Best Steel Toe Boots : An Ultimate Buying Guide

A significant portion of workplace injuries has something to do with the poor combination of flooring and shoe outsoles. This tends to lead to slips and falls that can cause a costly drop in productivity from an employee who’ll need to spend a few days away from work. The good thing about this problem is, they’re easily resolved by the right footwear.

Steel toe boots are some of the most popular work-appropriate footwear. They’re specifically designed for those who do manual labor or are required to work in sites with heavy machinery and items. Also often referred to as work boots or safety boots, the law requires a lot of workplaces to enforce the use of these at all times.

What are Steel Toe Boots?

You might have already heard about steel toe boots before, but the details surrounding these items may still be a bit hazy to many. The most important thing that you need to know about these shoes is that their toeboxes are reinforced with heavy-duty materials. This will then make the forefront of these work boots tougher than your regular footwear, allowing them to withstand heavy use and protect your feet from hazards that can fall on or pierce through it.

Aside from toebox reinforcements, steel toe boots can also have other safety features. A sturdy midsole plate is also a common element to these items, helping protect your feet from punctures from below.

The special design of its outsoles also adds safety to these shoes. They are often made to be slip-resistant and designed to provide stable footing in ladders. They also have specific safety criteria aside from these, details of which can be found below.

When and Where You Must Use Steel Toe’s

The OSHA 1910.136 is quite clear when it comes to when and where you must use protective footwear. It states: “The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses protective footwear when working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole, or when the use of protective footwear will protect the affected employee from an electrical hazard, such as a static discharge or electric shock hazard, that remains after the employer takes other necessary protective measures.”

This means that if a workplace exposes its employees to heavy and sharp objects that can fall, roll, or pierce, then a pair of safety boots should be worn. They’re required in a lot of heavy industries, including manufacturing, construction, energy, and forestry, among many others.

Steel toe boots should also be worn the whole time you’re in the high-risk environment. This will help ensure that your feet will always be protected while you’re around objects that endanger your feet’s safety.

Types of Steel Toe’s

Back in the day, steel was solely used to create steel toe boots, thus the name. However, with the recent updates in technology, innovations in these heavy duty gear has been made. Today, you can find these different types of steel toe boots on the market:

Steel Toe

Traditional and true blue steel toe boots have a steel reinforcement in their toebox.

Composite

A popular alternative to steel toe variety, composite toes make use of non-metallic materials to reinforce the toe box. They weigh up to 30% less than your traditional steel toe boots and are excellent options for those who work with electricity.

Alloy

While this type of safety boots still technically use metallic elements like aluminum and titanium to protect their wearer’s feet, they’re considered different from actual steel toe boots as they are more lightweight. They can weigh up to 50% less than steel toes, but they can also be a bit more expensive.

Soft Toe

Although soft toe boots are technically just safety shoes and not a steel toe variety, they’re still worth looking into as they can still provide a good amount of foot protection. Sometimes, they can also be very comfortable, so if you don’t really need toe protection, they can already be a great choice for you.

How Steel Toe Boots Protect your Feet

As the primary function of steel toe boots is to protect your feet, you can expect it to be loaded with several safety features that can keep your tootsies in great shape. But how exactly can these shoes keep your feet safe? Here are a few answers:

  • They protect your feet from falling, rolling, and flying objects. Heavy materials that fall, fly, or roll can put a lot of impact on your feet leading to injuries. Preventing them from crushing your toes is one of the primary purposes of steel toe boots.
  • They can prevent sharp objects from puncturing or cutting your feet. Sharp objects like broken glass, nails and a whole array of other debris can litter work sites while cutting hazards like chainsaws are easily lying around in some workplaces, posing risks to one’s wellness. Even with utmost care, it’s still possible to trip, fall, or step on them. Protective gear can help minimize or even completely prevent the damage that such accidents can cause.
  • They can provide electric hazard protection. Working with electricity poses a lot of risks. The threat of electrocution is high, especially if you deal with wires and work in high voltage areas. The right footwear helps minimize these dangers as they can reduce the body’s conductivity. Not only will they provide a barrier between the body and the current, but they can also scale down the static build up on the body. This can then prevent static sparks that might trigger a serious workplace accident.
  • They can prevent burns. Burns of different kinds can be a possible danger in many workplaces. It can be caused by fire, chemicals, cement, or even molten metals. The severity of the damages burns can cause may vary, but they are all still worth preventing. Steel toe boots can also help do such as they are often made from high-quality materials that can effectively protect your feet from high temperatures and boiling liquids.
  • They can prevent you from slipping, tripping, or falling. Most steel toe boots are also equipped with oil and slip resistant outsoles. There are also a number of units with great traction that is suited for different types of terrains These come in handy as tripping, slipping, and falling can cause a lot of serious injuries in the workplace.
  • They can provide comfort to your feet. Most jobs that require steel toe boots require hours of staying on one’s feet as well as heavy manual labor. These jobs can be punishing to your feet, so it will help if you can provide some comfort to them. As most steel toe boots are designed to have comfortable and supportive insoles, they aim to minimize your fatigue and keep your feet in good fighting shape. They also come in different heights so you can choose which one will support your ankles the most.
  • They can protect your feet from extreme weather. The best steel toe boots are also created to withstand extreme conditions. There are pairs that are completely waterproof and insulated so you can wear them even in rain or snow. Breathability may still be an issue for some, however.

Safety Criteria of Steel Toe’s

Steel toe boots are also categorized according to their safety criteria, or the specific safety features they have. You can easily tell how compatible different kinds of safety shoes are for any given worksite or job with these symbols:

  • Green Triangle: This symbol indicates that the shoes have a class 1 toe cap with grade 1 puncture resistant soles.
  • Yellow Triangle: This symbol is found in shoes with a class 2 toe cap with grade 2 puncture resistant soles.
  • White Square with the ohm symbol: This indicates that the shoes offer electrical protection.
  • Yellow Triangle: This symbol is found in shoes with a class 2 toe cap with grade 2 puncture resistant soles.
  • Yellow Square with the letters "SD" : This symbol indicates anti-static protection. The soles of these shoes can dissipate electrostatic charge.
  • Red Square with the letter "C": This symbol indicates that the shoes are electrically conductive. They’re meant to be used in environments with low electrical charges.
  • Fir Tree on a white square: This symbol indicates safety from chainsaws. They are often required for forestry and logging workers that use heavy cutting machinery.

Points To Be Careful Before Buying Steel Toe Shoes

When buying steel toe boots, it’s very important to know a few things. As these shoes are not cheap and are designed for specific purposes, arming yourself with the right information is essential. This way, you can find the right match for your needs and you can always be sure that you’re doing your best to protect yourself from the many dangers of the nature of your work. It will also ensure that you’re complying with the safety standards set by OSHA for your occupation.

To help you to this, here are a few things you should keep in mind:

Know What You Need

Different jobs have various requirements, so if you’re not sure what you need, you can always ask around. Ask your HR or safety manager what your workplace requires for starters. They might even give you a specific shoe brand and model to make your search easier.

However, we’re all different, there’s a chance that their product suggestion might not work out for you. To deal with this problem, make sure to jot down all of the safety features the recommended boot has so you can set out to find something similar.

Get to Know Your Options

Shopping around may seem like an arduous task if you’re not too keen on looking at shoes, but believe us when we say that knowing your options can help boost your odds in finding the best pair for your needs. If you know what’s available, you can then be more familiar with your choices, letting you compare with ease and land on the best pair without feeling like you might be missing out on something else.

Reading reviews and browsing through different shoes will help you get the feel of the market. It will also help you set a nice budget that will help you find a great pair.

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Look for Quality and Comfort

Quality is an important feature your safety shoes need as it will take some beating. Whether it’s cheap or expensive, you’ll want a pair that will last and won’t crumble on your first week on the job.

Comfort is another must-have as well, especially if you will be on your feet for most of the day. You’ll need ample support and cushioning, so make sure to look for a product that offers both.

Never Settle for Anything Less than the Perfect Fit

One of the biggest complaints about safety boots is the fact that they can hurt your toes. With a solid toebox, your feet can get squished and rubbed raw if they’re too tight. Ill-fitting shoes can also cause foot injuries, and you wouldn’t want to experience that, especially since it’s very easy to prevent.

It’s imperative to find the right fit as steel toe boots are unlike regular leather shoes that conform to the shape of your feet. Even after breaking them in, if the toebox is too tight, they will always bee too tight.

What are the Features to look for in a Steel Toe Boot

To make your search for the best steel toe boot a lot easier, here are a few features that you should be on the lookout for:

The Safety Features You Need

If you need a high-performance steel toe boot, you should then look for the safety features your workplace require. Refer to the safety criteria they have to make sure that you’ll be getting the right amount of protection.

OSHA and Safety Standard Compliance

Those who work in heavy industries should never scrimp on their safety. To ensure that you’ll be wearing a tough pair of shoes for an equally rough job, look for the ones that meet ANSI Z41.1-1991, ASTM F 2412-05, and ASTM F 2413-05 safety requirements.

A Supportive Insole and Comfortable Fit

The perfect balance between comfort and utility can be found, you just have to look for it. With hours spent standing and walking around in your safety boots, they shouldn’t be punishing to wear.

Pros and Cons of Steel Toe Boots

Pros

  • Minimizes risks of injuries
  • Provides protection against accidents involving falling heavy objects
  • Prevents objects from crushing your toes
  • Provides some peace of mind

Cons

  • Can be quite heavy
  • Some pairs require a few days of breaking in
  • Can get quite pricey

Best Steel Toe Boots: Top 10 Choices For 2017

Looking for the best steel toe boots to keep your feet safe while in the workplace? There are tons of different options to choose from, but these ten are some of the finest that you can get in the market today. Check out our picks and save yourself from the hassle of wading through thousands of options.

01. Timberland PRO Women’s 72399 Titan 6" Safety-Toe Boot

Feet come in different shapes and sizes but a man and a woman’s feet are often distinctly different. This is why the need for a top-notch quality safety toe boot for women arose, especially with more and more women entering into different foot injury-prone workplaces that are dominated by men before.

The Timberland Pro Women’s 72399 Titan is hailed as the best choice for women mostly because of its fit. It isn’t a steel-toe unit, but it comes with a safety toe cap that will provide ample protection against concrete, sharp steel, and other heavy debris. It’s also rated to have electrical hazard protection, keeping you safe from electrocution.

Pros

  • Cushioned footbed
  • Made of soft and top quality leather
  • Durable and flexible
  • Raised heel for more comfort
  • Safety-rated
  • 30-day comfort guarantee

Cons

  • Needs a bit of breaking in

This might just be the perfect pick for women who has slim feet and always find the unisex steel toe boots to be too wide or big for them.

02. Timberland PRO Men’s Pitboss 6" Steel-Toe Boot

“Timberlands” have always been the working man’s boot. It has been a symbol of hard work for decades mostly for its exceptional quality. The Timberland Pro Men’s Pitboss continues this tradition with its perfect combination of comfort and utility.

Compliant to ANSI safety standards, these work boots feature a roomy toe box, shock absorbing and moisture-wicking polyurethane midsole, antimicrobial open-cell polyurethane footbed, removable sock liner, 24/7 comfort suspension system, electrical hazard protection, and the slip and abrasion resistant outsole among many others. It’s durable and undoubtedly comfortable, making it a fantastic choice for your everyday work boots.

Pros

  • Meets ANSI safety standards
  • Looks fashionable and can be worn with regular clothes with ease
  • Comfortable
  • Hygienic
  • Easy to wear
  • Secure and safe
  • Reasonable price

Cons

  • Not waterproof

Most folks who have owned a pair of Timberland work boots before will love the new design the Pitboss can offer. It’s reasonable price and great design makes it a versatile option that most work boot-wearers will adore.

03. Caterpillar Men’s 2nd Shift 6” Steel Toe Boot

When it comes to a pair of beaters, you’ll need it to be high-performing and feature-packed. This makes the Caterpillar 2nd Shift an excellent option as it is made for all-year-round use. Considered by many as workhorses, these work boots are ASTM F2413-11 I/75 C/75 rated, meeting the minimum safety requirements. Designed to be resistant to electrical hazards, slippage, and oil, they can ensure your safety in a lot of workplaces.

In terms of comfort, these work boots are equipped with padded cushioning around the ankles, the Climasphere sock liner for temperature regulation, and a nylon mesh liner to wick away sweat and moisture.

Pros

  • Great for all-year round use
  • Single stitch Goodyear welt construction
  • Versatile
  • Can be worn for work and play
  • Waterproof
  • Built to last
  • Great price

Cons

  • Requires some breaking in

For an all-around work boot that won’t hurt your eyes, these Caterpillar 2nd Shift is an excellent choice.

04. KEEN Utility Men’s Atlanta Cool Steel Toe Work Shoe

Working at an outdoor site is not only hazardous, but may also prove to be hard on your feet. If you need more traction for moving around, a steel toe work shoe that can easily traverse uneven terrains will be very useful. For such a need, you can turn to Keen Utility’s Atlanta Cool Work Shoe.

Designed to conquer the outdoors with a number of additional safety features like oil, water, and slip resistance, reflective webbing, and a durable rubber toe cap. These boots meet ASTM standards for electric hazard protection as well, so you can be sure of its versatility.

Pros

  • Comfortable to wear
  • Highly versatile
  • Provides great traction outdoors
  • Water resistant
  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Fuss-free laceless design
  • Durable

Cons

  • Not exactly a boot
  • Quite pricey

These work shoes will be a great pick for those who work outside or those who prefer wearing trail hiking shoes on a regular basis.

05. Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot

You might have heard about the Cat Second Shift work boots before. They’re hailed as one of the most popular work boots in the industry for the past decade so they’re pretty much some of the first options you’ll come across with when shopping for work gear. What made them really great is their durability and friendly price point. With so many sizes that are sold at affordable prices, they’re easily the work boot to beat as of late.

If you’re thinking of getting a pair of Second Shift work boots, you’ll enjoy an oil, water, and slip resistant outsole and a nicely positioned heel that makes it easy to move around. The steel toe also offers excellent protection to your feet, making it safer for you to move around in different workplaces.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Stylish
  • Durable
  • Friendly price
  • Easy to wear
  • Water resistant

Cons

  • Not puncture proof
  • Needs to be broken in
  • Without electric hazard protection

Those who are not in need of high-level foot protection will find the Second Shift boots already sufficient for their needs. It also doesn’t hurt that they look great and are built to last, making them excellent investments for your daily work wear.

06. Caterpillar Men’s Diagnostic Waterproof Steel-Toe Work Boot

There’s no denying that those who have to don safety boots are often required to do hard and heavy work. Their days are definitely exhausting, so if there’s a way that they can avoid going home all beat, it should be explored. Opting for a comfortable pair of work boots can help achieve this goal, so options like the Caterpillar Diagnostic has been born.

Combining a tough exterior and a comfortable interior, these boots will help wearers balance their work’s tough requirements without any compromise. With steel toe and shanks, your feet are guaranteed to be protected from harm and its ergonomic, removable gel inserts guarantee ample cushioning to keep you comfortable and ready to take on heavy loads all day long.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Waterproof
  • Ergonomic inserts ensure all-day comfort and support
  • Waterproof
  • Slip-resistant rubber soles
  • Insulated
  • Versatile appearance
  • Reasonable price

Cons

  • Can get hot in warmer seasons

With a friendly price and lots of great features, this can already be the perfect work wear pick for a lot of folks.

07. Skechers for Work Men’s 77009 Workshire Relaxed Fit Work Steel Toe Boot

Who would have thought that the same brand that the Spice Girls wore in their heyday will also offer some of the finest work boots just a little over a decade later? With the 77009 Workshire Relaxed Fit, Skechers is still completing the outfits of the 90s kids they used to dress back in their early days. This time, however, they’re great options for heavy duty work.

Lauded for their exceptional support and comfort, they also deliver in terms of steel toe and electrical hazard protection, slip-resistant soles, and a heel that can guarantee ladder safety.

Pros

  • Fantastic price for most sizes
  • Comfortable and doesn’t have a break in period
  • Great traction
  • Decent design
  • Reliable safety features

Cons

  • Sizing runs a bit large
  • No hooks, just laces

The Skechers 77009 is definitely worth a shot if you’re after a pair of good, comfortable work boots.

08. KINGSHOW Men’s 1366 Water Resistant Premium Work Boots

Not yet ready to shell out a good amount of money for a pair of work boots that you won’t really use that much? Then you should look into the Kingshow 1366. These soft toe safety boots may not be as heavy duty as its name brand competitors but it is already made with premium nubuck leather, oil-resistant outsole, and water-resistant upper, so it might just be well worth its very affordable price tag.

Pros

  • Comfortable fit
  • Insulated
  • Water resistant
  • Premium materials used
  • Looks really nice
  • Durable

Cons

  • Not for heavy duty work

Those who are only after the look work boots offer but not really willing to pay the hefty price that comes with their quality should consider getting these.

09. KINGSHOW GW Men’s 1606ST Steel Toe Work Boots

Another great offering by Kingshow is its GW Men’s 1606 ST boots. These are a step up from the 1366 as they are actual steel toe work boots that will be able to protect your feet from the many hazards in your workplace. The best thing about them is that they’re very affordable - nearly half the price of brand name competitors. Featuring a Goodyear welt and a durable rubber outsole, you can be guaranteed that it can go against some of the more expensive work boots in the market today.

Made with genuine leather, these boots are also crafted to be water resistant and good looking. It’s also equipped with an outsole that will be suitable for climbing ladders safely, guaranteeing that it has a place in many work sites.

Pros

  • Very comfortable
  • Proven to be durable
  • Fantastic price
  • Made with genuine leather
  • Steel toe
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Not graded for safety
  • 5” measurement won’t provide ample ankle support
  • Sizing can be a bit tricky for some people

Durability and protection often come with a high price, so most people will naturally doubt the capabilities of these work boots. However, don’t knock it down just yet because it’s still a great pair of safety footwear. While they’re not exactly tested by renowned institutions, they can still be a decent pair for those who don’t really need a lot of protection at work. They can be a great choice of beaters as you won’t have to feel bad if they get obliterated after a year or two.

10. Timberland PRO Men’s 6” Rigmaster XT Steel-Toe Waterproof Work

Pulling all the stops for a top-notch pair of work boots is the Timberland Pro Rigmaster XT. There are so many unique designs these boots have, letting you know that they’re serious about keeping your feet safe.

The first thing that you need to know about this product is that it makes use of fiberglass in its shank to make it pierce-resistant. Combined with a steel toe, it ensures that your feet will always be in great shape. It also features the Timberland PRO rubber vamp that guarantees heat resistance and maximum durability, reinforced heels, and Goodyear Welt Cast-Bond construction making it well worth the hefty price tag. ANSI and ASTM compliant, these boots also offer aggressive grip as well as waterproof leather and membrane.

Pros

  • Very comfortable with its anti-fatigue technology
  • Packed with so many safety features
  • Engineered to last a long time
  • Very supportive
  • Unique design
  • Top-notch quality
  • Doesn’t need to be broken in
  • Waterproof
  • Excellent traction

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • A bit tight for those with wider feet

These boots can be the perfect choice for those who are looking for top shelf work boots that will help them carry out heavy tasks day in and out. They’re made with high-quality materials and craftsmanship. They’re also well-thought out and developed that they might just offer a whole new way to protect your feet. If you have the money, this can be a solid option for your daily steel toe footwear requirements.

Steel Toe Covers for Boots : Making Normal Shoes To Steel Toe's

Aside from the best steel toe boots, products like steel to covers for boots and other footwear are also becoming more widely used in plants and factories as of late. They’re excellent additions to steel toed footwear as they’re affordable.

What is a Steel Toe Cover?

But what exactly are steel toe covers? Simply put, they’re toe caps that are meant to be put on top of your work boots. While some folks argue about the functionality of these products, it should be noted that these steel toe covers are not necessarily made to replace steel toed footwear. They are actually more commonly used as additional protection for your work boots.

How to use external Steel toe Cover

Their primary purpose is to cover the toe box of your shoes, minimizing its wear and tear that can lead to creation of holes. With a solid component like steel underneath, the upper material of your boots can easily wear out where it gets a lot of friction. A steel toe cover will prevent the leather or other material from fraying and wearing too thin that will expose the steel toe or your feet.

As you only need to glue it on top of the work boots, you won’t really compromise the quality of your work boots. The glue will adhere nicely to most materials so you don’t have to worry about it moving as time goes by. You might even find it useful for soft toe boots as these products can seriously up the protection your footwear can offer. It will also guarantee a longer life for your work gear.

If you’re worried about their effectiveness, fret not. The best steel toe covers for boots often make use of highly durable materials to prevent excess wear to your shoes’ toebox. They are guaranteed to minimize your daily movement’s damage on your work boots, ensuring that you’re always protected and that your shoes will stay in good shape for much longer.

Some steel toe covers come in a completely different format, however. These other covers are basically steel toe additions to any kind of footwear. They’re widely used in plants and work sites as safety gear for visitors and office staff who aren’t required to wear safety boots daily but will still need to wear foot protection when they enter the work site.

#. Boot Saver Toe Guards Work Boots Protector

One great example of a steel toe cover that will extend the life of your safety boots is the Boot Saver Toe Guards. Made of high-quality rubber, these products are designed to minimize the wear and tear of regular movements you make while working.

Because heavy duty work boots are expensive, you will want to take measures to ensure that they won’t fall apart easily. Heavy use can easily do this to even the priciest work boots, so it shouldn’t hurt to use an additional product to ensure their great shape. If women can use a protective coating for their red-soled shoes, then you shouldn’t hesitate about adding caps on your boots to prolong their life.

Pros

  • Very easy to use
  • Comes with compatible glue that will help adhere the covers to your shoes
  • Can be used with boots that aren’t new
  • Extends the life of your work boots

Cons

  • Changes the look of your work boots a bit
  • Using a more heavy-duty glue might secure the caps better

If you’re investing in an expensive pair of work boots that will surely take a good beating at your workplace, these toe guards will help you protect your shoes better. They will take the beating in place of your shoes’ toe box, allowing you to damage something that’s easily and cheaply replaced instead of directly wrecking your pricey work boots.

Conclusion

While steel toe boots will still be susceptible to damage at really high compression rates and against extremely heavy objects, having some protection for your feet while you’re around heavy items will still help you move around with ease and perform tasks. Steel toe boots will serve you well in many environments and will ensure that you’ll end your work day with your toes intact, so you can be sure that they’re worthy investments to keep you safe from the dangers of working in certain industries.

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