For the most part, chainsaw crews use the same gear as conservation crews; use the frontcountry or backcountry crew gear list as needed for the bulk of your gear. This page covers specific requirements and recommendations for saw boots. When running a chainsaw, your boots are an important piece of PPE – Personal Protective Equipment, and the only one that we ask you to provide for yourself.
Above ankle cut-resistant water repellant boots, preferably leather, with sturdy soles (ensure 2” chap overlap). “Above ankle” is generally taken to mean 6" high, and most leather work boots fit these requirements. The chaps that we provide will overlap at least 2" on boots 6" high and taller.
We prefer folks to have 8" high boots for chainsaw work. Requirements were recently changed to the standards quoted above, but some of our project partners still prefer the older, 8-inch, standard. Essentially, you can’t go wrong with 8-inch boots, but 6-inch will suffice.
We do not recommend steel-toed boots, see the Considerations section for more details.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in wildland firefighting, there are more strict requirements and standards in firefighting boots (typically 8” above ankle, all leather, vibram sole, fully gusseted tongue, etc). Firefighting boots are not required for our saw crews but if you want to go that route in the future, you may want to consider them.
Some boots that fit saw requirements are more “hiking-style” and you may find those more comfortable. Regardless of the style of boot that you choose, you should consider a pair of good insoles, which can make a huge difference. You can find many reviews of hiking insoles online and pick what sounds best for you! We do not have a preference between “Logger heel” and low-heeled boots, but recommend that you try on some of both if you’re able. Many women’s boots that are 8-inch and all leather are only available with a logger heel.
Many boots have different toe options – steel, aluminum, composite, soft, maybe more – which may be intimidating at first. We do not require any particular kind of toe, but we do not recommend steel toes – they're heavy and make hiking much more difficult and do not provide much protection for saw work. As far as the lighter options, feel free to try whatever sounds good to you. Soft toe will always be the lightest and simplest style. Be sure to check before you buy as some listings are confusing about what type of toe they have!
Women's Saw Boots:
It may be more difficult to find the style that you prefer. If you are around an 8 or larger you may fit into smaller sizes of men’s boots. You may also want to look at brands like Danner or Vasque that make all-leather hiking boots, as some of these may be tall enough for saw work. We’ve made some notes in parentheses on the brand list below about their women’s offerings. As one example for sizing for men’s boots to women’s feet, Eleanor, our Field Program Assistant, wears around an 8 generally and a 5 (women’s 7) in Crocs. She uses Chippewa men's size 6 boots (non-insulated) and Danner men's size 7 boots (insulated), both with a thick insole.
Some Brands to Look At
Carolina (Many women’s 8” options, all with logger heels. Different toes – steel, composite, soft – are available and they come in insulated and non-insulated)
Chippewa (The only women’s 8” option has steel toe and logger heel; men’s boots come in sizes down to a men’s 6)
Red Wing (Women’s boots can only be bought in-store)
Timberland Pro (The only 8” women’s option has mixed reviews and can be hard to find on their website)
Keen – They make work boots! (The only 8” women’s option has an aluminum safety toe)
Danner – They have many all-leather hiking boots which may be tall enough as well, don’t just look at the work boots.
Brahma, Wolverine, and Ariat are some cheaper options that have a number of styles available.
You may want to check out sites like Overstock, Zappos, and workboots.com, which sometimes have better deals than ordering directly from the brand.
Many other brands have boots that will fit the requirements, these are by no means the only options. If you’re not sure, send us a link or a picture and we’ll let you know! If you want to talk more about boots or anything else, please reach out to any of our staff to chat.