German manufacturer Steitz has footwear tested and approved by AGR - the Campaign for Healthy Backs in Germany. That is one of the reasons why I will not be replacing my safety boots just yet. Another is the wide range of sizes and four width fittings. I have no trouble finding the perfect fit. But the thing that really makes the difference for me is the Steitz Secura Vario system.
This system of heel inserts means the load peaks and pressure of walking can be "switched off". It is like having shock absorbers in your feet. But it is not overly soft - a factor that can cause instability and do as much harm as it does good.
Vario is a weight-dependant system of heel cushioning with different replaceable weight modules worn according to your weight. Insert the yellow one if you weigh up to 57kg, green for up to 79kg, red for up to 91kg and black for those weighing more than 91kg. The system makes these boots by far my favourite for trekking around shows and exhibitions.
The boots are fairly lightweight, having aluminium toe protection (200J). I can easily drive in them and the soles are thermoplastic for lightness, flexibility, abrasion resistance and balance. The boots have a thermoplastic sole with Flexion zone and pivot point, allowing them to follow the natural biodynamics of the foot.
If there is a downside it is that the boots are not suitable for wading through puddles. While the air holes prevent heat build-up and keep feet sweet, water at the right level will just flood in.
Steitz Secura safety footwear is available in the UK from Severnside Safety of Cheltenham (01242 525811). Other items in the brand include the Steitz Woman collection - safety boots, shoes and trainers in ladies styles. Most ranges go down to size 5 but some are offered in a 3. At the other end of the scale, footwear is available up to size 12. Narrow and extra wide are available to special order. Price: £89.11 + P&P.
Tested this issue
Makita Sprint Trainer
Makita Super Safety Hiker Boot
V Tech Thunder Waterproof Safety Boot V1215
Dr Martens Izzy St Boot
Dr Martens Rosa St Rigger Boot
JCB Fast Track Safety Boot
Dickies Fury Super Safety Hiker Boot
Steitz Secura Vario
Sally Drury, technical editor, Horticulture Week
Safety footwear is a must for outdoor work. Just think of the mess your toes could be in without the protection of a steel toecap, or of the pain a nail would have caused had it not been for a steel midsole.
By their nature, safety boots and shoes are strong and can be stiff and restrictive. They can also be heavy, leading to fatigue. Difficult to walk in, some can make driving almost impossible. Ill-fitting safety boots and shoes can be unforgiving. Yet I wear my safety boots to shows and exhibitions.
I can spend all day on my feet, jogging between press meetings and outlying exhibits. Once asked how I manage to stand all day, I replied that it is down to my "perfect" boots. I have worn them for 15 years. Well, not the same pair, obviously. But each time I needed new boots I replaced them like for like - and there is the dilemma.
As an advocate of trying new machinery, I am always preaching that it is good to explore the latest developments rather than just sticking with the same model or brand year after year. So here is the challenge: can I find another pair of safety boots or shoes to match my preferred footwear?
This trial has been conducted over 18 months, with each pair of boots and shoes being subjected to a variety of tasks from walking and driving to digging and general outdoor duties. Each item has been worn in both wet and dry conditions, on grass and concrete as well as sandy and clay soils.