Wedge Sole VS Heel Sole Work Boots (Differences, Pros & Cons, And More)

If you are new to the world of work boots, you might have heard people recommending wedge-sole work boots or heeled work boots and thought to yourself, “I know what a heel sole is but what the heck is a wedge sole?”

The goal of this article is to provide you with the answer to that question but we will also talk about the differences between wedged soles versus heeled soles work boots, comfort, durability, and more…

So, let’s get into it!

Who’s working on this page

Jeff Harmon, author, researcher and boots tester for
Jeff Harmon
Author & Researcher
Victor Adrian
Researcher & Editor

What is a Wedge Sole, Anyway?

A wedge sole could accurately and simply be described as a sole shaped like a wedge. They have a gradual rise from front to back, which forms the wedge shape.

Boot in the picture: Field and Forest work boots review

The design of this type of sole also creates one single area of contact between the sole and the floor or ground the wearer is standing on.

Due to their popularity and following, pretty much every major boot brand you can think of makes a wedge-soled boot.

Examples of some companies that manufacture boots with a wedge sole would most notably be:

  • Thorogood (I will be talking about these below)
  • Red Wing Shoes, and Irish Setter
  • Danner
  • Wolverine
  • Carolina

A couple of brands I had not ever heard of until just recently, Nick’s Handmade Boots and White’s Boots, also make wedge-sole boots.

These work boots brands are lesser known to some of us due to their price point being outside of the budget of an average blue-collar worker like myself.

What is a Heel Sole?

A heel sole can simply be described as a sole with a design having the heel with a defined separation from the front portion of the sole.

Boot in the picture: Thorogood Crazy Horse 804-4375 review

This design creates two points of contact between the sole of the boot and the ground or floor the wearer of the boot is standing on. 

If you were to look at a room full of people wearing boots, you’d most likely notice heel soles are much more common than wedge soles. You’ll discover reasons for this as you read on further.

Pros and Cons of wedge soles

As with anything else, wedge soles have both pros and cons. Pros of wedge soles include their increased flexibility and a shallow tread.

This translates into tracking in less dirt or snow inside.

Another pro of a wedge sole is added stability for the wearer of the boot. This is because the design more evenly distributes pressure throughout the foot.

Wedge soles also tend to provide the wearer with less impact on their knees and legs from shock of each step on the ground.

In addition to the pros mentioned, wedge sole boots can be stylish enough to wear outside of work, as well.

A selling point for many wedge sole boots on the market is their ability to be resoled.

However, the ability to do this depends on the method used to manufacture the boots the wedged soles are attached to.

Some of the cons of wedge-style soles are they may tend to wear out more quickly due to material used to make them, and they have less traction on uneven surfaces when compared to a heeled sole.

This lack of traction is due to their smaller tread depth. Certain jobs don’t allow wedge soled boots to be worn due to safety concerns involved with the job.

In particular, climbing ladders is better performed with the use of a heel sole.

Pros and Cons of Heel soles

Just like the wedge sole, heel soles have positive and negative attributes.

One of the pros of a heel sole is better traction provided by deeper lugs in their tread and the defined drop from the heel.

Heels also provide a backstop for the wearer of the boot while performing certain actions, like climbing the rungs of a ladder.

This makes a heeled boot much better suited for use in certain lines of work.

The lugs and heel allow for better traction on terrain with angled features, such as a hill.

A boot with this type of sole is more versatile than the wedge because it can be worn for any type of work.

The type of materials used to make this style of sole are typically more durable than that of the wedge sole.

Some of the cons of heel boots would include less stability on flat ground.

This would be more likely to be an issue in boots with a taller heel kinda like the ones we see in logger work boots or linemen work boots.

Also, one may experience more shock to the legs and knees from having a less protected step.

The deep lugs in some heeled boots provide a space for dirt or snow to get stuck in and extra care is needed to not carry snow or dirt inside.

Heeled boots in general tend to be heavier than a wedge sole, and this may cause leg fatigue.

Who should buy Wedge sole vs Heel sole boots?

If you happen to have flat feet, wedge-sole boots could be a good fit for you.

This is because wedge soles have a slow, gradual change in height from front to back. I happen to fall into this category of people.

Here you can find some more work boots that are good for flat footed people.

Wedge-soled boots are also great for many professions, most of which involve standing on concrete and other flat surfaces for extended periods of time.

Some examples of jobs fitting this criteria would include:

  • factory workers
  • carpenters
  • plumbers
  • electricians
  • iron-workers
  • farmers
  • heavy equipment operators
  • brick layers
  • light duty construction workers

They can also be very stylish, so even office professionals can wear these for work, as well.

Heel sole boots are great for many professions as well, some of which do not permit a wedge sole to be used.

These lines of work include:

I say some construction workers because the nature of the work being done would determine whether a wedge or a heeled sole would be better in that particular situation.

Wedge vs heel sole in work boots: Which one is more comfortable?

This question could be a tough one to answer. The comfort of a boot could be considered very subjective based upon the user of the boot.

I would say one could compare this to something like taste in music. Everyone has different tastes in things, and boots are no different.

One person might believe their wedge sole boots are the most comfortable work boots ever.

The same could be said for a different user of a pair of boots with a heel sole. Boots are not a one size fits all type of situation.

This could be a case of a bad experience with a boot that has a certain type of sole not feeling as comfortable as the user thinks it should be.

This experience could stick with a user of a boot and sway their opinion one way or the other with regards to which type of soled boot is better.

I am personally going through this experience at the moment. I’ve been wearing some Thorogood 1957 series boots (804-3600) which feature a wedge sole for over a month now.

The last time I had worn a wedge sole boot previous to this was over a decade now, at minimum. I decided to give these boots a chance based on the love for the wedge by several coworkers.

They swear by their wedge boots and I was up for trying something different than I am accustomed to.

I have to say, I am finding myself feeling like I am being converted over to “team wedge”, if you will.

These boots are very comfortable for me and my current work situation, which involves a lot of time walking on and standing on concrete and other hard surfaces.

I will even go so far as to steal a term coined by my fellow boot nerd Adam in his Irish Setter Ashby review and refer to my Thorogoods as my “work slippers” because they are incredibly comfortable to wear.

Wedge or heel sole: Which one is more durable?

The heel sole usually comes out on top when it comes to the subject of durability of soles. I say this based on personal experience in the matter.

Heel soles can be made from a variety of materials. In general, it can be said the materials tend to last much longer than those used in the production of wedge soles.

I know this both from what I’ve read, viewed, and my personal experience. Based on my past use of heel boots, in particular the Red Wing 2409 and 2438, I can tell you the soles are very durable, and lasted several years.

The downside to these specific models of boots I have mentioned is they have a glued sole, meaning once they’re done, they go in the trash instead of getting a new life with a resole.

The last pair of wedge soled boots I’d worn previous to my current Thorogood boots was a pair of Red Wings.

I don’t know the particular model because it’s been so long, but I do remember the soles wore out extremely quickly. I had bare spots in my tread within six months of wearing them.

This was unacceptable to me, especially in a pair of boots I’d paid over two hundred fifty dollars for, and this was over a decade ago.

I was especially frustrated because the work that I was doing while wearing the boots was not particularly rough.

Also, one contributing factor to my reaction to the longevity of the life of the sole was that my clothing allowance for work at that point was something like three hundred fifty dollars.

I’m no math wiz, but it doesn’t take much to realize that if a boot costs two hundred fifty dollars and had a resole done for around one hundred dollars, my entire clothing budget for the year would be blown.

I’ve also read many reviews and watched lots of videos of boot wearers complaining of their wedge soles wearing out too quickly.

This would be due to wedge soles being made of different materials than those found in heel sole boots.

The material found in wedge soles is polyurethane, or something similar, which is soft and will wear more quickly than materials found in boots with a separated heel.

Are wedge sole work boots better for your feet?

Wedge soles are better for your feet. This is not just my opinion, it is physics!

This is because the wedge sole more evenly distributes the pressure from your body to the ground or floor you are standing on while wearing them.

In the wedge, there is only one surface in contact with the ground/floor you are standing on.

This is more pleasant for your feet when compared to the design of a separated heel sole.

Not only are wedge sole work boots better for your feet, they are also better for your legs and knees.

The nature of the motion of a step while wearing a wedge sole is a much more fluid motion, providing less shock to the knees when compared to that of a boot with a separate heel.

I had found this when comparing wearing my previous work boots with my new Thorogood work boots.

This boot allows me to step with a nice fluid movement of one step with one movement from heel to toe.

When you look at the heel sole, you will notice there are two contact points between your feet and the ground. These two areas of contact are the heel and the ball of the foot.

My old Red Wings with a separate heel have a noticeable clunky feel in comparison. A step with these boots is a two-part motion.

There is contact first on the heel, followed by a second contact on the ball of the foot.

After wearing a wedge, I have a feeling it would be hard for me to go back to heeled boots.

Heeled vs wedged sole boots: Which one should I choose?

Boot in the picture: Brunt Marin Toe work boots review

In conclusion, the sole of a boot a person chooses to wear ultimately comes down to several factors.

When I am buying a boot, I consider cost, comfort, style, and overall function for which the boot I am purchasing will be used for.

For my particular job, a boot with a wedge is perfect about 95 percent of the time.

If I will be working on something that requires a boot with a heel, I have some in my locker and I can pull out a pair to use for that specific task.

A boot can fall under the category of a “major purchase” for some, so you’ll want to make sure you put some thought into your choice of which style to buy.

You will want to do your research before you decide what to buy. When possible, go to a brick-and-mortar store to physically check out some boots you’re interested in.

This will help you determine whether you even like the feel of a wedge boot, or prefer a heeled boot. This is one of the best ways to see which one is right for you.

Whether it is a wedge sole or a heel sole, happy hunting for the right one for you!

Team Members Working On This Page

Jeff Harmon – Boots Tester & Reviewer

Hello, I’m Jeff. I’m a Level III water plant operator in Ohio. I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years now, and the jobs I’ve had all required boots. I’d previously viewed them as something that didn’t matter just so long as my feet were covered. Lately, I’ve come to appreciate the features and craftsmanship that go into quality footwear. When I’m not at work, I’m at home spending time with my wife and 2 kids. My current obsession other than boots is hot sauce. I absolutely love it!

Victor Adrian – Editor And Webmaster

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!

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