- Type of Work – What type of job do you have and what features are most important for comfort in the environment you’ll be subjected to? For one, do you work outside? What’s the average temperature? Are you working in snow, ice, or rain? Or is it hot, humid, or dry? Variations tend to change dramatically when it comes to the functionality of work boots. In addition, what types of terrain do generally tread on? Is it concrete, rocky, unstable, or flat dirt? These questions are designed to raise awareness of what you need in order to select the comfort level that’s specific to your line of work. Now that you’ve thought about it, let’s take the comfort level further.
- Cold Weather – Let’s say that you subjected to where snow and ice might be a factor. Your feet are generally one of the first body parts that feel the cold and damp environment. It can be miserable. For that reason, it’s essential to select boots that offer additional insulation and are waterproof. These features prevent your feet from getting cold and wet, or even worse…frost bit.
- Wet Weather – Just as waterproofing is required by someone who works in snow and ice, it’s also essential for those who work outdoors in the rain or near bodies of water where getting wet is unavoidable. There’s nothing more uncomfortable when working than having your feet soaked through to your socks. Plus, wet boots also tend to create additional rubbing or blisters.
- Hard Surfaces – Walking or standing on hard surfaces such as concrete or cement can pound on your feet, knees, and back causing unnecessary pain that can last years. A proper sole or designed especially for these circumstances can help avoid that pain, plus, additional support in areas like your arch will alleviate pressure caused by these hard surfaces.
- Uneven Terrain – Maybe you’re a logger, or a fireman who works in the mountains or on rocky surfaces and you need that additional support and traction. Added traction and slip resistance will keep you on your feet and prevent injury from slips. In addition, your ankles are at risk and a boot with a sufficient shank will help eliminate the possibility of a twisted ankle. Shock absorption is another factor to consider for comfort in this type of environment. A good sole or will absorb the shock and impact of walking on rocks or other uneven terrain.
- Fit – Lastly, a proper fitting boot that is not too loose or too snug will conform to your feet the way they are supposed to. Having an improper size will create rubbing, blisters, and soreness. The boots you choose should feel like they were made specifically for you or as an extention of your feet.
How Should You Pick a Lightweight Work Boot?
When you’re in the market to buy a new pair of work boots, how do you know if you’re selecting the right boots for your particular situation? With all the brands and styles available, it’s important to be aware of the environment you’re subjecting yourself to.
First and foremost, you want your boots to be comfortable. Comfort is not a feature you want to compromise. A well-selected work boot allows you to perform your task without pain and discomfort from rubbing and lack of proper shock absorption. To determine the comfort level required, you will first need to know your feet.
Do you have , wide feet, or a certain medical condition such as ? Certain work boots cater to these specific conditions, so it’s good to research the features when purchasing.
Another important factor in selecting the perfect work boot is whether or not they are for outdoor wear. Will you be working in the elements such as rain, snow, or in ice? If you answered yes, then you will want to consider purchasing a waterproof boot. If you’ll be subjected to snow or ice then insulation would be a consideration as well. If you need !
Let’s not forget slip-resistant, traction, and electrical hazard soles. Will you need these added safety features? If you’re working on wet surfaces, uneven, difficult terrain, or around electrical equipment, these will be necessary for your protection.
Lastly, there is the issue of toe protection. Work boots come in a variety of toe strengths that offer different degrees of protection for your feet. Depending on your job, you’ll want to consider which one will accommodate you best.
Types of Boot Safety Toes Available
There is steel toe, composite toe, aluminum toe, and aluminum toe. Each variation of safety toe is designed for toe protection, but with different materials.
Steel Toe – The ideal steel toe boots offer maximum protection in dangerous working conditions. They are designed to completely seal the toe area, preventing serious injury from kicking hard surfaces, or from heavy falling objects. Generally constructed out of steel, and sometimes are combined with an electrical hazard rating for additional protection. Some employers have requirements per their insurance company stating that all employees must wear steel toe boots on the job site.
Composite Toe – A composite toe is also considered a safety toe. Lighter than a steel toe, and won’t set off metal detectors since it is constructed out of a composite ceramic material Other materials include but are not limited to Kevlar, carbon fiber, and plastic. For instance, if you’re employed at an airport or government building and require safety toe boots, a composite toe would be ideal. Similar to the steel toe, it also protects your feet against impact and crushing. In addition, composite toes are designed to withstand extreme heat and cold. See below for more information on composite vs. steel toe.
Aluminum Toe – Aluminum toe, also known as an alloy toe, is another form of safety toe that offers protection from injury of impacts. Also, lighter than a steel toe, it’s generally constructed out of aluminum or a titanium based material. More room is available in the toe area of the boot because the aluminum toe is of thinner construction. Therefore, those with wider feet might be more comfortable with an aluminum toe.
Steel Toe vs. Composite Toe
In general, are considered to be safety toes and are designed to protect your feet from impact, compression and or injury that could be sustained on the job. However, there is a slight difference in the two, and depending on where and how you will use them will make the difference in how you select.
Steel toes have been protecting feet in the work field for many years. The plate situated over the toe area is constructed of heavy-duty steel. Because they are a safety toe, requires them to meet ASTM standards and receive ratings for impact and compression. For example, A rating of I/75 means that the steel toe can withstand an impact of 75 lbs. A rating of C/75 is a compression rating of up to 2500 lbs. of pressure. Composite toes also follow ATSM standards and receive ratings.
Composite toes are constructed out of synthetic material such as Kevlar, plastic, carbon fibers, and rubber. With the absence of steel in a composite toe, it makes them much lighter than a steel toe. They offer better electrical resistance and offer more insulation in cold weather. In addition, they do not set off metal detectors, so those who work in secured areas can pass through without setting off bells and whistles.
Steel toes on the other hand, tend to be puncture resistant, shatterproof and cost a lot less than a composite toe. However, steel toes are not very insulated in colder temperatures.
To wrap it up:
- Insulated for cold – Composite Toe
- Puncture resistant – Steel Toe
- Lightweight – Composite Toe
- Shatter proof – Steel Toe
- Won’t set off metal detectors – Composite Toe
- Cost less – Steel Toe
- Better electrical resistance – Composite Toe
Other than these basics, it comes down to where and what you will be using them for. Both of these toes offer sufficient protection with different variations. Choose your style according to your needs.
Best Steel Toe Work Boot Buying Guide!
- If you are purchasing work boots for a particular type of employment, find out if your employer has any safety gear requirements. Hardcore work environments require additional safety features for your protection.
- If you are working outside in the elements such as rain, snow, or ice you’ll need the best weather proof boot you can get or one constructed with water-resistant material. In addition, if you are going to be subjected to extremely cold temperatures, you might want to consider insulation to keep your feet warm.
- What types of terrain will you be working in? If the ground is uneven, or the surface is unsteady, then you will want to find work boot with a traction sole to grip surfaces.
- Are you going to be working on slippery surfaces caused by water, ice, or even oil? If so, then you will want to get a work boot that offers slip-resistance.
- Do you work around electricity or electrical components? Consider purchasing a boot with an electrical hazard rating to protect you against dangerous shock conditions.
- Do you spend long hours working in the heat? Consider breathable work boots that will allow vapor to escape, and manages sweating. Check the BootRatings tips to !
- If you have flat feet, wide feet, or a foot condition, particular boots will accommodate those issues.
- What kind of support will your ankles need? Will you need a high shaft boot to protect your ankle from twists, or does your job require the flexible movement of the lower ankle?
- Another feature you might want to consider is a rubber toe or heel guard that is mark or abrasion resistant. If you are working in an environment where you are constantly scuffing your toe against objects, this feature will protect the surfaces and your boot from damage.
- Finally, are you in a position where you need to take your work boots on and off fast, such as a firefighter or public service officer? In addition to laces, some work boots close with zippers or can be simply pulled on.
Types of Protection for Work Boots
Work boots offer various forms of additional protection. In this section, we will discuss what forms of protection are available.
Waterproof – These boots are essential if you are working outdoors, subjected to wet conditions such as rain, or if you are working around or in water. They are specifically designed to keep water from entering into the material and eventually getting to your feet. Nobody likes to get wet feet when they are working. It’s not only uncomfortable, but a boot that isn’t waterproof and is subjected to water will eventually deteriorate, causing them to fall apart or stiffen up. Water in or on work boots can also lead to fungus or mold.
Weatherproof – Weatherproof is similar to waterproof except a weatherproof boot is also designed to keep your feet warm in colder temperatures. These types of boots are more insulated, and are the best pick for snow.
Water Resistant – A water-resistant work boot will also keep water out, but they are not meant for standing in water. Generally, a water-resistant work boot has a water repellent applied to the outer material that helps rain or splashing water to roll off.
Oil Resistant – It’s important that you realize there is a difference between oil resistant and slip resistant. If a work boot manufacturer says that the boot is oil resistant, it means that the upper portion of the boot, meaning the leather or other material it’s constructed with resists oil. Basically, similar to water-resistant, but in this case, oil or something similar to oil is kept from staining or penetrating the exterior.
Slip Resistant – Slip resistant is a property of the soles of the boots and refers to the traction you get on slippery surfaces. Some slip-resistant soles are designed to withstand oily surfaces as well.
Electrical Resistant – Electrical resistant is also known as electrical hazard or shock resistant. This means that the boot has an electrical hazard rating or an EH rating of various levels. This safety feature prevents the possibility of a person getting electrocuted while working around electricity. Generally, the rating is associated with the soles of the work boots or the toe. Even steel toe boots with the appropriate rubber toe cap can be shock resistant.
Static Dissipation – Unlike the electrical resistant boot, static dissipation or ESD is a reduction of static electricity through your body. The outer sole, insole, and lining work together to conduct electricity and ground it. However, you should never replace the insole with anything other than an approved static dissipating insole. Also, in order for it to remain effective, you must keep floors and soles clean and free from dust.
Heat Resistance – Being exposed to high heat is a problem without the right equipment. Heat resistant boots offer added protection in environments such as firefighting, welding, smelting, or any other high-temperature surroundings. Specific materials incorporated in the construction of the boot soles and leather are designed to take the heat, while protecting your feet.
Safety Toe – Safety toe work boots are essential for protecting one’s feet from impact and crushing. In the construction field, or if you are working with or on heavy machinery, safety toe work boots can prevent serious injury. Safety toe work boots come in a variety of types. Steel toe is most common but you can read about all of them above.
Puncture Resistant – Work boots with a puncture resistant rating have a special outsole that prevents objects from penetrating and reaching your foot, causing serious injury. This is a particularly good feature if you are working on construction sites where there is the possibility of stepping on a nail.
Shaft Height – Depending on the work environment a shaft in the boot can be very important. Added height in the shaft supports your ankles when you need it most. This feature can prevent unwanted sprains and other injuries that can hinder your mobility. Lower shafts are more flexible and are designed for a person that needs more agility.
Metatarsal Guard – Generally, metatarsal guards are combined with a safety toe. It’s an extra flap that is either incorporated internally or externally on a work boot. The metatarsal guard is situated over and behind the toes where the small bones in your feet are prone to injury. This is an excellent added feature for someone who is subject to hazardous working conditions where something could fall on the top of your foot.
Best Work Boot Brands
We provide reviews across a number of footwear brands. Each of the brands we review has an outstanding reputation for delivering high quality, durability, and comfort. In this section, we will discuss what makes each brand stand out.
Timberland – Timberland work boots have made it to our top 15 list numerous times, which means this brand is well-established when it comes to best steel toe work boots. They are an American manufacturer, though they do have factories located in other parts of the world. Originally, there boot designs were inspired by the New England outdoor lifestyle. Whether you’re an avid adventurer, hiking in the great wide open, performing hard labor tasks, or just walking the city streets, Timberland accommodates all your boot needs. Numerous safety features are incorporated in the construction of their boots along with various comfort levels. One of the most popular collections is the Timberland Pro series. Features included in this collection consist of various levels of safety toes, anti-fatigue technology, and insulation. This brand also offers a 30-day comfort guarantee. They are very confident in their products!
Thorogood – We have participated in Thorogood boot reviews, and we know they are a great name brand work boot. They have been in the business of manufacturing work boots and work shoes since 1892 under the Weinbrenner Shoe Company, prior to taking on the name Thorogood. Mostly, these are American made work boots, though they do have factories in other areas. They’re a trusted source when it comes to work boots, hiking boots, uniform boots, and postal shoes. One of their most popular collections that is made in the USA is the American Heritage series. This particular series of boots contain such features as Sympatex weather proof and blood borne pathogen barriers, ultra-insulation, and Vibram rubber outsoles. In addition, they are the number one source for police and EMT footwear.
Caterpillar – Not only is Caterpillar a well-known name in heavy duty machinery, they have also established a great reputation in constructing durable work boots, designed for heavy duty jobs. The name in general has been ranked in the top 100 in the world. Any kind of safety feature you are looking for, they have. Furthermore, they deliver some of the best steel toe boots available on the market today. The Caterpillar brand is an American established name brand that you can be proud of, and be assured you are getting a high-quality product.
Keen – Keen has also been mentioned more than once on our top 15 list, and is another American manufacturer located in Portland, Oregon. The Keen brand is also an environmentally friendly brand name involved in several projects designed to preserve nature. Keen prides themselves on selecting the finest materials for their work boots, making them one of a kind. A lot of their work boots resemble hiking boots more than they do the average work boot, but don’t let that fool you. Features available in their boots match or outdo the traditional-looking work boots. Whether you need an asymmetrical safety-toe, an additional rubber toe pad that’s scuff and slip-resistant, or you’re in need of highly insulated boot, you can be sure that Keen has them.
Danner – Quality craftsmanship that you can visually see is what you get when you choose a Danner work boot. Established in 1932 by Charles Danner in Chippewa, Wisconsin, he believed that no matter the shape of the economy, quality still needed to exist. Danner doesn’t only construct high-quality work boots, but they also have some of the and available. Triple stitching, breathable, and leather over leather construction for comfort are just a few of the features the Danner work boot has to offer.
Irish Setter – Irish setter is a derivative of the Red Wing brandt. They’re designed specifically to keep your feet warm, safe, and dry on the job. The Irish setter boot collection is American made. As part of the Red Wing brand, they were established in 1950 and originated in Red Wing, Minnesota. Special features in the Irish Setter brand include, but are not limited to, heat resistance, slip resistance, safety toes, and Thinsulate insulation. They have boots structured for any type of requirement you may need.
Best Work Boots Comparison ChartPRODUCT PRICE MADE OF SOLE COLOR Keen Utility Men’s Pittsburgh Steel Toe Work Boot
$$ Leather and textile Rubber sole Slate Black, Bison, Black Timberland PRO Men’s 95567 Endurance Pr 8″ Workboot
$$ Leather and textile Rubber sole Black Irish Setter Men’s 6″ 83605 Work Boot
$$ Leather Rubber sole Brown Timberland PRO Men’s Boondock 6 Inch
$$ Leather Synthetic sole Brown Oiled Distressed Caterpillar Men’s 2nd Shift 6″ Steel Toe Work Boot
$ Leather Manmade sole Black, Tan Keen Utility Men’s Portland PR 6″ Aluminum Toe
$$ Leather Rubber sole Black, Dark Brown Timberland PRO Men’s Rigmaster Steel Toe 8″
$$ Leather Rubber sole Brown Danner Men’s Super Rain Forest Uninsulated
$$$ Full grain leather Vibram sole Black Timberland PRO Men’s Hyperion Boot
$$ Leather Vibram sole Gray Carhartt Men’s CMS4100 4 Romeo
$ Leather Rubber sole Dark Brown Oil Tanned Timberland PRO Men’s 26078 Titan 6″ Boot
$$ Leather Rubber sole Dark Mocha Keen Utility Men’s Atlanta Cool Steel Toe Work Shoe
$ Leather and mesh Rubber sole Black, Gargoyle, Shitake Thorogood Men’s American Heritage 6″ Safety Toe Boot
$$ Leather Rubber sole Walnut Caterpillar Men’s Diagnostic Steel-Toe Boot
$$ Leather Rubber sole Dark Beige Timberland PRO Men’s Pitboss 6″ Steel-Toe Boot
$ Leather Synthetic sole Black, Brown, Wheat, Wheat Nubuck
There you have it. If you are looking for the best work boots for men, we have provided you with plenty of options. Our thoroughly researched work boot reviews make it easy for you to know exactly what you are getting! We want you to feel confident when shopping for work boots with the safety features that your job requires. After all, your feet are extremely important and you need to take care of them. They are meant to last you the rest of your life. Regardless of what you hear about generic brands, they do not have the proven track records of the most comfortable work boots that we recommend.
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