What are the Best Waterproof Work Boots in 2020? [Safety Toe Edition]

If you’re in a hurry and just want to know what the best waterproof work boots are, then I would recommend the Timberland PRO Men’s Boondock 6″ Waterproof Non-Insulated Work Boot.

Soggy boots. Nothing ruins a day faster for me than this. The constant squeegee sound and that lukewarm spongy feeling. On those long 10 hour summer days I may as well be standing in a puddle for the whole time!

In this article, I’ll be reviewing the following safety boots:

If you’re looking for warm or insulated work boots, have a look at my best winter work boots 2019 article. I cover what to look for and which are my top picks.

 

The Right Amount of Waterproofing

You need waterproof boots. But how waterproof do you need them to be? The more waterproofing they are the less they can breathe. Keeping water out is just as important as allowing sweat to escape. If you have:

Too Little Waterproofing (water leaking in):

  • Injury – You are more likely to receive injury. In minor cases you might get blisters or rashes. In more severe cases, with prolonged exposure, you’re at risk for trench feet.
  • Damage to Boot – Many of the materials in your boots were never designed to get soaked. Long exposures could lead to stretching, cracking, or plain falling apart.
  • Bacteria & Mold – Is the water you’re stepping in bacteria free? I know I wouldn’t drink from it. Once bacteria & mold start growing inside, it’s hard to get rid of that funky smell.

Too Much Waterproofing (sweat filled boots):

  • No Ventilation – It’s hot. Moisture (sweat) builds but there’s no place for it to escape. No ventilation means the water is trapped. It’ll feel like a sauna down there.
  • Equally uncomfortable – The goal is dry feet. Depending on how much you sweat, you’ll face the same problems as too little waterproofing – injury, damage to the boot, or even a funky smell.

Waterproof or Water Resistant Work Boots – Which One to Get?

Muddy pair of boots

Water Resistant Work Boots

Think of water resistance as temporary protection. Your feet will stay dry during light rain, walking through puddles, and even light snow. But, you don’t want to be standing in submerged water for long.

Manufacturers often use a water resistant spray to coat the outside of your boots. This repeals water but over time the coating will fade.

Even brand new, water resistant boots can’t keep out water like waterproof boot. But in exchange your feet will breathe better. You are better protected from sweat building up.

Waterproof Work Boots

Waterproof means no moisture leaking in, even through long stretches of wet conditions. You should also be able to stand in submerged water, mud, or snow and can still expect dry feet.

On back-to-back rainy days some water may seep in. This is normal for leather work boots. If you’re working in mud or water daily, you might consider purchasing rubber safety boots. Rubber is 100 percent waterproof, but less breathable and less durable than leather.

Double check with your job and make sure they are okay with rubber boots. Not all job sites accept them as safety footwear. It’s much easier to puncture through rubber than leather

Waterproofing Your Own Work Boot – Good Idea or Bad?

A pair of boots ready to be worked on with oil and spray

For safety work boots I would not recommend this. The stakes are higher and often does more harm than good.

For non safety work boots it might be worth a try. Be sure you know how to work with leather. I’d hate for you to ruin an expensive pair!

Job Site Might Not Like It

Imagine getting injured or having an accident while you’re on the job. If the company notices a DIY waterproofing job, they might take issue. The modifications might disqualify the boot as acceptable safety footwear altogether. They might stiff your pay or it could lead to something worse.

Engineered Differently

It’s not only the outside that makes a boot waterproof. Inside, you often have a waterproof membrane & liner that acts as a secondary barrier.

Regular boots don’t have this membrane. Their liner, if they have one, aren’t specially designed to work in a watertight shell either. Waterproofing your regular work boot may lead to a sweatier boot.

Guaranteed

Boots aren’t cheap. If you DIY there’s no guarantee it’ll work without damaging the leather. Too much heat and leather might dry out and deform. Not enough heat and the wax or oil won’t properly soak in.

Footwear makers almost always offer at least a 30-day guarantee. Even if your newly bought pair leaks, you can always get a replacement free of charge.

Features to Think About In Work Boots:

Height

6 inches (6″), 8 inches (8″), or taller will depend on your situation. Obviously the taller it is, the more water you can step in without getting wet.

But, I’m a huge fan of getting only what you need. If you end up with an extra 2” you don’t need, it’s deadweight you’ll have to lug around all day. The lighter the boot the less exhausted you will feel.Come quitting time and your legs will thank you.

Material

The sole is always rubber. For the rest of the boot the main material comes in generally two types:

  • Leather – The go to material for safety work boots. I love leather because it can breathe. It’s also very durable but at the same time flexible when it needs to be. Water resistant boots and waterproof boots both use leather.
  • Rubber – If you need a 100% waterproof boot, you’ll need a rubber boot. It doesn’t breathe like leather nor is it as durable. While less common, there are some manufacturers that build a rubber work boot with a safety toe. Always double check with your job before buying these. Some jobsites don’t consider these as appropriate safety footwear.

Stitching & Construction

How you attach the leather to the sole (bottom rubber part) makes a different. A sign of good craftsmanship is if the manufacturer uses goodyear welt or cement construction. Both of these methods will keep water from entering through the seams.

Goodyear welt allows you the option to resole your footwear. Nice dress shoes tend to go through this a lot. I wouldn’t worry about your work boots though. If your work boots need to be resoled, it’s likely the rest of your boot is falling apart too.

Safety Toes & Shanks

Whether you want to use a traditional steel-toe or a lighter composite material is up to you. For waterproofing purposes it makes no difference.

An imge with work boots gloes and other equipment

Waterproof Work Boots Review

The following is my hand-picked list of best waterproof boots. Any one of them is a solid choice. They all have pros and cons, but they all hit the most important criteria:

  • Waterproof
  • Non-insulated
  • Has a safety toe
  • Solid waterproof construction – often goodyear welt or cement

Caterpillar Men’s Threshold Waterproof Steel Toe Industrial Boot

This is a great budget safety toe work boot. Over long hours and wet conditions they’ll do a good job of keeping your feet dry.

A bit heavy, but they do feel comfortable straight out of the box. The insole wears down pretty quick and may not be initially enough for some. Think about an extra or replacement insole if it feels hard when you step down.

The main glaring point for me is the traction. These get real slippery on wet or slick surfaces. Avoid these if you’re spending a lot of time on smooth man-made materials or icy conditions.

As for durability, I’d rate them as mediocre. If you’re doing hard work in the trenches everyday I would not recommend these. Anything else, like landscaping or construction, and they’ll stand up just fine.

Pros

  • Great budget pick – a lot of value for what you get
  • Comfortable out of the box
  • Waterproofing works well

Cons

  • Little traction
  • A bit heavy
  • Could use more padding on the insole
  • Not super durable

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

KEEN Utility Men’s Lansing Mid Waterproof (Steel Toe) Industrial Boot

Like most Keen work boots, these steel toe waterproof work boots almost feel like sturdy hiking boots. They are lightweight and require no break in period.

One of my favorite features is the asymmetrical toe caps. Instead of a rounded safety toe, it’s slightly shifted (asymmetrical) left or right so that your big toe gets more room. The toe box will feel roomier when compared to other symmetrical safety footwear.

Waterproofing is good. The “keen.dry” technology it comes with, does a pretty good job of keeping your feet dry.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the traction. I’d also like a reinforced eyelet (where you put your laces through). In their current design, the eyelets rip off easily and definitely won’t stand up to tough conditions.

Pros

  • Comfortable out of the box
  • Lightweight – almost feels like a sturdier hiking boot
  • Asymmetrical toe caps – makes toe box feel roomier
  • Keeps pretty dry – uses keen.dry technology

Cons

  • Traction isn’t that great
  • Eyelets (where you put your laces through) rip off too easily

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Muck Boots Chore Classic Tall Steel Toe Men’s Rubber Work Boot

If you’re standing in inches of water all day, rubber is the way to go. These 16” steel-toe rubber boots come with heel shanks that provide good ankle support.

These are about as comfortable as rubber boots come in. They breathe well, for enclosed rubber, and slip on & off pretty easily too. Just know that the loops that you slip your fingers through are on the inside.

If you’re planning on working in Muck Boots for long stretches of time I’d recommend a pair of extra insoles. The stock ones they come with are nothing to write home about. I’m also not a huge fan of the traction. On smooth surfaces, like concrete, you won’t feel much grip underneath.

How do these compare to a other best rated leather safety work boots? If you need rubber go with Muck boots. If not, leather is much more breathable, tougher, and a more comfortable material overall.

Before you buy these, make sure your job site will allow them. These do have a steel-toe, but rubber isn’t as puncture resistant like leather.

Pros

  • Uses rubber making it truly 100% waterproof
  • Comes with steel-toe & steel-shanks which provides good support
  • Slips on and off easily

Cons

  • Not always accepted as safety footwear at job sites – leather is much tougher
  • Feels slippery when walking on concrete
  • Needs extra insoles for support during long hours of work

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Timberland PRO Men’s Boondock 6″ Waterproof Non-Insulated Work Boot

An all around solid pair of boots. They are extremely comfortable and come with Timberland’s anti-fatigue cushioning technology.

My favorite part is the modifications they’ve made to the safety toe. The inside toe box is enlarged. This roomier feel makes for better ventilation. On the outside they’ve added an extra layer of rubber on top of the safety toe. A lot of boots get cut up in the front. This rubber layer helps to protect from deep cuts that ruin the waterproofing.

These boots take getting used to because of the extra toe room. They’ll also feel much deeper when stepping in, almost like your feet are getting swallowed.

The traction work well too. Even on smooth surfaces you’ll get a good grip. Be aware, that they do squeak on polished floors.

My biggest gripe with these shoes are the way they look. The enlarged toe box is great for ventilation but it also makes them look like clown shoes.

Pros

  • Extremely comfortable out of the box
  • Comes with Timberland’s anti-fatigue cushioning
  • An enlarged toe box allowing for better ventilation
  • Composite safety toe – much lighter than a steel toe

Cons

  • Looks like clown shoes
  • Takes getting used to, especially the roomier toe
  • Squeak on polished floors

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Timberland PRO Men’s Hyperion Waterproof XL ST Work Boot

Both the Boondock and Hyperion series are solid choices. Which one you choose is a matter of personal preference.

No issues on the waterproofing or comfort level. The Hyperions will feel good straight out of the box. They also come with the same anti-fatigue technology.

But there are a few key differences. The Hyperion series uses an alloy toe instead of a composite. Alloy is lighter than steel but stronger than composite material. [link]

They also feel more snug than the Boondock series. The toe box is not enlarged and the construction of the tongue is different. The Hyperions also come with stiffer shanks. If you like a tighter boot with better support, you’ll like this boot better.

Pros

  • Extremely comfortable out of the box
  • Comes with Timberland’s anti-fatigue cushioning
  • Alloy safety toes – lighter than steel but stronger than composite material
  • Fiberglass shanks & different tongue construction – feels more snug with superior support

Cons

  • More snug feeling is not for everyone
  • Toe box feels more cramped
  • Does not come with reinforced rubber to protect safety toe – less durable

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Summary:

All five of these boots are great picks. I’d be happy to wear any one of them. The one I’d consider as the best waterproof boot is the Timberland PRO Men’s Boondock 6″ Waterproof Non-Insulated Work Boot.

It hits all the basic requirements. It’s waterproof, has goodyear welt construction, and comes with a lightweight composite safety toe.

But what sets it apart for me, is the redesign of the toe box. I like that it’s enlarged, making it roomier & more breathable. I also like the extra rubber on top which protects the boot from cuts that ruin the waterproofing.

Hope this helps!

P.S. If your feet are running cold or you need something warmer, check out my best winter work boots article.

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *