A pair of sturdy, rugged work boots is an essential tool for working in construction, whether it’s on personal projects or industrial ones. Thankfully, there are tons of options to protect you while still allowing you to remain comfortable throughout the day.
We’ve chosen 5 pairs of work boots ranging from lightweight to the most durable, and have looked at the comfort rating as well. No one wants sore feet or blisters, so we’ve chosen boots that maximize comfort and protection and compiled them into this list just for you.
Types Of Work Boots
The environment you work in will determine the type of work boot you need. Different settings provide different challenges, and there are different types of boots to meet them.
The most common safety feature found in work boots is a steel or composite toe designed to protect the foot from compression, falling objects, burns, and punctures. Some steel toe boots are also rated for protection against electrical hazards. As a rule, steel toe boots provide greater impact protection and cost less than composite toe boots.
Composite toe boots are designed to offer foot protection similar to steel toe boots, but are lighter in weight and composed of nonmetal material. These boots are a good choice for workplaces that have metal detectors, and they are a popular choice for electrical resistance.
Work boots that are slip-resistant have rubberized soles and grip-enhancing tread patterns. This is an important safety feature for anyone working near water, oil, grease, or other liquids.
Electrical Hazard (EH)
EH work boots are made from non-conductible materials and have electrical shock resistant heels and soles. To receive a rating as an EH boot, they must protect the wearer from up to 600 volts in a dry setting. Any pair of boots with an EH designation has been tested for their level of protection against electrocution.
Features To Look For When Buying Work Boots
If you’re doing lots of heavy lifting on construction projects, you will need steel toe boots. Steel toe boots are the gold standard for toe and foot protection in hazardous work environments. If steel toe boots aren’t mandatory for you, you can also consider boots with a carbon fiber toe. They are still tough enough to provide protection, but they are also a little lighter to carry on your foot.
Steel shanks add support between the insole and outsole of a work boot to reduce the load carried by your feet and calves. If you find your toes get crunched in most boots, consider work boots made for wide feet.
Boot liners are often used to provide added waterproofing, insulation, or abrasion protection. Many rashes and smells that are common with work boots can be avoided through the use of boot liners, as they avoid bacteria and fungus growth inside sweaty boots. Many full-leather boots don’t contain liners, but most synthetic and combination leather/synthetic boots do.
Cushioning and support are other comfort features to consider when buying work boots. Insoles provide foot cushioning. The most comfortable ones are made of foam, but the good news is you can change out your insoles if you don’t like them.
Shock resistance contained within the insole or outsole of a boot can also make a great deal of difference in their comfort level.
Construction And Materials
Goodyear Welting construction has been a widespread feature of work boots for years. It’s a stitching technique that adds material to the boot to provide durability, and yes, the technology was developed by the Goodyear tire company about a century ago.
Leather is the most common material for work boot uppers, but synthetics are becoming increasingly more common. The lifespan of leather tends to be longer, and the boots are easier to clean. The downside is that leather is notoriously hot to wear, particularly when it’s waterproofed, so it may not be ideal in hotter conditions.
If you work outdoors on an ongoing basis, particularly over the winter, you’ll want to invest in a pair of waterproof work boots. If you need to move around quickly as well, look for a lightweight pair.
Working in a cold climate means you will need warm work boots, but you want to make sure that the boot is breathable as well.
Insulation is described in grams. 800 grams of insulation will suffice for cool temperatures between 30 and 40 degrees; 1,200 grams is suitable for below 30 degrees; for temperatures below 0 degrees, you’ll need 2,000 grams.
5 Best Work Boots For Men
Without further ado, let’s review the top 5 best work boots for men.
- Caterpillar Men’s Outline ST Work Boot – Best Value Boot
The Outline ST boot from Caterpillar is made from full-grain leather with several safety features. These boots have steel toe, electrical hazard protection, and slip resistance. The incorporated speed lacing system makes them easy to put on and take off, and for style purposes, they are available in five different colors: black, dark gull grey, seal brown, honey reset, and honey.
The steel toe rating on this boot offers protection against compression and impact, while the electrical hazard protection offers safety against open circuits up to 600 volts. A rubber sole offers slip resistance, and a nylon mesh lining provides breathability and comfort.
- Timberland PRO Men’s Direct Attach Work Boot – Best Premium Boot
Timberland’s PRO boots are built to withstand long workdays in all kinds of weather. With waterproof leather and seam-sealing, they also have 400-gram Thermolite insulation for cold-weather protection and antimicrobial mesh inserts for odor control and breathability.
For maximum comfort and flexibility, the polyurethane footbed molds directly to your foot. A shock diffusion plate is included to prevent pain on your joints when standing for long periods, and a thick non-marking outsole adds to the cushioning.
This boot is a superior outdoor work boot for working in cold weather, providing safety, slip-resistance, and comfort.
- Irish Setter Men’s Wingshooter ST-83632 – Best Electrical Hazard Protection
This waterproof leather boot from Irish Setter has welted rubber soles for long-term durability and maximum comfort. The nonmetallic composite safety toe ensures protection from electrical hazards, while the heat and slip-resistant sole offers a steady grip in slippery conditions.
The pliable leather of the Wingshooter work boot is designed for a short break-in period, while the leather upper contains a moisture-wicking liner to keep water and sweat out of your boots.
While they aren’t designed for cold weather, these work boots are an excellent general-purpose outdoor staple.
- Carhartt Men’s Waterproof Insulated PAC Boot – Best Winter Work Boot
The Carhartt Insulated PAC boot is fully waterproof with a breathable liner that protects against standing water and snowmelt. They’re designed to offer warmth and protection in cold weather conditions with a nonmetallic, composite safety toe for impact and compression protection. There is also an added heel guard to provide extra ankle stability and side-impact protection.
In addition, these boots are rated for electrical hazard standards.
- Ariat Men’s Groundbreaker Wide Square Toe Work Boot – Best Pull-On
Ariat Groundbreakers are pull-on style work boots made of full leather around the footbed with suede uppers. They offer a four-layer footbed cushioning, lightweight shanks, and a Duratread outsole for grip and durability.
The downside of these boots is that they have a soft toe and are not waterproof. They are durable enough to stand up in fair weather conditions, fast and easy to change due to the pull-on design, and have a wide footbed to avoid toe constriction. There are different varieties of Ariat Groundbreaker boots that offer waterproofing and a steel toe at an added cost.
Common Questions About Work Boots
How long does it take to break in new work boots?
New work boots take an average of 100 hours of wear to be considered fully “broken in.” This is the equivalent of two to three weeks of full-time wear.
When trying to break in new boots, applying oil to tighter areas of the boot can help them stretch more easily.
How do you maintain work boots?
Work boots get dirty by nature. Most of them can be cleaned with a water-based cleaner and nylon brush. Leather boots will also benefit from occasional applications of leather conditioners to keep the leather supple. Baking soda can be sprinkled on the inside of your work boots to prevent any odors from becoming trapped inside.
How long should a pair of work boots last?
The amount of time a specific pair of boots will last depends on the work environment they are in and how much you wear them. A pair of boots used for casual DIY projects, for example, will last much longer than ones worn 16 hours a day on a construction site. Long hours in rocky, muddy, and wet conditions will also wear down a pair of boots faster than in dry conditions.
Given the variation in working and wear conditions, the lifespan of a pair of work boots averages anywhere between 6 and 12 months.