The Work Boots Glossary

The Work Boots Glossary

When you’re on the job, feeling comfortable and safe in your work boots is top priority. We want to be sure you make the most well-informed purchase possible, which is why we've compiled a list of commonly used terms to ensure you understand exactly what you're stepping into. Whether you're researching a new boot or simply want to learn more about the workwear industry, this glossary has it all.

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alloy toe:
A protective guard located in the toe box of the boot or shoe to protect from crush and impact injury. The guard is composed of alloy, a combination of two or more metals mixed together, as opposed to a solid metal-like steel.

A shoe or boot designed to fit to the natural shape of the foot. Provides greater stability and comfort to the wearer.

An acronym for American National Standards Institute, which is a not-for-profit organization that oversees the creation, issue and use of thousands of rules and guidelines that impact businesses in a variety of markets including construction, agriculture and energy.

An agent that kills or inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria and fungi. Allows footwear to stay fresh and odor-free longer.

antiqued leather:
Leather that is dyed with one or more colors over another to create an aged or worn appearance.

American Society for Testing and Materials is an organization that tests and rates safety footwear into categories such as compression and impact resistance.

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brush-off leather:
Leather that is coated with an external layer of color then brushed off with a burnishing wheel for a richer, worn finish.

buffalo leather:
Leather made from the hide of buffalo—known for its distinct rustic look and feel as compared to cowhide leather.

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Patented, non-woven synthetic fabric used primarily as lining for shoes and boots. Designed to increase breathability, moisture-resistance and avoid abrasion.

A layer of material, often leather, found at the top of the boot. Usually padded or cushioned for extra support for the ankle or lower leg.

composite toe:
A hard synthetic plate found in the toe box of the boot or shoe to protect from crush or impact injury.

A brand-name, heavy-duty nylon utilized in many products.

Spikes attached to the bottom outsole of a boot to provide traction in ice and snow.

crunch leather:
Leather that is highly compressed before drying to create a rugged and original texture and pattern.

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deer tanned:
Leather manufactured and processed with deer hide.

doubled stitched:
A sewing technique that uses two seams instead of one when sewing together leather boots and shoes for a more reinforced and secure stitch.

Dynamic Suspension System:
Technology that creates a thin cushion of air in the footbed of the shoe or boot, causing the cushion to adjust and shift with your foot as you walk for increased comfort. Often seen in Rockport Works products.

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electrical-hazard safe:
All boots that include electrical hazard protection have been approved by either the U.S Occupational and Safety Administration, American National Standards Institute or the American Society for Testing Materials to help reduce the risk of electric shock or charge in the workplace.

electrostatic dissipative (ESD):
Technology found in certain boots and shoes that reduces the risk of static shock or build up in the individual wearer and the footwear itself. Optimal for work in electrical hazard work environments. Also referred to as “static dissipative.”

Ethylene vinyl acetate is a polymer often known as foam rubber. Provides extra padding and a shock absorber for the heel of the foot.

Expansion Fit Seam:
A built-in feature of many Rocky boots that expands the seam to help you easily slip in and out of the boot. It closes once the foot is securely in—making it unnoticeable during use.

Small metal or plastic holes that are woven through with the lacing of the boot or shoe.

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The inner part of the shoe that runs under the bottom of the foot. Also referred to as the insole.

full-grain leather:
Leather that has not been sanded, buffed or extensively altered leading to its use. Includes increased durability and breathability due to its minimal treatment and preparation of the hide. Considered one of the highest quality forms of leather.

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Goodyear welt construction:
A traditional manufacturing method that fastens a leather, linen or synthetic strip to the upper and sole for a secure build. Allows the shoe or boot to be re-soled repeatedly for a longer lifespan.

A patented, waterproof, windproof and breathable membrane featured in several work boot brands.

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The part of the boot attached to the back of the sole. Comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials and often includes added support or shock-absorbing features.

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The layer of material between the foot and outsole or bottom of the shoe. Forms the inner base of the shoe. Also referred to as the footbed.

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A style of boot that resembles those worn by lumber workers.

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metatarsal guard:
Protective material that is strapped, either externally or internally, to footwear to prevent crush injury or severe impacts. Often made from steel, plastic or aluminum. Also can protect against sharp objects puncturing the bottom of the boot, although not specifically designed for puncture protection.

The layer of material between the outsole and insole of the boot. Often filled with cushioning or support.

moisture wicking:
Material designed to pull moisture away from the skin to prevent odor and excessive sweat.

Confirms metatarsal-protective footwear is laboratory tested and approved.

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High-grade cattle leather that is sanded or buffed to produce a smooth, suede-like texture.

A synthetic, silky material with a variety of uses including flexible yet tough lining in boots.

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oil and chemical resistant:
Footwear that prevents damage or direct contact with possibly harmful substances found on the jobsite. Often rubber or rubber-like material (see individual brand for specifications).

Refers to orthopedic insole placed in footwear for enhanced stability and comfort.

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A series of small holes punched into the outer lining of the shoe for ventilation or decorative purposes.

Polyurethane is a synthetic material used as an alternative to leather. Considered more flexible, durable and lighter than most standard leathers.

A laceless boot—often including straps for extra grip—that only requires the wearer to slip in and pull on his/her footwear.

puncture resistant:
Material that covers the exterior of the boot or shoe designed to protect from forceful and/or sharp impacts against the shoe. Often built from tightly woven fabric or small, ceramic plates in the fabric coating.

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safety toe:
A steel or composite guard located in the toe of the boot or shoe to protect from crush and impact injury.

A metal or composite plate located in the sole of the boot. Designed to help workers stand on their feet longer, especially on narrow pegs or bars. Also protects against sharp objects puncturing the bottom of the boot.

Shock Mitigation System:
A 5.11 Tactical brand-exclusive technology that utilizes several materials and footwear technology to create all-around support for high-impact activity.

slip resistant:
Footwear with an outsole or bottom that provides traction or grip on slick surfaces caused by oil, water or other chemical substances.

static dissipative:
Technology found in certain boots and shoes that reduces the risk of static shock or build up in the individual wearer and the footwear itself. Optimal for electrical hazard work environments. Also referred to as “electrostatic dissipative.”

steel toe:
A metal guard constructed from steel that is located in the toe of the boot or shoe to protect from crush and impact injury.

strobel lasted:
Footwear constructed with an inner sock-lining along the footbed of the shoe.

A type of leather with a raised, napped finish. Often considered less durable yet softer than standard leather.

Any non-leather or “man-made” material.

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Lightweight, insulation technology found in the inner lining of some footwear. Provides inner warmth to the individual without adding extra bulk or weight.

Thermoplastic Urethane is a plastic material injected to give support to the midfoot.

The patterning or layout of the sole of the shoe. Often designed to increase traction and grip to the ground.

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The upper part of the shoe, not including the sole. Often made from leather or synthetic material.

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A durable, non-slip outsole designed for wet or difficult terrain.

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waterproof leather:
Leather specifically designed to prevent the intake of water.

A style of boot based on hunting and outdoor wear of 19th century British aristocracy.

A strip of leather or other material stitched into a shoe between the sole and the upper.

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