Boy, if I could go back in time and slap myself in the face, I would.
I was 14, and I wanted some extra cash. So I asked my uncle if I could help him out with some construction. He had plenty for me to do. It was mostly old ladies who needed their houses painted, wanted their yards dug up, driveways tarred—you know, that kind of work.
Well, my first day on the job, I was supposed to break through some concrete with a jackhammer. And I showed up wearing a pair of Vans.
Now if my nephew showed up to a work site wearing a pair of thin canvas shoes, I would’ve sent him home. My uncle knew there was a lesson to be learned, though.
You know where this story goes. I get started with the jackhammer. Within 10 minutes, I batter the hell out of my toes. And later that afternoon, I limp my way to the shoe store and buy a pair of work boots.
My first pair were garbage—not much better than a pair of skate shoes. But now that I’m older and a little wiser, I know to only invest in good quality work boots as long as I live.
The last pair of work boots I owned gave up on me, so I went with a brand that’s new to me: Ariat.
I picked up the WorkHog, and after a month of putting these boots through their paces, my verdict is in.
Ariat WorkHog Overview
The Ariat WorkHog comes in any varieties, so you can really tailor your boot to the kind of work you’ll be doing.
There are composite toe versions, carbon toe, square toe, round toe, western style, wellington style—you name it, Ariat makes it.
The key features to an Ariat WorkHog boot are that it’s waterproof and has the brand’s proprietary ATS insole, which is built for comfort and all-day support.
Some versions also have various safety ratings if your workplace requires that your footwear has specific certifications.
These boots are made with full grain leather and are treated with a weather resistant coating so they have no trouble getting a little wet.
Things to Consider Before Buying Ariat WorkHog Boots
The Ariat WorkHog is a working man’s boot. If you’re looking for something to put on when you go to pull weeds in the backyard, you probably don’t need to invest in something as heavy-duty.
But if safety and comfort are high on your priority list, the WorkHog is worthy of consideration. And if safety and comfort aren’t high on your list, I know a few therapists you can chat with.
Jokes aside, this boot looks and feels like a work boot, so if you want something for date night, check out Ariat’s other options.
And depending on what sort of climate you do most of your work in, you may want to look into Ariat’s VentTEK line (linked in our “alternatives” section below). I found my WorkHogs to be plenty breathable in the North Carolina summer (I’ll discuss more later in this review), but the brand has a few even more breathable options available.
Ariat WorkHog Review
I picked up the Ariat WorkHog H20 Waterproof Wellington with a composite toe. Was that a bit of a mouthful?
Don’t worry. I’ll let you know if I’m discussing something that’s specific only to this particular version of the WorkHog. Otherwise, these notes apply to all WorkHog boots.
Right out of the box, I could tell that the WorkHog is a beefy boot. I like the Wellington style as it offers solid ankle support and that extra bit of protection for your calf and shin.
There are plenty of options if you’re looking for a cowboy work boot, but I went a little more reserved with the Wellington.
These are much easier to get on my feet compared to other pull on work boots I’ve worn in the past, which is a useful feature. It’s even more useful when you’re at the end of a long day and you want your boots off as fast as possible so you can kick back with a cold one.
Leather Quality and Care
The Ariat WorkHog is made with a full grain leather upper that’s been treated with a weather-resistant coating.
While I wouldn’t go spraying these boots with a garden hose for fun, the leather did an excellent job keeping my feet dry after some heavy North Carolina rains kicked up a lot of mud where I was working.
The leather is soft and supple right away, which helped a lot with the break-in period. I’ve still only had these for a month, so I haven’t needed to clean them. But when it comes time, these boots require a little work, though I expect them to last a long time.
Saddle soap, followed by conditioner and finished with a waterproofing wax should do the trick to keep the WorkHog looking in tip-top shape.
The sole is the defining factor of the WorkHog, and it’s what separates Ariat from the competition.
The hardened rubber sole is tough—oil, slip, and puncture resistant, and it’s ASTM rated for electrical work. So, yes, the WorkHog is a work hog.
The outsole has a ton of grip, which is incredibly useful when you’re up on a roof. I was helping my brother lay down some shingles on his roof after a heavy rain and it was comforting to feel just how slip-resistant these boots are.
But my favorite thing about the Ariat WorkHog might be the insole. The brand’s proprietary ATS Max insole is awesome. It offers a lot of arch support and has plenty of padding and cushion, so even a ten-hour day doesn’t leave your feet tired and aching.
I don’t have another boot in my collection that prevents foot fatigue quite like these. And that’s just in the first few weeks. As the WorkHog breaks in, it should become even more comfortable.
I also like that the ATS Max insole is removable, so if you need extra arch support for plantar fasciitis, it’s easy to swap out your insoles and won’t change your sizing.
Fit and Sizing
The Ariat WorkHog fits true to size. I don’t recommend playing the game where you get a half-size smaller because they’re boots. I wear a 10.5 in sneakers, and I chose a 10.5 for my WorkHog.
They’re snug in all the right places, but offer plenty of room in the toe, which is a useful feature when you’re kneeling down or standing on an incline.
The instep is firm without any restriction, and there’s surprisingly little heel slip. Part of the reason why this boot feels so comfortable is due to the breathable, cushioned wicking liner. It adds a layer of padding that fills in some of the gaps that might occur around your ankle and heel.
I’m really pleased with the fit, and these are some of the most comfortable boots I own.
The break-in period for the WorkHog is practically non-existent. After I bought these work boots, I went and picked up a pair of Red Wing Iron Rangers (more for style). Those puppies destroyed my feet the first few weeks, so I was happy to flee to safety again with the WorkHog.
Usually full grain leather can be a bit stiff at first, which I welcome because you get increased durability.
But even though the WorkHog has a full grain leather upper, there’s hardly any stiffness to it at all.
What do Other Reviewers Say?
On Ariat’s website, the WorkHog has over 75 reviews and a 4.1-star average. The most common benefit in the reviews is comfort. I can say I absolutely agree with that.
For the few negative reviews, one of the concerns was with the leather cracking after a year or so. If you punish your boots like I plan to, it’s important that you condition and waterproof your boots every 6 months so the leather stays supple and nourished.
Ariat WorkHog Alternatives
Wolverine Hellcat Wellington
The Wolverine Hellcat Wellington is an excellent value work boot. Made with Goodyear welt construction, full grain leather, fully waterproof, and with a carbon-toe, these boots are beasts. The heel angle is sharper than on the Ariat WorkHog, which I don’t like. However, it’s a great feature if you ride in stirrups, on a motorcycle, or climb ladders for your job.
If you do your ranch work with a quad or horse, or if you also ride a motorcycle, that extra heel angle is an excellent find and I’d recommend the Wolverine Hellcat over the Ariat WorkHog in those scenarios.
Wolverine's new Ultraspring insole technology makes these rugged work boots one of the most comfortable options on the market. If you're regularly standing on your feet for eight to ten hours a day, you'll want to look into these.
The Ariat Intrepid has two useful features that my WorkHogs don’t. First, the VentTEK panels make the Intrepid even more breathable as the cowboy boot detailing up top is actually mesh venting, which I think is pretty cool (pun intended). And with the molded heel protector and roomier carbon toe, these offer the top level of safety for your feet.
I’m not a huge fan of how the Intrepid looks, and I’m not working in hazardous conditions, so the extreme safety measures aren’t as important to me. But if you require the best possible protection and want extra breathability in your boots, the Intrepid is worth looking at.
Justin Original Work Boots
The Justin Original Work Boots share a lot of similarities with the WorkHog, and you can usually find them on Amazon for about $40 cheaper. The biggest downside is that it only comes in soft toe. I always opt for at least a composite toe on my work boots—a carbon toe is best.
For me, the lack of a hardened toe is a deal breaker, but reviews say these are comfortable and breathable, so these are a solid alternative if cost savings is a priority.
Comfortable, breathable, and priced fairly---we can't ask for more. Justin's Originals are great all-round work boots and an excellent find if you've got a sore back and can't spend much time hunched over getting your boots on.
My Thoughts Overall On Ariat WorkHog
What I Like
The Ariat WorkHog is completely waterproof, which is crucial for a good work boot.
The ATS Max insole is soft, comfortable, and offers tons of support. These are the most comfortable boots I own.
The hardened rubber outsole has excellent grip and is slip, oil, puncture, and electricity resistant.
Composite and carbon toe options are available.
What I Don’t Like
There are small highlighter orange tabs on the outsole that take away from the classic western style. I like simplicity in a boot.
Who is the Ariat WorkHog for?
You may be able to guess from the name of the boot, but the WorkHog is for anyone who works hard enough during the day to earn their rest in the evening. If you drive nails, drive cattle, or drive a tractor, the WorkHog is an excellent boot for you.
I needed a pair of waterproof work boots that could keep my feet safe. And I wanted them to be waterproof and comfortable.
I got all three with the Ariat WorkHog.
While I’m not a fan of the highlighter orange tabs on the outsole, that complaint is minor compared to all the things I like about this boot.
It’s the most comfortable boot I own. And that’s pretty big deal considering the kind of use this boot gets. The last thing I want to do is wear a painful boot to a 10 hour day working in the heat.
The mesh padded panels in the shaft of the boot offer a lot of breathability, and the outsole is rugged and sturdy. I’m impressed with the leather quality, too.
Some reviewers mentioned the leather going belly up after about 18 months, so I recommend conditioning and re-waterproofing your boots every six months if you’re rough on yours. Given the leather quality, there’s no reason these boots shouldn’t hold up five years or more with the proper care.
We all know the best part of the work day is when you slip off your boots and crack open a frosty cold one. Now that we’re finished here, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
Let me know what you’re drinking down in the comments below.
Ariat gave these an apt name. These waterproof work boots are tough. Combine that with Ariat's ATS comfort system, and suddenly working on your feet for 10-12 hours straight is much easier.
For more boot reviews, style guides, and care guides, head over to the BootSpy YouTube channel where you can discover your next favorite boot.
Can I resole the Ariat WorkHog?
Ariat WorkHog is storm welted with a quick stitch so they can be resoled. It might cost a little more than your standard resoling operation and you may have to order the sole ahead of time with your cobbler. But the sole is very sturdy and should last at least 5 years, so when it comes time to resole, you’ll have almost certainly gotten your value already.
How do I clean my Ariat WorkHog boots?
Ariat WorkHog boots should be cleaned with saddle soap, conditioned, and finished with a waterproofing wax or spray.
What’s the difference between Ariat WorkHog and Intrepid?
The Ariat Intrepid has more robust safety features, including a molded heel. Several Intrepid models feature Ariat’s VentTEK technology, which has extra cooling properties. The WorkHog is suitable for everything but the most hazardous working conditions, but if you need the ultimate, check out the Intrepid.
What’s the difference between Ariat WorkHog and Sierra?
The Ariat Sierra is made with finer full grain leather than the WorkHog, so it blends into more casual wear a little better. If you want one boot that has a little style boost for the bar and the fair, but still has a lot of rugged features that will get you through a work day, the Sierra is worth a look.