The oldest documentation of a pair of boots dates back to a cave painting in Spain which depicts people wearing boots as long ago as 12000 to 15000 BCE. This was during the last ice age and around 8000 years before the last woolly mammoth died. So, given humans have been making boots so long you’d imagine we’d have got quite good at making them by now. In this blog, we’re going to look at what makes a good boot and how to choose the right one for the conditions you plan to use them in.
Boots come in all shapes and sizes, but we’ll look at the main types: fashion boots, work boots and walking boots. What you intend to use your boots for will generally dictate the features you need. Boots are designed and worn for their functionality – protecting the wearer from water, cold, mud and hazards, to provide support form strenuous activities such as hillwalking and for fashion. What a boot is intended for informs its design. A fashion boot, for example, will place more emphasis on how it looks than practicality for example.
Features to look out for
Different applications need different features. Here is a rough guide to the things to look out for:
Steel toe cap
These are useful for working boots and are part of Personal Protective Equipment for working environments. Steel toe caps can provide protection from falling materials and broken toes
If you’re going to working or walking outside in wet weather waterproof boots can stop the irritation of damp feet at a low level and prevent things like trench foot at more extreme levels. Waterproof boots have special that can have the tongue attached to the upper, special bonding between the sole and the upper and treated leather or other materials to prevent water getting into your boot.
How high your boot goes up your leg is essential to what you plan on wearing your boots for. If you’re going to be working or walking in a muddy environment the height of your boot can make a huge difference to your comfort level. For example, if you are planning on wading whilst fishing wellington boots might be too short, but waders would be ideal. If you need work boots, if you are going to be working in a muddy environment then you’ll need boots that rise above your ankle, perhaps about 6 inches, to keep your feet from being overwhelmed by the elements. If you are choosing fashion boots, then your height will be dictated by the look you’re going for.
The lining of boots can vary. Some boots are unlined with nothing but the back of the upper against your feet. Others have lining to make them more comfortable. Some boots have special linings including thermal insulation for wearing in colder conditions, moisture-wicking fabrics to stop your feet getting sweaty and leather lining for a more traditional feel.
When I’m choosing boots I like to look at quality manufacturers like Timberland, Caterpillar and Dr Martins, who have a track record of high quality construction and long-lasting boots. I have also found some excellent Groupon discount codes that will help you pick up some boots while saving some money.