If you’re an EMT or EMS personnel, you know how important the right pair of boots can be when you’re in the field on a call.
You could be on the shoulder of a road on gravel or working on the slippery floor in an office building. An emergency can happen anywhere and you want your EMT boots up to the task.
Best EMS Boots: Our Top 3 Favorites
So we’ve rounded up the best tactical boots for EMS personnel, EMS boots for men, and EMT boots for women.
All of our finds are top-quality top performers with great prices. And all of them are made with quality materials, because, you know, the average EMT can go through one pair of boots in a year – easily.
Ten Best EMS Boots
We went through every EMT chatroom, product review, interviews, reviews, and comments to see which boots EMTs were saying had field-tested performance. The same 10 boots kept popping up on everyone’s list so we found the best of the best and collected them for you so you didn’t have to do the work.
Danner Tachyon Duty Boot (Best Overall)
Why are these the best overall? Danner just makes awesome boots. They’ve been making quality boots for nearly a century and the Danner Tachyon 8” GTX Duty Boot continues the tradition. Their tag is “Athletic inspired, Duty Driven, Field-Tested” and these boots don’t disappoint.
When you’re asking about the best Danner EMS boots – these are it. They just seem to be made specifically to be paramedic boots.
Even with the 8” top (which gives you great ankle support) they still feel like athletic shoes. The 100% leather upper with nylon side-mesh is durable and protective, but you still get good airflow.
The GORE-TEX liner is 100% waterproof but doesn’t impede airflow. The sole is thick, slip-resistant and the little pentagonal lugs are grippy but still allow the sole to flex.
If you need a boot that’s going to perform anywhere and everywhere plus not wear out after a few months, Danner doesn’t disappoint.Overall, there’s nothing that can make these better.
Cons: if you like a lower top, try the ROCKROOSTER Work Boots for Men.
ARIAT Sierra Work Boot (Best Non-Slip)
The ARIAT Sierra Work Boot really puts the emphasis on “boot”. Cowboy style with a workboot’s performance these 100% full-grain leather boots provide you the best overall protection of all our choices.
The leather really breaks in nice and is waterproof. The ATS support system gives you a stable platform with good arch support and comfort.
The sole is slip and oil-resistant and the flatter treat is less aggressive without sacrificing grippy performance. These boots are going to help keep your feet securely in place and prevent you from slipping getting out of an ambulance in the rain.
Another plus is that they offer wide sizes, so if you’ve got wide feet, these are going to give you a good fit.
Cons: if you like boots with more airflow, try the Danner Men’s Tachyon 8” GTX Duty Boot.
Dr. Martens Work Men’s Fellside Steel Toe SD Chelsea (Best Waterproof)
Hey, who wouldn’t mind some nostalgia with a side of their style? Dr. Martens aren’t just for cruising around town or stomping in a mosh pit. The Dr. Martens Fellside Steel Toe Chelsea boot provides protection to boot (get it, boot?)
Anyway, the full-grain 100% leather upper gives you full waterproof protection while your toes are encased in a steel safety toe cap.
Doc Martens has been making quality boots with special soles since the 1940s from merry ol’ England. Their custom PVC “bouncing” sole is like the squishy, firm softness that really handles shock well.
If you’ve never owned a pair of Docs, these Chelsea-style boots come with a worn-in look that’s at home on a call or on the town.
Cons: if you prefer a boot that’s a bit more tactical, try the Thorogood Men’s, Tactical Boot.
KEEN Anchorage Boot (Most Breathable Material)
KEEN is a company that’s known for its well-made hiking boots that have great performance. The KEEN Anchorage Hiking Boot is at the top of their list.
First off, you’ll notice that these are slip-ons with two pull tabs – one on the tongue and one at the heel. That makes these super easy to pull on and off if you’re in a hurry.
The full-leather upper has good, waterproof protection and the interior has a waterproof yet breathable lining. These are perfect for snow, ice, and water. The thick chunky sole and waterproof top let you stomp easily through whatever you need to go through without the risk of slipping.
Some people have said they can be a bit clunky – others loved the size. Either way, these are a good recommendation for cold climates.
Cons: if you want a boot that’s a bit lighter, try the Reebok RB8605 Men’s, Tactical Boot.
Rocky Alphaforce Zipper Duty Boot (Best For Protection)
This is our first offering with a side zipper for easy on and off — and if you like traditional combat-style boots, these are the 21st century version. The Rocky Alphaforce Duty Boot 8” leather and 1000-denier nylon mesh sides are tough, waterproof and breathable.
The tread on the slip and oil-resistant soles has an interesting pattern that’s grippy yet doesn’t feel like you’re walking on rubber rocks – it’s nice and evenly distributed.
Besides the performance, the polyurethane footbed is amazingly comfortable and hugs your foot with nice arch support. Great shock protection and don’t forget the side zipper so you don’t have to lace up every time you put your boots on.
Cons: if you want a boot with a steel toe, try the Dr. Martens Steel-Toed Chelsea Work Boot.
ROCKROOSTER Work Boots (Most Comfortable)
These are just good EMS work boots. Solid, easy to wear, and build tough.
Did you like the Dr. Martens Chelsea boots but want more of a work boot, work boot? Here’s your boot: the ROCKROOSTER Work Boot. You get a double-tabbed Chelsea boot design with a protective steel toe cap with a bonus – the outer toe of the boot is rubber coated for extra wear and tear.
The outer sole feels solid and stable with a flatter more toned down tread pattern that is still oil and slip-resistant.
The nubuck leather is waterproof, durable – and nice. You get a moisture-wicking interior liner, memory foam insole that takes comfort to the next level, and Coolmax technology to keep your dogs breathing.
ROCKROOSTER started off down under in Australia making quality work boots for all settings. These are some of their best offerings for EMS personnel.
Cons: if you want a boot for cold weather, try the KEEN Men’s Anchorage Boot.
Bates Ultra-Lites Tactical Boot (Best EMS Boots Women’s)
Ladies, you aren’t forgotten. In fact, we’ve got a great, super light, a side-zip tactical boot that is one of the top overall performers. Bates has been making high-quality footwear since the 1880s and now they’re one of the top makers of tactical boots.
The Bates Ultralight 8” Boots have a light and breathable 70% leather, 30% nylon upper that’s very easy to wear all day long. The Dryguard technology makes them waterproof while retaining airflow. The outer sole is slip-resistant with a next-generation hybrid flat/cleated lug tread.
The midsole is cushiony EVA foam that is shock absorbent with good support. The heavy and sturdy side zipper makes taking them on and off super easy. They feel more like a tactical tennis shoe than a boot.
Cons: if you want something more in a hiking style, try the Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Shoe.
Thorogood Tactical Boot (Best Traction)
Thorogood is another well-known boot company that specializes in extremely well-made, durable boots that can handle even the harshest work environments. The Gen-Flex2 8” Tactical Boot is an absolute tank.
The full-grain leather and denier nylon upper is tough, waterproof but still breathable. Especially nice is the long lacing that goes nearly to the toe ensuring and super snug fit along your entire foot.
The GEN-flex2 outsole, slip-resistant, with Goodyear Storm Welt construction is durable and has a nice, high heel. The EVA-midsole is cushiony and supportive, but also removable, so if you want to use your own custom orthotics you can do it. This is great if you have foot problems like flat feet, plantar fasciitis, bunions, etc.
Cons: if you want a lighter boot, try the Reebok RB8605 Men’s Tactical Boot.
Reebok RB8605 Tactical Boot (Best Lightweight)
Now, this boot truly does wear like a big pair of basketball shoes. Made by Reebok (so you’d kind of expect it) the RB8605 Tactical Boot fuses athletic shoes with tactical boots giving you this easy-to-wear, comfortable EMT boot choice with great performance.
Many EMTs especially mentioned the lower top, and overall athletic shoe feel. The outer sole is a flat lug design with good traction and flex grooves to give you extra flexibility for performance. A Sublite midsole is both shock absorbent and cushioning with good arch support.
Cons: if you’re looking for a boot with a little style, try the Dr. Martens Work Fellside Steel Toe Chelsea.
Smith & Wesson Breach 2.0 Tactical Boots (Most Durable)
Smith & Wesson doesn’t just make quality firearms – they also make a great tactical boot. The Smith & Wesson Breach 2.0 Tactical Boots feel like a good middle road between a full combat boot and athletic shoes. You’ve got all the boot features: leather and nylon upper, a nice medium-chunky tread and are durably built.
But the fit definitely feels more basketball-shoe-like if you discount the high tip (with a nice padded collar). You’ve got a nice, sturdy side zipper for easy off and on – an all-around next-gen feel.
Cons: if you want something more like a work boot try the ROCKROOSTER Work Boots.
Guidelines To Choose EMS Work Boots
So what do you look for in a paramedic boot? What exactly are we looking for? Does it have to be a tactical boot or is more of a work boot better for EMS personnel?
Those are great questions, and no matter where you’re going to be working, there are a few criteria to check off to ensure the boots you choose are right for you.
Here are six things to look for in a good EMT or EMS boot:
1. Toe Protection
You don’t necessarily have to go for a steel-toed boot, but you definitely want your boots to have a thick toe cap made from quality material. Nobody wants busted toes because you dropped something on them, but they’ll also protect your toes from sharps and spills.
2. Chemical Resistant
An EMT’s boots can get some crazy stuff on them and you can walk through some stuff too. Chemical resistant materials help to ensure that your boots don’t break down if they get oil or a caustic chemical spilled on them.
3. Rubber Outsole
A thick rubber outsole for traction and shock absorption is the foundation of a good boot. Some brands offer Vibram soles – these are top-of-the-class soles and ones to look for.
4. Comfort and Support
Boots aren’t known for being as comfortable as say, slip-on running shoes. But you can still find a pair that has good arch support and a cushioning midsole. If you’re going to be on your feet a lot, you need a comfortable pair of boots.
Remember when I mentioned spills? Find a waterproof pair of boots and you don’t have to worry about that puddle you accidentally stepped in or whatever it was the patient just threw up on your feet was.
Nobody wants swamp foot. Fortunately, lots of work boots and tactical boots are made with synthetic meshes that allow good airflow and breathability.
Expert Tips For Cleaning Your EMS Work Boots
Yes, your boots are going to get dirty. You’re going to stomp through mud and puddles, dust, dirt, blood, oil, chemicals, puke, and more.
Here are a few cleaning and maintenance tips for your new boots:
First, you’ll need some supplies:
- Silicone spray
- 2 clean white cloths
- Soft-bristled brush
- Magic Eraser or pencil eraser
- White vinegar or dish detergent
- Warm water
- Use the brush to remove dirt and gunk with the towel
- Gently rub scuffs with the eraser
- Take a white cloth, dampen it, and clean the entire outside of the boot with it
- Use the brush to further clean the boot
- Use the damp cloth, dip it in the detergent or vinegar and use it for any tough stains rubbing in a circular motion
- Let the boot fully dry
- Spray a layer of silicone spray, nice and even over the entire boot
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do EMTs Wear boots?
Because out in the field, nursing shoes or tennis shoes won’t cut it. An EMT needs boots for protection, traction on all kinds of surfaces, ankle support, and performance.
What Are The Best Boots For Standing All Day?
The Reebok RB8605 Men’s Tactical Boot are built more like an athletic shoe with a thick, shock-absorbing sole. If you’re on your feet all day their lightweight will also help you out with foot and leg fatigue.
What Are The Best EMS Boots?
We chose the Danner Men’s Tachyon 8” GTX Duty Boot. Danner’s boots are always at the top of the list with performance, comfort, durability, and a modern design.
What Kind Of Shoes Do Paramedics Wear?
Most paramedics either wear tactical-style boots or hiking boots for protection and all-weather performance.
Are These Types Of Boots Only Sold To Paramedic Personnel?
No, anyone can own one of these great pairs of boots.
Is It Good To Have Side Zippers For Ems Boots?
It depends. The size zipper makes them easier to take on and off – which is nice. However, the zipper always has a chance (even if it’s low) that it could break.
EMS Tactical Boots, What Is The Current Price Range?
It varies, but on average the price usually runs between $59.99 and $179.99.
Steel-toed Boots Do EMTs Wear It?
If you’ve ever dropped an equipment box or oxygen tank on your foot, chances are you would’ve preferred your feet had steel-toe protection.
When you’ve got the word EMERGENCY in your job title, you need a pair of boots that’s ready for action. Whether you go with a tactical boot, work boot, or hiking boot, all the boots on our list have what it takes.
You can go with the best overall and the Danner Tachyon Duty Boot. Or you can go with the full cowboy-boot style work boot with the ARIAT Sierra Work Boot (Best Non-Slip) or you can put some style in it with the Dr. Martens Work Fellside Steel Toe (Best Waterproof).
No matter which you choose you’ve got performance, durability, and comfort that’s not going to leave you in pain after a 12-hour shift.
You’ve got a boot that’s ready for the call.