Who says you can’t have both functional and fashionable shoes? We love looking good but being comfortable is just as important. Especially in the workplace. We want shoes that can keep our feet safe and painless. That’s why it’s a good idea to go for the best steel toe boots when choosing shoes for work.
But how do we know which steel toe boots are the best? Which criteria should we follow? What are some characteristics that could be a sign of good quality, sturdy boots? We’ll go over everything you should be looking for in boots, as well as some of the best models of the year.
What material makes for the best steel toe boots?
Though steel isn’t something we associate with comfort, steel toe boots are the ideal shoes for long and busy hours. Their sturdy build and solid materials are exactly what make them so comfortable and reliable. What are those materials that come out on top when compared to others?
Leather is a great sign of good-quality boots! It also usually means that the shoes will be more expensive, but it’s worth it in the long run. Leather boots are durable, sturdy, and overall reliable. It still depends on the brand, thickness of the leather, and the way it was treated, of course.
Aside from the price tag, leather steel toe boots come with another con. That’s the fact that leather is a bit harder to maintain than other materials. They often require waterproofing spray, leather conditioner, and regular maintenance in general.
However, the pros by far outweigh the cons. Leather is highly protective, it insolates the feet very well, and to top it off it looks amazing! Considering both the price and overall quality, they really pay off.
Rubber is the ideal material if you’re concerned about safety. It’ll give you extra protection if you work with electricity. Unlike leather, rubber boots don’t need too much maintenance. Plus, they’re waterproof! However, while they’re great for safety, they do lack in comfort.
Rubber boots tend to be very stiff and almost impossible to break in. This can make it difficult for people who are on their feet all day. They’re very rigid and firm, and highly durable, so they will last you a very long time.
They’re excellent for dangerous work and great in any weather. But their lack of flexibility limits their use. You know your job and your needs best. Weigh out both the pros and cons before deciding if these are the best steel toe boots for you.
Nylon is quite the opposite of rubber. It’s comfortable and flexible and thanks to being breathable, you can wear it for a long time. But that also means that it isn’t as sturdy. It tends to give out under the effect of the elements rather easily.
It’s also not the best material to endure cuts and ripping. So, shoes that are primarily made out of nylon don’t tend to last very long. Although most shoes tend to be a mixture of these materials, there’s usually one that dominates.
Choosing which one ultimately depends on the kind of work you do, as well as what you’re looking for from the best steel toe boots. If you need something comfortable and flexible, definitely go with nylon shoes. Or ideally, search for the right balance of materials.
10 best steel toe boots
It’s difficult to find shoes that can meet all of your requirements. Sometimes the safest and most comfortable boots don’t look very stylish, for example. Rest assured, though, as we’ve come up with a list of the boots you might like!
1. Thorogood American Heritage Boot
Not only do these shoes look amazing, but they’re also great for keeping your feet well-protected. They’re extremely comfortable, too! They’re made from oil-tanned, full-grain leather, so their quality is top-notch. Plus, it makes them rather flexible.
They come with a removable Ultimate Shock Absorption footbed insole which adds to your comfort. So, if you need to walk for hours a day, they’ve got you covered! Since steel can be a bit heavy and uncomfortable, their shank is made out of fiberglass instead.
These boots are perfectly made to fit your foot and keep it secure with an 8” shaft. This longer shaft provides additional protection for your ankles. It also looks amazing, to be fair. They’re the ideal work shoes thanks to their ability to protect you from electrical hazards.
Not only that, but they are also great at protecting your toes from impact and compression damage. They do have some downsides, though. The first is their lack of insulation. They might be extremely comfortable, but they can’t keep your feet warm and dry. And the second is that they’re a bit expensive.
2. Timberland PRO Insulated Work Boots
These are definitely some of the best steel toe boots to keep your feet warm. Thanks to rubber insolation and waterproof leather uppers, you won’t have to worry about freezing. They can’t withstand extreme temperatures and are more than enough for regular winters.
Another pro is that they are made by an already-tested and trusted brand. We tend to feel more comfortable buying things from companies and brands that we already know. Timberland has had nothing but excellent reviews so far.
The best part about them is their duality. They make for excellent working shoes that are durable and high quality. But, they’re also very comfortable and fashionable. The leather makes them look very elegant and stylish.
3. Timberland Gritstone Steel Toe Industrial Boot
Another example of Timberland’s sturdy build and trusty quality. These easily belong on the best steel toe boots list thanks to being made almost entirely out of leather. Their sole is made out of rubber to prevent slipping. They also have a padded collar on the shaft to make it more comfortable for your ankles.
These boots are like the perfect chameleon. They’re work shoes meant to keep your feet safe, but they look like everyday boots! There’s nothing that could give them away and you can wear them just about anywhere. No one will know!
They’re heat resistant and have great protection against impact damage and compression. They also serve to keep you safe from electrical hazards. Not to mention, they’re very comfortable with excellent arch support.
They still have some downsides, though. Being made out of thick leather can be both a good thing and a bad thing. The bad side is that they take longer to break in, so they might not be all that flexible for some time. Another con is that they’re not waterproof, so they’re not ideal for wet working conditions.
4. Wolverine DuraShocks Ins Steel Toe 6in
Wolverine is yet another very recognizable and trusted brand. These also have a fiberglass shank which makes them lighter and easier to wear for longer periods of time. They’re equipped to keep you safe from electrical hazards, impact damage, and compression.
Thankfully, these ones are actually waterproof! With their cushioned footbed created for your comfort, they really are one of the best steel toe boots. They’re also well insulated, so they’re great at keeping your feet warm, too.
Although, it is questionable if they can withstand extreme temperatures. Regardless of that, they’re one of the best choices if you need shoes that can keep you warm during normal winters. They’re also slip and oil-resistant. They might not have a design that’s as attractive as some others, but it’s still stylish.
5. Wolverine Raider Work Boot
Another great example of how good quality materials combined with a good design can make or break a shoe. These boots are made with full-grain leather that’s thick enough to protect your feet but not rigid enough to limit mobility.
They provide you with a snug fit that doesn’t feel too tight or too loose. Their 6” shaft adds to this because it keeps your ankles secure without limiting flexibility. They also come with a removable cushioned footbed to provide you with additional comfort.
They’re one of the best work boots if you move around a lot during work hours. Aside from being comfortable, they’re also good at keeping you safe from electrical hazards, impact damage, and compression.
They look like regular winter boots, so you needn’t worry about not looking stylish. They work well in moderate climates, you just shouldn’t expose them to extreme temperatures. Bear in mind that they can be a bit heavy and that they’re not steel toe boots if that’s particularly what you’re looking for.
6. Carhartt 10” Waterproof Insulated PAC Composite Toe Boot
Wow, that’s a long name. To be fair, it is the perfect sum of everything that makes these shoes one of the best steel toe boots out there. The first thing we need to address in the name is “composite toe.” This means that these boots aren’t really steel toe boots.
But this isn’t a bad thing. Since steel is known for conducting cold, composite toes are the better option. They’re made out of other materials that do a better job of keeping you warm. Just be sure that the composite toe boots you get meet the safety standards.
And these do! They’re great for protecting your toes against impact damage, compression, and even electrical hazards. They also do a very good job of keeping you warm in cold conditions. Thanks to having breathable protection, they can also keep your feet dry during wet weather.
Although they might not be the most fashionable shoes, they’re definitely not bad either. But, they can be a bit heavy and rigid to wear. So, if you have the patience to break them in, they’re an excellent choice to go with for sure!
7. Skechers Workshire Relaxed Fit Boot
Skechers is known for making some of the most comfortable shoes out there. So, it’s a joy to see they also have one of the best steel toe boots. These shoes are made out of 100 percent leather that is thick enough to be durable and sturdy without limiting mobility.
They’re slip resistant with a bit higher heel which protects from punctures and sharp objects. Their shaft is 5.25” which is pretty low. However, this just adds to the fact that they’re more comfortable and you can move around freely in them.
They have a steel toe that protects you from electrical hazards, impact damage, and compression. But, this also means they’re not the best for cold weather. They look like regular boots and they’re quite affordable. However, they do tend to break down faster than other work boots.
8. Reebok Work Athletic Construction Shoe
Technically, they aren’t boots and don’t have a steel toe, so you may ask yourself why would we even add them to the list.
However, these shoes have an alloy toe that’s rated by the same standards as steel toe. It’s just usually much lighter. Just be aware that some employers might not agree to these shoes due to their insistence on the steel toe.
These shoes are ideal for people on the move for most of their day. They’re much like regular sneakers. They’re flexible and comfortable while still providing safety and protection. Since they meet all the safety standards, they shield you against electrical hazards, compression, and impact damage.
They’re also slip-resistant and do well against oil and some chemicals. They’re fashionable just as much as any sneaker. In other words, it depends on your style and needs. If you love wearing sneakers, they’ll incorporate well into your outfits. But because they’re not boots, they can’t protect your whole foot.
9. Caterpillar Second Shift Work Boots
These are among the best steel toe boots because they’re made by a company that understands workers’ needs. It’s a recognizable brand known for its high quality and durability. They’re made 100 percent out of leather, so they’re excellent for protection.
Since the leather is a bit thick, it takes some time to break them in. But once you do, they’ll be very comfortable. They’re definitely not for everyone, especially those who aren’t used to work boots as they can be very heavy and difficult to wear.
Considering the company that makes them, it’s no surprise that these boots meet all the standards. They provide you with protection from electrical hazards, compression, and impact damage. Thanks to their thick platform, the chances of being punctured by a sharp object are very small.
They also have a 6” shaft that gives your ankles some extra stability. Also, it definitely doesn’t hurt that they look pretty good, too. However, since they are steel toe, they might not be the best in extreme temperatures. That would add to the potential discomfort.
10. BOGS Mesa Steel Toe Boots
BOGS is a brand specifically known for its work boots. So, it’s no wonder one of their boots would end up on the best steel toe boots list. Though they might not be able to fit in with your everyday shoes, they make up for it in functionality.
They’re waterproof and can deal with normal winter temperatures, but they shouldn’t be used in extreme cold. They help keep you safe from potential dangers at work. Plus, they have a very high shaft which provides additional support and stability for your ankles.
Things to consider when getting yourself a pair of steel toe boots
1. The use of work boots
Another important factor to consider when picking your shoes is their use. Every boot is built for different conditions and different purposes. So, choosing the best steel toe boots also depends on your career.
You need to see all factors in your day-to-day life. Do you work in harsh weather? Do you work with electricity? How long do you work? Do you have to walk and move around a lot? All these things play a big role in choosing the right pair of shoes.
They will determine both the material and the price you go for. It’s difficult to find the perfect boots that meet all your criteria. So, for the most part, try to focus on if safety or flexibility (and comfort) is more important to you.
2. The fit
The way your shoes fit is mostly dictated by your personal preference and your mobility requirements. For example, if you need to be active and move around, high-ankle boots might not be the best choice. Or when it comes to your taste, you could prefer a tighter fit or something bigger.
3. Style variations
Style tends to be a very personal thing. Sure, there are fashion trends, but at the end of the day, you still have your own preferences.
The material also plays a big part. For example, leather is a timeless classic and can make just about any design look good. However, it could also look too formal, depending on where you wear your boots. They might look too fancy for some jobs.
The choice is essentially yours, but we’ve managed to put together a list of shoes that you might be interested in. Even if they’re not exactly the right fit, they should be able to steer you in the right direction. They’ll give you ideas of what to look for.
How to break in your steel toe boots
Even the best steel toe boots might need some breaking in. This generally goes for all shoes. You can’t get new boots and immediately wear them all day and walk around like you’ve had them for years. You need to give them time to adjust to your foot and its movements.
The best way to do that is to start wearing them around the house for a little bit. Then you can gradually extend that time. Wearing thicker or double socks can also help. It causes the leather to break in faster and prevents any possible friction, so it’s less painful.
Once you start to wear them to work and you notice there’s friction, you might want to consider padding. Inserting padding at the places where it hurts helps prevent friction and the appearance of blisters. Just remember to be patient and wait for the boot to break in properly.
Can steel toe boots deal with the cold?
Steel toe boots were primarily made for safety. So, it’s safe to say that in most cases, comfort isn’t really their strong side. This is due to steel’s ability to conduct the cold. Because of this, your toes will start freezing relatively quickly.
Luckily, there’s a way to solve this issue and it doesn’t include wearing ten layers of socks. Try looking for insulated steel toe boots. These will be able to keep your feet both safe from possible harm and warm in harsh weather and winter.
Choosing the best steel toe boots
There are so many options and variations that picking the right steel toe boots seems impossible. Especially since there are a lot of different criteria to keep track of. You need to follow all the rules set by your boss while also looking for something comfortable.
The most important thing to look for in steel toe boots is if they meet safety standards. That means checking if they provide sufficient protection against impact damage and compression. In some jobs, this also includes protection from electrical hazards like open circuits.
Then you might also want to check the platform of the boot. Ideally, it should be slip and oil-resistant, as well as thick enough to shield you from sharp objects. After checking that, seeing if the boots are waterproof and well-insulated is also important.
Steel toe is usually horrible against the cold, so checking if the shoe is insulated goes a long way. (No one wants their toes freezing off!) Once you’ve checked all these things off your list, you can look at the style. There may not be a large variety of styles, but there are still some killer work boots out there!