Asphalt Work Boots for Paving: Cofra vs Red Wing Shoe-down

Paving asphalt is brutal on your body. It’s hard work not only standing and walking on hard surfaces all day but also stooped over molten tar breathing toxic fumes. Walking on freshly poured tar gets your feet hot quickly so you need specialised asphalt work boots for the job. Cofra and Red Wing are popular choices but are there other options?

Updated Feb 2020 by Tony Bleak

asphalt work boots

In a Hurry? Top Pick:

Cofra Asphalt Paving Boots, read more to find out why.


Comparison table

Waterproof
Safety Toe Features
Cofra Asphalt Boots No Composite Puncture resistant
Heat resistant till 572F
8 inch boot
View
Irish Setter Alloy
asphalt paving boots
Yes Alloy Heat resistant till 475F
EH rating
Goodyear welt construction
View
Timberland PRO 40000
pavers boots
Resistant Steel Heat resistant till 572
EH rating
Met guard
Goodyear welt construction
View

Key Features of Asphalt Paving Boots

There are a few hazards to protect yourself (and your feet) from the asphalt workplace:

  • Uneven terrain and gravel
  • Hard surfaces and pavement
  • Molten asphalt tar and hot surfaces
  • Pointed sharp items that can cause injury to your feet.

There is a wide variety of blacktop work boots suitable for hazardous hot surface work, some better than others considering durability, safety features and comfort. Some boots are designed to be cheap initially but then break down more quickly than a more expensive boot made out of better quality materials and construction styles. 

Why buy a cheap boot that wont last?

Companies that are obliged to provide safety gear will unfortunately resort to the bare minimum when profit margins are slim. Likewise, these boots have thin layers of both safety and comfort materials. These materials soon start deteriorating and detaching with daily wear.

Some companies offer to contribute to safety work clothing. This is a much better option, giving you the power to decide how safe and comfortable your feet will be. Ideally you would choose a better quality boot that will last longer. A boot that protects you from chemical hazards, heat radiation, impact shock and sharp object lying about and cushions your sole.

One of the indicators of a good quality boot 

–is the insulation thickness and advantced technologies used in the boot construction. This means that they are more resilient to potential damage, increasing durability and protection levels. 

Companies that provide their workers with excellent quality safety boots for work on asphalt roads are making a big investment in their workers. These boots are not cheap and provide ultimate comfort and safety to the wearer. 

This type of asphalt paving boots doesn’t feel like a clunky safety boot atall. It is lightweight and feels just like a normal everyday shoe. You do not feel how much safety you are wearing around your feet atall. And that is specifically their goal: to be unobserved in your daily work, causing absolutely no distractions. 

Let’s look at the desirable features work boots for asphalt paving should ideally have.

Protective Outsole

The soles needs to be both heat resistant and flat. 

If you get aggressive treads with lugs that offer great traction on slippery surfaces like ice and snow, you are likely to leave marks on the malleable tar. A flatter outsole leaves a smooth pavement surface, avoid imprints being left behind in the soft tar. A shallow tread will avoid gravel getting stuck in your boots. 

However you will need heat resistant soles. The heat resistance is essential as you’re walking on hot asphalt all day. Basic shoes might be ok on such a surface for a short time but not for extended periods, every day. 

Safety shoes not specifically desiged to withstand hot temperatures will get ruined and might injure your feet in the process. Heat blisters come up quickly and are very painful and unpleasant to deal with. 

When choosing work boots for hot surfaces such as asphalt, the soles should be heat resistant approved for 8hrs on temperatures up to 300 Degrees. 

Wedge style boots are popular as they high ratio of contact with the ground and even weight and impact distribution. This helps decrease foot fatigue and minimizes impression risk on the still pliant asphalt.

Minimalist work shoes and work boots with deep lugs and heels are not suitable for asphalt work.

Boot tongue

To avoid any hot tar, bits of gravel or stray stones getting into your pavers boots, wear a boot with a full gusset tongue. Another option to avoid getting unwanted objects and debris in your boot is to wear a met guard. Metatarsal guards will not only protect your feet but also make your boots easier to clean at the end of the day.

Taller boots

Avoid boots any less that 8 inches. The taller they are the more protection they provide from hot tar and other hazards in the asphalt work environment.

Breathable Mesh Lining

A breathable boot will help your feet maintain a comfortable temperature instead of ending up sweaty and boiling in a suffocating work boot.

Your feet experience double the heat if you work in summer and the temperatures are high and you are standing on molten asphalt as well. This makes for a very hot and unpleasant work environment for your feet.

Avoid sweaty smelly feet by wearing boots with cool air flow features and temperature control due to a good quality breathable mesh lining. By avoiding overheating feet, you will be more comfortable during the work day and have dry feet that do not smell.

Protective Insole

Most asphalt work boots will have a thermo insole that protects against high temperatures

Not only does your insole need to protect you against hot temperatures from the hot tar, but also offer cushioning since you are on your feet most of the day. Your boot must provide support and anti shock and anti fatigue qualities so that your feet and joints and back avoid aches and pains.

Always ensure correct arch support. If your boot doesn’t have it built in, get a suitable insole with arch support to make sure your feet are supported sorrectly and your arch isn’t exposed to excessive pressure. This will affect your joints, causing optential knee and back pain over time.

Waterproof

To avoid work boot damage when using water to clean up in the workplace. You won’t be paving in the rain or in the winter if it is freezing and snowing but you will probably end up getting your boots wet some way other. Avoid damaging your boots by waterproofing them. Don’t just rely on the manufacturer stating they are waterproof. Do it yourself. Take care of your boots so that they can take care of you.

Safety Toe cap

When it comes to the safety toe, it’s best to go with a material that does not absorb heat, or cold for that matter, like metal does. A steel toe cap will absorb the warmth from the hot tar you are working with and standing on all day. It will accumulate in your boots and cause a very uncomfortable oven boot sensation leading to sweaty feet and in the worst case heat blisters especially if you have a steel shank in your boot as well.

A composite toe safety boot acts more in line with insulation that does not conduct heat or cold like metal does. The composite hard plastic or kevlar materials offer most of the steel toe properties but are lighter in weight and save you from excessive heat or cold in your boots. 

WARNING: Some composite toes come without impact and compression ratings. Always check that the safety toe meets the ASTM F2413-11 I/75 C/75 standards. Ensure they meet OSHA safety standards.

The 3 best pavers boots for asphalt work

Cofra Asphalt Boots: Treadless for Paving Work

Cofra is one of the most well known brands for asphalt work. Their boots not only meet the requirements but exceed them by far. This Italian footwear designer started back in 1938 and has grown ever since and other brands struggle to keep up with Cofra in the asphalt shoes market. 

The cofra asphalt boots only downfall is that the sole cannot be re-soled and it’s slippery on wet surfaces. But you can’t expect much non slip traction from a smooth sole. And you need a smooth sole for asphalt work to avoid marks on the surface. You can’t have it all. But since you won’t be paving asphalt roads in the rain, the boots don’t need to be non slip or slip resistant for work.

These boots are ultra comfortable and allow current inserts to be replaced with custom orthotics or other insoles you might prefer.

PROS

  • 8 inch boots
  • Breathable leather uppers
  • No tread: avoids leaving marks on soft asphalt 
  • Chemical resistant
  • Composite toe cap
  • ASTM F2413-11 I/75 C/75
  • Heat resistant outsole up till 572 degree
  • Ankle support
  • No metal that conducts heat
  • Thermic insole
  • Puncture resistant plate in outsole
  • Removable footbed

CONS

  • Slippery on wet surfaces 
  • Cannot be re-soled once sole wears down
  • No full gusset tongue
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Irish Setter Alloy Paving Work Boots

If you want to avoid too many laces and prefer a shorter boot, the Irish Setter is a good choice. It’s amazing how versatile these boots are thanks to all the safety features packed into this attractive looking work boot. 

This boot is part of the Red Wing family and is popular as good quality boots suitable for various safety work jobs. Although Red Wing as a brand is known to make boots in the USA, these are made in Vietnam. 

PROS

  • 6 inch boot
  • Rubber sole 
  • Non slip
  • Extremel comfortable and no breakin period 
  • full-grain leather
  • EH rated and approved
  • ASTM F2413-11 I/75 C/75
  • Chemical resistant
  • Heat resistant outsole up til 475 degrees
  • Outsole with shallow tread
  • Waterproof
  • Alloy Safety Toe
  • Removable footbed
  • Goodyear Welt construction 
  • Weight 3 lbs. 8 oz.
  • Abrasion resistant

CONS

  • Soles wear quickly but they can be re-soled 
  • No full gusset tongue
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Timberland PRO 40000 Met Guard Boot

This work boot has a met guard for extra protection of your metatarsal bones and from hot tar. The metatarsal guard replaces the need for a full gusset tongue. 

Although the steel shank provides support, it also conducts heat and might increase the warmth levels in your boot. The steel toe doesn’t help this situation as it is also a heat conductor made of metal.

This boot is suitable for people who are not inclined to suffer from hot sweaty feet and prefer the extra safety of a strong steel toe, met guard protection from potential hot tar intrusion into the shoe, slip resistant soles.

PROS

  • 6 inch boot
  • Met guard
  • abrasion-resistant full-grain leather
  • Shallow tread EH safety rated
  • Steel toe cap
  • ASTM F2413-11 I/75 C/75
  • Foot fatigue and arch support system
  • slip-, oil- and abrasion resistant
  • Heat resistant outsole up till 572 degrees
  • Leightweight at 2.26 pounds
  • Ankle cushion support
  • Breathable polyuethane footbed
  • Goodyear® welt construction

CONS

  • Steel shank
  • Steel toe 
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Conclusion: the best asphalt work boots

All 3 of the asphalt paving boots options are suitable for asphalt work and you would not be dissapointed spending your work days in any of them.

If you feel like you tend to get tar up to your ankles sometimes, choose the Timberland Met Guard boot to avoid any asphalt getting into your boot. If you prefer a versatile work boot that looks a bit more attractive, the Irish Setter is the way to go. Both of these offer electrical Hazard protection as well incase you work near electricity.

Overall the most well designed asphalt shoes are the Cofra brand with it’s smooth soles and ultra comfort design. It also happens to be the most budget friendly pavers boots option between the top 3 choices. These cofra asphalt boots look great and will keep you safe and comfortable throughout your work day and that is what it comes down to when looking for one of the best work boots for your job.

Molten blacktop vs Asphalt

These 2 substances are very similar, infact blacktop is actually a type of asphalt

Blacktop has a higher ratio of stone to bitumen compared to asphalt. Bitumen is the extremely sticky black material, developed from petroleum distillation. Asphalt tends to be more smooth thanks to the higher bitumen ration. This means that it is more quiet when driven on and it causes less wear and tear on car tires.

Asphalt is used for major highways and any other street considered to have high traffic. Molten blacktop is more commonly used for driveways and smaller roads or playgrounds with lower usage since blacktop is not as durable as asphalt.

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