How Should Pull On Work Boots Fit? [Discussed]

Wearing pull on work boots is very different than wearing lace-up work boots. Pull on boots are much more convenient than lace-up boots since you can simply slip them on when you leave and kick them off when you get home. But the fit is also very different. How should pull on work boots fit?

Pull On Boot Sizing: Pull on boots should have a looser fit than lace-up work boots. This loose fit gives you enough space to get your foot into and out of the boot without having to pry them off. If the pull on boot slides on easily, it’s too big. If you really have to fight to get the boot on, it’s too small. You want your foot to fit comfortably through the shaft, and slide snugly into place, with adequate room in the toe box.

Because of this loose fit, pull on work boots are good options for those with wide feet, but can be poor options for those in responsive work environments (for example, first responders) that need to act quickly and rely on a snug shoe with a secure fit.

As with most things, there are both advantages and disadvantages to wearing pull on boots. And the fit of pull on work boots plays a significant role in determining what type of work environment they make the most sense for. In this article, let’s discuss in more detail how pull on work boots are supposed to fit, and who should wear them.

Pull On BootsLace Up Boots
Looser FitTighter Fit
Extra Calf ProtectionMore Responsive
More BreathableMore Ankle Support
Better for Wide FeetHarder to Get On/Off

How Should Pull On Work Boots Fit?

Should Pull On Boots Fit Loose?

Yes, pull on work boots should fit loose. This loose fit gives you the proper space to comfortably slide your foot in and out of the boot. A tight pull on boot will be very difficult to pry off your foot after a long day of work.

Please understand though that you don’t want these boots to be too loose. Many pull on work boots are naturally sized bigger, so if you order your normal sizing you often will have the right fit (yes, there will be exceptions).

Most work boot companies understand the importance of being able to slip your foot in and out of the work boot, and will provide the proper space. This space leads to a slightly looser fit than a laced work boot, but the fit won’t be dramatically different.

Although pull on boots are usually better for wide feet than lace up boots are (including the toe box area), probably the biggest difference is up around the ankle, where in a normal laced boot the laces really pull the tongue and upper part of the boot tight around the ankle bone.

Without the laces, the area around the ankle can feel quite loose. Not only does this provide comfort, it also allows your feet to breathe a little more, but the drawback is responsiveness. Without laces, boots don’t pass as much control over to your foot, and therefore don’t make sense for worker who need to respond quickly to active environments.

If you are interested in rubber boots, visit my article that discusses rubber boot sizing.

Lace Up Boots vs Pull On Boots Fit

As we discussed above, pull on boots fit looser so you have space to get your foot into and out of the boot. This can be both good and bad. More space means these boots stay comfortable as you work, but the loose fit won’t make sense for all jobs.

Ankle support is the biggest difference between the fit of pull on boot vs lace up boots. If you will be changing directions quickly on the job, pull on boots won’t make sense for you. A secure, laced fit around the ankle is needed for active work environments to help ensure the proper amount of control is passed to the foot.

Pull on boots are better for jobs that need extra abrasion resistance up above the ankle and for those who want the convenience of being able to easily kick off a pair of boots after work. Pull on boots also allow more heat to escape since the fit around the ankle is looser.

How to Find the Right Fit for Pull On Work Boots

As we discussed earlier, if a pull on boot slides on too easily, that means it is too big. But, on the other hand, if you really have to fight to get the boot on, it’s too small. Because of this, a pull on boot will have a little extra breathing room in comparison to a lace-up boot which can be loosened to slip your foot in, then tightened once the foot is inside the shoe.

Expect pull on work boots to have a loose, wide fit in comparison to regular lace-up work boots. If you are looking for a more snug fit, but don’t want to fight laces, a Chelsea work boot might be your best bet. Chelsea work boots stretch more, thanks to their elastic sides, so they’re easier to get on and off.

Because those elastic sides make it easier to slide a foot in and out, the boot itself doesn’t necessarily have to be shaped looser, so many types of Chelsea work boots provide a more secure fit in comparison to standard pull on work boots. Obviously this can vary a bit brand to brand.

However, since Chelsea work boots usually finish at or near the ankle, you should stick to traditional pull on boots if it’s important for you to have calf protection. And as I’ve said throughout, for many jobs this loose fit can be a positive. It provides breathing room to allow heat to escape and gives your foot and toes proper space so they don’t feel cramped.

Just remember, if you work in a responsive, active environment where you need to be quick on your feet, you will need that secure, tight fit around the ankle that a lace-up work boot provides. To read more about pull on work boots, visit our resources linked below:

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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