Safety Shoe Shopping

It's well known that I'm hard on my shoes.  If I'm wearing the same pair of shoes every day, I WILL wear them out inside of a year.  I'm rather disappointed by my most recent pair of steel toed boots.  I purchased them in March 2013 from Red Wing Shoes (on clearance, natch).  They got a few site trips on their treads before I had to retire them for the duration of pregnancy and subsequent unemployment (another story).  I pulled them back out in June 2014 for the first manufacturing shutdown in my new job.

And I killed them within three months.

The soles cracked.  The insoles broke down.  My toes were blistering daily if they weren't taped.  I know I've still got baby weight to lose, but this was ridiculous.  Thankfully, my employer recognizes the importance of employee safety and provides an annual allowance for new safety shoes.  Woohoo!  Shoe shopping!

Red Wing's Women's Selections (Reynoldsburg, OH location)

We all want cute safety shoes.  Shoes, like the rest of our wardrobes, are an extension of our personalities and our branding (but even I draw the line at pink steel toes).  Unfortunately, the selections for women are limited, unless you have the lead time to shop around online, try on, and send back as needed.  I did not have that option, therefore I was limited to the two pairs of women's safety toed work boots that the local Red Wing had in stock.

Irish Setter 83200 Work Boot

Red Wing 2327 Women's 5 Inch Boot
Pro tips for safety shoe shopping:
  • Always pack a pair of sweatsocks to try on safety shoes.  It's like shopping for sneakers - bring the type of socks that you most commonly plan to wear.
  • Know your business and your site's (or sites') safety requirements.  If you are likely to be on the same site for the next year or two, then select a pair that meets their requirements.  If you are in a position to site hop, then be more conservative.  This applies to boot height, safety toe construction, and sole construction.
  • Maintenance is a major consideration.  Will your shoes be exposed to the weather?  Do you have the time to rub them with mink oil every month?  If not, anything made of nubuck or trapper leather is automatically out.
  • Comfort is key.  Your boots should fit like sneakers/trainers, otherwise your ankles, knees, hips, and back will pay the price.  If you have orthotics or ankle braces, bring them with you for fitting.  I wouldn't tape your toes or heels, as you want to determine how comfortable you will be without additional constrictions.
Taking all of these into consideration, the winner was the Irish Setter 83200 work boot.  It's not a perfect fit, but the soles are thick and comfortable, with sufficient insole support.  They'll work out.

Of course, shoe shopping naturally requires a pedicure.  And being a budget-conscious mom, mine is DIY with goodies from Julep.  Toes are wearing Julep Minka (Nov 2012 Maven, similar here).
I'm interested in hearing about readers' favorite work/safety shoes.  What are they, where did you find them, and were you able to score additional pairs before they were discontinued?  Comments welcomed!



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