One of the toughest and most long-wearing CSA-rated rubber for industry work is the Cofra THERMIC rubber boot. Where other boots from 'big box stores' wear out within mere months, the Thermic rubber work boot endures. Rated to minus 56 degree Fahrenheit and able to withstand immersion in solvents (such as gasoline!) that will destroy other boots, these boots will long outlive their nearest competition.
All Steel Toed Rubber Boots Are Not Created Equal
I am very tough on boots in the workplace. I have worn-out five pair of rubber-soled work boots in my first 11 months at my current job. In fairness, I will state that the first pair were nearly 8 years old when I brought them back into service but they had only been worn initially for about six months before changing jobs, and were no longer required so they entered 'retirement.'
Steel-toed leather lace-up work shoes with a CSA-rating for impact resistance were mandated. But in my current job, the leather did not fare so well in the wet and hazardous environment where liquid sanitizing chemical on the floor is a constant presence. The rubber-like soles absorbed solvents and became soggy, and the stitching began to degrade until one day the entire bottom of the work shoes came off.
Thus started my sojourn to find the perfect water-resistant all-rubber boot that meets all the requirements for safety as established by OSHA, the Occupational Hazard and Safety Administration (s. 1910.136 Foot Protection)
Rubber Steel-Toed Outdoor Winter Boots
I work in a refrigerated facility, so boots that are insulated are required or at least, highly recommended.
I tried several brands of standard off-the-shelf winter boots from 'big box stores' such as WalMart, Canadian Tire and Mark's Work Wearhouse. Although these boots are without a doubt effective for the environment that they were designed (outdoor winter snows, etc.) they all proved to be ineffective in my job. Each brand of boot I tried would last no more than two months at best.
Soles on these Rubber Work Boots Wear Out Too Quickly
Baffin makes rubber boots with CSA-rated steel toes, but our abrasive floor proved to be too much for these boots. Within one month, most of the tread was worn away and the sole was smooth and slippery.
Using my handheld Dremel rotary tool, I gouged new tread into the soles, twice! Each set of new tread would be worn way within two or three weeks until (see image above) the abrasive wear broke-through and revealed the puncture-resistant protective steel plate. -These boots were now trash.
Another pair of boots, same brand but different style and supplier, suffered a similar fate and again, lasted just over two months before the tread was completely worn away. Our anti-slip abrasive floors were proving to be quite a challenge for my footwear!
My fourth pair of boots on their second day of use suffered a demise that is not really a fault of the boot but of the hazards of my job; I stepped on a nail that protruded from the side of a wooden pallet.
The nail, a spike really, -entered the boot near the toe-cap and passed between my toes and stopped when it hit the inside of the steel toe cup, barely missing impaling my toes!
Upon withdrawing my foot I examined the holes in my sock (and noticed that the passage of the spike was bloodless, just barely slicing the skin between my toes,) -but now the boot now leaked when I stepped in any standing water or solvent. These boots were retired.
Cofra THERMIC Work Boots
I decided to stop buying these $50 - $70 boots that were only lasting about two months and buy some super-boots from a supplier I learned about from some co-workers. They directed me to boots by Cofra, specifically, a model called THERMIC.
These boots are expensive at nearly $150.00 (tax incl.) but keep in mind that I had already spent roughly $60 on average for five previous pair of workshoes that only lasted about 2-months each. Co-workers tell me that this brand should last a year or more, based upon their experience.
So in late January of this year, I bought probably the last pair of work boots I shall need for at least the next year.
Look at the tread of these boots! They look like off-road tires for some SUV!
More than just tough-looking, these boots have a moulded footbed that your foot conforms to and are very comfortable. While I have never worn Birkenstock (1) shoes or liners, this is what the contoured Thermic footbed reminds me of. The nitrile rubber is very anti-slip and so far, has proven to be very wear-resistant.
Thermic Work Boots, Now Over Three Months Old and Still Practically New!
Showing just very minor treadwear (the boots were heavily cleaned to remove soils and debris for this photo) on the outer rear edges of the heel and forward edge, the tread of these boots are holding up quite well.
The anti-shock soles with thermal insulating ability with non-metallic puncture resistant plate means that I can easily wear regular socks in the refrigerated environment of my workplace. My feet are not cold and I still have protection against puncture from nails or other hazards.
The non-metal components of the boot (toe protector and puncture-resistant sole) also make the boot slightly less heavy than they would be otherwise. The nitrile rubber composition is resistant to mineral oils, solvents and other hydrocarbons and the material is stated to be antibacterial so it does not allow microorganisms and fungi a chance to grow.
Some Wear on the Inner Liner on the Boots
While tough and seemingly extra long-lasting, they are not totally invulnerable to the effects of extended and abusive wear.
In the image above you can see that the polyester lining (vulcanized into the rubber of the boot itself) is beginning to wear away. While this in itself is just a minor inconvenience, the boot remains comfortable and wearable. I could just cut the loose fabric away and be done with it, or leave it as-is.
Summation of THERMIC rubber workboot by Cofra
In the long run it pays to buy quality. For working in extreme environments where chemical and biological effluent are regularly encountered, THERMIC boost by Cofra are an outstanding value of footwear and worth the higher initial price tag.
- Birkenstock is a footwear manufacturing company of Germany whose product distributes the body weight more evenly across the foot for optimal support and comfort.