It’s important to wear proper footwear in the workshop and on the job site. Good footwear make it easier to stand on hard surfaces for long periods of time, they protect your feet from sharp objects, support your ankles when you stumble over work site debris, provide a better grip when walking across smooth oily surfaces or climbing ladders and scaffolding, and they protect your toes and metatarsals (the bones between your toes and the arch of your foot) should anything get dropped on your feet.
At 1 pound 7 ounces, the new 6″ Wolverine Chisel MidCut Steel Toe Boots are the lightest work boots I’ve tried. They come in a wide range of sizes that should cover just about every foot size, from 7 to 14, and in that ever popular, manly colour scheme: brown and black.
The sole, toe and heel of a work boot take the most punishment. These boots feature a rubber coated steel toe that are ‘ASTM F2413-11 M I/75 C/75 EH’ rated. These are minimum safety standards specified by the ASTM, an international equivalent to the CSA. This particular code means that the toe will withstand a weight of up to 75 pounds dropped on it, and a compressive load of up to 2,500 pounds, before it begins to crack or crush.
The EH rating means that the outer sole provides protection from electrical current, up to 600 volts AC, on dry surfaces.
The toe has a durable rubber coating that adds some waterproofing, and provides good resistance from scuffs and scratches.
I see lots of guys wearing sneakers (and even sandals) in their shops. They might think that steel-toes boots are just for the job site – likely until that first 2 by 8 timber lands on a foot
The heel is likewise rubber coated, and is triple stitched to the leather upper. A looped tab just above the heel makes it easier to pull the boot on and off. However, the tab could be larger – I can barely insert my forefinger.
The lining (yellow fabric in the photo above) is made of a wave mesh polyester fabric that helps wick moisture away from your foot. Polyester fabric is very strong, it’s resistant to stretching, and just as important, it’s resistant to mildew. I would like to have seen an antimicrobial lining to help prohibit the growth of odor causing bacteria.
The collar is amply padded – thick enough to enhance fit and comfort but not overly tight. It provides good support for the Achilles tendon. The back of the boot is sloped downward, which I find more comfortable, as it doesn’t dig into the top part of my heel, especially when flexing my foot.
The upper part, or body, of the boot is made of full-grain leather and nylon canvas, double stitched together. While this combination offers somewhat less overall durability and water resistance than you would find in an all-leather boot, they won’t take as much time to break-in, and they make the boot lighter in weight, more flexible, and more breathable. The nylon canvas isn’t as durable as full-grain leather, but it is highly abrasion resistant. The result, I think, is a boot that provides a good blend of durability, support, and comfort.
The midsole (gray in the photo above), located above the outsole, is made of compression molded EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) foam, a widely used material in footwear. The foam is packed with tiny inert gas filled cells. As your foot hits the ground air inside the cells is compressed, providing a cushioning effect. When you lift your foot the cells decompress, ready to absorb the next impact.
One area where water penetrates a boot is the seam where sole is joined to the upper part of the boot. As you’ll find on a lot of work boots today, the sole and the uppers on this pair are joined with an adhesive rather than sewn, which means the sole can’t be replaced. However, this is a less costly method of construction which makes the boots more economical for the end user.
The eyelet arrangement is fairly standard – five pairs of punched metal eyelets at the bottom with two pairs of ringed metal eyelets at the top. I found that I didn’t have to undo all the laces – I could loosen the laces at the top and easily slip my foot out. Still, I would have much preferred hooked eyelets in place of the ringed eyelets at the top of the boot, as they are so much quicker to tie and untie.
The replaceable insoles (footbed) are made from recycled polyurethane, which provide some level of shock absorption and increase overall boot comfort. The only reason to replace them is if you have specific support requirements such as fallen arches or flat feet, or if you feel that you need even more cushioning than these insoles provide.
The sole (aka ‘outsole’) on these boots is made of a tough non-marring genuine rubber compound that is slip, oil, and abrasion resistant, and very long wearing. The 3/16″ deep treads provide very good grip. And, of course, the sole is waterproof. I would have preferred a sole notch, which hooks a ladder rung or scaffolding rails better and makes for safer climbing.
Whether you’re working in the shop or on a job site, the last thing you want is sore and tired feet. And, you certainly don’t want to throw good money after crappy boots. These Wolverine Chisel MidCut Steel Toe Boots have pretty well all the features that you’d want in a great work boot – comfort, light weight, easy lacing, durability, tough oil, slip, and abrasion resistant sole. The fit is snug, arch support is very good, and I can wear them all day long without any discomfort.