Best Work Boots Reviews & Information
Welcome to your complete guide to finding the best work boots. Whether you work in construction, you're a security guard, in a warehouse, or on the police force, this guide will give you a step by step walkthrough for picking the perfect work boots for your job.
In this article we’re going to take a look at the most important factors to consider, as well as have in-depth reviews of the great work boots designs. You’ll soon be able to decide which features matter most in your line of work and pick a pair that can handle whatever your job has to throw at them.
Chippewa Men’s 6”
Important Features You should Look For
Safety Cap Types - Best Steel Toe Boots
If you’re job exposes you to any risk of injury from falling objects, toe protection is a necessity if not already a requirement from your employer. There are a few different materials used for toe protection in work boots.
This type of protection is going to offer the highest grade impact resistance of the safety toe materials. Steel toe boots are generally more cost effective than the other two, but they have some notable drawbacks.
Weight. Steel is not the lightest material and can add unwanted weight to your boots, which is something to avoid in a walking intensive job. Steel toe boots are also prone to causing discomfort around the toe area after they’ve seen significant use.
These are made from materials other than steel such as aluminum or titanium. They offer almost as much protection as their steel toe counterparts and weigh about 30% - 50% less.
Alloy toes are also less bulky and provide you with more wiggle room. They carry a more expensive price tag than steel toe footwear, but it’s a fair tradeoff for the benefits.
Made from non-metal materials such as carbon fiber, kevlar, or fiberglass, composite toe protection is the lightest of the three. They don’t offer the same level of protection as steel or alloy toe boots, but still enough for most job uses.
Composite toe boots are great for environments with extreme temperatures because they don’t get hot or cold. Their design can be a little bulky, but they offer an extremely affordable option.
Composite Toe VS Steel Toe Footwear which is best? - (Full Review here)
Leather or Synthetic Material
Leather has long been the most popular material to build some of the most durable work boots with. Full grain leather is a tough material that lasts long, resists scuffing, and offers good water resistance. If you have a job that’s rough on the footwear, this is a good route to go.
Being such a tough material, leather can be hard to break in. It’s not the most flexible, and if it’s thicker, can add a bit of weight to the footwear.
Synthetic materials such as nylon are more commonly found in great tactical footwear designs. Nylon is a flexible, breathable material that’s moderately durable. This is ideal for active jobs in warmer weather where good ventilation is a must have.
Nylon isn’t waterproof, so boots will need another layer of waterproof material to keep your feet dry. It’s also nowhere near as durable or damage resistant as leather.
Boot Sole Materials
Boot soles are the first line of defence between your feet and the floor. This includes working on dangerous unknown surfaces where hazards such as sharp tools, screws, nails or other building materials may be laying around.
Depending on your job, the soles may also need to have certain features such as slip resistance, chemical resistance, or increased treading for traction on unstable surfaces.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular materials used to make the soles of work boots.
- Rubber is by far one of the most popular sole materials. It offers a great deal of durability, the best slip resistance attributes, and can even be combined with other materials to add different properties.
- Polyurethane soles have been growing in popularity because of their lightweight, durable design. They offer great natural shock absorption as well as flexibility to ensure your feet don’t have restricted motion.
- EVA soles have some of the greatest shock absorption and corrosion resistance. They are ideal for work environments where hazardous chemicals are present. Additionally, they have great insulation and flexibility, but aren’t the best for slip resistance.
- Leather soles are timeless, but not for work boot purposes. It has low durability, no slip resistance, and poor flexibility. It’s good to avoid any work boots with leather soles.
Take note of which sole materials offer the best properties for your jobs application. This way, you can compare and contrast between the boots you’re considering.
If your job takes you through some wet and muggy conditions, you’re going to want the best waterproof footwear. As we covered above, leather boots are going to offer the best defence against rain, puddles, and shallow water.
Some of the best work boot brands that use synthetic materials will also include water resistant protection. If you choose nylon work boots, double check the features so you don’t end up with disappointed soggy feet.
Sometimes, even leather boots advertising that they’re waterproof can let a little water in now and then. We’re going to give you a quick guide on how to waterproof boots if you’re looking for some added protection using creams, pastes, and waxes.
- Scrub and wash all dirt and debris from your work boots.
- Bullet Using a clean rag, rub your chosen waterproof product into the leather with circular motions. Be sure to cover the entire boot.
- Wipe off any excess product and allow the boots to dry overnight.
- Test them out to make sure the results are satisfactory.
- (Check out our link in 'info guides' (at the top of the page) on how to waterproof work boots)
Don’t want to use the above products?
Here’s a guide to waterproofing boots using a spray
- Wash the boots thoroughly so they’re clean of all dirt and debris.
- Hold the can roughly six inches away from your footwear and proceed to apply multiple light layers. They key here is multiple applications.
- Let the boots dry for a day and read the can to see if there are any further instructions.
- Try out your new waterproof boots!
Boot construction refers to the process of joining the sole to the rest of the boot. There are only two main types of construction that you need to be aware of. Each offers it’s own benefits and drawbacks that will heavily depend on what’s most important to you.
Goodyear Welt Construction
This is done by taking a leather, plastic, or rubber strip and sewing it along the perimeter of a boots outsole. This process joins the sole to the rest of the boot in a durable fashion that also allows easy replacement as the sole wears out over time.
While a Goodyear welt offers the highest durability of the two construction types, it lacks in flexibility. Goodyear welt footwear can take a longer period of time to break in, resulting in a stiff first impression. However, this isn’t always the case and some companies offer work boots that already feel broken in right out of the box.
Cement construction consists of joining the sole to the rest of the boot with a binding agent such as industrial glue. The result is a flexible sole that usually has a lighter weight design than their Goodyear welt counterparts.
The drawback of the cement construction is its durability and inability to be replaced. Over time, the binding agent can wear out and cause a separation of the sole. With this type of construction, once the sole wears out, they cannot be replaced.
If your line of work requires you to travel over different terrains and unstable surfaces, you need to get upgraded treading. This is an especially important feature for law enforcement and military members who encounter these situations regularly.
The tread patterns should not only offer increased stability, but the soles of the shoes should also offer slip and oil resistance. Vibram outsoles are great for all of these features.
Boot Insulation and Breathability
If you work in a warm environment, breathable boots with quality ventilation are going to be your best friend. On the other hand, if you work in a cold environment, high-end insulation is going to be the only way to keep you warm down to the toes.
This is accomplished by adding a protective layer between the outside of the boot and your foot or using shearling along the inside of the boot. Thinsulate is one of the most popular and common materials companies use in boots to keep your feet warm.
Shearling is a warm fluffy material that works great for warmth and comfort, but is not commonly found in work shoes. The reason for this is due to it’s lack of durability.
Each pair of boots that offer insulation will have a certain level of protection. For instance, some are built to withstand only cold temperatures, while others are build to keep out freezing temperatures. Know your needs before your buy.
(Our top picks for the best cold weather boots here)
How breathable your footwear is, is all about ventilation and keeping your feet dry. Whether they got wet from external conditions or you just happen to get sweaty feet when you work, breathable work boots will have you covered.
Nylon is a great material that comes with natural breathability, but you can do even better. Look for shoes with a mesh layer and moisture wicking lining. The combination of these features will offer the best defense and help ensure that you have comfortable dry feet all day.
You’ll only really find and need this kind of protection in footwear that is designed for construction or manufacturing jobs. Basically, any job where your foot has a high likelihood of being crushed by a heavy object.
Metatarsal guards are designed to protect the area of your foot above your toes. Sometimes, having quality toe protection simply isn’t enough, which is where these come into play.
Only a few specialized boots will come with built in metatarsal guards, but you also have the option to purchase some. Sure, they’re not going to look the most stylish, and they may turn a few heads, but at the end of the day you’ll go home with all of your bones in tact.
The midsole is the part of the shoe between the outsole (the part that touches the ground) and the insoles (the part that your foot makes contact with). Midsoles provide stability, shock absorption, and cushioning. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular midsole materials for work boots.
Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA)
This is the most popular material used because it’s the most cost effective. It provides a lightweight layer of foam in the boot that helps to absorb impact shock.
Since it is the most affordable type of midsole, it’s also the fastest to wear out. Over time, once the foam becomes compressed, it loses all of its shock absorbing properties.
Phylon is a great, versatile midsole that is lightweight and responsive to use. It’s made from EVA foam pellets that are compressed, heated and cooled into a mold.
These midsoles last much longer than EVA and give your feet a nice cushioned feel that will help to prevent fatigue. Phylon does carry a higher price tag than EVA.
PU midsoles offer the most durability of the different materials, and are typically found in the most comfortable work boots. They don’t compress over time like EVA, and can provide varying levels of support depending on how thick the midsole is.
Due to its dense properties, PU midsoles are heavier than the others. If you don’t want clodhoppers on your feet, you should check to make sure the footwear you’re looking at doesn’t come loaded with all of the heaviest features and materials.
Insoles and Inserts for Work Footwear
Insoles act as a removable layer along the inside of the shoe that provide additional cushioning, support, and shock absorption. This added layer between your foot and the boot can help make sure you’re comfortable on your feet all day, and can even help to alleviate some common foot problems.
We’re going to take a look at the three best insoles for work boots that are suited for any job type or foot problem.
If you’re on your feet all day, chances are you’ve suffered from tired, achy feet. Comfort insoles come in a number of different designs to address key problem areas such as arch support or heel support. This type of insole comes as a cushioned or gel insert that will work wonders on distressed feet.
Unlike comfort insoles, support insoles provide a firmer insert for the foot that brings stability. These insoles are best for people suffering from structural misalignment, plantar fasciitis, or supination and overpronation.
Support inserts can come in a number of different shapes and sizes to fit your boots and specific needs. Consider work boots with this type of insole if you suffer from any foot conditions.
These are insoles that you won’t find in any boot because you need to buy them separately. If either of the above insoles aren’t doing the trick and you suffer from a chronic foot condition, consider seeing a podiatrist and getting some custom orthotics made, or visiting a local store.
(Full Review of comfortable work boot insoles here)
Taking Care of Leather
Given its popularity, durability, and versatility, there’s a good probability that your work boots will contain some leather if not being fully constructed from leather. Over time and as it’s exposed to the rigors of the workplace, leather can become worn and prone to cracking.
- Get leather oil and a few towels or a stack of newspaper and a firm brush (it’s messy work).
- Remove the laces and place your hand inside of the boot (yes, like a puppet) while using your other hand to apply a liberal amount of oil.
- Using the brush, methodically lather the oil into the leather. Don’t forget to cover the stitching as well.
- Allow the boots to dry overnight.
- For a detailed guide to clean and upkeep your work boots click here
Shanks are either metal or nonmetal and placed between the outsole and insole of the shoe to give you additional support and help the boots maintain their shape. Shanks come in a number of different materials, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each to see which suits you.
Despite the wrap that steel gets for being heavy, that’s not the case when it comes to steel shanks. They are the most durable of the shank types and still offer great flexibility.
Additionally, they provide a nice layer of puncture protection in case you step on any sharp objects that may go through the sole of your boot.
Synthetic shanks can be made from nylon, fiberglass, or plastic. They offer a lightweight option from steel, and provide more flexibility to increase your ease of movement.
While they don’t offer the same puncture protection, they allow a more fluid step while still giving you plenty of added support to prevent foot fatigue over the day.
Breaking in the Boots
Nothing is more frustrating than getting a new pair of work boots you’re excited about, only to find that they’re stiff out of the box. Regardless of reviews and what the brand claims, all work boots require some kind of break in period.
Depending on the construction type and material, the break in period can last for a day or weeks. It’s best advised that you wear your new boots around the house for a few days to get them loosened up and ready for on the job use.
How to Break in Leather Boots full guide.
The Best Boot Brands
There are a ton of brands out there that all claim the same thing. They have the best working footwear. We’re not here to bash any companies products, but there are definitely a few that stand a notch above the rest.
- Red Wing
This is just a list of some of the brands that offer consistently high-quality work boots. Now, just because a brand isn’t listed above doesn’t mean it’s a bad boot. If we cover it in this review, it’s because we genuinely believe they’re some of the best working footwear available.
How to Clean Your Work Boots
We’re going to go through some quick tips that you should use on a regular basis just to make sure you get the longest life out of your precious work boots. After that, we will go through a more detailed cleaning routine that you can use once a month or so.
- Always rinse and scrub away any grime or dirt build up after each shift. This will not only help your boot continue to look professional, but it will also prevent faster breakdown.
- If your footwear isn't waterproof, apply some kind of water resistant cream, spray, or wax. Water will make quick work of even the best footwear if they’re not prepared for it.
- Use oil on leather boots to keep them hydrated and
flexible to resist cracking.
- When you’re not using your boots, store them somewhere safe and away from the elements.
Now that you’re familiar with some general care tips, we’re going to give you a step by step guide to detailing work boots. This should be done once a month, or even twice a month if you’re job is really demanding on the footwear.
- Take out any removable inserts and unlace the footwear. You can give the inserts and laces a light wash to remove any odors (do not put them in the washing machine).
- Using a product specific for cleaning boots, scrub every surface of the boot down and make sure you really get in all of the nooks and crannies.
- Allow the footwear to dry for a day or two (until they feel fully dry).
- Apply another layer of waterproofing to reinforce the protective layer.
- In-depth guide How To Clean Your Work Boots Here
Even with the best comfort and shock absorption technology available, heavy boots will wear you down and cause fatigue. There are a number of work boot features that offer a lot at the cost of weight.
- Leather construction
- Rubber soles
- PU midsoles and insoles
- Steel toe protection
Each of these features has great benefits, but when they’re all combined into one package, they add a significant amount of weight. Double check the weight of the boots you’re considering to ensure they won’t hinder performance.
Our top picks for Best lightweight work footwear Here
How to Pick Your Work Footwear
We’ve covered a lot of information so far, and we are about to delve into eleven work boot reviews. Before we get into that, it’s important that you’ve narrowed down which features are most important to you and your job.
All work boots are “durable”, but some designs are more durable than others. If this is your number one priority, look for the following features as we go through the reviews:
- Goodyear Welt Construction
- Full grain leather build
- Rubber outsoles
- Waterproof features (this helps extend the overall wear life of the boot)
- Reinforced stitching
Just about anyone using work boots wants some comfort features. Especially if you’re going to be on your feet for five plus hours a day, comfort should be of the utmost importance. If you have any foot problems (ie. flat feet or plantar fasciitis), pay close attention to the insoles and midsoles.
- Padded collar (prevents rubbing along your ankles)
- EVA or PU midsoles (preferably PU as it offers more support and fatigue resistance)
- Removable inserts
- Internal comfort lining (including moisture wicking)
A lot of workplaces present serious safety hazards and extreme temperatures that can affect your feet. Another job of quality work boots is to provide you with the needed protection so you can perform your job confidently and comfortably.
- Safety toe feature
- Mesh lining and ventilation technology
- Insulation technology (full guide of best winter work boots here)
- Advanced treading (so you can stay firmly grounded)
- Electrical hazard protection
Different Jobs Require Different Boots
There are so many different styles and types of boots out there all having unique features that will suit different jobs. Be sure to think about what features will help protect your feet depending on what conditions your footwear is going to go through.
Some specialised features that are very unique to certain jobs are things like the laces protectors in welding boots. These thick leather or plastic guards fold over your laces and stop sparks and hot embers from landing on and burning holes in your laces and also offer additional protection to your feet.
Another example of a job that requires footwear with unique features are roofing shoes or boots that have specially designed soles that allow greater traction when working on different types of roof surfaces. The importance of traction when working at high surfaces goes without saying.
One small slip or fall could be the difference between life and death.
A job that requires working at heights but not on roofs is being a lineman. In this job you need to have traction as you will be climbing tall poles constantly so grip is important but because your ankles can easily roll or twist you also need a high lace up boot design that will offer protection and stability to your ankles.
The Best Work Boots Reviews
Thorogood Men’s American Heritage 6” Moc Toe Boot
Bringing a combination of style, comfort, and durability, these are top contenders for the most comfortable work boots. The slip and mark resistant white wedge soles are complemented by the durable leather construction.
Slipping them on you’ll notice they feel broken in and ready to tackle whatever you can throw at them. Your feet will be met with soft cotton lining and cradled by a removable dual density shock absorbing insert and additional comfort cushion midsole.
For added support through the work day, they come with a built in fiberglass shank to keep a spring in your step. Durability is no issue with these work boots due to the Goodyear welt construction making it easy to replace the stylish soles as they wear over time.
- Broken in feel out of the box
- Supple, premium leather
- Dual density comfort insert
- Standout white wedge soles
- Very comfortable
- Not waterproof
- Lightweight design can wear out faster than other styles
Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot
These rugged, heavy duty boots stand ready to weather the toughest workplace conditions. Full grain leather, Goodyear welt construction, and electric hazard safe (up to 600 volts) rubber soles all make these boots tough to deny for just about any job type.
They come equipped with Climasphere technology which helps to both wick moisture away from your feet so you can focus on work, and regulate the temperature. But what about comfort? Don’t worry, they come complete with a Climasphere insole as well to keep those feet happy.
The built in steel toe passes the ASTM 75 class certification and provides superior protection from falling hazards. For the price, these are some of the best construction boots and best steel toe boots available.
- Nylon leather mesh lining
- Very affordable
- Ventilation technology
- Long lasting durability
- Insoles need upgrading
- Can run narrow
Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Plus III Omni Cold-Weather
As the name suggests, these boots are some of the best winter work boots. Staying dry and comfortable is easy with the combination of leather, nylon, and Techlite waterproof seam sealed shell construction.
Built for moving around and going the distance, they also incorporate a Techlite midsole with superior cushioning for long lasting comfort, and great energy return. The rubber sole is built with Omni-Grip technology giving it advanced traction for keeping you grounded in the most uneven of terrains.
No matter how cold it gets, the Columbia classic Omni-Heat lining will keep your feet insulated in these warm work boots. The lightweight design and sheer number of features make these hard to top for cold weather.
- Advanced treading that even works in the snow
- Fully waterproof
- Multi material construction
- Easy to get on and off
- Not very flexible
- Bulky design
Timberland PRO Men’s Pitboss 6” Soft-Toe
Few boots are able to stand up to the rigors of work environments like these can. They featuring durable nubuck leather and ANSI safety standard toe construction which gives you plenty of space to breathe and move.
The top is padded around the ankle and equipped with metal speed hooks so you can lace up and get out the door. As you get into the boot itself, Cambrelle fabric lining will guide your foot in and offer odor protection.
Thanks to the Timberland PRO 24/7 Comfort Suspension system which carries a PU midsole and a nylon shock absorbing plate, these are some of the best work boots for plantar fasciitis. These heavily armed boots make it easy to see why Timberland is one of the best work boot brands out there.
- Flexible and responsive design
- Premium odor control
- Electric hazard protection
- Oil, slip, and abrasion resistant rubber soles
- Sole lacks durability
- Heavy design
Irish Setter Men’s 6”
Right off the bat you’ll notice the visually appealing design of these Irish Setter boots. They’re built with extremely durable Trout Brook Leather and heat resistant rubber outsoles that can withstand very hot temperatures.
Stand confidently with white rubber-EVA traction tread providing superior grip and stability on surfaces. Goodyear welt construction and triple stitched moc toe design ensure these boots will stick around for the long haul.
A rear pull loop in conjunction with the padded collar makes these boots easy to slip on and take off while keeping your ankles comfortable. They carry a moderate price tag which is justified since these are easy some of the best work boots for men.
- Comfortable PU insoles
- Stylish and durable leather
- Fit true to your foot size
- Great looking design
- Long wear life
- Sole is stiff
- Toes can rub the sides in some cases
- Not waterproof
Chippewa Men’s 6” Rugged Handcrafted Lace-Up
Good old handcrafted in the USA boots will never go out of style. Durable Apache leather makes for a sleek design that can be used for work or casual purposes. They come with Vibram outsoles which offer the same properties as rubber but at a fraction of the weight.
Metal speed hooks line the upper portion of the boot for quick and easy wear and drill vamp lining will help keep your feet comfortable. They sport a great natural feeling fit with arch support to keep you energized no matter how long the work day drags on.
The durable leather, stitching, lightweight sole, and American spirit behind these work boots are hard to top. These handcrafted boots were built to last long.
- Worn looking durable leather
- Flexibility for casual wear
- Handmade in the USA
- Gumlite Vibram sole
- Heels wear out fast
- High arch can cause discomfort
- They run large
Ariat Men’s Workhog Pull-On H2O
The Ariat brand set out to make durable, easy pull on work boots. Thanks to their U-Turn technology, even wide feet and high arches will have an easy time getting these work boots on with the help of the pull on straps.
Full grain leather and the Waterproof Pro ensure dry feet by keeping rain, puddles, and even snow at bay. Ariat put a lot of thought and work into their ATS Max system so you can have all of the comfort features in one package.
You get a moisture wicking gel cushioned footbed, an extra wide shank with stabilizers for steady grounding as well as oil and slip resistant Duratread soles that provide flexibility. For fast and easy wear, these are some of the best slip on work boots money can buy.
- Fit great right out of the box
- Superior comfort
- U-Turn easy pull-on
- Waterproof durable design
- No ventilation
- Heel area can be large
5.11 ATAC 8” Men’s Boot
If you work law enforcement or are a member of the military, these are some of the best tactical boots around. They come built with a durable combination of both leather and nylon to keep them breathable.
Long lasting laces and a side zipper ensure these boots will have a snug, secure fit while the slip resistant soles keep you steady. To top off the stability, a non metallic shank has been built in to offer extra support.
The phylon midsole is part of the classic 5.11 Shock Mitigation system which ultimately helps your feet stay comfortable and ready for action. Your job is demanding on your feet, so you need quality boots that can meet and exceed it.
- Side zipper and laces are ideal for tactical work
- Versatile terrain use
- Side zip makes very easy to get on and off
- Long wear life
- Good ankle support
- Can get warm during Summer
- Narrow design can cause pressure
Carhartt Men’s CMF6366 Six-Inch Composite Toe
Does your job require a lot of flexibility on behalf of your boots? The cement construction and Rugged Flex technology both help to make these boots exceptional at moving and stretching with you so your job performance doesn’t suffer.
High quality polyurethane midsoles and removable insoles will comfort your feet as part of the 4-layer Rugged Flex system. Durable rubber outsoles complete these boots and provide extra abrasion resistant bumpers along the heel and toe area so they last longer on the job.
The composite toe meets ASTM standards for protection from objects and electric hazards. For the quality of the Carhartt brand, these boots come with an extremely affordable price tag and carry features that make them the best boots for flat feet.
- Comfortable and light design
- Light and flexible
- Breathable design
- Strong composite safety toe
- Great comfort features (especially if you have flat feet!)
- Not fully waterproof
- Leather can scuff easily
Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof
These boots are built to withstand the wettest of conditions. The waterproof full grain leather covers the entire boot and is further enhanced with seam sealing. Rustproof speed lace hardware will weather the elements and stand strong with no breakage.
Timberland boasts that these are their best selling boots and offer versatility for use in the workplace and for hiking. Solid rubber outsoles come equipped with multi-directional lugs to increase traction on the different terrains you may encounter.
They come standard with the dual density EVA footbed, but it’s the padded collar and gusseted tongue that help make these boots feel secure when you lace them up. Those same features will also help to keep debris out of your boots.
- Comfort features that don’t wear out over time
- Dual waterproof protection
- Handles heavy use in multiple elements
- Silver rated tannery leather
- Multi use design, can be used on or off the job site
- Minimal insulation or breathability
- Water can get in around the ankle
EVER BOOTS “Tank” Men’s Soft Toe Insulated Work Boots
These are easily the most affordable work boots in this guide. They hit all of the marks that make them some of the best work boots for concrete settings. To top it off, they come standard with a 3-month manufacturer warranty that covers the outsole and leather.
The leather construction gives them a simple and clean look while staying durable. Goodyear welt construction means you can get multiple uses out of them if the soles happen to kick the bucket. These are one of the few boots that offer a removable option slip resistant rubber outsole.
Removable comfort cushions give them the needed comfort, while the speed hooks and back loop allow you to get ready fast and head out the door.
- Hold up well with daily use
- Lightweight casual design
- Padded toe area for increased comfort
- Fast break-in process
- Leather is not as durable as other styles
- Insoles are very basic