Are Wedge Sole Boots More Comfortable?
Wedge sole boots are often said to be more comfortable, but the truth is that a comfortable boot is comfortable no matter what sole is attached. It's just that some people find them to be.
Why do people say that, though?
Partially it comes down to the inherent virtues of the classic wedge sole boot design, and partially it comes down to user preference or what some people like in a boot. Sometimes, it's also the case that a wedge boot is a perfect fit for what the person is doing, therefore they like it.
What is it about wedge sole boots that makes them comfortable? Let's run that down a bit..
Wedge Sole Boots Have Minimal Heel Drop For A More "Barefoot" Feel
One of the classic elements of wedge sole boots design is having minimal heel drop, meaning the heel is close in height to the rest of the foot.
That's the case with classic wedge sole work boots from established brands that the style is associated with. If you get a pair, you'll notice the heel maybe rises less than a centimeter in many cases.
Why is that important?
A minimal heel drop gives you a more flat-footed feel. You feel a little more planted back on your heels, compared to wearing a logger-style work boot that places your center of gravity a bit more in the arch.
That gives the wearer something like a "barefoot" feel. It isn't like wearing water shoes or actual barefoot shoes, but has a similar feel in that you're flatter on your feet.
Here's where personal preference comes in.
What a lot of people find is the flatter feel makes them feel like they have a more natural stride and footfall, while boots with a raised heel can feel a bit like walking on stilts to some people, or if they have a tendency to drag their heels.
If you find typical boots with a raised heel a bit awkward to walk in, that's going to make wedge sole work boots or casual boots feel more natural and therefore a little more comfortable. A boot that wears a lot like a sneaker, but still gives you the support your feet need.
That's a lot to like, and ordering custom boots can get you a fantastically comfortable set of work boots.
Thick Wedge Soles Absorb A Lot Of Impact
The other classic design element of wedge sole work boots is the thick outsole.
The difference between working examples and fashion examples tend to be the soles, which on more work-oriented wedge boots are very thick, but on more fashion-forward boots are usually much thinner, close to the sole of a pair of sneakers.
What the thick sole does is provide a firm cushion between the foot and the ground. While less shock-absorbing than a taller heel, the flatter heel and more natural footfall tends to make the foot roll through the step a little bit more naturally.
The thicker sole also made this design of boot popular for backpacking as the thick heel is beneficial when carrying a rucksack...so long as you don't need the utmost in traction, the classical failing of wedge sole boots.
The effect is less shock to the feet and lower legs, which is why wedge sole boots are incredibly popular with many workers in more urban areas, such as factory works, electricians and construction workers.
Again, the boot has a flatter, more casual feel to the wearer almost like a regular shoe, but has the support needed for a work boot. In part, that's due to the thick wedge outsole.
However, that also makes wedge sole work boots less-well suited to people who work in rougher terrain like loggers, bush mechanics, wildland firefighters and so on; a different boot structure is needed to provide adequate support.
What Makes Any Boot Comfortable Is That The Boot Is Comfortable
Ultimately, though, what makes any boot comfortable is that the boot is comfortable to begin with. Nothing will make a boot that doesn't fit correctly or lacks support and cushioning in critical areas comfortable for you, regardless of any design feature.
Why do people like the popular brands of wedge sole work boots? Because those boots are pretty comfortable. However, there are some common complaints about them as well.
Many wedge sole boots lack reinforcement for the arch, leaving many people wanting for arch support. Typically this is addressed by replacing the insoles, but some people would rather they had proper arch support built in by the factory.
The moccasin toe can also be polarising. Over time, the toe box tends to wilt, lowering the toe box onto the front of the foot. Many people also find the toe box narrower than on plain toe boots, which can impact fitment...especially if you aren't getting your boots custom-fit for you.
You also don't know what kind of lasts other companies are using, as not all of them disclose it! Some may be true to Brannock device sizing, others may use lasts that run larger than Brannock and others that run smaller, and it's hard to know which if ordering online.
So are wedge sole boots more comfortable? They can be, if they're made right for your feet...but you may not find out until it's too late. If you were fitted for your boots before you bought, you'd know they were made right before you started the break-in.