Fires are something that can happen at any moment and cause a lot of damage. It can engulf an entire countryside, leaving a wake of destruction.
Fortunately, firefighters risk their lives and well being to put out these fires, but having the right footwear can go a long way to help protect them and help to put out the fire.
The best wildland fire boots must have numerous protective features. These features make them durable, allowing the firefighters to move in treacherous terrains. Since these boots can be daunting to find, this article will provide you with some of the much-needed information to gain a better understanding of what sets them apart.
10 Best Wildland Fire Boots
It is no secret that you need to look at many of the features before buying these boots. However, the features can be a little daunting to understand. Before looking at these features and breaking them down, you can have a look at some of these boots. Here are the best wildland firefighting boots for you to choose:
NFPA Approved: Yes
White’s Boots is a newcomer to the list, but a boot with full leather construction, proven to be fire-resistant. Standing 10-inches tall, the boots almost reach your knees to offer additional protection of the lower leg. The Vibram sole is hard enough to withstand years of punishment, making it a cut above the rest in terms of durability.
They are some of the most expensive boots but keep in mind that every part of the boot has been handcrafted. Each part of the White’s Boots Men’s 400VLTT Boot will give you multiple years of use and versatility
- Made from durable tanned leather
- 10-inch arch
- Vibram outer sole with large lugs
NFPA Approved: Yes
A great firefighting boot will have a lot of protective features for the majority of your feet. The Danner Men’s Wildland Tactical Firefighter Boot meets many of these requirements. A durable upper leather construction of 8-inches provides the insulation and protects your feet from fire hazards around you.
A PU inner sole offer athletic foot support for long days on the ground, but the steel shank adds the added bit of support for treacherous terrains that do not have even ground. These shoes are pricey but offer a whole load of value and protection for your feet.
- Support and stability
- 8-inch long design for added protection
- An Athletic inner sole construction
- Bulky design that you need to get used to
NFPA Approved: Yes
Last but certainly not least, the Wesco Men’s Firestormer Lace-to-Toe Boots makes an appearance on this list. The boots have a full-grain leather construction, with a 10-inch arch, providing foot support and stability. The Vibram outer sole is the perfect addition for slippery surfaces that are littered with oil or water.
Wesco did not spare any detail with these boots, making them available in only one color, but with stylish laces to help you stand out. The boots are expensive but will last you multiple years due to the slow wear and tear.
- Lower leg protection and support
- Vibram outer sole for better traction
- Durable Kevlar infused upper
- Ideal for long-term use
NFPA Approved: Yes
A boot that can be used in cold or warm conditions is a welcome addition to those that need versatility. What makes the Haix Airpower XR1 Dual-Certified Wildland Station Boot special is the Secura inner lining that does not wrinkle and protects you from the heat in wildland fires. These boots wick away moisture and have anti-bacterial protection.
A carbon protective toe cap adds even more protection to the boot, allowing the user to take on fires with falling debris. The carbon is lightweight but combines with the outer sole to give you a puncture-resistant shoe.
- Composite toe for added protection
- Puncture and slip-resistant
- Versatile (Hot and Cold conditions)
- Antibacterial inner lining
- They are heavy
NFPA Approved: Yes
Wildland fires are no joke, and the ash left behind can make the ground hard to walk on. However, the AdTec Men’s 1964 10″ Fireman Logger Black Work Boot has an 8.25-inch arch design, adding stability, lower leg protection, and ankle support. Full-grain leather that has been heat-treated makes up the outer construction of the boot. It should resist a staggering 500-degree Fahrenheit temperature.
With all these features, these boots are affordable. One might wonder if the price is any indication of the quality, but they hold up well for many years. Virtually every part of this boot is fire resistant, including the laces, and the eyelids joining the laces together.
- Lower legs are fully protected
- The entire shoe is fire-resistant
- Slip-resistant Vibram outer sole
- They are slightly oversized
NFPA Approved: Yes
A brand that is truly American is the Thorogood brand, with roots spanning as deep as the country itself. The Thorogood Men’s Waterproof Power EMS/Wildland Boot is on the list for the durable leather construction and inner lining. It is completely waterproof while being heat-resistant at the same time. What is outside of the boot is guaranteed to stay outside.
A Vibram outer sole sets the boot apart from the rest. It does not only feature the standard Vibram outer soles but one with a peculiar lug pattern. The lug pattern offers great grip, proving to be slip-resistant on ice, and puncture-resistant to fires in the wildland. It is the perfect boot for fighting fires and living in cold weather conditions.
- Fire and ice-resistant outer sole
- Reliable brand
- EMS approved
- Flexible construction does not hinder maneuverability
- Hard to find new boots (discontinued from manufacturer)
NFPA Approved: Yes (Not Ideal for long-term firefighting)
The Viking Footwear Firefighter Felt Lined Waterproof FR Boot looks like the type of boot you will buy for your kids. However, it is an affordable 14-inch boot with full rubber construction. Rubber heats up but does not melt, making it ideal for firefighting. Additionally, it is resistant to water and can be used in the rain.
The boot might look like that of a kid, but with so many features that protect you from the hazards and chemical reactions of fires; it is the ideal boot for casual firefighters. These boots are affordable and should be easy to replace.
- Lightweight rubber construction
- Waterproof and fire-fire resistant
- No break-in period
- Not ideal for long term firefighting
NFPA Approved: Meets standards
A mountaineering boot is often what you need if you don’t want a boot specifically for firefighting. The Scarpa Fuego Mountaineering Boot is the ideal boot for hiking, trekking through the wilderness, and fighting fires. The genuine leather and Vibram outer sole provides durability while resisting fires and heat.
With an opening of 15-inches, it is a boot designed for those with larger feet. The fit is on the money, with enough ventilation being allowed in on hot days. The EVA midsole will mold to the shape of your feet and provide one of the most comfortable feeling when using the boots for extended periods in the wilderness.
- Fire-resistant outer sole and upper
- Large 15-inch opening
- Moldable EVA midsole
- Excellent handling of wear and tear
- Long break-in period
NFPA Approved: Meets standards
If fires near you are prevalent and you have to walk through them, you need something with a thick upper. Fortunately, the Kenetrek Men’s Wildland Fire Leather Boot has a 2.8mm leather construction, fully resistant to fires and heat. A superior nylon inner sole combines with a steel shank for foot support and ultimate comfort.
These shoes are heavy compared to some of the others on the list. However, a perforated calfskin lining keeps your leg protected, but enables air to pass through. These boots fit perfectly to size, with virtually no adjustments needed.
- Thick 2.8mm leather upper
- Steel shank for added support
- Breathable inner lining
- Moldable inner sole
- They are not water-resistant
NFPA Approved: No
The Bates Men’s Durashocks Lace-to-Toe Work Boot looks almost the same as the Thorogood we have seen previously. It is constructed from durable leather with a fire-resistant coating added. A nylon side zip makes them easier to put on and take off without using the laces, and the fabric incorporation on the sides improves breathability.
The boots are made special by the patented Durashocks Technology from the Bates manufacturer. It helps absorb most of the shock and reduce fatigue. The boots are affordable with all these features and perfect for firefighters.
- Made in USA
- Absorbs shock and reduces fatigue
- Heat resistant
- The nylon fabric can pose a weakness
Buying Guide: Choosing the Right Pair of Wildland Fire Boots
As mentioned, the boots are easy to find when you understand what you are looking for. However, there are a few anomalies that you need to consider in wildland fire boots. This buyers guide will enable you to see which features are fundamentally important. It can be used as your own criterion for finding similar boots:
What Are Wildland Fire Boots?
Wildland fire boots are a cut above your standard work boots use for everyday activities. They have extensive protection features, with extra padding and heat resistant. These boots are governed by NFPA and OSHA standards, ensuring that protection is at a premium for users that need a boot to fight fires. Some of the top boots can resist temperatures that exceed 2000-degrees Fahrenheit.
The top wildland fire boots are recommended for use in the backcountry and slippery areas with rampant fire risks. Many of these boots also form part of the kit that local firefighter chooses for their exception heat resistance. They are expensive but offer the best protection for almost any area that is plagued by fires.
Main Features of Wildland Fire Boots
NFPA Wildland Firefighting Boots Requirements
The National Fire Protection Agency is the main governing body when it comes to the standard for wildland fire boots. These boots need to adhere to these guidelines before they are sold on the market to you. Understanding the features can ensure that you find the most prevalent boots for the job at hand:
- Minimum heel to top height of 8-inches: The height is important to keep your lower leg, and ankles protected. Any boot that is NFPA Approved should be more than 8-inches when measures from the heel to the top. Not only does this protect the lower leg from fires, but also adds support.
- Vibram Outer Soles: You might have noticed that a large portion of the selected boots has Vibram outer soles. Vibram outer soles are some of the purest rubber outer soles you can find on the market today. They are immune to fires and do not run the risk of melting in extreme temperatures.
- Lace-type Exterior: A lace-type exterior is also mandatory to ensure that the boots are securely laced up. With laces, you have control over how tight the boots are and how comfortably they fit. The eyelids need to be heat-resistant and provide you with an easy and secure way of lacing up the boots.
- Puncture-Resistant: A feature that not many people are aware of is the puncture resistance. These boots don’t need to be constructed from leather or be waterproof, but the upper material needs to be thick enough to resist punctures. If you find boots with a 2mm thick upper, you are definitely on your way to a great boot.
The OSHA or the Occupation Safety And Health Act provide the guidelines that manufacturer need to follow when constructing these types of boots. Understanding this act can save you a lot of time and money. However, the features mentioned above are the main criterion that each manufacturer needs to adhere to for their boots to make it to the market.
Safety and Protection
Firefighting is one of the most hazardous jobs out there and safety is paramount. The NFPA has an “FR” logo that is paramount to be seen on these boots. The logo indicates that the materials used in the construction are fire-resistant. It is one of the first things you can look for in your boots if you are not sure about the rest of the features.
A protective toe is another important feature to keep in mind. The toe should not be made from steel for obvious reasons, but with trees and debris falling as they get destroyed by the heat, additional foot protection is important. The composite toe, made primarily from carbon is a perfect option for reduced weight and added safety.
A crucial and important part of any boot that is fire resistant is the used of materials capable of standing up to extreme heat conditions. Leather, more specifically 100% genuine leather is the most common option for boots that need to endure high temperatures. Leather does not melt, and it does not release any bad chemicals with it is heated up.
Rubber can be considered, but most of the rubber boots found on the market today have some sort of plastic infusion. The plastic infusion can melt unless Vibram rubber for part of the construction. However, it can make the boots extremely heavy when the upper is made from Vibram rubber while reducing flexibility.
A feature often overlooked by many is the patterns on the outer sole. The outer sole should not only be made to endure high temperatures, but you also run the risk of slippery surfaces. A slip in the middle of a fire or hazardous situation can be deadly, but with the right pattern on your outer sole, it is something you can avoid.
Vibram is the primary choice for outer soles as recommended by the NSPA, but the patter needs to consist of thick rubber lugs. These thick lugs can help grip the surface, avoiding potential slips. The more durable your outer sole is, the less chance you have of it wearing thin and losing traction as you continue to use the boots.
Support is a feature that you will need depending on the terrain. However, steep hills, with precarious terrains are part of the job. There are a few elements that make up the support of these boots and will ensure the best possible safety. Here is a list of the most important support feature to look for in wildland fire boots:
- Shank: The shank located inside the boot is responsible for stability. A steel shank is a common option for the top boots, but when it comes to fire boots, you want to avoid steel. The nylon shank is light and it can provide additional support.
- Shock Absorption: Shock absorption is not a mandatory feature, but firefighting can be tedious with long hours on your feet. Most brands have their own special name for the technology they use, but it can reduce fatigue and make the boots more comfortable to wear.
- Lacing: Yes, lacing offers the support you need to enclose the boots in a tight manner around your feet. Tighter boots mean more stability. If the boots fit as they should, you can avoid potential slips and falls.
Having all of these features is hard to find, but if you are serious about the safety of your feet, you should consider looking for at least one of these support features. The top boots will definitely have many of them already included.
Wildland fire boots are by no means the most affordable boots on the market. Since they need to be tested rigorously and meet OSHA standards, manufacturers spend a lot of time and money before releasing them to the market. You can possibly find a more affordable option, but they don’t always offer you the same level of protection.
A Few Additional Features To Keep In Mind:
Like most boots, the inner lining plays a huge part in comfort. It is the part of the boot situated on the inside between the upper and your feet. A soft inner lining prevents possible abrasions while wicking away most of the moisture to keep your feet dry. One common option for the inner lining is Gore-Tex, but it is much better at keeping your feet dry than resisting heat.
A second part of the comfort aspect to be taken into consideration is the fit. Not all boots fit the same, with some of them being oversized. An oversized boot is not a bad thing if you need room inside. However, it can cause problems and lead to slipping or ankle injuries if you are not careful when moving about.
With fire-resistant boots, most of the emphasis is placed on what is going on the outside of the boot. The inside often gets overlooked. An inner sole is a part that will keep your feet comfortable when walking, potentially even dealing with foot problems like pronation and supination many people deal with when selecting shoes.
The three most common inner soles are EVA, Polyurethane, and Memory Foam. You need to find an inner sole that complements your feet and makes the shoes more comfortable for you. Polyurethane is much more affordable but does not offer the comfort of the other two. Memory foam is expensive but will mold to the shape of your feet for a perfect fit.
Finally, an EVA outer sole gives you the best of both worlds, without spiking the price too much. EVA is one of the best options for people without any foot problems to help prevent them and make these tough boots feel comfortable.
Since the temperatures of these fires exceed 500-degrees Fahrenheit, and often times even a 1000-degrees, the shoe will warm up on the inside. The more heat on the inside of the boot, the more fatigue will start to set in. Having some sort of ventilation is by no means mandatory, but can reduce fatigue and make the shoe more breathable.
The brand is one of the things that link to the price. Unfortunately, the best brands like Thorogood and many of the others are a little expensive. However, you get what you pay for, and choosing a brand with a great reputation will definitely ensure that you have the desired quality and protection features that you desire.
Steel Toe Boots For Firefighter? Definitely No.
A protective toe is important for almost any job environment or terrain that people work in. It is a safety feature added to the front end of the shoe, reducing the risk of a falling object potentially crushing your feet under high impact. While many forms of the protective toe are available, the steel toe is the most affordable most commonly used.
The steel toe poses more risks to the feet of a firefighter than it offers protection. Steel is one of the biggest conductors of heat, absorbing most of it, before spreading it to the inside of the boot. It takes a lot of time for steel to heat up, but under temperatures of 2,000-degrees Fahrenheit, boiling point is reachable in no time at all.
Once the steel heats up, it keeps the heat inside. In turn, it heats up the rest of the boot to dangerously high temperatures. These temperatures pose a risk to your feet that could be deadly, leading to high-degree burns. The same is true for the alloy-toe, which is also a prevalent option, keeping the boot lightweight.
However, composite toe boots are the alternative, with low absorption of heat, offering additional protection to your feet. The composite toe is made up of things like carbon and rubber compounds that have been hardened. While a composite toe is expensive, it can help with electrical hazards, and keep the boot lightweight.
Frequently Asked Questions
By now, you should have a clear and in-depth set of knowledge regarding wildland fire boots. However, there are still a couple of questions that many people have. Some of these questions might be related to you, and here you can find the answers:
What are the best brands for firefighter boots?
Most brands have some sort of section in their catalog that has firefighting boots. However, brands like Thorogood, Danner, and Scarpa are proven brands with exceptional boots that stand the test of time.
How do you become a wildland firefighter?
Wildland firefighter has some of the toughest training and requirements needed when compared to other jobs. To become a wildland firefighter, one must have a high school diploma or equivalent to a degree. You need to be older than 18 years old and meet the physical requirements. However, most wildland fire departments prefer hiring people with previous firefighting experience.
How should wildland boots fit?
A loose fit can be beneficial for certain jobs, but for firefighters of any type, a tight fit is a better choice. A tight fit reduces the potential of losing control over the boots. However, if the boots are loose, you might want to add a pair of thick socks to enhance the fit.
Do you need a degree to be a wildland firefighter?
A high school diploma or something equivalent to that of a degree is important to become a wildland firefighter.
What type of socks is ideal for a wildland firefighter?
Wool socks are the preferred choice and serve as an extra lining for your feet. To be more specific, Merino Wool is the best option and can resist high temperatures. These socks might be expensive, but add another layer of protection for your feet.
Whether you are a wildland firefighter, or you have aspirations of becoming one, the right footwear can help keep you protected. The best wildland fire boots will add that extra layer of protection over your clothing. Let us know in the comment section which of these boots you like and if we missed any of your favorites.
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