8 Best Work Boots Reviewed and Compared for 2018

Best Work Boots for Men

​Safety should always be your top priority while you’re working. Accidents can be devastating and costly, but with the right equipment they are easily avoidable. Safety boots or shoes are required to protect your feet in most labor jobs, but finding the right pair for your job and area of expertise isn’t easy.

Each year there are an estimated 8.5 million workplaces injuries in the United States alone, over 23,000 each day. While many of these are unavoidable, others could have been prevented by proper safety processes and equipment like boots and gloves.

Graph of workplace injuries

In 2005 a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that there were over 60,000 foot injuries per year , which has risen since then. Of those injured, 75% were not in compliance with current safety regulations . For this reason, OSHA has strict regulations governing the use of safety footwear in most labor industries across the United States.

Different types of jobs will require different styles of work boots and it can be a difficult task trying to sort through the endless options that are available. The main four categories of boot consist of protection on different levels and it is important to know what you need to find the best fit.






Timberland PRO

Timberland PRO Steel Toe

$ $$

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Keen Utility Steel Toe

Keen Utility Steel Toe


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Timberland PRO Titan Alloy

Timberland Titan Alloy

$$ $

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Timberland PRO Powertrain Shoe

Timberland Powertrain Alloy

$ $$

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6" Composite Toe Boot

Carharrt 6" Composite

$$ $

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Wolverine Blade Composite Toe

Wolverine Blade Composite

$$ $

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Carharrt Flex Boot

Carharrt WorkFlex Soft Toe

$$ $

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Black blundstone boot

Blundstone Soft Toe


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Steel toed work boots are made with an embedded steel reinforced toe box that protects your toes from any impact or compression injuries. Alloy toed boots also have a protective toe box with a little more room and made with lighter metals such as aluminum or titanium while still providing excellent protection. A newer style that has a toe box made from non-metallic and non-magnetic materials is the composite toe boot. These are lighter on the feet while still providing the protection that is required. For jobs that have lower risks of impact injuries, there is the soft toed option that has no caging around the toes but can still provide added stability and protection to the feet.

What Type of Work Boot Do You Need?

The most important aspect to consider before making a purchasing decision is what level of protection will you need, which depends on the sites that you work at. Most companies will have a definition of exactly what ANSI/ASTM safety guidelines your equipment will need so that’s a good place to start.

By asking yourself some of the following questions you will be able to narrow down your search and end up with the most functional pair of boots for you.

  • What are your companies safety requirements?
  • Will you be doing a lot of walking in your boots?
  • Are you working with electricity or static hazards?
  • Do you need your boots to be waterproof?
  • What type of temperature environment will you be working in?

Steel toe boots are most commonly seen on construction sites where heavy equipment and tools are in daily use. There are many risk factors in the labour fields including falling debris or materials that can injure your feet. As a rule, a steel toe boot carries some of the highest safety ratings in the industry so you can’t go wrong. Having heavy duty protection is essential in careers such as carpentry, manufacturing, CNC machinist or welding.

Just as effective for safety but a much more lightweight option is an alloy toe safety boot. They still provide shielding from impact and compression injuries but are 30-50% lighter and can be much less tiring to your feet and legs. If you are working on a site that still carries many risks but also requires you to move around a lot, the alloy toe might be the better choice for you. General construction, road work or farming are some of the types of jobs that may benefit from a lighter but still securely protective boot.

The composite toe option is great for anyone working with electricity or other static hazards. Not only are these boots much lighter than the steel toe option, but they won’t activate any metal detectors or cause dangerous issues with electrical charges. Electricians, power plant employees, engineers and line workers can benefit from the non-metallic option of the composite toe boot.

The soft toed boot are for those workers that aren’t constrained by limiting safety requirements but still need a durable and reliable option for their jobs. If you are going to be in the field, working as a plumber, outdoor ranger or a landscaper, the soft toe boot is ideal for you. Without the extra weight of a toe box, but still providing excellent ankle support as well as general foot protection, the soft toe is suitable for many occupations.

8 Best Work Boots for Men Reviewed

Steel Toe Boots

Before the modern invention of the Steel Toed work boot in the 1930’s, workers used leather made foot covers as well as wooden clogs to help protect their feet on the job. The steel toe cap was introduced in large production in Germany following WWII for personnel that was engaged in the massive urban clean up efforts from the bombing during the war.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the government started to enact stricter safety guidelines that would help protect workers on the job and this included the mandatory wearing of a steel toed work boot for certain jobs. Mainly construction and factory workers were the first to use the safety boots regularly but in today’s world, there are many professions that make use of the Steel Toe Boot.

A Steel Cap is inserted to the front toe section of a boot during manufacturing that helps protect the foot from injury from falling objects as well as compression from heavy materials. Steel toe boots are often designed with a quality leather upper boot making them durable and tough enough to withstand a lot of abuse.

Most steel toe boots today also come with a steel plate in the mid-section of the sole to protect from puncture injuries from underneath. There are many features and styles available to choose from on the market today. The styles themselves include sizes for women, sneaker, ankle boot, mid-calf boot and tall boots.

Because of the presence of not only a steel toe cap, but often a steel mid shaft for underfoot protection, the steel toe boot can be an inconvenience and even a hazard in some professions. If your job requires you to go through a metal detector you will have to take off your boots each time which can be a hassle. If you are working around any type of electricity or static, the steel toe boot is not a good choice as it will be a conductor and create a shock hazard.

Features such as padded insulation, waterproofing and non-slip materials on the soles add to the convenience and comfort that make steel toe shoes a popular standard for many workers that are required to wear them. Design updates and the use of modern materials have not only made the steel toe boot a valuable tool for workmen, but a comfortable and even fashionable option for many people.

Timberland PRO Direct Attach 6” Steel Toe Work Boot

Timberland Brown Work Boot

This Timberland Pro work boot focuses on comfort and protection from the elements. The leather boot is insulated for added warmth and constructed  using the direct attach method to ensure a completely watertight seal. These boots will ensure that you get to the end of your work day with dry feet even when working in rain, mud or snow.

The 6” oiled leather boot upper has a generously padded collar to maximize comfort and minimize chafing. The interior of the boot has a breathable mesh lining that is treated during manufacturing with an antibacterial chemical. This will wick moisture away from the foot as well as battle any foot bacteria that can be present if the conditions are wet.

Customers that have used this boot report that they are true to sizing and long lasting. Many are surprised at the lightweight feel that is different from most steel toe boots. They are reasonably priced and durable to last a full year even working in rough conditions. Workers are pleased that even in the winter their feet are staying warm, dry and comfortable throughout the entire day.

This boot meets all ASTM standards for impact and compression protection, shock absorption and puncture resistance. There is a lightweight thermal plastic midsole that adds support and flexibility. A nylon shock diffusion plate is also located midsole to fight leg and feet fatigue during a long shift. The rubber sole is non-marking as well as being oil/slip resistant giving you secure footing in your working environment.

This boot can keep your feet warm and dry while not tiring out your ankles and legs with excessive weight. The design has workers in mind with not only quality materials, but features that make sense in the real world. While providing all day comfort, these boots are designed to minimize joint and muscle strain which can make all the difference after a 12 hour day.

Keen Utility Louisville 6” Steel Toe Boot

Keen Utility

Made from a combination of abrasion resistant Tough-Tec material and waterproof Nubuck leather, this work boot is a tough competitor in the workplace. The KeenDry treated upper boot  is guaranteed to keep your feet dry in any outdoor conditions. The specially designed locking metal lace hooks will help keep your laces neat and secure without having to retie several times a day.

One of the most common complaints among steel toe boot wearers is that the toe compartment is too small and uncomfortable. These boots have an anatomically designed roomier toe box that hugs the front of the foot comfortably with no pinching or tightness. The extra padded ankle collar helps keep friction to a minimum to add to the comfort of the boot.

Workers who wear these boots rave about the level of comfort and the unique design that feels like it is perfectly hugging their feet. The weight of the boot makes it one of the most comfortable work boots for all day wearing and they have an attractive design that is popular. They run true to size so they will be easy to fit your foot with a minimal amount of break in time.

The Keen Utility Louisville boot comes with a removable dual density footbed that can be used for extra arch support if necessary. The roomy design is generous enough that you can even fit your custom orthotics comfortably into the boot without having to go up a size. The midsole also has a dual density compression molded support for shock absorption and extra stability.

The thick rubber bottom sole actually exceeds the ASTM standards for piercing risk and shock protection. The sole leaves no unattractive markings on traditional floors and is oil, chemical and slip resistant. If you are working in harsh outdoor conditions and going to put your feet through a lot, this is the ideal for your with maximum protection and comfort.

Alloy Toe Cap Boots

The most common complaint that workers have about having to wear a steel toe work boot is the weight that adds fatigue to their legs and feet. Safety boots can weigh several pounds and having your feet weighed down during a long shift can be an uncomfortable nightmare. Most of the weight is located in the toe box area and this can cause a “dragging” of the feet leading to joint and muscle issues in the ankles, knees and back.

If you are required to wear a safety boot for your job, but it also entails large amount of walking, the Alloy Toe Cap boot may be a lighter and better choice for you. Most commonly found in safety boots made for women, you can now find alloy toes in most brands of boots for both men and women.

The safety principles and boot construction are the same in that a protective toe cap is placed at the front of the boot during manufacturing. This is meant to protect the toes from injury from falling material or a crushing compression injury. The only difference is the materials that the toe cap itself are made from.

Steel, although it provides the maximum in safety, is very heavy and uncomfortable. The alloy toe cap is generally made out of lightweight materials such as aluminum or titanium. These metal alloys still provide protection that meets all ASTM standards in most workplaces, but without the added weight on the feet. Although the metals used in these types of boots are lighter, they are still metal and can still cause risks of shock injury when working with electricity.

Aluminum and titanium toe caps are a thinner material that allows the toe cap to provide more room for the feet creating a more comfortable space. Because your feet are not being weighed down to the same degree as with a steel toe boot, there is less risk of common leg fatigue, muscle strain or injury. This lightweight option is a very popular alternative for many workers that are actively on their feet all day.

Timberland PRO Titan Waterproof 6” Alloy Safety Toe Work Boot

Alloy Toe Cap

The Timberland Titan is made using cement construction to ensure a lightweight boot with a waterproof seal keeping your feet dry in any weather conditions. If you are working in rain, mud or snow, this boot is guaranteed to keep all the moisture out leaving you dry for the entire day.

The strong alloy safety toe box is molded into a generous shape giving you lots of room for the highest level of comfort with no pinching or rubbing. The upper boot has a specially designed breathable moisture barrier that wicks perspiration away from the foot. The lining is also treated with an antibacterial chemical that keeps foot bacteria at bay, eliminating odor and risks of infection.

Customers are in love with this boot for its lightweight comfort and roomy fit. They do tend to fit slightly small, so it is recommended that you try a ½ size larger than normal to get the best fit. Users say that it took no time at all to break these boots in without any signs of blisters and that they are as comfortable as wearing a pair of sneakers. Warm in the winter and dry in all conditions have users saying that these are the only boots that they will ever buy.

The contoured polyurethane  footbed uses “Outlast Adaptive Comfort” technology that keeps the inner sure temperature regular with a sock cover that keeps out the cold. The midsole has a polyurethane cushion that provides ultimate heel rebound and efficient energy return to tackle leg fatigue for anyone that does a lot of walking on the job.

The outsole is made from dual dense rubber material that is not only lightweight but also exceeds the ASTM puncture rating safety guidelines. The non slip rubber  won’t leave marks on the floor and will keep you safe on water, oil or chemical slip hazards.Put that together with the nylon diffusion shank and you will be walking with secure confidence on almost any type of terrain.

Timberland PRO Powertrain Mid Alloy Safety Toe ESD

Timberland Powertrain Alloy

These athletic style boots with the mid-top silhouette have an attractive style that doesn’t look like they typical work boots you are used to seeing. There are so many different fields today that require wearing safety shoes, that this non-construction looking option from Timberland is a great alternative for those that want something a little more casual looking.

They may look like a sneaker, but they still provide excellent protection with a molded alloy safety toe box that meets all of the ASTM safety requirements. Made from a combinations of microfiber, leather and breathable mesh these boots will keep you comfortable during a long day. The cement construction gives you extra flex meaning less time required to break these bad boys in. The breathable antibacterial lining provides protection from moisture and odor while keeping the skin of your feet dry by wicking away any sweat.

Users have given rave reviews for these boots saying that they are the lightest work boot they have ever used. The flexible stretch laces give you a firm and comfortable fit even for wider feet and make them easy to slip on and off without tying. There are many users that enjoy the fact that the style of the boot allows them to wear them for more than just work. There is no need to change your boots in the car before going out right after your shift.

The midsole is made from conductive polyurethane that helps with static dissipation to lower shock risk as the toe cap is still made from a metal alloy. Although the toe cap is not made of “steel” still contains metals that can add to the dangers of shock injury when working around electricity.The fiberglass support shank gives you extra arch support for premium all day comfort.

The outsole is designed and manufactured with anti-fatigue technology built right in. This gives you great energy return and shock absorption keeping the stress on your feet and legs to a minimum. The polyurethane  non-marking outsole has the highest ASTM non-slip ratings that will keep you on your feet on any workplace surface.

Composite Toe Work Boots

The Composite toe boot is one of the most lightweight and versatile options for the workplace. It provides premium safety meeting all ASTM guidelines, without the weight or complications that come with a steel or alloy toe. The protective toe cap that is installed at the front of the boot is made of a combination of materials including Kevlar, fiberglass, plastics and carbon fiber.

This blend of non-conductive materials makes this the perfect safety boot for anyone working around electricity, in a static environment or for those that have to go through metal detector security for their jobs. Imagine if you worked at an airport or a technical lab that requires proper safety gear and not having to take off your shoes each time you enter the building just to get past security.

The composite Toe cap still provides protection from injury the same as a steel toe but with the advantage of being much lighter and more comfortable. With metal caps, your feet are subject to temperature changes in your working environment. Unlike steel or alloy toe caps, the composite toe stays cool in the heat and warm in the cold keeping your feet comfortable in any type of weather.

Most composite toe work boots are 30-50% lighter than the more traditional steel toe option. The less weight that has to be dragged around all day on your feet, the better not only for comfort but also for your health. With these lighter work boots there is much less risk of fatigue to your feet, ankles, knees and back which has long been the major complaint with the heavier steel toe boots.

Steel toes can be dented during an impact or compression incident but composite toes will actually “bounce back” into their original molded shape after being damaged or crushed. When damage like this occurs to your work boots, they are no longer as protective in that weakened spot and should be replaced. However, with the composite toe, you are able to at least finish out your work shift before being forced to quit for the day and losing time.

Carhartt 6-Inch Work-Flex Composite Toe Work Boot

Carhartt 6 inch Composite

This 6” work boot from Carhartt has an upper boot constructed from durable oil tanned leather. The interior is composed of comfortable WorkFlex fabric that moves with you to eliminate any rubbing or blisters. The concrete construction gives this boot excellent flexibility that takes no time at all to break in from day one.

Traditional lacing with top locking eyelets keeps your feet secure and your laces tight and out of the way. No one likes to stop what they are working on to continually retie their boots. The upper collar as well as the tongue are generously padded to ensure a comfortable cushioned fit that keeps chafing to a minimum.

Workers who have tried this boot say that it is comfortable from the first day on the job and is accommodating for those who have a wider foot. Made from heavy duty materials, they can last longer than an average boot when it’s put to the test in rough conditions. They have excellent ankle support and are roomy enough to add your own custom orthotics if necessary. They tend to run a bit large, so it is recommended that you try a ½ size smaller than your regular fit for the best comfort.

These boots come with a 5-layer ortholite insole that gives you maximum cushion and support to be able to work all day in comfort. The midsole is constructed with a polyurethane Storbel pad for extra arch support keeping the ache out of your feet and ankles.

The composite toe box in these boots gives a generous amount of room for all sizes of feet, eliminating crowding and pinching found in other boots. The toe cap itself exceeds the safety requirements of the ASTM giving you reliable injury protection without the weight of a steel toe.

Wolverine Blade LX 6” Composite Toe Work Boot

Wolverine Blade

If you are in constantly wet conditions on the job, the Wolverine Blade is the boot to keep you dry. Trying to keep your feet dry while on the job can be a full time concern for some and with these boots you have no need to worry. The full grain leather upper boot is completely waterproof in rain, mud or snow. Guaranteed. The interior of the boot is lined with a breathable waterproof membrane. This helps wick internal moisture away from the foot keeping you dry inside and out. The antibacterial coating on the material helps you combat odor and while keeping your feet safe from germs and fungus.

The direct attach construction gives you an unbeatable seal between sole and boot keeping out all the elements even in the harshest conditions. The exterior rubber toe bumper and heel kicker add durability to this boot that can’t be beat. This extra scuff guard not only helps keep your feet dry, but keeps your boots looking better for much longer.

Fans of this boots report that they have never gotten wet and prefer the lightweight fit of this style for comfortable all day wear. These boots tend to run a bit small so it is recommended to try a ½ size up when trying them on for the best fit. These boots come with a 30 day comfort guarantee so if you have any problems you can take them back with no hassles.

The polyurethane midsole is designed for ultimate comfort and arch support minimizing the amount of shock and stress on your feet. You get rigid support from the midsole nylon shank keeping you safely on your feet on all types of terrain. Without this extra support design it is easier for your foot to move around in your boot creating a slip or fall hazard in rough conditions. The rubber lug outsole gives you the ultimate in traction on all surfaces with the added bonus of durability and longer wear life.

Soft Toe Work Boots

Not all jobs that you may want a solid work boot for are required to have a safety toe of some protective material. A soft toe work boot is built without a toe cap of any type, but are designed to be a rigid and tough shoe that can last and support you through all types of work.

Many soft toe boots are waterproof, made of durable good wearing materials giving you extra protection for your feet in the workplace when needed. These boots provide excellent ankle and arch support for anyone that is working outside on different types of terrain and need something more substantial than just a sneaker for their feet.

Soft Toe Boots have all terrain soles and are made of non-conductive materials so you will be protected from electric current, most types of puncture risk and slip hazards. For the workplace that requires safety footwear but without the need for a protective cap, the soft toe work boot is the perfect lightweight option.

Used traditionally for outdoor activities, this type of boot is popular with hikers, campers and rangers. Tradesmen such as plumbers, servicemen, painters or rangers are likely to get great use out of a tough but lightweight soft toe boot. They can protect your feet from the elements while providing a safe and secure footing.

Soft toe work boots come in a variety of styles and colours for both men and women. Many styles don’t look like a work shoe at all and can be worn as everyday fashion wear. You can get them in a slip on style for a more casual fit or try a cowboy boot, sneaker style or a rain boot. They have even become popular for motorcycle sports because of the added protection they can provide.

Carhartt 6-Inch Work-Flex Work Boot

Soft Toe Carhartt Shoe

The Carhartt Work Flex boot is built to be tough. The upper boot is constructed from waterproof oil tanned durable leather that keeps you dry in any conditions. The padded ankle collar and tongue give you added comfort when walking and hiking while minimizing slippage and blistering. The interior WorkFlex lining moves with the foot and not against in keeping friction to a minimum.

The cement construction means that the full upper boot has been chemically glued and attached directly to the sole of the shoe to maximize the waterproof seal along all edges. When working or playing it is important to be able to keep your feet dry to be able to last the full day in comfort.

User reviews are saying that these 6” boots are the lightest they have ever used and feel like wearing no more than a sneaker. They are not in the usual rush to kick off their work boots as soon as they are done their shift for relief. They provide excellent arch support to keep your feet from aching on those long hikes.

The Ortholite insole provides you with 5 layers of padded comfort eliminating fatigue in the feet and ankles after a full day of use. The polyurethane midsole is made from a Stobel support pad providing the ultimate in support no matter the shape of your feet. With the lightweight construction and materials, there is little risk of ankle and knee injury caused by “dragging feet” as you see with work boots with a heavy toe guard.

The outer sole is made from dual density rubber that will last for the long haul through all types of terrain. The rubber protection will keep you safe in electrical environments and places where static may cause a shock hazard. The dense material also gives you extra protection from unexpected puncture wounds. The rubber sole provides a premium non slip surface on water, oil and chemicals.

Blundstone Waterproof Black Soft Toe Work Boot

Blundstone Black 550 Waterproof

This durable, all-weather soft toe work boot is one of the best waterproof boots for just about any activity. It has an easy slip on design that looks less like a work boot and more like a fashion accessory. The V-cut upper bood is designed to reduce the exposure to the stitching from the elements helping you stay dry and comfortable. Made with waterproof leather it comes with sturdy double stitch pull tabs to help you getting these classy boots on and off.

The side panels of the boot have an elastic stretch fabric for a custom fit on any width of foot or ankle without pinching or rubbing. The interior comes with a removable sheepskin liner for added comfort and warmth in cold weather. Durable fabrics, workable design and great versatility make this boot popular for men and women on the go.

Buyers that have reviewed these boots say that the fit is true to size with almost no wear in time required. The quality of the materials and design allow you to wear them the first day in ultimate comfort. The easy pull on style saves you time with tying endless laces. They fit true to size, although users warn that the half sizes are not any longer in size but only in width so make sure to try them on before buying to ensure the most comfortable fit.

The midsole has a patented shock protection system that helps control heel strike impact and reduces skeletal stress that can cause fatigue in the feet and legs. The Poron XRD heel padding provides even more shock absorbtion that allows you to wear these boots all day long with no complaints. The toe spring in the front sole is designed to reduce drag and keep you light on your feet.

The polyurethane midsole is designed for excellent arch comfort with a steel shank put in place for rigid walking support. The thermo-eurothane out sole is resistant to Hydrolysis as well as microbe attack if you are working in areas that may have acid or organic fat in the area. The slip and oil resistant outsole is heat resistant up to 284F protecting your feet from even the harshest climates or dangers.

How Are Work Boots Constructed?

To fully understand what it is that you are getting when looking to buy a pair of work boots it is helpful to know the process in which they are constructed. Work boots aren’t just your average everyday pair of shoes and consist of detailed design and heavy duty materials along with complying with strict safety regulations set out by the government. A quality pair of work boots can set you back up to $300 so it is important to know what aspects make up the work boot itself to determine what you will need for yourself.

The ASTI/ASTM has developed stringent guidelines that help ensure that every worker not only has the proper safety equipment while on the job, but that the equipment itself it of the highest quality. They regulate and set the minimum safety boot requirements for protection against injury from impact of falling material, compression or crushing, conductivity of electrical shock, puncture and protection from chemicals or burns. Most safety boots will have a certification symbol as well as an interior label that can list what standards they meet to help you find the right pair for you.

The Boot

The upper boot or main body of the work boot is generally made from sturdy materials like leather, suede or microfiber that are meant to take a beating while providing solid protection around the upper foot and ankle. There are a variety of lacing options from the classic lace up to elastic stretch bands that don’t require tying. Some lace up styles also come with locking eyelets at the collar to help to keep laces from untying or dragging on the ground.

Padded ankle collars or shoe tongues are available for added comfort and padding. There are many features that different brands boast about the interior of the boot, but the most important feature is the right fit. It is a common misconception that when buying a work boot, you should look for a snug fit. With a work boot, the materials used in its construction don’t give the same way as in other types of footwear. They are made to be solid and long lasting, so it is better to find a comfortable fit, even if you need to go up a ½ size than to end up with a boot that is too tight.

Many boots come with a mesh inlay on the interior that adds better airflow to the foot. When you are on your feet all day, keeping your feet free from sweating can be a challenge so many materials have moisture wicking features that help control dampness and odor inside the boot. Removable insoles can feel like a miracle to your feet after a long shift, or take them out and insert your own custom orthotics for great support made for you.

Safety Toe Cap

The protective cap in the work boot is what gives it the excellent level of safety. Toe caps are made out of steel, alloys such as aluminum and titanium or a composite blend of non-metal materials. It is a good idea to check in with your employer to find out exactly what type of cap you are required to wear for your job.

The toe cap is installed during manufacturing prior to the boot being fastened to the outsole. They are molded into a foot or toe like shape and placed at the inside front of the boot. They help protect from injury and are one of the most important aspects of the boots safety provisions.

The steel toe cap is the most widely used in professions from construction to factory worker. Steel is definitely the strongest of the toe cap materials used for making work boots and is the most effective against injuries from saws or grinders. The steel toe style of boot is often the cheapest option for safety shoes making it the most popular choice for many, but it can have its drawbacks as well.

If you work with electricity or in a static environment, the steel cap can put you at risk for a shock injury. If you must go through security metal detectors at your workplace, the steel toe can be quite an inconvenience as it will nearly always set off the alarm. Steel is conductive to temperature, so if you are working outside your boots will tend to feel colder in the winter and hot in the summer making them less comfortable.

The alloy type of toe cap carries some of the same concerns as the steel toe as they are both metal. The alloy protection is also conductive to electricity as well as temperature so you need to consider your working environment when picking out your boots. The alloy cap is much more lightweight than the steel and generally much thinner as well giving the toe box more room and a more comfortable fit.

The composite toe cap is made from non-metallic materials making it the best option for those working with shock risk. The cap is made from a dense combination of Kevlar, plastic and carbon fiber. Not quite as hard as steel, it still provides excellent protection from the same types of impact or compression injuries while still being very lightweight. The cap is non-conductive to temperature so there is no risk of freezing toes in winter or blistering heat in the summer.

The Midsole

The middle sole is the area of support between the boot and the outer sole of the boot. This is the area that contains the shank and puncture plate along the arch of the foot. The shank is constructed of metal or Kevlar and works to more evenly distribute the weight on your foot to help easy fatigue and foot pain. The puncture plate is installed in the throughout the length of the sole and is generally made of the same types of materials. The plate protects the foot from dangers from below like rough debris, nails or screws and other sharp objects. Some brands of boots come with a removable insole that can provide even more arch support or shock absorbtion to increase your comfort.


The outsole or the bottom of the work boot is an important part of keeping you safe from numerous risks. Nearly ⅓ of all workplace accidents involve a slip and fall injury that could be prevented by wearing proper safety boots. Outsoles are most commonly made from either enhanced rubber or thermo polyurethane (TPU). A rubber outsole not only gives you an added watertight barrier when working in wet conditions, it also gives you superior traction on most surfaces. The TPU outsole is a slightly lighter material that can add to the comfort of the shoe, and is also a protectant to issues such as chemical exposure.

Sole Attachment

There are three separate methods for attaching the sole to the upper part of the work boot. Each of them has their advantages. The Cement construction method is the most common as well as the most economical option for attachment. Industrial adhesives are used to attach the boot to the sole to give a tight seal without the need for stitching. The Blake Stitch method is less common in work boots but is available through some brands. The insole is double stitched into the outsole creating a strong and flexible bond. The final method uses the Goodyear welt which is an expensive method of running leather and rubber stripping along the outer perimeter of the boot. Often considered the best method for high quality footwear, it is not an easily affordable option for most workers.

What To Look For in a Work Boot

The boots that you choose for work are one of the most important pieces of safety equipment the you may ever use on the job. Not only should they be comfortable to get you through a long day on your feet, but they should meet all of the necessary safety requirements for your profession.

Doing the research and knowing exactly what your company requirements are for safety boots are a good place to start. Different types of jobs carry different kinds of risks and you need to meet all the safety standards that apply to what you will be doing. Think about what you will be physically doing each day and in what type of environment to help you narrow down your needs.

Workplace Safety Requirements

Each company in every industry has different requirements for the type of safety boots that you will need. Talk to your supervisor or a safety rep to get the information that you need to make the right choice for your job

Steel/Alloy/Composite Toe Cap

  • Know the types of risks that are involved on your job, this will help you to determine what level of protection you will want with your toe cap material
  • If you are working with electricity or in a static environment, steer away from a metal material toe cap as it can increase the likelihood of a shock injury
  • If you are working outdoors in the elements a metal toe cap can conduct heat and cold. A composite toe will keep your feet at a more manageable temperature


If you are working out in the elements it is important for comfort and the health of your feet to ensure that they can stay dry for the whole day

Metatarsal Guards

If you are working in construction or another industry where the risk of injury from falling materials is high, it may be a good idea to have a guard protecting to top of your foot for added safety.

Out Sole Material

  • A rubber sole is great for shock absorption, waterproofing and slip proof traction
  • TPU sole is durable and slightly lighter than rubber while protecting from chemical exposure.

Get the Right Fit

Apart from the obvious safety benefits that a good work boot can provide, the other largest concern for wearers is comfort. Work boots are notoriously known to be heavy, bulky and uncomfortable and torture on your feet and legs. A good majority of comfort issues can be avoided if you pay attention to the fit when choosing your boots.

It is often said that you should buy your boots tight and then work them in to a comfortable shape but that isn’t the case with a solid toe work boot. It may work for a hiking style boot but you are better off to go with a comfortable fit rather than looking for something too snug. The metal toe cap won’t stretch so if you feel like your toes are crowded when first trying them on, that is not going to change no matter how well you break them in.

Boots that fit too snug or too loose can not only make a day on your feet a miserable experience, but it can affect the health of your feet as well. Boots worn too tight can cause ingrown toenails, blisters and corns making every day on your feet a pain. It is better to have your boots sized properly to your feet and have the fit feel natural to your foot size even on the first day.

Make sure that you not only size for the length of your foot but also for the width. With work boots being made out of tough and rigid materials to help serve their purpose, there is not a lot of give in the fitting especially for a wider foot. It is recommended to choose a pair that is true to your normal size or even a ½ size larger depending on the amount of toe box comfort you are looking for.

Always wear a pair of work socks when getting fitted for your new work boots. This is what you will be wearing on the job so it is important that you can feel the correct fit of the boot with the socks that you will usually be wearing. Trying on boots in thin ankle socks or even bare feet is not recommended and you will likely have problems with comfort once you are working.

Shopping Tips

If it is your first experience buying a pair of work boots, we have put together a few tips that we hope will help you to get the right pair of boots for you with a little confidence.

  1. Shop at a reputable dealer . A department store may have slightly cheaper prices but you won’t have the advantage of having knowledgeable staff to help you through the process. If possible, have a store representative properly measure your foot to make sure you are getting the right size.

  2. Do your research. Safety boots aren’t cheap and with any larger purchase you want to go in with as much information as possible. Look around at different brands, read some reviews and know what features you are looking for in advance. This can help you narrow down your choices.

  3. Go shopping in the evening. Most people’s feet have seen at least some activity by the evening and so regular circulation is active and your feet may even be slightly swollen This is the best time to try on shoes to make certain that you don’t end up with a pair that will be too tight.

  4. Wear the right socks. Make sure to take or wear a pair of the type of work sock that you will normally be wearing with your new boots. This will help you get the  most comfortable fit.

  5. Find out about boot care. Knowing how to properly maintain, clean and protect your boots will keep them in good shape for much longer. Know how to treat the materials your boots is made to keep them in quality condition.
About the author

Jack Prenter

Jack has been fascinated by fashion for decades and spent huge amounts of time researching it and becoming an expert. He's written for many well-known publications and is in the process of opening an online clothing store for men. Jack studied at the University of Nottingham and is now based out of Toronto, Canada.