I've started splitting firewood by axe, so I need some steel-toe boots in case I pull an oopsie. I went to a nearby Red Wing Shoes, a company that insists on stocking Brannock Devices for their stores, according to the Wall Street Journal. "David Murphy, president of Red Wing Shoe Co…says the firm specifies authentic Brannocks when it opens new stores, and he doesn't mind paying over twice as much for them, 'because they last forever.'"
While the store did indeed have a Brannock Device--which I tried, and which confirmed my shoe size as 7.5--the saleswoman also asked me to try out this contraption:
I stepped on it (in my socks) as instructed. After a second, a screen on the wall in front of it returned this data:
I was interested to see that, if this Aetrex machine is to be believed, my right foot is apparently larger than my left. Or maybe I was placing more weight on it.
In any case, I know for sure my shoe size is 7.5, but the machine recommended an 8.5 as the smallest option. So I tried some 8.5's…and they were all too big.
Given a choice of shoe-measuring devices, I prefer the Brannock to the newfangled Aetrex.
The store didn't stock any 7.5's, so I walked out empty-handed. In the end I went online and ordered this pair of Throttle Composite Toe Waterproof Work Boots from Caterpillar--who knew they made footwear, in addition to earth-moving machines?--that features "Nano Toe technology [that's] 40% lighter than a steel toe but doesn't compromise on the impact and compression protection."
Once they arrive and I've had a chance to test them out, I'll report back on whether they're any good.
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I was in Red Wing, MN for business and visited the factory store. This was a few years back. But, they had the fancy electronic sizing machine. It put me in a boot one size bigger than my normal size. The boots still feel over sized to this day and I wear extra thick socks with them. The thing is, there was a time when every town had a shoe repair shop and a tight leather boot could be stretched. You see the shoe stretching tools at antique shops these days. Had I bought my known size and stretched them for my freakishly high arch, I think I'd be happier. My small collection of antique shoe stretching tools now allows me to adjust shoe fit as needed. The plus is that I can buy higher quality vintage shoes where the soles and heels are replaceable, even if I have to ship them to a cobbler in the next state for the repair.
There's nothing unique about CAT's composite toe material--it's almost always just fiberglass unless otherwise stated. They differ from steel in that you are meant to discard and replace them after a significant impact whereas traditional safety toes can be kept in service so long as they haven't visibly deformed and you'll still get your worker's comp checks after a maiming accident.
While on the topic of 7.5 footwear, wtf? I'm six feet tall, not a little guy by any standard, and can't find shoes that fit.