Words: Cassandra Stern
Photos: Duluth Trading Co., CAT Footwear, Iron Age, Keen Footwear, Red Wing Shoe Company, ljpat
On an average workday, masons can end up spending up to eight, 10, or even 12 hours working on their feet. Lifting, bending, mixing, and climbing, not to mention carrying yourself and your tools to and from different areas of the jobsite all day long. The rigorous physical demands of masonry work can take a toll on the entire body, but while workers often remember to stock up on PPE and quality gear, high-quality footwear and socks are sometimes glossed over.
Your feet are some of the most important tools in your toolbox, which means they need proper care, maintenance, and sturdy well-fitting equipment to remain in good condition, especially over time. Unfortunately, with so many different brands and sizes of workwear socks and boots available today, each offering different features, it can be difficult to determine what the best options are for you.
That being said, that also means there are plenty of options for you to choose from and find your best fit. If you are looking to replace some old worn-out boots or those work socks with holes, you will want to peruse this list of high-quality options that have recently caught our attention here at MASONRY Magazine.
Toughest Sock: Duluth Trading Company All-Season Performance Boot Socks
Duluth Trading Company’s All-Season Performance Boot Socks may have been designed with the construction worker in mind. They’re said to be comfortable, durable, and feature a high-tech blend of moisture-controlling polypropylene, tough nylon, and comfortable spandex, these socks feel great on the feet and even better in boots. If you are looking for something thick and warm that will not overheat your feet, then the Duluth Trading Company All-Season Performance Boot Socks may be for you. These socks are fully cushioned and extra reinforced for a tight fit and comfort that lasts. There is also a rib-knit cuff to keep your socks from riding down. Available at https://www.duluthtrading.com/ in various sizes and colors for $16.95.
Best Value: Carhartt Force Performance Crew Sock- 3 Pack
A 3 pack of the Carhartt Force Performance Crew Socks works out to less than $4.00 a pair, which is a great deal when you consider how many wears per pair you will get with your socks. These socks are said to be designed to wick moisture and sweat away from the skin, the crew-style socks are meant to be breathable enough for summer and warm enough for cold winter days.
Force Performance Crew Socks are made of sweat-wicking yarn and featured reinforced toes and heels, arches, and ankles for added durability and support. Size and color options available at https://www.carhartt.com/.
Biggest Splurge: Red Wing Merino Wool Socks
When it comes to working in the winter months, the comfort and warmth of wool cannot be overstated. If you work in a cooler environment, you need the added layers and protection of high-quality materials to stay safe on the jobsite. Red Wing’s Merino wool socks are a heavy-weight blend of wool, nylon, and Lycra/Spandex for fit, and feature a pile cushion weave construction from cuff to toes for additional warmth and protection from the cold.
If you’re looking for something to keep you warm and comfortable this winter, be sure to include this item in your search for new socks. At $16.99 these are a bit pricier than the other socks on this list, but for more information check out the sizes and colors available at https://www.redwingshoes.com/.
Toughest Boot: Caterpillar Men’s Excavator XL 8″ Waterproof Thinsulate™ Composite Toe Work Boot
The Caterpillar Men’s Excavator XL 8″ Waterproof Thinsulate™ Composite Toe Work Boot features iTechnology construction, Slip-Resistant rubber outsole, composite safety toe, and squeegee tread providing 360 Protection for any mason that wears them. Additionally, the EaseHD heavy-duty comfort footbed is said to make standing, lifting, crouching, and bending for hours on end feel better on the body, and the ultra-durable rubber toe bumper allows for extended wear and performance. Insulated, waterproof, and available in a wide range of sizes, you can learn more about the Excavator XL at https://www.catfootwear.com/ for $185.00.
Best Value: Iron Age IA5501 Backstop Boot
The IA5501 Backstop Boot (like all entries on this list) meets all standards and regulations for safety footwear. Featuring a steel toe, Scuff Tough Hi-Abrasion Heel and Toe areas, and full-grain leather upper, these boots are carefully designed with extra reinforcements against rough wear and tear. Comfort is also key, and ARZ padding, dual-layered memory foam, and a padded collar are said to ensure your feet feel their best throughout your workday. Anti-odor technology is another feature of these work boots. Available for $120.99 at https://ironagefootwear.com/ in a wide variety of size options.
Biggest Splurge: Men’s Timberland Pro® Work Summit 8-Inch Waterproof Composite-Toe Work Boot
The Timberland Pro® Work Summit 8-Inch Waterproof Composite-Toe Work Boot is what some may consider a luxury option. Designed to be flexible, cushioned, has a shock-absorbing Step Propel™ footbed with energy return and a fiberglass shank for added support. The rubber outsoles are heat-, slip-, oil-, and abrasion-resistant, and the moisture-wicking lining features added antimicrobial treatment for odor control. Additionally, the Pro Work Summit Work Boot comes in premium full-grain waterproof leather. Whether you are in the market for a new pair of boots or just want to get more information on these boots be sure to check them out at https://www.timberland.com/ for $225.00.
Best Women’s Work Sock: Caterpillar Women’s All-Season Work Sock- 3 Pack
The All-Season Work Socks are aptly named and are precisely for just that- all seasons. Light and breathable for summer but thick and warm enough to keep toes warm in the chilly winter season, these socks are said to be tough, dependable, and comfortable enough for all-day wear, six days a week. They have reinforced toes and heels and are said they are built to last and offer a 3 pack option. To discover more about Caterpillar Women’s All-Season Work Socks go to https://catworkwear.com/ for $10.99.
Best Women’s Work Boot: KEEN Women’s 6” Seattle Waterproof Boot Aluminum Toe
While there are limited options available for women in the trades, companies like KEEN are quickly making it easier and more affordable for female masons who need a new pair of workboots. The KEEN Seattle Work Boot was actually designed with help and input from women working in construction and is specifically created for the shape and size of a woman’s foot.
Proprietary KEEN.DRY technology is said to keep feet dry yet cool, and asymmetrical safety toes can provide an additional layer of protection against injury while on the jobsite. Best of all, the leather upper is waterproof and looks great while you work. The soles are heat, oil, and slip-resistant and feature a “catch in place” design for additional safety. These boots retail in a variety of sizes at https://www.keenfootwear.com/ for $160.00.
Remember, your best line of defense against troublesome work injuries is a good offense. This means always wearing proper PPE, dressing for the weather, and maintaining your workwear so you can stay as warm (or as cool) as you can while you work. With thousands of workplace-related injuries reported every year, it is vital to do what you can to protect yourself while you work. This means taking the time to research and make the best decision possible for your unique sock and work boot needs.