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Work boots need to do two jobs. They need to offer uncompromising protection, so that you can safely wear them to a jobsite or in rough terrain while keeping your feet safe. However, you’ll be wearing them all day, so they also need to be comfortable, and maybe even stylish.
For good looks, better feel, and the best safety, Kodiak’s McKinney work boots are a phenomenal pick.
When I got the chance to stomp around in a pair of these boots, they had their work cut out for them. My previous experiences with work boots have always left my feet sore and stiff.
It is my pleasure to say that the McKinneys blew my expectations out of the water.
Just lifting the boots out the box, you can tell they’re well-made. They have a solid weight, the leather is thick but pliable under your fingers, and knocking on the toe has a nice reassuring echo from the composite toe.
In the box you get both boots, an extra set of laces in the same shade of red as the lining (the basic laces are a golden-brown to match the boot leather), a booklet explaining what safety uses the boots have, and a cute leather tag with the Kodiak logo.
The leather itself is gorgeous. It is soft to the touch and easy on the eyes. Every piece of the boots’ construction is made of leather except for the interior lining, the sole, and the hardware.
The nice thing about leather work boots is that you can rub out any scuffs to help preserve the boots’ beautiful appearance. Kodiak made sure to retain the natural pattern of the hide so every pair of McKinneys has a unique look that adds some personal flair.
To test how the boots felt in action, I wore them on my daily walks and errand-runs for about two weeks. In total it was approximately 15 hours of wading through winter snow, slush, and ice with another few hours of standing around in queues.
Initially, the weight of the boots made me think they would be uncomfortable to wear, as well as the fact that the leather is quite sturdy, so bending at the ankle might be difficult.
There are no such problems. Once the boots are on, the weight seems to disappear. It was a little tricky bending at the ankle, but only at first: once I had worn the boots for about a week the leather softened enough that it moved easily.
One standout feature was the flexible sole. Work boots are prone to having rigid soles from their reinforcement, which can be uncomfortable walk around with. The McKinneys flex remarkably well, particularly near the ball of the foot which could easily bend at a 45° angle.
The laces are durable, and once they’re done up, they stay on. This is thanks in part to the design where the laces run right up the boot ankle, so that there are no tension points which tug on the laces. You get a snug fit with a bit of wiggle room for looser lacing at the top of the boot in case you like some airflow, and all without sacrificing a comfortable, well-supported fit.
The boots are a pleasure to walk around in. As someone prone to getting sore feet from footwear with poor arch support, I was happily surprised to find the McKinneys have very good support. This is partly thanks to the foam built into the sole which is designed to form to your foot. It provides enough padding to prevent any pain while working on your feet all day with these boots on.
For those who work outdoors, the McKinneys have a few features which make them great to wear outside. First is the waterproofing. The leather is naturally waterproof and has been paired with a sewn-in waterproof membrane. The seams of the stitching are sealed to provide complete protection. Even when I stood in a snowbank waiting to feel some dampness creeping in, the McKinneys were completely impervious to water. In rainy conditions these boots could stomp through puddles without any worries.
The gusseted boot tongue covers the one weakness the waterproofing doesn’t address, as well as being good for keeping out dirt, sawdust, or other particulates that you don’t want running down your ankle.
The second feature for outdoor use is the insulation. The McKinneys use Thinsulate, a synthetic fiber insulator designed to lock in heat while allowing sweat and moisture to escape. When wearing the boots in winter weather (even temperatures below 0°F) they were very cozy. My feet never got even a little bit cold.
Also, the insulated lining is plaid fabric, which looks great side-by-side with the natural leather, creating a nice outdoorsy aesthetic. The second set of red laces match this plaid and build on that look.
After two weeks of use going on daily walks wearing thick socks and working up a light sweat, the boots have no stink. The odor-wicking technology works wonderfully.
Overall, I was impressed that the McKinneys never felt like work boots. While they have all the practical features you may want on a jobsite, they feel more like heavy-duty hiking boots. I could wear them for hours without any discomfort.
The Kodiak McKinney 8-Inch Composite Toe Work Boots are made of premium leather with a composite safety toe, as well as a composite puncture-resistant plate in the sole. While steel toes are even tougher, composite toes are lighter and better resist electricity.
I received the size 11 boots which fit perfectly. Typically, I wear a size 11 ½ to 12 for things like running shoes or hiking boots, so you can comfortably round your size down.
My pair of McKinneys weighs 4.8 lbs. For reference, an average pair of running shoes for my size weighs around 1.2 lbs.
For safety, these boots can handle it all. The McKinneys have CSA Group’s green triangle tag, certifying them as work-safe footwear. You know for certain the sole and toe of these boots have passed stringent regulatory testing to ensure they are puncture-resistant and impact-proof.
The boots have also earned a CSA omega tag, certifying them as shock resistant up to 18,000V at a low current. This is accomplished through electrical insulation in the sole and heel.
You can purchase a few variations on the McKinney design. A 6” boot is also available, giving you a little extra movement because of the lower collar. Both sizes come in a non-safety variant without the composite toe or the puncture-resistant sole, though you still get the waterproofing, durability, and comfort of the regular McKinney. Additionally, the Chelsea model is a lighter, slip-on boot made with the McKinneys’ suite of safety features.
The waterproofing does its job well, and combined with the natural waterproof properties of leather makes the McKinneys well-suited to wet terrain. When cleaning mud off the boots to take pictures, I left them to dry at room temperature. Within an hour they were bone dry, and no water had leaked to the interior.
These boots are made with a slip-proof sole, designed to keep you from falling on slippery surfaces or oil slicks. The soles are also non-marking, so you won’t leave scuffs behind you.
If you want a pair of work boots that never slow you down and which keep you safe and comfortable in rough conditions, the Kodiak McKinneys are a perfect choice for you. You can buy the boots from Kodiak on their website or on Amazon.
Long-Term Update (January 2022)
I’ve had these boots for almost a year and they are still as good as new. I wear them almost every day in the winter because Thinsulate™ insulation keeps my feet warm and the slip resistant soles give me extra traction in the snow. The waterproofing also helps to keep my feet dry, especially on warmer days when the snow starts to melt.