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Buying guide for best Carhartt boots

Whether you’re looking for tough boots for hiking or protective footwear for work, the impressive selection available from Carhartt boots is sure to be on your radar. This popular and trusted brand has been around since 1889, and its current choices combine the traditional values of leather craftsmanship with the latest in comfort and safety technology.

With more than 80 styles in the current Carhartt boot range, which extends from lightweight sneakers to full-length Wellingtons, the only challenge you face is picking the right pair for your needs. We’ve spent time looking at the entire collection so we can help you with that decision.

Our recommendations above highlight many of the advantages that Carhartt boots offer and cover a variety of purposes and prices, underlining the quality and choice available. In the following buying guide, we look at materials and construction with a particular focus on the safety aspects of Carhartt’s well-known work boots. We also answer a number of common questions.

Carthartt men's boots1
The long-lasting comfort and foot health provided by Carhartt boots are underlined by the company’s acceptance by the American Podiatric Medical Association.

Key considerations

Materials and construction

Upper: The majority of uppers on Carhartt boots are made of high-quality oiled leather. The leather is treated so that the oil penetrates deeply into the structure, making the boots tough but supple. You don’t need to break in Carhartt boots: they’re ready to go straight out of the box.

Some Carhartt work sneakers and casual boots contain nylon and Lycra for breathability and stretch. A few of the Wellingtons contain Carhartt’s specially developed Carstrong reinforced fabric to reduce weight.

Sole: Some Carhartt soles are made of polyurethane (PU), an increasingly popular material that reduces the weight of the boots while still providing excellent traction. Polyurethane can be difficult to glue, so a strong stitching called “welt construction” is used.

A variety of rubber sole designs are available (we look at the safety aspects below). These are attached using advanced adhesives that prevent separation while allowing the flex and free movement that distinguish Carhartt boots.

On the inside, Carhartt boots offer several trademarked features:

  • Lining: A special lining wicks away sweat to keep your feet dry in difficult conditions.
  • Cushioning: Specially engineered footbeds offer maximum support for your arches so your feet don’t get tired and uncomfortable. Some of the work boots have an added layer of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) and polyurethane to increase cushioning and shock-absorbing ability.
  • Warmth: Many Carhartt boots are lined with Thinsulate or Carhartt’s own Lighfire fabric for extra warmth, so you don’t need thick winter socks that can chafe and cause blisters.
  • Waterproofing: The boots may also have a waterproof, breathable inner lining that allows air to circulate around your feet while keeping them dry.

Don’t be tempted to choose a size too big so you can wear thick socks. To maximize comfort, always buy the correct size. Carhartt offers insulated boots if you need more warmth. You can also wear regular thermal socks. For severe conditions, choose boot insulators or boot blankets.



Work boots

Although Carhartt offers an extensive range of casual boots and light but durable hiking boots, it’s perhaps best known for work boots. That’s not surprising because the company’s standard of foot protection is exceptional.

Toe: Several kinds of safety toes are offered, each meeting the ASTM F2413-18 standard for impact protection demanded by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This requires the boots to withstand a minimum 75-pound force. Should a heavier impact be experienced, a 1-inch clearance gap between your toe and the safety material allows for considerable compression while still protecting your feet. The material is either steel or light but super-strong carbon composite, both of which have advantages. (See the FAQ section below.)

Heel: Several boots also feature thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) heel guards to support and protect your ankle while still allowing flex.

Sole: Many work boot soles feature Carhartt’s patented Rugged Flex design, which is hard wearing without restricting natural foot movement and allows for excellent grip in different traction conditions. That’s particularly valuable when you’re moving from steel ladders or scaffolding to wet concrete, tarmac, or mud, for example. The sole is also highly resistant to oil and other common chemicals (though you’ll need to check the specifications if you’re working with acids).

Puncture resistance: Another impressive feature of many Carhartt work boots is the puncture-resistant layer sandwiched between the upper and the sole. In line with ASTM 2413-18 requirements, this must be able to withstand a 270-pound force without visual penetration. Interestingly for fishermen and boat owners, it must also show no signs of corrosion if subjected to a 5% salt solution for a minimum of 24 hours.

Conductive: Carhartt boots that are rated ASTM 2413-18 EH are recognized by OSHA as conductive (Cd) footwear, meaning they provide protection from static electricity discharge. This dramatically reduces the chances of sparks in areas where there are flammable liquids, volatile chemicals, or explosives (although all other necessary precautions should of course be taken). They also provide electrical protection of up to 18,000 volts (under dry conditions).

Carthartt mens boots2
Cement construction uses high-spec adhesives containing elastic polymers to join the boot upper to the sole. It’s widely recognized as the best way to attach rubber soles like those found on most Carhartt boots.


Shoe brush: Cobbler’s Choice 100% Horsehair Shoe Brush
Natural horsehair offers the perfect compromise of stiffness and flex so you can clean your boots effectively without scuffing the leather. This German-made boot brush has a concave wooden handle with side grooves for a sure grip for every hand size.

Boot scrubber: JobSite Extra-Wide Boot Scrubber
Whether you’ve been working or hiking, you don’t want to track dirt into your car or house. This heavy-duty boot scrubber is the answer. It folds down to fit in your trunk yet can accommodate the widest Carhartt boot. Bristles are secured in high-density plastic sides that won’t crack or rot like wooden ones can.

Carhartt boot prices

Usually in our product reviews we offer guidance on prices in the inexpensive, mid-range, and expensive categories, but that isn’t really appropriate with Carhartt boots. The care and attention that go into making them mean each boot is a premium item, so there really aren’t any “cheap” Carhartt boots. Prices start at around $110.

However, because those standards of excellence are applied throughout the entire range, there aren’t really any expensive Carhartt boots either. Most are in the $120 to $150 range, and Wellingtons only exceed that simply because they use more high-quality, oil-tanned leather. Even then you shouldn’t have to pay more than $190.

We don’t recommend mink oil as a leather boot conditioner. Not only are mink farming methods questionable at best, but the softness soon wears off and can actually harden leather over time.



With the exception of a couple of models in Carhartt’s sneaker range, all the boots have leather uppers. The oil tanning makes them very durable, but some occasional maintenance will help your boots last even longer.

  • Brush off dried mud. Remove dried mud and dirt using a horsehair shoe brush. You can use a little warm water if necessary. For tough marks, use a foam leather cleaner.
  • Let the boots dry naturally. Don’t put them in front of a fire or radiator.
  • Condition the leather. Use a sponge or soft cloth to apply a thin coat of natural leather conditioner or natural boot oil.
  • Spray on a protectant. Once the boots are dry, apply a weather-protector spray if required. This provides an additional water barrier and helps repel stains.
Carthartt men's boots3
If you’re working in areas where you might step on nails, glass, or other puncture hazards, choose a Carhartt boot that has its Swen Flex puncture-resistant plate.


Q. Should I choose Carhartt work boots with a composite toe or steel toe?

A. All Carhartt safety boots with safety toes meet the OSHA safety standard ASTM F2413-18 and the Canadian CSA standard, so to that extent they all provide the same high level of protection. The choice of material is often a personal one.

Steel toes have been around for generations. They are immensely strong and long proven. Their drawback is that they are heavy, and the steel conducts temperature better than other materials, so they’re more likely to be uncomfortable in extreme cold or heat than composites. However, they’re often required by employers in job specifications, which effectively makes up your mind for you.

Composite toes are lighter than steel toes, and that can have an impact if you’re moving around all day. They also don’t conduct electricity, which may be a factor depending on the type of work you do.

Q. Are Carhartt boots waterproof?

A. It depends on the type. All Carhartt boots offer some degree of water resistance, but some are better than others. Look for the Storm Defender label or description that tells you there’s a waterproof, breathable membrane inside the boot. It keeps water out but lets your feet breathe, thus reducing perspiration and providing long-term comfort.

Q. Can Carhartt boots protect me from electric shocks?

A. Yes, if you choose a pair that meet the ASTM 2413-18 EH safety standard (the EH stands for “electrical hazard”). Boots with this designation must be able to withstand 18,000 volts at 60 hertz for 1 minute, with no current flow or leakage over 1 milliampere in dry conditions. They also protect against static electricity.


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