Welding is a difficult process that’s more important than most people think. Welders use high voltages and extreme heat to fuse two metals together. It’s a big part of modern construction methods and is responsible for giving us buildings, trains, cars, and so much more. Welders have a number of unique hazards that they need to be protected from. According to OSHA, over half a million workers are at risk for welding accidents. About four out every thousand welders experience a fatal injury. If you’re a welder by trade, you need to make sure that every part of your body is protected, including your feet.
Welding work boots are designed to keep you protected from the normal dangers of a busy worksite plus the hazards of your specific job. They should be an integral part of your uniform alongside your mask and apron. A high-quality pair of boots will decrease your chances of experiencing an injury in the worst-case scenario. While they may look like normal boots from the outside, welding work boots have multiple layers of protection that standard options just don’t. It’s crucial that you have the job-specific features that you need to stay safe on the clock.
A Safe and Solid Investment
When you’re purchasing welding work boots, the price tag shouldn’t be a factor in deciding which model you go with. Nothing can put a price on the protection these types of boots offer. They can make a significant difference in the outcome of an accident. They should be treated as an investment in your safety and job security.
When Should Welding Work Boots be Worn?
Welding work boots should be worn any time that you’re handling or working around welding equipment. Many of the features you’ll find in these boots are specifically catered to your work environment. These boots are also suitable for a variety of other situations as well. Their design features offer versatility and can be useful in other parts of the job site as well. Overall, they can benefit you on slick surfaces, rough terrain, and sometimes even slippery environments.
Features To Look Out For
If you’re in the market for a new pair of work boots, there’s a lot to consider. There are a number of options on the market today. It’s important to know what to look for so that you can buy a pair that’s capable of serving you well for many years to come.
The uppers refer to the exterior portions of the boot. They’re the part that’s most exposed to the elements around you. One of the biggest hazards you’ll face while welding is extreme heat. Not only are you dealing with the residual heat coming off of your torch, but you’re faced with sparks and possibly molten metal. Welding torches generate thousands of degrees of heat. Needless to say, heat-resistant boots are a must-have.
One of the best materials for welding work boots is leather. It’s naturally resistant to high temperatures. Not only that, but the material is significantly thicker than cheaper alternatives. While it’s not completely immune to scalding or other forms of fire damage, it can buy you time if an accident happens. Synthetic materials, canvas, and cotton will disintegrate upon contact. Leather, however, will not burn through immediately. This allows you to take the boots off or deal with the dangers before you get hurt.
For added protection, you can go with boots that have a fire-retardant treatment. These formulas contain chemicals that are designed to slow down the spread of fire. They’ll work in tandem with the leather material to keep you safe.
Metatarsal guards and toe caps are a common feature found in many work boots. They help to prevent crushing accidents that can immobilize you. Metatarsal guards protect the bones on the top of your foot while toe caps protect your toes. While they’re typically known for protecting workers that deal with heavy equipment that could fall onto their feet, they’re ideal for welders because of the added protection they offer.
They act as another barrier between the heat and your foot. If a spark causes a fire or molten metal falls on your boot, these guards will work to prevent the high temperatures from reaching your skin. When you’re shopping for boots, you’ll find options with internal and external metatarsal guards. For welding, it’s recommended that you go with external guards. They’ll keep the laces protected. Because they don’t make contact with the skin, they’re also shock-resistant.
Electrical Shock Protection
This issue is commonly overlooked, but it’s an important thing to consider if you perform arc welding. Certain welding torches utilize electricity to generate heat. Furthermore, the process of welding involves handling conductive materials. While other pieces of safety gear offer excellent shock-resistance, it’s always a good idea to have all your bases covered.
Welding work boots should have thick rubber soles that can keep you grounded in the event of a shock. They should also be free of any major metal pieces that touch your skin. Many manufacturers offer boots that undergo strict testing to meet ASTM safety standards about electric shock.
As with any type of work boots, comfort is key. You need to be able to stay comfortable throughout your workday. Not only will this benefit you after you clock out, but it can also help to enhance your performance. If you’re not constantly thinking about the pain in your feet, you can be more alert while you work and avoid making simple mistakes that could lead to injuries.
Keep an eye out for boots that offer plenty of comfort features. Thick insoles and plenty of padding are always welcome. Boots that support your arch and absorb some of the force of impact with every step can do wonders for your overall comfort level.
Laces vs. Slip-On
This aspect of your work boots is all a matter of personal preference. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. Fully laced boots offer a more custom fit. You can secure your boots the way you want them and avoid unnecessary chafing or discomfort as you walk. However, laces are often a vulnerable point when sparks come into play.
Slip-on boots may also be suitable. They’re easy to put on and can be thrown off at a moment’s notice if you experience any issues. However, they’re often difficult to get the perfect fit. Luckily, there are some compromises available. As mentioned earlier some manufacturers offer exterior metatarsal guards that protect the laces from sparks. They’re typically attached to the uppers and can be flipped over the laced portion. They’re usually covered in leather or some other heat-resistant material to provide protection.
Another great option is laced boots that include a zipper. These types of boots allow you to get a snug fit each time. However, a zipper on the side provides you with an easy out in the worst-case scenario.
Welding Boots vs. Welding Spats
Many welders use spats as a part of their safety gear and forgo the use of welding work boots. Spats are pieces of heat-resistant leather that are used to cover the feet. Depending on their design, they may also extend up the leg to provide additional coverage. It’s recommended that you use both for optimal protection.
Spats do a wonderful job in protecting your shins and ankles from injury. However, they don’t always offer full foot protection. In fact, most leave the soles of your boots or the toe exposed. By pairing your spats with a high-quality pair of welding boots, you can work confidently knowing that all your vulnerable points are protected. Spats will provide additional coverage and can prevent sparks from getting through the collar of your boots.
Best Welding Work Boots Reviews
With the key considerations in mind, here are some of the best welding work boots available. They all feature durable materials, strong construction, and key features to keep you safe as you work.
Specifically designed with the needs of welders in mind, these boots offer many forms of protection. The uppers are made of high-quality leather. Heavy-duty Kevlar is used for the threads for a lasting build. The boots utilize a slip-on design. Delta has included a metatarsal flap covered with the same leather material as the uppers. Velcro is built into the ankles. Simply flip the guard up, secure the velcro, and you’re good to go. It also includes slip-resistant cleated soles, a steel toe cap, and plenty of comfort features inside.
Steel toe cap
Dual-density foam outsole
No laces to get a snug fit
These boots are clad in buffalo leather that’s treated with a flame-retardant solution. The stitching used to construct the boots are also flame-resistant to avoid issues with sparks. The boots are slip-on and feature a metatarsal guard with velcro fasteners. These boots are completely free of metal, allowing you to stay grounded in the event of an electrical shock. The metatarsal guard and included toe cap are made of fiberglass. An added puncture-resistant plate in the sole is made of a composite material.
Easy slip-on design
Low ankle shaft
Some buyers have noted sizing issues
These boots from Zephyr are made to keep you comfortable during the day. A built-in metatarsal guard, toe cap, and steel puncture plate have you covered as you navigate the work site. The entire exterior portion of the boots is covered in heat-resistant materials. There’s even a rubber toe cap to prevent abrasive damage. Inside, you’ll find a gel heel insert that’s designed to absorb the force of impact as you walk. There’s also a breathable lining to prevent excessive sweating.
No laces or fit adjustment
Dr. Martens have are known for their superb work boots that are as protective as they are stylish. These welder’s boots are no different. They feature full laces and a metatarsal guard. The uppers are made from unprocessed leather that’s flexible, allowing you to get a comfortable fit without a lengthy break-in process. They feature an ASTM-approved steel toe cap and soles that can help you stay stable in slick environments. When it comes to comfort, the boots have a moisture-wicking lining and padded footbeds.
Lace guard doesn’t cover entire lace system
With a shaft that measures approximately eight inches from the arch, you’re going to get much more protection from sparks and heat. The leather uppers rise well above the ankles and are entirely waterproof. The laces are covered by a tall metatarsal guard that meets ASTM impact and compression standards. The rubber outsole is resistant to slips, oil, and abrasion. To keep you comfortable all day long, the interior features an antimicrobial lining and polyurethane footbed that supports your arches.
Rubber slip-resistant soles
Can be difficult to put on due to metatarsal guard lace holes
Contains metal lace hooks
Covered entirely in black leather, these boots from Iron Age provide ample protection from heat and sparks. The shaft extends over the ankles for added protection and utilizes thick padding to prevent chaffing. An external metatarsal guard covers the laces. A thick synthetic sole is used to provide added support and comfort. It measures approximately 1.5 inches tall. Overall, the boots are compliant with safety standards and are rated for electrical hazard protection
Built-in metatarsal guard
Ample ankle coverage
Electrical hazard protection
Slightly exposed laces
Some buyers have commented on the hefty weight
From one of the leading manufacturers of heavy construction equipment is this high-quality work boot. It features leather uppers and robust construction that’s built to last. The full lace system is covered by a rigid and secure metatarsal guard. The guard rises quite high and is secured via a leather flap. There’s also a steel toe cap and thick slip-resistant rubber soles that are designed to provide traction in any environment. These boots also feature distinct flex points that can improve maneuverability as you work.
Tall metatarsal guard
Electrical hazard protection
Some users have commented on comfort issues with the insoles
Best Welding Spats
If you’re looking to add some extra protection as you weld, here are some high-quality welding spats to consider.
These spats are designed to go over your boots and lower leg. They’re made of thick leather and utilize three-ply Kevlar on the stitching. The material wraps around the leg and is secured with velcro, allowing you to get a snug fit. On the foot portion, metal pieces are sewed into the fabric. They can be molded to accommodate the curves of your boots for the best protection possible.
Rises nine inches above the ankle
Treated with flame retardant
Can be shaped to fit over boots
Some users have made note of sizing issues around the ankles
Two colors of cowhide leather are used to provide protection on your lower legs and feet. The leather material is resistant to heat, abrasive damage, moisture, and oil. A fire-resistant thread is used to stitch the various panels together. To get a comfortable fit, velcro and elastic are used. The velcro portion is placed on the back of the spats so they’re not exposed to heat while the elastic is placed on the bottom of your boots.
Rises approximately six inches from the ankle
Made of high-quality cowhide leather
Utilizes elastic and velcro to get a tight fit
Can’t be shaped to boots
Some have had issues with the elastic strips tearing
These welding spats have a simple design that will provide you with ample protection at work. They’re made from cowhide leather and are designed to extend all the way to the toe of your boots. The leather is not only resistant to heat, but also to moisture and abrasive damage. They rise relatively high up and wrap around the leg for security. A long velcro strap is placed on the sides of the spats to get a tight fit.
Made of cowhide leather
Long boot coverage
Easy velcro security strap
No ankle adjustment
No way to secure to boot