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Winter Footwear: Making The Transition To Keep Your Feet Warm

By Rob Chernish
Last updated: May 24, 2024
Key Takeaways

How to choose the right winter footwear

When the temperatures drop below zero, it’s time to move your summer footwear to the back of the closet and start wearing your winter boots to work. That seasonal transition is a great time to evaluate your footwear and make sure you have boots that meet your needs.

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First, consider what your feet go through during your typical workday. Do you spend most of your time sitting or on your feet? Do you work in a heated indoor environment or outdoors in the cold? How often will you have to walk across icy surfaces?

Of course, you’ll need boots that are designed to protect your feet from the hazards you face on the job. But that shouldn’t be your only consideration. The right boots for you will also provide you with comfort and have a style you can feel good about wearing.

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So, let’s go over these three major considerations in more detail, starting with comfort.

Comfort

We all hope we’ll get our Cinderella moment where we put on a new pair of boots for the first time and they feel as though they were custom made. Unfortunately, we’re rarely that lucky. Finding a boot that feels right usually takes some careful consideration – and a few try-ons.

You’ll want a good fit, but remember that the feel of the boot can change dramatically over time. Because of that, it’s important to consider the overall build of the sole. 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? If you want your boots to last for years, you’ll want to pay a bit more for one 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 in three general types: stability, motion control, and neutral. It is important that you choose a shoe or boot that is suited to your type of foot, since the right option will depend on your arch:

  • Neutral: best suited for people with high arches
  • Motion control: best for low arches
  • Stability: designed for average arches (neither high nor low)

(Find out How to Care for Your Boots)

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Looks

Style is important, and when you roll onto the scene in a new pair of boots, you’ll want to do so with confidence. This doesn’t mean that you have to design an Ugg boot with a steel toe for work, but there is some merit to having boots that look good and stand out from the others.

Depending on what industry you’re working in, the color of the boot might matter. But 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.

Protection

Many boots are required to have the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Certification to meet workforce requirements. 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.

(Learn more in Work Boots and Shoes Specifically Designed for Women Matter – Here’s Why)

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

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

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