Your Guide to Buying Work Boots: Outsole Options

When it comes to work boots, there are many different outsole options available.

From the type of toe protection you need to the type of fit you want, there are many things to consider when it comes to buying work boots. However, one of the most overlooked aspects of the buying process has to be the outsoles. Buying a work boot with the wrong type of outsole can lead to many different issues, including slips and falls, melted, damaged or destroyed outsoles, or shoes that are too heavy, stiff or uncomfortable for the job. But how do you know that you’ve found the right outsole? With the following guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the many types of work boot outsoles available to you.


This is a thermoplastic material that is often used in rubber boots. Outsoles made with PVC are excellent at resisting even the strongest chemical agents, such as acid. PVC works well in a wide range of temperatures, from -4 degrees Fahrenheit all the way up to 212 degrees. PVC is also both abrasion and slip resistant; although, the slip resistance it provides isn’t as effective as other outsoles. Extremely resistance to hydrolysis, PVC outsoles have high storage longevity.

PU Mono Density

PU is typically an injected molded outsole, and it’s an abbreviation for polyurethane. This material is both lightweight and comfortable, and provides a strong resistance to hydrocarbon and chemical agents. However, PU provides no resistance to strong acids. PU is a very soft material that provides a lot of grip, which gives PU outsoles great slip resistance. However, shoes with PU outsoles are not recommended for extreme work environments and are typically best for indoor use.


This is another injected molded outsole, and it’s made of PU, but it comes in a double-density profile. Like regular PU outsoles, PU/PU outsoles are resistant to hydrocarbons, but not to strong acids, so they’re not ideal for applications involving strong chemical agents. Slip resistance is also acceptable with PU/PU outsoles, and they provide strong impact absorption and are comfortable for long-term wear. The main difference between PU outsoles and PU/PU outsoles is the temperature resistance. PU/PU outsoles provide greater resistance to temperatures between -4 degrees Fahrenheit and 302 degrees; whereas, PU outsoles are ideal in environments from -4 degrees Fahrenheit to 266 degrees.


TPU stands for thermoplastic polyurethane, and like PU and PU/PU outsoles, PU/TPU outsoles are injected molded outsoles. PU/TPU outsoles are flexible, sturdy and very resistant to abrasion. Because TPU is made for a thermally formed granulate, it can provide greater slip resistance, which is comparable to that of rubber. It also tends to be more durable and resistant to the cold than PU outsoles. However, it provides less resistance to high temperatures, making these outsoles a poor choice in applications that involve making contact with hot surfaces. The ideal temperature range for PU/TPU is between -4 degrees Fahrenheit and 212 degrees.

Mono Density Rubber

An outsole made with mono density rubber will offer a greater resistance to extreme temperatures. The temperature resistance for mono density rubber outsoles is between -22 and 572 degrees Fahrenheit. Rubber outsoles are also exceptional in how durable and sturdy they are, and they are resistance to microbes, fuel and a wide variety of other chemicals. Mono density rubber is also incredibly difficult to penetrate from sharp, heavy objects. The downside of rubber compared to the other outsoles we’ve mentioned is that it’s less flexible when it’s subjected to colder temperatures.


This type of outsole has similar properties to mono density rubber outsoles, except that the midsole is made of PU, which makes for a lighter shoe. While the PU makes for lighter, more comfortable shoes, it can be a weak point when you’re working in harsh environments.


Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) is a type of insulating foam that won’t absorb water. It’s also elastic, which makes it slip and tear resistant. EVA is one of the lightest material options for midsoles, and EVA outsoles are often found in sports shoes. But, EVA is also frequently used in safety footwear, placed between the upper and lower outsoles, which are typically made of rubber.

Let us help you find the right safety shoes for your needs.

We hope that this blog will help you understand the many kinds of outsoles available to you, and that it helps you make the right decision when the time comes to purchase a new pair of safety shoes. In our next blog, we’ll be touching on another very important aspect of buying the right safety shoes — finding the right fit — so make sure that you stay tuned to learn more.

In the meantime, turn to Intermountain Safety Shoe Store for the best safety shoes in Colorado and beyond. Shop our online store today, or feel free to stop by our Colorado Springs or Golden location to see our inventory or try a pair on in person.