Many different trades of work exist, and there are nearly as many categories of work footwear. A variety of components need to be considered about the work environment, the activity being performed and even the consumer’s own foot before making a purchase. There is more to choosing a shoe than its looks. The best shoe options are those well suited for a combination of the consumer’s personal needs as well as those necessitated by their particular work environment.

Traction & wear

It’s important to note that certain features built into a pair of shoes may be an asset in some situations, where they may be a hindrance in others.

Hospitality-oriented outsole treads are primarily geared for liquid-contaminated, indoor work environments. These outsole treads typically use a maximum amount of surface contact to the ground and consistent tread patterns with excellent dispersion channels. These channels help move the liquids to cut down the chances of a slip and fall. This can be contrasted with a more traditional hiker sole that could be great for outdoors, but not well suited for indoor hospitality conditions.

Hospitality-oriented outsole compounds are typically made to be softer than the traditional work-oriented, industrial sole compounds. While a traditional work outsole compound can perform well for wear in harsh conditions, the tough material can cut down its slip-resistance needs. A harder sole will wear longer, but not have the same level of traction as a softer sole.

Arch support

Working from the ground up, shoes are made with all different types of removable footbeds. Some customers want a footbed with excellent arch support. One method is to build up layers of extra material in the arch area — it still can be soft material, but simply be layered or extra-thick. Another approach is to utilize a harder supportive material to incorporate in the arch with the softer material layered over it for comfort. However, if a worker does not need arch support, this could be an uncomfortable and unwanted feature.

Roomy toe cap

There are a variety of toe cap styles available with some options that are very roomy. This can make a huge difference to the customer needing the extra fitting room for those long shifts that can otherwise be a workout. One other point to keep in mind: an extra roomy toe cap can be too roomy for a narrow foot.

Non-metallic vs. metallic

Non-metallic safety boots and shoes offer the same protection as steel toe without the weight of steel and won’t conduct heat or cold as quickly as their steel counterparts. These are a great option for those who work in environments where they need to pass through metal detectors such as in prisons or within the transportation industry. It is widely believed that composite toes work better for cold weather and high heat conditions since steel reacts differently to these temperature extremes.

Finding your perfect shoe

While there is no such thing as the perfect shoe, working with an experienced footwear retailer can help find the perfect shoe for each consumer. With the bevy of footwear options, there truly is something for everyone.