Should I Get A High Arch Or Moderate Arch In My Work Boots?

When shopping for a pair of custom work boots, you might be offered the choice of a high arch or a moderate arch...or a low arch, for that matter. Which should I get?

Partially, that depends on you, but it also depends on what kind of work you do for a living.

Arch profiles benefit certain kinds of movement more than others and also certain jobs more than others, as do the soles of the boot in question. Which you should order depends on you and also your trade.

Consider Your Arch: What Feels Better On Your Feet?

what arch support feels good for your feet

The first thing to consider, of course, is your personal preferences when it comes to your work boots.

Do you prefer work boots that have a ton of arch support, almost as if your feet are sitting on a sideways saddle?

Or do you prefer a feel that's closer to an athletic shoe, but just one that's a whole lot stiffer?

Personal preference and what you know will make your feet comfortable and keep them that way over the course of the work day is...well...entirely personal. You know what's good for you, as you are the expert on you!

It also helps to be able to try on multiple variants of a work boot if you have the opportunity. That way, you get a pretty good idea of what they'll feel like with either arch profile and therefore, what your preference would be.

That or a try-on boot program that lets you do it remotely as part of a boot fitting process.

However, with personal preference aside, what benefits do work boots with high arches have?

High Arch Work Boots

Work boots that are made with a high arch have the most amount of arch support, which is important for several reasons.

First, those with foot issues that require a greater amount of arch support get the orthotic reinforcement they need. The arch is the shock absorber of the foot; it needs to flex properly, but not too much or too little.

Insufficient arch support in footwear leads to lower leg injuries and recurring issues such as plantar fasciitis, which is not fun to deal with on a daily basis.

The needs of the wearer aside, there are some other functional aspects to having more arch support.

People who work on uneven ground need the additional reinforcement for proper footfall and transmission of force to the ground, as well as the additional buffering of force on the foot.

The high arch of Nick's Handmade Boots as well as other brands that offer similar designs have long been the darlings of particular trades such as wildland firefighters, loggers and other workers who spend a lot of time on their feet outdoors in remote or rough places.

The raised heel profile and increased arch support makes navigating rough terrain much easier on the person wearing the boots, including going up and down hill and if carrying a lot of gear.

A higher arch is also desirable for linemen, as they have to constantly climb ladders and need the additional grip.

If that's the kind of work you do every day, or if you just need more support from your boots, then a high arch is definitely for you.

Moderate Arch: Best Of Both Worlds

moderate arch boots

A moderate arch profile, on the other hand, doesn't make the boot flat like a pair of Chuck Taylors, but does reduce the heel drop and instep.

That doesn't mean that moderate arch work boots lack for support; far from it. It's just that the overall profile is somewhat reduced.

Those with arch issues but who work in less than the roughest environments still find all the support they need. The instep and arch are still fully supported, giving your feet the protection from shock and reinforcement necessary to stay comfortable all day, every day.

People who work outside but in less rough environments, say on a ranch or in residential construction, find the logger or firefighter boot profile a bit too aggressive but also find a flatter arch profile less than supportive.

A lower arch also allows for easier dynamic movement in case you need to hustle up, though not necessarily as easy as athletic shoes.

If that sounds a little more like you - still needing support, but not quite needing to wear high heels - then a moderate arch is likely the better choice. It's worth trying boots with different arch profiles to find the most ideal arch for you.

Low Arch Work Boots

Work boots with a low arch profile have a place as well.

Of course, some people prefer the lower arch profile all on their own. What many find is that it allows the foot to lay a little flatter, almost like going barefoot and allowing for a natural flex at the ball of the foot.

Low to moderate arch profiles are also preferred by many people who work indoors on hard surfaces, such as in warehouses, mechanic shops and in manufacturing. Some of the most popular work boots for such workers - such as the famous brand Thorogood - have modest arch profiles.

The classic army paratrooper boot, which has long been hailed as being incredibly comfortable to wear compared to other combat boot styles, was known for a modest arch along with a wide toe box, which gave them a "barefoot" feel and more natural flexing of the foot when in use.

A flatter profile is also much more enabling of dynamic movement, so if you find yourself having to hustle throughout the day, that may be a better boot profile for you.

However, again, you're the expert on you. Invest in a great pair of work boots that suit you and your work, and you'll get more than your money's worth.