Best Server Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Comfort

Few jobs can take their toll on the entire body as heavily as serving does. With long hours of standing and walking, dependability and comfort are absolute top priorities. Little to no rest during the workday means that working in the restaurant industry requires premium stability and ease of movement; seeing that even the slightest discomfort can turn into a horrible nightmare. This is why choosing the right pair of shoes should be a top priority for anyone who works as a server.

Last Updated: June 19, 2018
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By Himmatpreet Kaur:

In our most recent update we swapped out one of the shoes on our list for a more current, better rated for server’s model. We strive to always bring you the most current and best shoes for their purpose which is why, sometimes, shoes just no longer make the cut or gets bumped to make way for an improved model. We have also cleaned up our criteria and frequently asked questions sections to improve their readability. Those sections give you great information to help you make a good choice when purchasing a shoe for your service work.

Featured Recommendations

Merrell Jungle Moc
  • Merrell Jungle Moc
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Long lastings
  • Comfortable
  • Price: See Here
Timberland PRO Powertrain
  • Timberland PRO Powertrain
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Antimicrobial lining
  • Durable outsoles
  • Price: See Here
Skechers Rockland Systemic
  • Skechers Rockland Systemic
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Versatile design
  • Available in wide widths
  • Price: See Here

The best shoes for people with jobs that require a lot of standing and walking are, first of all, comfortable. That means choosing the right fit for your foot type, but also taking into account any special features that a shoe might offer, such as arch-supporting or memory foam insoles, moisture-wicking inner lining, or being made from a stronger upper sole which will come in handy with the inevitable occasional spill. Another key feature is the grip of the shoe which should be strong, and offer you the security of not slipping on greasy, wet, and highly polished floors when you’re carrying numerous plates and dishes. Finally, It is also important to take aesthetics into consideration, seeing that while some workplaces are more relaxed and casual, others require you to look your absolute best and to reflect the establishment’s own look.

Having looked at over hundreds of models of shoes that were made for, or are regularly worn by, professionals in the serving industry, this list of the top ten best server shoes will help you choose your next pair of work footwear.

 

Best Server Shoes

 

1. Merrell Jungle Moc

This shoe has been around for 20 years, and there’s no wonder why. These slip-on shoes feature a Merrell air cushion in the sole for comfort, deep grooves for floor grip and a breathable mesh lining which will come in handy during those long shifts. The shoe is one of the top choices of experienced servers as it ticks all the boxes when looking at key features.
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Extremely Durable
The Merrell Jungle Moc was made to last with some hardcore fans reporting to having worn them for years without any change in shape. The upper comes in a variety of materials such as leather and suede, while the sole is made from rubber, with a compression molded EVA foot frame that provides cushioning for comfort.

Great Grip
Originally intended as an outdoor shoe, the Jungle Moc gives you the secure grip of its 3mm lug depth that will keep your feet firmly on the ground during your working hours, as well as when you’re out trekking in the woods.

Cost and Value
At their price, these shoes could prove to be one of your best investments. Mid-range cost wise, but with excellent performance, they could see you through a lengthy period of time. And best of all, they don’t require a lot of maintenance, just slip them on and you’re ready to go.
Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Good for wide feet
  • Will last you long
  • Won’t break the bank
  • Excellent grip
Cons
  • Very squeaky

2. Timberland PRO Powertrain

You can trust a brand such as Timberland to make a shoe that will be of high quality and for the user who just wants more out of their pair of shoes. This model is well thought out for all professionals who find themselves in need of a heavier duty sneaker that offers great protection on more than just one front. They’ll do great in slippery situations, are built to reduce stress on muscles and bones and will even keep you protected should your toes happen to be around falling objects.
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Anti-Fatigue Technology
The best thing about this pair of sneakers is the unique anti-fatigue technology which was developed so as to absorb shock and return this energy through multiple inverted cones to different points of the foot.

Reduced Break-In Time
No need for long periods of breaking in your shoes in order to be able to spend a whole day in them. These sneakers are good to go from the box as they are made with a flexible cement construction, and as most users point out, they’ll provide great arch support and are comfortable enough to wear all day.

Cost and Value
These shoes rank high when it comes to cost. While they may not be the most expensive on this list, they are up there. However, they do provide that tested Timberland quality that a lot of users appreciate and turn to.
Pros
  • Antimicrobial inner mesh 
  • Great arch support
  • Breathable upper
  • Outsole is flexible 
  • Static dissipative 
Cons
  • Mesh not ideal for kitchen work
  • Sizes run narrow

3. Crocs Bistro

If you’re looking for something comfy and cheap, look no further! Crocs have become a staple of comfortable footwear, and these clogs are no different. The only downside is that there is a very limited number of places where these can be worn, seeing that they are universally labeled ugly. Nonetheless, they have a good non-slip sole that will last you up to a year, so if it’s value you’re looking for, these shoes are perfect for you.
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Contoured Footbed
Like any other pair of Crocs, these shoes are as comfy as they can get. They’ve got adiPRENE+ inserts which provide cushioning, as well as a massaging footbed that will get you through the day. They are contoured for maximum comfort and are a good fit for almost anyone out there.

Durable
These shoes can take you a long way. Even if you’re working double shifts, they’re pretty difficult to ruin. Being synthetic means that they are resistant to almost all spills, while the material itself is durable and flexible enough not to break with use.

Cost and Value
These are the cheapest shoes on this list, yet they provide great comfort and safety, which definitely means you should consider them. Unless, of course, your workplace is not completely casual - in that case, pass them by.
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Cheaper than most shoes
  • Fully synthetic
  • Easy to clean
  • Great for slippery floors
  • Heel strap 
Cons
  • Not suitable for all environments
  • Does not breathe

4. Skechers Rockland Systemic

4. Skechers Rockland Systemic
This pair of shoes is one of the most popular with all professionals in the restaurant industry. Part of the brand’s Work Footwear line, they are slip resistant, meet the electrical hazard requirements and feature a ton of details specifically designed for the work environment. Made in a simple style these sneaker shoes will fit even the more dressy uniforms.
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Made for Comfort
The Rockland Systemic has some very nifty features when it comes to making you comfortable throughout the day. These include a padded collar and tongue, a removable cushioned comfort insole and a shock absorbing midsole.

Cleated Outsole
The fact that these shoes have cleats not only makes them great for working in restaurants, but Skechers have taken it a step further. The shoes were tested using ASTM F1677-96 Mark II standards which specifically take into consideration wet and oily conditions.

Cost and Value
With a price that is more affordable than the majority of other shoes meeting these standards, the Rockland Systemic work shoe is a steal by all standards. They will give you all the necessary features to keep you safe during your working hours, while still allowing you to look dapper without breaking the bank.
Pros
  • Tested athighest standards
  • Available in wide width
  • Versatile design
  • Reasonably priced
  • Includes features for extra comfort
Cons
  • Might need some breaking in
  • Flat front

5. New Balance 626

5. New Balance 626
The brand needs no introduction as it has become a favorite among sneakerheads looking for an affordable, quality shoe. They are an excellent choice of all-around footwear that will easily take you from the workplace to a hike or even a full-on workout. With a skid resistant, non-marking outsole, and the technology of the ABZORB heel which increases cushioning, a lot of restaurant workers are opting for this shoe.
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Premium Comfort
These shoes were made by a brand that specializes in athletic footwear, which means that you get to take advantage of the best technologies they have come up with. This includes the ABZORB heel which is made out of rubber in order to take pressure off the heel during forceful impacts.

100% Leather
While this won’t make vegetarians or vegans happy, the fact that these sneakers are made from leather means that they are more splash and water resistant than your average pair of shoes. Just make sure to take good care of them, as leather is prone to showing your everyday wear and tear.

Cost and Value
These sneakers are made with a premium brand and are priced accordingly. Taking into consideration the fact that they need regular maintenance, you need to determine whether they are the right pair for you or if you prefer something that will take less effort. Nonetheless, these are a comfortable pair of sneakers that are sure not to leave you with a sore back after a long shift.
Pros
  • Excellent traction
  • Shock absorbing heel
  • Spill & waterproof
  • Available in different widths
  • Good arch support
Cons
  • Durability issues

6. Skechers Ghenter Bronaugh

6. Skechers Ghenter Bronaugh
Skechers knows all about making comfortable shoes for work and for daily life. This shoe was designed specifically for those who are on their feet all day long – nurses and servers, for example. They perform very well while keeping you cool, dry and comfortable. The style is a casual sneaker style in black, which suits most uniform codes and can double for those who just want a comfortable shoe for walking around in.
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Water repellent
No matter who you serve you know better than anyone how much spillage happens wherever food and drink are served. For that reason, a water-repellent shoe is a must and these shoes are water repellent. The upper is still breathable though, so your feet will stay dry inside as well.

Good traction
When the spillage happens, you’ll be glad you’re in a shoe with good traction. The rubber sole on this shoe will hold on tile, wood and most other surfaces preventing you from having a slip and fall injury.

Cost and Value
These shoes are priced in the low-range. They are a very good value for servers who are on their feet all day and want a shoe that is protective and water repellent. Breathable and dry inside only adds to their comfort and the rubber sole will make them safe and durable.
Pros
  • Breathable mesh upper
  • Rubber sole for traction
  • Air cooled memory foam
  • Water repellent
  • Casual but comfortable
Cons
  • Needs more cushioning

7. Skechers Cottonwood Goddard

7. Skechers Cottonwood Goddard
Last but not least, this is a shoe that can truly be worn in a fancier establishment where you are required to look your best, but that still provides comfort and safety. As with most of Skechers’ work shoes, these meet the required standards including a non-slip rubber sole, a removable memory foam insole, and a roomy comfortable fit.
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Design
Let’s face the fact that most slip resistant and comfort-oriented shoes will not go well with a pair of slacks or a suit. But that’s not the case with this pair of shoes as they can really pass as an (almost) formal shoe that won’t have you skidding around on highly polished, oily and wet floors.

Amazing Cushioning
It seems that comfort was a top priority when Skechers designed this shoe as its memory foam insoles are hailed as heavenly, and even described as leather gloves with thick soles or as walking on clouds. This is due to the padded collar, shock absorbing midsole, and roomy comfortable fit.

Cost and Value
These shoes are on the cheaper end of this list and may deteriorate more quickly depending on use, but the design, comfort, great grip, and ease of putting them on and off make them worth a try.
Pros
  • Removable memory foam insoles
  • Breathable lining
  • Padded collar
  • Great for oily surfaces
  • Electrical Hazard (EH) safe design
Cons
  • Deteriorate more quickly
  • Extended break-in time

8. KEEN Utility PTC

8. KEEN Utility PTC
The KEEN Utility PTC Oxford ticks all the boxes when it comes to workplace safety. These include a non-slip sole, toe protection as well as insoles made out of recycled PU, cork and memory foam which molds to your foot for optimal support. In addition, the inside features moisture-wicking fabric which is an excellent addition to footwear you plan on spending a lot of time in.
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Quality Rubber Soles
These shoes were made to keep you grounded and safe. Not only does this mean that they meet the highest standards in non-slip tests, but even more, they take it a step further with a TPU stability shank and a patented design in which the rubber of shoe outsoles wrap up and over the toes for additional safety.

Lighter than Most Work Shoes
This is not a heavy pair of shoes that will have you fatigued after walking in them for a while. At 17 oz they weigh just like any other shoe you would wear to work, with the addition of high standard safety features.

Cost and Value
This is not a cheap pair of shoes, so make sure you need all of the extra features before purchasing. Nonetheless, if you do decide to get them, they’ll do a pretty solid job at keeping you slip-free and dry during your serving hours.
Pros
  • Comfortable memory foam insoles
  • Weatherproof
  • Highest non-slip standards
  • Great design
  • Suitable for most work environments
  • Quality leather upper
Cons
  • Laces come undone easily

9. Skechers Sure Track

9. Skechers Sure Track
This is a shoe which takes all the best ideas and incorporates them into a simple slip-on that is built for comfort and practicality. It’s got the Skechers slip resistant outsole which was specially designed for the working environment, as well as memory foam topped cushioning insoles which are bound to keep you comfy. Do take into consideration that these shoes run small, so order a half size larger than your regular size to avoid a tight fit.
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No Fuss
These slip-on shoes are made so that you can just slip them on, and are ready to go. Nonetheless, the black leather ones look classic enough to wear them in any working environment.

Good on Any Surface
Whether you’ll be walking on greasy tiles or soft carpets during your working hours (or even a combination of both), these shoes will keep your steps safe and grounded. And they will even hold their own against the occasional puddle, which means that you can wear them in the kitchen as well.

Cost and Value
These shoes are one of the most affordable non-slip shoes made for professionals that you will find. They’re a good value for money, but don’t expect for them to last forever.
Pros
  • Great sturdy soles
  • Comfortable insoles
  • Affordable
  • Easy to put on
  • Sporty but classic style
Cons
  • Run small and narrow
  • Will deteriorate more quickly

10. Dansko Pro XP

10. Dansko Pro XP
Another pair of shoes that is raved about by anyone in the medical and hospitality industry. These clogs will easily get you through a workday that is longer than the average 8 hours, just make sure to size them right. The heel is supposed to slip out while walking which might take some time to get accustomed to, but the top of the shoe which keeps the shoe on is padded for comfort while wearing them. If, however, you are not a fan of footwear that is on the heavier side, you might want to skip these.
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Extra Performance on Slippery Surfaces
The sole of these clogs was made for all surfaces - wet, dry and oily, with the highest standards of slip-resistant tests carried out by SATRA. They do especially well with vegetable oils and animal fats, which means that you can put your trust in them in a busy restaurant kitchen.

American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance
These shoes feature a memory foam footbed which offers great cushioning and support. Another great thing about these clogs is the anti-fatigue rocker bottom which will definitely prove helpful after a long day on your feet. The toe box is roomy and reinforced, meaning that it will keep you safe while also allowing for movement.

Cost and value
These shoes can be quite expensive, but most users find that the extra cost is well worth it. Made with professionals in mind, they will take into consideration otherwise overlooked aspects such as promoting good posture and fatigue from standing and walking. Overall, this is another shoe that will take you a long way for a bit more money.
Pros
  • Roomy toe box
  • Cushioned support
  • Great for plantar fasciitis
  • Classic and stylish look
  • Removable insoles
Cons
  • Can be quite heavy
  • Not suitable for running 

So that’s it – the list of the top 10 models you should consider when buying your next pair of work shoes. You can make your choice based on design, extra features or price, but the most important aspects such as stability, grip and comfort have all been taken into account. Take into consideration your workplace, your personal preferences and requirements as well as the pros and cons listed for all models, and you’ll definitely end up with an awesome choice. After all, by now you should be an expert on all things server shoe related, and there’s no doubt you will make the right choice during your next purchase.

Criteria for Evaluating the Best Server Shoes

Any job you do will require some essential tools that you absolutely have to have in order to be able to perform well. For surgeons it’s going to be operating instruments, for designers it’s reliable high-quality tech, and for servers, it’s usually a pen, paper, and a good pair of shoes. And although the first two are optional based on your experience and preferences, you simply cannot do without the shoes. So what exactly does “a good pair of shoes” mean for waiters?

Grip

Anyone who has ever worked as a waiter knows that one of the worst things that can happen on the job is slipping and dropping the trays you’re carrying. Not only because this will cause you to spill and break whatever it is you were carrying, but more so because falling in a pile of hot liquids or broken glass is a huge hazard both for you as well as the guests who happen to be around you. Not to mention the possible sprains and broken bones that inevitably come with falls, and the recovery time which may make you unable to work, and thus earn your living, for a considerable amount of time.

Another factor that heightens the possibility of this happening is the fact that bars and kitchens come with inevitable spills, meaning that you will be making your way through wet and oily surfaces, at a fast pace, while balancing numerous items in your arms which means that your own balance may be compromised in the first place.

This means that the shoes you choose for your job must, under no circumstances, be the kind that will slip out from under you, but instead, they should provide you with traction that will allow you to have strong footing wherever you go. The best way to ensure this is to look at the outer sole of the shoe. It should usually be made out of rubber, with grooves or cleats that are specifically designed to prevent you from slipping on various surfaces.

Look for shoes that are marked as non-slip, and make sure to check whether this had been tested. Most companies who make footwear for professional users test their products according to the highest standards, so a non-slip certificate is the best way to know the shoes really are grippy enough to get you through your day.

Furthermore, some companies will include the type of surfaces the shoes were made for and environments in which their non-slip qualities apply. These can include wet patches or surfaces which have been soiled with either vegetable oil or animal fats. Note that not all shoes will perform the same on these types of stains, so make sure you know exactly what you need before you start shopping.

Comfortable shoes

Comfort

Whether you’re working part-time or double shifts does not matter, because the second most important thing about a pair of shoes you choose to work in as a server is comfort. Just think about walking for 30 minutes in an ill-fitting or uncomfortable pair of shoes and you’ll get the picture. In order to be able to get through a working day during which you are required to stand and walk for prolonged periods of time, you need to make sure your shoes fit you to a tee.

There are a lot of factors that will influence the level of comfort a pair of shoes will provide you, and these will differ from person to person based on:

  • Foot type
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  • Overall build
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  • Way of walking
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  • Posture
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  • Foot ailments

The first factor you need to take into consideration is the size and shape of your chosen shoe. If you have a very wide foot, you may need to look into makers that provide that necessary width, or ones that make their shoes in a relaxed fit. On the other hand, if your feet are quite narrow, you will do better to stay away from shoes in which your feet have too much wiggle space, as this can lead to painful blisters. This means that your feet should not feel constrained at any point, but should not be sliding back and forth in your shoes either.

Another thing to look at is the soles of your shoes. All shoes have outer soles which we already covered in the previous section – for maximum comfort look for ones that are not too stiff and that will allow your foot to move with ease. The midsole is where your comfort starts. Most makers today have options such as shock absorption, or anti-pronation midsoles, but what you want to be looking at is the material your midsole is made from. Some sports shoes will have gel midsoles, but the most common materials used are polyurethane (PU) or Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA). EVA is a great choice as it is lightweight and provides optimal padding, but it also wears down more easily. Compression molded EVA will last longer, so you can look for that in your pair of shoes. PU, on the other hand, offers much less padding which may not be ideal for a shoe if you are looking for comfort. Another thing to note is that if you intend to use your own insoles, choose a pair of shoes with a neutral midsole, without any reinforcements.

Finally, you want your insoles to be awesome. Again, what suits one person may not be good for another, but new technologies are allowing for more and more comfortable fits with memory foam, posture correcting or anatomical insoles that can make your shoes your best work buddy. Other things that you should consider are lining materials, because, ideally, your shoes should be able to breathe which is important for hygiene and controlling odors after long hours of use. Most shoes today will have mesh or microfiber lining, but you can also go with more traditional leather-lined shoes, just remember, leather linings will breathe better, but they add some weight which may not be ideal. You should avoid synthetic lining which does not absorb moisture and locks in dampness, which can end up in odor and other hygiene issues.

Leather Shoes

Outer Material

The materials used for the outer of your shoes are also crucial, seeing that these will determine how your shoes will behave in different situations. When working in a kitchen environment, you will want something a bit more sturdy that will stand up to liquids, but also that will offer enough protection in case of a more serious mishap. The main reason to look for such materials is the fact that you need your shoes to be waterproof enough so you don’t end up working with wet socks and feet for a prolonged period of time.

Leather is one of the best choices, seeing that it offers both breathability and some level of protection, but some people prefer rubber or synthetic materials which will do better in wet situations. If your job does not involve going in the kitchen or behind a bar, you can choose more lightweight materials such as mesh or canvas which are lighter and more breathable, but make sure to choose quality footwear, preferably not made out of synthetic materials, in order to maintain hygiene and remain odor free.

Another very important aspect that should be taken into consideration when choosing a shoe is the maintenance that is required to keep the shoe looking presentable. Now, this is something that may not apply to all workplaces, and some will be more lenient than others, but as someone who is a server, you should represent your workplace in the best light possible. The easiest option is to go with a no-fuss rubber shoe which can easily be wiped down when needed. Clogs made for the medical profession, some of which are listed in this article are also excellent options because they were designed so as not to require too much care in order to stay pristine clean.

Leather shoes would come in second place regarding this criterion, seeing that they will not stain that easily (especially polished leather), but they do require maintenance once in a while. If you go with leather, you need to make sure you have the correct cleaners and conditioners, while it’s also a good idea to invest in some type of water repellent spray which should help them stay good looking for a longer time.

Finally, you can also go with canvas and mesh but take into consideration that once these get really dirty, you will be in for a lot of work. As putting your pair of shoes in the washing machine may not be an option, seeing that a large number of shoes are not machine washable and you do not want to be left without any footwear – the cleaning process can be a bit more tedious when you have to do everything by hand, but make sure to read up all about it. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, it will come as second nature, just as long as you don’t let dirt accumulate and clean your footwear every once in a while.

Design

Last but not least, we evaluated the shoes based on how they look. While fit, comfort, and safety are imperative, chances are you already have a dress code you have to stick to. Some establishments will be super easy-going and you will be able to get away with any type of footwear. If this is the case, choose the most comfortable pair, and you’ll be a happy camper. If, however, you work at a fancier type of restaurant, you will need to look semi-formal or formal, which means that sneakers or Crocs are not an option. This is why one of the criteria we took into consideration was the design of the shoes.

With clogs, you can go two ways. One is the rubber, homey type of look which is easy to maintain and super comfy, but chances are, your boss will not be impressed by these. That’s why we would suggest seriously considering the models by Dansko and Alegria which do great at combining comfort with a stylish look that can compliment almost any outfit. Sneakers, unfortunately, will not be good at this. You can wear them in more relaxed work environments, but do not turn to these if you are supposed to be wearing a suit or slacks. It will just look off. Our favorite models are the ones that are slightly dressy because these will take you from a hip coffeehouse to a fancy restaurant, and you’ll be able to avoid looking out of place in either.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I ensure a proper fit?
A: Make sure you have looked at the sizing chart. Always choose shoes that are made for your foot type. If you have wide feet, do not opt for shoes that were made for narrow feet. Other things to take into account are arch height, shoe profile, as well as sole types as some shoes, are made with reinforcements which prevent pronation (and you might not need such a feature).

Q: Should I buy my own insoles or just use the ones that come with the shoe?
A: If you have any known problems with your feet, then the answer is yes. If this is the case, make sure you choose a pair of shoes that have removable insoles, as custom insoles should be worn on their own. Also make sure that your shoes do not have any anatomical features in the midsole, as these can clash with your custom insoles. If, however, you are someone who needs standard support and has no medical issues, you will be fine with the insoles provided in any of the shoes on this list.

Q: I’m not sure how much grip I need in my shoes.
A: If you’re planning on working as a server, you need to go with maximum stability. Make sure to always, we cannot stress this enough, choose non-slip shoes, as you are bound to come across at least some wet patches. If you’re working at a bar, you might not need your shoes to be grippy on oily surfaces, but it’s a good idea to have this feature. Better safe than sorry. Plus, non-slip soles will not drive up the price of your shoes that much, so if there is one feature you need to choose from, this should be it.

Q: Should I get water-resistant shoes?
A: A shoe that will allow you not to get wet during your shift is a good choice. Not only can staying dry prevent issues such as fungus, it’s also important to think about your comfort – you can’t absolutely be happy and focused on your work if you’re walking around with wet socks and feet.

Q: How long will my shoes last?
A: The life-span of your shoes will depend on two factors. The first one is the quality of materials used to make the shoe. Usually, this is reflected in the price, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. The second factor is the use your shoes will get. If you know you’ll be working double shifts six days a week, do not go with the cheapest shoes unless you are ready to replace them every couple of months. Instead, opt for something more durable, preferably with replaceable insoles, so you can stretch the life of your shoe as long as possible. And one more thing, a shoe that is well taken care of is a happy shoe, and will generally last you longer.

Sources

  1. LiveAbout, Shoe Glossary: Lining, Jul 14, 2017
  2. Transvulcania Podiatry Service, THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SOLE, MIDSOLE AND FASTENERS ON TRAIL RUNNING SHOES, Nov 03, 2016


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