According to Business Insider, roofers have the fourth most dangerous job in the United States, with almost 50 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers. Only loggers, fishermen, and aircraft pilots/engineers have jobs that are statistically more dangerous. A slip can lead to a fall. A fall can mean serious injury or death. Working in the hot sun during the summer, roofers sometimes succumb to heat-related illnesses. If you’re a roofer, you know that the best work boots for roofing must provide a very specific features.
Your safety, and your very life, may depend on your ability to be sure-footed and agile as you work. Thorogood, Red Wing and Cougar Paws have some of the most reliable roofing shoes.
Updated January 2021 by Tony Bleak
In a Hurry? The Top Pick:
Thorogood American Heritage, read more to find out why.
|Thorogood American |
Heritage Lace Till Toe
Made in USA
|Red Wing Heritage |
Classic Moc toe Boot
|Yes||Soft||Made in USA|
|Timberland PRO |
Barstow Work Boot
Oil- ,slip- &
|Cougar Paws Peak |
Performer Roofing Boot
Work boots for roofers must incorporate several key features.
Slip-resistance–or traction–is absolutely essential.
Sliding on a slick roof could mean plunging to your death. As a roofer, what you’d really like is the same kind of traction a mountain goat has as it maneuvers rocky peaks with ease.
You’ll probably never match a mountain goat’s traction, but you’ll greatly increase your ability to walk a roof without slipping and sliding if your work boot has a great sole. The best work boots for roofing have an outsole with a lot of surface that contacts the roof itself.
A wedge or a flat sole is better than a deeply lugged sole for that reason. Rubber and Vibram soles provide lots of grip. Many of the roofing boots with the best reviews have rubber or Vibram soles.
A traditional-looking lace-up boot or shoe with a padded collar and a breathable—usually leather—upper is the widely-preferred style.
Roofers don’t harbor a grudge against cheap boots, pull on boots, or cowboy boots. They just know that for roofing jobs, a lace up boot that fits snugly, provides ample room in the toe box, and gives you lots of range of movement fits the job demands better. Slip on boots don’t generally fit close enough around the ankle.
Cowboy boots or other tall boots with a distinct heel limit the leg and ankle’s range of mobility, and cause damage to the roof. Breathable materials like leather help keep feet from scorching on hot summer days when the black tar in the shingles sends the roof surface soaring. These features also make the boots more comfortable for long work days.
Working in unusually harsh conditions may require additional safety features that most roofing shoes don’t require.
None of our best boots for roofing have a steel toe or composite safety toe. The highest-rated shoes don’t have safety toes because roofers generally need the freedom of movement and flexibility more that they need toe protection.
The same thinking holds true for met guards to protect the metatarsal bones. Roofing boots don’t generally have them because roofers don’t need them. This is true for both mens and womens roofing shoes.
We didn’t include any insulated or waterproof boots in our top choices, because snow, ice and wind bring roofing activities virtually to a halt in winter, except when you need to fix a leaking roof. A leaking roof can’t wait for spring, but you can wait for the next sunny day to patch the leak.
The sad fact is that you may need two pairs of roofing boots to cover all the temperature extremes inherent with roofing, and with roofing materials. Consider the difference in temperatures of a fiberglass roof, a shingle roof, and a metal roof, even if all 3 were on homes in the same subdivision.
If you work in areas where the temperatures plummets before inclement weather hits, you’ll find highly-rated insulated boots available. Several good waterproof boots are also marketed by Thorogood, Carhartt, Diehard, Ariat, Red Wing and others.
The 4 best Work Boots for Roofing
Thorogood American Heritage Roofer Lace to Toe
The Thorogood Heritage Lace to toe Roofer Boot is specifically designed to meet the job requirements of roofers. With a water-resistant Polyurethane wedge outsole, this boot provides great traction and comfort. The insole provides good shock absorption and increased comfort. It can be removed for easy replacement.
- lace up – lace to toe
- Slip resistant
- EH rated
- Made in USA
- Requires a “break in” period
The Red Wing Heritage Men’s Classic Moc 6″ Boot
The Red Wing Heritage Men’s Classic Moc toe Boot features a durable leather upper and a leather insole for lightweight comfort and breathability. A broad wedge heel allows for extra connection with the roof surface.
- Traction Tred provides superior gripping
- Made in USA
- Needs a cushioned insole
Timberland Barstow Wedge Boot
The men’s Barstow Wedge Work Boot from Timberland provides exceptional comfort.
- Cushioned, antimicrobial insole
- Shallow tread for improved grip
- 30-day comfort guarantee
- Heavier than some boots
Cougar Paws Peak Performer Roofing Boot
The Cougar Paws Peak Performer Roofing Boot is designed with the safety issues of roofers in mind.The unique Peak Line pads provide exceptional traction. The lace guard adds another layer of protection by keeping laces from becoming tripping hazards. The boot fits snugly to cushion and protects the ankle.
- Lace guard
- Soles absorb the heat
- Peak Line pad limits roof damage
- Replacing Peak Line pads can be pricey
We chose these boots because they rate very well. People like them and–in general–believe they fit like they should, and last as they should.
Comfort is the hallmark trait for all of these boots.
Across the board, more customers praised the comfort of these boots more than they did any other feature. Several purchasers of the Thorogood and Red Wing boots indicated that the boots took a few days to break in, but that afterward they “fit like a glove.” Each boot earned “best boot ever” accolades from at least one purchaser.
Soles and insoles are most often defective, but non authentic online sellers are believed to be the culprits.
These boots earn lots of 5-star ratings. But even with that, they all have at least some customers who said the quality of the sole and/or the insole was defective. Soles separated from the upper or split. Insoles weren’t cushiony. Several customers across the brands felt that purchasing online was somehow to blame. They tried the boot on in a store, then ordered online to save some money. They were convinced that the online product was a 2nd or a return.
The best work boots for roofing have features that provide safety and comfort to the worker. That’s generally true of the best boots–whether the occupation is welding, construction, factory work or other. However, because of the dangers inherent in roofing, there’s a premium on the safety aspects.
Our 4 best non slip roofing shoes rate really well for safety features like traction and are also very comfortable and durable. The Thorogood American Heritage Roofer Boot is my pick for the best-of-the-best because of their lace-to-toe feature and the shock-absorbing, removable liner.
An honorable mention goes to the Cougar Paws Peak Performer Roofing Boot. If you frequently work on steep roofs, metal roofs or in windy conditions, this boot would add a level of protection.
Our 4 best metal roofing boots all provide excellent traction and range of movement. They all protect the ankle and cushion the foot. Each has a sturdy, grippy outsole. In styling, all 4 are similar, and for good reason.
The dangers inherent in roofing require that roofing shoes provide a few key features which some styles simply can’t provide. Our 4 best shoes are all relatively short lace-ups with a wedge sole.
Roofers work several feet (or more) above ground on slanted surfaces in all kinds of weather. Climbing up and down ladders, work from scaffolding, and regularly move to and from surfaces with different heights and slope pitches.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How to walk on a metal roof without slipping?
First, make sure someone knows that you’re doing up to inspect or repair the roof. Then, you need to inspect the roof from the ground to make sure it will hold your weight and allow you to walk on it safely.
Once you’re convinced that the roof is in safe condition, don a pair of work boots that will provide you with some traction. Rubber-soled boots that are flexible, hug your ankle snugly, and allow you to maneuver easily will help you walk the roof with less danger of falling.
Now you’re ready to get on the roof. Use a ladder long enough to extend at least a few feet above the height of the roof. Hang onto the ladder as you step onto the roof, and don’t be surprised if the roof gives a bit when you step on it.
If the roof isn’t very steep where you’re walking, walk up or down it as you would on the ground, except more slowly. If the pitch is steep, use a side step to move up or down. Move with caution, and try to walk near where rafters provide extra support to the roof and that is how to walk on a metal roof without slipping.
Another option is using a drone to do your roofing jobs for you. No footwear required.
Can you suggest some options for a good pair of non slip roofing shoes?
You could purchase a good, sturdy non-slip shoe from a number of mainline manufacturers of athletic or running shoes. Nike, Reebok, Merrell Keen, and Skechers all make shoes that would allow you to walk safely on a flat or moderately-sloped roof. Here are some good options.
- Merrell Moab 2 Hiking Boot
- Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator
- Reebok Crossfit
- Skechers for Work Felton Slip Resistant Relaxed-Fit Work Shoe
If you want an actual work boot, besides the ones we’ve suggested, you could choose any of these.
- Danner Bull Run Work Boot
- Skechers USA Utility Boot
- Ever Boots Ultra Dry
- Caterpillar Work Boot
- Keen Utility Milwaukee Work Boot
- Wolverine Moc Toe Work Boots
- Irish Setter Work Boot
- Timberland PRO Soft Toe
- Chippewa Plain Toe Boot
- Skechers for Work Soft Stride Canopy Slip Resistant Work Boot
The key to a good roofing shoe is traction. You need a sole that grips the slate, shingles, corrugated metal, or rubber roofing beneath you without skidding, catching on uneven spots or damaging the roofing material. Generally, a flat rubber or Vibram sole without deep lugs will provide better traction. More of the grippy sole material contacts and hugs the roof, resulting in reliable non slip roofing shoes.
What are special considerations when purchasing metal roofing boots?
If you’re purchasing a pair of shoes so that you can work on metal roofing, you need to remember that, by its very constitution, metal roofing is slippery, especially when it gets cold or wet.
Traction is critical for any roofing situation, but it’s absolutely imperative when you’re working on a metal roof. So, your first consideration should be the shoe’s sole. Is it made of rubber? Is it wedge-shaped with some grooves for traction? Ideally, you would want your metal roofing boots to answer “yes” to those questions.
However, while some grooves increase a boot’s traction, a heavily lugged sole reduces how much of the sole actually touches the roof and lessens the boot’s traction.
You’ll also want a lightweight work shoe that fits snugly around the ankle, but still gives your foot plenty of freedom of movement. Moving up and down a slick metal roof all day is exhausting work that stretches muscles and tests balance.
A heavy boot adds to the strain and makes you more tired. A boot that fits too tightly around the ankle causes chafing and blisters, but a too-loose shoe can allow your foot to slide and cause you to lose your balance. Your want the perfect balance between too-tight and too-loose work boots in your metal roofing boots.