Best Shoes for Forklift Drivers in 2024

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Forklift operator wear boots

This is our review of the best shoes for forklift drivers in 2024. 

Choosing the wrong shoes to wear while operating a forklift can cause many problems. For example, lower back issues, knee discomfort, and foot pain.

We researched the best shoes for forklift drivers to assist you in finding footwear that fits your needs.

We concluded that Timberland Powertrains are the best for forklift drivers. 

But we understand that not all drivers are the same. So, we’ve also included reviews of various shoes suited to different forklift operators.

Let’s dive in!

Best Budget Shoe

INZCOU Walking Sneakers

Very comfortable

Stylish design

Easy to put on/take off

Best Overall Shoe

Timberland Powertrain

Exceptional comfort

Sturdy construction

Good grip on floors

Best Premium Boot

Irish Setter Wingshooter ST

Excellent comfort

Keeps feet dry and warm

Robust toe protection

Our Best Shoes for Forklift Drivers

  1. Timberland Powertrain (Best Overall Shoe for Forklift Drivers)
  2. New Balance 608 V5 (Best Non-Safety Shoe for Forklift Drivers)
  3. INZCOU Sneakers (Best Cheap Shoe for Forklift Drivers)
  4. Irish Setter Wingshooter ST (Best Winter Boot for Forklift Drivers)
  5. ORISTACO 850 (Best Budget Safety Boot for Forklift Drivers)
  6. KEEN Red Hook (Best Shoe for Stand-Up Forklift Drivers)
  7. WHITIN Work Shoes (Best Shoe for Warehouse Forklift Drivers)
  8. Merrell Moab 3 (Best Shoe for Outdoor Forklift Drivers)
  9. CAT Threshold (Best Steel-Toe Boot for Forklift Drivers)
  10. Georgia Boot Athens G7403 (Best Ankle Boot for Warehouse Forklift Drivers)

10 Best Shoes for Forklift Drivers

Here are our top picks for shoes suitable for forklift drivers. These selections are highly rated for environments in which forklift operators work. Consult a healthcare professional for potential underlying issues if you’re facing prolonged discomfort or pain.


Timberland Powertrain

Pros

Exceptional comfort, even on long days

Sturdy and durable construction

Good grip on greasy and oily floors

Cons

Soles can split after several months

Shoestring eyelets prone to breaking

Inadequate default insole may require replacement

The Timberland Powertrain boots are a top choice for forklift operators in demanding work environments. They blend safety, comfort, and durability.

These shoes feature an alloy toe box and electrical hazard protection for safety. Additionally, the outsoles resist heat, oil, slipping, and abrasion.

The inner lining is made of ReBOTL™ non-solvent microfiber fabric. This material is moisture-wicking for less sweaty feet. Moreover, the Microban® odor-resistant liner keeps the shoes smelling better.

These shoes include anti-fatigue technology in the outsoles. This provides shock absorption and energy return to reduce musculoskeletal strain.

Many buyers like these shoes’ soft yet strong build and long-lasting performance. 

On the downside, some report issues with sole durability, like splitting or falling off after several months. There are also occasional complaints about slipperiness and the need for better insoles.

New Balance 608 V5

Pros

Lightweight and comfortable

Ideal for warehouse work

Perfect fit

Cons

Perceived brand quality decline

Limited water resistance

Lower-quality inner materials

The New Balance 608 V5 shoes are an excellent choice for forklift operators who need simple comfort but don’t need extensive safety features.

These shoes have an upper made of suede and mesh for cooling in warm conditions. There’s also a phantom liner designed to reduce skin irritation. 

Moreover, the 608 V5s have a foam ABZORB cushioning midsole and a comfort insert. There’s also a dual-density collar foam for ankle support.

On the outside, the shoes are made of leather, which adds durability. Additionally, New Balance’s NDurance rubber outsole is designed with extra material in areas that experience a lot of wear.

Many users like how the 608 V5s fit and feel. Reviewers also often mention the shoes’ lightweight comfort and suitability for warehouse work.

On the downside, some buyers have complained about a perceived decline in New Balance’s reputation and the shoes’ poor water resistance.

INZCOU Sneakers

Pros

Extremely comfortable

Stylish and cute design

Easy to put on and take off

Cons

Durability issues

Some slipping incidents

Mesh upper shows toes

INZCOU Sneakers are our top choice for the best cheap shoes for forklift drivers.

Many users have praised the comfort and padding of these shoes. Some have even called these shoes the best they’ve ever worn.

The sneakers provide great support, especially in the arch area. The shoes have enough space for warm socks, even with the liner included. They are also easy to put on and take off.

INZCOU’s shoes have a polyester elastic woven fabric upper. Additionally, a molded (MD) rubber sole adds flexibility along with resistance to wear.

However, some reviewers have reported instances of tread peeling, sides separating, and early wear and tear.

CAT Threshold

Pros

Durable and long-lasting

Comfortable fit

Effective protection

Cons

Heavy

Limited waterproofing

Poor breathability

The CAT Threshold safety shoes are an excellent choice for forklift drivers who need comfort and protection.

Their steel toes meet American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) safety standards for protecting against impact and compression. Additionally, they provide up to 600 volts of electrical hazard protection in dry conditions.

For support and cushioning, the shoes have CAT’s proprietary ERGO midsole. This midsole is 30% lighter and more shock-absorbing than standard ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) midsoles.

CAT Threshold safety shoes have waterproof construction with seamed seals and full-grain leather uppers. Additionally, the slip-resistant outsole provides stability on different surfaces.

These shoes have won praise from users for their durability and comfort during forklift operations. One reviewer even reported that these shoes prevented harm when a forklift rolled over their foot!

However, some find these shoes heavy. They also mention issues with wetness, breathability, and durability, especially compared to older models.

ORISTACO 850

Pros

Exceptional comfort, especially on concrete floors

Lightweight and easy to wear

Provides good ventilation for hot environments

Cons

Durability issues, particularly with tread wear

Lack of traction on wet surfaces

Some report the shoes not being true-to-size

The ORISTACO 850 shoes are a balanced footwear choice for forklift operators, offering protection and comfort.

The ORISTACO 850 includes steel toes with up to 200J of energy protection. They also have a puncture-proof midsole for extra puncture defense from objects like nails and screws.

The shoes feature a heat-releasing synthetic upper mesh and moisture-managing fabric inner lining. These help keep your feet cool in warm temperatures.

Additionally, the 850’s include a memory foam insole. This adds cushioning, which is excellent for long periods of wear.

On the downside, some users report that the tread wears out quickly, and the soles don’t last long.

WHITIN Work Shoes

Pros

Comfortable with good arch support

Excellent traction, even on oily floors

Lightweight and not as hot as boots

Cons

Soles split and quickly wear out

Low-quality inserts

Relatively heavy for some users

The WHITIN Work Shoes are a great budget-friendly option for forklift drivers needing safety and comfort in their footwear.

These shoes come with slip-resistant soles, steel toe protection, and puncture-resistant construction. Each of these features helps keep your feet safe in industrial settings.

Many users appreciate these shoes’ comfort, traction, and durability in warehouse settings.

Some commend the arch and heel support, which makes them comfortable during long workdays. Moreover, some find these shoes less heavy and hot compared to boots.

However, buyers are split on how slip-resistant the shoes are. Also, some users note that the shoes, especially the soles, wear out quickly.

Irish Setter Wingshooter ST

Pros

Excellent comfort

Keeps feet dry and warm in winter

Robust toe protection

Cons

Thin, uncomfortable default insoles

Bulky appearance

No longer made in the USA

The Irish Setter Wingshooter ST boots by Red Wing are durable footwear for demanding jobs like forklift driving.

They include a non-metallic safety toe cap made of nylon, plastic, and fiberglass. This cap protects against impacts, compression, and electrical hazards. 

They feature a non-marking, anti-slip rubber traction outsole that is heat resistant to at least 475º F. Additionally, the sole is replaceable, which can extend the shoes’ lifespan.

The 6-inch UltraDry waterproof construction with full-grain leather also helps keep feet dry in wet conditions. Moreover, a steel shank supports your feet and calves during long work hours.

Many reviewers find them comfortable for long periods. They appreciate the boots’ ability to keep feet warm and dry in the winter.

However, some users think the insoles need to be thicker. Others find the boots somewhat clunky.

Merrell Moab 3

Pros

Exceptional comfort for all-day wear

Versatile and suitable for various terrains

Good arch, heel, and toe support

Cons

Inconsistent sizing

Questionable waterproofing

Too warm for hotter climates

Both forklift operators and outdoor enthusiasts favor the Merrell Moab 3 hiking shoes.

Safety-wise, these shoes have a protective rubber heel and toe cap. A Vibram TC5+ rubber traction sole offers excellent grip on various surfaces.

The shoes feature a Kinetic Fit™ Advanced removable insole with reinforced heel cushioning. This insert also contours to the shape of your foot for custom-fit comfort.

Additionally, the Moab 3 features pigskin leather and a mesh upper membrane. This combination enables waterproofing while also offering breathability.

The Merrell Moab 3 shoes are praised for their exceptional comfort among buyers. They are suitable for all-day wear in outdoor settings, whether operating a forklift or on foot.

On the downside, some users find issues with sizing and question the shoes’ waterproofness. Plus, a few find them too warm for hot weather.

Georgia Boot Athens G7403

Pros

Excellent comfort for long hours of standing

Suitable for heavy-duty work

Lasting quality for several years

Cons

Some have reported boots failing quickly

Sizing inconsistencies

Some users experienced discomfort

The Georgia Boot Athens G7403 offers many features that make it a great choice of footwear for forklift drivers.

The boots include an advanced memory polyurethane (AMP) insole and a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) shank. Forklift operators will appreciate the relief these features provide during long shifts.

They also have the Georgia Waterproof System, which uses brown leather to guarantee 100% protection against water penetration.

These boots are not steel-toed. But they do offer protection against electric shock via nail-free construction. Moreover, the rubber outsole resists chemicals, oils, and slips.

However, some reviewers have said their boots started to fall apart after only a few months. Others have noted sizing discrepancies that made it difficult to find a good-fitting shoe.

KEEN Red Hook

Pros

Effective in reducing everyday foot pain

Very durable construction

Ultra-lightweight for comfort

Cons

Weakness in plastic lace hooks

Speed hooks prone to breaking

There are some issues with the outsole and lace durability

The KEEN Red Hook shoes are reliable for forklift operators in various work environments.

They feature a midsole that offers 50% more energy return than standard EVA foam. Additionally, a removable insole allows for customization.

Their 100% non-metallic construction makes the Red Hook suitable for different workplace settings. Moreover, they feature a TecTuff bonded coating that’s more abrasion-resistant than leather. 

For safety, the shoes are slip-resistant on oily surfaces. They also feature carbon-fiber toes. This offers protection against minor impacts but lacks secondary crush resistance.

Many reviewers report relief from foot pain and discomfort after wearing these shoes. 

On the downside, there have been issues with plastic lace hooks breaking. Some buyers also report outsole separation and punctured foam.

Buying Guide for Forklift Operator Shoes

When choosing shoes as a forklift driver, it’s essential to consider several key factors:

Safety

Your employer may have specific OSHA-mandated workplace policies that dictate the type of shoes you can wear as a forklift driver. As an employee, you must follow these policies.

For example, reinforced toe boxes are a common safety shoe feature. They are usually made of steel or composite materials. They prevent your toes from being crushed in case of accidents

Puncture resistance is another typical safety shoe need. Shoemakers will often use materials like steel or Kevlar in the sole. These help protect against sharp objects like nails and screws.

Electrical hazard protection is another consideration. For instance, some shoes offer insulation from electricity sources up to 600 voltages.

Comfort and Support

Long hours can lead to leg, back, and foot pain if your shoes aren’t right. This is especially important for operators of stand-up reach forklifts, as they’re on their feet for extended periods.

For the best comfort, get insoles with gel or foam cushioning. Additionally, many people suggest replacing insoles every three months or so. This keeps the comfort and support consistent.

Ensure the midsole has enough padding and support, including proper arch support. This eases strain and can help with conditions like plantar fasciitis by reducing inflammation.

Good shock absorption in the sole is also essential. It reduces the energy transferred to your feet, ankles, knees, and lower back. This lessens strain from driving and maneuvering a forklift.

Ankle support is another factor to consider. Boots that extend above the ankle offer more structural support but less mobility. Lower-cut shoes provide more ankle flexibility but less support.

Durability

Forklifts are used in many harsh environments. These include recycling plants, chemical facilities, and construction sites. How long shoes will last in such conditions depends on what they’re made of.

Shoemakers construct shoes from different materials like leather and synthetics. Generally, leather shoes offer better water and abrasion resistance. But they cost more.

Outsoles, the part of the shoe that contacts the ground, are often rubber. Look for shoes or boots with a sturdy outsole and a good tread pattern. This ensures they last long and provide a reliable grip on terrains like dirt, grass, concrete, or mud.

Consider shoes that can be re-soled as well. This way, you can replace the tread and extend the shoe’s life.

Brand Reputation

A famous brand name doesn’t always mean superior quality shoes. Conversely, lesser-known brands don’t necessarily produce lower-quality products.

Still, it’s good practice to consider a shoe brand’s reputation before buying. One way to do this is by reading user reviews and ratings on platforms like Amazon. 

Also, check the brand’s customer service policies. This includes warranties and return policies. 

Many brands don’t allow returns once shoes have been worn outside. So, when you receive your footwear, assess the fit, comfort, and quality indoors. This will help preserve their condition.

Our Verdict

For forklift drivers, the health and comfort of your feet during shifts is crucial. 

Choosing the proper footwear can affect your fatigue levels and long-term physical fitness. 

Each forklift operator is unique. Thus, selecting shoes should be a careful and thoughtful process. 

That said, Timberland Powertrains stand out. They are a versatile and excellent choice for forklift drivers in various conditions and requirements.

FAQs About Forklift Driver Shoes

How often should I replace my work shoes as a forklift driver?

Cheaper shoes typically last between 4 to 10 months. More expensive shoes can last from 10 months up to two years. The replacement frequency depends on several factors. These include your operating conditions, workplace environment, and the quality of the shoes you buy.

How frequently should I change the insoles of my work shoes?

For insoles, it’s generally recommended to replace them every other month. Regular replacement helps maintain cushioning and support. This can reduce discomfort and joint pain.

Should forklift drivers wear steel-toe boots?

It’s ultimately up to individual employers to decide if forklift drivers should wear steel-toes. OSHA mandates that employers require protective shoes in certain situations. These include risks of rollover injuries or impacts from falling objects. However, OSHA leaves it to each employer to assess their work environment and specific hazards. Employers then establish policies to ensure employee safety, including steel toe usage.

How can I alleviate foot discomfort after a long day of forklift driving?

Try a nightly foot soak. Mix 1/3 water and 1/3 rubbing alcohol in a ziplock bag. Freeze it overnight to create a slush mix. The next day, apply this mix to soothe your feet. Another method is using a tennis ball. While seated, roll your feet over it. This massages the ball, arch, and heel, helping to ease tension.

How can I maintain good posture while operating a forklift?

Regularly check your posture as you work. Focus on ergonomics and take short breaks to rest your feet. Stretching exercises are also beneficial. Even brief stretches can relieve tension. If you’re using a stand-up type of forklift, avoid leaning. This puts extra pressure on one limb and can increase discomfort.

What are some tips for improving foot health as a forklift driver?

Some general tips to improve foot health include wearing compression socks, performing mobility exercises, and managing weight. You may also consider physical therapy or custom insoles from a podiatrist. It’s best to talk to a doctor for personalized advice on health matters.

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