How to Pick a Leather Work Boot

RefrigiWear's Guide to Leather Boots

Selecting leather work boots for frozen or extreme-cold environments can seem like a daunting task, but RefrigiWear has the expertise to guide you. Firstly, you must remember that an insulated leather work boot being worn on -30°F freezer floors needs to be constructed differently than a boot used to walk through snow or a hiking boot for cold-weather trailblazing.

The main reason is because of conduction, which is one of the five main reasons a body loses heat and happens when you come into contact with a colder surface. As you can imagine, walking on freezing floors all day requires special soles, insulation and other features that you may not find in a regular insulated hiking boot.

Picking the Right Leather Work Boot

1. Insulation: RefrigiWear boots offer a variety of insulation packages from non-insulated to 1,000g Thinsulate™ Ultra Insulation. Each boot is assigned a Comfort Range. These Comfort Ranges serve as a guide for pointing you in the right direction when choosing a boot. You must also consider the comfort and moisture-wicking abilities of lining because moisture is a natural enemy of warmth.  

2. Soles: Slip-resistant boots offer increased resistance to sliding or skidding on slick surfaces, so soles should be a major consideration if you work in cold temperatures. All RefrigiWear boots are tested against the ASTM F1677 slip-resistance standard. Soles, mid-soles and the insulation layers on the bottom of the boot also play a key role in keeping feet warm and protected. Our outsoles are formulated not to crack from the exposure to extreme cold temps – something other work boots can’t handle. 

3. Safety Toes: All RefrigiWear leather work boots have ASTM composite safety toes. These safety toes meet the ASTM F2413-05 Standard Specification for Performance Requirements for Foot Protection. Composite-toed work boots use materials like carbon fiber, plastic, Kevlar or fiberglass and are ideal for people who must go through metal detectors. In addition, composite toes are up to 30% lighter, resulting in less foot fatigue. Plus, they don’t conduct cold like metal, so your feet stay warmer.

4. Construction: The construction of your leather work boots can help determine whether they are waterproof, resistant to chemicals or even more durable than other boots. A boot's upper half can be attached to the sole by adhesive, through stitching or by using a Goodyear Welt. The latter is one of the oldest and most durable, the uppers/soles are connected by first sewing a strip (also known as the "welt") to the inner and upper sole, which is then attached with another thread to firmly hold the sections together.

5. Ankle Support and Padding: Ankle support improves stability and helps reduce fatigue when you are on your feet all day. A taller boot provides more support, but a snug fit is also important, so lace-up styles often are more supportive if you are very active. Padded ankle collars also add further stability.

There are also many other features such as rubber toe guards, electrical shock resistance and waterproof barriers that you should keep in mind when choosing footwear.

Size Is Important

The proper size is one of the most important steps in finding footwear that is comfortable and safe. Footwear should fit appropriately, be supportive for your activity and not cause damage or pain to your feet in any way.

• Your feet should have plenty of room in the boot and your toes should not touch the end of your shoes (toes should be about 1/2” from the front)

• Shoes should be broad enough but still fit securely so your foot doesn't slide around

• They should be comfortable immediately, don’t buy shoes that need “breaking in”

• Keep in mind they type of socks or insoles you will be wearing with the boots.

What About Socks?

In order to wick away moisture and keep your feet dry and comfortable, you need to wear the right socks. Cotton is one of the worst fibers to use to keep feet warm in cold environments because they will absorb and retain moisture, like sweat. That moisture against your foot will cause friction and create blisters on your feet in addition to losing warmth. RefrigiWear socks are blends with materials such as wool, nylon, acrylic and polyester, which will wick moisture away from your feet.

When To Wear Pac Boots

Pac Boots are heavy-duty boots with a removable lining. These boots are normally used in very cold temperatures where extreme protection is needed. To learn more about Pac Boots visit our Guide to Pac Boots.