The Two Categories of Work Boot Soles

Work boot outsoles fall into two categories: wedge soles and heel soles, also known as 90-degree soles.

Wedge Sole Boots

For instance, most of Thorogood’s work boot lines are available in both outsole types. Their “MAXWear Wedge” outsoles are wedge soles, and their “MAXWear 90” are 90-degree heel soles. See, for instance, their best-selling American Heritage line.

Thorogood Wedge Sole

Danner, meanwhile, tends to use different soles on different product lines. Their Bull Run Moc Toe work boots have wedge outsoles, while their Stronghold work boots feature 90-degree heels.

Danner Bull Run

This naturally raises the question: which type of outsole should I buy? Which type of outsole is better for my specific needs? We’re so glad you asked, because in fact there’s a significant difference between these two soles.

It's All About the Surfaces You're Working On

The two outsole types are designed for two different applications. Wedge soles are engineered for working on hard, flat surfaces like a warehouse floor or paved road or sidewalk. Heel soles are designed for working on rough, uneven terrain or ladders.

Because of its relatively flat bottom and shallow tread, a wedge outsole allows more contact with the ground. That allows more friction on a hard, flat surface, and it also distributes the weight of your foot more evenly for better cushion and shock-resistance. That makes wedge soles great for warehouse work, delivery work, and indoor builders, service workers, and tradespeople.

Depending on your specific needs, you may also want to pay attention to other features of the wedge outsole. For instance, “slip-resistant” outsoles are ideal for working in environments where you might encounter spills of oil or water. These outsoles are made from softer rubber that grips the floor better.

However, softer rubber soles may wear out faster or even melt if subjected to temperature extremes, so you’re trading off some durability. If you need a slip-resistant sole but you want it to last, a nice compromise is to buy a Goodyear welt boot with a stitched-on slip-resistant outsole that can be removed and replaced if the sole wears out.

In contrast to a wedge sole, a 90-degree heel sole has more grooves and lugs for digging into the earth or bracing against rocks and other protrusions from the ground. That makes these boots ideal for outdoor work, especially in wilderness areas. The 90-degree heel also provides stability and safety on a ladder, because the heel braces against the ladder’s rungs. Thus foresters, loggers, linemen, agricultural workers, tower workers, and many construction workers will find heel sole boots ideally suited to their needs.

Find the Work Boot that Fits Your Specific Needs

At Outdoor Equipped we carry a wide range of men’s work boots and women’s work boots to a variety of specifications. In our collections, you’ll find both wedge sole and heel sole work boots for any occupation.

Need a pair of men’s steel-toe wedge boots to protect you from dropped objects and slips and falls in the warehouse? Try our Thorogood’s best-selling Men’s American Heritage 6” Moc Toe MAXWear Wedge Steel Safety Toe Work Boot.

Need some women’s waterproof heel boots with electro-hazard protection for wet-weather maintenance work around live wires? Danner’s got you covered with their Women’s Stronghold 5” Waterproof Work Boot.

So whatever your work boot needs, turn to the retailer you know you can trust. With Outdoor Equipped, you’ll get the work boots you want in the sizes you need, with no-hassle returns and no restocking fees. So make Outdoor Equipped your sole footwear provider and shop our collection today!