One of the most common concerns with workers wearing steel toe boots is that the shoes are uncomfortable.
If you are new with steel toe boots you must be wondering, “are steel toe boots comfortable?” Yes, the boots are comfortable and as long as you buy the right boots and take good care of them, they will be comfortable for years.
Steel toe work boots are meant to protect your feet and make your life easy. They aren’t supposed to be uncomfortable.
Steel toe boots can be uncomfortable for various reasons including:
- Buying boots of the wrong size
- Failing to break in the shoes
- Wearing boots that are too worn out
- Wearing boots that are too old
Have you noticed your work boots getting uncomfortable every time you wear them? Here are tips on how to make steel toe boots more comfortable so that you can be more productive:
Tip #1: Buy a fitting work boot
This is the first step as there is no way you can be comfortable when you wear a work boot of the wrong size. Avoid steel toe work boots that are too narrow as they will be uncomfortable.
At the same time, you should avoid huge boots as they will trigger too many movements resulting in hot spots and blisters.
When making the purchase remember that steel toe boots have a thick steel toe cap and steel shank that is puncture resistant at the bottom.
This means that when you order boots at your regular measurements, you will end up with safety shoes that are too short or too narrow.
To avoid this, order boots that are a little bit larger than the ones you regularly wear. If buying the work shoes at a physical store, ensure that you walk in them in the store.
If you notice any issue, don’t buy the boots as they will be problematic later on.
When it comes to length, go for full size higher boots as they will prevent your feet from being crammed or rubbed the wrong way.
Tip #2: Break in the steel toe boots
The reason why your shoes are uncomfortable at the worksite is because you haven’t broken them in. Most workers make the mistake of buying the shoes and wearing them straight to work. This is wrong!
Before you start wearing the boots the entire day, begin by wearing them a few times at home. Start by wearing them a few minutes to an hour every day so that they can get used to the stretch.
Your feet will also get used to the material used in making the footwear.
Ways of breaking in the work boots
There are many ways you can use to break in the shoes. Some of these ways include:
Coldwater treatment: This is an excellent way to widen steel toe work boots. To do it, pour cold water into a Ziploc bag and seal it. You should then place the bag inside the boots and place them in the freezer overnight.
The water will turn to ice, expand, and stretch the boot. In the morning, remove the boot from the freezer and allow the ice to melt before you remove it.
The stick method: To stretch the boot using this method, insert a broom or mop stick into the work boot. Point the stick towards the area where the boot pinches.
You should then firmly bend the boot over the stick so that the leather stretches in the affected area. To tell whether the boot has been stretched, you should see a slight outward discoloration.
When bending the boot, avoid overdoing it as you risk tearing the safety shoe.
The oil method: The oily process requires you to use Mink oil or any other leather conditioner to coat the outside of the work boot.
When applying the oil, focus on the pinching areas. After applying the oil, leave the boot overnight. The oil will soften the boot; thus, you have a comfortable shoe to wear.
Hot water method: This method is common in the military. To break in your shoe, immerse the work boot into a bucket of warm water and let it sit there for about 30 minutes.
Once the shoe has been saturated, get rid of the excess water, and wear the boots for about an hour.
To give the shoe the full stretch, wear the boot with socks. Remember to waterproof the work boots to protect them from getting damaged. You can also buy waterproof work shoes.
Tips to consider when breaking into the work boots
- To have an easy time breaking in the shoes, buy fitting shoes. Refer to the above tips to buy the right shoes.
- You should always buy the boots a week or so before you start using them. This is to give you enough time to break them in.
- If you are suffering from foot problems such as long nails, ingrown toenails, or other issues, avoid breaking the boots as you risk hurting yourself.
- While the above work boot break-in methods give you results in one day, you should aim at gradually breaking in the shoes (you should do it for at least a week). This way, you don’t risk damaging the shoes. As a rule of thumb, never heat your boots directly as they can catch fire.
Tip #3: Remove and Repair the steel toe
If you have had your boots for a long time, it’s common for the steel toe to get damaged, warp, bend, or even get loose.
Steel toe work boots with a damaged steel toe are uncomfortable and dangerous to wear; therefore, you should remove the steel toe to make the boots more comfortable and also protect your toes from getting hurt.
Can you remove the steel toe from the boots by yourself?
Yes, you can, but you need to have the right tools that include:
- Razorblade/ utility knife
- Shoe glue
How to remove steel toe from boots
Using a razor blade or carving knife, make a 4-inch slit at the base of the work boot then gently pull the two pieces of the shoe from each other.
You should then grip the bottom of the steel toe firmly using pliers and twist it back and forth until the steel toe cap comes off.
With the cap on a smooth, sturdy surface, use a hammer to bang out the dents. If the toe cap is too damaged, replace it.
To restore your shoe, use the worker’s glue and slather it entirely on the outside of the steel toe. You should then slide the steel toe back into the boot then glue the parts together. Allow the shoe a few hours to dry before you put it on.
You should note that while it’s possible to remove the steel toe from the work boot, you have to replace the toe with something to make the shoe wearable again.
You can easily damage the work boots when removing the steel toe, so be ultra-cautious when removing it. If the boots are irreplaceable, reconsider going ahead with it.
Tip #4: Wear steel toe socks
Due to the steel cap at the toe area, many workers complain that they are uncomfortable when working. If you are having some pain, consider investing in good quality steel toe socks.
The socks feature extra padding in the toe area, thus providing you with enough cushion that ensures you are comfortable the entire day.
Thick socks prevent your feet from contacting the boots; thus, you don’t have to worry about blisters. There are plenty of these socks in the market you can go for.
Tip #5: Use insoles
Since the boots have a sturdy bottom, the regular insoles that they come with can sometimes be too small; thus making you uncomfortable.
If the current boots are uncomfortable to wear, consider installing premium steel toe insoles.
All you need to do is head to your local store and make the purchase. For ideal results, ensure that the new units have excellent arch support.
Insoles with perfect backing even out the pressure in your foot, eliminating any form of pain that you might be experiencing.
Tip #6: Take good care of the safety boot.
There is no way you will be comfortable if your work boot is improperly maintained.
One of the things you should do is to clean the steel-toed boots regularly. Make it a habit to remove any mud on the shoes as soon as you are from work.
If you are an ironworker, ensure that your ironworker boots don’t come into contact with the fire sparks common when working with iron.
If working in a salty area, use mild water and vinegar to get rid of the corrosive salt.
Another thing you should do is to condition the boots. In addition to the conditioner maintaining the elegant look of the work boots, it also ensures that the leather lasts for a long time.
The cool thing is that there are many conditioners on the market you can go for. You only need to choose the one that is ideal for your boots.
Tip #7: Apply a bandage
If you are wearing the socks in your slip-on work shoes and you are still having some pain when you wear the work boots, consider wrapping a bandage around your foot. The bandage functions as an additional cushion increasing your comfort levels.
As you can see, there is no reason to be uncomfortable when wearing steel toe work boots. In addition to the above tips, also consider rotating your safety shoes.
This calls for you to avoid wearing the same work shoe over and over. Buy two or more pairs you can alternate. This way, you not only look good and comfortable, but you also ensure that the work boot lasts for a long time.