If you’re anything like me, you likely spend a great deal of time on your feet. And for most of that time, you’re likely to be wearing some form of foot protection, such as a boot or tennis shoe.
For me, I adore my black work boots since they are multifunctional, comfy, easy to care for, and most importantly, they protect my feet from life’s perils. Apart from work, I wear them for pretty much anything else.
A pair of work boots typically lasts between one and three years before they need to be replaced. This is not a hard and fast rule, as several variables impact the longevity of work boots.
Thus, when I looked down and noticed a rip in one of my work boots, I was curious as to how long these work boots actually lasted.
This also got me thinking about the overall longevity of shoes and the attributes I’d look for in a new pair. As a result, I decided to study my shoe-wearing habits and determine for myself how long they lasted and if they functioned within a reasonable range of usage.
Fortunately for you, readers, I am a total nerd and scrupulously track my spending habits using a spreadsheet. Additionally, I enjoy wearing a pedometer to keep track of how much I walk each day while engaging in usual activities.
How long should you expect to wear a pair of work boots?
I’ve seen someone describe their search for a pair of work boots that will last them a decade. However, my experience indicates that this is not necessarily a good thing.
You may end up saving money in the long term. However, the sole will wear out, the interior of the boot will begin to stink, and other factors will contribute to the boot’s discomfort (at least to me).
In principle, work boots may last more than five years, and if they’re designed to be repaired or rebuilt, they can live up to ten or twenty years if worn for light labor and alternated between work boots often.
However, the majority of manufacturers advocate not wearing work boots for more than two years.
The reason for this is because, despite the fact that manufacturers design work boots to endure, they will ultimately wear out and begin to degrade.
Simply said, it boils down to the sort of job you perform and the setting in which you operate:
1. Designed for heavy-duty application
If you work in a labor-intensive industry such as firefighting or a job that requires a great deal of lifting and uneven surfaces with the possibility of a large object falling on your feet, you should anticipate your safety boots to last between six months and two years.
2. Use on a light duty
If you work in non-intensive tasks such as yard operations, truck driving, or as a lineman, your work boots should last between one and two years on average.
3. The substance from which they are constructed
Work boots made of tough materials such as leather, and those with steel toe or composite toe caps, typically last longer than work boots made of other materials, and can last between two and five years with proper maintenance.
4. Where they are manufactured
While this is not a hard and fast rule, it is typically a good idea to wear renowned brand work boots rather than inexpensive unknown work boots.
The reason behind this is that respected businesses prioritize quality and durability.
Do American-made work boots last longer?
True and false!
Some companies, such as Red Wing and Thorogood, build their work boots in such a way that they may be repaired by experienced cobblers or even provide repair services to extend the life of a pair of work boots.
More information about Thorogood work boots may be found on our Thorogood work boot reviews page!
While numerous manufacturers in the United States of America promote repairability, bear in mind that not every work boot is repairable, especially if it has seen better days and is breaking apart.
However, work boots produced in the United States often last longer. This is often owing to the greater quality of the materials used to manufacture the work boots, as well as the fact that the specialists who manufacture the boots have more training and expertise.
How to prolong the life of work boots?
Regardless of the sort of work boots you have or the job you perform, the lifetime of your work boots is directly related to how well you care for them; after all, they protect your feet, so it’s only reasonable to care for your investment in foot safety to ensure it lasts as long as possible.
Just as brushing your teeth prolongs their life, the same rationale applies to the lifespan of work boots.
“Will washing my work boots extend their life?”
Yes, without a doubt, especially if your work boots are made of leather.
Without further ado, here are the greatest techniques to extend the life of work boots:
1. Regularly brush your work boots
While dirt and mud may appear harmless, they are acidic and will eat away the leather of your work boots if left to dry.
Things only grow worse if you store your dirty boots in a humid environment, which promotes the breakdown of the leather.
2. Replace the soles of your work boots
Each time you walk in them, the soles of your work boots come into contact with hard surfaces, and over time, they begin to exhibit symptoms of abuse and begin to wear down or even fall off.
If your work boots are meant to be rebuilt or resoled, schedule an appointment with a competent cobbler or the manufacturer as soon as possible.
3. Carry many pairs of work boots
If you’re constantly purchasing new work boots every couple of months, the likelihood is that you’re wearing them too frequently, if not every day.
Consider switching between different pairs of work boots on a daily basis to extend the life of each pair.
4. Avoid wearing work boots when not on the job
The longer you wear your work boots and continue to utilize them after hours, the more mileage they will accrue.
While work boots are comfy and some are suitable for casual trips, keep in mind that increased wear equals increased damage.
5. Thoroughly clean your work boots
A work boot will only last so long if it is properly cared for and cleaned.
The various materials used in work boots, such as leather, nubuck, and suede, each require their own methods and equipment to keep them in good condition;
However, it’s rather simple to do so with a few home things and go the do-it-yourself approach. Here are some suggestions for cleaning your filthy work boots with household things.
Additionally, you may clean your work boots and lubricate them. This will also help extend the life of your boots.
WAIT! Is it possible to wash the working in the washing machine? True… I washed mine and this is what occurred!
6. Refresh the air in your work boots
Each day, the feet may produce around 2 cups of sweat. That is correct. The good news is that high-quality work boots are breathable and allow for quick evaporation of perspiration.
However, it’s still a good idea to let your boots dry naturally (avoid drying them in the dryer if possible) to ensure that no moisture is trapped within, which might cause the inner of your work boots to wear out prematurely.
7. Insoles should be replaced
Insoles support your foot and all of its movement, making them one of the first components of a work boot to wear out, especially if they are not built of high-quality materials.
The good news is that insoles can be simply replaced with fresh ones that frequently give better comfort than the ones included with your work boots.
A Boot’s Life I Tested: By Numbers
While graphs are visually appealing, large numbers are also enjoyable. Consider the following boot numbers:
- Ownership Period: 1 Year, 2 Months, 3 Days (429 Days)
- Daily Step Count on Average (With Boots): 5,176 steps
- Daily Average Distance Traveled (While Wearing Boots): 2.40 miles
- The Most Steps in a Single Day: 24,696
- The farthest distance traveled in a single day (with boots) is 11.23 miles.
- The Fewest Steps Taken in a Single Day (With Boots): 0 steps
- The shortest distance that can be covered in a single day (with boots) is 0.0 miles.
- Total Steps (While Wearing Boots): 2,220,500
- Distance Traveled in Boots: 1,030 miles
Comparison of Longevity Of Work Boots
These figures appear to be rather outstanding, particularly for a $75 pair of all-purpose work boots. However, how does this relate to the normal person’s shoe usage?
Are the figures I computed above average, ordinary, or excellent? Was my money well spent, or was I duped? To be sure, none of these issues can be answered with any degree of assurance.
This is because a shoe’s longevity is strongly tied to the way it is worn, the user’s weight and stride distance, and the general quality of the shoes.
Nonetheless, I was curious as to how long my shoe will last in comparison to other shoes. According to my study, the amount of wear I got out of my shoes is comparable to that of standard work boots.
Indeed, the majority of publications and instructional brochures on work boots state that they should be changed when physical deterioration is evident or after one year of usage, whichever comes first.
One explanation for this is that after approximately one year of usage, the chemicals and glues used to manufacture shoes such as work boots tend to dry up and lose their power.
In comparison to other types of shoes, such as running shoes, my work boots lasted roughly twice as long. When compared to brand-name footwear such as Vans or Converse, my work boots lasted around half as long.
As a result, based on the best information available, I would say that my boots were neither bad nor exceptional in terms of lifetime and durability.
Concluding: How Long Should Work Boots Last
Taking care of your work boots contributes significantly to their longevity, and if your work boots are repairable by design, you may have them repaired to live another day.
At the end of the day, even the most rugged work boot that has never failed you must be changed.
Consider this: your work boots are to your feet what a car’s tires are to the vehicle. You may repair and maintain them to extend their life, but the more you travel on harsh terrain and haul large loads with your vehicle, the sooner they’ll give up and break apart.
Personally, I’ve never had work boots survive more than two years. I’ve worked in the construction industry for almost a decade in a variety of roles (some light-duty, some heavy-duty), and I can’t recall ever having a pair of work boots that lasted more than two years.
Floyd Carignan has worked for a variety of stores in the North East during the course of his nineteen-year career in the workwear market. He’s tried and tested hundreds of work boots and different types of workwear over the years, and he doesn’t cut corners when it comes to reviewing work boots. Outside of work, Floyd enjoys gardening and, of course, DIY projects.