Working outside in colder and wetter weather or environments (or even inside with exposure to cold and wet environments) can take its toll on your feet if you aren’t properly prepared. Here are some easy tips to put you on the right track to a warm, dry productive work day.
According to the Worker’ Safety & Compensation Committee (WSCC), your best bet for cold weather and outdoor work is safety footwear that has:
- Insulation for added warmth
- Soft-rubber bottoms or outsoles because they stay pliable longer in the cold weather and will give you better traction
- Leather-tops or uppers because leather having been a skin will bend more naturally with your foot
- A waterproof membrane to help keep your feet dry
- Removable insoles so you can take them out to dry overnight
DID YOU KNOW? For jobs that require toe protection in cold environments, composite toe work boots are more comfortable than steel toe cap boots as they don’t transfer the cold to your feet as quickly?
Staying warm and protecting yourself from the elements really comes down to insulation-inside and out!
Insulation – Look for the best names
There are two brand names that we recommend in insulation and that you will find used in the lining of many work boots:
Thinsulate – a synthetic fiber insulation that is a trademark of the 3M Corporation. Because the fibers are so much smaller than traditional synthetic insulation more Thinsulate can be used in the same amount of space. It retains warmth and wicks moisture. Another benefit of the synthetic insulation is that because it packs so many more fibers it doesn’t get packed down and compressed over time, so keeps its shape and moisture wicking properties.
Thermolite – INVISTA’s THERMOLITE® fiber and insulation provides warmth and comfort without weight. Because it is comfortable and lightweight, THERMOLITE® fiber and insulation allows freedom of movement—making it the perfect layer. Its hollow-core fibers trap in air for greater insulation for light, but still heavy-duty performance.Find the right weight
Find the right weight
Now you know what to look for in insulation, but you also need to know what grade you need. The level of insulation is based on the number of grams of insulation material. This material is responsible for keeping away the cold from your feet. So the higher the insulation rating, the warmer the boots.
There are 3 main insulation grade categories that take into account both temperature you’re your activity level:200 grams – good when you are exposed to normal winter temperatures and are typically moving. This is the most common grade and is good when you have normal or high body temperature.
- 200 grams – good when you are exposed to normal winter temperatures and are typically moving. This is the most common grade and is good when you have normal or high body temperature.
- 400-600 grams – good when you are exposed to normal to more extreme cold but may spending more time standing still than moving. This is good when you have normal body temperature.
- 800-1000 grams – when you are exposed to extreme colds for long periods of time and limited activity.What’s inside counts too!
What’s inside counts too!
To ensure you get the maximum moisture-free, warmth, we also recommend a layered approach to the socks you wear. This simple two-step approach will make a HUGE difference.
The first thing to know – cotton is rotten in the Winter! Cotton holds moisture and doesn’t keep it away from your skin. So if wet weather seeps in or your feet sweat, the moisture that lands there stays there. So here’s your best protection strategy:
- Step 1: Put on a pair of thin Polypropylene, Cool-max or Merino Wool Liner socks as your base layer. These are popular with hikers and skiers, and there’s a reason for that! They draw moisture away from your feet.
- Step 2: Now add wool or acrylic socks over top. This is where you get warmth. We recommend Merino wools or Acrylics as they provide a comfortable, warm and most importantly, non-scratchy, layer your feet will appreciate.
That’s it – an easy, fool-proof way to ensure you have warm and moisture-free feet for your work day.
Treat your boots!
To help keep your feet dry, it is always a good idea to spray your safety work boots with a silicone or water-guard spray once-a-month even if your boots have a waterproof membrane. There are two reasons for this:
- Waterproof membranes consist of billions of small pores. As you stretch and bend at work, those pores will eventually get bigger and let water in. By spraying your footwear with a water-guard, you extend the water-repellency of your footwear.
- The waterproof membrane is in between the leather upper of the shoe or work boot and its insulation/lining. Even though the water may not get into your foot, it can seep through the leather upper and get trapped inside your boot. This trapped moisture can cause odour and also limit the benefits that any insulation may be providing.
IMPORTANT TIP: If your work boots get very wet, one of the best ways to dry them out, without damaging them, is to remove the insoles and stuff the boots with crumpled newspaper overnight to draw the moisture out of your boots.