On those long days where you spend on your feet at the station and on non-fire related calls, you need a comfortable pair of boots that are durable and easy to get off and on. We aren’t talking about a rubber boot or other type of bunker boot, these are the boots you wear when you are not actively fighting fire.
That’s where station boots come into play, and it is essential that every firefighter and EMS professional has a reliable pair. This is a vital part of your protective clothing. You will spend the majority of your time as a firefighter or EMT in them. Around the station, on medical or other non-fire calls, at training and drills, etc. So, what are the best firefighter boots?
The best firefighter boots are durable, comfortable, and easily removable. But just like any shoe or boot, there are so many different types with a variety of ideal qualities and features, which can make it difficult to select a pair.
Ultimately, the best firefighter/EMT station boots are the ones that fit your needs in particular and improve your performance. There are many things you should consider before purchasing a pair of station boots. The following is a list of boots based on mine and my coworker’s experiences.
If you’re not entirely sure what you should be looking for in a good firefighter boot, here are some qualities to keep an eye out for.
Table of Contents
- What To Look For
- My Picks for Best Firefighter Station Boots
- 1. Haix Airpower XR2 EMS/Station Boots
- 2. Redback Men’s Bobcat UBBK Black Elastic Sided Soft Toe Leather Work Boot (Best Slip-on)
- 3. Redback Boots USBBKSC “Easy Escape” Steel Toe Scuff Cap
- 4. Bates Men’s 8″ DuraShocks Lace-to-Toe Side Zip Work Boot (Best Side zip)
- 5. Thorogood Men’s 8″ Side-Zip Jump Boot Gen-flex
- 6. Bates Men’s Ultra-lites 8 Inches Tactical Sport Comp Toe Work Boot (Best Budget Boot)
- 7. Under Armour Men’s Stellar Tac Side Zip Sneaker
- My Firefighter Station Boot Recommendation
- Haix Airpower XR1 Dual-Certified Wildland / EMS / Station Boot
- Related Articles
What To Look For
What sets the best station boots apart from other work boots is the ease of removal, comfort from prolonged wear, overall functionality, slip resistance, and how long they will actually last you. This type of protective footwear is essential.
It is also important to remember that the manufacturer of a pair of boots can be the difference between an extremely high-quality pair and a low-quality pair. In my personal experience, boots are one of the areas where I prefer to spend a little more to get boots that will take a beating and keep my feet happy.
As a firefighter, you may need to quickly go from your uniform and station boots to your fire turnouts and other protective gear. If you have to unlace your station boots each time, you will be the last one on the engine. Trust me, you don’t want to be the one holding up your crew and delaying your response.
Therefore, one of the most important aspects of station boots is the ease of removal. In terms of quick on and off, there are three choices to avoid lacing up; front zipper, side zipper, or slip-on. Your preference between zipper and slip-on is just that: a preference.
I like some of the slip-on style boots like the Redbacks and Blundstones, and a ton of guys I work with wear these types of boots, however, I find the slip-on style usually lacks ankle support. For this reason, I prefer the front zip.
As you probably know, firefighters will frequently spend hours on their feet. For this reason, comfort is still the number 1 most important thing when it comes to a good firefighting boot.
You know how uncomfortable being in your leather boots can be when the time spent wearing them is excessive. This is one of the main reasons you should consider buying good station boots, as they were designed for optimal comfort and to allow you to successfully perform tasks around the station without causing discomfort or pain in the feet.
This is even more important if you area wildland firefighter, as you will spend weeks at a time on your feet.
Some features of the shoe that may be adapted to provide ample comfort include adjusting the heel height, providing cushioning in the insole, and including a wider toe box.
The Haix brand boots have some of the best reviews and ratings when it comes to comfort. My experience is the same.
Functional / Durable
Whether you’re at the station, on a drill, or at a call, it is necessary to have boots that are functional and non-restrictive. In all actuality, station boots should assist you in performing your daily station tasks, but also should be durable to last more than a year. A firefighter may even choose to use a wildland fire boot for this purpose. Others may choose an EMS boot or other type of work boot.
Station boots are often designed to be fire-resistant, waterproof, and durable enough for nearly any occasion you may encounter as a firefighter.
You don’t just need boots; you need quality boots designed for the tasks you perform daily.
Whether you are mostly involved with wildland firefighting, structural firefighting, or EMS will determine what type of tactical boot is right for you.
Many brands out there sell boots for any occasion or occupation, but very few brands sell boots that are ideal for firefighters. There are a few brands that have several station boot models available for purchase.
Some of the more reputable brands when it comes to station boots include:
Remember that just because a brand is known for producing station boots doesn’t mean they are of high-quality or can be used as you intend to use them. Make sure you look at the reviews for individual shoe types instead of blindly trusting a brand’s reputation.
My Picks for Best Firefighter Station Boots
Considering the major qualities and features of firefighter station boots, I put together a list of the 7 best firefighter station boots.
While putting the list together, I examined the ease of removal, comfort level provided, and overall functionality of the boots. Additionally, I used real-world firefighter experience to determine the best boots.
With that said, the actual ranking below thoughtfully weighs the inclusion of these features, the physical design of the boots themselves, and consumer feedback. Here are my top choices when it comes to the best firefighter station boots.
The Haix Airpower XR2 Station Boots are one of the few pairs of station boots available on the market that were clearly designed for firefighters and EMS workers. These leather boots are some of the most versatile available.
The greatest feature of this boot is, by far, the fact that it is NFPA certified, meaning it meets the standards set by the NFPA. These boots are easy to remove with their easily accessible front zip style.
The lining in this boot is superior to the lining of many station boots out there, specifically because the liner is waterproof and breathable while also resistant to pathogens and chemicals. The inner sole is plush and prevents pressure spots like no other leather boot I have tried.
In terms of further safety, these boots also are certified to protect you from any electrical hazards you may encounter along the way. Also unique to this pair of station boots is the sun-protection feature included to maintain temperature balance as well as rubberized outsoles that are heat-resistant.
No matter what situation you find yourself in, these boots will easily withstand any environment. Whether that includes fire, water, chemicals, electrical hazards, or sharp objects, you can expect to do your job completely without worrying about the effectiveness of your boots. They also have a standard composite toe, for added protection.
I have worn quite a few different types of boots throughout my fire and EMS career and these are by far my favorite boots! Once you get the right size (they tend to run a little big) they are much more comfortable than any other boots I have worn.
Even when standing for hours during drills, my feet stay dry and comfortable. For me, the comfort of these boots is worth the higher price tag, without a doubt.
The other version of these boots is the Haix Airpower XR1 Dual-Certified Wildland / EMS / Station Boot. These look and feel almost identical to the XR2, but are 9″ tall instead of 8″ and they have an NFPA 1977 certification, which allows them to be used as a Wildland boot.
That means these can function as a station boot, EMS boot, or wildland firefighting boot, all in one.
The XR1 is the most comfortable, versatile boot you can find; and I plan on wearing these for the rest of my days as a firefighter. But the XR2 is a little cheaper and still a great boot.
Unlike every other boot on this list, there are very few negative reviews associated with these station boots. Perhaps the most significant downside to these boots is the cost. These boots are more expensive than most of the others on this list, but in my opinion, well worth it.
Here is a video from Haix to help you choose the right size.
2. Redback Men’s Bobcat UBBK Black Elastic Sided Soft Toe Leather Work Boot (Best Slip-on)
The Redback Bobcat is one of the highest-rated station boots available on the market today. If you prefer the slip-on style, this is my recommendation.
The most significant feature of this boot is the elasticity provided, providing easier removal when time is of the essence. These boots can easily be slipped off and replaced when necessary.
They were also designed to be 20% more durable than the typical work boot and more comfortable for extended periods on your feet at the station.
The design of this boot incorporates features that make the boot resistant to cracking and becoming misshapen, making them more versatile and durable for long-term use.
The durability of this boot is further secured through an engineered method resulting in the leather of the shoe being fastened beneath the shoe’s insole.
The actual construction of the shoe takes into account the anatomic makeup of the foot.
It implements a design utilized to benefit the foot’s natural arch and reduce fatigue in the feet, legs, and lower back regions. These boots can, therefore, reduce the chances of developing injuries or fatigue in the body.
This boot may not be true to size, and you should consider that before purchasing this boot. Make sure to use a Redback specific size chart before you order.
Here is another opinion on these boots.
The Redback “Easy Escape” Boots were designed to be extremely durable for any situation, but also easily removable when required (easy slip off).
The physical design of the boot includes reinforced leather designed to promote greater durability and protect the feet and ankles from hazards and injury.
These boots are completely functional in the station and successfully meet the standards for electrical hazards commonly seen when on a call.
The included steel toe cap provides sufficient protection from impact and compression, and the outsoles of this boot are entirely slip-resistant for optimal levels of traction and grip in any environment.
Another great feature of this boot is the injury prevention provided with a shock-absorbing midsole. This provides enough protection for any situation, ranging from racing across the station to get ready for a call to landing hard on your feet when coming off of the truck.
The boots provide support throughout the foot to reduce pain and fatigue in the feet, legs, and lower back.
This boot may not be true to size, and you should consider that before purchasing this boot. Make sure to use a Redback specific size chart before you order.
4. Bates Men’s 8″ DuraShocks Lace-to-Toe Side Zip Work Boot (Best Side zip)
The Bates Durashock work boots are a solid example of just how durable station boots can be. With the inclusion of a side zipper and Velcro strap, these boots are easily removable and stay secured when zipped and strapped fully. If you prefer the side zip boot, this is my recommendation.
Though designed to be lightweight, these shoes include several features that provide the feet with ample protection and optimal performance.
The outsole of this shoe was designed to last long-term and is remarkably effective in maintaining balance on even the most slippery of surfaces. The “DuraShock” feature included in the soles were included to allow for maximum shock absorption and prevent injury in the feet and lower body region.
The actual fabric used in the boot is comparable to the material used in airman boots from World War II, so you know the upper part of this boot is durable and resistant to damage that may occur.
While providing support and protection, the fabric in the upper is considered breathable, making the boot more comfortable to wear for long periods.
Some users have reported that the materials of the boot may begin to come apart after consistent use, though this varies based on what you put these boots through while working. But I have never seen or personally had this issue.
Though this feedback is seen frequently from consumers, you should also consider the fact that the outer sole is completely replaceable and, if it were to come apart, would not mean you have to get rid of the boots.
The Thorogood Side-Zip Jump Boot was designed to include several unique and helpful features that promote comfort and greater use.
These boots are easily removable with the addition of a side zipper secured by a strap to remain in place no matter what you’re doing. This pair of boots was constructed to be virtually indestructible, thus its high ranking on this list.
The upper region of this boot is constructed of highly-durable leather material with a breathable interior lining to allow for more comfortable usage. The inch-thick rubber outsole is non-marking and slip-resistant for secure balance and stability in the station and in the field.
Customization is what makes this boot more unique than other available station boots. With a removable insole, you can personalize your boot to fit your feet better and provide support related to your feet in particular.
The insole of the boot is also composed of a cushion material included to provide ample comfort in consumers and provide some shock absorption when necessary.
Despite the durability provided by this boot, it comes at a price. Though highly protective of the feet and ankles, the boot may result in discomfort in the heel or ankle when worn for extended periods or worn consistently.
Others have also noted that the boot creates a squeaking noise when worn, though this is likely not going to be a deal-breaker for you if you find that the boot performs well otherwise. For me, the squeaky boots are why this boot doesn’t rank higher, but many don’t find it to be a big deal.
6. Bates Men’s Ultra-lites 8 Inches Tactical Sport Comp Toe Work Boot (Best Budget Boot)
The Bates Ultra-Lites Work Boots are indeed super light, but still provide many of the major features that come along with the Bates brand. The lightweight rubber outsoles of these boots are entirely water-resistant and oil-resistant and provide the necessary stability in any physical environment you may find yourself in while you’re at the station.
You can easily slip these boots on and off with the side zipper, which is fastened with Velcro beneath. If you prefer a boot without a side zipper, you also have the option to purchase a version without the zipper. The manufacturer of these boots is known for its production of military and police-grade footwear, so durability is often not an issue.
The DRYGuard waterproofing feature fully waterproofs the boot while still providing an acceptable level of breathability within the boot itself. These boots also provide a reinforced toe for reduced risk of injury to the feet.
While clearly designed for many situations you’ll find yourself in as a firefighter, these shoes have been perceived as being of relatively low-quality when it comes to long-term durability. The lightweight features and interior qualities make this station boot a viable option, though obviously not one of our top selections.
Though not usually a brand associated with tactical gear or boots, the Under Armor Stellar Tac Side zip “sneaker” is one of a kind. These boots feel more like a basketball shoe than a boot and don’t offer as much support or protection. But they are quite comfortable, for a budget boot.
Removal of the boot is as easy as unzipping the side zipper and taking the boot off. Unlike most of the boots on this list, these station boots are completely fabric and textile, as compared to being constructed solely from leather.
One of the unique features of this boot is its water-repelling design while also allowing for breathability and moisture-wicking. Aside from successfully repelling water, these boots are considered “quick-dry” to enhance usability and performance in consumers and prevent the need for a back-up pair of boots at the station.
The midsole was specifically designed for optimal levels of protection and support, while the leather and nylon uppers are soft and lightweight. This design allows for the best of both worlds, which includes a rare combination of durability and breathability.
The lightweight design of the upper makes this boot more of a “minimalist” design, which is relatively uncommon in station boots.
The greatest downfall of this boot is the thinner composition that has reportedly led to a lack of durability long-term. In considering the physical makeup of these boots, the sole can be viewed as uncomfortable on the feet and increase the risk of injury when performing menial tasks.
You may also be interested in reading: How to Clean a Leather Fire Helmet?
A station duty boot is a necessity as a firefighter, and the wrong boots can make your day awful!
One of the best things you can do to increase your comfort and further your abilities is to find yourself a suitable pair of station boots that meet all of your needs.
When purchasing a pair of station boots, take into account these qualities:
- Easy removal for a quick transition from station boots to turnout boots
- Comfortable enough to wear around the station for hours on end
- Functional usage for all station tasks and requirements