Hmmm, I think I would stick with lace-ups, but I will have to consider the pull-on style. I would think with the long cuff they would require considerable "yanking" to pull them on. I'll give some a try at the store and see for myself.
You suggest Red Wing I see, any other brands to consider, or to avoid? Cabellas?
Can you explain the Ember thing? Although I don't think this place has much hi-temp processes, I am curious about what you said here.
Red Wing is the only ones I have ever really put through the paces. I actually got a pair for free as my dad used to get a pair every 3 months for work (off-shore oil rig) but he never needed them so he gave me a couple pair. I have had Dr. Martens and Wolverine laceups that I liked. The Wolverines wore out and I sold the Docs after getting the Red Wings. Ariat slip ons have been pretty popular with a lot of guys I know, but never had any myself.
And as far as the slip ons being tough to get one, they really aren't when they fit well, especially after being broken in (and make sure you break them in before working in them). Actually they are the preferred boot for offshore because of the easy on and off. You cant wear your boots in the galley so you have to kick them off, and they are quick and easy to get on and off without getting shit all over your hands before you eat.
When you get a ember in your boot welding it burns. The first instinct is to jerk the boot off, but when you start to pull the boot off the only thing that happens is you press it very hard into the skin, sort of like branding yourself, and by the time you get it off the ember has almost cooled anyway. Its just much less painful to take the stinging from having it just kind of resting there than to mash it into your flesh.
I have been happy with my last two pairs of Rocky steel toes. Both have seen hard use for several years and are still going strong. Both have the kevlar/rubber/whateveritis toe cap that keeps the leather/material over the steel toe from splitting. I think these toecaps go a long way towards extending the life of workboots.
I used to swear by Redwings and wore them exclusively for over 15 years. But in the last five years or so, they have really gone to shit. The soles started falling off more frequently, they seemed heavier and the insoles went from like $20 to $60 (and trust me, you want the insoles)
Check out Ariat Work Hogs. I prefer the square steel toe because it gives my piggies a little more room. It's easily the most comfortable boot I've ever owned, hands down. They are nice enough to wear out and they are tough enough for a construction site.
I was worried about Red Wings after they got bought out. But this last pair seem to be just like my first pair. I am like you the square toes for my toes, plus I may be country but I cant stand cowboy cut boots.
Never tried the ariat, I bought a pair of Justins and promptly sold them.
I had a pair of caterpillars that I wore so long the soles were completely smooth. I have wolverines now. They are very comfortable and broke in fast, but the leather does not seem to be as durable as the toes have wore faster than anything. I hear a lot of good things about Red Wings, but never found a pair that I thought would be comfortable.
I prefer a 6" laceup and FWIW don't wear steel toes. I only wear them to work on occasion these days, but have gotten to the point where I prefer wearing a leather boot about 100% of the time when I'm not wearing slacks or working out.
Whatever you do, just don't get anything with a molded sole.
I hated the Wolverines I picked up so I actually took them back. I also dropped $190 on a pair of Red Wings that the sole came off within the year and they didn't hold up well to daily wear. This thread may make me chance them again in the future but until now I've been avoiding them.
I actually picked up some Timberland Pro wear boots which I was able to get 2 pair for $240. This allowed me to not wear the same boot everyday which means they will last longer and not get as funky. They are definitely a little cheaper but they are steel toe and non-slip. They have been very comfortable albeit they are a little squeeky.
Talking to my friend today he said Double H are some of the most durable boots.
So far we have (for brands); Ariat Red Wing (with being cautious of quality) Wolverine Caterpillar Timberland Pro Double H (?) White's ($$, overkill for me personally) Nick's ($$, overkill for me personally)
Avoid; Molded Soles Justins
I don't think I am going to be putting these through their paces (as much as some of you), after all I am just an Engineer So I would like to stay around $200-$250 which so far seems to buy a pretty good boot. I probably won't be taking them off/on repeatedly through out the day, do lace-ups are a possibility. I think I'm trying to nail down the brands that I need to look at to ensure quality.
I also need to find places to buy the damn things (I need to feel them at least even if I end up buying offline).