The key to finding the right boot is balancing the three C’s: construction, comfort and cost. When we’re evaluating the three C’s, I like to rank the features in three simple levels: good, better and best.
Here are the non-negotiables:
1. Make sure you are buying genuine cowhide. Bonded leather and man-made materials will let you down every time.
2. If you want a boot, don’t settle for a sneaker. Buy a “welted” boot that is sewn together rather than just glued.
Now let’s talk features. If you continually work on aggressive surfaces, you need a “best” grade outsole. But most folks in agriculture can get by with a “better” grade sole to save a few dollars. (Leave the “good” stuff for the weekend warriors.) What about waterproof? Just remember that wearing a waterproof boot is like wrapping your foot in a plastic bag. Waterproof boots don’t allow for air flow, which means they don’t let heat out. Most workboots are water resistant, so just make sure you actually need the waterproof feature (or any other features) before you pay for it.
Be careful with comfort. It’s tempting to sacrifice construction for what you think is better comfort, especially when you are on a budget. Bootmakers know this and many will just toss a cushion insert into a mediocre boot and tell you that they make the most comfortable boot out there. But those cushion insoles will compress over time and will diminish the support and stability that you need. Believe it or not, the best comfort doesn’t come from cushion. It comes from support.
If you are on a budget, you will need to determine which of the other C’s you are going to sacrifice – comfort or construction. In my opinion, if you are going to put these boots to work every day then you can’t afford to sacrifice construction. Stick with a boot that is at least in the “better” category. I think you’ll find a boot that compromises construction in favor of short-term comfort will disappoint you in the long haul.