Why Are Work Boots So Expensive?

Why Are Safety Boots So Highly Priced?

You May Be Inclined to Grumble About the Price of Work Boots, However, Buying a Cheaper Pair Could Cost You Your Health and Safety. Know Why Work Boot Prices Equate to Their Quality.
why are work boots so expensive
Why Are Work Boots So Expensive?
Table of Contents

Work boots are so expensive because they must be durable and thick enough to protect your feet from hazards and substances, which requires quality craft and expensive materials.

Cheap work boots with inadequate sole or heel support are causes of plantar fasciitis which exerts infuriating tension on the foot’s ligaments, muscles, and nerves.

Cheap work boots also leave you at high risk to workplace hazards without the required protection.

Rather than get “de-feeted” by workplace injuries, learn about the benefits of buying a pair of expensive work boots here.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • Why work boots are so expensive.
  • The reasons why work boots are so expensive.
  • How much you should spend on a pair of work boots.
  • Whether you should buy cheap or expensive work boots.
  • When you should buy a new pair of work boots.

Our editorial team at MyBestWorkBoots strives to bring you the latest in safety footwear news. Hence, we collated this keenly insightful evaluation of why work boots are so pricey.

Here’s what we’ve found.

Why Are Safety Boots So Highly Priced?

Safety boots are so highly priced due to:

  • Toe protection
  • Outsoles
  • Upper boot material
  • Insole material

Let’s unpack these in more detail.

Toe Protection

Steel Toe Caps

A steel toe cap is a built-in protective toe cap made of steel in work boots that add to their cost. 

Steel-toe boots for men or women have traditionally been and continue to be the most widely used and preferred type of footwear. 

A steel cap’s top is almost always made of hard, forged carbon steel that may contain up to 1% sulfur and several other alloying elements such as manganese and chromium.

The layer immediately beneath this hardened protective layer is almost always ductile iron.

This is not as hard as the underlying carbon steel but has unique metallurgical properties that allow it to better absorb the energy of a blow by transmitting it into deeper layers. 

Also

Steel toe caps can be made of steel mixed with varying amounts of other elements.

Steel toe caps, in particular, can contain up to 5% nickel and other elements to improve hardness or corrosion resistance.

The top layer of the steel cap is almost always chrome-molybdenum (often referred to as chrome-moly) or stainless steel, which are more expensive than carbon steel but provide better protection.

Alloy Toe Caps

An alloy toe cap is a built-in protective toe cap made of different alloys in certain work boots that determine how much your work boots cost. 

Alloy toe caps are made from one or more different alloys with superior bending strengths, especially when it comes to the strike. 

They are also occasionally found in hybrid designs, which combine design cues from steel and composite options to provide better all-around protection and increased comfort levels at a low financial cost. 

That’s not all

Although the top layer is hard, the underlying material is soft for comfort (similar to composite).

Steel and magnesium or aluminum are the most commonly used alloys.

Another alloy is a combination of aluminum and copper, which is commonly found in camping and other outdoor footwear. 

Some alloy toe caps work boots only have three alternating toe caps: steel on top, composite ones underneath, and steel again.

This creates the illusion of multiple layers when, in fact, it is simply reversing the toe cap structure from one to the next.

Composite Toe Caps

A composite toe cap is a built-in protective toe cap made of different materials in work boots that affect their price. 

The toe area of composite toe caps is made of a different material, usually fiberglass and Kevlar. 

Composite toe caps are significantly lighter than steel toe caps and provide adequate protection against vertical impacts.

This is ideal for situations where bending or twisting force is more common than striking with the front protective toe cap, such as kicking something or falling to the ground. 

For this reason

Composite toes can also be found in work boots, hiking boots, ski boots, and rock climbing shoes.

Outsoles

Rubber Outsoles

Rubber outsoles are robust boots because of their flexibility and durability. Natural rubber’s qualities make it one of the best materials for constructing an excellent boot. 

It also provides excellent comfort, as it is soft enough to enable the foot to bend at all points while being firm enough to support feet with their entire weight on them for extended periods without creating foot fatigue or pain. 

Natural rubber is particularly resistant to oils and chemicals, common workplace hazards. 

Rubber is cheap, but it is unsuitable for boots designed for work in hazardous environments: it degrades in excessive heat (over 120 degrees Fahrenheit) or harsh circumstances such as salt spray. 

However

This does not rule out the use of rubber boots in certain conditions; the boots sole must still be tough enough to handle resistance to debris rather than allowing it to gouge into your foot.

Thermoplastic Vulcanized (TPV) Outsole

TPV is utilized in the making of the outsole of high-end work boots because it possesses many of the characteristics that make rubber boots effective and more durable. 

When working in the fields or on construction sites, your feet are likely to contact pebbles or debris, which can result in unpleasant scrapes and bruises if your boots aren’t robust enough.

Because the cross-linking polymer chains in TPV soles are robust.

They can withstand these hazards without damaging the remainder of the boot, which is also difficult to damage due to its flexibility. 

It gets better

TPV is also water-resistant, which keeps unwanted moisture out of the rest of your boot. 

TPV soles are a good choice for various purposes, but they are not always the best option. They’re not always accessible in smaller sizes to fit women’s feet, and the high cost of TPV makes it too expensive for many sectors to utilize.

PU Outsoles

PU outsoles are less flexible and durable than rubber and TPV outsoles, and they are also heavier.

These characteristics may make them a less suitable choice for work boots, but they have some advantages over other outsole materials. 

PU outsoles are commonly utilized in work boots worn for extended periods (like construction boots and farm boots). 

Powerfully

These boots can withstand up to 200 pounds before wearing out and breaking down (in comparison, a standard pair of work boots can only withstand roughly 80 pounds before beginning to wear out).

Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) Outsoles

TPU has greater abrasion resistance than natural rubber, an important distinction. 

Look for the letters “TPU” on the bottom of your boot to ensure that it has this toughness. If you come across this, your new boots are also slip-resistant. 

Additionally

Slip-resistant boots with nitrile outsoles are also available. However, TPU outsoles can withstand abrasions better than nitrile since they are constructed of a more robust material. 

Because they blend TPU and natural rubber, these boots may be utilized for a wider range of jobs, resulting in a more durable and high-performance product.

Nitrile Outsoles

Nitrile rubber is an artificial synthetic substance that is both resilient and flexible.

Because of nitrile’s great flexibility, it is feasible to produce rubber boots with a low weight-to-stiffness ratio, which is critical for maintaining the balance between flexibility and stiffness that makes the boot comfortable to wear. 

Nitrile also has a soft but firm feel, which can be comfortable for many workers, especially those on their feet for long periods.

Upper Boot Material

Numerous materials can be used to construct the upper of work boots.

Leather is the most expensive and widely used material; however, it does not provide the best protection.

Rubber is a considerably less expensive option, but it can be difficult to clean and may crack over time.

Leather

Leather is the most expensive upper boot material option due to its time to carve each boot, but it provides greater foot protection. 

The edges are softened to fit the foot better and protect the toes. Each component is sewn together, resulting in a stronger bond.

Rubber

Rubber has a far lower cost of production when making the boot upper; however, it is less durable than leather. 

Each piece is bonded together and then shellacked to create a smooth finish and keep the glue from fading over time. 

Rubber, unlike leather, does not require any further finishing touches to preserve it from water and grime. 

But we’re not done

Rubber can be identified by the scent of its chemical composition or by feeling the material with your hand to see if it’s cool or heated. 

Rubber has an advantage over leather in that it retains its flexibility over time, making it easier to clean after each usage.

Even if it becomes wet, all you have to do is wipe it off with a cloth or towel to make it look as good as new. 

Rubber will also outlast other materials due to its flexibility with your foot.

Insole Material

Gel Insoles

At the moment, gel insoles are not as popular as foam or ethylene and vinyl acetate (EVA) insoles. 

At first, these gel insoles appeared to be a fancy and pricey gimmick that would never be able to replace the myriad advantages that foam and EVA insoles provide. However, as more work boots are outfitted with gel insoles, more individuals realize why these items are better than they previously assumed.

Gel insoles are a fantastic alternative to stiff, uncomfortable insoles. 

Gel insoles, however, do not provide significant arch support, making them inappropriate for treating collapsed arches. Some of it is due to the flat design of the insole, which is incapable of raising the arch to the desired level.

Foam Insoles

Foam insoles aren’t just for work boots. They can be found in a variety of other footwear brands, but work boots are the most frequent. 

These insoles are utilized by all types of persons who experience pain or discomfort when walking for long periods. Foam insoles provide all of the cushioning and comfort your feet require, so you don’t have to concentrate on anything other than walking or standing still.

EVA Insoles

EVA insoles are popular in work boots and various other footwear brands. 

This is due to how pleasant this material makes the feet feel, especially after long durations of wear. Your feet will feel considerably more rejuvenated with these types of insoles. 

They are perfect for folks who are on their feet all day or must stand on hard floors for long periods. This is why footwear companies offer these types of insoles to their clients, and they appear to be popular all over the world. 

Work Boots vs. Normal Boots

Work boots are more expensive than normal boots because they are composed of sturdier materials that cost more.

Work boots also include improved safety features such as steel toes, luminous material on the soles for nighttime visibility, and waterproofing treatments, which are not free.

Many work boot brands will have varying price ranges based on the quality of the materials to construct their boots. 

Simply put

Various elements influence work boot pricing, such as comfort and durability.

Work boots composed of higher-quality materials are more comfortable and last for a longer period.

Traditional or low-cost boots are frequently made of lower-quality materials that wear out rapidly, are unpleasant, and do not last as long.

Expensive boots are composed of stronger materials, have superior cushioning/padding on the inside, and have a higher stitch count per inch.

The difference in stitch count between cheap and premium footwear is evident. Compared to costly boot seams that are soft against the skin, cheap boot seams will be thick and feel stiff or coarse on foot.

But there’s more

The thread count of more expensive boots is higher, and the sole is thicker. Higher thread counts imply more threads per inch, resulting in a stronger, tighter stitching pattern that helps keep the boot from fraying or unraveling quickly. The thicker sole also contributes to durability, comfort, and insulation from cold and hot surfaces.

Some work boots are made with two layers of leather to protect the foot from sharp objects and other risks.

Some work boots are more expensive because they are custom-made and created precisely for your foot size and form, providing an excellent fit and extra support and stability.

Many people justify the greater price of some work boots since they pay for comfort and quality.

3 Other Reasons Why Work Boots Are So Expensive

3 more reasons why your work boots are so expensive are brand, quality craft, and national insurance.

Let’s unpack these in more detail.

Brand 

Some work boots are extremely costly due to the brand that produces them. 

The higher the price of a brand, the more popular it is. Work boots created by popular brand names are more expensive than those made by other companies or small enterprises. 

Be mindful not to pay more for a branded work boot where cheaper alternatives with the same comfort and protective features are available.

Quality Craft

Quality craft is another factor that raises the cost of some work boots. 

Whereas a good pair of shoes might be bought for a reasonable price, a variety of reasons contribute to the high cost of work boots, including the materials utilized in the manufacturing process.

However, you can’t fully dismiss the idea that the actual construction process has a significant impact on the cost of work boots.

For example

There is a significant difference between having a series of work boots manufactured in a factory and those produced by hand.

The former can be more difficult to discern than the latter when higher-priced work boots are made through techniques that take more time and effort. 

Contrary to popular belief, making expensive work boots takes longer, but you get what you pay for durability and long-lasting quality.

National Insurance

Another consideration to be mindful of when considering the price of work boots is how much money you can make and how much national insurance you pay. 

Of course, one of the reasons work boots are so expensive is because they are made from high-quality leather materials.

However, even if they were constructed of synthetic materials, which are less expensive to produce, the price would still be more than other footwear forms due to local rules and government requirements and the accompanying tax deductions on income and purchases.

How Much Should You Spend on a Pair of Work Boots?

You should spend approximately $100 on a pair of work boots.

This price varies depending on the material of the boot and the brand, so if you want to save money, it’s best to investigate the various kinds before making your purchase.

Price is a sign of quality, but it can also influence how long your work boot will last.

It makes more sense to spend a bit more on a pair of work boots; this is an investment, rather than replacing them regularly or risk damage from cheap, weak work boots that wear out quickly because they are low quality.

If you intend to use your work boots for more than six months, you should probably pay a little extra.

When you consider the long-term value of great footwear, it is well worth the investment.

Should You Buy Cheap or Expensive Work Boots?

Whether to buy cheap or expensive work boots depends on what you intend to use them for.

If you’re going to be doing heavy-duty work like construction or ranching, you’ll need a sturdy and resilient boot that can withstand the demands of the task, which may be more expensive. 

Alternatively, if your job does not entail such demanding tasks, you do not need to invest in a heavy-duty work boot.

However, comfort and price may be more important to you than durability. 

When Should You Buy a New Pair of Work Boots?

You should buy a new pair of work boots when the quality of your work boots compromises your comfort, health, or protection.

The quality of your work boot will be determined by the frequency of use, the terrain, and the nature of your work. 

In general

The more time you spend on your feet in a day, the more frequently your boots will need to be replaced. If you spend more than 12 hours a day on your feet, replacing two pairs of shoes per year is a smart idea.

If you wear your work boots for eight hours or less each day or have them for light-duty jobs with no severe impact during labor, one to two years may be adequate before they need to be replaced. 

Replacing your boot too soon can prevent proper cushioning and support from being compressed over time with use, while waiting too long may result in injury or material deterioration.

Common Questions

How Much Should a Good Pair of Work Boots Cost?

Why Do Work Boots Cost So Much?

What Is the Difference Between Expensive & Cheap Work Boots?

In Conclusion

Many things in life can be saved up for, or you can choose an alternative and improve later. Being thrifty isn’t an option for your safety, where your life is on the line if you’re under-equipped.

The bottom line is that decent work boots are a vital part of any worker’s toolset regardless of price, for your feet and your spine, and your long-term ability to operate.

You wouldn’t cut costs with your health by doing surgery on yourself, would you? It would be preferable if you did not cut corners regarding workplace safety, especially when one minor error or accident can result in you losing your job or, worse, your feet.

Do yourself a favor and invest in a pair of good work boots, even if they cost a bit more than most. It’s to your benefit.

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james-blake

James Blake

James has made it his mission to find the top boots on the market. He's passionate about matching the right boot to the right application because different boots are a perfect fit for different uses.

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