When you’re at work on a construction site, or some similarly hazardous environment, then substantial footwear is essential. You need something that’ll support your ankles, that’s robust enough to last, and that’ll protect you against trips and falls.
Of course, all of these same qualities might be worth looking for in a pair of hiking boots. So where exactly do the differences lie between work boots and hiking ones?
When you’re walking through muddy fields, or during pouring rain, you’ll need a shoe that’s waterproof. This isn’t always necessary on a work site. You might also find that there’s more give in the soles of a hiking boot – which impacts comfort, as we’ll discover.
On a site, there are a range of hazards that hikers, for the most part, don’t need to worry about. This might include sharp objects being left around on the floor, or heavy objects being dropped from height. Consequently, work boots tend to come with safety features, like steel toe-caps, and reinforced soles.
When you’re walking over long distances, having extra weight in your boots counts for a great deal. It might actually make instability more of a problem, especially if you’re scrambling up precarious rock faces. Consequently, hiking boots tend to be built with lightness in mind.
Hiking boots aren’t built to be scratched and squashed from the outside – most of the impact on them comes from the bottom, rather than from the top and sides. By contrast, a work boot will be designed to cope with punishment from every angle, for years and years.
While you might suppose that work boots would need to be comfortable, if you’re going to be standing up in them all day, comfort isn’t such a big factor as it is with hiking boots. This is for the simple reason that you aren’t going to be moving around in them as much, which means less friction, and less activation of the muscles on the soles of your feet. If you’re coping with blisters, then the last thing you’ll want to do is strap on the footwear that caused the problem in the first place.
It’s certainly possible to use hiking boots for walking, and vice-versa, but you won’t get the benefits that come with specialised design. With that said, workplaces come in a range of shapes and sizes, and some have more particular needs than others. If you’re working outdoors, in forestry, then you might find that the differences are much smaller than you suppose.