Selecting A Summer Work Boot

By Robert Robillard on Home And Personal Safety, Tool and Product Reviews

Selecting A Summer Work BootSummer Work Shoes

Summers can get hot and humid, there is nothing worse than having your feet sweat in a hot, heavy, steel-toed work boot. Selecting a summer work boot or shoe can be a daunting process. For one, many contractors I know feel strongly that the BEST foot protection on the jobsite is a work boot – WRONG!

There are a slew of quality, durable work shoes on the market, which offer lighter weight and breathability and do not sacrifice on safety features.

Work shoes are also referred to as low-rise work boot. Either way, there are options out there that provide the safety features you need and summer comfort, without the clunky weight of a work boot.

Selecting A Summer Work Boot or Shoe  – Considerations:

Many low-rise configuration work shoes have mesh sides and special liners that allow air flow, and ventilation to the feet.

When choosing a summer weight work shoe, you need to take into consideration certain safety features, such as:

  • Arch support
  • Oil and slip resistant out-soles meet or exceed ASTM Shock resistance
  • Safety toe [steel toe vs. composite toe]
  • Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) shank
  • Water resistant
  • Ventilation
  • Weight
  • Wear protection

Arch Support:

A good quality work shoe will have an internal support mechanism anatomically designed to support and cradle the arch of the foot. This is critical if your standing or climbing ladders all day. Some high quality footwear companies will also offer a removable metatomical dual density EVA footbed.

Most midsoles are made of foams: either EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) or polyurethane. EVA is lighter and more flexible than polyurethane, but it also breaks down more quickly.


Selecting A Summer Work BootOil and Slip Resistance:

Oil and slip resistant non-marking rubber outsole are a must in work areas, look for a shoe that meets or exceeds ASTM F1677-96 Mark II non-slip testing standards.

Safety Toe:

Selecting a summer work boot or shoe with a safety toe is uber important. Having a shoe with a uniquely anatomically correct steel, aluminum, or composite toe design not only provides the wearer with a roomier toe box,  but makes for a far more comfortable working experience. Whatever you choose, make sure your safety toe meets ASTM F2412-11 and F2413-11 I/75 and C/75 Standards.

Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) shank

A TPU shank stiffens the shoe under the arch, which makes the middle portion of the shoe more resistant to torsion and flexion.  An added benefit to the shank is it helps distribute weight or pressure, allowing the ability to stand on ladder rungs without the rung pressure digging into the foots arch.

Water resistant

Water resistant shoe uppers help, but remember these shoes are breathable and therefore NOT waterproof. This is ALL about summer comfort.


This is one area that matters a lot; you want your hot weather shoes to breathe. Look for a shoe that has some mesh or vets built in to allow this.


Heavy shoes tire you out, plain and simple! Look for a light weight summer shoe.

Selecting A Summer Work BootWear Protection

When selecting a summer work boot, look for features that protect the shoe from premature wearing.  Heavy duty laced and eyelets are a must, as is toe wear protection.

A lot of us find ourselves working on our knees and toe wear protection helps prevent the toes of the show from wearing out too fast.  I’ve worn out many a work boot in the toe area, due to kneeling and having my toes touch and rub the floor.  Some work shoes, like the KEEN Braddock Low pictured above, have an over-mold of rubber that protects the toes from prematurely wearing out.

Selecting A Summer Work Boot

Keen Utility Braddock Low work Shoe

I’ve searched a long time to find comfortable winter and summer weight work shoes and finally found KEEN. I own several pair of Keen Utility boots and shoes. See KEEN Flint Low Work Shoe Review.

KEEN Utility, has grown into a reputable, reliable, and popular shoe brand for those of us in the trades. KEEN Utility footwear is very prevalent on our job-sites during cold and warm months in New England due to its rugged qualities and utilitarian design.

For a summer weight, this year I’m wearing the Keen Braddock Low work shoes. These KEEN Utility work shoes boots are lightweight, comfortable and bulletproof and this keeping your feet comfortable throughout the day. I usually get one summer out of a work shoe, with the KEEN Utility shoes, I’m on my second summer.

The KEEN Utility Braddock Low is an American Built shoe with materials from around the world and features the following safety and comfort features:

  • Direct attach PU mid-sole
  • Integrated PU heel cushion
  • Left and right asymmetrical steel toe
  • toe wear protection – rubber over-mold
  • Lining with hydrophobic/hydrophilic 2-zone comfort technology
  • Meets or exceeds ASTM F1677-96 Mark II non-slip testing standards
  • Meets or exceeds ASTM F2412-11 and F2413-11 I/75 C/75 EH standards
  • Not compatible with aftermarket insoles or orthotics
  • Oil and slip resistant non-marking rubber out-sole
  • Removable metatomical dual density EVA foot bed
  • TPU stability shank
  • Water resistant nubuck leather upper
  • Lightweight 25.5 oz/722.9 g

Selecting A Summer Work Boot

The Goal is Lightweight, and Safe!

If you’re still thinking that you need your super heavy, heavy-duty work boots in July then your “working harder not smarter.” On my jobsite were always looking to work “Smarter, NOT harder.”   Selecting a summer work boot means finding a lightweight shoe that gives you all the protections as your old clunky boots and is comfortable to wear.

Research some of the work shoe companies, like KEEN Utility, that offer offer quality, lightweight and safe work shoes, and I promise your back, knees and feet will thank you day one!

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor / Writer / Video Talent

Robert Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter and operates a remodeling company located in Concord, MA. He is the editor of and ToolBoxBuzz, and a has a weekly column in the Sunday Boston Globe. Rob is a recognized leader in tool and how-to information for building professionals, he hosts the Concord Carpenter Cable TV Show, offering advice on home repairs and maintenance. On his website, Rob uses his knowledge and experience to help and educate on best practices in the remodeling industry. His motto: “Well done is better than well said!”. Contact Rob at:

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