In addition to personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and safety goggles, every HVAC technician needs a sturdy pair of work boots. Wearing the right shoes on the job can make all the difference, not just in terms of protection, but also comfort. A day of fixing AC units doesn’t have to end with you saying, “My dogs are barking!” or craving a long foot rub.
AC field technicians should be the first to invest in a high-quality pair of HVAC-friendly work boots, but even handy homeowners can benefit from buying a sturdy pair of footwear. To help you keep your feet thoroughly protected while also staying as comfortable as possible, we’ve reviewed the best HVAC work boots for AC technicians available today.
Benefits of Wearing Appropriate HVAC Work Boots
Typically, the process of buying footwear is all about comfort, but for HVAC work boots, the benefits go way beyond comfortability. Sure, choosing the right boots will lead to optimal arch support, reduced foot fatigue, added warmth in cold weather – you might even feel like you’re walking on air from one job site to the next.
More importantly, though, the right pair of boots will keep your feet protected while on the job. Handling heavy equipment for installing central AC units is no joke, but features like a steel-toed design, shock/slip resistance, and ankle protection reduce the risk of toe, foot, or ankle injuries. No matter if you’re working in the field of heating, cooling, or ventilation, this is an essential piece of PPE for HVAC technicians.
HVAC Work Boot Size Guide
A major step in finding the best shoes for HVAC work is sizing. Choosing a size might seem like a simple process, but there’s a science to it. Just as you would measure a space to find the dimensions before buying a new piece of furniture, you’ll do the same for your feet.
To determine the ideal work boot size, you’ll need to measure the length and width of one of your feet.
While measuring, Custom Fit says to “stand on a solid surface wearing socks that you intend to wear with the shoes you are planning to purchase. Place a ruler on the ground. Place your heel at the lowest end. Read the number where your longest toe ends.”
Then, follow the Boot Size Guide to find your exact size.
HVAC Boots Compared
Selecting Quality HVAC Work Boots
The durability of footwear is measured in a few ways, but it all comes down to the type of material and construction quality. Don’t just focus on buying a pair of good looking work boots, but try and find a pair that’s durable, reliable, and will keep your feet protected for years down the road. The most durable AC boots come with a hard outer sole for sturdiness and a soft inner sole for comfort.
Speaking of comfort, this should be one of your main priorities for a new pair of HVAC technician shoes. AC techs spend most of the day on their feet, so staying comfortable will make the workday much more enjoyable. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to comfort:
- Arch Support:
Shoes without proper arch support “can cause more than just foot pain – but knee, hip, and back pain as well.”
- Cushioned Insoles:
Cushioned insoles will make you feel like you’re walking on air, keeping your feet gently supported throughout the day while minimizing pressure.
- Breathable Liner:
Breathability is a must-have comfort feature, especially for AC techs who work in warm areas and need something to wick sweat away from the foot.
- Insulating Rubber (Outsole):
The addition of insulated rubber on a boot’s outsole not only helps to keep the feet dry but also protects against electrical hazards.
For some technicians, breathability isn’t nearly as crucial as insulated warming features. Consider the climate you’ll be working in to determine if you need your boots to protect against cold temperatures.
Wearing a pair of heavy boots all day long can feel as if you’re wearing ankle weights, so look for a pair of lightweight HVAC technician shoes for added comfort.
Choosing the right size might seem obvious, but shockingly enough, a lot of technicians fail to take this consideration to heart. Even if the boots feel just slightly too small or a pinch too big, move on to the next choice. HVAC boots are not like tennis shoes that eventually stretch out over time, and wearing an extra pair of socks each day to fill in the extra space is just ridiculous. Find a pair that fits you perfectly; this shouldn’t be too difficult since most work boot manufacturers offer half sizes.
The best shoes for HVAC work come with adequate sole tread to prevent slipping while on the job. The right tread gives the wearer excellent grip, but it also protects the soles of the feet from sharp objects and punctures.
Finding boots that thoroughly protect the feet should be your #1 priority. There are a few unique protection categories (like protecting against the elements vs. protecting against sharp objects and electrical hazards), so here are a few things that you should look for:
- Water Resistance:
Nobody wants to spend the day installing and repairing AC units with wet feet. The easy way to prevent this is to find a pair of water-resistant boots.
- Heat Resistance:
- Shock Resistance/Electrical Hazard Protection:
When it comes to protective footwear in the workplace, Grainger says that “electrical hazard (EH) footwear is manufactured with non-conductive, electrical-shock-resistant soles and heels.” This is a must for HVAC experts who work with electrical cords and equipment on a day to day basis.
- Slip Resistance:
For slip resistance, simply find a pair of good quality work boots with adequate tread and a flexible rubber sole to increase traction.
The “extra” features in HVAC work boots are things that aren’t 100% essential, but they might help to enhance comfort and protection. This includes features like an ankle-high design for more ankle protection, steel toes for added protection from heavy objects, and mark-resistant outsoles to keep your shoes from marking the floors with black scuffs.
Technically, you can’t put a price on protecting yourself while on the job, but even so, price is still something that most AC techs consider when buying PPE. Work boots are all over the board in terms of price, so set your budget and go from there. That said, don’t be stingy – it’s completely worth it to pay a bit extra for added comfort and protective features.
8 Best HVAC Work Boots Reviewed
1. Timberland Men’s Pit Boss Soft Toe
Our Top Pick
|Colors Available||Brown, Wheat|
|Shaft to Arch||6”|
Timberland will always be a go-to choice for anyone in the market for a new pair of work boots, and this includes HVAC/AC technicians. The Timberland Pit Boss Soft Toe boots are, without a doubt, the best boots for HVAC (and also similar professionals) that money can buy. They’re made from 100% leather, they’re incredibly sturdy, and they’re some of the most comfortable boots available. Don’t be surprised if you choose to wear them everywhere, not just on AC jobs.
The main reason that these have been dubbed the best boots for contractors is the perfect balance between safety and comfort.
Timberland says that “comfort suspension technology is a unique comfort system that meets the most rigorous work site demands – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It helps reduce foot fatigue, support the arch and cushion every step.”
Another loved feature of the Pit Boss boots is the fact that they meet ANSI standards for work boot safety. ANSI takes into account things like slippage, oil, and abrasion-resistance, so you can count on these boots to keep you safe while on any HVAC job. The rubber sole is durable yet lightweight, keeping the soles of your feet protected while never weighing you down.
Timberland is all about keeping it comfortable, which is why the company has manufactured this specific pair with a shaft that measures 6 inches from the arch. This helps to take tension away from the arch and reduce the overall load to the feet, ankles, and knees. To top it all off, the Pit Boss boots are affordable and stylish, so you can look good, stay protected, and keep comfy, all without breaking the bank.
- 100% leather
- Meets ANSI standards
- Improved arch support
- Tons of available sizes
- Padded collar for added comfort
- Lacks hazard protection
2. Dr. Martens Work Men’s Icon 7B10
Longest Lasting Work Boots
|Shaft to Arch||7”|
Doc Martens is one of the most respected names in footwear, and the main reason for this is the amazing quality of every pair of shoes that comes from this manufacturer. This is just one of the amazing features of the Dr. Martens Icon 7B10 men’s work boots. These are constructed from full-grain leather and come with an insulated synthetic sole for extra cushion.
This pair is included in the brand’s Air Wear safety boots category, which is all about safety, but they don’t disappoint when it comes to comfort, either. The shaft measures 7″ from the boot’s arch, and the traditional lace-up design comes with 7 sturdy metal eyelets on each side. There’s a pull loop on the back of each boot so that any HVAC tech can easily slide them on before heading to work.
These shoes are breathable, yet they still somehow manage to keep your feet warm and cozy in cold weather climates. This is all thanks to the breathable, moisture-wicking texture lining and memory foam footbed. On top of that, keeping your boots clean has never been easier.
Doc says that all you have to do is “wipe away dirt with a damp cloth, ensure shoes are dry then apply proprietary silicone or waxed product designed for waxy oily leathers – such as Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam.”
Just like most reputable shoe brands, a pair of Doc Martens doesn’t come cheap, but the high-ish price tag is a small price to pay for comfort and protection. Another minor drawback is that the sizing is a bit off, and some wearers say that the shoes are a bit too snug for their liking. Our suggestion is to order a half size up, and worse comes to worst simply return them and order a new size if they don’t fit properly.
- Industrial-grade leather
- Air-cushioned outsole
- Moisture-wicking memory foam
- Secure fit every time
- High cost
- Recommended to order ½ size up
3. Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift Steel Toe
Best HVAC Steel Toe Work Boots
|Colors Available||Dark Brown, Tan, Black, Honey|
|Shaft to Arch||6”|
The Men’s Second Shift Steel Toe boots have been reviewed time and time again as some of the best shoes for contractors, HVAC techs – really any profession that requires durable protective footwear. The Caterpillar company specializes in heavy-duty construction machinery and equipment, so it makes sense that they create heavy-duty boots to wear on construction and other job sites.
When you look at the specifications, these boots are actually very similar to the Timberland Pit Boss shoes. Both have a 6″ measurement from shaft to arch, a heel measurement of 1.25″, and a 0.75″ platform. There is one major difference, though – the Caterpillar boots come with steel toes, while the Timberlands do not. This means that they’re slightly heavier, but they also add an extra layer of protection against heavy falling objects.
The thing we love most about the Second Shift boots isn’t the steel toe construction, but the unbelievable comfort. They do take a bit of breaking in, but once that’s done, you’ll love wearing these boots. The comfort comes from the Climasphere breathable insole that works to adapt the boots to any climate. That means you’ll never have to suffer from hot and sweaty or cold and tingly feet while replacing a ductless mini-split.
The main downside of these HVAC boots is their weight; they’re roomy and comfy, but it would be wrong to classify them as “lightweight” work boots. If you’re looking for a feather-light pair, you’ll have to look elsewhere (like the Pit Boss boots by Timberland).
- Steel toe w/ padded ankle
- Oil-resistant outsole
- Lots of sizes available
- 4 color options
- Built to last
- Takes some breaking in
- Too heavy for some
4. Thorogood Men’s GEN-FLEX
Best Composite Toe HVAC Work Boot
|Colors Available||Brown, Black|
|Shaft to Arch||7”|
Steel-toed boots are great for so many reasons, but they’re certainly not for everyone. If you’re looking for a lightweight boot that offers high resistance to electrical hazards while on the job, you’ll want to go with a pair of composite boots like the Thorogood Gen-Flex. These are made from 100% leather, and they offer great arch support and next-level durable comfort.
Thorogood offers the perfect description for their Gen-Flex boots: “You’re the go-to guy in every area of your life: work, home, and play. People depend on you to lead the way, and in these slip-resistant, lightweight, and comfortable boots, you can. These composite safety-toe boots are up for any challenge, every day.”
Not only can you rely on them for comfort, but you can count on wearing them for years down the road.
To be completely honest, the style of the Gen-Flex isn’t for everyone. They’re a bit too clunky and bulky for some, and not quite as stylish as the Timberland boots or Doc Martens. This is mainly because the boots are constructed with Goodyear storm welt protection and a hefty rubber sole for added tread and slip-resistance. It’s not that they’re not stylish, only that they don’t compare in looks to brands like Timberland.
Aside from that, the only other drawback of these HVAC work boots is the price tag. Composite toe boots are known to be more expensive than steel toes, and this is definitely the case for the Thorogood boots. Although these aren’t the best work boots on a budget, the composite design adds a great deal of comfort for those who aren’t interested in heavy-duty steel-toed boots.
- Removable footbed
- Composite shaft
- Electric hazard resistant
- Lightweight footwear
- Goodyear storm welt protection
- Bulky design
- High cost
5. Wolverine Men’s Raiders
Best Heavy Duty Boots
|Material||95% Leather, 5% Nylon|
|Shaft to Arch||6”|
The Wolverine Raider boots feature a bit of an untraditional design and resemble a pair of leather cowboy boots more than work boots. Some HVAC techs claim that the unique design adds to the boots’ heavy-duty durability. Whether that’s true or not, it’s impossible to deny that these are some of the most durable, most reliable work boots on the market.
The Wolverine company refers to the Raider boots as “the best of the best.” These boots combine style and function, and these two things work together to keep you going, even on the longest workdays. Even though they’re steel toe boots, they offer the comfort of a composite pair. This iconic American brand knows exactly what it’s doing when it comes to manufacturing work boots, and this becomes extremely obvious with the Raider.
Part of the reason that these are the best for heavy-duty use is the steel toe construction, but it’s not the only one. The outsole compression pads also add to the boots’ durability (working to absorb shock), and the same goes for the moisture-managing mesh linings. These boots are not only shock absorbent, but also resistant to slipping, oil, and abrasion. Needless to say, these are some heavy-duty work boots.
The boots’ exterior is flawless, but we have one complaint about the Raider insoles. Although they’re comfy, they aren’t built with the same durability as the outsole (which is understandable since most insoles are only meant to provide cushioning). This is an easy fix, though – just purchase an additional set of insoles on Amazon if you have trouble with the original Wolverine ones.
- Shock-absorbing pads
- Moisture-managing linings
- Contour welt construction
- Removable footbed
- Highly durable
- Insoles aren’t the best
- Style isn’t for everyone
6. Carhartt Men’s CMF6366
Best Lightweight HVAC Work Boots
|Colors Available||Brown w/ Tanned Leather, Brown|
|Shaft to Arch||7”|
So far, we’ve covered some big names in the shoe biz – Timberland, Doc Martens, Wolverine… These are all brands that you can trust. Carhartt is another name that can be added to the list of trustworthy work boot brands, especially if you’re looking for a triple threat. By triple threat, we mean that Carhartt has it all figured out in three different categories – comfort, protection, and style – with the CMD6366 boots.
First, let’s talk about the stunning design of these men’s work boots. Even though an HVAC worksite isn’t a fashion show, the full-grain leather of these boots is nothing short of stunning. The black and brown design is relatively simple, but it’s also classic – and you can count on the fact that these boots will never go out of style.
But enough about style, let’s talk about comfort. With a generously padded tongue, lightweight design, and multiple layers of insole cushioning, the Carhartt boots are as comfortable as they come. You can easily wear these boots all day and you’ll have no trouble going from the job site to an after-work beer with your buddies.
In terms of protection, Carhartt has hit the mark yet again.
The company says that the “composite toe protects against impact and compression hazards and meets ASTM 2413-18 standards… A flexible rubber outsole provides a confident grip for ladder rungs, cement floors, and uneven terrain… Composite reinforcements at the toe and heel add impact resistance.”
Our only complaint is that these boots lack insulation, so they’re not ideal for working in cold weather.
- Included 1-year warranty
- Classic design
- Rugged flex rubber
- Well-known company
- Multiple cushion layers
- Lacks insulation
- Insert needed for high foot arch
7. Ariat Men’s Catalyst VX Wide
Most Comfortable Work Boots
|Colors Available||Bruin Brown, Brown|
|Shaft to Arch||11”|
The style of the Ariat Men’s Catalyst isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you might change your mind as soon as you slip on a pair of these. They are the most comfortable work boots for AC techs, mainly thanks to the shaft that measures 11 inches from the arch. These offer optimal arch support, so if you are prone to arch-related issues, there’s no better pair of work boots out there.
The design of these shoes is motorcycle-inspired, featuring a wide square toe and protective shin guard. These are composite toe work boots, so they’re fairly light (even though they extend well over the shins) and won’t weigh you down while on the job. Another feature that adds to their extreme comfort is the fact that they’re completely waterproof.
There’s nothing ordinary about these boots, so if you’re not in the mood to stand out, you might want to go with a more subtle design. But if you like the idea of motorcycle style boots that come with great comfort features and full-on protection (and you’ve got the money to spend), the Ariat wide work boots are a great choice.
One reviewer says that wearing over-the-calf socks that extend over the shins is a must – “highly recommend that you wear over the calf socks, otherwise you will tear up your shin…Lesson learned!” The same reviewer goes on to say, “When I wear them, I feel like I’m ready to conquer whatever task they give me with a beer in hand!”
- Shin protection
- Great for wide feet
- 100% waterproof
- Described as “feet tanks”
- Must wear over-calf socks
8. Red Wing Men’s Iron Ranger
Cork Sole Work Boots
|Colors Available||Amber, Charcoal, Black, Hawthorne|
|Shaft to Arch||6.5”|
In terms of style, the Red Wing Men’s Iron Ranger boots are extremely similar to the Doc Martens reviewed earlier. But instead of a rubber sole, the soles of these boots are constructed from cork.
According to Taos Footwear, cork footbeds are the most sustainable because cork “comes from the bark of cork oak trees. Since it is harvested in a similar way that oranges and apples are, the trees will continue to thrive and reproduce bark throughout their lifetime.”
Sustainability is an obvious perk of choosing cork sole work boots, but it’s not the only one. Cork is also extremely comfortable, which is a huge reason why so many AC techs are raving about the Iron Ranger boots. This particular shoe was initially designed back in the 1930s for coal miners, but it quickly became an iconic boot for all walks of life and professions.
These shoes aren’t as cushioned as some of the other work boots on this list, so a lot of Iron Ranger customers have questions about how they’re supposed to fit.
Red Wing says that “a new pair of Red Wing Heritage footwear should fit comfortably tight on the foot, with enough room to freely wiggle toes. As you wear the footwear, the full-grain leather upper, insole, and cork midsole will mold to your feet, creating an increasingly personalized fit over time.”
The main downside is that these boots aren’t as heavy-duty as boots from Timberland and Wolverine, so they’re not ideal for intense construction environments. They’re longlasting and durable, but heavy-duty construction work calls for a heavier-duty pair of boots.
- Most sustainable option
- Made in the USA
- Great for every-day wear
- Soft, flexible leather
- Not for heavy-duty construction work
- Scuffs up easily
Steel Toe vs. Composite Toe
There are 2 types of work boots to choose from for AC technicians: steel toe and composite toe. A lot of techs feel that steel toe is the way to go since it provides added protection against heavy objects (like AC unit parts and pieces), but this isn’t always the case. Yes, boots with steel toes come with some advantages, but composite toe boots also have some perks.
When comparing composite vs. steel, the Home Depot says that “composite toe boots are made from strong non-metal materials such as Kevlar, carbon fiber, plastic or fiberglass. Because they have no metal, composite toe boots are great for work sites that employ metal detectors. They also offer better resistance, making them a popular choice for electricians and engineers.”
On top of that, composite toe boots are about 30% lighter than those with steel toes.
However, according to the Home Depot, “steel toe boots offer more protection than composite toe boots since they can handle a higher impact mass. They also have the advantage of being a slightly less expensive option.”
Caring for HVAC Work Boots
Your work boots take care of your feet while on the job, so the least you can do is to take care of your boots. Before you can even think about boot care and maintenance, the first step is to break your boots in. The best way to do this is by wearing them around the house for a few days before lacing them up for work.
Once your boots are broken in, it’s a good idea to waterproof them. You can do this by applying a water-based waterproofing agent to the outer surface of the boots and then do this one more time a few weeks later for maximum water repellency. To clean your boots, use a water-based cleaning solution and a nylon brush to remove dirt, dust, and debris.
For pure leather boots, it’s recommended that you apply a leather conditioner to keep the material from cracking over time. Cleaning the interior of your boots can be done every once in a while with a low pH shampoo. It’s not entirely necessary, but it’s a great way to minimize odors and keep your boots smelling fresh for years down the road.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Do these boots fit true to size?
There is an industry-standard for footwear sizing, both for men and women. As long as the manufacturer has followed those standards, then the boots you’ve chosen will fit true to size.
If you’re a woman shopping for men’s boots (or vice versa), Custom Fit says that “simply subtract 1.5 sizes from your current size. For example: If you wear a women’s size 9, you would wear a men’s size 7.5.”
Who else can wear these recommended HVAC work boots aside from HVAC technicians?
Anyone! These boots are not just for HVAC technicians, but for anyone who requires a heavy-duty pair of work boots. Even if you’re not employed as an HVAC technician, a pair of high-quality boots is a smart investment.
What is a steel shank and what does it do?
It’s common to confuse a steel shank with a steel toe, but these are two entirely different things.
Stride Wise says that a steel shank is “a load-bearing piece of steel (or another hard, flexible material) that is sandwiched between the insole and the outsole of your shoe.”
It sits under the arch, and its purpose is to relieve tension by reducing the load on the wearer’s calves, ankles, and knees.
Do I really need to break in my new work boots?
Technically no, but it is highly recommended. Boots that have yet to be work are extremely stiff, so failing to break them in slowly can lead to blisters, calluses, and extreme discomfort. The trick is to break your boots in gradually rather than all at once. Start by wearing them for 1 hour, then 2, then 5 (rather than 12 hours on the first day of owning them).
What types of socks should I wear with my work boots?
The exact socks you choose to wear with your work boots are up to you, but you’ll want to find socks that offer comfort, support, warmth (in cold weather climates), protection, and breathability. You’ve got the option to go with crew-length or wear a pair that extends over the calves, but keep in mind that longer socks provide added padding and protection.
Is it a good idea to buy boots online? Can I return them?
A lot of people are skeptical about buying the best HVAC boots online. What if the boots don’t fit? What if the material isn’t quite as durable as you thought? Or what if you just flat out hate the style now that you’ve seen the shoes in person? There’s good news… you can always return the boots you’ve purchased online when you shop with Amazon (just be sure to return them within the allotted time frame).
Now that you know the traits and qualities of the world’s best work boots, you can successfully choose a high-quality pair of boots to wear on your upcoming HVAC job sites. The Timberland Pit Boss boots are a top pick among AC techs and handy homeowners alike, but your feet will be thanking you with any of the products mentioned on this list of best HVAC work boots.
Last Updated on July 16, 2021