“The only easy day was yesterday,” say the Navy Seals.
I’ve always applied a huge chunk of their philosophy to the way I look at prepping. They say there’s only two ways of doing things, the right way and again. When it comes to choosing your work footwear that “again” can cost you time, money and, in some scenarios, the wellbeing of your feet.
Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.
What’s the best footwear for homestead preppers?
Homestead survival is going to be a tougher “nut” to crack than bug out preparedness.
My point being that self-sufficient preppers need multifunctional boots:
- They want a good fit for tactical environment but also
- A decent work boot to complement their natural lifestyle.
Let’s go over an extensive list of features found in work boots that will be a good fit for your prepping efforts.
Work boots — under the hood
Your boot should provide:
- Safety — There’s an inherent set of dangers to every work. We want to know we can rely on our boots for adequate foot protection at all times
- Longevity — We want out work boots to hold up during mundane activities but also when shtf, right?
- Water-protection — Wet feet are a pain for multiple reasons
- Comfort — When experienced people say “Comfort is king,” they know what they’re talking about
Let’s dissect all of these aspects one by one.
Safety comes first
This is what makes or breaks your work boots.
There are several points we need to go through here, all aimed at keeping your feet in top condition.
Safety toes are probably the most discussed feature of work boots.
They’re an excellent addition to your footwear if something heavy falling on your feet is a real danger. Plus, they just look cool.
- Steel toe
- Aluminum toe
- Composite toe
Aluminum/steel toe work boots were the norm back in the day, but they’re starting to give way to modern, composite materials.
Their major pro is the ability to handle more of a crushing force than composites could. On the other hand, they’ll act as conductors in cold and hot climates, bringing the outside weather straight into your boots. It doesn’t sound pleasant because it isn’t.
Composite toes are usually made of plastic, carbon fiber or Kevlar. They offer a fair amount of protection without “exposing” your feet to the elements. They also don’t activate metal detectors; use this information as you wish.
Another layer of “heavy-objects-falling” protection for your toes and upper foot, this one is used by people working in extreme conditions.
They’re also great for welding and surroundings where hot objects might be an issue.
A must-have safety precaution if you’re doing anything remotely connected to construction or walking through debris, rubble and generally inhospitable terrain.
A sharp rock, glass chip or a nail to the foot is a prepping disaster. Fortunately, a good puncture plate will keep the bottoms of your feet isolated from such outcomes.
It’s located in between the midsole and the footbed of the work boot and it’s a “nice-to-have” even without obvious dangers in your homestead. Better safe than sorry, remember?
Grip is the thing keeping you on your feet when the going gets tough.
One-third of all construction-related accidents were a result of a fall or slip, so traction is the key to avoiding some major hazards.
The best method for avoiding silly accidents is being aware and mindful. Hey, it’s what prepping is all about — being aware of the inevitable calamity and getting ready for it preemptively.
To cut the story short, you want Vibram rubber soles with high-performance index.
If you’re working with some tricky chemicals, TPU (Thermo Poly Urethane) will give you high resistance to oil, abrasion and mentioned chemicals. TPU is both lighter and more wear-resistant than rubber sole
Resistance to electricity
If you’ve decided to keep the power in your homestead, everything steel toe cap related is off the table.
Composite toes won’t conduct electricity, making them the clear choice here. Static shock is also a decreased possibility due to the presence of plastic.
There are work boots with rubber components dedicated to electricity-resistance. They definitely deserve a closer look.
The two innovations I’ll mention are:
- Tough-Tec leather — It provides additional abrasion resistance, increasing the protection of the foot and the upper of your work boot
- Usage of Kevlar — Adding to the fire-resistance of work boots. Manufacturers even treat the laces with it so they wouldn’t melt when exposed to high temperatures
Work boots construction options
Work boots share a lot of common traits with, let’s say hiking or tactical boots, but we’ll keep our focus on the class-specific construction issues here. It’s what dictates flexibility, weight and the overall performance of the work boot.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
- Cement construction — It refers to the “cementing” of the outsole and upper. This option is very flexible and lightweight but suffers from possible de-lamination with time. The biggest downside is that cemented work boots can’t be re-soled. On the other hand, they’re pretty cheap
- Goodyear Welt — This is what I call back to basics. It’s the most durable option for boot construction and the simplest at the same time. All 4 layers of the work boot are stitched together via a leather strip called a “welt” (hence the name). Once damaged, boots can be repaired or re-soled, which significantly increases their durability
- Blake stitch — This is a construction where uppers, sockliner and soles are all connected via single stitch. It’s a very secure attaching method, forming a tough bond between all the integral parts of the work boot
Waterproof work boots are the way to go
Every region in the USA sees some precipitation every year. Needless to say, your work boots shouldn’t leave you hanging with the first sign of rain.
Water in your boots is uncomfortable and helps bacteria and fungus growth. It’ll also break down your skin tissue and leave your feet at their most vulnerable.
Ringworm fungus definitely doesn’t sound like a problem you’ll want to deal with when shtf, right?
GoreTex is the one stop shop for all your waterproofing needs. GTX is a Teflon-covered membrane that’s both 100% waterproof yet highly breathable. It wicks moisture from the inside via millions of microscopic openings, keeping your feet perfectly dry and safe.
Comfort is the big part of the whole experience
The story about comfort is a complex one. That’s why I saved it for last.
Depending on how many hours in your work day, this section is the one you might want to read twice.
Let’s list everything synoptically:
- Insulation — It’s not a comfort-topic per se, but try feeling cozy with your feet sweating or freezing. Improper insulation in your boots is also a huge distraction from the work you should be doing. The bottom line is, if you work in moderate weather, well-insulated work boots are nice to have. If your playing ground features harsher climate, they’re downright a necessity
- Weight — A pound on the foot is 5 on the back. I’ll repeat this forever and beyond. The ideal option for a homestead prepper is protective and solid work boot weighing around 2lbs (preferably less than that)
- Support — Every part of your working boots influences its support level. Midsoles, insoles, puncture plates, shanks, outsoles all give their contribution to the overall feel. There’s no universal recipe here, you’ll just have to try them on and see how supported your feet and ankles feel. Tips I can give you are to upgrade the insoles if you’re experiencing frequent blistering and to go with EVA midsoles for ultimate flexibility and cushion. You have all the protection in the world in your work boots, so you don’t have to go with stiffer Polyurethane midsoles
- Flexibility — The material of choice for most work boots is leather. Leather will conform to the shape of your feet and remain very flexible in the areas that move the most. Treat your leather work boots with conditioner often to keep their comfort and flexibility top notch
- Fit — I personally consider this to be the most important aspect of every piece of work footwear. Casual shoes are a different matter, you won’t be working 8-10 hours a day in them. So, pay close attention that you get a snug but not tight fit. You want plenty of space for your toes, no tightness anywhere, enough space to accommodate your favorite socks and no rubbing in the heel part of the boot
All that’s left to do now is hit the stores and find a pair of working boots that matches to everything we’ve listed here.
Don’t worry, if a part of what we said here stuck with you, you’ll know what you’re doing.
Keep your feet healthy, they are a paramount in any survival situation.