boots are lined with Thinsulate, which is a registered insulation that has been used in boots, shoes, gloves, and clothes for over a decade. This is an affordable material that provides a descent level of protection. For the extreme environments, and prolonged exposure, experts in the field can get insulated boots good for -120 degrees Celsius.

Non-slip soles are common features on boots, though, not all boots have them. If you work in an area that is often slippery, you might want to consider a non-slip sole to help keep you upright.

Many boots offer great protection against the cold, but if the boot gets wet, then the efficiency of the insulating properties of the boot can be muted. A wet boot can result from sweat, melting snow, or a puddle, and a wet boot quickly turns into a cold boot. To combat this issue, many boots will have an exterior ply that is made of rubber, synthetic material, or other water repelling material. Many hybrids have an overlapping blend of materials, so you can be well protected. Consider a boot that fits with your level of trekking and exposure to various conditions.


Getting a combination of styles can be a great alternative. An inexpensive set of rubbers, or galoshes, can be yours for under $30 if you are a good shopper. Some keen shoppers will buy a pair of these a few sizes too big, then put a couple pairs of winter boot liners to make a nice protective combination for lightweight and warm commuting during messy conditions. Other quick wins can be to mix and match your existing collection of boots and shoes by adding some sole protectors or some ice-bound liners that can be removed and dried to ensure warm and dry boots day after day.

Whichever kind of winter footwear you decide to go with, ensure you choose something that is safe and practical. Weigh your options and shop around before you buy.


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Written by Rob Chernish

A writer from Canada with firsthand experience in Oil, Gas, Mining, and environmental safety.

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