Things I Can’t Live Without: The Work Boot Edition

In the last ten years I’ve owned two pairs of work boots. This pair of old RedWings that I literally wore until the soles split, and then continued to wear for another year even though whenever I stepped in a puddle my entire foot would get soaked from the bottom up…


What? I get attached to any article of clothing that I built an entire house in. (Like these jeans… still have ’em.)

However, see those boots in the upper corner of the picture? Those were MysteryMan’s, and I may or may not have harbored a secret resentment over how easy they were to pull on and off while I spent a decade hunching over to tie my own boots and their fashionable red laces.

Anyway, I finally had to retire my ten-year-old work boots after the move last year, and I’m actually surprised I made it through all of last summer alternating between my crocs and muck boots, and never a.) accidentally amputated my foot with the post hole differ, or b.) contracted tetanus from a rusty nail. (Don’t get me wrong, I punctured my foot half a dozen times, but I’m totally up to date on my shots.)

So, when my mom pinned me down about what I needed for a birthday present this year, work boots were high on the list. I mean, I dread breaking in a new pair, but with a ton of shoveling and  tromping around the farm in my future, it was time…


This time I thought I could finally get over those years of pent up lace-tying frustration, so my one requirement for new boots was that they were slip-ons. The selection for women’s work boots in general is pretty dismal, and for pull-ons it’s basically non-existent.

I tried on two different pairs at a TSC, and I’m pretty sure my toes would have staged a revolt and murdered me in my sleep if I wore either of those for any length of time. So my mom had a brilliant suggestion… try on the men’s boots. I mean, I can still fit both of my feet in the smallest size they make of a men’s boot, but even when I pulled on the dudes version of these Carhartt boots, they were so much more comfortable than any other boot I’ve worn, it was ridiculous.


And bless Carthartt’s little gender-equality loving heart, they also make them for chicks.

Okay, fine, they make one boot for chicks, but it happened to be just what I wanted and it’s not pink, so I’m not going to complain.


This is the Women’s 11-inch Wellington/Safety-Toe version.

I hate ordering clothes or shoes online without trying them on first, but for women’s workwear, you pretty much have to.

So, let me just say this… it is a heavy duty boot. Like, the general rule used to be for your own safety, don’t mess with me while I’m holding a hammer. We may need to amend that to “don’t mess with me while I’m holding a hammer or wearing these shit-kickers.” For real.

But despite the fact that I could literally stomp all over somebody with these things, they are awesomely comfortable. A little hard to get my foot into the first time, but they broke in really quickly, and not just because I danced around the house wearing them for like an hour when they arrived at the house. Um. Maybe.

The only thing I didn’t anticipate is that an 11″ tall boot actually comes up pretty high on your leg (especially if you’re not exactly vertically gifted) so my everyday athletic socks won’t cut it with these babies. But with a pair of good wicking boot socks? Guys… I may never take these off.

Anyone else have boots they love? I’ve always thought the Sketchers Safety-Toe sneakers might have some merit, but I’d have these things covered in mud (and worse) in about five minutes, so maybe not the best choice for farm life…

21 Responses

  1. I WANT a pair of work boots! And those are really great looking! Whenever I have to run outside for a minute (check on the dog or something similar) I always grab my guy’s cowboy boots. They aren’t the traditional coboy boot look, they are more like a workboot. And YES, I love that they slip on! My current work boots also lace and that is also my requirement for my next boots, they must slip on! But I too, would love to try them on first before ordering them. I will have to see if I am lucky enough to find some in stock around here!

  2. thanks, i’ll have to look into those! working in architecture, i have the constant problem of trying to look “professional”, yet appropriate for the job site. work boots + dress pants don’t really go together. i tend to wear flats and hope they don’t ask me to climb a ladder. i really should just buy a pair of work boots and keep them in my car.

  3. Love those boots. I buy Darn Tough hiking socks whenever I see them at Marshalls or TJ Maxx and they’re awesome.

  4. After 4 years of living/working on the rowhouse, I still renovate in flip flops. Maybe my running shoes, if I actually think about it for more than 4 seconds. It’s mind-blowing that I still have toes. Probably time to invest in some decent footwear. Those slip-on ones are cute.

    1. Same here. Even when I gutted the bathroom to the studs I wore flip flops except on tub installation day I wore running shoes. Like they could have offered any protection from that mammoth beast.

  5. I’m in the market for a pair of workboots sometime in the future, too. I have a good pair of hiking boots that can be stand ins for now, but they are only ankle height and lace up, and I’d really like something taller and slip on.

    My issue is always calf width, though! Good suggestion on checking out the men’s options…

  6. Funny, we both blogged about replacing an old pair of Red Wings this morning, almost simultaneously. At least you had the courage to try something new, where I played it safe. I’ve always liked the speed lace hooks and hadn’t seriously considered slip ons yet. Maybe next time.

    I’m trying the Red Wing wicking socks and think I’m going back for a few more pair. They’re awesome! I don’t know if they make them for ladies though.

  7. I can’t wear taller boots because I have abnormally large calves for a woman I guess… I would love to have a pair of slip-ons like these I think they look fantastic and the convenience of not having to tie them all the time! but I doubt it’d ever happen. My current work boots are Caterpillar brand, Though I’m not sure the model number. I have wideish feet so I needed something with a wider toe bed. Lacing them up every morning is a little obnoxious, but at this point it is routine. My previous pair were an older pair of men’s Doc Martin’s (which I haven’t seen anything like them before or after I bought them, so it was kizmet that I found the one pair of men’s size 6 in that style) But I wore them until the soles cracked and water leaked in everywhere when I stepped in a puddle.

    I’d recommend getting a nice pair of insoles (like superfeet green insoles) for the boots too. I’m in mine 8-10 sometimes 12 hours a day and can’t imagine not having the additional support!

  8. Tempting, but I moved to california so I could wear flip flops year ’round. If the price of doing so while renovating a house is a toe (maybe up to 3, depending on which ones), I’ll call it a fair trade.

    This is subject to change if I manage to break another toe with a dropped sledgehammer. maybe.

  9. While I don’t have a farm, I volunteer at a dog shelter and my go to pair of boots for snowy or rainy days is a pair of tan John Deere boots that are children’s size 5. I have small feet. These babies are great, and I’ve owned them for almost three years. No falling apart, still waterproof, and relatively clean even. Love em.

  10. I hate shopping for boots, at 5’3.5″ and a size 6.5 women’s shoe, almost no store carries boots. It is like women are only to want fashion boots, or really ugly hiking boots. And while I can wear a children’s 4.5; the quality is normally just not as good. I’m not looking for a safety boot, just more the look of a men’s work boot. Sketcher’s used to make great boots, now they make them with a .25″ flat removable insole that has no arch support. I also don’t think the removable insole in the redwing boots I have tried have good support either. I’m not sure which brand to try next but I would love to hear about the quality of arch support that other brands have, and about online shoe return experiences. I like boots that lace up better. You can tie them tight and better support a weak ankle, which you cannot do with a slip on. So all I want in a boot is a good insole for my high arches and ones that lace well enough for my ankle to not give out. Clearly I just need to grow more and fit into men’s shoes. People still grow in their 30’s right?

    1. yes, we do… only usually it is more horizontal and diameter than vertical. Not fair!

  11. I prefer my first generation (read that “stinky and disintegrating”) Nike Free 5.0s. If I end up wearing boots, I prefer Justin’s.

  12. I’m currently on my second pair of Timberland Pros. I really like them because they’re composite toe/shank, so my feet don’t freeze off in winter in Massachusetts, but lately they’ve been killing my feet. Granted they’re 3 years old and I wear them in all kinds of weird places (I’m an environmental consultant), but still. I’ll definitely check out the Carhartt boots, though. As long as they meet OSHA standards, I can use them!

  13. I too am very attatched to my boots and my what stories they could tell about all the places and precarious situations we have been in together. Three months ago my husband talked me into buying a new pair of workboots I swore I did not need. Georgia Brand steel toe water proof slip-ons. Never have I ever had a more comfortable boot and trust me I own a closet full. From TSC women’s sizes not a problem and reasonably priced. I enjoyed them so much I bought my dad a pair in his size. From fencing in the creek, barn work, trimming donkeys and recently rebuilding a cycle mower and cutting hay they have stood up to what ever I attempted to make them walk or “tromp” through.

  14. Nice boots! My favorite pair of work boots have been the Timberland Pro Titans (soft toe version). I would pick them over any shoes any day of the week. Another brand I have recently discovered is Thorogood. They are US made, similar in design to Red Wing but half the price. Need to wear my Timbs out first though.

  15. I have been wearing Red Wing boots ever since I was a teenager. I have had a pair which lasted for over a decade! I now have my 4th pair, and they are my favorite footwear for just about anything I do and anywhere I go.

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