LAST UPDATED: August 29, 2019

Best Work Boots: Keep Your Feet Protected

Best Choice Timberland White Ledge Ankle Boot Timberland White Ledge Ankle Boot
Premium Pick Caterpillar Men's Soft-Toe Work Boot Caterpillar Men's Soft-Toe Work Boot
Best Value Wolverine Floorhand Work Boot Wolverine Floorhand Work Boot

If you work in any kind of manual labor or industrial sector, you already know that a key part of your job is ensuring that you’re properly outfitted with the required safety equipment, uniform, and gear. Arguably, one of the most important items you will have to wear is your work boots. 

If you’re required to wear work boots on the job, or just do a lot of work in which you personally want to be protected, having a high-quality, rugged, and durable work boot is a must. Most often, proper work boots are also job-specific. You don’t want to show up to a construction site with a pair of soft-toed work boots that are better suited for farming.

With most construction and industrial sites making safety boots non-negotiable, there’s a huge range of men’s work boots available. Quality and protection can’t be judged on price alone. We step into the breach and look at what we consider to be the best working boots currently on the market.

The Best Work Boots

Rugged enough for most jobs, these outdoor ankle boots from Timberland will look just as at home on the trail as they will in the workshop. We really liked the versatility of the White Ledge, as well as their solid good looks, and for the mid-price you get a high-quality work boot. Made from waterproof leather with a rubber grip outsole and decent ankle coverage, they are also seam-sealed to keep out the wet and the lace eyelets are waterproof. There is no steel toe cap, but the forefront is stiff and solid, meaning these are great waterproof work boots for outdoor sites where you are also up against the elements

Key Features
  • 100 percent full-grain leather
  • Dual-density EVA footbed
  • Waterproof outer with rust-proof eyelets
  • Solid rubber outsole with traction lugs
Specification
  • Brand Timberland
  • Weight Timberland

The Second Shift is a classic work boot that’s a familiar sight on the feet of many construction workers, contractors, and mechanics. And it’s not hard to see why. First up, they look good, and the solid shape says they mean business. Made from either full-grain or nubuck leather, you get decent waterproof protection and the padded collar/high ankle design keeps your feet secure. Inside you get a steel shank, nylon mesh lining and a Climasphere sockliner for cool, fresh and protected feet, all day long.

These are stiff work boots out of the box, so take a bit of time to break them in – the effort will be repaid with a pair of hardworking boots that can take pretty much anything you can throw at them.

Key Features
  • Leather soft toe shoe
  • Padded collar and mesh lining
  • Nylon sockliner wicks away moisture
  • Oil-resistant traction sole
Specification
  • Brand Caterpillar
  • Model 2nd Shift
  • Weight 1.75 pounds

As full-on steel toe cap boots, the Floorhand from Wolverine gives you a quality shoe for the price. The style is pretty standard but then this is a safety boot that simply but effectively does what it says on the tin.

Quality leather, full ankle support with padding, non-slip outsole and a cushioned footbed – all the essentials for waterproof work boots are there plus you get the Wolverine craftsmanship that make these steel-toe work boots tough and reliable dudes. They are missing a bit of the insulation you’d need on a freezing winter site and a change of insole could boost the cushioned comfort factor, but overall, these are safety boots that can stay the distance.

Key Features
  • Full-grain waterproof leather
  • Removable cushion foot-bed
  • Rubber traction outsole
  • Padded ankle collar
Specification
  • Brand Wolverine
  • Weight 1.9 pounds

The hardcore looks of the Boondock make you think they can deal with anything—and to be honest, when you go through the spec list, they pretty much can! These are ‘don’t mess with me’ men’s work boots with foot protection at the heart of its game. They have been reinforced with impressive-looking rubber toe protectors and the TPU lugged outsole is oil/slip/abrasion resistant to keep you on your feet. The ankle shaft is tall—6.5 inches—giving your ankles plenty of support and the whole upper of the work boot is made from waterproof ‘Ever-Guard’ leather. Be warned, these safety boots are big and quite heavy, but they do the job. And what we really like about the Boondock is Timberland’s use of anti-fatigue technology to provide long-lasting comfort and support.

Key Features
  • Waterproof ‘Ever-Guard’ leather
  • Molded rubber toe protectors
  • Lugged TPU outsole
  • Shock-absorbing technology
Specification
  • Brand Timberland
  • Model Boondock 6
  • Weight 2.8 pounds

For cold and harsh working conditions, the Irish Setter Crosby Insulated Waterproof Composite Toe Work Boots are a super dry, warm, and lightweight option. Armed with Crosby’s StableFlex technology, this boot combines cement construction in the forefoot with a welt construction heel that gives you the ultimate in protection and flexibility combined. The tread on these boots is high-grip Diamond Tred, which is oil-, chemical-, abrasion-, and slip resistant. The non-metallic composite safety toe is ASTM F2413-18, M/I/C, EH-rated for protection. The 400-gram PrimaLoft insulation keeps your toes warm and toasty all day long.

We also like that these hiker-looking boots feature comfortable EVA memory foam footbeds and Bontex insoles to help prevent joint pain and fatigue when you have to be on your feet for extended periods. The drawback is that this boot only comes in one color and it’s one of the pricier ones on our list.

Key Features
  • Non-metallic nano composite toes
  • Full grain, oiled waterproof leather uppers
  • 400-gram PrimaLoft insulation
  • Ultralight EVA memory foam footbeds
Specification
  • Brand Irish Setter
  • Model 83656
  • Weight 3.1 pounds

The Cabela’s Kiltie 2.0 Waterproof Work Boots get a lot of love and loyalty for being a well-priced, sturdy, and all-purpose work boot. The Kiltie has the heart of a logging boot, with a fully waterproof full-grain leather upper. It’s also fully breathable and moisture-wicking to help prevent a build-up of perspiration in any temperature. The Goodyear welt securely anchors the durable upper to the acid-, oil-, and slip-resistant outsoles so that you can have sure and confident footing in a variety of harsh environments.

These boots also feature removable cushioned polyurethane insoles for added comfort. While they’re not as uber comfy as some other models, they do allow you to work comfortably for long periods. There is some concern about long-term durability of the outsoles, but most wearers seem very pleased overall.

Key Features
  • 100 percent waterproof, full-grain leather upper
  • Goodyear welt construction
  • Moisture-wicking Cambrelle linings
  • Acid-, oil-, and slip-resistant outsoles
Specification
  • Brand Cabela’s
  • Model N/A
  • Weight N/A

For a reliable safety boot that can take you from construction site to workshop and everything in-between, check out the ruggedly stylish Second Shift from work boot aficionados Caterpillar. The strong internal steel toe cap on the Second Shift will keep those toes protected while the high shaft with padded collar gives superior ankle support. Underfoot you get an effective oil-resistant traction outsole, to keep your feet securely on the ground. And despite its work-horse credentials, there’s something plush about these steel toe work boots, thanks to the quality nubuck leather in a choice of three colors, making them a cool boot for non-work use too.

Key Features
  • 100 percent nubuck or full-grain leather
  • Inner steel toe cap
  • Padded collar and tongue
  • Oil-resistant traction sole
Specification
  • Brand Caterpillar
  • Model Second Shift ST-M
  • Weight 12 ounces

If you want a great combination of highly-rated protection, comfort, and style, consider the KEEN Utility Cincinnati 6” Waterproof Work Boots. They’re actually a soft-toe work boot that features Keen’s dual-density, air-infused PU Luftcell midsole, making them one of the most flexible and comfortable work boots on the market. Goodyear welt construction secures the high-performance non-marking, oil- and slip-resistant rubber outsoles. The outsoles meet ASTM F1677-96 MARK II and ASTM F2913-17 SATRA non-slip rating standards.

The uppers are constructed from waterproof, barnyard-resistant leather construction that’s designed to hold up against sodium chloride, ammonium hydroxide, urea, and oleic acid, making these boots ideal for farm and forest work. However, because these boots are soft-toed, you’re going to need to find another option for heavy-duty industrial or construction work.

Key Features
  • Soft-toed, waterproof, barnyard-resistant leather uppers
  • Dual-density, air-infused PU Luftcell midsoles
  • ASTM-rated slip-resistant and oil-resistant rubber outsoles
  • Moisture-wicking textile linings
Specification
  • Brand KEEN
  • Model Cincinnati
  • Weight 32.2 ounces

You get the quality 100 percent leather you’d expect from Timberland, as well as a host of hardcore work features. First up, they offer effective electric hazard protection and an awesome surface grip under foot. The internal steel toe cap is also industry-standard when it comes to protection. But all this tough spec doesn’t mean the Pit Boss work boot compromises on comfort or support. Padding where you need it plus comfort suspension technology work to reduce foot fatigue meaning you can keep on the go until it’s time to clock off.

Key Features
  • 100 percent leather upper
  • Asymmetrical steel toe cap
  • Electric hazard protection
  • Comfort suspension technology
Specification
  • Brand Timberland
  • Model 33031
  • Weight 1.9 pounds

The Ariat Groundwork Wide Square-Toe H2O Steel-Toe Western Work Boots are a great change of pace from the typical work boot styling. They’re perfect for the farm, ranch, factory, warehouse, or construction site during the day, then dust ‘em off for a night out. These double-duty boots feature a wicked strong steel-toe. The full-grain, waterproof leather upper features traditional four-row stitching and is built to last.

Breathable mesh linings work in tandem with the boot’s high rebound removable cushioned insoles to provide all-day comfort and breathability. The signature Ariat Four Layer Rebound System (4LR™) provides tons of stability and support. This boot style also comes equipped with ladder-friendly 90 degree heels. The unfortunate part is that these cool boots only come in one color option and have limited sizing.

Key Features
  • Squared steel-toe is ASTM-rated for protection
  • Full-grain waterproof leather uppers with traditional four-row stitching
  • 4LR technology adds comfort and stability
  • Oil- and slip-resistant, Duratread non-marking outsoles
Specification
  • Brand Ariat
  • Model Groundwork
  • Weight N/A

Functional and durable, Carhartt’s composite toe work boot is a great go-to for everyday work and play. Made from 100 percent leather and with a contoured rubber sole, this solid-looking safety boot flexes with your foot, giving you superior comfort and support whatever pace you work at. Step it up and the Carhartt steps it up with you, with shock-absorbing traction to keep you on your feet. Inside you get an EVA midsole and OrthoLite insole for all foot cushioning and long-lasting comfort. While underfoot the cement-constructed outsole keeps a grip, with its oil, slip and chemical-resistant protection. An impressive and comfortable work boot at a good price.

Key Features
  • 100 percent leather upper
  • Composite toe protection
  • Rugged Flex Technology
  • Cement-constructed outsole
Specification
  • Brand Carhartt
  • Model CMF6366-M
  • Weight 1.8 pounds

If you find yourself working in seriously wet and mucky conditions on the regular, the Irish Setter Ironton Rubber Boots are for you. These boots feature advanced 17-inch fully waterproof rubber boots with steel shanks for the ultimate durability. The injected uppers are constructed from a proprietary PU compound that easily repels water, gas, oil, acids, and more. The performance fit design tapers downward to hold your heel snugly and securely to limit annoying play that can lead to blisters.

One common problem with rubber boots is their lack of breathability. Irish Setter helps alleviate this with the addition of odor-controlling linings and removable polyurethane footbeds and midsoles that also provide a high level of comfort and support. The Chevron hexagon outsoles provide intense anti-slip and oil-resistant grip. These boots could be improved by coming in different widths. There’s no wide-foot option.

Key Features
  • 17-inch advanced rubber boots
  • Waterproof PU uppers
  • Odor-control linings and removable PU footbeds and midsoles
  • Steel shanks for added stability and support
Specification
  • Brand Irish Setter
  • Model Irontron
  • Weight 3 pounds, 15 ounces

Another great double-duty work boot option is the Wolverine Durant Steel Toe Hiking/Work Boot. It has a rugged and expansive steel toe that’s ASTM-certified to provide you the ultimate in workplace protection. It features an easy-to-maintain and stylish nubuck leather and mesh upper that makes it a great option for hiking as well as heavy-duty work requirements. The breathable mesh ensures that your feet stay dry and get as much air circulation as possible during even the longest periods of wear. The removable cushioned footbed gives a decent amount of comfort and support, although somewhat less than some other higher-end models.

These boots are built with a nylon shank that provides good stability, but still allows for flexibility as well. These boots also come in a wide variety of sizes and widths. They’re definitely not as fashionable as some of the other options on our list, but hey, they’re work boots.

Key Features
  • ASTM-rated steel toe construction
  • Low-maintenance nubuck leather and mesh upper
  • Removable full cushioned footbed
  • Breathable mesh lining
Specification
  • Brand Wolverine
  • Model W02625
  • Weight N/A

With the Ever Boots Tank you know exactly what you’re going to get, which is why as a soft-toe work boot, they have proved so popular. And its reliable quality at less than $60 looks set to keep it that way.

The design is a familiar style that looks as good with jeans in the bar for an afterwork beer as it does with your work gear. Made from nubuck leather with a rubber, slip-resistant sole, these are shoes that run large, so check your sizing to ensure you get the right comfort fit. The outer is nicely stiff and robust, offering a decent level of protection in low to mid-weight working environments. You also get a cushioned insole to comfort your hardworking feet. The rubber outsole could be a little more robust, but it can always be resoled when it starts to wear thin. But for a reliable pair of soft-toe work shoes at a not so soft bargain price, we’re happy to make the Tank our Best Value buy.

Key Features
  • Nubuck leather outer
  • Anti-fatigue inner arch
  • Insulated mesh lining
  • Slip-resistant rubber sole
Specification
  • Brand EVER Boots
  • Model EB611TAN
  • Weight 2 pounds

The Carhartt Ground Force 8” Insulated Waterproof Work Boots are another super rugged, long-lasting option that are great for non-industrial use. They feature a generous 8-inch oil-tanned leather upper that keeps your feet and ankles safe and dry from workplace hazards. They feature Storm Defender 100 percent waterproof and breathable membranes and FastDry moisture-wicking linings. The 600-gram 3M Thinsulate insulation makes them a great choice for outdoor work in cold and harsh climates.

These boots have a greater arch support than a lot of others on the market. Couple that with high-rebound EVA midsoles and supportive, but flexible nylon shanks, and you’ll be able to work longer with less fatigue at the end of the day. The slip-resistant Ground Force rubber outsoles are ASTM-rated to protect against electrical hazards. Pretty much the only feature lacking on these comprehensive work boots is a steel toe. They’re not suitable for construction work.

Key Features
  • 8-inch oil-tanned leather uppers
  • Storm Defender 100 percent waterproof and breathable membranes
  • 600-gram 3M Thinsulate insulation
  • ASTM-rated Ground Force rubber outsoles
Specification
  • Brand Carhartt
  • Model Ground Force
  • Weight N/A

Best Work Boots Buying Guide & FAQ

What to Look for in Work Boots

Whether you’re at work or auto play, you need to ensure you get the protection you need from your footwear. When buying your next pair of work boots, make sure you check out the following:

ASTM Safety Rating

The American Society for Testing and Materials is actually now an international organization that develops and publishes voluntary technical standards for a wide range of products, systems, services, and materials. These standards help improve quality and safety and ensure uniformity in manufacturing. If a work boot is ASTM-rated, its manufacturer has voluntarily complied with the ASTM standards in order to produce a safe and reliable product that has been thoroughly tested.

Toe Protection

Depending on your job, toe protection may be a non-negotiable feature that your work boots must have in order to be allowed on the job site. Usually, construction sites and warehouses have this requirement. There are three types of toe protection – steel, composite and aluminum. Steel is heavier but is the traditional toe protector; composite is lighter and made from plastic, carbon fiber and Kevlar also great for work environments that need to be metal-free while aluminum is lightweight and doesn’t conduct the cold like steel.

Construction

The best work boots are durable and how they are constructed really counts. Welted and stitch-down boots are built to last and can be re-soled meaning you can keep breathing new life into your old boots. Alternatively, you can opt for cement or direct construction, where the outsole is ‘cemented’ to the boot’s upper. While cemented boots are more lightweight and flexible, the downside is that when the sole is worn down, it can’t usually be replaced.

Comfort

Comfort is king when it comes to your work boots, especially if you’re wearing them on a long, hard shift. Check the fit to ensure there’s no pinching or potential ‘hot spots’. Your boots will wear in, but they do need to be of a good, basic fit to start with. And opt for leather if you can. Leather gives flexibility and will mold to your feet as you break them in, so they are some of the most comfortable work boots.

Support

Comfort and support go hand-in-hand so when choosing your new work boots, consider the insole, midsole and upper, and how they work together to cradle and support your feet through a range of movements over a prolonged period.

Waterproofing and Insulation

Construction and auto work are dirty jobs and you’ll need to protect your feet in a range of environments and weather conditions. Look for waterproof work boots that are also breathable to keep your feet cool and dry. When it comes to temperatures, lightweight work boots made from fabric or mesh uppers will help to combat uncomfortable, sweaty feet, while for the winter or colder conditions, leather with insulation will keep your feet toasty and safe. Added insulation also helps with foot protection and support.

Traction

Slip-proof work boots are essential for your safety, especially in potentially hazardous environments. Choose a pair of safety boots with a solid grip on the ground. There are two main outsoles for excellent traction: Thermo Polyurethane (TPU) and rubber. TPU performs well on rough terrain while rubber is good all-round outsole. Also check the tread and match it to your job, such as climbing ladders or walking over harsh or slippery ground.

Work Boots

Why You Should Buy Comfortable Work Boots

When doing a physical job, you’ll be on your feet moving for long periods of time, and without work boots that fit correctly, you don’t just risk a bad temper. Uncomfortable safety boots can add pressure on vulnerable parts of your body—especially your toes, ankles, and knees—and put you at risk of wear and tear and potential injury. This can also translate into lower back issues and fatigue due to altered gait or stance. If you have a manual job that requires a significant amount of walking or standing, comfortable and supportive work boots are a top priority.

Different Types of Safety Boots

When it comes to the best work boots, it’s not a case of ‘one size fits all’ and there are several different types of safety footwear to choose from. Your final choice should be based on where you will be wearing your new safety boots and the type of work you will be doing. Also consider how often or frequently you do this work. If your full-time job requires work boots, you may want to get a higher-performing pair than if you’re just using them occasionally.

  • Safety toe. The mainstay of most workshops and construction sites, these shoes provide superior protection for your toes, which are vulnerable to heavy equipment and dropped tools. Built-in protective toe caps can come in steel, aluminum or non-metallic composite.
  • Steel insole. These tough work boots are designed to keep your feet stabilized and protect you from joint damage, which can be a problem if your job involves driving heavy trucks or pushing pedals. Usually, people that work in construction, factories, or are linemen are required to have a steel insole, or shank, as it’s commonly called. Most other professions will do better with a nylon, plastic, or carbon fiber shank.
  • Metal instep. Designed to protect your foot from sharp objects such as nails or glass and are ideal for more industrial or factory workplaces.
  • Metatarsal shoe. With a protective inner and outer shield on your forefoot, these types of safety boots protect your upper foot and bones, so they’re a good bet for a busy construction site. 
  • Electric hazard shoes. If you work with high voltage machines or with wiring on electrical jobs, then these will keep you and your feet safe from any potential shocks. Look for proof that they have been ASTM-certified to be non-conductive of electricity.

Best Work Boots FAQ:

Q: What are soft toe boots?

Soft toe boots are a safety footwear alternative to the traditional steel or protective toe cap boot. Some soft toe boots can offer a decent level of forefront protection for everyday use, with the addition of reinforced composite materials such as rubber or thick fabric. But many are made from tough outer fabric with no extra reinforcement. Soft toe shoes are more lightweight and flexible than hard-toe boots and are a good alternative for the summer months but are not meant for hazardous or full-on construction environments.

Q: How do I maintain my steel toe work boots?

Your steel toe work boots are tough dudes and will work hard when you need them to, and with a little TLC you can keep them on the payroll for much longer. A simple maintenance routine will go a long way:

  • Take the time to break a new pair of work boots in, your feet will thank you for it! Wear them around the house for a few days before you take them out on the job. You can also speed up the breaking in process by applying a little shoe conditioner.
  • If your boots are not waterproof or need a little top up, then apply a boot waterproofing solution or waterproofing spray. Leave to thoroughly dry then add a few more coats two or three weeks later for boosted protection. Top up frequently to keep that foot damp at bay.
  • Always wipe off wet mud, dirt and debris clumps each time you take off your boots and let them dry overnight. Regularly wipe your work boots clean with a dry cloth and do a full clean when needed, using a water-based cleaner and a nylon brush. Change your insoles when needed to prevent stinky feet and use a low PH-shampoo if you need to swill the insides out. Don’t forget to rinse and allow to dry.
  • Keep an eye on your laces. All that pulling and tugging will eventually weaken them, leading you to over tighten the laces and potentially mis-shape your work boot. Replace the laces when they start to look and feel past their best.

Worker with safety boots

Q: How can I tell if my boots fit properly?

For your new safety boots to give you the comfort and protection you’re expecting, you need to ensure you have the correct fit. Badly fitting work boots are only going to cause you problems, whether that’s from a troublesome blister, poor traction or eventual knee and back pain. Put your best work foot forward by getting the right fit:

  • Start with the right socks. Mid-thickness, lightweight, breathable and moisture wicking are the best.
  • Try both boots on and walk around the house in a natural stride. If you find the boots restrictive in your normal walk, check them out. Loosen the laces a little, smooth out the socks and try your free stride again. Then test them out in a range of feet movements. They should remain in place but not rub or feel too snug and you shouldn’t feel any uncomfortable pressure.
  • Once you have had a good old stomp around in your new safety boots, take them off and check your feet. If they’re a good fit, there should be no ‘hot spots’ starting to show on your skin, so look for red marks or pinched skin. If all looks sweet, then you and your safety boots are good to go!

Q: Can I waterproof my boots?

If you’ve already opted for waterproof work boots, then you can keep them in top condition with an occasional waterproof spray booster. Other safety boots can have their water resistance improved with a little DIY.  The most obvious way is to invest in a waterproofing treatment or spray which if used regularly can be really effective and prolong the life of your boots. Other home waterproofing options include waxes, pastes and creams, which can be applied as you would boot polish.

A top tip when it comes to waterproofing your safety boots – clean off any dirt,  dust and debris first with a dry cloth before applying your waterproofing, and repeat your treatment when you see signs of its water-repelling super powers wearing off, which will usually be after a couple of weeks.

Our Top Pick

When it comes to an ideal combination of protection, support, style, and price, our top pick is hands down the Timberland White Ledge Ankle Boot. It easily does double-duty as a rugged work boot or a high-performing and comfortable hiking boot, while being offered at a very competitive price point.

For a budget-friendly work boot that still provides excellent support and protection, check out the Ever Boots Tank Men’s Soft Toe Work Boot. It’s a classically designed, soft-toe boot that’s suitable for a wide variety of jobs.

 

Source:

  1. Find a pair of work boots – Wiki How