It’s that time of the year, the tree-planting season is upon us. Time to gear up.
Whether you’re a rookie or an experienced tree planter, this question will come up every year.
What boots should I get?
I’m not going to go on with blah blah, I’ll just cut right to the chase.
First, there will be two categories.
- Alberta & BC Planting
- Quebec & Ontario Planting
Simply because tree planting is not the same on the east coast as on the west coast.
In general, you’ll get more mountains in the west, and more swamps in the east, which changes the kind of boots you’ll want.
Still, most boots will do just fine anywhere, but caulked boots, for example, won’t be necessary on the east coast.
While steel-toed boots might not be required in the west, it’s required in most places in the east.
Note: Keep in mind the shipping fees + taxes are not included in the following prices.
Best Tree Planting Boots for Alberta & BC
First things first, you’ll probably want at least one pair of calked boots for BC planting.
In most of Alberta, chances are you won’t need calks.
Before you buy a pair, just ask your crew boss whether you’ll need them or not.
Note: Coastal and rocky mountain range is mountainous, while BC interior and Northern Alberta are relatively flat.
Keep an eye on these brands, the hikers are all quite similar, it’s all about the right fit.
If you can try them on yourself at a store nearby, that’s the best-case scenario, just pick the ones that fit your feet the best.
Scarpa Fuego – 575$ CAD
Viberg Chokerman (Calked) – $750 CAD
Hoffman 10″ Armor Pro Calk (Calked) – $625 CAD
10″ Meindl Plain Toe Logger Lineman – $630 CAD
Vasque St-Elias – $315 CAD
Zamberlan 960 – $470 CAD
Vikings Spiked Forester Boots – $207 CAD
Note: Viking boots are a size bigger than they’re advertised. For example, if you’re size 10, get size 9.
There could be a thousand different answers as to what the best tree planting boots are, they all do a similar job. In the end, it comes down to preference.
Keep an eye out for these brands, places like MEC, Altitude, and Atmosphere often have them in store.
Best Tree Planting Boots for Ontario & Quebec
Quebec & Ontario tree planting requires steel-toed boots, that’s the main reason why boots will differ here.
Any of the recommended boots for AB/BC work for tree planting in ON/QC if your contract does not require steel-toe.
Vikings Steel-toed Forester Boots – $173 CAD
Dunlop Safety Boots – $179 CAD
Baffin Hunters – $105 CAD
Timberland Pros – $285 CAD
HAIX Protectors – $545 CAD
Viberg Sierra Steel-Toe – $609 CAD
10″ Meindl Steel Toe Eureka Ground Boot – $558 CAD
Canada West Leather Work Boots – $400 CAD
Many of these boots are made large, you want to get a size smaller. Ask the manufacturer for the boot chart.
Another good suggestions are to drop by the army surplus to look for combat boots. They often have gortex ones for cheap.
Also, even cheap steel-toed rubber boots at Canadian Tire will work. Many of them have a warranty, you can keep the receipt and exchange your pierced boots for a new pair for free.
Boot Repair Kit
You should also plan for this, a bit of boot repair supplies can make your boots last much longer.
So what are good shoe repair supplies?
- Superglue, Needle & Fishing Wire – To patch holes, cuts, and scratches.
- Boot Oil/Grease – Boot maintenance.
- Laces – Extra pair for when they break.
Superglue & Fishing Wire
When you have cracks or holes to patch, these will come in handy.
Just superglue alone isn’t enough, it needs something underneath to strengthen it. You want to fix the stitchings or tears with fishing wire first to provide a solid, longer-lasting fix.
Permatex Glue- $25 Per Tube
30 lb Fishing Line $20
Leather Needle Kit $9
Also, good boot maintenance will greatly help against cracks in leather and rubber.
It’s not always on the field that your boots break, it’s also when they’re drying on the racks.
A good way to prevent that is to use boot wax to condition and moisturize the leather.
Canadian Beeseal Wax – $46 Per Kit
The kit includes a case with 2 tins, a hard brush, a soft brush, and a cloth to apply the wax.
Laces sometimes last the whole season, and sometimes last only a few weeks. It depends on your luck, but you should at least have extra pairs of laces.
Personally, I like thin laces that are easy to take apart at the end of the day.
Seriously, after a day of planting with wet feet, those boots can’t come off any faster!
Boot Comfort Supplies
These items will make your life a lot better while tree planting:
Bamas/ Boot Liners
I personally don’t use bama liners, but it’s a staple in the tree-planting world.
Bama liners will also absorb some of the shock on your knees, but their primary use is for boot comfort and water absorption.
When tree planting, as much as you try to avoid it, you’ll get water in your boots and get your feet soaked. This is especially true in Quebec, and Ontario.
There’s just no avoiding it, but you can make yourself more comfortable with bama socks.
Pioneer – $17 Per Pair
They’ll absorb the water and keep your feet from being waterlogged.
Most tree planters in my camp use these.
You want sturdy socks that won’t easily tear at the heel, they’re not cheap but really worth the investment.
I bought pairs that were 15$ each but lasted two whole seasons before they started tearing.
Also, some good pairs of wool socks are great for tree planting.
These are the exact pairs I had.
Dristex – 2 Pairs for $32
Are you getting blisters on your heels? The solution is ridiculously simple, just wear two pairs of socks. Problem = gone.
Dr. Scholl’s Insoles
If you prefer not to use bamas, these are a must-use.
I’ve been using these since the start, they make a world of difference. The gel-like insoles absorb a lot of the shock from your steps and kicks during the day.
Your movements throughout the day put a strain on certain parts of your body, your knees especially.
Having a gel insole will reduce the strain, and your knees will thank you for it.
I used the regular kind, they were a little thin and would sometimes move around in my boots.
I can’t speak for the work kind, but I suppose their thickness would fix that problem.
Dr. Scholl’s Work Insoles – 2 for $50
Knee Pain? Collagen Supplement with Hyaluronic Acid
On the subject of knee pain, I have had problems with my knees while tree planting, and found a solution that works for me.
The continuous shock wears down the cartilage on your knee joints, and collagen supplement with hyaluronic acid helps it rebuild your cartilage and reduce joint pain.
I’ve been using these for two years, and it works like magic, my knee pain has been non-existent since then.
If you suffer from knee pain while tree planting, I highly recommend it.
Webber’s – $25 Per Bottle
It’s about a bottle per month, I think last season I went through 4 bottles.
100$ investment to avoid knee pain? It’s an easy choice for me.
Quick recap of everything you’ll need:
- Boots for Tree Planting in BC/AB
- Boots for Tree Planting in ON/QC
- Boot Repair Kit
- Boot Comfort Supplies
So what are the best boots for tree planting?
According to most tree planters, the best boots for tree planting are Scarpas, and Vikings.
- Vikings: Cheap, easily replaceable, steel-toed, calk, flexible, and waterproof.
- Scarpas: Deluxe, comfortable, long-lasting, and light.
It’s not really about picking one or the other, veteran tree planters usually end up having both.
Some last words of advice, don’t cheap out on supplies.
You’ll make that money back within a week, but the right supplies can help you plant comfortably for the whole summer without pain or stress.
What’s more worth it? A week’s worth of money or a summer’s worth of comfort?
Plant comfortably, my friends.
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