Can You Wear Work Boots Hiking? (What You Must Know First)

Can you go hiking wearing your work boots?

It’s not ideal to go hiking wearing your work boots. Having said that, you can wear your boots once or twice if you MUST go hiking.

Let’s say you’re a full-time construction professional who has just been invited for a big weekend hike. And you don’t have the proper gear that’s needed for hiking. But you do have a pair of safety boots.

Are you going to miss out on the fun just because you don’t have hiking boots?

I wouldn’t! (As long as I know my regular safety boots are going to be enough to protect my feet out there)

Keep reading to find out more info such as

  • what are some pros and cons
  • difference between work boots and hiking boots

…and much more!

Let’s get into it starting with a question that many people are asking:

What is the difference between work boots and hike boots?

Both boots are ultimately designed to protect your feet on rough terrain. But while hiking boots are designed so that you can tackle tough terrain, like an uneven forest floor or a mountainside, work boots are designed to make sure you are completely out of harm’s way. 

Work boots are tougher than hike boots. They’ll protect you against all sorts of hazards, such as:

  • Toe injuries from falling objects
  • Nail or screw punctures
  • Electric shocks
  • Slip and falls on oily & grease surfaces

And much more.

Three features demonstrate the different purposes work boots and hiking boots are designed for.  For a more detailed comparison between work boots and hiking boots go here.

Sole

The soles of a hiking boot are made of rubber and are usually thick enough to protect you against stones on the floor or wooden chips, but not against the power tools and sharp objects that might be on the floor that you will find on a work site. So many work boots will have much thicker soles made of a slightly heavier material. 

Toe Caps

By law, safety footwear needs to have toe protection in any working environment in which heavy machinery is used. These toe caps need to be able to withstand a heavy hit, 200-joules being the industry standard (or a 20kg object dropped from 1m up).

To meet this standard, most work boots will have steel toe caps. Usually hiking boots will only have a rubber cap on it, which might not be enough protection if you drop a heavy metal object on them. 

Aren’t steel toe work boots uncomfortable?

If that’s what you’ve heard I need to tell you that it’s no true. Only once in 10 years, I had a pair of uncomfy boots (and that was because I went for a very cheap pair of work boots). Steel toe cap might be a bit strange if you never had to wear a pair of safety boots before, but once you get used to it…

…it’s super comfortable! Want to see some examples? Check out these most comfortable work boots for men and women.

Ventilation

Hiking boots will have a lot of ventilation in them so that you can keep your feet cool on that big walk. Work boots are to keep you safe, and so will not have great ventilation features. There are some work boots that have ventilation to help you sweat less in summer, read more here. But hiking boots are winning when it comes to ventilation.

Pros of using work boots for hiking

Of course, the biggest pro, if you take your work boots onto a big hike, is the financial savings! Nobody wants to have to buy two pairs of boots when one will do. 

Another pro is that a lot of work boots have good traction to prevent slips and falls. This makes them very useful in hiking situations when grip is of the essence. Not all work boots are non-slippery though, make sure you read this page to find out more!

Finally, work boots are made of tougher material than hiking boots, and so if you think you are going to be hiking on a rough surface, then the extra tough material could be helpful. 

Cons of going hiking in work boots

There are unfortunately quite a few disadvantages to taking the work boots out on a hike. 

Ventilation and weight

Work boots, as already noted, are made from a tougher material than normal hiking boots. This means they have fewer vents on them and are usually heavier owing to their material.

This makes hiking in them for very long distances more difficult than using hiking boots. Some people will find work boots very heavy and might make your hike unpleasant. See how much do work boots weigh to see some examples of how heavy they are and make your own decision.

Quick dry

If you end up walking through rivers or deep puddles on your hike, it is better to get a pair of hiking boots that dry quickly rather than work boots that will absorb lots of water and stink out the car on the long journey home.  Not to mention the risk of athletes’ foot fungus developing in your wet boots.

Flexibility

Work boots, again, are designed to protect you from anything. This means they are made from thick rubber that is not as flexible as the EVA foam that hiking boots are made from.

EVA foam is light and flexible, which means that over time it will conform to the shape of your feet, making hiking more comfortable. You will not get this advantage over several hikes with work boots.

Finally, though they are strong, work boots do wear down over time, and they will wear down more quickly if you take them on hikes as well as using them for work.

You won’t save any money if you wear your boots down, and added to the discomfort felt while hiking in them, it is very much a false economy.  If you want economic work boots to check out our cheap work boots page here.

Are Timberland work boots good for hiking?

This depends on the type of Timberland boot you buy. The 6” basic boot is not suitable for hiking because it is very heavy. (as we’ve mentioned in this Timberland Pit Boss steel toe review article)

The weight of a single boot is 1 pound and five ounces. This compares to about 1 pound 1 ounce for their flume waterproof hiking boots. Eight extra pounds of weight across both feet over a long hike.

Not to mention the other issues already mentioned of ventilation, waterproofing, and flexibility. It’s easy to see why taking Timberland work boots, particularly the 6”, could be a big mistake. 

Timberland has a wide range of boots that are suitable for both hiking and work available to look at here. Remember the key features to look for when deciding whether boots are for hiking or for work is their flexibility and water resistance. 

Are steel toe boots good for hiking?

There are pros and cons to having a steel toe boot when hiking. The obvious con, which we have already gone into, is the extra weight that comes with a steel toe boot will make hiking harder. 

On the other hand, a steel toe cap boot can provide good ankle support for you when you are hiking. And obviously, if you stub your toe against a rock or a low tree branch while hiking then the extra protection provided by the steel toe cap can make that a lot less painful than a normal hiking boot.

So, a steel toe cap can, in some instances, prevent injuries where normal hiking boots cannot. 

Conclusion: Can you wear work boots while hiking? Should you?

You can most certainly wear work boots while you are hiking, and if you are only planning on going for the one hike then it does not make sense to buy a brand-new pair of hiking boots for only one trip.

You may be slightly uncomfortable, but if it is a simple root, and not a particularly long one, then you will be fine. 

But if you are planning on going hiking regularly, or if the hike you are going to looks tricky, then a specialist pair of hiking boots is the better investment. You will be more comfortable, and you will not wear your work boots down. 


Team Members Working On This Page

Adrian – Web Master / Construction Professional

Construction Professional, driver, crane operator, cleaner, head chef … these are just some of the jobs I did in the past. Working in all these different environments taught me that having good footwear to protect your feet from different dangers at work IS PARAMOUNT for any worker! On this website, I aim to share all my knowledge and personal experience in dealing with different footwear and foot care issues, and hopefully, you can get something out of it. Enjoy!

Theo Cox / Researcher, Writer

I’m an MA student currently working on a research project for King’s College London Museum of Life Sciences alongside my MA dissertation. I have been published in my student newspaper, The Spectator, and the Adam Smith Institute. I’m doing part of the research and writing of the content you’ll read on BestForMyFeet.com Enjoy!