Out of all the equipment tower climbers need to do their job; harnesses, ropes, helmets, carabineers, etc… it can be easy to discount the feet. Even in regular jobs, the feet are overlooked until the end of the day when they are aching, dry, and cracked.
Beyond simple comfort, the right footwear provides grip, prevents the development of fungi such as athlete’s foot, can prevent foot odor, and will provide ankle support to prevent injuries to the ankle, knees, and back.
Footwear will either be leather or synthetic material. Leather shoes are the easiest to take care of and are more durable. Most work boots are made of leather, and some will run over $200. While opting for a $15 pair of low quality boots isn’t the best option, neither is shelling out $190 because of the “they are expensive, they must be the best” mentality.
The welt technique of boot construction involves a strip of leather between the top part of the boot and the sole, usually double stitched for superior durability. Due to the heavy duty nature of climbing, these boots are a good investment, but they are not as comfortable overall as some of the other methods.
Cementing uses an adhesive to join the outsole and rest of the boot. They are lightweight, inexpensive and comfortable but not nearly as durable as the double stitch method, though they are usually comfortable.
The method that has the highest level of traction is the direct-attach method. In essence, there is a mold attached to the boot that is injected with rubber to create the shoe sole. These boots are shock absorbing, lightweight and durable. They also allow for quick movement.
A feature that is available in several types of shoe construction are compression pads. As the name suggests, these pads compress when wait is applied. This absorbs shock and helps the pressure placed on the feet to be dispersed so it doesn’t all fall on one area of the foot. A thicker compression pad means that the feet will connect more to the pad and comfort will be increased. As OSHA has so much say in the safety matters of a tower climber, it becomes no surprise that OSHA certified boots are recommended.
Steel toed boots are common in physically demanding and risky jobs, but the weight, especially when climbing up and down towers all day can be more of hindrance than a help. Composite toes provide all of the protection of a steel toe, but with greater comfort and less weight. The only downfall to these composite material models is that once something is dropped on them, they need replacing.
Aluminum alloy is a bit more expensive then steel or composite. They are the best of both worlds, stronger than steel and as light as composites. Since the nature of the tower climber is to work with electricity, shoes with little to no conductivity are ideal. This is what makes the composites so appealing.
One last thing to look for when finding the perfect pair of work shoes is the soles themselves. Whether they are welt, cemented, or direct attached to the shoe, non-slide, great traction shoes will make all of the difference when climbing those bars on an icy, wet or windy day. Just like gloves, they should be appealing but, practicality or vanity needs to be practiced.
Purchase your Boots at the Tower Climbing Equipment Shop.