After 8 years in the Automotive field, I have determined there is no better tool to own than a good pair of work shoes. Yes, I am being completely serious. Nothing worse than sore feet. Ok, maybe there is.. but I've been on the search for a good pair of work shoes my entire career turning wrenches and finally I stumbled upon a decent set.
Without a good set of kicks, you might come home with hurting feet after being on them for 8 hours while walking miles back and forth to your toolbox and parts department.
Seems like I have tried every shoe on the shelves at some point. Lets just put this out there. Wearing boots at work is somewhat of a discomfort for me. Boots don't bother me, but in the automotive shop environment I feel they are a bit cumbersome. In my line of work I could be tearing down a 6.7L Powerstroke and then upside down under the dash of a MKZ. I need a versatile shoe that offers protection.
You and I may have different work shoe expectations, but my requirements are:
Steel or Composite Toe
Slip & Oil Resistant
Lightweight & Comfortable
That list is in no particular order, but that is what I look for. I know I realistically haven't tried every work shoe out there. I have tried several cheaper shoes with unsatisfactory results. As far as cheaper shoes go, I had decent results from the Diehard Jupitor 2 from Kmart. At $29 each plus a buy one get one deal, I felt I couldn't go wrong. The drawback of these shoes was they did not hold up at all. Within a single month, they would be worn out enough on the bottom to start to be uncomfortable. Wearing it felt heavy and clunky.
Once you step into the mid tier stuff I did have some better luck. I went through a few Sketchers work shoes. They featured an alloy toe that felt much lighter than the cheapy mentioned above. The best thing about them was the memory foam bottom pads that felt so comfortable. That blessing was short lived, about 2 months. The bottom pad is permanently attached and wore out much faster than the shoe. The last one I recently picked up had an odd pattern on the bottom of the shoe like a grater board. Fine dirt particles would get stuck at work and would deposit later all over my wood floor as I walked on it, but those rubber flaps wore out from abrasion.
Finally, I decided to shell out some serious dough and I am so glad that I did. I tried on a pair of Timberland Pro's at the store and fell immediately in love that I bought them on the spot. Thank god for credit cards. One of the few shoes in the store that come with a 30 day comfort guarantee direct from the manufacturer, the pair I picked up is the Timberland Pro Powertrain ESD.
All I can say is "Perfection!" They sport every feature I seek plus a few others like electrical static discharge protection. When you put these bad boys on, it feels so light and comfortable you will swear you're wearing a Nike snicker. I'm not so sure I will ever buy a different brand of work shoes again. I personally recommend and urge you to go try on a set of these. For reference, the size I settled on was the same size I wear in the Nike's.
I will continue to update this article as I wear these shoes in, but as it stands, I'd give them 5-stars. So I repeat myself - best tool I have purchased!
UPDATE:: 7 months later... 04/11/2017. The shoes haven't held up as great as I had hoped. I ended up having to buy a pair of performance Timberland insoles because the original insoles wore out after about 4 months. Those insoles were more comfortable than the original ones so they added a bit of life to the shoe. The rubberized soles still provide excellent anti-slip properties and do not seem to have wore out one bit. Most of my work shoes wear a pattern on the soles as if I need an alignment, but these stayed straight. The one negative I would have to give them is that the mesh material on the top of the shoes is not very durable. Once when I was using a torch, a molten strand burnt a good chunk of mesh off. The other shoe got caught on an exhaust pipe laying on the floor and ripped a clean hole through. I have attached a picture for your viewing pleasure.
Overall, I'd give these a buy rating for sure. These shoes were very comfortable even as they wore out. They don't vent very well, the top mesh isn't durable, but the soles are amazing and the insoles are replaceable. Continue on for another shoe review..