There are mainly 3 toe caps that are being used in work boots: steel, aluminium and composite. All toe caps have same ASTM/ANSI/ISO safety standard and testing. Meaning steel toe boot will provide the same impact resistance as the composite toe boot. Even though safety standards are same nevertheless there are some major differences between the steel toe boots and composite toe boots.
Composite toe caps are made of fiberglass, Kevlar, plastic, carbon fiber or other non-metallic material. Steel toe caps are obviously made of steel that is metal. Metallic and non-metallic nature of the material actually sets them apart.
Composite toe boots are light weight as compared to steel toe boots because of non-metallic material. Light weight boots tend to be more comfortable and are easy to move around. But with technology catching up there are innovative designs in steel toe boots that make them lighter as well. For example KEEN uses asymmetrical design of steel toe caps that make their boots lighter without any compromise in safety standards.
Even though composite toes are lighter than steel toes but they are more bulbous because of the thick material used to meet the safety standards. It results in composite toe boots having bulkier silhouette and this limits the composite boot designs. Whereas steel toe boots having thinner toe caps can adopt formal, casual and athletic boot styles. This is especially so with women steel toe boots which comes in different styles. If you prefer stylish boots we recommend you to go with steel toes.
Composite toes being non-metallic does not conduct heat or cold. This makes them ideal than steel toe boots in adverse temperature. Although steel toe boots have thick leather but the toes could get cold in extreme winter. Whereas composite toe boots won’t conduct cold and feet remain warm in winter. If you are working outdoors in extreme winter, composite toe boots are probably best for you.
Nature of the Work
Some work environments demand metal free environment e.g airport where you need to pass through metal detectors often for security clearance. In such conditions composite toe boots are always preferred over steel toe boots.
While both steel toe and composite toe boots do an excellent job of keeping you safe at work. Nonetheless you still need to some research before buying your ideal work boot. We have reviewed some best steel toe boots that are comfortable and rated to meet the safety standards required at different jobs.