The Best Lineman Boots of 2022

Whether climbing poles, ladders, or hiking, you’re going to need a great pair of boots. We have a few top picks to share.

By Tom Scalisi | Updated Jun 23, 2022 12:44 PM

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Best Lineman Boots

Photo: unspalsh.com

Linemen are a different breed of tradespeople. Aside from their normal high-climbing activities, they put life and limb on the line to make sure folks have power at home to stay put, run water, and keep food safe during horrendous storms. As such, they need footwear that can keep up with them. After all, a boot failing while climbing a tower or pole could spell disaster.

Since boots made for lineman work are extra rugged and durable, they often can perform well in other tough situations like hiking, climbing ladders for DIY projects, and working with chainsaws. But choosing the best lineman boots is no small feat, as every situation may demand a particular feature like a steel toe, insulation, weather resistance, or a rating for electrical hazards.

This guide will help, taking you through the most important features needed in lineman boots, as well as sharing reviews of some of the best lineman work boots for specific categories of use.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Thorogood Emperor Toe 8″ Briar Pitstop Work Boot
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: AdTec Men’s 9″ Waterproof Steel Toe Logger
  3. UPGRADE PICK: Kenetrek Mountain Extreme Non-Insulated Hiking Boot
  4. BEST HIKING: La Sportiva Makalu Mountaineering Boot
  5. BEST LOGGER: Danner Flashpoint II
  6. BEST SAFETY TOE: Georgia Boot Steel Toe Waterproof Work Boot
  7. BEST WATERPROOF: Carhartt 8″ Insulated Composite Toe Climbing Boot
  8. BEST FOR BACKWOODS CALLS: La Sportiva Karakorum
  9. BEST INSULATED: Chippewa Waterproof Insulated Steel-Toe EH Boot
Best Lineman Boots

Photo: unsplash.com

What to Consider When Choosing Lineman Boots

Linemen can be very particular when it comes to boots. Many opt for custom-built models directly from a manufacturer, and they keep them for years and years. However, for those just breaking into the ranks of pole climbing, they need a place to start. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when shopping for lineman boots.

Anti-Slip Outsole 

Linemen find themselves in a lot of different conditions and scenarios, and nonslip or anti-slip outsoles are important for keeping them safe. Whether they’re standing in an aerial lift’s bucket, climbing a pole, or walking across wet metal catwalks, they need good footing.

Boots with a nonslip outsole, such as those made from rubber or rubber composites (such as Vibram), will help promote good traction. Deep, oversize outer soles called lugs that can gain traction in wet or muddy conditions are also a plus, but they’re even more important when it comes to keeping climbing spikes or ladder rungs centered under the foot.

Shank Support

Shank support is one of the most important factors when choosing a pair of lineman boots. Linemen are rarely off their feet, and these steel shanks sandwiched between the outsoles and insoles can help support the way their weight is distributed under them. This can help reduce fatigue and improve comfort.

But, most importantly for linemen, steel shanks help distribute their weight when climbing a pole with stirrups (also known as gaffs) or metal rungs attached to the side of the telephone pole. Without the shank, the weight would be concentrated over a very small part of the foot, making working for even a few minutes very painful.

Safety Toes and Raised Heels

There are two components that many linemen find indispensable: safety toes and raised heels. Safety toes are hard caps inside the boot that cover the toes. Should a heavy item fall and land on the toe area, these caps will prevent the item from crushing the lineman’s toes. Steel is typically the most popular choice for safety toes, but other materials such as aluminum, carbon fiber, composites, and plastics are also available.

Raised heels are incredibly important to linemen. Any time they climb, whether it’s a pole with gaffs or a ladder on a tower, linemen require raised heels to lock their feet in place. For this reason, many linemen prefer boots meant for loggers, as their pronounced heels hold climbing spikes in place securely.

Electrical Hazard Rating

Many companies or unions required linemen to wear boots that are electrical-hazard rated (EH). In very basic terms, it means that these boots will help prevent the wearer from getting shocked. They do this by separating the wearer from the ground beneath them, preventing an electrical current from grounding through the wearer.

Diving a little deeper, EH-rated boots have to pass testing performed by American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM f2413-18). This test, among other things, requires the boots to withstand 18,000 volts of electricity without leakage for up to 60 seconds.

Boots that pass the ASTM EH testing will typically have a designation stating so somewhere on the sole or upper.

Weather Protection and Insulation

Linemen don’t get to pick the weather they work in, and it can include blizzards, hurricanes, thunderstorms, floods, and other dangerous situations. The boots they wear need to be up for these rough conditions, protecting their feet from taking on water. This is not only for comfort reasons but also to keep them safe from fungal infections, frostbite, and other nasty conditions.

Also, since many of their callouts occur in ice and snowstorms, a bit of insulation goes a long way. Boots with 200 to 400 grams of insulation are typically best, as they aren’t bulky but allow linemen to keep their feet warm with the addition of a pair of wool socks.

Material and Comfort

The most popular materials used in boots for linemen are rubber and leather. Leather uppers are durable, comfortable, and allow for a bit of flex. They can be treated with waterproofing sealers or waxes and reconditioned many times over before they need replacing. Rubber is durable, protects against electrical shock, and provides the type of grip linemen need to stay safe.

As for comfort, some boots for linemen feature cushioned footbeds and removable insoles, keeping the wearer’s feet comfortable throughout the day. Also, shock-absorbing midsoles remove some of the jarring nature of climbing, descending, or simply walking back and forth from the truck to the jobsite.

Our Top Picks

Armed with that new background on the best lineman boots, it’s time to start shopping. The following list contains some of the best work boots for lineman use, but be sure to keep the above considerations in mind when shopping.

Best Overall

The Best Lineman Boots Option: Thorogood Emperor Toe 8" Briar Pitstop Work Boot
Photo: amazon.com

Linemen looking for a boot that does everything pretty well may benefit from considering this pair from Thorogood. This Emperor Toe 8″ Briar Pitstop Work Boot features a composite toe with extra room inside, allowing users to spread their toes or add a thicker padded insole without cramming the toes together. Also, the raised heel on the rubber outsole provides plenty of grip while climbing poles, ladders, or other apparatus.

These Thorogoods feature a removable single-density polyurethane footbed for improved comfort as well as a composite shank to keep the boot light. While they’re not waterproof or insulated, their tough construction and EH rating make them a strong contender among the best boots for lineman work.

Product Specs

  • Shank material: Composite
  • Toe type: Composite
  • Insulated/waterproof: No/no

Pros

  • Plenty of room inside the toe box
  • Raised rubber heel for plenty of grip
  • Light materials

Cons

  • Composite shank isn’t as strong as steel

Get the Thorogood lineman boots on Amazon.

Best Bang For The Buck

The Best Lineman Boots Option: AdTec Men's 9" Waterproof Steel Toe Logger
Photo: amazon.com

Lineman boots can be expensive, but this pair from AdTec might fit within many tighter budgets. The logger-style boots feature a rugged raised heel for holding gaffs or ladder rungs in place as well as a rubber outsole that resists slipping in oily conditions. It has a steel toe, but versions offered with a soft toe allow for a bit more comfort. It also features full-grain oiled leather for added durability and water resistance.

While these boots are affordable, the lower price comes at a cost to the design and performance. They’re not rated for electrical hazards. Also, AdTec doesn’t advertise the shank or its material, so it’s tough to say what it’s made of. However, for those looking for a lineman boot to get them from the office to the tower, these might be a good choice.

Product Specs

  • Shank material: Steel
  • Toe type: Steel toe
  • Insulated/waterproof: No/yes

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • Thick raised rubber heel
  • Oil-resistant outsole
  • Water-resistant leather

Cons

  • Shank material is unknown
  • Not EH rated

Get the AdTec lineman boots on Amazon.

Upgrade Pick

The Best Lineman Boots Option: Kenetrek Mountain Extreme Non-Insulated Hiking Boot
Photo: amazon.com

Linemen can’t always just pull their truck up to a job. Sometimes it takes a trek, and in inclement weather, a pair of Kenetrek Mountain Extreme boots might do the trick. This pair of hiking boots features a tall leather upper that protects the lineman’s ankles and legs while hiking as well as providing a comfortable surface for gaffs. It’s also waterproof with a breathable flexible membrane.

This boot’s rubber outsole provides plenty of traction, and the rubber sole guard extends up around the base of the boot to provide abrasion resistance—a helpful benefit considering this is a soft-toe boot. The raised rubber heel creates a secure grip on a pole or set of gaffs. Do keep in mind that these boots are not EH rated, but they do feature steel shanks for comfortable weight distribution while climbing.

Product Specs

  • Shank material: Steel
  • Toe type: Soft
  • Insulated/waterproof: No/yes

Pros

  • Tall leather upper for support
  • Waterproof with breathable membrane
  • Abrasion-resistant sole guard
  • Thick raised rubber heel and steel shank for comfortable and safe climbing

Cons

  • Not EH rated

Get the Kenetrek lineman boots on Amazon or Kenetrek.

Best Hiking

The Best Lineman Boots Option: La Sportiva Makalu Mountaineering Boot
Photo: amazon.com

For those who want a durable boot that’s comfortable enough for woodland callouts but don’t want to sacrifice a steel shank, the La Sportiva Makalu boot is worth a look. This hiking-style boot features a full steel shank for evenly distributing weight in gaffs or standing on pole pegs, making these a favorite among linemen who spend their time in a bucket or on a pole.

These boots feature a unique rough-out Idro-Perwanger leather—a classic abrasion- and water-resistant material associated with mountaineering. They also feature a Vibram rubber composite sole with a large raised heel, the combination of which prevents slipping on a variety of surfaces. They feature a moisture-wicking lining as well as a cushioned midsole for comfort. Just keep in mind that these boots are not EH rated, so they may not be well suited for linemen who work for companies that require EH boots.

Product Specs

  • Shank material: Steel
  • Toe type: Soft
  • Insulated/waterproof: No/water-resistant

Pros

  • Comfortable hiking-style design
  • Rough-out leather for abrasion- and water-resistance
  • Full steel shank

Cons

  • Not EH rated

Get La Sportiva lineman boots on Amazon or Sportiva.

Best Logger

The Best Lineman Boots Option: Danner Flashpoint II
Photo: amazon.com

Those who want a burly, heavy-duty pair of logger boots that can take anything thrown at them may want to check out Danner’s Flashpoint II boot. This pair of boots was designed for fire service, making them extremely durable and hard-wearing. They’re also electrical-hazard rated, water-resistant, and heat-resistant thanks to the Nomex material used in their construction.

This pair of boots features a full steel shank as well as a Vibram fire-resistant outsole. The leather upper stands 10 inches tall, making this boot more than sufficient for comfortably attaching gaffs. The leather is also fire-, puncture-, and water-resistant, meaning it can handle nearly anything a lineman might throw at it. And the Vibram Fire Logger outsoles provide plenty of grip along with a raised heel.

Keep in mind, however, that this pair of boots is uninsulated, so they might not be the go-to boot for colder weather.

Product Specs

  • Shank material: Steel
  • Toe type: Soft
  • Insulated/waterproof: No/water-resistant

Pros

  • Tall leather upper and steel shank for gaffs
  • Durable construction
  • Grippy Vibram soles
  • Fire-, puncture-, and weather-resistant

Cons

  • Not insulated

Get the Danner lineman boots on Amazon or Danner.

Best Safety Toe

The Best Lineman Boots Option: Georgia Boot Steel Toe Waterproof Work Boot
Photo: amazon.com

Linemen looking for a boot that will keep their toes safe and their gaffs in place might benefit from the Georgia Boot Steel Toe Waterproof Work Boot. This boot features a protective steel toe cap for keeping feet safe from situations like falling tools or stubs while climbing. They’re also rated for electrical hazards, feature a full steel shank, and are relatively affordable.

These boots from Georgia feature a 100 percent leather upper and a waterproof design, keeping feet dry in inclement or flooded conditions. The abrasion-resistant outsole will do the trick, as it has large, aggressive lugs for traction as well as a raised heel for locking gaffs, rungs, or pegs in place for climbing safety. The only thing these boots don’t offer is insulation, which may or may not be a deal breaker.

Product Specs

  • Shank material: Steel
  • Toe type: Steel
  • Insulated/waterproof: No/yes

Pros

  • Steel toe for protection
  • Steel shank reduces fatigue while climbing
  • Waterproof design for inclement weather

Cons

  • No insulation

Get the Georgia lineman boots on Amazon or at Tractor Supply Co.

Best Waterproof

The Best Lineman Boots Option: Carhartt 8" Insulated Composite Toe Climbing Boot
Photo: amazon.com

Not only are wet feet uncomfortable, but they can also be unsafe. But with Carhartt’s 8-inch climbing boot, that’s not a concern as these boots feature a waterproof leather upper to prevent taking on water as well as a breathable waterproof membrane inside. This boot also boasts 400 grams of 3M Thinsulate insulation to keep feet dry.

These boots are real-deal climbers. They’re EH-rated, and they have a full steel shank to support the climber’s weight on gaffs, pegs, or ladder rungs. The insole is also cushioned to absorb shock, while the rubber outsole features aggressive lugs and a raised heel for locking the climber in place. And the composite toe cap will protect against drops and stubs. The only downside to this boot is it might be slightly expensive compared to some others, but with its features, it could be worth the investment.

Product Specs

  • Shank material: Steel
  • Toe type: Steel
  • Insulated/waterproof: Yes/yes

Pros

  • Waterproof design
  • Full steel shank and toe cap
  • Aggressive rubber outsole and raised heel
  • 400 grams of insulation

Cons

  • Might be slightly expensive

Get the Carhartt lineman boots on Amazon or at Tractor Supply Co.

Best For Backwoods Calls

The Best Lineman Boots Option: La Sportiva Karakorum
Photo: amazon.com

Getting to those power lines and towers deep in the woods can take a bit of effort, but the Karakorum hiking boots from La Sportiva are up to the challenge. These boots feature La Sportiva’s Idro-Perwanger Roughout leather, providing a durable and water-repellent upper that can handle the rough stuff that linemen might face.

These hiking-style boots feature a Vibram sole with an aggressive lug pattern for grip and stability. While these boots don’t have a steel shank, they do have an anti-torsion plate in the insole to provide a bit more stability and comfort. They aren’t EH rated, so they may not meet some company standards.

Product Specs

  • Shank material: Anti-torsion plate
  • Toe type: None
  • Insulated/waterproof: Not insulated/water-repellent

Pros

  • Durable rough-out leather
  • Grippy, aggressive Vibram sole
  • Anti-torsion plate insole for stability and comfort

Cons

  • Not EH rated

Get the La Sportiva Karakorum boots on Amazon or Sportiva.

Best insulated

The Best Lineman Boots Option: Chippewa Waterproof Insulated Steel-Toe EH Boot
Photo: amazon.com

Those looking for an all-around quality boot should check out Chippewa’s 9-inch waterproof insulated boot. This logger-style boot features a durable leather upper as well as Chippewa’s own Chip-A-Tex waterproof membrane to keep water out. This pair also features a Vibram logger sole with a large, raised heel and a steel shank for grip and support on ladders and gaffs.

These boots feature 3M Thinsulate insulation as well as a steel toe design and are rated for electrical hazards, making these boots a solid choice for climbing linemen. Keep in mind that sizing may be challenging, as these boots are available mostly in wide sizes.

Product Specs

  • Shank material: Steel
  • Toe type: Steel
  • Insulated/waterproof: Yes/yes

Pros

  • Waterproof with Thinsulate insulation
  • Steel shank and large heel for climbing in comfort and safety
  • Durable leather upper

Cons

  • Sizing may be a challenge

Get the Chippewa lineman boots on Amazon.

Our Verdict

For those looking for an all-around capable boot that does a lot of things well, check out the Thorogood lineman boots for their roomy toe, light weight, and good grip. However, those who need a more rugged approach may prefer the Kenetrek lineman boots for their durable leather and waterproof design.

How We Chose the Best Lineman Boots

Putting together a list of the best lineman boots was a tall order. We had to call upon all of our time in the trades to think of the features linemen and industrial electricians might need most. We also had to recall all of the boots we’ve ever worn and used on jobsites to come up with an initial pool of candidates.

Once we had our candidates, we performed extensive product research to determine which were worth it and which were not. We compared features, quality, and price, and those that didn’t make the grade were tossed aside. For those that did make it, we gave each an award based on their strengths.

FAQs

That might seem like a lot of information on the best lineman boots, and the whole topic might feel a bit overwhelming. To help, we put together the following section, which includes some of the most frequently asked questions about lineman boots. Be sure to check for an answer to your question below.

Q. Do linemen need special boots?

Most linemen today work from bucket trucks and cranes, so special boots aren’t always a requirement. However, for those who climb, boots with steel shafts and raised heels are typically the best pole-climbing boots.

Q. Why do I need lineman boots?

Some employers or union halls may require certain boots, but otherwise, boots meant specifically for linemen and loggers provide the type of grip and comfort needed for climbing poles and towers. In general, logging boots are the best climbing boots for lineman use, while the best tower-climbing boots might have more to do with weight and grip.

Q. What should I look for in a lineman boot?

While these days most linemen work from buckets, linemen who still climb often value some of these important features: an electrical-hazard rating, a steel shank, a protective safety toe, and raised heels.

Q. How tall should lineman boots be?

Lineman boots for climbing are typically 9 inches or taller. This gives the wearer enough leg protection for wearing gaffs. However, there are linemen colleges and training programs that require students to wear hiking-style boots, which are roughly 6 to 8 inches tall.

Q. What are the best materials for making lineman boots?

The best materials for lineman boots are leather and rubber, which are nonconductive. Leather uppers are durable and can be treated with a waterproofing chemical, and rubber soles provide grip in a variety of conditions.