Safety Footwear 101

How technology has changed the landscape of safety footwear and what you need to know to find the right pair

Oblique-Toe: Men with large or wide feet often need a bit more room to achieve a comfortable fit for all-day wear. Boots that advertise an oblique toe feature a roomier, boxier toe compartment, providing increased comfort and overall fit.

Waterproofing: The most reliable and durable waterproof work footwear on today's market feature waterproof leather combined with a waterproof membrane (e.g., Gore-Tex) within the boot that keeps moisture out while allowing for air ventilation and circulation.

Rubber Outsole: Rubber offers excellent performance in terms of abrasion, oil- and slip-resistant qualities that are typically valued in a work boot. Vibram is a high-performance rubber and an excellent choice for work sites with rugged terrains and provides maximum traction on both wet and dry surfaces.

TPU Outsole: Outsoles made from Thermo Plastic Polyurethane (TPU) are long-wearing and are also abrasion-, oil- and chemical-resistant. Designed to be tough, they typically resist splitting and are more lightweight than their rubber counterparts.

PU Outsoles: Polyurethane (PU) outsoles provide a lightweight, flexible and comfort enhancing option to the typical rubber outsole, while still providing the need abrasion-, slip- and oil-resistant qualities.

Midsole: A boot's midsole is designed to disperse weight or provide stability for the foot. Work footwear midsoles are either made from PU or EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate). PU tends to be more durable; EVA more lightweight.


Roger Huard is the vice president of product development for Wolverine, a company dedicated to the design of innovative work footwear with superior comfort and durability for more than a century. Wolverine offers a full line of footwear, apparel and accessories for work, casual and rugged outdoor lifestyles.

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