Bogs Workman Review
Cons: A bit pricy, cushioning in midsole is slightly lacking
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Workman is a great boot. They take all the best parts of the Bogs Classic Ultra High and improve on it. We're most impressed by their weight — these full-size boots weigh in just over 5 pounds per pair for a men's size 13, lighter than any other serious workboot in our test.
Potential Durability/Waterproofing Issues
We want to be transparent; we had some leaking issues with our first version of these boots. However, Bogs has done a redesign, adding a quarter pound of extra heft, so we gave them another chance, as we love everything else about them. Even when they were leaking, we found ourselves wearing them on chilly and snowy mornings when we knew they wouldn't get us wet. They're just that comfortable.
We've now spent the last few months wading around in this improved version, and they've proved fully waterproof, so we're giving them back the Editors' Choice Award. If we have any issues, we'll remove the award again.
The Workman has a shaft height of 14.75", making them suitably tall for almost any reasonable use. If you know you'll be wading through the worst weather possible, you might need something taller, but for most people and situations, this height will be sufficient.
This boot uses a new type of neoprene — Bogs calls it "seamless" — which helps shave almost a half-pound off similar Bogs boots with the older neoprene style. We waded through creeks and rivers in Western Montana and were impressed by how secure and dry our feet stayed.
The variety of boots in this test requires us to rate this section pretty flexibly because "comfort" is relative to the boot type. No protective workboot will ever feel as comfortable as a sneaker because the things that make it a good protective workboot (stiff midsole, high shaft, etc.) get in the way. With that in mind, we love how comfortable these boots are.
In particular, their light weight makes a huge difference. Bogs advertises them as "30% lighter" but doesn't say what they're being compared to. However, they're around 15% lighter than the Classic Ultra High, which feel and fit very similarly. But this doesn't fully illustrate how much lighter they are than the competition — the only workboots that are lighter are much less insulated and protective. This lighter weight means these boots are easy to wear for long days, as any weight savings puts a lot less strain on your legs.
On top of their weight, these boots have many additional features that help bring them to the next level. We like the supportive "rebound" cushioning midsole system, though we couldn't really differentiate them from the older Classic Ultra feel (which we also like). Bogs also put a new technology called "Max-Wick" into these boots, which supposedly helps them breathe better in warm weather, though we couldn't feel much of a difference.
One of our favorite new innovations in this boot is the modular insole setup — the boots have two pairs of insoles, which, when combined, work well for those with standard width feet. However, those with wider feet can remove the lower insole and get significantly more room in the boot. When we removed the secondary insole, this also gave us enough room to put on extremely thick socks in colder temps. We've never seen this type of modular insole setup, and we love how simple but effective it is at making these boots comfortable for everyone. And as a side benefit, the insoles are somehow made of eco-friendly algae, which is the first nod toward sustainability that we've seen in the rain boot industry. While we don't think that algae insoles will fix the world, we do appreciate the effort.
Our other new favorite aspect, the "heel-lock" setup — may be slightly polarizing. This is a cushioned collar sewn into the heel of the boot and is designed to wrap around the Achilles tendon to lock the heel down in place. Our main tester has narrow heels that are always moving around in laceless boots and really appreciates this new design. In the Classic Ultra High, which doesn't have this collar, our heels rubbed a divot into the neoprene at the back of the heel, so we think this new collar setup may help the Workman boots last longer. However, while we love the heel-lock collar, it did take some getting used to, and we recognize that it may not work for everyone.
In keeping with the rest of their changes, the Workman addresses the poor grip pattern of the Classic Ultra High. The Workman comes with a much more aggressively studded outsole, a significant improvement from the older model. This outsole made us feel confident on all sorts of loose and wet terrain, from damp pine needles to wet river rocks.
This new outsole pattern brings the Workman up into competition with the most grippy boots in our test.
The Workman comes equipped for cold weather with 5mm of Neo-Tech waterproof insulation. When our feet got chilly, we found ourselves reaching for these boots because we knew they'd warm us up. They did extremely well in our ice water immersion test, and we found they were in the top tier for warmth all around. The double insole setup kept the bottom of bare feet warm in our ice-bathtub testing, which we greatly appreciate!
We can't corroborate Bogs expansive claims that the Workman is "comfort-rated" to -72 degrees Fahrenheit, as we don't have access to that kind of temperature in our region, but we do know they were cozy down to zero degrees on chilly days in Western Montana.
As always, we do want to provide the caveat that these boots are insulated enough that they're not very comfortable in warm conditions (above 50 degrees Fahrenheit), even despite their "Max-wick" technology.
The Workman boots are pretty standard Bogs rainboot fare — they're chunky, with a molded-rubber wrap around the foot and a new, more aerated-looking neoprene above the ankles. Our testers didn't mind their true-to-function design, and we felt totally comfortable wearing these around town in the wet fall.
The Workman does have a larger profile than some of the other boots in our test, but this didn't alter our opinion of their aesthetic.
A size 13 fit our size 12 feet extremely well, featuring a half-inch of forward and back wiggle room and minimal wiggle room left and right (for our D-width forefeet). We think they'd measure in at a D/E width. They also have the heel-collar setup we mentioned above, which helps the foot feel snugger in the heel. And we love the modular insole setup, which allows the wearer to dial in exactly how they want the boot to fit volume/width-wise.
In keeping with being completely transparent about these boots — we had some leaking issues with the previous version. However, this updated version seems a lot beefier, and over the last few months of testing, we haven't had any issues. As a result, and because we love every other aspect of the Workman Soft Toe, we're giving these boots back their award. We believe they're a great purchase and well worth the price.
We're extremely excited about these boots. The Bogs Workman Soft Toe takes everything great about a rain boot — their protectiveness, warmth, traction, ease of use — and somehow fixes everything that's typically awkward, like the clunky weight, loose heels, and sometimes sloppy fit. These boots address what we want so precisely that they almost feel like they were designed after reading our commentary on other boots over the last few years.
— Richard Forbes
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