Work boots keep you comfortable on the job and protect your feet from dropped tools, inclement weather and dirt. These shoes and boots have steel caps in the toe box to prevent falling objects from crushing your toes.
There are a few things to consider when choosing the best steel toe shoes or boots. The right pair for you depends on the type of work you do and where you work. If you work outdoors in the winter, you may need a pair of insulated shoes. If you work in a hot commercial kitchen, you may need shoes made of breathable mesh. The materials and construction of boots vary, and some have job-specific features such as waterproofing.
This guide will help you choose the best steel-toed shoes for your job.
Best Overall: KEEN Utility Men's Firestone Low Steel Toe Work Shoe
Great Value: Skechers for Work 77055 Cankton Steel Toe Sneaker
Best Upgrade: Thorogood Men's American Heritage 6″ Mocto
Best Waterproof: Skechers Men's Greetah Construction Shoe
Best Comfort: Timberland PRO Men's Disruptor Safety Toe Work Shoe
Best Breathable: Keen Utility Atlanta Cool II
Best Insulation: Carhartt Men's 10″ Waterproof Insulated PAC Boot
Before you start buying a pair of the best steel toe shoes, these are some of the factors that are worth considering.
Comfort is the most important consideration when buying the best steel toe shoes, as walking in an uncomfortable pair of boots all day can be a nightmare. Be sure to find a pair that requires minimal break-in and has a comfortable and well-fitting sole.
If your employer does not require work boots, steel toe sneakers are a more comfortable option. While bulkier than standard sneakers, they have a similar design that includes a soft rubber sole and a flexible upper.
If you are looking for women's steel toe shoes or women's work boots, buy footwear that is designed for women so that you can wear them with the best fit.
Leather is the most durable option for the upper part of the shoe or boot, while nylon mesh makes your shoes lighter and more breathable. The best steel-toed shoes and boots are made of full-grain leather. This material is sturdy and durable, and will fit your feet well with regular wear. Leather absorbs moisture, so it will start to give off an odor after a while.
Mesh, on the other hand, is breathable, which prevents your feet from sweating and reduces odor. However, nylon mesh is not as durable or long-lasting as leather.
Some boots or shoes combine the best of both worlds, mixing leather and nylon to provide a durable, lightweight, breathable shoe.
A true steel toe boot has a metal toe, while a composite toe has a cap made of Kevlar, carbon fiber, plastic or fiberglass. Composite toes can provide the same level of protection but are lighter in weight; however, they are newer and some workplaces do not allow their use.
Many manufacturers of the best steel toe shoes and boots prefer to use steel toes. They are an age-old choice, and many brand loyalists want steel in their shoes.
If your job requires you to go out in the colder months, you should consider buying a pair of steel toe shoes or insulated boots. Even 200 grams of insulation will keep your feet warm. If you work in a hot environment, such as a kitchen, refinery or boiler room, you may prefer shoes or boots made of breathable materials rather than insulation.
Many of the best steel-toed shoes and boots are somewhat waterproof, so you can walk through puddles of water or hose down machinery without soaking your work socks. However, as you might guess, waterproof shoes and boots are poorly breathable and slow to dry. If you prefer waterproof shoes, consider purchasing a boot dryer so you don't encounter wet shoes the morning after working in wet conditions.
You want your work boots to last, so durability is important. Well-known workwear brands that use better quality materials and construction methods often produce the most durable shoes and boots.
To extend the life of your boots, look for brands that allow you to change the soles. Then, when the soles wear out, you can take them to a cobbler for a new sole, which is worth it for a pair of premium shoes that can cost several hundred dollars.
Now that you know a little more about choosing the best steel toe shoes or boots, it's time to start shopping. Some of the work has been done for you below, so you can choose from several categories of the best steel toe shoes.
If you're looking for a steel toe shoe that can do it all, consider the Utility Flint work shoe from Keen. This low-top shoe features a hiking boot style upper made of brushed leather and nylon mesh with a slip-resistant rubber sole. While other manufacturers use one size fits all steel toe, Keen uses a left and right foot specific steel toe for better comfort. While it's not a waterproof shoe, it's breathable and keeps your feet comfortable in the heat of the workplace. This is the men's version, but the Keen Flints are also available for women.
Protecting your feet doesn't have to be out of budget. The Skechers for Work 77055 Cankton Steel Toe Sneaker offers protection at a modest price. This sneaker looks good for the gym, but is suitable for most workplaces.The Cankton Steel Toe sneaker combines protection, durability and comfort. It features a steel toe and electrical hazard protection, and the suede and mesh upper keeps your feet comfortable. The memory foam sole supports your feet, and the Cankton fit is relaxed so you can wear thick winter socks when you need them.
The Thorogood Men's American Heritage Moc Toe boot is a staple in the construction industry and trades. It has an oil-tanned full-grain leather upper and a MAXWear non-slip ramp heel sole, making it perfect for working on ladders, straddling joists or beams, or climbing stairs. The uppers of these boots are more durable than the soles, but Thorogood assembles them with Goodyear patching (the seam that connects the sole to the upper), so you can call a cobbler to replace the soles when they wear out.
Working in wet conditions gets old, and wearing wet shoes too often can lead to foot health problems. the Greetah Construction shoe from Skechers features a waterproof design to keep your feet dry. These low-top shoes feature a composite toe, safe electrical hazard protection, a memory foam footbed and a comfortable rubber sole. The composite toe means they are a little lighter than steel toe boots, and they have a nylon mesh upper so they are breathable. They come in two colors, so you should find one that fits your workplace policy.
You don't have to put on tough leather boots or wear an ugly pair of safety shoes. The Timberland PRO Disruptor Safety Toe Work Shoe combines the comfort and style of an old-fashioned sneaker with the safety of a steel alloy cap. Timberland uses a canvas upper with anti-fatigue technology to keep your feet comfortable. This shoe also features electrical hazard protection as well as a heat and oil resistant sole. While a pair of leather high top steel toe boots can weigh up to 5 pounds to put dirt in a tumbler, these boots weigh less than 3 pounds.
Finding a pair of shoes that protect your toes while staying comfortable in hot weather is never easy. Luckily, Keen's Utility Atlanta Cool II gets the job done. It features breathable leather and mesh upper and an asymmetrical left and right steel toe for a comfortable fit. It also features a moisture-wicking lining that wicks sweat away from the foot, and the Atlanta Cool II's lightweight, compression-resistant Regen midsole provides up to 50 percent energy return while walking to eliminate fatigue.
These waterproof insulated toe boots from Carhartt feature LiteFire technology, an aluminum-based waterproof and breathable insulation that reflects body heat to the feet. These boots have 1,000 LiteFire, which equates to 1,000 grams of insulation to keep your feet warm in cold temperatures. These composite toe boots won't get cold as quickly as steel toe boots, which means you'll stay warm. The uppers are made of leather and feature electrical hazard protection and a high traction rubber sole. The boots also come with heel protection for extra protection and support.
Based on construction materials, slip-resistant soles, insulation, durability, breathability and a foot-specific steel toe, the KEEN Utility Men's Firestone Low Steel Toe Work Shoe is our pick for the best steel toe.
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