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Shoe Technology 101

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There are many factors that go into making a comfortable safety toe shoe. Material, construction, cushioning and support should all be considered. In order to be sure that your next safety toe shoe for work is exactly what you need, it’s important to be informed about the various technologies that go into how a safety toe shoe is made.


As the name suggests, the "upper" of a shoe is the material that covers the toes as well as the back, sides, and top of the foot. Basically, everything that you can see by looking straight down at your shoes can be considered an "upper". This part of a shoe can be made of a variety of materials such as leather, action leather, suede and mesh. When picking a shoe, it is important to make sure that you get a shoe that is not only comfortable and protective, but one that also fits your work environment.

Full grain leather
  • generally found on dress shoes
  • presents a more finished appearance
  • easy to clean
  • durable
Action leather
  • typically found on athletic or casual shoes
  • more flexible
  • more breathable than full grain leather
  • easy to clean
  • durable
  • tend to be found as accents on work shoes
  • Suede: offers a pleasing aesthetic quality
  • Mesh: affords more breathability for dry feet on the job


When you're looking for comfortable work shoes, you're probably going to pay close attention to the "insole". This is the part of the shoe that your foot actually rests on everyday. This part of the shoe is usually enhanced with extra cushioning in the heel area, which is also called the "impact zone".

  • some padding in the heel, generally found in low profile Oxford shoes
Full cushion
  • cushioning in the heel and impact zone areas, typically found in low profile athletic shoes
Extra cushion
  • maximum cushioning for maximum comfort, this is mostly in athletic shoes and styles
Impact zone padding
  • extra cushioning at the ball of the foot


We get it, shoe lining isn't exactly the first thing you think about when it comes to picking your shoes. However, it's not something you'll want to overlook when looking for a comfortable pair of shoe, either. If you are looking for a shoe that has moisture-wicking capabilities, you will want to look for shoes with mesh fabric linings in order to help maintain a cool, dry shoe interior. When we're talking about moisture and feet, you know that odor is sure to follow. That's why is it's important to understand that the proper lining for your line of work (see what we did there?) will ultimately give you more comfort, and less foot funk.


You might be more familiar with the other term for this part of the shoe - its called the footbed. This is the portion of the shoe located between the insole and outsole. It's main job is to provide foot support, cushioning and stability. Due to recent improvements in midsole technology, your shoes are now capable of having more cushion, and more arch support. There are even ergonomic designs specifically made to decrease foot, leg and back pain.