Some opinions are controversial.
For example, cold pizza is better than hot pizza. Or, Yellow Submarine doesn’t count as a Beatles album.
If there’s one thing that unites all camps though, it’s a deep dislike towards wet socks.
This is especially true when you’re out on a hike or on the jobsite. Sock moisture in work boots is just the worst. Sure, heavy perspiration is satisfying during a workout, but sweaty feet in work boots just isn’t.
In fact, it’s more than just unpleasant. Heavy boot sweat creates a breeding ground for bacteria.
Avoid discomfort and potential fungal infections by following our guide below on how to keep your feet from sweating in work boots.
Boots Sweat: What You’ll Need to Deal with It
In addition to getting a pair of comfortable, well-ventilated boots (Methods 1 and 3), you’ll need the following items depending on which strategies you opt for:
- Shoe Inserts
- Absorbent socks
- Cold weather boots and warm weather boots
Before you stock up on any of these, read on and figure out what the main cause of your sweating is. Do you simply run hot? Does your job stress you out? Sometimes medical advice might be necessary.
How to Keep Feet From Sweating in Work Boots: 7 Proven Methods
Here are a few proven methods, many of which you could use in combination with each other.
1. Buy Moisture-Wicking, Breathable Work Boots
With sweaty feet, public enemy number one is moisture retention, so you want boots with maximum airflow. But I know not everyone can drop $500 on a pair of fancy work boots that have it all.
Figure out what your specific problems are, then you can pick and choose which features are most important to you when choosing a pair.
If you work in hot conditions, get yourself boots with good ventilation. A breathable mesh lining will help your sweat quickly evaporate, which is what it’s meant to do. It’s during the evaporation process that your body cools off.
The problem is when sweat doesn’t evaporate at all because your feet are trapped in stuffy conditions. Well ventilated shoes will ensure your footwear doesn’t get in the way of the natural cooling off process.
If you’re required to wear rubber boots on the job site, it’s a must that they have a moisture wicking lining. Rubber seals your feet way more tightly than leather does, so even if you’re not particularly sweaty, you’ll be uncomfortable wearing rubber shoes in hot conditions.
Stress is another reason you sweat, and your feet aren’t impervious to this. Now I’m sure some of you guys are immediately thinking, “I’m a pro at my job. I’m not stressed about it and I don’t work in hot conditions, but my feet still sweat. Is it a medical condition?”
Not necessarily. “Stress sweat” doesn’t always mean it comes from a form of distress. It can be activated through other emotions like excitement, exhilaration, and anxiety. Maybe you’ve been on debris and garbage removal duty on a large construction site all day, and you’re feeling impatient. This can trigger “stress sweat” too.
This kind of sweat doesn’t evaporate as quickly as heat sweat. It’s also thicker and more potent-smelling. This calls for boots equipped with a lining that’s antimicrobial treated.
Regardless of what’s causing your sweat, it’s obviously ideal to find boots that do all of the above. If you can invest in a well-ventilated, mesh-lined, anti-microbial work boot that still meets the protection requirements of your job, go for it.
2. Use Foot Antiperspirants
I personally prefer a powder format because you can really pile it on, and you can visually see how much you’re using. Take your clean and perfectly dry feet, and powder them up. Powder the inside of the boot, then slip your feet in. You can powder your socks too.
Naturally, the sweatier you get, the more powder you’ll need. I used to use regular old talcum powder, and it works just fine. I suggest going for actual foot powders though, since many of them have antifungal and antimicrobial properties. These days, I use Micro-Guard Powder, which also treats fungal inspections.
Powder deodorant isn’t the neatest option though. That award goes to either roll-on deodorants or sprays. Sprays are also the easiest to reapply.
Roll-on antiperspirants aren’t my favorite format for feet because I don’t like the slick feel, and they’re awkward to roll onto the boot interior. But if you’re only moderately sweaty, they’re a quick, easy, and non-messy option. It’s all about preference.
Just don’t combine deodorants. You never know how the active ingredients (or inactive ingredients) will interact with each other.
3. Go for Comfort
Discomfort will cause your feet to sweat. On the safety front, the last thing you want is to be distracted by your shoes while you’re operating a chainsaw.
It’s essential that you do the following:
- Get the right size.
- Choose a comfortable lining and footbed.
Different shoe brands have different sizing, especially for boots. To add more complexity, different shoe lines within brands can vary in sizing too. Timberland boots, for example, have a reputation for running big. Most of their lines do, with a few exceptions.
Do your do-diligence and make sure you know how to approach each specific boot’s sizing. If your boots don’t fit well, not only will you sweat, but the extra rubbing and chafing is a recipe for disaster. Blisters and cracks will make any shoes you wear feel uncomfortable.
As far as construction goes, go for boots with EVA footbeds that are designed to mold to your exact foot. An ergonomically designed outsole will add more comfort while keeping your feet secure.
For you outdoor workers, water resistance is critical for comfort. Remember that moisture is our nemesis here. Not only will dirty outside water impede the sweat evaporating process of your feet, but it can plant a bacteria garden in your shoes too.
4. Try Shoe Insoles
Speaking of comfort, sometimes staving off sweaty feet is as simple as throwing some insoles in your boots.
If you’re on a budget, and it’s simply discomfort making you sweat, shoe insoles are a good cheat code. Even the highest-end inserts won’t cost as much as an expensive pair of boots.
If you have flatter feet, opt for structured insoles with low or medium arch heights and deep cups for stabilization.
NAZAROO Shoe Insoles offer the best arch support for its price range. These are for you if you have flat feet or if you need insoles for your work boots as well as your trainers.
If you’ve got high arches, choose insoles that will relieve pressure on the balls and heels of your feet.
The flexibility of EASYFEET Insoles make them easy to slip into pull-on boots. They’re also durable enough for medical professionals working 12-hour shifts or athletes who are constantly moving.
Regardless of your arch, your best bet is going to be on moisture-absorbing and antimicrobial inserts.
5. Wear Absorbent Socks
Rule number one: avoid cotton socks when wearing work boots. Cotton may be king when it comes to athletic socks, but boots aren’t as ventilated as sneakers.
Cotton socks don’t wick away moisture as well when paired with a robust pair of work shoes. Merino wool socks will prevent moisture from accumulating.
My favorite socks are the Camel City Mill Lightweight Merino work sock, because they’re breathable, moisture-wicking, and the durablity is backed by Camel City Mill’s 10-year guarantee.
Made with Merino wool, these work socks feature compression through the arch and calf which helps your feet recover after a long day. Plus, because they're Merino wool, they're breathable and help reduce foot sweat.
I once stepped in a deep puddle on a hunting trip while wearing these socks. I paired them with my Timberland White Ledges, which aren’t as waterproof as advertised, and some water definitely got in. My feet were dry again in literally 15 minutes.
6. Buy Two Different Boots for Hot and Cold Weather
Don’t feel bad if this sounds like obvious advice and it never occurred to you. My first ever grown-up hunting trip was during pheasant season in South Dakota in the middle of January. I bought a pair of Kamik Goliath Boots, which are made from rubber and ridiculously insulated.
They ended up being my go-to boots for hunting trips all year long. It took me a good two years before I realized that it was more than just the spring-time sun making my feet sweat during turkey season in May.
Get well-ventilated boots for the summer and well-lined insulated boots for winter.
7. Seek Medical Advice
If your sweat is excessive, it could be due to a medical condition like hyperhidrosis. In this case, you should see a doctor.
But how do you know that you’re sweating too much? There are a few factors to consider:
- Your body size: Whether it’s vertical or horizontal mass, larger people sweat more. So if you’re relatively short and thin, but you sweat as much as your seven-foot basketball player friend, that might be something to tell your doctor.
- Fitness level: Less fit guys need to use more energy to do the same task as very fit guys, and will sweat more because of it. Your foot sweat problem could be related to your diet and exercise.
- Muscle mass: Muscle mass produces more heat than fat. So what you think might be excessive sweat could really just be due to the fact you’re so swole. Congrats!
There are several factors to consider, but it’s never a bad idea to check in with your doctor if you think you might sweat more than a person should.
So Fresh and So Clean
To avoid bacteria formation and fungal infections, make sure you aren’t letting your feet get too sweaty in your work boots.
The most important thing you can do to avoid boot sweat is pick the right pair of boots. The perfect pair is well-ventilated, moisture-wicking, and antimicrobial.
Though they aren’t meant to last forever, the Timberland PRO Titan wastes no time and can be used right out of the box. The comfort technology is sophisticated and detailed, and the moisture-wicking lining is effective, temperature regulating, and antimicrobial---precisely what you need for sweaty feet.
If you find that boots with all of these qualities are too expensive, figure out what’s causing your feet to sweat so much. You can at least make sure your boots feature the qualities that answer to your specific concerns.
Comfort and good fit help prevent boot sweat too. Insoles and absorbent socks made out of polyester or merino wool can help with this. Also, don’t underestimate the power of foot deodorant.
And finally, if you think there’s a chance your sweat is excessive, it never hurts to see a doctor.
Is it normal to sweat in boots?
Yes. Boots are robust footwear and it’s normal for your feet to sweat in them. This is especially true of work boots. The only time to be concerned about boot sweat is if it’s not drying fast enough and it’s uncomfortable.
Why are my feet sweating but are cold?
It could be due to stress, discomfort, or simply because you’re exerting energy. Even if you go out for a run on a cold day, you’ll still sweat. While cold sweats are understandably concerning, it doesn’t always mean it’s a serious medical condition.