How To Tell What's In Your Boots

Your work environment dictates that you and your employees need specific safety benefits in your work boots and it's time to go shopping.

Close up of Keen Boot
“ If you don't use an all-inclusive service like Lehigh CustomFit then you and they will head to the nearest store or start aimlessly searching online. ”

What looks like the perfect pair will jump off the shelf or screen. But how can you tell if this style has everything needed and is required to have? There are several ways. Let's start with the obvious ones first.

Packaging & Marketing Materials

In the store, most boots will be branded like NASCAR with hangtags and stickers highlighting all the bells and whistles of why it's better then the next one on the shelf. While these may seem like a bunch of wasted paper at first, they are important. Yes, you will most likely find the elegant, charming story of the brand itself but you should also find all the features and technologies within that footwear style. Since additional features increase the cost of the boot, most brands will be sure to let you know why a boot cost what it does, thus clearly indicating what's in it. If you are in a store that displays the box with the boot, some brands also include a helpful label somewhere on the outside or inside lid listing all the encompassing technologies. It's helpful to shop at a store that has a large selection for easy comparison.

Description & Technology Text

If you're shopping online - and research shows that around 78% of people have bought something online - then you'll need to pay attention to the description and technology text of each individual product. Reputable sites are full of quality information - and to be honest, if a site is a little lack in this area; it's probably not one from which to make your purchase. Just like a store, a site with a large selection for easy comparison is extremely useful and convenient. That's one of the reasons Lehigh CustomFit sites are so successful. And with continuous Free Shipping and Returns, the excuse about not knowing what size to order before trying it on is no longer relevant.

Online Reviews

This has become a powerful tool for a lot of online shoppers. It may not be an obvious place to look for boot specifications but it can be useful to know if what a brand claims about its product is actually true. For example, a boot may be labeled waterproof but many previous purchasers are stating that water does get in. It's helpful to line up the claimed technology with user experience.

ASTM Labels

In meeting the OSHA standard for protective toe footwear (29 CFR 1910.136(a)) the product must comply with ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) test methods. All footwear built to ASTM specifications must be labeled with appropriate safety feature marks on the inside or outside surface of the tongue, gusset, shaft or quarter lining in a 4-line format located inside a rectangle box. This is basically your cheat sheet for the main features of the boot. You've probably seen it when you're looking for the size of the shoe but maybe didn't know what all the marks or symbols meant. Below is what a sample tongue label in a safety toe boot might look like. Depending on the brand or manufacturer, it can vary with elements in different locations but all safety toe footwear will have the rectangle. Labels for non-safety toe boots will have an oval.

ASTM Label Explanation

At the top may be the brand logo with the model or style number and production date underneath it. Production date can be handy if you're wondering how old the boots are or have been sitting on the shelf or in the warehouse. If it includes a description this will be where waterproof and insulation will be listed if the boot has it. Directly beneath that is the rectangle box with the required ASTM markings in a 3 or 4 line format.

Line 1

ASTM F2413-18

This line identifies the ASTM standard. In this case the components meet or exceed the most recent revision of the protective or safety toe cap footwear performance requirements of ASTM F2418 issued in 2018.

Line 2

M  |  C

This line identifies the gender of the style. M (men's) or W (women's). It also indicates the impact (I) and compression (C) ratings. For reference, I means the toe cap can withstand 75 foot-pounds of impact, C means the toe cap can withstand 2500 pounds of pressure or compression.

Line 3 & 4

Mt   EH   PR

These 2 lines are used to indicate other protective qualities that may be in the boot such as Metatarsal protection (Mt), Electrical Hazard (EH), Puncture Resistance (PR) and Static Dissipative (SD).3

ASTM Label Explanation part 2
About the author
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Janelle Kinnaird

Janelle is the Director of Marketing for Lehigh CustomFit Managed Safety Footwear and Wellness Programs which is celebrating 100 years of providing innovative solutions.