Work & Play
Performance. Sustainability. Athletic. Feature-Rich. Innovative Comfort. These are some of the buzzwords that jump off the page when looking at the latest work and outdoor boot offerings. Where is innovation happening right now in the boot category? And what types of technology and innovation are consumers demanding right now from their boots? Brand execs offer up some insight here as we highlight standout styles for Fall 2022 and Spring 2023.
“Although not necessarily new innovations we do continue to see the rise in demand for effortless work footwear. Consumers have embraced the ease of a Chelsea boot, the ability to slip it on and off quickly while offering the comfort of a sneaker is very appealing to today’s workers. Kodiak’s existing Chelsea boot offerings span both genders and are available in both composite toe as well as soft-toe.”
— Karen McSorley, Kodiak Brand Manager
“Over the last several years, as new-younger employees have joined the workforce the trend has been towards ‘Athletic Safety Shoes.’ The consumer has demanded athletic comfort and athletic styling like they grew up wearing. Technologies like our dual density IMPULSE.FOAM midsoles or our EFFECT.FOAM midsoles that is similar to a running shoe feel. Even the traditional leather work boots are expected to have athletic features and athletic flare. The PUMA SAFETY products are right on trend, and it shows as retailer sell-through has been fantastic.”
— John Spotts, Director of Sales, Puma Safety Shoes North America
“There is so much innovation happening in the boot category. At Twisted X, we’re seeing across the board that consumers want and expect comfort, especially in work wear, to keep up with their rigorous lifestyles. We’re also seeing consumers specifically ask for sustainable features in the products they purchase more than ever. Outdoor consumers, in particular, have been very appreciative of the advances we’ve made in sustainability because these materials do not compromise the integrity of the shoe. In fact, we’ve seen that use of sustainable materials actually leads to better quality footwear. It’s a win-win.”
— Lee Lemon, VP of Sales, Twisted X
“For our Wolverine work boots, it’s all about comfort. Our consumers wear their boots for hours on end in different environments and conditions, so comfort is often the top priority for them making it a key area for us as well. Wolverine offers multiple platforms in our boots that deliver all-day comfort, ranging from DuraShocks technology in the outsole, UltraSpring tech in the midsole, and sock inserts and liners that keep feet comfortable for hours on end.
We have found that consumers want lightweight footwear that still provides incredible comfort and durability. We are always finding new and innovative ways to make our boots lighter, while still keeping the durability and dependability that Wolverine is known for.”
— Brent Dykstra, Senior Product Development & Design Director, Wolverine
“Within the boot category, we are continuing to see a movement toward more athletic-inspired work boots with breathable and flexible uppers, ripstop fabrics to aid in durability without sacrificing breathability, and lightweight midsoles. A series such as the Trailgrip Work by Reebok Work or the Fusion Flexweave with Floatride Energy Foam showcases some solutions to these lighter-weight yet durable demands by consumers when it comes to work footwear.”
— Brent Jennings, VP Marketing, Warson Brands
“With the Hoss Boot and DieHard Footwear brands we are using premium materials and premium insoles. Athletic-inspired style is something consumers are looking for, and we are taking it into work boots. We are using very lightweight athletic outsoles on 6-inch boots, for example. And we have some very lightweight series where we are at 500-600 grams of weight per boot, which is very light for a safety toe work boot. We are seeing demand for that even in something like metatarsal guards, where a consumer at an automobile plant, for example, may have a need for a lighter weight metatarsal guard, not heavy metal. With Hoss, we are offering extended sizing, and we are seeing people gravitate towards those extremes as our best-sellers because they have trouble finding those sizes anywhere else in safety toe boots. Helping people find a pair of boots that fits comfortably is a big focus.”
— Don Colbert, President, Hoss Boot Company
“We see performance matched with increased sustainability driving innovation. How brands meet the demand of more athletic and ambitious consumers while also meeting their demands to do less harm is a challenge that is coming at us from all angles.”
— Rich Hohne, Director of Brand + Consumer Experience, Oboz
“The new ULT-TRN is the next evolution in our outdoor footwear, blending technical features with sustainable materials and manufacturing. In addition to ECCO’s Dri-Tan water-saving technology, the ULT-TRN is fully PFC-free as we work toward reducing impact with each new collection. The result is a feature-rich hiker with a grippy Michelin outsole and our PHORENE midsole for all-day comfort, as we know customers are wearing outdoor footwear both on and off the trails”
— Erik Walcott, Head of Specialty Sales – Global, ECCO
“With outside participation rates on the rise the past few years we have seen more new entrants into the hiking category. We’ve seen participation rates on the rise for women, younger consumers and those that are new to the outdoors. New innovations in the category need to take this into consideration – how can we make our product more accessible and inclusive for all that want to experience the outside. The Circadia is a perfect example of this.”
— Keith Denny, Sr. Director, Product Management Outside Product, Keen
“We’re currently seeing great innovation when it comes to the merging of technology and high-performance features with everyday lifestyle boots. It’s especially important in cold weather boots that consumers have confidence in the product whether they are trekking across snow-covered fields or commuting to their job. We are continuously looking to rethink winter and innovate new ways to bring our proven technology to everyday users. Whether that be through our Inner Boot Systems, customized insulation thoughtfully chosen for each style, or slip-resistant rubber outsoles with maximized grip. Our expertise is brought into the boot at every chance, because while style is important, function will always come first in outdoor footwear.”
— Jessica Liut, Marketing Manager, Baffin
“In the outdoor boot category, it’s important to focus on key features to enhance design and introduce new innovations. With the recent uptick in demands for outdoor leisure due to the pandemic, there has been more focus on walking and hiking boots for men and women. In-demand features such as comfort, fit, performance, and durability are top of mind when designing an outdoor boot. To take it another step further, we look at breathability with four-way stretch lining and neoprene, durability in outsoles, cold weather performance, size and fit.”
— Karl Moehring, CEO, Washington Shoe Company
“At Forsake, we are seeing a shift away from the highly technical, single-purpose footwear that took off during the pandemic, and more towards practical and versatile options as customers upgrade their wardrobe and prepare for summer travel. But regardless of use case, our customers are looking for creative details, unique features, and material selections that offer comfort and originality.”
— Jake Anderson, Forsake Co-Founder, VP Weyco Group
Kodiak / Greb Classic Hike
This work/safety boot, set to launch in early Spring ’23, is a retro-styled worker in a waterproof hiker silhouette. It has a wrap-around rubber mud and toe guard and uses 100% recycled polyester mesh and laces. The boot has a Comfortzone Lite footbed, an oil and slip-resistant rubber outsole and a CSA and ASTM approved steel toe, and steel plate ESR/EH. MSRP $159.99.
Reebok / Trailgrip Work Boot
This athletic mid-cut worker has an active traction rubber lug pattern for grip and a MicroWeb lacing system that keeps the foot locked in with lateral stability. A MemoryTech Massage footbed adapts to the contours of the foot and an alloy toe and CushGuard Internal Met Guard meet or exceed ASTM F2413 safety standards. MSRP $135.
Wolverine / Floorhand Moc Toe
Built on the foundation of Wolverine’s top selling franchise, the Spring ’23 Floorhand Moc Toe features an iconic silhouette made for all aspects of the day. It has premium waterproof full-grain leather and a breathable membrane that wicks moisture. The rubber lug outsole offers grip and classic styling. MSRP $120.
Puma Safety / Yosemite Brown CTX Mid EH WP SR 6” boot
This work boot stands out with its outdoor features and off-road design. A hard-wearing, heat- and slip-resistant rubber outsole with mud-releasing properties coupled with the waterproof membrane of the upper make these boots ideal for use in construction sites. The boots also have a lightweight composite toe cap, and athletic features such as the IQ. Cell element in the heel area for shock absorption and energy return. MSRP $150.
Hoss Boot Company / Tikaboo-UL
The lightweight and waterproof Tikaboo work boot has a composite safety toe with extra depth for a roomier feel. The upper is full-grain soft tumbled leather with ballistic nylon. The boot has an EVA midsole and slip-resistant rubber outsole. It comes with a free second pair of fast rebound super cushion insoles. Hoss ships from Georgia, offering speedy delivery to East Coast accounts. Available in sizes: 6-12, 13, 14, 15 D(M) and W(2E). MSRP $145-$150.
Iron Age / Solidifier Romeo Work Boot
One of the latest additions to Iron Age’s Solidifier line is this Twin-Gore, pull-on boot (IA5070) that is stylish and hard-working. It features: ASTM F2413 Compliant Composite Toe Cap; Bootbed Memory Foam Footbed; Electrical Hazard Protection; Goodyear Welt Construction; and Ladder Latch Defined Heel. MSRP $145.
DieHard / Comet
The former Sears housebrand DieHard, now being made by Hoss Boot Co., which acquired the DieHard Footwear license in 2021, brings an iconic name back to store shelves with durable, tech-filled styles. The Comet work boot features: Composite toe; oiled nubuck leather; waterproof membrane with moisture wicking mesh; a removable full cushioned footbed; soft density EVA midsole and a slip-resistant ribber outsole. MSRP $124.
Skechers Work / Arch Fit Tarver
This waterproof boot features a lace-up leather, synthetic and mesh upper with a composite toe, removable Arch Fit insole and Goodyear Performance Outsole. It is ideal for standing and walking for extended periods of time. It is Composite Toe rated ASTM F2412/2413-2018 M I C for impact and compression resistance; Electrical Hazard (EH) - ASTM F2412/2413-2018; and its outsole delivers enhanced traction, stability, and durability.
Wrangler Footwear / RIGGS WORKWEAR Collection – 4” Work Square Moc Toe Lace Up
This Moc Toe workboot style for Fall ’22 features Nano Toe and has a Blend85 footbed made with 85% recycled foam. The footbeds also feature ecoTWEED Lining made from recycled plastic bottles. Plus, the boot’s sole is oil-and-slip resistant. MSRP $179.95.
Rieker / U0171-25
This Fall ’22 men’s outdoor boot is packed with features and benefits, part of the brand’s new R-Evolution line. A taller style, it is water-resistant and features a grip sole. It also has a removable, soft foam insole. R-Evolution styles from Rieker aim to bring new approaches in terms of design, manufacturing techniques and materials — “more spirited, more stylish, with a sporty reinterpretation.” MSRP $140.
Forsake / Sophia Lace
This Fall ’22 outdoor boot is made with high-quality full-grain leather and suede. It has a Hydroguard membrane to keep feet dry in wet conditions, and its lace-up style delivers an adjustable fit. A Peak-to-Pavement rubber outsole provides excellent traction on both street and trail, and a dual-density footbed provides comfort and support. MSRP $170.
KEEN Footwear / Circadia Mid Polar
This everyday hiker for winter weather offers all-day warmth and comfort. It is insulated, waterproof and grippy. It features 200g of KEEN.WARM insulation along with KEEN.DRY, a proprietary waterproof, breathable membrane that lets vapor out without letting water in. Plus, it has lightweight cushioning — KEEN LuftCore technology embeds a light, air-injected core into high-density foam for comfort that lasts all day. MSRP $155.
ECCO / ULT-TRN Waterproof Mid
An outdoor boot offering a modern, lightweight take on a leather hiking product, this Spring ’23 style has fully PFC-free construction and boasts a Michelin rubber outsole for multi-directional grip. It is made with a mix of oiled nubuck and nubuck leathers and a premium textile. A Phorene midsole gives it plenty of bounce. MSRP $200.
Baffin / High Park
Part of the brand’s new Downtown Collection, this Fall ’22 standout merges Baffin’s established technology with premium materials and a stylish silhouette. It is RWT North-ern Rated for the most diverse cold experiences, where both wet and icy conditions may be present. And its B-Tek Dry: Waterproof Breathable technology offers wet protection with increased breathability. It also has a Fixed-Fit multi-layer inner boot system for warmth, comfort and breathability. The boot has a high-rebound midsole and a slip-resistant outsole de-sign. MSRP $170.
Oboz / Katabatic
An outdoor performance boot boasting athletic styling, the Spring ’23 Katabatic also has plenty of on-trail capabilities. This lightweight hiker is designed for hikers looking for speed in a shoe that also provides the support, stability, protection, and performance of a hiking boot. A welded TPU heel cup wraps the foot for stability and protection while a welded TPU toe provides additional protection. Its rockered sole profile provides a smooth ride while the outsole provides exceptional grip and features a multi-directional lug pattern for superior acceleration and braking. MSRP$155 (Mid); $170 (B-Dry Mid).
Western Chief / Rambler Mid Realtree
A waterproof outdoor and work boot made with high-quality rubber, this Spring ’23 men’s style features insulated 5mm neoprene with breathable mesh lining and has a molded PU insole, lightweight EVA midsole and rubber outsole. It also has Ridgeflex action points for mobility and a WarmBuilt -20-degree cold rating. Made by the rain boot experts at Washington Shoe Company. MSRP $145.
TWISTED X 11” Tech X
This outdoor lifestyle boot for Fall ’22 has an 11” leatherTWX shaft, using 80% recycled leather. The brand’s Tech X boots bring CellStretch Comfort Technology to western boots for a traditional western package with modern comfort. And the Blend85 footbeds are made with 85% recycled foam and feature ecoTWEED Lining. MSRP $269.95.