Rigger boots got their name from the fact that they were issued to all the workers who were in charge of the offshore oil rigs in the North Sea.
They have become so popular that many manual workers now wear them as they offer great protection and comfortability.
This safety comes from the steel toe cap which protects the most fragile part of your foot from falling debris or walking on uneven surfaces. They typically come a third of the way up your leg to protect the ankle as well.
Moreover, they often come with loops to make it easier to put them on and a fur lining to protect the feet from cold weathers when working in winter months or night time.
As you can see, choosing a high quality pair of rigger boots is very important and can determine the difference between a near miss accident or a broken toe.
Rigger boots have been around for a long time and therefore have become somewhat of a fashionable footwear.
Unfortunately this means that there are quite a few options on the market that are more focused on fashion rather than practicality, which is why it’s important to ensure you’re choosing the right design.
We’ve found the best five pairs of rigger boots with practicality, safety and comfortability in mind and listed them below for you to look through.
BUILT TO WORK: Steel toe cap protects against impact from falling objects and against compression, giving 200 Joules of protection - equivalent to dropping 20kg from a height of 1m or a weight of 1.5 tonnes resting on the toe area
PROTECTION FROM BELOW: Steel midsole - a thin yet strong steel plate that runs the length of the sole and protects against objects penetrating from below and piercing your foot, such as nails, tacks, glass shards and more, that could otherwise cause a potentially serious injury
DURABILITY: Dual density PU/PU sole that is resistant to fuel oil, so it won't degrade, stain or retain grease that would otherwise cause slips and trips
These boots have beaten the competition in terms of ratings by a landslide, and it’s not difficult to see why. The toe is covered by a steel cap to prevent stubbing a toe or worse accidents in the workplace, and the boots are lined with fur to keep your feet warm and not suffering from freezing conditions.
Don’t worry about this making them harder to pull off though, as there is also a kick plate heel integrated inside the boot to allow easy removal after a long day’s wear.
Let’s talk about the exterior. This is made from leather and is water resistant to keep them effective in almost any weather conditions. This is particularly useful when working outside in the rainy season.
The sole is made of durable PU that is double the density of traditional PU soles, making it super shock absorbent so you can walk over really any terrain with minimal disturbance. The sole is also resistant to fuel and oil, meaning you can walk through this without worrying about slipping.
The sole also includes a steel midsole which protects the bottom of your foot from sharp debris you may find yourself walking over. Moreover it is anti-static to eliminate the danger of working on areas where electric charge can be found.
These rigger boots from Blackrock offer a number of safety features that offer the wearer ample protection while working, which is why these are the clear winners of the best rigger boots in our eyes.
Energy absorbing heel.
Versatile and protective soles.
Made from durable leather and comfortable fur lining.
Some users wish they were waterproof rather than water resistant.
Lining isn’t the most durable and may wear down in places.
The main feature that jumps out to us when we look at these rigger boots from DeWalt is the breathability. You can clearly see a patch on the side of the boot that is covered in small pinprick holes which are designed to keep a steady flow of air circulating through the boot and around the foot.
Moreover, the inner lining is made of Sympatex membrane which is both waterproof and breathable. There will be no hot feet with these boots!
The exterior is made from full grain leather to keep them both weather resistant and comfortable. You’re going to want your rigger boots to be both of these things as your experience is going to be made much less enjoyable if you only have one of these features.
Imagine a pair of super comfy boots, but as soon as it rains it’s like walking in a watery swamp – wouldn’t be pleasant, would it?
You’ll also be getting all round protection for your feet with a steel toe cap, steel midsole protection within the sole, and TPU heel support. This will allow you to walk around dangerous sites without a care in the world, creating a more positive experience and increasing your productivity.
Hypoallergenic and dust resistant
Five year warranty gives you great peace of mind
Some users claim it is more effective than painkillers
Apache has designed and constructed its rigger boots from leather and has fully waterproofed them to be effective and comfortable in any weather condition. This is a handy feature when working near water or outside.
Of course, there is an included steel toe cap inside the boots as well as midsole steel protection to keep a suit of armour around your whole foot. What’s more is that there is actually a TPU heel guard and padding around the ankle to add much more support to people who use these as work boots.
The outer sole is made of PU material making it very durable and reliable. It is also anti-static to give you peace of mind when working in dangerous areas where you could be exposed to electricity.
Inside the boot is a lining which is both comfortable and warm but still breathable. No one wants sweaty feet, and Apache has strived to fix this problem while not compromising the wearers experience.
Other notable features are the kick off heel grip which will allow you to remove the boots easily within seconds, the anti-scuff toe guard which will keep your boots sturdy for many years while also giving you an added layer of protection for your toes, and the hook loops which can be used to pull on the boots easily.
Breathable and comfortable inner.
Many areas of protection in place to act as a suit of armour around your foot.
These rigger boots from Rock Fall make a statement with the bright tan colour for the main body and the clashing black sole. Don’t fear, this questionable design choice won’t affect their efficiency and protection properties, but you may get some double takes.
Anyway, these boots are made from durable leather with a comfortable fur lining. Inside the construction of the boot is a steel toe cap and a stainless steel midsole protection barrier. This is located within the gun rubber sole which is both sturdy and offers great traction when you’re walking over rough surfaces.
The outsole is also double the density of other rigger boots on the market and therefore offers much more shock absorption. This is helpful when you’re working around a lot of debris and sharp materials, such as rocks. The dual density sole works alongside the midsole protection to make you feel as though you’re walking on air.
The sole reaches all the way up to the top of the toe and covers the entire front of the boot, giving you extra protection against scuffing your new kicks. Moreover, the sole also reaches all the way up the heel to offer support in taking the shoes off, making these boots incredibly convenient and quick to remove.
Dual density rubber sole to absorb twice the amount of shock.
Pull on loops to add to the convenience.
Fur lining to protect your feet and ankles from harsh weather.
No ankle support.
Rubber sole isn’t attached to the leather as securely as it could be.
Rock Fall RF70 is a manufacturer of workwear used in all sorts of industries in the UK, so it stands to reason that their rigger boots would be made of the same high quality that the rest of their workwear is created with.
The outer shell of the boots is made from a Waterproof and breathable Activ-Tex membrane with protective fibreglass toecap and composite anti-penetration flexi-midsole and FORCE10 scuff cap. Just because you need to be safe, does not mean you can’t be comfortable!
Another rigger boot design with the handy mid sole protection and steel toe cap, these boots by Rock Fallare an excellent choice for people working in tough conditions who need extra protection for their feet.
The rubber sole is constructed with FORCE10 solid nitrile rubber, making it both secure to the boot and easier to resole the shoe should you need to. It is also shock absorbing to prevent you feeling too many bumps and cracks beneath your feet, as well as preventing you slipping thanks to the high grip.
Other notable features are the waterproof lining inside the boot, an anti-static and absorbent heel, and loops to pull the boots on quickly. Moreover, there is a side pocket for small valuables or tools, such as a wedding ring or nails.
A heel guard is added to protect your feet from all sides.
With any boot, the sole has to be durable and sturdy to be considered high quality. You wouldn’t want to buy a pair of shoes only for the soles to wear through within a matter of months, would you? Rigger boots need a durable sole as well – it’s vital.
They need to be slip resistant with lots of traction and preferably made of a material such as rubber. Oil is the most common substance for rigger boots to slip on, so look for a design that counteracts this.
Moreover, some soles are denser than others. This can increase the shock absorption so if you’re going to be walking on uneven ground all day, this could be particularly helpful for you. Others offer anti-static properties which keep you safe from electrical dangers.
As you can see, different rigger boot soles often offer different features, so decide which ones will benefit you the most.
The protection your rigger boots may be the most important factor to consider when looking for a new pair, as you may as well wear some trainers if you don’t need a lot of feet protection.
Steel toe cap
Steel toe caps are very popular for boots to protect the most vulnerable part of your feet – the toes. While working in hazardous settings, you’re more likely to stub your toes on rubble, and the toe is the most prominent area for tools or debris to accidentally fall on. This is why it’s very important to choose rigger boots with a high quality steel toe cap.
The midsole of your foot also needs protecting, especially if the soles aren’t dual density. Midsole protection is often made of steel and stops sharp objects from being able to dig through the sole into your foot. This not only makes the shoes more comfortable when walking on sharp objects, it also prevents nasty accidents from occurring, so make sure you choose a pair of rigger boots with midsole protection.
Heel and Ankle
The heel is not the most susceptible part of the foot so heel protection isn’t as vital as toe or midsole protection, but it doesn’t hurt to have some just in case.
Similarly, ankle support isn’t mandatory for rigger boots, but it is very helpful and beneficial. Luckily most rigger boots on the market include ankle and heel support without too much extra cost, so we’d suggest choosing a design with this rather than without.
Much like the sole, the material of the boot is very important when it comes to durability and reliability. Let’s look at the material of the exterior and interior of rigger boots:
Most rigger boots are made of leather as it is the most beneficial option. Full grain leather is the most durable type so you should look for boots made out of this. Leather is thick and sturdy so it won’t rip or deteriorate quickly. However, high quality leather is also breathable, flexible and comfortable which makes it the optimal choice for boots that are going to be worn for long periods of time.
The interior of traditional rigger boots was fur lining, and there are still a number of fur lined rigger boots on the market today. These are most beneficial for people working in cold temperatures, outside or at nighttime. Having said this, fur is not as durable and therefore has been known to wear down quicker.
On the other hand an inner made from fabric can be more durable and last longer, however it won’t be as warm or breathable as fur.
Water resistant rigger boots are much more desirable than not, because they’re most commonly used outside where there is potential wet weather. Leather cannot be 100% waterproof because of how porous it is, so you’re going to want some rigger boots that have been treated to be as water resistant as they can be.
You should also look for a waterproof inner to keep the extra water out that may have come through the leather.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are rigger boots used for?
Rigger boots are used to protect the wearers feet from all sorts of dangers on worksites, such as electric hazards, sharp debris, falling objects and oil spills. They’re particularly durable and often offer protection to every area of the foot.
Why are rigger boots banned?
Rigger boots are only banned on some construction sites, and it is the construction company’s decision whether to ban them or not. Traditional rigger boots offer no ankle support or midsole protection, so they are banned from some sites to prevent injuries such as rolled ankles, sprains or nasty penetrating wounds from sticking up nails and screws.
Having said this, as you can see from our list above, many new rigger boots offer great ankle support and midsole protection for the wearer, so it stands to reason that new models are more widely accepted on construction sites.
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