Lineman Work Boots for Comfortable Pole Climbing | Essential Steel Shank & Insulated Winter Shoes

Climbing up and down utility poles to manage electric wires and cables amongst other risky tasks is not considered an easy job. Wearing the correct safety gear could save you from a serious injury and even death. As a lineman, you rely heavily on your feet and therefore footwear in this job, so let’s make sure you have the best lineman work boots to support you. Please note that standard work boots don’t cut it. This job requires specialised steel shank lineman boots. We’ll also look at some of the best slip on and insulated winter lineman boots.

Linemen, arborists and logging trade workers look for the same qualities in their work boots. The boots in this article are suitable for all 3 trades although we mainly refer to linemen duties to keep it simple.

Updated March 2020 by Tony Bleak

lineman work boots

In a Hurry? The Top Pick:

Ariat Powerline, Read on to find out why.


There are certain critical features climbing boots for linemen require. Amongst the most important: good quality material: strong and durable, a steel or composite safety toe cap, (specialised lineman steel shank, EH rating, waterproof, solid heels, agressive tread, slip- and oil resistant and insulation for winter. The traditional lineman boots are lace up, however there is a comfortable slip on or pull on alternative.

Comparison table

Waterproof Safety Toe Features
Ariat Powerline
Lineman Boot
Yes Composite
11 inch boot
EH rating
Steel Shank
Vibram Sole
400gr Thinsulate
View
Carolina ELM
Boot
Yes Steel 8 inch boot
EH rating
Steel Shank
Welt construction
View
Wesco Highliner
Lineman Boot
No Soft
10 inch boot
Made in USA
Steel Shank
Vibram Sole
View
Chippewa ARADOR
Logger Boot
Yes Steel 9 inch boot
EH rating
Made in USA
Steel Shank
Vibram Sole
Welt construction
400gr Thinsulate
View
Georgia Loggers
Boot
Yes Steel 8 inch boot
EH rating
Steel Shank
Welt construction
View

Key Features 

Heels

Lineman boot heels are one of the most important features of a lineman safety shoe. The heel needs to be thick and strong to grip the climbing peg or utility pole rungs securely. Without a significal heel that hooks over a rung or climbing peg, it is dangerously easy to slip off and fall.

Outsole

Aggressive tread and non slip traction on your boot outsole are essential to be safe as a lineman on the job. The climbing pegs on the telephone or utility poles don’t even need to be wet to be slippery. They are extremely hazardous to climb without the correct safety shoes. 

The outsoles should be all weather proof to provide effective traction in summer as well as icy winter. The lugs and treat should be designed to avoid gravel or small debris collection as small stones stuck in your soles could cause a safety risk when climbing a ladder.

Waterproof

Every work boot should be waterproof. Do not rely on manufacturers stating that they are already waterproof. You need to apply your own waterproofing layer. This can be done easily. And you will be happy that you did when step in a deeper tan expected puddle, get caught in the rain or simply get carried away with watering the garden.

Without waterproofing, your boots are more easily stained and damaged. This is unfortunate as you might need to buy new boots sooner than necessary. And if you get caught in the rain during work hours you might end up with uncomfortably soaking socks, slippery and cold feet. Besides the discomfort, this can lead to smelly feet and fungus growth as bacteria thrives in trapped moisture situations like this.

If you are uncomfortable, you are distracted from work and that can lead to an accident. Stay safe and make sure you apply waterproofing to your boots at least twice a year or more, depending on your usage and weather conditions.

If you work in the snow or icy conditions, you might need to treat your boots to waterproofing more often to avoid any unwanted water ingress. 

Make sure to choose a boot with breathable mesh lining that allows good airflow to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

Shank

Lineman boots benefit greatly from specialised steel shanks. The shanks built into the sole offer increased balance and support to the wearer whilst avoiding discomfort and pain. 

If you were to climb up these thin pole rungs with soft soles, you would probably stop quite quickly due to pain shooting up through your sole arches into your legs and your back. However with specialised steel shanks in lineman boots, you barely feel the rungs when climbing. 

Lineman safety boots have specialised shanks that are not only extended in length but are also wider and contoured to follow the left and right shape of your feet. This structure helps prevent foot fatigue in linemen. 

These specialised lineman shanks distribute the pressure away from your arches, more effectively than standard safety boot shanks do. The shanks distribute your weight so efficiently, you can climb up these metal ladders without any pain at all, but rather with an increased sense of stability and support.

The increased balance is always welcome, particularly when you are climbing extreme heights up 1000 foot communication towers. 

These factors add up to a comfortable and safe boot you enjoy wearing. 

Comfort

Besides the shank providing support and comfort, an antifatigue insert or footbed is recommended as you will be spending a good amount of your work day standing, climbing and putting pressure on your feet. Some boots have anti fatigue technology built into their soles as an added benefit. Take care of your feet so that they can take care of you too.

Safety Rating

Impact and Compression Safety

Most work boots have an ASTM Safety Standards rating for impact (I/75) and compression (C/75). And although this safety standard is optional for linemen, many prefer the extra peace of mind it provides. Safety toe caps protect your feet from heavy objects that could otherwise crush the bones in your feet.

A popular safety toe for linemen is made of composite or alloy material as they are both much lighter in weight compared to the traditional steel safety toes. Considering you need to climb often, the more lightweight your boots, the better.

Electrical Hazard Safety

Wearing safety shoes with an EH safety rating is important if you work with electricity. Some safety boots have metal components such as a steel toe or steel shank, which seems counter intuitive as metal conducts electricity. However as long as the steel parts are not exposed but are instead insulated by rubber or another protective material, your safety boots can be efficiently EH safety approved. If the material comes away on the inside or outside of your boots and the steel toe is exposed in anyway, make sure to replace them immediately. 

Although EH safety rated boots are important to wear when working with electricity in anyway, they are a supplemental protection. Ensure other suitable protective gear according to your work involvement with high voltage electricity.

The 5 best lineman work boots

Ariat Powerline 400g Lineman Safety Work Boot

This is the one and only slip on safety boot recommended for lineman work. The construction, design and quality is excellent and this is reflected in the cost. However they are boots that will last if you take care of them correctly. These boots are specifically designed for linemen climbing steel towers. 

Customer impressions: 77% of customers find that the boot runs true to size. The break in period is short from immediate comfort and no break in needed to some reporting a week to break in. 

A particular reviewer has tried all the lineman boot brands and has found these to be the best quality and extremely durable. He has been wearing them for a year and says they are still good as new although he wears them every day. He has “stocked up” on these Ariat boots in case they get discontinued. That is one happy customer! 

Other customer echo his sentiments with “best boot I’ve owned”, “great safety boot”, “amazing boots” and “extremely well made”.

PROS:

  • 11 inch boot design 
  • Composite toe
  • Goodyear leather welt construction 
  • waterproof 
  • full-grain leather
  • Traction lugs 
  • Tread releasing debris
  • ASTM F2413-11 M/1/75 C/75 
  • EH rated
  • tempered steel shank
  • 400g Thinsulate™ 
  • Anti shock midsole inserts
  • Vibram® outsole
  • No break in time, immediately comfortable 

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Leather care required
  • Wide top boot opening, meaning jeans might need to be stuffed into, rather than over, the boots
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Carolina® ELM CA9823

This is a steel toe and slightly heavier compared to composite toe alternatives. However the steel toe is also a pro point since it is the safest safety toe. Carolina is one of the best Logger boot brands and for good reason And they have barely any break in time.

Customer Impressions: 86% of customers feel that they run true to size. Some customers are so please they recommend them to family and now their son and husband are wearing Carolina boots as well. 

They are stylish good looking and customers in industrial and ironwork appreciate that they are full waterproof as well as the foot arch and ankle support. The X-wide truly fits very wide feet and overall customers are very pleased with comfort levels.The break in period is short to medium, some taking 3 days and others reporting a 2 week break in period. 

PROS:

  • 8 inches
  • Welt Construction
  • Leather
  • Waterproof SCUBALINER™
  • ASTM F2413-18 I/75 C/75
  • Electrical Hazard Rated
  • Safety Steel Toe Cap
  • Steel Shank
  • Rubber Lug Outsole

CONS:

  • Steel Safety Toe Cap
  • No insole
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Wesco Highliner Lineman Work Boot 9710430

Each of these boots is handmade in the US. American boots that can be rebuilt and therefore last forever. They are specifically designed and built as a climbing boot for telephone, power and cable workers since 1938.  

PROS:

  • 10 inches boot style
  • full-grain leather
  • Vibram sole
  • Slightly arched steel shank
  • Lace-to-Toe
  • Removable false tongue
  • Made in USA
  • Deep lug soles that can be rebuilt
  • Run true to size
  • Metal heel plate to avoid climbing spurs 

CONS:

  • Expensive but can be rebuilt repeatedly
  • Not waterproof
  • No safety toe
  • No EH rating
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Chippewa Insulated ARADOR Logger Boot

This is another boot made in the USA with excellent safety and comfort features. It is suitable for colder months as it has insulation built in. With it breathable lining it will keep your feet dry and comfortable during spring and autumn seasons as well. With the Goodyear Welt construction it can be resoled when needed. 

Customer impressions: some customers have issues with one or both of the boots running small and narrow, however 84% of customers are pleased with the sizing and comfort. Mostly customers comment how sturdy they feel and appreciate that they are made in America. They last around the 2 year mark and comfort levels are very good to excellent.

PROS:

  • 9 inches
  • Steel toe
  • ASTM F2413-11 M/1/75 C/75 
  • Electrical Hazard protection
  • Made in USA
  • Goodyear welt construction
  • Waterproof
  • 400 gram Thinsulate
  • Removable orthotic insole
  • Vibram outsole
  • Breathable Dri-Lex lining
  • Lightweight at 2 lbs
  • Run true to size
  • Short to no break in period, extremely comfortable 

CONS:

  • Steel Toe
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Georgia Boot Men’s Loggers G7313 Work Boot

The included soles are reported to be a bit thin but they are removable and can be replaced with whatever insole is better suited to your foot. Good looking boots that can be resoled with a convenient rear pull loop to pull the boots on easier than tugging at the top of the boot colar. 

Most customers (85%) are pleased that the boots run true to size. ome saying they are the best fitting and most comfortable logger boots ever owned. Customers facing any defective issues were helped quickly and efficiently with replacements. 

Waterproofing “really works” and if you care for the leather they can last 2 years or more. Shorten the break in time by using leather treatment to soften and hydrate the leather. 

PROS:

  • 8 inches boot style
  • Goodyear® welt construction
  • Electrical Hazard rated
  • Full-grain leather
  • A steel shank
  • Rubber outsole
  • Safety steel toe
  • Waterproof 
  • Breathable system 
  • removable polyurethane orthotic insert
  • Lightweight 3lbs per boot
  • 1 year warranty 
  • Run true to size 

CONS:

  • Safety Steel toe 
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Conclusion

All 5 boots are excellent logger boot choices for linemen duties. 

It’ll come down to your particular preference or brand loyalty. The Chippewa and Wesco are both made in the US. This is reflected in a higher price tag.

If you’re looking for a slip on or pull on lineman work boots without laces, you’ll enjoy the Ariat Powerline boot in all weather even winter. It has 400gr insulation and has breathable material to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

The Georgia and Carolina 8 inch boots look similar in style. Only the Georgia is a lace to toe and has slightly better customer ratings. They both run true to size with little to no break in period. You couldn’t go wrong either way.

Winter lineman boots to keep your feet warm and dry

Winter boots for linemen have soles that are cold temperature resistant. That means that although temperatures are freezing the sole material still serves it’s intended purpose. The main purpose of the sole is to be slip resistant or non slip. 

These boots must be completely waterproof to keep your feet dry and warm in snowy and icy conditions. If they allow water and cold in you might suffer from hypothermia and frostbite depending how cold your winter is. Rather not risk any discomfort or injury and make sure you have added a waterproofing to your lineman boots.

Socks are also a big consideration when it comes to wearing the the best suited type for your specific boot.

Popular winter lineman boots choices:

La Sportiva Men’s Makalu Boot

ARIAT Men’s Linesman Ridge Gore-Tex 400gr Composite Toe Work Boot

The harder the sole the more likely it is slippery in wet conditions. Deep lugs will help you hold your footing and balance but you want to find a good balance between a hardwearing hard sole and a softer more grippy and non slip outsole  for winter months. 

WARNING: If you work with electricity in wet winters you want to consider Dielectric boots as these offer electric shock protection in damp, moist and wet conditions. The EH safety rated boots only offer electric hazard protection in dry conditions!

Depending on how cold it gets, you’ll want to have boot insulation.

Insulated lineman boots

Insulation ranges depending on how cold the winter is you usually face. It also depends if you are more stationary when outside or if you are very active and move around alot vs sitting or standing still.

Work boot insulation is usually made of 3M™ Thinsulate™ material. This is very dense very thin material that doesn’t make your boot bulky or heavy. It is known to keep your feet dry by allowing moisture out, to evaporate, but keeping warmth inside.

If you enjoy a mild winter, the Chippewa boots with 400gr insulation will keep your feet comfortable and warm during your work day. This is the go to winter work boot for linemen and most find this boot does a good job in the winter and on colder days.

If you need something warmer if your area suffers from cold or very cold winters, you’ll want to have a look at these Carolina insulated lineman boots with:

600 gram insulation

800 gram insulation

If you need to climb up a freezing metal structure in the middle of icy winds at the very least your feet will be extremely comfortable wearing these boots.

The most comfortable lineman boots

It’s difficult pinpointing the most comfortable lineman boots overall. Each of them have been built to be extra comfortable on the feet. The extra comfort allows you to be on your feet a whole work day or longer. So comfort is a major factor for each of these lineman boots.

Also keep in mind that one person finds one type of boot more comfortable than the other and vice versa because we each have slightly different feet. 

Taking those points into consideration, Wesco boots are the clear winners on all possible comfort levels. They are handcrafted in the USA specifically for people who need to climb on a daily basis. 

The Wesco brand and family owned company never lost sight of their mission to provide the best boots possible made from quality material using detailed and passionate craftsmanship. 

When making a Wesco boot, there is no compromise on ingredients such as material quality, time, skill and effort it takes to produce a 155-step-handmade top notch work boot. 

With the amount of care and attention dedicated to each of these creations, the resulting comfort is no surprise but rather a guarantee.

Wesco also offers custom fittings, should your feet so desire.

Climbing boots for lineman work

One of the main lineman jobs is to climb poles or utility structures to fix, maintain or setup new wires, power lines or cables. This means that lineman boots need to be specifically designed for climbing as a priority, both for safety and comfort.

Linemen climb thin ladder rungs, hang in stirrups and balance on slippery pegs for hours on end, on a daily basis. 

The boots above are specialised work boots designed for lineman work duties. They provide the ultimate safety shoe footwear any lineman could need in a job. And there are a lot of criteria needed in a lineman climbing boot!

Climbing boots for lineman – Qualities:

  • Durable sole
  • Non slip outsole
  • Agressive tread
  • Excellent traction 
  • Sustantial heel 
  • Shank
  • Waterproof
  • Min 8 inches, taller boots offfer more protection

Lineman boots with steel shank

The steel shanks in the boots are part of the magic that make lineman boots what they are. Without these load bearing metal shanks in the sole of the boot, the boot wouldn’t be called lineman boots. 

These special designed shanks are:

  • Longer and wider than you would find in standard work boots
  • Inside the boot sole
  • Located directly under the foot arch
  • Contoured along with the shape of your boot
  • Most times made of metal

These useful hidden additions maintain the boots structure prevents sole damage to the boot, making them last longer than if they didn’t have a steel shank. 

Stability enhancing steel shanks not only protect the boot from damage but also your feet from experiencing pressure that causes excruciating pain to shoot up through your body. This is achieved by not allowing the boot to bend at the arch. Natural minimalist shoes usually do not have this feature.

This feature also offers increased stability and balance when climbing ladders or slippery pegs. The risk of a falling accident is reduced when wearing lineman boots with steel shank.

Are slip on lineman boots safe?

Although most linemen and climbers such as loggers or arborists enjoy a lace up boot, preferably even lace to toe boot, there are slip on or pull on boot suitable as climbing lineman boots as well. 

As long as you ensure that the fit is snug, but not too tight to be uncomfortable, and you do not experience any slippage inside the boot, the boot is safe to wear to work. 

If you experience slippage inside your boot, be it any type of boot: lace up or slip on, make sure to get to a safe location and find out why. Do not continue working if your boot is slipping around your feet. If water got in and your socks are soaked, simply change your socks and waterproof your boots as soon as possible. 

Slip on lineboots are very convenient and save you alot of hassle and time without having to tie shoelaces. They are also easier to clean and maintain when applying leather oil or condition or waterproofing. 

Ariat has excellent slip on lineman boots that meet all the safety and comfort requirements you could wish for in a climbing boot. 

16 inch lineman boots

This type of lineman boot is very tall and therefore offers extra protection for your ankle and lower leg. They wrap tightly around your calf and will not let any water get in from the top, keeping your legs, ankles and feet warm, dry and comfortable.

These boots are designed to be extra snug, secure and protective for jobs that include climbing structures, particularly trees. You’ll be glad for an extra layer of protection.

You might not solely climb during your work day. Carrying equipment through tall weeds, over uneven ground and through mud might be necessary. You want to be able to rely on your boots and not worry about where to place your next step. 

This extra structure and support keeps distractions at bay and helps you concentrate on your task at hand. Let your 16 inch lineman boots carry you through your work so that you can focus on the more important things.

Are steel toe lineman boots necessary?

The short answer is no. Safety steel toe caps are optional in lineman boots. 

However since you are working near heavy machinery and there are hazardous objects around you on a daily basis, perhaps it is a good idea to have protective safety toe shoes? Accidents do happen when you least expect them to, after all.

If you would like the extra protection for your foot bones, you can also choose alloy or composite safety toe boots. Some are as safe and meet the ASTM standards but the material is much more lightweight compared to metal.

Steel toe lineman boots are common and very well made. You hardly notice any extra weight if they fit correctly. The peace of mind with this layer of protection is well worth it as many tradesmen and women who’ve had close calls can tell you.

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