Work boots as hiking boots?

Questions about equipment and supplies to bring on a trip (including reviews).

Moderator: hooky

Post Reply
User avatar

Topic author
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:12 am
Isle Royale Visits: 0
Location: San Francisco

Work boots as hiking boots?

Post by Gontona » Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:41 am

First of all I hope I have this in the right section.

I've always been a big fan of wearing joggers for comfort when going for long walks, but with a trip to the Overland Track in Tassie coming up at the end of the year I've decided to get a pair of hiking boots again. My old boots are from Kathmandu (the shop, not the city), and never really wore in properly, to the point where I still can't wear them for a walk over a few hours in length, even after multiple trips and trying various methods of wearing them in.

I'm also not too keen on all the marketing hype from the trekking oriented manufacturers so am wondering about trying some work boots this time, such as Steel Blue or Oliver which by the sounds of things are very popular and comfortable. The only thing is I'm not sure if I'd find them too heavy for walking decent distances. Sounds like there's no problem with durability though.

So anybody use boots like this for hiking around ?

Thanks for the help
Last edited by Gontona on Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

Forum Moderator
Posts: 1679
Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2007 4:10 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 33
Location: Big Rock, IL

Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Post by johnhens » Fri Jan 04, 2019 7:09 am

I work as a carpenter. Have not heard of either brand of work boots you mention. I have worn Red Wing work boots for years, most comfortable boots I have worn. There was a somewhat famous Appalacian hiker, Ed Garvey, who used the same Red Wing boots to do his thru hike decades ago. My issue with them is shallow tread depth. In muddy conditions (common on IR), I found them to give inadequite traction (wore them on volunteer work trips on IR). Any good leather boot takes time to break in as you found.

User avatar

Forum Moderator
Posts: 754
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:16 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 14
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota

Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Post by Tom » Fri Jan 04, 2019 8:03 am

Welcome to the forum!
I have both traditional work boots (Red Wings) and hiking boots (Asolos) and I wouldn't consider bringing the work boots on a backpacking trip. As johnhens notes, it's mostly about the tread - When I'm wearing weight on my back and walking on uneven, muddy, or scree terrain, I need the boots to stick and not slide. In fact, if I were to only buy one pair (to cover both hiking and 'working') I'd probably go with hiking boots. The one thing both boots have in common is that they have full grain leather uppers - The definitely helps them last, and when properly broken it, contributes to a great fit.
The best answer is to get to a reputable store and work with a sales person who takes the time to find the boots that work for your feet. Not all brands or styles work for me, so I found the ones that do. In the past I've started by wearing them around the house (after work/weekends) for just an hour or two a day. Once they've been outside the wife isn't as keen on letting me do that... and then just work up wearing them for short hikes, etc, as they break in. It just takes time.

Midwest Ed
IR Expert
Posts: 1144
Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2010 1:25 am
Isle Royale Visits: 8
Location: Quad Cities, IL

Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Post by Midwest Ed » Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:27 pm

In addition to the differences in the soles, most work boots nowadays have steel toe protection which adds unnecessary hiking weight.

As far as breaking in a new pair of leather boots, I had heard of a method some years ago but never tried it. It seems to actually have picked up a following but I still can't personally vouch for it. After putting them on you walk through water or a pool (preferably warm) and get them saturated. Then walk until they are dry (preferably on a warm or hot day I presume).
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013

User avatar

Posts: 213
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 5:43 pm
Isle Royale Visits: 2

Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Post by thesneakymonkey » Sat Jan 05, 2019 3:08 pm

My feet hurt just thinking about wearing work boots to the island. I’m not a big fan of boots (hiking or not) unless there is significant snow. I do recognize that it is a very personal decision for boots vs trail runners though. Personally I wore trail runners on both trips and had 0 blisters and no issues. My shoes dried out nightly while folks with boots had wet footwear for days. Just some food for thought. So I’d say no to the work boots.
Trip #1East side loop:
Trip#2 Minong End to End : ... 9ZJVgtfgga
Husband_Wife_OutdoorLife on Youtube

Post Reply