Work boots are heavy and tough and makes the feet tired and fatigued after standing or walking all day in it. At the same time, there is no escape if you are on the job site where safety standards are high. Protective footwear is part of the compliance introduced by Occupational Safety & Health Administration in 1994 and supplemented in 2008. Wearing safety shoes is a requirement at the job site where there is a risk of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, piercing nails or electric hazards due to live wires. There could be many other scenarios of foot injury at the workplace that’s why safety shoes are an important part of personal protective equipment (PPE).
We have done thorough research and have come out with this post to help you select the best steel toe boots with our scores on their comfort and durability. We have diverged from what other review sites normally do that is to select the most popular brands for the review. So we have included in our selection not “very popular” brands to give you an idea of what people say about them.
User comments are copied from Amazon and Reddit under the comfortability and durability section of each boot’s review. You can see what existing customers are saying about these two most important factors and make a better choice.
Here are our top picks:
Best Steel Toe Boots
Most Comfortable Steel Toe Boots
|Product Image||Name of Boot||Durability|
(Score out of 10)
(Score out of 10)
|Ariat Men's Workhog Steel Toe Work Boot||9||9|
|KEEN Utility Men's Pittsburgh Steel Toe Work Boot||6||10|
|Condor Men's Idaho 6" Steel Toe Wheat Nubuck Work Boot||7||9|
1. KEEN Utility Men’s Pittsburgh Steel Toe Boots
KEEN has been in the business of making boots longer than most people can remember. They’ve made a handful of very affordable high-quality boots which has won the hearts of many people and has made it a best seller.
Starting with the aesthetics, Pittsburgh Steel toe looks great. As a matter of fact, it can be worn with jeans and a t-shirt and you’d still look cool.
The boot is waterproof and offers top-notch protection for its wearer. The outsoles are made from oil and slip-resistant material. Additionally, a rubber toe guard is added to make the shoe more firm. A waterproof breathable membrane ensures your feet won’t get wet while you have your shoes on. KEEN has simply made one of the best waterproof work boots in the market.
Durability (Score 6 out of 10)
There are mixed reviews on the durability of KEENs. Buyers have complained that their boots start to wear out after like 6 months. These reviews are not abundant, only a handful, and we could guess it really depends on the nature of the work that determines their life. Generally they can last you up to an year.
“This is the second pair they seem to hold up ok,almost one year for me that’s good” – Amazon review
“They are comfortable and very wide at the toes which is good but they broke down super fast’ – Amazon Review
Comfortability (Score 10 out of 10)
KEEN has employed the hydrophilic 2-zone comfort technology which can keep your feet dry and comfy for the whole day. These are the ideal shoes if you want to walk all day as they will provide perfect cushioning to your heels. There are many positive reviews on amazon and also comments on reddit about how comfy these safety shoes are. Here are some of the reviews below:
“i have only had the boots about a week but so far i love them supper comfortable.. i am on my feet 16hrs a day and are doing well” – Amazon review
“Comfort-wise Keens are fairly comfortable. I would say that a majority of customers say a Keen is comfortable” – Reddit comment
Conclusion: The KEEN Utility Men’s Pittsburgh make working much easier and give you fewer things to worry about. You have to make a choice between durability and comfort. Would you like to buy a very comfy shoe at this price range that can last about an year? Click below to check the latest price.
2. Ariat Men’s Workhog Steel Toe Boots
The Ariat Steel Toe boots look like some cowboy boots and made from the best leather materials available. This makes it possible to polish the shoe whenever you want to take it out for work. It shines brightly and radiates an aura of leather luxury only few can afford.
These safety shoes extend up to the calf when worn, thus making it perfect for working in swampy areas. Plus the H2O collection is completely waterproof.
Workhogs are abrasion, oil, and slip-resistant. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious of surfaces like that. The midsoles support the outsoles by providing unrivaled comfort and cushioning for your feet while the inner mesh lining keeps your feet in place.
The colors are limited and it’s only available in two colors; Bark/Black and Oiled/Mossy Oak.
Durability (Score 9 out of 10)
There are many positive reviews on amazon and comments on reddit about the long life of of Ariats. They can last you for good solid year and many have worn it for 3 years plus. Ariat uses Goodyear welt construction Duratread outsole which gives you the maximum resistance against wear and tear.
“Ariat boots I have worn every single day for over 3 years. From warehouse use to farm work and everything in between. They don’t owe me a thing.” Reddit Discussion
“I bought a pair of Ariats about 10 years ago for riding purposes, and I still wear them today. If they can withstand 10 years on a horse farm, they’re worth it. They’re also extremely comfortable. My favorite boots, hands down” Reddit Discussion on Are Ariat boots bifl?
“Had a pair of these that lasted 14 months in all types of conditions. stayed waterproof for 13 and half months.” Amazon review
Comfortability (Score 9 out of 10)
There is an abundance of praise on the comfortability of Ariat. It will take sometime to break in, probably a week, but are extermely comfortable afterwards.
“Great, sturdy work boot. A bit heavy as to be expected. These will probably last a decade. Oil spill resistant but I still slip occasionally. Huge grips on soul. Very comfortable right out if the box.” Amazon review
“Nice and super confort,I love them,thanks amazon,for great boots.” Amazon review
“I really love my Ariat boots. For one, I like the deviation from the usual bulky boot look. But really it comes down to comfort and my feet have been doing a lot better with these than with other comparable quality boots.” Reddit discussion on Boot Recommendations?.
Conclusion: The Ariat Men’s Workhog Steel Toe Work Boot has all that you need. These are durable and comfy but comes with a higher price options. Click below to check their latest price.
3. Condor Men’s Idaho 6″ Steel Toe Boots
With Condor the first thing that comes to mind is tactical because this is a brand known for making tactical gear. They have thrown in there tactical gear knowledge and technology into a work boot coming out with a nice steel toe at a very cheap price.
Idaho boots are lightweight and extremely flexible. Condor employs the best AM-TECH Sole Technology that is to directly bond the outsole with the upper using direct injection. The midsoles are made of polyurethane (PU) a lightweight, soft and cushioning material. Without using traditional glue method, midsoles are molded into upper using sophisticated machinery to make a seamless bond. This creates the whole shoe as one piece and using soft Nuback leather they have come out with a spungy and pliable boot.
Durability (Score 7 out of 10)
Going through all the reviews for Idaho and also for Dakota 8″ there are almost no complaints on the wearing down of these shoes. There is only one such review that talks about deterioration of the shoe after 7 months. But for $50 if you can churn them for 9 – 12 months, i can say that’s the best bang for the bucks.
“As you may see in the picture, the back part of the sole, has deteriorated, and I’ve only had these for 7 months working full time.” Amazon review
“They have held up great at my parks crew job and are very comfy to wear.” Amazon review
Comfortability (Score 9 out of 10)
Generally people people have found these boots comfy and easy to move around. But there are also a few comments on the quality of the insoles. Overall they could be the lightest steel toes and gives your foot a lot of flexibility. We have not given it a 10 because most probably you have to change the insoles to make them more comfy.
“My husband bought these to work in lumber and standing long periods of time. He likes them very much, he just changed the insole to make them more comfortable.” Amazon review
“Would like to be a better insole included” Amazon review
“FIT AS EXPECTED VERY COMFORTABLE.” Amazon review
4. Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift Steel Toe Boots
Anyone familiar with the name caterpillar will know that they are the masters of construction work. Their Second Shifts are easily the most dependable mid price ranged boots picked up in the market today. They have a heavy duty slip resistant and oil resistant rubber sole that is glued to a welt. Caterpillar Second Shift could easily be the best anti-slip boots which are perfect for oil field or any slippery surface.
The leather of these boots is a hard, thick chunk that is dependable. But it is not waterproof so at the end of the day it will be swampy and would call for drying.
The insoles are glued down and they have left a room underneath the steel toe. CAT expect you to buy the after-market insoles and make it a custom fit.
Durability (Score 8 out of 10 )
Second Shift is built like a tank and if this is going to be your every day boot with all the rough work, most probably it’s going to last you from 9 – 16 months. At this price point this would be a good buy.
“This is the longest boots have ever lasted me. Not to bad for 6 days a week, for 16 months.” Amazon review
“The ONLY reason he’s replacing them is the sole is coming off on one. But DAMN it’s been a year doing hard physical work for a year 5 days a week the entire time.” Amazon review
“The type of work I do tears a pair of boots apart quickly and these seem to last for about 8 months before needing a new pair which is good.” Amazon review
“I bought a pair of caterpillar boots and for a year they have held up excellently, water, sun, mud, etc. But I would lean towards the advice of people with more years with boots.” Reddit Comment
Comfortability (Score 6 out of 10)
Second Shifts are not waterproof. This is a big factor we gave it a 6 out of 10 because if this is going to be your everyday boot you need to dry them off at the end the day everyday. These boots need a day or two to breath and relax so consider buying another same pair if you need them everyday. These are great boots with quality leather and material but their is a skepticism on their overall comfort level.
“I’m a landscaper and comfort is a huge selling point over durability for me. I’m usually on my feet 12-13 hours a day walking through wet grass and dirt and no boots ever seem to last so I’m always focused on the comfort level and these were a 2/5 for me” Amazon review
“These shoes provide a excellent steel toe coverage, breathable around the ankle, good grip overall. Only down fall is they could use better cushioning for foot comfortability” Amazon review
“The only thing I would change is a better arch support or gelling pad inside the shoe itself. This can be remedied with a gel pad insert. They work as expected almost perfect but not quite.” Amazon review
6. Timberland PRO Men’s Pitboss 6″ Steel Toe Boots
Timberland Pro Pitboss the love of the life for some. If you are new to the industry you must be wondering what’s the big deal with this heavy shoe. Well here is the answer; the heavy leather and heavy Timberland rubber sole makes it to last you a lifetime. People just love its durability.
The Timberland PRO is made from quality leather and a synthetic sole which grips the ground firmly. The soles on Pitboss are Timberland’s own rubber sole that are Slip-abrasion and oil resistant. These are made of hard deep abrasion material that can last for long.
Pitboss are not waterproof but it has a thick leather. If you oil the leather regularly it can show some good resistance to water.
Midsoles are Polyurethane material on top of the hard rubber sole that can absorb some shocks which adds some sort of comfortability to it.
The interior of the shoe is lined with mesh and this makes the sides of the shoe to remain breathable. The Timberland PRO is heat resistant and can be worn anytime any day.
Durability (Score 10 out of 10)
There is no question on the durability of this boot. As said above too, this is lifetime boot. Here are some of the comments below to add some legitimacy to what we say.
“I have had three pair of the Timberland Pro Pitboss 6″. The first pair lasted 7/8 years before I retired them due to being cut up and caked in concrete. Still wear the other two pair regularly, never had an issue with them. Can’t speak to all their boots, but these have treated me well.” Reddit Comment
“I’ve worn a pair of timberland pros every day for 3 years, and they look like they can go another 3 as long as I continue to care for the leather properly.” Reddit Comment
“I’ve had a pair of timberland pros, five years strong. I just finally replaced them with a brand new, but identical pair. After five years of all day, everyday, in every condition, the steel is peeking through the toe on my left, and the soles are nearly tread free, but aside from putting Dr. Schols in them, Nothings worn out.” Reddit Comment
Comfortability (Score 7 out of 10)
Pitboss hardcore fans might not agree with our score but to be honest these are heavy duty boots made to last longer but it is not a very comfortable boot. Starting with out of the box insoles, you might have to throw these away. These are the most basic insoles that won’t give you any cushion under the heels. But underneath the insoles there is a hard plastic footbed which gives your foot an extra support. If you add your own orthotics to it you will get a nice supportive platform beneath your feet.
“shoes fit great ,don’t even feel the steel toe. squeeky soles can be a pain . i guess you can’t have everything.” Amazon review
“Good ankle support when laced to the top and are very comfortable after all day use, just need to change the inserts after they ware out.” Amazon review
“They are very comfortable and don’t seem to require any extensive breakin. I will likely add a beefier inner pad as the existing one is not very cushioning.” Amazon review
Conclusion: Pitboss could be a love of your life. If you want to make a safe choice we would recommend to go with Timberland Pitboss because they are easily the best durable steel toe boots.
Buying Guide for Comfortable Steel Toe Work Boots
Make sure any new boot you try on fits:
- The instep should be snug without being tight. If this instep is loose it causes the heel to slip too much. If it’s tight then it can cause pain in the heel and toe. Find the right instep by considering different widths.
- You must be able to rest the ball of your foot on the ball of the boot. The ball of your foot will be too far forward if work boots are too short, and this causes pain as it forces toes into the toe box.
- Ensure that laces are snug and hold your foot in place comfortably. They should stop feet from sliding forward without being so tight they are uncomfortable.
- Don’t forget that feet swell during the day, especially when the weather is hot. Buy boots after work if possible as this is when feet are at their biggest.
Overall weight is bound to be a factor that impacts foot and leg fatigue. Heavy work boots fatigue legs and feet faster than a lighter boot. It’s a common misconception that heavy boots are more durable. Heavy boots are more fatiguing, but are not necessarily more durable.
Full-grain leather boots and welted construction boots are very durable and are a great choice for most jobs. However, there are limitations to how light they can be because the raw materials used is heavy. There are plenty of synthetic and mesh boots made to be as light and durable as possible to be used for work. While leather is still the traditional for work boots, synthetic materials have a number of benefits and are being used in work boots and continuously tested and improved. Trying work boots with synthetic materials is great for decreasing the overall weight of the boot which reduces fatigue.
Another major factor in fatigue is the overall balance of boots from heel to toe. When boots are toe-heavy they can cause sore shins and shin splints, which forces larger muscles to work harder to compensate and speed up fatigue in those muscles. It becomes a cycle of soreness that cause yet more fatigue and may cause a serious injury.
Consider the balance of a work boot when holding it. Is the toe heavier than the rest of it? Steel-toe caps are an industry standard and protect toes to ASTM standards, however technology continues to be innovated. This includes the creation of composite, aluminium, and carbon filter caps that are much lighter than steel while still protecting feet; offering protective but light and balanced boots.
Cushioning is vital for comfort, but more cushioning isn’t always better; it’s good to find boots that have the necessary amount of cushioning for your job.
Well-cushioned insoles are best for people who are standing all day and people who are subjected to vibration such as on the factory floor or using a jackhammer, and won’t be needed to move around a lot during the day.
Work Boots that are well cushioned are not effective for people who needs to walk around all day at the job, and can actually increase fatigue. Consider how much extra effort it takes to walk on sand compared to concrete given that it shifts and doesn’t return energy as you move. People who move a lot get a more natural flex with design features such as a toe-spring – where the toe on the boot curves up slightly – particularly with welted boots. Boots with stiffer frames that absorb shocks closer to the ground – rather than having a soft material by the foot – are able to absorb shocks and return energy to wearers to allow for more effective energy use. Hence these type of work boots are best for people who needs to walk all day.
New work boots usually come with generic insoles that are no good for supporting feet, never mind your work. A cheap insole from a drug store wouldn’t be much of an improvement either. They may offer some initial relief but they lack the structure necessary to support your feet throughout the day. You need insoles that provide arch support.
Dual layer memory foam insoles with deep heel cups and shot contoured arch support is recommended for people with regular arch and high arch feet. Insoles with add-on orthotic pieces are best for flat arch feet because they offer extra support. It’s best to have the choice to switch between rigid and semi-rigid orthotic arch support. The orthotic insole should still have a soft memory foam insole base to provide shock absorption and cushioning.
Most people overlook the difference the right pair of socks can make, but that doesn’t make them any less important. Get some high quality work boot socks. Heavy duty socks are durable and more comfy. Hiking socks are a good choice too as they dry quickly, helping to keep sweat-free in the summer.
When it comes to water the first defense is, of course, waterproof leather and a combination of an internal seam in the boot. This is a cost-efficient and effective level of waterproofing for people who occasionally work in a wet environment such as rain and mud. Waterproof leather stays breathable and is durable enough to keep feet dry and cool.
What work boots do you wear and do you think of the above reviews? Please mention in the below comments and also add your suggestions. We would love to hear from you.