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Breathable safety footwear: dry and happy feet

The prime directive of footcare is: “Thou shall not have wet feet.” Chronically sweaty feet can break down your skin, cause blisters, encourage infections, and lead to offensive foot odor. This article will discuss best practices for reducing sweaty feet, many of which you may not have fully considered before.

Steps to safety footwear breathability

You can’t just buy a breathable safety shoe or boot and expect your sweaty feet problem to be solved. To understand why, we need to do a quick review of the foots anatomy.

A foot has 125 000 sweat glands. If you sit and work, you produce 20 grams of sweat every eight hours (per foot). 44 grams when walking for eight hours and 200 grams while doing heavy work for eight hours. This means that regardless of if you physically exert yourself, your feet sweat. They just sweat more when they warm up. Once your feet warm up, your sweat glands release tiny (70 micrometers) droplets of moisture to try to cool your feet down. What happens next to that sweat vapour is critical — and typically overlooked by employers.

Amount of sweat per foot and working day (g/8h)

Footwear ventilation is a multi-part system

Quality socks have long been neglected by safety officials, leading to worker discomfort and lost productivity. It is essential to understand that socks, insoles, and shoes must work together as a system to enable sweat vapour to evaporate. Socks play a crucial role in this system, first wicking moisture away from the foot, and then insoles and shoes provide pathways for ventilation to the outside.

Therefore, when purchasing ventilating safety shoes, it is important to select a breathable sock that is best suited for the shoe and your work environment. By doing so, you can ensure that the system works optimally to keep your feet dry, comfortable and healthy.

Breathable sock checklist

1. There are lots of breathable sock materials available (see Sock Materials below), so first focus on your work environment. Is it hot, cold, or somewhere in between? Do you need a lightweight sock, the most breathable, or a medium weight sock for additional warmth?

2. Next is sizing. Socks that are too big cause friction and create pockets that trap moisture.

3. Sources of friction, and therefore heat, also include cheaply sewn seams that create raised bumps. Look for quality socks with soft or embedded seams.

4. Some of the most ventilated work socks feature knitted mesh on their tops. Between the raised ribs, there is thinner material that more readily allows your sweat to escape away from your foot.

Breathability test

To show you just how breathable JALAS socks are, we put a sock over a thermos with warm water. As you can see, the steam is passing through the sock easily.

Further down on this page, you will find information about different sock materials and suggestions for great socks.

The design and fit of breathable safety shoes/boots

There are dozens of JALAS high-quality breathable safety shoe and boot models available — including water-resistant ones. Fortunately, raindrops are about 200 micrometers in size, much bigger than the 70 micrometer sweat droplets. Safety shoe manufacturers select outer materials with porosities between those sizes — that way, sweat moves out, but rain doesn’t come in.

There are numerous other ways to make safety shoes more ventilated. Insoles can be ventilating. Laminates can bring different materials (with different porosities) together, with the largest porosities closest to the skin. This is why many shoes are lined with mesh materials, so moisture readily moves from the outer layer of a breathable sock on through the shoe.

Safety shoes/boots that are too big allow the foot to slip, creating friction, heat, and sweat. And shoes must be properly laced for the same reason.


Getting the right insoles for safety shoes is also part of the fitting process. Having your feet scanned, by the FootStop Service by JALAS, is the best way to determine the height of your arch, the size of each foot, and their pressure points.

And, to drive home the point made earlier, buy your breathable socks the same time you’re selecting your ventilated insoles and shoes, so everything comes together for both optimum fit and breathability.


JALAS Footscanner (FSS) provides detailed scans of your feet, making it easier to decide which shoes and insoles are the right fit for you.

Learn more

The best breathable sock materials are blends

Bamboo viscose

Bamboo viscose offers great ventilation, excellent moisture wicking, and an ultra-soft feel. Bamboo can be grown much more sustainably than cotton, using much less water. Bamboo blends, such as the JALAS 8203 sock, provide a smooth, perfect fit, cool comfort, and superior breathability.


Another water-saving material, made from beechwood. The Modal fibre has excellent softness, warmth, and moisture-wicking performance. TENCEL Modal fibres are mixed with other fibres to add extra durability.


Although 100% cotton is great at absorbing moisture, the moisture can stay trapped in it, leading to too much moisture around the foot. For this reason, if you like cotton, we recommend a cotton blend, such as the JALAS 8205 sock with COOLMAX ® moisture-wicking performance.

Merino wool

Wool and especially Merino Wool is nature’s super fiber that transports moisture and keeps your feet warm and dry in all conditions. Thanks to merino wool, your feet stay fresh all day.
JALAS 8220 is very thin and keeps your feet cool even in warmer climates.

ESD and more

There are many other fibres used in breathable safety socks, including carbon fibre for ESD socks and viscose fibre which, in JALAS FR socks, encapsulates the flame retardant within the core of the fibre so it won’t wash out. But the important thing to remember is that the perfect breathable sock for your chosen safety shoe will be a blend of different fibres.

JALAS® Safety Shoes

JALAS® safety shoes maintain the highest quality, comfort and safety - features that have been our hallmark ever since 1916. The JALAS® story began in the village of Jokipii, Finland, which is still the proud home of design, development and manufacturing.

Learn more about JALAS Safety Shoes