Wei’s Product FAQ
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We're cramming Wei's decades of experience into FAQ. If you have any topic suggestions, please let us know.
Are Belts a Fashion Accessory?
Belts are usually visible when we wear them, so they are part of our wardrobe. But It depends what you like and if you're dressing for a special occasion such as a wedding, or getting dressed to go out to the tractor.
Belts may be plain in colour and have a plain pattern. Or, the leather may be worked by craftsmen to produce all kinds of patterns or even pictures.
Belts may be dressed up with fancy stitching patterns, metal insignia, costume jewelry, the sky's the limit. Everything from steel ball bearings to bull horns, logos or other shapes. Some of these are even wider than the belt itself, making it very likely that the belt wearer will be poked in the gut at some point.
Women's belts up the ante all the way. More than just leatherwork patterns, all kinds of designs and materials can be found on a woman's belt. "Bling" belts are meant to dazzle and are still popular for some occasions.
Do Belts Have to Match Shoes?
There is a fashion rule of thumb that the belt colour should match your shoe colour. Women follow this a lot more than some men. But there’s no denying that colour coordination does have a pleasing effect on our senses. Women’s belts come in just about every shade and a wider variety of styles than men’s belts.
Most men's belts are black or brown to go with black or brown shoes, but women's belts come in many more colours to go with many more shoe colours. However, following this rule of thumb is your personal choice.
A shirt with an intricate pattern should be set off by a plain belt, and a belt with an intricate pattern is ideal to set off a plain shirt.
What Size Belt do I Need Compared to My Pants?
Choose a belt 2 inches larger than your pants. If you wear a 34" try a 36" belt, and go from there. If you wear an odd-size pant like a 33 or 35, add 3 inches instead of 2 inches.
Why Choose a Belt that Fits in the Middle of the Holes?
Belts often have 5-6 holes. Choose a belt that fits you when the metal tongue is in the 3rd or 4th hole. Why? Because then the belt will be centred in the back, and centred in the front. Also, you will have a couple of inches to expand or contract.
Why Are There Different Belt Widths?
Standard men’s belt width is about 1-1/2" which fit into pant belt loops. Wei's carries a big selection of belts, and most of them are 1-1/2" wide.
Thinner belts are usually for dress pants. Belts can get very wide too, especially women's belts that might be 2", 3" or even 4" - these are purely for fashion.
Can I Attach a Custom Buckle?
Wei's stocks some belts are intended for your personal buckle. Wei's also stocks a variety of buckles with designs that help express your personality - everything from a belt buckle initial to a western or other theme.
WESTERN & COWBOY BOOTS
How Can You Tell if a Western Boot Fits?
When trying the boot for the first time, you should feel the top of the instep. If the instep is too tight, try a wider width. If the instep is too loose, try a narrower width. Do not press down at the end of the boot to feel where your toes end, as this could damage the boot. Instead, you should be able to wiggle your toes.
What Are the Parts of a Cowboy Boot?
Image courtesy of Lucchese
Get to Know the Anatomy of a Cowboy or Western boot to help you assess how the boot fits you.
Instep or Vamp
The instep on a Western boot covers the top of your foot and helps determine whether or not the boot fits. If the instep is too tight, try a wider width. If the instep is too loose, try a narrower width.
The ball of your foot is where it bends at the widest section. When a boot is too short, the ball of the foot will sit too far forward, causing discomfort. The ball of your foot should fit securely within the widest part of the Cowboy boot.
A Cowboy boot will initially slip slightly in the heel (around 1/4 to 1/2 inch). This seemingly extra room is necessary for a proper fit. Over time, the boot's leather will form to the shape of your foot and the slippage will lessen.
The toe box on a Western or Cowboy boot surrounds the toes and the front part of the foot. Pressing this area to see where the toes end may work for athletic shoes — but not for boots. This type of pressure could cause permanent damage. To test the toe box area for fit, wiggle your toes — they should be able to move easily inside the boot.
Why Do We Have Cowboy Boots?
Cowboy boots are purpose-built footwear that are part of the heritage of American West. They have several characteristics that are designed for the working cowboy, including the shape of the toe and heel, the height of the boot, the fit of the boot, and the look of the boot.
Think about the traditional lifestyle of a cowboy - every day on a horse, herding cattle from one grazing ground to another, sometimes hundreds of miles away. Your boots have to be long-lasting and comfortable.
Plus, getting on and off the horse dozens of times a day, sometimes in a hurry, to chase down cattle that have a mind of their own. Your cowboy boots have to fit easily into the horse stirrups.
Always riding on open plains, into brush and brambles, across streams and rivers when needed, not always aware of dangers like snakes. Your western boots have to be tall enough, fit close, be able to withstand water and hold their shape, and have a thick enough leather to provide some protection.
Where Did Cowboy Boots Originate?
Believe it or not, German, English and Italian leatherwork heritage helped influence military boots to create the American cowboy boot:
- Higher-ranking18th century German horse-riding soldiers were issued Hessian boots, which were knee-high and had ornamental tassels.
- Hessians were adapted by shortening them to calf-length for the Duke of Wellington when he became an English celebrity after defeating Napoleon at Waterloo.
- "Wellingtons" or "Wellies" influenced all boot design, including military boots issued to soldiers in the American Civil War, which ended in 1865.
- Civil War soldiers returning home helped spread the military boot style during the classic cowboy period of the American West.
- In 1872, C. H. Hyer taught leatherworking to students at a school for the deaf in Olathe, Kansas. Hyer was the son of a German immigrant who came to the US in 1850, and taught leather boot-making to his son, who would supplement his teaching by starting his own boot-making company in 1875. The company is now named Olathe.
- In 1877, Herman Joseph Justin moved from Indiana to Texas to become an apprentice cobbler. Justin boots were being manufactured by 1879.
- In 1883, Salvatore Lucchese, son of an Italian shoemaker, opened a boot-making shop at a U.S. Calvary school in San Antonio, Texas .
- In 1887, Tony Lama was born in New York City to Italian immigrants. By 1903 at the age of 16, he was making boots for the U.S. military.
- Olathe, Justin, Lucchese, and Tony Lama are 4 of the famous western boot brands stocked by Wei's.
Why Are Cowboy Boots Pointed?
Military boots made for soldiers who rode horses often had rounded toes to help entry into horse stirrups. The Olathe boot company tells about a nameless cowboy who requested pointed cowboy boots in 1876, and the pointed toe style, while arguably less comfortable than rounded toe styles, caught on.
You might say western boots and cowboy boots have always been a blend of function and fashion.
Why Do Many Cowboy Boots Have a Tapered Heel?
If a cowboy ever gets in trouble while on a horse, he/she does not want to get dragged by a running horse. The heel is tapered (slimmer at the back) to let it slip out of a stirrup easily if needed, so the cowboy is disentangled.
Why Are Cowboy Boots Tall?
The height helps protect feet, ankles and shins from scratchy brambles and other hazards. Ankle boots do not offer the same protection.
Why Do Cowboy Boots Fit So Close?
When putting on your cowboy boots for the first time, you'll feel a little bit of resistance on the instep (the top of your foot). The boot should not be tight, but should not be loose either - it should be snug.
Boots have to fit snugly to keep out dirt and mud that are part of the cowboy's daily existence. Over time, the boot molds to your foot's unique shape. It should be more and more comfortable and provide long service.
What's the Best Material for Cowboy Boots?
Most cowboy boots are made with cow leather. It's dense and strong, water resistant, and with proper care it can last for decades.
Other animal skins such as goat skin or pig skin are sometimes used, and produce softer boots, but they are do not wear as long.
Skins of other animals such as crocodile or camian, snake, ostrich, often called exotic leathers, have been used to enhance the look of the boot. Several restrictions are now in place in many countries to limit the manufacture of exotic boots. Lucchese is one of the most famous makers of exotic boots, but other boot makers also offer s. Wei's traditionally stocked several styles of these boots and still has some exotic cowboy boots in stock. Contact us to check current availability.
Exotic leather and scale patterns are imitated by stamping, and the design expertise gets better and better. Most boot manufacturers offer styles of imitation snake, imitation crocodile and others. Wei's has several styles western boots with imitation patterns by brands such as Ariat, Justin and Canada West Boots (Brahma).
Is It Better to have Cowboy Boots with Leather Soles, Or Neoprene Soles?
Leather soles are the traditional cowboy boot soles. The material is consistent with the rest of the boot, looks good when new. However, a leather sole will not last as long if you're wearing them in the barnyard.
"Barnyard acid" is leached from animal urines and feces. These acids will lessen the life of a leather sole, and of course the leather sole is more slippery on this kind of surface.
So, if your boots are "working boots" for the farm, you should take a look at neoprene soles. Ariat, Boulet, Olathe and other brands have styles with neoprene soles.
FIRE RESISTANT WORK CLOTHING
What is the best FR rated clothing?
IFR, Action West and Big Bill are three Canadian companies that have specialized in FR and PPE clothing for decades, and their FR clothing is carried at Wei’s.
Increased demand for PPE and safety clothing has attracted well-known work wear brands like Carhartt, Ariat and Wrangler who now offer several styles of FR clothing, from bib overalls to hoodies, pants and plain or patterned shirts. Wei’s carries a big selection of FR clothing.
Safety regulations have improved over the years, resulting in more requirements for specific types of FR clothing, which must meet inspection and testing standards.
Do you have more questions about our fire resistant clothing? Contact us! We’re here to help.
FR Treatments Vs. Inherently FR Materials
Cotton is a good insulator against heat and a poor conductor of electricity, and often used in FR clothing – but it will catch fire when exposed to direct flame.
Some FR manufacturers might use treated cotton clothing instead of inherently fire-resistant fibres or fabrics. The problem with treated clothing is the chemical treatment will wear off after several washes. Your protection lessens or disappears, and you are not fully protected as the jobsite requires.
In Canada, this deterioration of FR protection must be stated on the label - for example, 'replace after 20 washes'.
Does FR Treatment Wash Away from Treated Cotton?
Yes. The label will give you an idea of how many washes your treated FR clothing can withstand before you need to replace it to ensure your safety code compliance.
What Are Inherently Flame-Resistant Materials?
For better protection, buy FR clothing using materials that are inherently fire resistant. FR materials are such as Nomex or Kevlar are designed at the molecular level to inhibit electricity, arc flashes and heat. You’ll see these names on the tags for overalls, boots and many other types of clothing.
These materials are inherently fire-resistant and resist catching fire when exposed to extreme heat and combustion. They are available in fibres or fabrics to clothing manufacturers who use them to make the industry-standard flame resistant clothes
Wei’s carries an excellent selection and the best brands from the USA and Australia, including Akubra, Stetson, Resistol, Bailey, Master Hatters of Texas, Australian Outback, Seratelli, Smithbilt and more, so you can rest assured that what you're putting on your head has been tried and tested through generations.
Check out the Wei's Hat Sizing Guide below.
What Are the Different Parts of a Hat?
Several style characteristics are found in every hat. The width and the slope of the brim determines how much protection you’ll receive from the sun, wind, and rain.
The crown of the hat is the top, which may be deep or shallow. Hats have open (unshaped) crowns which are then shaped or “bashed” and creased by the hat manufacturer to provide more personality to a hat style.
The Indiana Jones bash on a Fedora hat is different than the Crocodile Dundee bash on an Akubra hat. Many country music stars have unique hats which become part of their country music brand. Wei’s stocks the George Strait hat, John Wayne hat, Jason Aldean hat, and many others.
The hat may have eyelets or air holes around the mid-crown of the hat to keep your head cool, so it can fit tightly but still breathe. Some hats have attachments for optional chin straps, also called Stampede strings.
On the bottom of the crown a hatband is often attached, and stitched to hold it in place. Hatbands can provide more structure and protection for the crown, and also add style by defining it. They are available in many materials. Most often hat bands are made from some type of leather to stand up to outside weather.
Most hat colours are a shade of black, brown or cream, but Wei’s also stocks sassy red, soulful blue and other colours to suit your style. Of course a black hat will attract more heat from the sun. A lighter colour will attract less heat but dirt will stand out. Neutral colours of black, dark brown or taupe (often called fawn) will go with more clothing colours.
How do you measure a hat for your head?
Heads come in an incredible variety of sizes and shapes, and hats do their best to fit them.
To measure your size, take a piece of string and wrap it around your head, going above your ears and over your eyebrows until the string meets the starting point. Hold the end point of the string and measure it, beginning to end, on a ruler. Based on that measurement and the hat's size chart, you can find your best fit.
Hats made in Australia are measured in centimeters (cm) and hats made in the USA are measured in inches, for example 7-3/8. Find your closest and most comfortable fit. The fit can be tightened by fitting a card or other material inside each side of the sweatband.
How do you care for a hat?
Any hat is bound to collect some dirt, dust, sweat and general grime, therefore any hat will have a longer life when you provide some regular care for it. Ensure any brushes or cloths are free of oils and not overly damp. For a felt hat, use a soft brush in a counterclockwise motion.
Wei’s stocks specialized synthetic cleaning sponges and hat protectors to extend the life of your hat. Have a question about our hats? We’re happy to help. Just drop us a line.
Felt Hats or Straw Hats?
More than fashionable, hats are incredibly functional, protecting you from the sun, rain, and snow. There are many factors that go into the design of a hat, including the material, the shape and many design factors that make a hat more wearable and comfortable and last longer. How you care for your hat will also affect the lenth of its service to you.
Outdoors hats are most often made from felt, or from straw.
Felt is usually from rabbit, hare, fox or beaver, made from downy softer underside and is inherently water resistant with fibres interlocking in every direction to help keep the animal dry and warm. This fur is found close to the skin, underneath what is usually thought of as the fur on the outside of the animal which is longer, coarser and less water resistant.
Furs are graded by quality, including strength and colour. In the USA, felt grades are often defined by a number of Xs, but these Xs are not used in most Australian hats.
Then this special fur is made into felt using different wet or dry processes to align and condense the fibres. The felt is made more pliable by working it, often with a combination of handmade and machine processes, contributing to the overall quality of the hat. The density of the best felts offer excellent rain and sun protection and this quality will increase the price.
Some lightweight felt hats may be treated with Scotchguard or a similar product to help increase water resistance of the felt. Felt can even be synthetically made but most hat enthusiasts feel the quality is not the same as rabbit or fox felt.
As an option to felt, hats can be made from straw or other land or water grasses or reeds Each of these will have their own inherent structural qualities. The grasses are woven into a looser or tighter weave to provide more protection or breathability. The material can be treated provide even more weather protection. Oilskin hats, usually made from treated cotton, are also famous for repelling water.
Inside the hat, the sweatband is the only part of the hat actually touching the head. Sweatbands should be made of quality leather for breathability and durability. A quality sweatband also conforms to the shape of the head, increasing comfort. A good quality hat should have a ‘reed” inside the bottom of the sweatband which provides sweatband structure.
Are All Boot Leathers the Same Quality?
Most western or cowboy or work boots and shoes are made from cowhide, or cow's leather, but other animal hides have also been used, such as goat leather, bison, and pigskin, as well as ostrich leather, snake skin and crocodile or camian hide. Each of these types of leathers has its own characteristics.
How Does Animal Hide Become Boots?
The skin of larger animals such as a cow or bison is generally called a hide, and if a smaller animal (rabbit, pig) is generally called a skin.
Animal hides are cured by drying, salting, freezing or with chemicals to stop deterioration. This begins a process of more than 20 tanning, dying, finishing and grading steps to produce the finished leather used to make your cowboy boots.
In such an involved process there are bound to be several potential quality differences that affect the finished product. In addition, the quality of the animal hide will be influenced by the health, diet, and exercise of the animal itself.
All leather footwear does not come from the same quality of leather, which is why grading is an important step in producing finished leather goods like cowboy boots, work boots and leather jackets. Generally speaking, a lower price will mean lower quality.
What is Full Grain Leather? What is Top Grain Leather?
An animal hide has several layers. The outermost layer, just under the hair, is the most dense, and is the strongest and toughest.
Full grain leather is the protective layer of the animal hide closest to the surface. It was covered only by the animal's hair, and was exposed to air, to sun and rain.
This layer is made up of dense, interlocked fibres that provide strength and some natural water resistance. It is the strongest and highest quality part of the hide, and is the best leather for saddlery, work boots or western boots, and furniture.
True full grain leather has had only the outer hair and skin cells (epidermis) removed. The leather not been refined by sanding or buffing. Because this outer layer was exposed to the animal's daily life, it will likely have imperfections, cuts, scars or other blemishes. Full grain leather retains the markings of the hide, including any scars or blemishes.
Top grain leather is full grain leather that has been sanded and buffed at its surface to remove the imperfections.
Removing the tough surface improves the softness, flexibility and look of the leather. While top grain leather is desirable for its cosmetic appeal, its natural strength has been reduced by removal of the uppermost surface.
The animal hide is split into full grain/top grain leather and Split Leather, which is used to make genuine leather and suede.
'Genuine' leather is real leather but lower quality, made from the lower layers of the hide. Its cellular structure is less dense, therefore it is less strong. It is sanded or chemically treated and could be dyed or even stamped to provide a uniform surface. Genuine leather is more likely to be used for belts or wallets.
Suede is from the lower layers of the hide. It is not strong but it is soft, and made softer through manual processes. Suede is used for fashion jackets, coats, gloves and shoes. Suede can easily be damaged by any liquids.
Nubuck leather is very similar to suede but it is made from top grain leather, therefore is stronger than suede.
Bonded leather is a mixture of leather scraps that are shredded and mixed with a resinous or plastic material such as polyurethane. There is no legal requirement for the ratio of leather to bonding material.
Why are Western shirts plaid?
Great question. Plaid has been used for western shirts because, traditionally, plaid was made out of flannel or wool which provided warmth and could protect cowboys against the elements. This warmth and comfort was extremely important since cowboys didn't often wear coats, since coats restricted mobility.
Why do cowboy shirts have snap buttons?
Simple! They were easy to do up with one hand, which was important since a cowboy’s other hand would be holding the reins.
Why do cowboy shirts have long sleeves?
The cowboy shirt is an iconic piece of western clothing and the long sleeves serve a very practical purpose: they protect the cowboys arms against brush, thistles and sun.
Why are cowboy shirts fitted?
Again, the design of this classic piece of western clothing is purely practical (although it does look great too). Cowboy shirts are fitted—as opposed to loose and boxy—to prevent the shirt from snagging on limbs or brush.
Why do cowboys wear jeans?
Cowboys need a thicker, long-wearing material to resist scratches from bushes, a material that can get wet then dry out in the sun without shrinking.
The first commercial-quantity denim manufacturer is generally considered to be Levi's who created the 5-pocket style including a small coin pocket. Levi Strauss knew about the heavy twill cotton material made famous in Nimes, France and in French, "from Nimes" can be translated into "de Nimes", or denim.
Denim jeans now come in many styles, but for cowboys a boot cut is needed where the width at the bottom of the leg will fit over a cowboy boot. Traditional styles, especially in the US, are starched. Starching can make the jeans stiff until work in, but also resist dust and dirt.
Traditional styles have roominess needed for flexibility and sit at the waist. Now, slim fit styles, high-waist and low-waist options, not to mention dark and ligther washes and just about every wash in between, are all popular.
Over the decades Wrangler became closely associated with cowboys and rodeos, and Wrangler makes all these styles available, and Wei's stocks almost all of them.
Modern jean styles may include 1-2% spandex or other stretchy material to make the jeans even more comfortable. Typically jeans are 98-100% cotton but some styles include polyester in the material. Quality cowboy jeans, like the ones we have, are not only stylish, but they’re rough and rugged and ready to ride.
What is Oilskin?
Oilskin is traditionally heavy cotton clothing, made waterproof with oil and sometimes linseed oil. Oilskin is wet weather wear, and is often made into clothing styles that enhance water resistance, such as high-collar coats.
Oilskin is not in the same waterproof category as rubber, or hip waders for fishing, but the wearer will generally stay quite dry in bad storms unless submerged.
Oilskins are found in many Australian styles at Wei's, including the Australian Outback collection.
Have a question about men’s western clothing? Contact us anytime!
What Do You Need to Know About Work Boots?
As the saying goes, use the right tool for the job. Good work boots are the essential tools you choose that are needed to provide stability, safety and comfort for your job.
Not only do your work boots have to meet CSA and other safety codes that apply to electrical hazards, slippery surfaces or the danger of sharp objects, boots have to be comfortable, because they’ll be on your feet for hours and hours, in sun and rain, summer and winter.
You don’t want poor-fitting boots that lead to foot fatigue, and you certainly don’t want work boots that are not the right tool for the job.
Some employers mandate specific styles of work boots. Boot styles can be made for specific occupations, such as JB Goodhue styles made for ironworkers or oil riggers. Some employers might not allow pull-on work boots due to other safety standards.
Wei’s has the key quality brands any employer would recognize such as Red Wing, Ariat, Keen, JB Goodhue, Timberland Pro, Keen, Boulet, Viberg, Cofra, STC and many more top brands of work boots.
So, let’s break it down. With so much to think about, what do you need to consider when buying a man’s work boot?
What Makes Work Boots Comfortable?
Assuming you will buy work boots with the correct safety rating for the jobsite, then the number one consideration when buying a work boot is comfort. If it’s not comfortable, you won’t wear it.
You know your left foot and right foot are not the same size. Your feet also have particular length - Wei’s stocks some work boot styles up to size 15.
Your feet have a particular width, too – and the most popular width in Canada is EE or EEE. Wei’s also stocks single E and D widths, and selected B widths. So whether you need a 6B or a 15EEE or something in between, Wei’s legendary selection means we probably have stock of a boot that fits you.
Besides length and width your unique feet have a particular heel width, arch depth and length, instep height, and toes that may seem short or long. Read below how each boot brand uses unique lasts that create boots for specific feet. That’s why you should try on different brands, because they fit differently.
Each facet of your foot can be accommodated by a combination of the boot brand and size, and an insole as needed. Wei’s also stocks a variety of Red Wing insoles, Ariat insoles for square toe or toes toe styles, and other insoles that help your work boot fit just right and provide extra comfort.
How Are Work Boots Made?
Your foot has many more dimensions than just your foot size. Your foot’s width, height, arch, instep and ball girth are just a few individual differences that you try to match when you buy a boot.
Each work boot manufacturer uses a last, a unique foot-shaped plastic model. Each last is shaped slightly differently, so each brand fits differently. One of the reasons each work boot brand has its own diehard fans is because those boots fit better for that person’s feet.
The leather is pulled over the last from the top, then the sole is stitched, or welted, to the leather using a variety of specialized cobbler’s tools.
How Are Work Boots Stitched?
The upper part of the boot protects your shin, instep, ankle and toes. The sole of the boot protects and supports your heel, arch, and ball of the foot, and helps prevent foot fatigue. So far, so good. Now to join those two pieces together and create the final work boot.
When boots and shoes were handmade (and they still can be, if you have the money to spend), the upper and sole were often stitched together using an additional piece of leather called a welt.
The welt was stitched to the upper, and stitched to the sole. The presence of the welt allowed the footwear to be re-soled, so your investment could last longer. However the extra labour ensured this footwear was more expensive, and not affordable for everyone.
In about 1872, Charles Goodyear finalized a machine that would complete this welting process, meaning the shoe could be manufactured more quickly and less expensively.
Boots with Goodyear welts could be more affordable compared to handmade versions, could be re-soled as needed, and did last longer. When you see a boot with stitches around the outside, you’re looking at a Goodyear welt.
Since about the 1970s, most shoes have been made by gluing or cementing the upper part of the boot to the sole. Once the sole wears out, it is not possible to attach another sole to the upper part of the boot. The lifespan of the footwear is much shorter, or is even disposable, but the cost is lower too.
Most work boots are not intended to be disposable. You buy the best fit and get the quality you need, then you break them in by wearing them week in and week out.
Having the option to re-sole the boots preserves the time you spent making them your own, and also costs less than buying new boots.
What Are the Best Soles for Work Boots?
The most popular sole in the world is likely a Vibram sole. The classic Vibram Carramoto sole was introduced in 1937 by Vitale Bramini to enable better traction and safer mountain climbing. Almost 100 years later, this sole design is still licensed to many boot makers around the world.
The classic Vibram sole introduced in 1937 (left).
A Vibram Longhaul sole used by Canada West boots (centre)
A Vibram sole developed for Dunlop boots (right).
In the 1970s Vibram used Nitrile, an oil-resistant compound, in the Security sole to reduce slippage where oil hazards exist. The company has continued to develop high traction soles, often for other boot manufacturers.
For example, boot maker Dunlop commissioned a Vibram sole for the oil industry, resulting in one of Dunlop's best boots. See the Dunlop boot at Wei's.
What is Better, Steel Toed Boots or Composite Toed Boots?
As workplace safety standards increased, especially in the 1950s, foot protection solutions were a priority since foot injuries are common.
Your feet need protection from falling objects on top of the foot and punctures into the bottom of the foot, as well as protection from intense heat, electrical and chemical hazards, and of course from slipping.
Steel toe boots, steel toe caps and safety shoes became increasingly mandated, especially after the Occupational Health and Safety Act was introduced in the US in 1970.
Steel may also be used to protect the metatarsal (upper instep) part of the foot, or placed on the bottom of the insole to protect against punctures from sharp objects.
Work boots are now offered in steel toe, aluminum toe and composite toe styles. How do steel toe caps compare to composite to caps?
Steel Toe Advantages and Disadvantages
The steel used in safety boots is not just a slab of steel - the pieces are precisely cut according to safety standards and are of course fitted to a particular boot style.
The main advantage of steel is its strength. For many decades steel was the strongest manufacturing material available. Steel plates have typical thickness of about 1.5 - 2mm, so they are very thin, while being very strong.
Disadvantages of steel toes include their conductivity. Steel is a great conductor and a poor insulator. It will conduct electrical charges and freezing cold temperatures. The steel in your boot is wrapped in leather or other materials to limit this conductivity.
The weight of the steel adds to the weight of the boot, influencing foot fatigue and general productivity.
As aluminum improvements and options increased, alum toe caps have now become
Composite Toe Advantages and Disadvantages
A big advantage of composite toe boots is they will not conduct electricity the way a metal toe would. If you work around electrical hazards, this could be a big purchase factor.
Another advantage of composite toes is they will insulate against freezing cold temperatures better than steel toes.
Composite toes weight a lot less than steel toes. Hold a composite boot in one hand and a steel toe in the other, and you can probably tell the difference in weight.
Is there a disadvantage to composite toe boots? There could difference in the amount of impact these two types of work boots can withstand. Just like a car made of high tech plastic versus steel, there may be a difference in impact resistance.
However, if composite boots meet safety code standards then there should not be a worry.
What is a Metguard?
Your foot contains more than 25 bones, as well as muscles, ligaments, and joints such as the ankle.
One of the bone groups is the metatarsal, which contains the 5 longest foot bones, and attached to your toes. A metguard is a strong covering attached to your boot to cover those 5 bones and help prevent metatarsal injuries.
Metatarsal injuries are very common because the metatarsal area is large and exposed. Most metatarsal injuries are caused by an object weighing less than 10kg falling on the top of your foot.
In other words, warehouse jobs are some of the most common sites of a metatarsal injury, and the workers who most likely need a metguard on their boot.
Wei’s stocks several boots with metguard protection.
The popular Ariat Metguard work boot has an internal composite metatarsal protective plate. Red Wing, Carolina, Terra, STC, JB Goodhue, CAT and other brands have metguard styles. Shop Wei’s Collection of Metguard boots.
Meeting Workplace Standards for Work Boots
You need to ensure the work boots pass the impact resistance standards approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Look for the CSA tag on a boot - a CSA patch should be sewn in a conspicuous place on the boot.
CSA, like other safety organizations, mandates testing standards and charges for testing to meet particular workplace standards. This increases the cost for the boot manufacturer, and the cost to you.
Be aware that some boot manufacturers do not test their boots with CSA or other applicable organizations. They may construct the boot with materials that should meet the safety codes, but not pay for testing and not receive the formal code approval. This could have big implications for meeting jobsite safety standards and workplace insurance requirements.
Know what you are buying. Check the work boot specs and tags and the boot itself. As you browse through Wei's website, you'll see Wei's includes the manufacturer safety specs in each boot description.
Branded Components Can Increase Confidence
As a work boot customer, you want to be confident the boots deliver on their promises. If a boot promises to be waterproof, it had better be waterproof, not just water resistant. If a boot promises to perform in the winter, the insulation must work well and not be bulky.
Slip resistance is very important. Different types of sole patterns or sole materials are designed to grip better on wet concrete surfaces or oily steel surfaces. When you are working with hazards like these, the boot has to help keep you safe.
A boot manufacturer makes boots, but can they also make the best gripping soles, the best waterproofing technology, and the best lightweight insulation? Does a jack of all trades do everything equally well? That’s the challenge.
A work boot company must decide whether to develop specialized component technology in-house, or buy branded technologies such as Vibram soles, Gore-Tex waterproofing and Thinsulate insulation.
These household names have a lot of consumer confidence, but licensing their technologies will increase the price of the boot.
When you see these brand names included in the style of the boot it means you should have more confidence in the boot, and you’ll generally be paying more for that confidence.
Are Rubber Boots Good for Work?
Remember the old orange and black rubber boot, or gum boots, from decades ago? Being waterproof was their only advantage. Those old rubber boots don’t breathe, so feet get sweaty and smelly. They’re not insulated, so in winter feet get cold fast. Gum boots don’t fit very well and generally have terrible arch support, so your feet get tired quickly, then get sore, in addition to being wet and stinky.
Some companies such as Dunlop, Baffin and Muck have created next generations of rubber-style boots. All three brands have their fans, touting comfort while walking, warmth to -25C, dry feet, and durability. Some people use their Irish Setter boots for winter and rave about their warmth and waterproof abilities. However, Irish Setters are soft toe boots.
At Wei’s you’ll find several styles of Dunlop, Baffin and Muck boots that are some of the best Winter work boots anywhere. Our customers are very happy with their Muck Artic Pro Sport boots, Baffin Ice Bear boots and Dunlop Purofort boots.
Does Dunlop Make Good Work Boots?
In 1980, the famous tire maker Dunlop created Purofort, a synthetic material with “millions of evenly distributed air pockets, making your boots extremely lightweight and thermally insulating” (quote from Dunlop website). The air holes also provide an exit for sweat molecules, keeping your feet dry.
Dunlop’s Purofort material is a best-in-class polyurethane boot. It’s more lightweight, more flexible, more insulating, and stronger than any other single material. Many Dunlop boots are rated to -50C. Some styles of Dunlop boots use Vibram soles made especially for Dunlop customers who work in the oilfield. Dunlop orthotic insoles provide arch support to alleviate foot fatigue. Steel toe styles are also available.
Wei’s has several styles of Dunlop boots. Whenever a customer says they buying boots for working outside in the Winter, especially in Canada’s extreme North, the conversation always includes Dunlop boots.
What is Gore-Tex and How Does it Work?
If a work boot company does not specialize in rubbery boots, they can take their best-selling work boots and add waterproofing.
Nowadays there are excellent waterproofing materials used by major brands to add to their regular work boots. Red Wing took their top-selling 2412 boot and added Gore-Tex, producing the waterproof style and re-numbering it 2414
One of the most famous waterproofing materials is Gore-Tex, which since the 1970s has become a staple of waterproofing. The patented expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (or ePTFE) has microscopic openings which let out steam (our body sweat or foot sweat) but does not allow liquid water molecules to go through.
Gore-Tex is produced in textile form and can be cut into sheets and shapes. It is licensed to manufacturers who place a layer of it in their products, producing waterproof work boots or waterproof outerwear.
Other companies have an in-house or proprietary waterproofing material. Irish Setter boots are technically hunting boots, but steel-toed Irish Setters are used for some work. Irish Setter has a proprietary waterproofing material that stands up to standing in water for hours, and keeping your feet bone dry.
What Makes Good Winter Boots?
When you’re working outside in winter conditions, how do you keep warm? Most clothing companies now know that layering is essential. A base layer, mid layer and outer layer help air flow, help wick away moisture, and provide warmth with specialize weaving that produces miniature air pockets for your body to warm.
Thinsulate is a synthetic material engineered at the molecular level to have gaps that are about 15 micrometres (0.00059 in) in diameter. These very small gaps trap air, but also allow moisture from sweat to escape so you don’t get sweaty and uncomfortable.
Thinsulate’s track record has seen it added to many brands of winter work boots, in typical amounts of 200g or 400g. Thinsulate is also found in winter gloves and winter clothing.
What Are Women’s Work Boot Sizes?
Why do women and men have separate sizing charts? Can’t they use the same sizes? The short answer is that separate sizing charts are needed, and here’s why.
Generally, women’s feet are shorter than men’s. Women’s shoe and boot size is about 1.5 sizes larger than men’s, so if you wear a women’s size 8.5, try a man’s size 7.
But there are other differences too. Women’s feet are generally narrower in the ankle and heel. Women usually have a B or D width. But some women might have wider than usual feet, and need an E or even EE width. And, some men with narrow feet need a B or D width.
As you’ve probably guessed, a boot width is the same for both women and men. If you wear women's 8.5D, try a men’s 7D.
Here’s the kicker. A woman’s foot has less mass than a man’s. The instep height is likely to be shorter. If we reverse the example above, can a man with a 7D size try on a women’s 8.5D boot? The answer is the man will have difficulty putting on the woman’s boot. This is why each gender has its own size chart.
Working people know Wei’s is a destination for work boots, so we get all kinds of questions and requests for sizes. We know from experience that some women need a man’s wider boots, and every brand fits a little differently.
What is the best material for work pants?
The right material for work pants can depend on the type of work you do. Indoors or outdoors, bending and stretching, carry tools or not?
Most workwear is made from a blend of cotton for non-itchy comfort and breathability, and polyester for durability and less shrinkage when washed. Wei’s carries styles in polycotton blends and also 100% cotton, including duck cloth.
Which are better: work pants or work overalls?
That depends on the type of job you're doing. Work pants and a shirt are more versatile and provide more stylistic choice than overalls. Overalls, on the other hand, give you less room for style but cover—and thereby protect—more of your clothing and provide pockets for additional convenience.
Check out our collection of men’s work clothing!
Check out our collection of women's work clothing!
Have a question about our men’s work clothing? Contact us! We’re happy to help.