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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect Pair of Gumboots in South Africa

March 21, 2024

Given the country’s multiple climates and outdoor pursuits, gum boots or Wellington boots are typically a must and make their way into the wardrobe. Wet or dry, at work or play, no shoes keep our toes warm like a pair of good gumboots in South Africa

Here is what you should know.

Purpose and Functionality

  •  Work Environment – For industrial or agricultural environments, look for gumboots with reinforcements on the toes that are resistant to chemicals and punctures. 
  • Leisure Wear – If you’re using them for negligees or gardening, you might care more about comfort and ease of laundering (most certainly not dry cleaning!) 

Material and Construction

Gumboots in South Africa are made from PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) are 100 percent waterproof and Fairtrade certified. Their shafts contain around 70 percent rubber, although they are resistant to oil and grease, but are not appropriate for wearing in chemically hazardous areas. 

PVC gumboots are machine-washable, suitable for general use, and meet a basic comfort requirement.

Polyurethane boots (PU Gumboots) are lighter than PVC ones and give better insulation from cold and heat. They are also more durable and it’s good business to purchase for heavy-duty use.

Everything Gumboots

Fit and Comfort

  • Sizing – Ensure enough room to wear thick socks for warmth without compromising circulation.
  • Insoles – Consider gumboots with removable insoles for additional comfort and easy drying.

Safety Features

  • Toe Protection – Steel-toe gumboots are essential in hazardous work environments to protect against impact.
  • Slip Resistance – A sole with a good tread pattern will better grip slippery surfaces.

Style and Personal Preference

  •  Design – Consider if you want basic black or something with more pizzazz, like a fun pattern. 
  • Height – Ankle-high gumboots allow more flexibility, and knee-high boots are better when you want to stand and to be protected against the elements.

Care and Maintenance

  • Scrubbing – Brush off dirt and clean slides or hooks with a damp cloth. Mild soap is okay. Avoid heavy chemicals. Hang up or stuff your gumboots to retain their shape. 

Keep them dry! If the lining gets mouldy, clean it and dry it outdoors for a few hours. This will help you breathe better. 

  • Storing – Store out of the sun in a dry, cool place  (you don’t want them to crack!). 

Environmental Considerations

Some manufacturers use recycled materials, a plus for eco-conscious consumers, and that number is set to rise exponentially. 

Cultural Significance

The gumboot is part of the South African tradition of gumboot dancing – an activity born from the early days of the mining industry. 

A Staple of the Meat Processing Industry

The gumboot plays a vital role in various functions. It is PPE as it protects human feet from water and blood—usually, animals are skinned in water in the lairage. 

It also creates a barrier against easy access to feces and remains of the animal – scrapers used to scrape animal remains on the floor are normally rinsed in water.

Let’s take a look at where they are most effective within the industry:

Key Areas:

  • Slaughter Floor – Blood, fats and other organic matter are carried out of the body through your feet, so for obvious hygiene reasons, you wear these heavy-duty plastic boots. 
  • Scalding and Dehairing – Propper gumboots will make a big difference in jobs where hot water and steam are used, helping to prevent burns and to maintain slip resistance.
  • Evisceration and Butchering – Both involve working with internal organs and cutting meat, so you need something on your feet that will keep the workplace clean.
  • Cleaning and Sanitation – Workers cleaning the facility interact with water and cleaning agents, so it’s important that the footwear they wear is waterproof and chemical-resistant, so gumboots must be demanded. 

Why They Are Necessary

  • Sanitation – We can vigorously disinfect gumboots, which is not possible with soiled clothes. That way, we would avoid cross-contamination throughout any plant.
  • Guarding – They prevent someone from coming into contact with sharp instruments or heavy machinery while they’re working on them or in the immediate surroundings. They also minimise the risk of slipping on wet or slippery floors.
  • Comfort – Working long hours standing up can be draining, so gumboots provide the support and comfort workers need throughout the long shift. 

Regulatory Compliance

In many cases, safety regulations stipulate that gumboots need to comply with industry standards for workers’ safety and food hygiene.

What this means is that every pair of gumboots South Africa sold to companies for use in the workplace – such as the abattoirs and slaughterhouses – must be PPE-compliant in terms of the following:

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act (1993)…

Which requires employers to supply PPE to employees.

These include protective footwear like gumboots that effectively prevent bodily injury. The exact requirements of safety footwear, including gumboots, are covered by the international standard ISO 20345.

Their use is integral to slaughterhouses and abattoirs’ smooth and safe operation, so as long as workers comply with regulations, their gumboots should keep them safe in many industrial situations.


Gumboots are necessary for the meat processing industry as these are the only shoes for the workers, keeping them safe and clean and obeying health, safety & environmental rules. Inside and outside the factory, they remain a South African staple of footwear, you can’t go wrong with  proper pair of Gumboots South Africa!