Tracing its history back to the beginning of the 20th Century, safety footwear in the workplace came about as a result of improved employee work conditions in the field of manual labor and factory-based employment. Steel toe work boots, a style of safety boot still around today, were then initially brought into the spotlight by The Red Wing Shoe Company in the 1930s as a direct result of industrial safety issues. Four decades later, Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970, purposed to ensure these previously established workplace safety standards were enforced. Lo and behold, one of these standards happened to be mandating the use of footwear that protected the foot in places that could cause serious injury if damaged. Hence, the use of a men’s modern day safety boot was born.
And just like any technology, with time comes innovation. So in the case of the steel toe work boot, innovation came in the form of iterations to the reinforced toe cap. Naturally, steel is a heavier material that works to draw away heat. Therefore, different materials were then tested and installed to help retain warmth inside the shoe, manage to provide sufficient protection, and meet ASTM (third party strength testing) requirements. It’s reassuring how far we’ve come over the years in guaranteeing those who work in dangerous environments get the protection they need to help them remain safe on the job. So if you’re in the market, and are unsure what form of toe caps and subsequent shoes fit your needs, then have a look at the following list of best safety work boots for men.
- Wolverine 5065 ($90)
- Thorogood American Heritage ($137)
- Chippewa Ellison ($140)
- Red Wing Truwelt 6-inch ($220)
Functioning as the original standard to which work boots were measured, these shoes feature a fairly self-explanatory composition. That is, they feature heavy duty steel in the toe cap region that serves to protect the foot against falling or crushing objects that would otherwise have detrimental effects on that region. They are the heaviest of the three, providing little insulation in cold climates, which does take a bit of adaptation when wearing for the first time. However, they are quite strong, puncture resistant and are highly reliable in the field of traditional work boots. Modern versions of the steel toe work boot also offer additional features such as chemical, abrasion, heat and electrical resistance.
- Timberland Pro Titan ($145)
- Cat Footwear 6-Inch ($146)
- Carolina 6-Inch ($160)
- Danner Quarry Boot ($280)
These days, alloy toes are one of the more popular safety toe boots around. They work to combine the strength of steel but with lightweight materials such as aluminum and titanium. In fact, these toes run anywhere between 30 and 50 percent lighter than traditional steel toe work boots. They’re also a bit thinner as well, meaning you’ll have more wiggle room (so to speak) and not feel as claustrophobic in your feet. They do however, set off metal detectors, so if you’re working in a secured area they could become an inconvenience. On the flip side, many contemporary alloy toe boots are now rated for electrical hazard protection, and feature offerings such as slip protection and antimicrobial compositions. Another notable downside is that they are a bit pricier than steel toe boots.
- Dr. Martin’s Calamus ($140)
- Keen Tacoma ($190)
- Georgia Boot FLXpoint ($202)
- Justin Original Wyoming Worker ($210)
Soon evolving out of traditional steel and aluminum boots are the now widely accepted Composite Toe work boots. As an industry norm, these versions are now offered and accepted in many workplaces throughout the country, especially if your job requires you to pass through a metal detector on the way to work. Typically, composite toes are made from non-metal materials such as Kevlar, carbon fiber, plastic and/or fiberglass. They’re known to be a bit more comfortable when working outdoors and around electricity (since their materials don’t naturally conduct electricity). They’re much lighter that metal toes as well and result in you expending less energy when on your feet. However, they’re typically not rated as high as others in terms of weight or puncture resistance. All in all, it’s beneficial to understand the type of job and working conditions you plan to experience in order to gauge which of the three most popular types of work boots are the best option.
All American Work Boots
Sometimes, the best products are locally-sourced and made items from brands you can trust. So if American-made is your preferred style, then be sure to also check out this list of the best American-made work boots.