Working on steep roof pitches can be dangerous if you do not have the right footwear. Proper roofing footwear is as essential as proper tools, like a coil nailer. Some roofers like wearing tennis shoes to grip the roof surface, but tennis shoes do not provide any protection. Drop a shingle on your tennis shoe, and you will know what I mean.
Cougar Paws are worth the cost if you routinely walk on steep roofs. I’ve used many types of boots and shoes and have found that Cougar Paws are great for sticking to shingle roofs and cause minimal damage to the roof surface.
The outsole is the most crucial feature of roofing footwear. A slip-resistant sole is vital when looking for new roofing boots. Many options range from leather boots to sneakers that roofers can choose. One of the most popular brands that make a roofing-specific boot is Cougar Paws.
What are Cougar Paws?
Cougar Paws are roofing-specific footwear with 25 years of innovation behind them. Founded by Dan Cougar in 1996, these boots are made specifically for walking on roofs. They feature patented, replaceable traction pads designed for specific angled surfaces, including asphalt and steel. Some have given them the nickname “glue shoes” due to their superior adhesion to most types of roofing.
How Many Styles of Boots do Cougar Paws Make?
Cougar Paws come in four styles: Steel Walker, Steel Walker II, Estimator, and their flagship model, the Performer boot. All four are made of heavy-duty materials and for comfort not found in the industry today.
I own the Estimator shoes pictured above and have owned them for over a year. I use them several times a week and only wear them when inspecting a roof.
The boots are so unique they are patented and provide superior slip protection. The company has expanded to more than just boots; they also have a full line of accessories to improve your overall safety when working on a roof.
Who Should Wear Cougar Paws?
Besides the apparent roofers, other trades can benefit from wearing Cougar Paws. Home inspectors, window cleaners, gutter installers, chimney sweeps, insurance adjusters, contractors, and anyone on an incline or roof surface can benefit from these boots.
Do Cougar Paws Run Small?
According to reviews across the internet and on the Cougar Paws website, it states that “our shoes run large for most people.” If you have a narrow foot, you can go a full size smaller when ordering, and most people find that a half size smaller is adequate.
When I ordered my first pair of Cougar Paws, I had to return them to get a pair that was a 1/2 size smaller. I usually wear wide shoes, so a half size smaller was perfect for me.
Are Cougar Paws Comfortable?
When working on a roof for 8+ hours a day, you need your feet to be comfortable, and Cougar Paws does not disappoint. Comfortable from the start and will break in nicely if you have a good fit. Some reports of the boots being wide and feeling like they will roll if you walk sideways on an incline. This added forefoot velcro strap helps secure your foot in the boot.
I have found the Estimator Cougar Paws is very comfortable to wear and meet my needs. I would have no problem wearing them all day if I needed to.
How Long do Cougar Paws Last?
These boots are made for walking on roofs and inclines, and if used for that purpose, they can last for a long time. With a replaceable pad for the sole, you can, for a minimal cost, keep replacing your soles and extend the life of your boots.
My soles have lasted over a year and are still in great shape. However, you will need to replace them sooner if you spend all day walking on roofs.
A full-time roofer can expect to get a maximum of five months out of the boots if you are replacing the soles when needed.
Do Cougar Paws Work on Wet Roofs?
An independent study has shown that walking on a clean wet roof is no different than walking on a dry roof. Notice that the study states a clean wet roof. If a roof has debris on it like leaves, pine needles, loose granules, moss, or algae, it will be slippery no matter your footwear. Take caution when walking on any roof with any footwear.
I would disagree somewhat with this statement. Walking thousands of roof surfaces, if the roof pitch is over 4/12 pitch, a wet roof can be significantly more slippery. I’ve walked wet roofs with Cougar Paws with no trouble. I’ve found sneakers that do not have a flat outsole significantly more slip-prone when walking on wet roofs.
Cougar Paws will increase the grip on a wet roof compared to other boots as long as the roof is clean.
Are Cougar Paws Good on Plywood?
The Peak Series Replacement Pad works on a variety of inclined surfaces. The replacement pads give sticking performance on shingles, wood shakes, felt, slate, and even plywood. The pads are replacements for the Cougar Paws Performer boot and Estimator boot.
Can You Wear Cougar Paws During Tear-Off?
Tearing off a roof is hard work, and if you are constantly slipping, that will make it harder. Cougar Paws considered this and designed the Spike Cover roofing spike covers to wear over your boots.
- The roofing cleats or spikes provide maximum holding power, giving you better footing on various roofing surfaces.
- The spiked covers are not meant for new roof surfaces and can damage the roofing material.
- You can wear these Spike Covers over most brands of footwear.
How Long do Cougar Paws Replacement Pads Last?
How Often to Replace Cougar Paws Padding?
How long new pads last include using the Cougar Cover when not on a roof or the Spike Cover when tearing off. Inspectors under normal conditions can expect to get one to two months from the Peak Series Replacement Pads. A full-time roofer might only get one to two weeks out of a pair of replacement pads.
Home inspectors, adjusters, or estimators, who wear them sparingly can expect to get six to twelve months from the Peak Series Replacement Pads.
I only wear my cougar paws when I am walking on a roof. I don’t wear mine all day. I put them on when I get my ladder ready to access a roof and then immediately take them off when done. I walk 10+ roofs a week for about 15 minutes on average each time. I’ve owned my Cougar Paws for 18 months and have replaced the pads once.
How do the Cougar Paws Replacement Pads Connect to the Boots?
The patent-pending Replacement Pads from Cougar Paws use industrial velcro to connect to the bottom of the boots. The velcro is called the “hook,” which connects to the boot, and the pad has the “loop” made of a felt style material. When attached, the hook and loop together will hold firmly, keeping your replacement pads connected securely to your boots. This industrial velcro allows the soles to be replaced with a new pair when worn out.
Are Cougar Paws Good on a Metal Surface?
Cougar Paws makes a special boot explicitly designed for steel surfaces, appropriately called the SteelWalker Boot. This boot has powerful magnets lined into the sole of the boot. These are only intended for steel surfaces and not designed for use on other metal surfaces like aluminum.
Are Cougar Paws the Best Roofing Boots?
When comparing Cougar Paws to other boots to determine the best roofing boot, you must look at the competition. Most roofing boot review sites list highlight hiking boots and tennis shoes as viable options for roofing workwear.
Cougar Paws is the only roofing-specific designed boots on the market. It is objective to say that they are the best, but they are designed specifically for roofing, and many roofers swear by them.
Is There an Alternative to Cougar Paws?
There are no roofing requirements when it comes to footwear on the job. Some footwear is a better option when working on a roof all day, and some roofers have their personal preferences.
Some footwear roofers’ variations are:
- hiking boots with slip-resistant soles
- skate shoes with soft rubber soles
- leather heavy-duty tall boots
- running shoes.
When it comes to support and grip on a roof, Cougar Paws rank at the top due to the patented replaceable sole that is designed for superior hold on a roof.
While I’ve never tried them, some inspectors swear by Vans shoes because the shoe sole is flat and made explicitly for skateboarding.
If I’m Wearing Cougar Paws, Do I Need Other Safety Equipment?
Wearing Cougar Paws will reduce the chance of slipping off of an inclined surface, like a roof, but you still need to comply with OSHA rules and regulations.
According to osha.gov 1926.501(b)(1) states
“Each employee on a walking/working surface (horizontal and vertical surface) with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet or more above a lower level shall be protected from falling by the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.”Source
Three hundred sixty-four construction workers in the US died in falls. OSHA determined in a study that fall protection gear would have likely been able to prevent all of them.
What Roof Pitches are Dangerous to Work on?
When working on an elevated surface, aka a roof, it is dangerous work no matter the pitch. Roof pitch is calculated by how far in inches the roof rises per foot. So if the roof rises six inches per foot, then the roof pitch is a 6/12 for the six inches of rise and twelve inches of run.
Roofs are considered walkable up to a 6/12 pitch. Anything above a 6/12 pitch needs extra precaution, such as fall protection gear.
Cougar Paws has been tested up to a 12/12 pitch and can provide added safety to help prevent slips when working on an incline.
Can Walking on a Roof Damage it?
Roofing material keeps out the elements, not supporting a person’s weight. Walking on asphalt shingles can loosen granules, pull shingles loose, tear shingles, or cause shingle breakage. Walking on metal roofing can deform the metal and loosen screws.
Tile roofs can break if you step on them. Wood shingles can crack, split, and loosen by walking on them. A flat rubber roof would be the least likely to sustain damage if you walk on it, but still not advised—only a trained professional should walk on a roof with the proper safety gear.
Cougar Paws with the soft replacement pad soles can reduce the damage caused by walking on a roof compared to a stiff rubber sole.
If you need access to your roof, reaching what you can from a secured ladder is advisable instead of stepping on the roof. If you have access from a window, this might be a safe way to access parts of your roof.
Are Cougar Paws Worth the Cost?
The Performer Boot’s flagship model currently sells for $196 and gets mixed reviews. Some say they will never get on another roof without them. Others state that they wear out way too fast.
After scouring the web, the overall impression from people who have tried Cougar Paws roofing boots says that they are one of the best for estimators and adjusters. Some insurance companies require all adjusters working for them to use Cougar Paws; they feel so strongly about the benefit of the boots.
Full-time roofers have different opinions about the boots, including that they wear out too quickly when on a roof for eight to ten hours a day.
It can’t hurt to invest in a pair of Cougar Paws. They’re the only roofing-specific designed boots on the market, and many roofers swear by them as the best. If you’re looking for an investment that will last longer than your average boot or shoe, these are worth considering.
With the overall high rating and positive reviews, I can say with certainty that you can’t go wrong with Cougar Paws roofing boots, and they are well worth the higher price tag. The pads will add additional cost throughout the life of your boots, but the cost is low enough that you can have a couple of pairs on hand for when they wear out. Can you put a price tag on your safety when working?