Composite Toe Boots Vs Steel Toe Boots: Comparison and Contrast

The composite toe boots vs steel toe debate has been going on for a while now, but the question remains: which is better?

Everyone has their own opinion and both types have their own followers. But rather than just rely on opinion, it’s better if we go over the facts. As will become obvious, there are a lot of factors that should be considered prior to making a purchase.

What are Steel Toe Boots?

Steel toe boots have a steel toe box, providing protection from falling objects. They’re widely used and there are several options available. These are available in different sizes and some are custom made, though there are some myths about it.


  • Steel toe work boots are inexpensive. You don’t need to go over budget buying a pair.
  • You get optimum protection from grinders, saws and other tools. The steel component on the boots will absorb the shock in case one of these objects falls on your feet.
  • Steel toe work boots are puncture proof, which makes it ideal for use on rough terrain.
  • The most powerful steel toe work boots are shatter proof. If your work involves lifting heavy equipment, these boots are the ideal solution.


  • These boots are heavy and can slow you down.
  • A small toe box can be uncomfortable, and they will trigger metal detectors.
  • Steel toe work boots have very little insulation, which makes them unsuitable for cold climates

Composite Toe Work Boots

Composite toe work boots are ideal if you just require medium levels of protection. They provide adequate protection but it’s not the same as that of alloy or steel. Composite toe work boots are made from different materials such fiberglass, fiber, plastic or carbon. Some are made of Kevlar, adding a level of durability.


  • These boots are suitable in low or high temperatures since they don’t cool or heat up the way metal does.
  • They are lighter than steel toe boots. The lightness of these boots means they’re more suitable for work that requires mobility.
  • Composite boots offer better electrical resistance compared to steel toe work boots.
  • These boots won’t trigger metal detectors.


  • These boots can’t take as much punishment as an alloy or steel work boot.
  • These boots meet the required safety standards, but they’re going to crack if a really heavy object fell on them
  • They’re more expensive than steel toe work boots.

Composite Toe Boots vs Steel Toe : Safety Ratings

Composite and steel toe work boots have safety ratings, and this determines how much impact the toes can take. There are many organizations that provide work boot safety ratings, but the most widely recognized is the American National Standards Institute.

The ratings are usually displayed as C/75, I/75 and so on. A work boot with a safety rating of I/75 can withstand up to 75 lbs. of weight that is dropped on it. If the rating is C/75, the work boots can handle compression of up to 2500 lbs.

Some work boots have a 30 or 50 rating, meaning they’re for lighter use. Before you buy a composite or steel toe boot, verify the rating to ensure it’s suitable for the job at hand.

Composite Boots Vs Steel Toe: Fitting

A lot of factors determine fitting such as size, insoles, socks, lacing and so on. Generally speaking, composite boots are more comfortable because they’re lighter. But as long as the boots are the right size, you should be able to wear them without discomfort.

Which Boots Should I Use for Work?

It depends on what you intend to do with the boots. We did say that steel toe work boots are less expensive, but the price tag should not be your primary criterion.

  • If you’re going to pass metal detectors often, wear composite boots as they won’t trigger off any unnecessary alarms.
  • If you’re going to lift a lot of heavy objects or be around them, steel toe work boots are recommended as they’re more durable.
  • You should go with steel toe boots if there are nails or other sharp objects around you. Composite boots won’t be able to give you the same level of protection.
  • If you’re going to work in cold weather, wear composite boots as they’ll keep you warm. Unlike steel toe work boots, composite boots have insulation.
  • Keep in mind that both steel toe and composite boots have different safety ratings. Make certain the boots you buy are up to the task.

The Verdict

In the steel toe vs composite toe boots debate, it should be obvious now there is no clear winner. Both have their pros and cons, but in the end, they can be both useful when it comes to certain situations. The general rule is steel toe boots are more suited for heavy duty work, while composite boots are great for cold weather use.