The Best EMS Boots in 2024 – First Responders Buying Guide

Updated: Feb 2024

Hi, I am Mike I am a veteran EMT with more than a decade of experience, and I want to help you pick the best pair of EMS boots for your career as an EMT or paramedic. 

In my experience, the best and most reliable pair of boots are the 5.11 A.T.A.C Shield Boot. In brief, the shield boots are affordable, comfortable, and meet industry safety standards. These boots are available for both men and women, and they are the boots I personally wear on the job.

This article covers the best pair of EMS boots for various situations and conditions. I hope this helps you on your boot shopping journey.

The Best EMS Boots on the Market in 2024

I understand that your time is valuable. So here is a complete list of my picks for best EMS Boots. Think of it as a TL:DR for my list.

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My Ranking Criteria

When I was evaluating the boots for this list I chose the following criteria as I feel these are the most important ranking factors when choosing the best pair of EMS boots.

  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Utility

A good pair of EMS boots need to be comfortable. EMTs and Paramedics spend long hours on their feet. Boots need to be durable as first responders spend time in multiple environments and the last thing you want is to feel wet feet while helping a patient in the snow. Lastly, EMT boots need to be built for the job. It is important to know the features of a boot that cater to the EMS professional.

The Best EMS Boots for any Situation in 2024

Below, you will find a roundup of the best EMS boots for EMTs and paramedics. We chose the boots on this list by not only wearing them on the street ourselves but also asking the opinions of other first responders in the field.

The Overall Best EMS Boot - 5.11 A.T.A.C. Shield Tactical Boot

5.11 ATAC Shield, The Best EMT Boot

As a seasoned Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), I’ve encountered my fair share of challenging situations, especially in the demanding environments of Michigan. Through it all, one constant companion has been my trusted pair of 5.11 A.T.A.C. Shield Boots. Having owned multiple pairs over the years, I can confidently say these boots are the epitome of reliability, comfort, and durability, making them my top recommendation for anyone in the EMS field.

Durability That Endures

The 5.11 A.T.A.C. Shield Boots boast an impressive lifespan of 3-4 years with proper care, a testament to their robust construction. They’ve withstood the harsh Michigan winters and the corrosive road salt that comes with it, emerging unscathed and ready for more. This durability is not just a convenience; it’s a necessity in our line of work.

Comfort in Every Step

What sets these boots apart is their unparalleled comfort. The shock-absorbing heel is a godsend for those long shifts that have you on your feet all day. Whether it’s a quick sprint to an emergency or a prolonged period of standing, these boots ensure that comfort is never compromised.

Adaptability Across Seasons

Michigan’s weather is as unpredictable as our emergency calls. The 5.11 A.T.A.C. Shield Boots adapt seamlessly from the freezing cold to the sweltering heat. The moisture-wicking lining is a standout feature, keeping feet cool and dry even on the hottest summer days. Paired with the right socks, you’ll forget the challenges of working in extreme temperatures.

Lightweight and Breathable

Despite being an 8″ boot, the A.T.A.C. Shield feels more like a sneaker—lightweight and agile. This feature is crucial in our line of work, where every second counts, and heavy footwear can slow you down. The waterproof and breathable nature of these boots means my feet stay dry, a non-negotiable for an EMT who’s always on the move. Wet feet can turn a shift into an ordeal, but with these boots, that’s never a concern.

Safety as a Priority

In the EMS field, we often find ourselves in situations where foot protection is critical. The 5.11 A.T.A.C. Shield Boots are ASTM 2413-17 M I/75 C/75 EH PR certified & CSA Z195-14 certified, offering peace of mind in the face of potential hazards. Whether it’s a dropped Lifepak or navigating through debris, these boots have you covered, providing an excellent alternative to traditional steel-toe boots.

A Smart Investment

For EMS professionals, finding quality gear that fits within the company’s boot allowance can be a challenge. The 5.11 A.T.A.C. Shield Boots strike the perfect balance between quality and affordability. They’re not just boots; they’re an investment in your comfort, safety, and performance on the job.

The 5.11 A.T.A.C. Shield Boots are more than just footwear; they’re a vital tool for any EMT. They’ve earned my trust through every emergency, every harsh weather condition, and every demanding shift. For those in the EMS field looking for a boot that won’t let you down, the A.T.A.C. Shield is the way to go.


  • Certified Saftey Boot
  • Lightweight
  • Bloodborne Pathogen Resistant
  • Fits most boot allowance budgets


  • Can not replace the soles
  • Break in period can be uncomfortable

Best Tactical EMS Boots - Merrell Moab 2 Tactical Boot

The Merrell Moab 2 Tactical Boot stands out as a game-changer, combining the ruggedness required for tough terrain with the comfort needed for long shifts.

Out-of-the-Box Comfort Meets All-Terrain Toughness 

The Moab 2 Tactical Boot is a testament to Merrell’s commitment to quality and comfort. The moment you slip your feet into these boots, you’re greeted with the familiar comfort of the original Moab hiking boot, but with enhancements tailored for the rigorous demands of duty. Whether navigating through urban landscapes or responding to emergencies in challenging terrains, these boots provide unwavering support and comfort, crucial for those prolonged hours on the job.

Effortless Wear with Secure Protection 

The inclusion of a heavy-duty YKK medial zipper is a thoughtful touch, making it easy to gear up quickly without compromising on security. The bellows tongue is a boon, keeping out debris and ensuring that my focus remains on the task at hand, not on discomfort. In the fast-paced world of emergency response, these small details make a significant difference.

Durability That Endures 

In the field, durability isn’t just a feature; it’s a necessity. The Moab 2 Tactical Boot, crafted with waterproof PU coated leather and ripstop textile, stands up to the test. The rubberized mesh ankle upper and protective rubber toe cap are particularly impressive, offering extra security and resistance against the wear and tear that comes with EMT work. The external lateral stability arms are a great addition, providing extra protection without the bulk.

Support Where It Matters 

Long hours on your feet demand exceptional foot support, and Merrell delivers with the Moab 2. The KINETIC FIT blended EVA contoured footbed, coupled with zonal arch and heel support, ensures comfort during those long shifts. The air cushion in the heel and molded nylon arch shank are lifesavers, absorbing shocks and adding stability, which is crucial when lifting patients or equipment.

Traction and Agility Combined 

The Vibram TC5+ outsole is a standout feature, offering dependable traction on various surfaces. This is vital for an EMT who needs to be prepared for any situation. The 5mm lug depth ensures stability, a must-have in unpredictable environments. Despite its robust features, the boot remains surprisingly lightweight, a critical factor for maintaining agility in emergency situations.

The Merrell Moab 2 Tactical Boot strikes the perfect balance between rugged durability and day-long comfort, making it an ideal choice for those in the demanding field of emergency medical services. Whether it’s a quick response or a long, unpredictable shift, these boots have proven to be an indispensable part of my gear.


  • Supreme Comfort
  • M-Select Dry Membrane lining for a breathable waterproof experience
  • Reduced odor and prevention of diseases like athlete’s foot due to M-Select Membrane
  • Fantastic foot support


  • Not able to be resoled
  • Can have gripping problems on ice

Best EMS Boot for Wildland Firefighting - Kenetrek Wildland Fire Boot

Best Wildland Firefighting Boot

This boot comes highly recommended by the firefighters I interact with on a daily basis. I’ve had the opportunity to gather diverse opinions and insights about various gear essential for firefighting. One particular item that has consistently garnered positive feedback is Kenetrek’s Wildland Fire Boot

Adherence to Safety Standards:

The Kenetrek Wildland Fire Boot meets the NFPA 1977 Standard Requirements for Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting (2016 edition). This compliance is not just on paper; the boots have been independently lab-tested for quality assurance. Firefighters appreciate this rigorous standard of adherence, as it translates to reliability and safety in high-risk environments.

Peer Endorsement:

The boots come highly recommended within the firefighting community. In my discussions, many firefighters emphasized how peer recommendations played a significant role in their decision to choose Kenetrek. Trust in fellow firefighters’ experiences and judgments is a critical factor in selecting gear that can withstand the demands of wildland firefighting.

Designed for Comfort and Endurance:

A common highlight among the firefighters I spoke with is the comfort and support offered by these boots. Given the long, exhausting hours involved in firefighting and rescue operations, having footwear that provides consistent support and comfort is invaluable. Firefighters have noted that these boots stand up to the challenge, whether on the fire line or during medical emergencies.

Kevlar for Enhanced Safety:

The use of Kevlar in the boots’ laces and stitching is a detail that many firefighters pointed out. This material’s fire-resistant properties add an essential safety layer, allowing firefighters to focus on their critical work without worrying about their gear.

Lightweight and Fatigue-Reducing:

The lightweight nature of the boots, at only 4.2 pounds, is a feature frequently mentioned. Firefighters have shared how lighter boots contribute to less fatigue, enabling them to move more efficiently and stay active for longer periods during intense operations.

Ready to Wear:

Many firefighters expressed their appreciation for the minimal break-in period required for these boots. The ability to use them straight out of the box is a significant advantage in a profession where readiness and quick response are paramount.

Based on the feedback from numerous firefighters, Kenetrek’s Wildland Fire Boot stands out as a top choice for those in the demanding field of firefighting. Its combination of safety, comfort, durability, and practicality makes it a highly recommended option. As an EMT who understands the importance of reliable gear in emergency situations, I find the widespread approval of these boots among firefighters to be a compelling endorsement of their quality and functionality.


  • Lightweight
  • NFPA 1977 certified
  • Tough enough for a fire call, comfortable enough for running medical calls all-day
  • Bearly any break in period


  • Doesn’t breathe very well
  •  No side zipper

Best EMS Boot for Urban Firefighting - Danner Modern Firefighter 8" Black NMT Work Boot

The Danner Modern Firefighter NMT Work Boot stands out as a remarkable example of what a dedicated emergency responder needs in the heat of action.

Durability and Protection: The boot’s durable, fire-resistant, polishable full-grain leather upper is not just about longevity; it’s a shield against the unpredictable elements we face daily. The Danner Dry waterproof protection is a game-changer, especially when dealing with emergencies in challenging weather conditions. The fact that it’s tested for body fluid borne pathogen resistance, meeting ASTM F1671-13 standards, provides an added layer of safety that’s indispensable in our line of work.

Design and Comfort: The mountaineering-inspired, lightweight, athletic design of this boot is a testament to its thoughtful construction. It doesn’t feel cumbersome, which is crucial when agility and quick movement are required. The flexible puncture-proof midsole board, CSA certified to -2195, offers not just comfort but also peace of mind, knowing that my feet are protected against unforeseen hazards.

Traction and Stability: The Vibram S587 Fire & Ice outsole is a standout feature. Its oil-and-slip resistance ensures stability in the most treacherous conditions, whether that’s navigating through debris or moving quickly across slippery surfaces. The heat resistance is vital for firefighting scenarios, and the traction over high-angle terrain gives me confidence in every step.

Safety Features: The non-metallic toe, meeting ASTM F2413-18 I/75 C/75 EH standards, is a subtle yet significant aspect of the boot. It offers protection without the weight of traditional steel toes, a crucial factor during long shifts. Additionally, being NFPA 1977: 2016 edition certified, assures me that these boots are up to the task for firefighting duties.

In terms of firefighting boots, these are lightweight. They weigh only 4.2 pounds. Lightweight boots are great for reducing fatigue while on the job. These boots have a little break-in period and most responders report they have none. They are ready to go right out of the box.


  • Lightweight
  • ASTM F1671-13 certified
  • Tough enough for a fire call, comfortable enough for running medical calls all-day
  • Bearly any break in period


  • A bit pricy
  • No side zipper

The Best Women's EMS Boot - 5.11 Women’s ATAC 2.0 8″ Storm Military Boot

In the world of emergency medical services, the right gear is not just about comfort; it’s a necessity for performance and safety. I’ve always held the 5.11 brand in high regard. Recently, I took the opportunity to speak with several female EMTs about their preferred footwear, and the 5.11 A.T.A.C. Storm Women’s Military Boot was a recurring favorite.

A Collective Nod to Fit, Durability, and Price

The consensus among the EMTs I interviewed was clear: the 5.11 A.T.A.C. Storm boot excels in fit, durability, and affordability. These boots are designed to withstand the demanding conditions of EMS work, and their snug fit is crucial for the long, unpredictable shifts. The EMTs appreciated the balance between a sturdy build and a price point that doesn’t break the bank.

Traction and Safety: Top Priorities for EMTs

When discussing the non-negotiable aspects of a good boot, traction was at the forefront. The Storm’s oil and slip-resistant features are essential for maintaining stability in a variety of emergency situations. The fact that these boots are also blood-borne pathogen-proof resonated strongly with the EMTs, given the nature of their work. The polishable suede leather toe was another highlight, combining practical durability with a professional look.

Comfort for Long Shifts: A Critical Factor

Comfort during long shifts is critical, and the 5.11’s SlipStream waterproof membrane received high praise for keeping feet dry and cool. The shock mitigation sole was another standout feature, offering much-needed support during extended periods on foot. The convenience of the YKK side zippers for quick wear and removal was also a point of appreciation among the EMTs.

The Break-In Period: Worth the Wait While some EMTs mentioned the longer break-in period of these boots, the overall sentiment was that it’s a small trade-off for the comfort and support they eventually provide. Post break-in, many described the boots as exceptionally comfortable, likening them to a second skin that’s perfectly adapted to the demands of EMS work.

In Their Words: A Strong Endorsement

From my conversations, it was evident that the 5.11 A.T.A.C. Storm Women’s Military Boot stands out as a top choice for female EMTs. Its blend of safety, comfort, and durability makes it well-suited for the challenging environment of emergency services. Despite the initial break-in period, these boots come highly recommended for their lasting comfort and reliability, making them a worthy investment for women in this demanding field.


  • Side Zip
  • Bloodborne Pathogen Proof
  • Waterproof SlipStream Membrane
  • Oil and Slip-resistant
  • Best value fits nicely under most company boot allowances


  • Break-in a period longer than other brands
  • Lacks a composite toe

Best EMS Boots for Summer - Under Armour Micro G Valsetz

The Under Armour Micro G Valsetz stands out for its exceptional comfort and suitability for EMS professionals, especially in warmer climates.

Designed for Comfort in High-Temperature Settings

The Under Armour Micro G Valsetz boots are a revelation in footwear for EMS professionals. They are ingeniously crafted to feel more like shoes than boots, offering unparalleled comfort during long shifts. The fit is snug, akin to a second skin, which is a significant advantage when you’re on your feet for extended periods. Their breathability is a standout feature, making them ideal for hot environments. This aspect is crucial for EMS responders who often work in controlled areas or serve dual roles as security guard EMTs.

Material and Build: Durable and Thoughtful Design

The boots’ upper is a blend of lightweight synthetic leather and textile, striking a perfect balance between durability and breathability. The forefoot’s protective overlay and the molded TPU toe cap add an extra layer of durability, vital for the unpredictable nature of EMS work. Additionally, the medial side zip and pull loops are practical features, making the boots easy to slip on and off – a small but significant detail in emergency situations.

Cushioning and Support: A Step Above

The footbeds are a game-changer. Featuring Anti-fatigue, molded Insite® Contoura® Support, and shock-absorbing foam, they provide essential comfort and support, which is a blessing during long hours of service. The full-length Micro G® foam midsole enhances this comfort, offering responsive cushioning that lasts throughout the day. The oil- and slip-resistant rubber lug outsole ensures a firm grip on various surfaces, an essential feature for the dynamic environments we operate in.

A Trade-Off: Comfort vs. Longevity

However, it’s important to note that these boots, while exceptionally comfortable, do not boast the same longevity as some other tactical footwear. They tend to require replacement approximately yearly, which might be a concern for some. But considering their comfort level and the fact that they fall within most EMS companies’ uniform allowances, this trade-off is manageable.

The Under Armour Micro G Valsetz Tactical Boots are a top choice for EMS professionals, especially those working in warmer, drier climates. Their comfort, breathability, and practical design features make them a valuable asset in the demanding field of emergency medical services. While their durability might not match some of their counterparts, the comfort and support they offer more than compensate for this shortcoming. I highly recommend these boots for colleagues seeking footwear that won’t let them down in the heat of the moment.


  • Supreme Comfort
  • Excellent in dry urban settings
  • Perfect for the security guard EMT market.


  • Not waterproof
  • Reported Durability Issues

Best EMS Boots for Winter - Wolverine Warrior CarbonMAX

In the quest for the ideal cold weather EMS boot, the Wolverine Warrior CarbonMAX Work Boot stands out as a top contender. As someone who has braved harsh, frigid conditions, I understand the importance of a boot that can withstand the cold while providing comfort and safety. Here’s why the Wolverine CarbonMAX is a game-changer in cold weather environments.

Exceptional Insulation for Extreme Cold

The Wolverine CarbonMAX boots are a fortress against the cold, thanks to their 400g Thinsulate Ultra insulation. This level of insulation is perfect for freezing temperatures, keeping your feet warm without causing them to overheat. Whether you’re trudging through snow or standing in chilly, windy conditions, these boots ensure your feet remain comfortably warm.

Waterproof Features for Wet and Icy Conditions

The full grain leather upper, coupled with a moisture-wicking mesh lining, creates an impenetrable barrier against water. The breathable, waterproof membrane is a lifesaver in snowy and slushy conditions, keeping your feet dry and comfortable. This waterproofing is essential, not just for comfort, but also for preventing cold-related foot problems in wet environments.

Safety and Comfort in Cold Weather

The CarbonMAX composite toe is a standout feature, offering protection without the extra weight that can make cold weather boots cumbersome. This is particularly beneficial in cold weather, where heavy boots can hinder movement and cause fatigue. The boot’s design also includes a steel puncture-resistant plate, which is crucial when walking on icy terrain that might hide sharp objects.

Slip Resistance on Icy Surfaces

Navigating icy and slippery surfaces is a common challenge in cold weather. The slip-resistant outsole of these boots provides excellent traction, reducing the risk of slips and falls in icy conditions. While no boot is entirely slip-proof, the Wolverine CarbonMAX offers a significant level of grip on uncertain terrains.

Heat Resistance for Unexpected Warmth

Interestingly, the heat-resistant outsole (up to 932 degrees Fahrenheit) is an added bonus, especially if you find yourself transitioning between extremely cold and unexpectedly warmer environments. This feature ensures the boots remain versatile and durable, no matter the conditions.

For EMS professionals facing the challenges of cold weather the Wolverine CarbonMAX Waterproof Work Boot is a stellar choice. It combines warmth, waterproofing, safety, and comfort in a way that few other boots do. These boots are not just a barrier against the cold; they ensure safety, comfort, and performance in the most challenging cold weather conditions.


  • Exceptional Insulation
  • Puncture-Resistant
  • Comfort in Cold Weather
  • Slip Resistance


  • Limited Use in Non-Winter Conditions
  • Weight and Bulk

Best EMS Boots for Plantar Fasciitis - Thorogood Gen-Flex 2 Tactical Boots

Thorogood is an American boot company that has been around since 1892. Their boots are American-made and tough. Gen-Flex boots are very comfortable.

As a veteran Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), I’ve experienced my fair share of demanding shifts, where comfort and durability in footwear are not just a luxury, but a necessity. After extensive use in various emergency situations, I can confidently say that the Thorogood GEN-Flex2 Tactical Boots stand out as a top choice for EMS professionals. 

Comfort and Support

The Thorogood boots excel in providing exceptional comfort, which is crucial for long, unpredictable shifts. The cushioned EVA footbeds are a game-changer, offering much-needed relief from the constant pressure and impact of being on my feet. They effectively protect against severe pain, making them ideal for those grueling 12-hour shifts.

Relief from Plantar Fasciitis

Dealing with plantar fasciitis can be a nightmare for any EMS worker. These boots offer a significant advantage with their flexible movement and superior cushioning. The removable insert adds an extra layer of comfort, ensuring stability and support for the underfoot, which is essential for anyone prone to foot arch problems or experiencing heel pain.

Durability and Protection

In the field, we encounter various terrains and hazardous conditions. The GEN-flex2® dual-density rubber outsole of these boots provides excellent traction and grip, essential for both indoor and outdoor emergency scenarios. The resistance to oil and slick surfaces is a notable feature, enhancing safety during critical moments.

Waterproof and Fluid Resistance

The BBP Waterproof lining is a standout feature for any EMT. It offers protection against harmful fluids, a common concern in medical emergencies. This, combined with the Impact 300 gel heel insert, ensures that my feet are safeguarded against fatigue and injury, no matter the situation.

Construction and Design

The full-grain leather and nylon construction of the boots are not only about aesthetics but also about functionality. The Goodyear storm welt construction and the heavy-duty YKK zipper with Velcro® closure add to the durability, ensuring these boots can withstand the daily wear and tear of EMS work. The boot shaft height provides excellent ankle stabilization, and the toe box is roomy, allowing for natural movement and comfort.


Long shifts can lead to sweaty feet, but the moisture-wicking mesh lining in these boots effectively keeps my feet dry and comfortable. This feature is particularly beneficial during intense situations where focus and comfort are paramount.

The Thorogood GEN-Flex2 8” Side-Zip Tactical Boots are a solid investment for any EMS professional. Their design and construction cater to the specific needs of emergency responders, providing comfort, support, and protection in various demanding situations. Whether it’s a long shift or a quick response call, these boots have proven to be reliable, durable, and, most importantly, comfortable. As someone who’s on their feet saving lives, I couldn’t ask for a better companion than these Thorogood boots.


  • Great Ankle Support
  • A Sharp and Good Looking Boot
  • USA and Union Made
  • Slip Resistant Rubber Outsole
  • ASTM F11677-05, ASTM F2913-11 Certified


  • Not Waterproof
  • Not Very breathable

Best Budget EMS Boots - NORTIV 8 Men's Military Tactical Boots

I’m excited to share my thoughts on the Nortiv 8 Tactical Boots, a footwear option that not only meets the demanding needs of emergency services but also respects the often tight budget constraints we face.

Protection & Convenience: A Perfect Blend for EMTs

The ankle-high protection of the Nortiv 8 boots is a standout feature. In the world of emergency response, where every second counts, support around the ankles is crucial. It provides the stability needed when navigating uneven terrain or moving quickly in response to a crisis. The YKK side zipper, complemented by a hook-loop strap closure, is a game-changer for quick transitions. Whether I’m rushing out for a call or returning from a grueling shift, the ease of taking these boots on and off saves precious time and effort.

Durability Meets Breathability: Ready for Long Shifts

The combination of breathable fabric and high abrasion-resistant leather strikes a perfect balance between comfort and protection. As EMTs, we’re often on our feet for long hours, sometimes in extreme conditions. The breathable nature of these boots ensures that my feet stay cool and dry, preventing discomfort and potential distractions. The robust leather construction offers the durability needed to withstand the rigors of emergency medical work, from navigating debris at accident scenes to enduring long hours of wear and tear.

Dynamic 2-Sole System: Comfort in Every Step

The dual-sole system of the Nortiv 8 boots is a testament to their understanding of what professionals like us need. The removable, shock-absorbent cushion insole is a blessing for all-day comfort. It’s like walking on clouds, even on the most demanding days. The second aspect, the slip, oil, and abrasion-resistant rubber outsole, provides a reliable grip across various terrains – a non-negotiable for the unpredictable nature of emergency response.

Versatility: From Emergency Scenes to Outdoor Adventures

These boots aren’t just for work. Their design caters to a range of activities, making them a versatile choice for anyone who juggles professional responsibilities with a love for outdoor adventures. Whether it’s for daily work, camping, climbing, or even a casual hike, these boots adapt seamlessly, providing the same level of comfort and protection.

Affordability: High-Quality Without the High Price Tag

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Nortiv 8 Tactical Boots is their affordability. It’s challenging to find boots that tick all the boxes of durability, comfort, and protection without breaking the bank. Nortiv 8 has managed to do just that, making these boots accessible to professionals like myself who need reliable gear but are also mindful of budget constraints.

Customer Service and Warranty: The Cherry on Top

The worry-free warranty and friendly customer service are the cherries on top. Knowing that Nortiv 8, an American brand, stands behind their product adds an extra layer of confidence in this purchase.

Nortiv 8 Tactical Boots are a stellar choice for any EMT or paramedic looking for a budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise on quality, comfort, or durability. They’re more than just boots; they’re a reliable partner for those who dedicate their lives to helping others in need.


  • Budget-Friendly
  • Reliable Customer Service
  • Easy to Wear
  • Comfortable Sole System
  • Ankle-High Protection


  • Not Specifically Tailored for Extreme Conditions
  • Break-In Period

A Guide to buying EMT/Paramedic Boots in 2023

1. EMS duty boots must be compliant with foot protection standards.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires under Regulation 1910.136 that employers provide protective footwear for personnel who work in establishments or areas where there is a likelihood of foot injuries that can happen in places where their lower extremities are significantly exposed to hazards. For instance, stepping on a needle. Will your boot protect your feet from punctures?

Although OSHA sets safety rules, it is the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) that sets the standards.

ASTM standard (F2413-05) refers to the minimum requirements for the design, testing, performance, and classification after having passed the first requirements of impact and compression resistance of the footwear.

Impact test – EMS boots should need to meet either 50 or 75 testing criteria, this is measured by dropping a weight from a predetermined height at a specified speed on top of the toe cap.

  • I/50 will shield your toes from impacts of up to 50-foot pounds while
  • I/75 rating will likewise protect the toes from impacts of up to 75-foot pounds.

Compression test – the boots must satisfy one of two criteria for compression rating, by applying a measured load up to the specified number of pounds needed to cause the toe cap starts to crush or break.

  • C/50 rating will protect the toes from a maximum of 1750-pound compressive loads
  • C/75 rating protects the toes from a maximum of 2500-pound loads.

2. EMS work boots must protect the EMT from job hazards.

Protective footwear comes either as steel-toed or with a composite toe cap. Either way, these “shields” are designed to keep toes safe.

EMS boots should keep feet safe. Look for boots that comply with the above compression and impact tests. Make sure the sole is sturdy, many come with a hard plastic plate on the bottom. Boots should be waterproof and slip-resistant. The treads should have a good grip on many different surfaces.

EMTs and Paramedics will encounter these common job hazards.

  • Adverse Weather Conditions.
  • Hazardous Materials on medical scenes, such as sharp metal, broken glass, chemical substances.
  • Exposure to biohazards like blood, vomit, and feces.

Think about all the places an EMT or Paramedic will have to walk. All of that environment the boots are exposed to. A good pair of boots, along with gloves, are a medical responder’s first line of defense in the field.

3. They must be well-fitting.

Be sure that boots fit correctly. Buying the wrong size of boots will negatively impact the job performance of emergency personnel. Before purchasing a pair of boots, be sure to know your size as well if you need regular or wide-fitting boots. Side Zippers are a huge benefit as they allow EMS providers to get in and out of boots quickly.

For example, a crew is stationed at a station (IE a firefighter). Having Side Zip boots allows them to remove the boot with ease and put them back on when the need arises and the responder has to get out the door.

4. The boots must be comfortable.

EMS personnel tend to work long shifts. 12 or 24 hours is a long time to spend in a pair of boots. It is important to get materials that breathe. Look for boots that are made from waterproof materials like Gore-Tex or some other advanced material. All leather boots are not recommended, as there is little airflow and this can result in blisters.

5. Look for reputable brands.

Brand name boots typically are of better quality. They have the market research and resources to ensure that the product being produced is not only quality but complies with safety standards. Brand name companies usually offer replacement programs for defective products.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What boot brand is best for EMTs?

A: You want to stick with known brands. 5.11, Bates, and Thorogood are great brands known for great boots.

Q: Do I need boots for EMT?

A: The short answer is yes. EMTs and Paramedics are required to work long hours in various environments. You need a good pair of boots for your comfort and safety.

Q: Why do EMT's Wear Boots?

A: Boots are required equipment that are there to protect the EMT from environmental factors like needles, nails, and heavy objects being dropped on their feet.


EMTs and Paramedics have a tough job. That job requires tough footwear. We hope that this article has helped you select the best pair of EMS boots for you!

If you are new to EMS, Thinking about training, or are a current student check out our EMT Training Page for helpful content!

5.11 A.T.A.C. Shield Tactical Boot

Our Top Pick

The A.T.A.C. Shield combines all the best in comfort, durability, and utility and is affordable for almost any budget.


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Hey there! It's so great to meet you! My name is Mike, and I am thrilled to be able to share my extensive EMS experience with you. I am currently working as an EMT in Tucson and am also an EMT instructor at Pima Community College. I am passionate about teaching future first responders, and I created this site specifically to assist anyone interested in pursuing a career in EMS.

It's possible that you are here because you're considering becoming an EMT, or maybe you are already one. Throughout my career, I have tested out countless pieces of EMT-related gear and equipment, and I want to help guide you in making smart decisions when it comes to selecting the best gear for your needs.

I am here to offer my support, so feel free to reach out if there is anything you need. Let's work together to make sure you have the tools you need to excel in this rewarding field!