1 Pair? 3 pairs? 10 pairs of work boots? People often wonder how many work boots they should own. Well, experts such as my colleague Adrian and others advise that you should own more than one pair of work boots.
Because you can rotate between your work boots!
The amount of pairs is purely up to the individual. But it depends on your occupation, seasons, and boot moisture, among other things.
So the short answer to the question of how many pairs of work boots you should own is at least a couple of pairs. This is called Boot Rotation. In this article you’ll learn the reasons why owning more than one pair of boots for work is a good idea.
Let’s get into it…
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8 Reasons to rotate your work boots
As I said in the introduction, owning more than one pair of work boots gives you the opportunity to swap your work boots regularly. This is extremely important.
Here is why!
1. Break in new work boots (pain-free)
Breaking in a new pair of work boots can be torturous. Some boots can be extremely stiff from new and can take a long time to break in.
Logger-style wildland firefighting boots for example. Because of the nature of the work, these boots are built like tanks, so at the bare minimum it can take 300 hours of pain to break them in properly.
But once broken in, they fit like gloves!
This torture can be eased by alternating between the new ones and already broken-in boots. The shock to the feet isn’t so abrupt. It should lessen the number of sores and blisters.
The lobster analogy springs to mind. “A lobster thrown straight into a boiled pan will scream and jump out and hold its testicles high up. But a lobster boiled very slowly won’t realize it’s being cooked alive. It’ll chill out in the pan until it’s cooked and ready to eat.“
2. Drying time
Although water is a must for things like cleaning, and more importantly, survival, it also has degenerative aspects if left in specific areas for too long.
If you think of those nasty potholes in the road, they’re caused by pooled water eroding the surface. If moisture does that to hard road surfaces, it will certainly eat away at boots.
Water in the boots can come from external or internal. Rainwater getting in, or sweat accumulating from the feet. Feet have more sweat glands than anywhere in the body.
One thing water does is carry bacteria. If left stagnant, the bacteria multiplies.
Alternating the boots every day or two allows them time to dry out naturally or through gentle heat. I say this because force drying can sometimes lead to the cracking of the leather.
Adrian is using a boot dryer (PEET Original boot dryer) to dry his work boots. It’s safe for your boots and also it’s convenient.
This drying process reduces bacteria growth.
Boots come with or without insulation. The insulation is in different thicknesses depending on activity and climate. It’s measured in grams.
Extreme winter conditions will require heavy insulation, whereas warmer climates require little to no insulation.
The differences in season temperatures in some parts of the world can be quite vast, which means the necessary level of insulation in the footwear will be different.
You might also travel to many areas for work. In these places, the temperatures might vary.
Some jobs are even seasonal. You might need at least two pairs of boots to rotate during that specific work season, then maybe at least another two when doing other work while waiting for that season to start.
4. Longer life span
Let’s face it, our work boots can take a beating. The number of miles we walk, the knocks, scuffs, scratches, and exposure to the elements. After a while, all these things begin to take their toll.
Owning more than one pair of boots can lessen the wear and tear, at the same time, give them a rest.
Constant compression of the midsoles might not give them a chance to recover and reform to the natural shape.
Resting them from time to time allows the spongy material to retain its elasticity, which gives you the optimum support and comfort.
If the boots do break down and eventually need repairing or replacing, having a spare pair means you aren’t caught short. You’re still able to wear some while your others are being worked on.
5. Body health
Our bodies become accustomed to what we wear on our feet. If we only wear only one pair of boots, there’s no variation, so the muscles, tendons, and ligaments get used to the one specific posture created by wearing that pair of boots.
This is even worse if the boots are not particularly good for our posture.
It overloads certain components of our legs while strengthening others, which causes an imbalance. This may create problems that gradually get worse.
Interchanging the footwear makes those parts of our body adjust to different postures, which in turn makes them more fit, subtle, and well-balanced overall in terms of strength.
Also, a longer shift or more vigorous work that you’re used to can cause fatigue or soreness in the feet or legs. Boots with more cushioning or lighter weight can add some relief.
6. The correct boots for the job
Your job might include multiple aspects of work. You might even move from one area of work to another.
These different tasks might require different types of boots. For instance, on a construction site, you might want some lightweight boots for general tasks, then need to put rubber boots on to pour concrete.
The same can be said for ranches, where you might need rubber boots for wading through boggy fields, but cowboy boots for riding, or heeled boots with extra grip for climbing on and off machinery.
The heels help with things like resting on ladder rungs or horse stirrups.
The shape of the toe can also determine what you want to wear to ride. Round or pointy-toe boots are easier to get into the stirrups.
Heavy-duty boots might be too cumbersome to wear all day, so people might choose to throw them on only when doing rigorous tasks.
This doesn’t mean you should go and buy multiple pairs of boots straight away. Sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got.
7. Boot conditioning and/or polishing
Maintaining our boots is important for longevity. Applying conditioners like Mink oil or Bick 4 softens the leather and brings back the natural colors.
This and polishing also help with water resistance. They create a thin protective barrier.
But when doing these tasks, the key is to allow proper drying/resting time, which lets the treatment fully soak into the leather.
This might not be possible if we’re using the boots constantly. Especially when limited for time.
You know what it’s like with family and commitments. Sometimes we don’t get time to fart, let alone anything else.
This is why rotating boots gives you a chance to set aside the boots that need treating until they’re done. Or even when they have been treated and need time to settle in.
We have a few articles about leather conditioners so if you’re brand new to work boots, check out these helpful blog posts:
- How to apply mink oil
- Mink oil compared to boots oil
- Should you use mink oil on nubuck leather boots?
8. Trying out different brands
You might be used to using the same brand all the time. But sometimes it’s good to check out different work boots brands.
Alternating between two different brands gives you a chance to compare the two. And if you don’t like one, you can just stick to the one you’re familiar with.
I’m afraid I can’t answer the specific question in the title of this article. How many boots we should have is anybody’s guess. It really does depend on a wide range of things.
Hopefully, those things have been covered to help you come to your own conclusions. Because, at the end of the day, it’s up to the individual.
But I think we’ve established that having two or more pairs of boots is beneficial. And we’ve covered why.
I have at least 6-7 pairs of work boots at all times under my desk. But keep in mind that testing and reviewing work boots is part of what I do so it’s understandable to have so many.
Most people will be fine with only two or a maximum of three pairs of work boots.
With that being said, it might not be affordable to go out and buy two or more pairs of brand-new boots right off the bat.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to. Once one pair has been used for a while, then you can think about getting more.
You could even get a pair of cheaper work boots to rotate while you’re doing whatever you need to do with your regular ones. But I wouldn’t stress about it.
As long as you’ve got something on your feet to keep you going to earn your crust.
That’s all from us. As always, please do contact us if you have any questions, or would like to share your own experiences. Feedback from consumers is always useful.
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Hey, Jimmy here. I’m one of the researchers and writers here at BestForMyFeet.com. I’ve been wearing work boots all my life working as a forklift driver, landscaper, groundworker, and now as a tower crane operator so I know a few things about footwear and footcare in general. I’m also working on my first novel. So writing IS my passion. When I’m not writing I love to spend time with my wife, two children, and furball.
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!