Finding the best work boots can be surprisingly difficult. There’s a huge number to choose from, and much of finding the best depends on your specific work environment.
After ample research and plenty of debate, we decided the Keen Utility boots are the best option for most. They offer multiple safety features and exceptional comfort right out of the box. You won’t need to spend weeks or months trying to break them in.
If you are in a hurry, Here is the list of 10 best work boots for men
Of course, Keen Utility boots aren’t for everyone, and there are better options for specific situations, like logging environments or ranching, which we include below.
So keep reading to learn about the best work boot options, and don’t miss the buyer’s guide at the end. It gives you everything you need to know about boot construction.
10 Most Comfortable Work Boots Review for Men
Below we review the ten best work boots for men. Whether you need a heeled option, insulation, or prefer a pull-on style, we found the best boot available.
Best Overall: Keen Utility 6″ Composite Toe Work Boot
These boots feature lug sole construction and have a bit of a heel, so you can easily climb ladders or navigate slippery terrain. They’re also oil resistant and have an inner, waterproof membrane. On top of that, they feature an inner metatarsal guard to protect the top of your feet. And they’re rated for electrical hazards.
Keen Utility boots don’t feature welt construction, so they may not last quite as long as some other work boots, but they’ll still last a year or more. We love that they’re comfortable right out of the box, which is rare for a plain-toe boot, and we’re big fans of the moisture-wicking mesh lining that provides superior odor protection.
Runner-Up: Danner Bull Run 6″ Steel Toe Work Boot
The wedge sole isn’t very helpful if you’re climbing or dealing with terrain, but if you’re standing on concrete all day, it’s a great pick. Plus, Danner includes a cushioning ortholite footbed to help fight fatigue.
These steel toe Danner work boots are oil and slip-resistant, rated for electrical hazards, and made in the USA. Like most welt-constructed boots, they do require some breaking in, but once you’ve worn them a week or two, you’ll fall in love with them.
Most Durable: Thorogood 1957 Series 6″ Steel Toe Work Boot
They work in most work environments thanks to waterproof construction and a padded collar and tongue that keeps rain and snow from falling down inside your boot. With a steel safety toe and slip-resistant sole, these safety boots will keep you stable on everything from oil-slicked surfaces to loose gravel.
Best for Barnyards and Ranching: Keen Philadelphia Pull-On Boot
The leather is barnyard resistant, so it can withstand prolonged contact with urea, oleic acid, and sodium chloride, all of which tend to break down other, lesser, boots.
Their lug sole is ideal for climbing fences, ladders, or anything in between, and the waterproof membrane will keep your feet warm and dry. If you work on a farm or any place similar, these pull-on waterproof work boots are winners!
Most Comfortable: Caterpillar Fairbanks Industrial Work Shoe
Soft waterproof leather upper makes it easy to bend and kneel as needed, and there’s next to no break-in period with these shoes. However, we have to warn that all that comfort comes at a cost. These boots aren’t quite as durable as some of the other options on this list.
Best Non-Metallic: Georgia Boot AMP LT Wedge
This pair of boots is perfect in cool to moderately warm climates. Their waterproof lining is very effective when paired with the welt construction. However, they lack breathability in the summer, and if your feet are prone to sweat, you may want something lighter weight.
Best Lightweight Option: Irish Setter Nisswa Work Shoe
We love these Irish Setter Work Boots for warehouse work, delivery drivers, and certain manufacturing jobs where ankle protection isn’t needed. Any light-duty worker will benefit from shoes like these.
Best Heeled Option: Georgia Logger Waterproof Work Boot
This boot provides exceptional environmental protection as well. The waterproofing is spot on, yet the boots retain decent breathability. They also feature a brush kiltie to help keep dust and debris out.
With welt construction, a steel toe, and ratings for electrical hazards, these are a great pick for anyone whose work requires them to brave the elements.
Best For Hot Environments: Carhartt Rugged Safety Toe Work Boots
The Carhartt Men’s Rugged Flex boot offers excellent protection with a composite safety toe and electrical hazard ratings. However, they’re also very breathable and hardly weigh anything.
That said, the breathability seems to come at the expense of the waterproof liner, which isn’t very effective. Avoid these boots if you’re working in rainy conditions, but they’re excellent in hot, dry climates.
Best Insulated Work Boot: Carhartt Men’s 10″ Insulated
We like the Carhartt Men’s Insulated boot for cold environments. It features 1000 LiteFire insulation, made of an inner aluminum membrane. This inner piece maintains breathability while reflecting body heat equivalent to 1000 grams of traditional insulation.
The result is a lightweight, breathable boot that won’t let your feet get cold. Combined with a composite toe and heel guard, you’ll find plenty of stability and protection in these Carhartt’s.
What to Consider to Choose the Best Work Boots | Buyers Guide
When buying the best work boots, there are several things to consider. If you’re in the market for a pair, you’re probably on your feet all day or planning to be, so comfort and a good fit is key. You also need to ensure the boots you pick meet all the safety specifications for your job.
You might also worry about how long the boots will last. Work boots aren’t exactly inexpensive, and your daily grind probably puts them to the test, so they need to be exceptionally durable. Durable work boots turn out to be cheaper in the long run.
To find a pair of boots that checks all of those boxes helps to understand a bit about boot construction. Learning about materials used, construction techniques, and the various comfort measures different manufacturers take will help ensure you find boots that deliver what you need.
Read about the best women’s work boots
Most boot manufacturers use full-grain waterproof leather to create work boots. Full-grain leather is hard and very durable. It comes from the full hide of the animal, just below the hair or fur. Because of this, full-grain leather has a very tight grain that naturally resists water and wears.
However, full-grain leather is also heavy and difficult to work with, and this material adds significantly to the price tag on your boots. A cheaper and more breathable option is nylon mesh.
Nylon mesh is what you’ll find in athletic shoes and some lightweight work boots. It’s very breathable and far less expensive than full-grain leather.
Unfortunately, it’s not very durable, and nylon mesh boots tend to wear out fast. They also simply won’t work in more extreme environments.
The construction technique the manufacturer uses to make your work boots significantly impacts how long your boots will last. There are three general boot-making techniques: welt construction, cement construction, or the direct attach method.
Hand sewing a work shoe requires the maker to use a thin and narrow piece of leather called a welt. The shoemaker sews the welt to the upper leather and the insole. Then, they sew a heavy outsole to the welt as well.
This process keeps the stitching on the outer portion of the shoe, so it can’t rub against the wearer’s foot. A tell-tale sign of welt construction is distinct triple stitching along with the work shoes’ outer edge, just above the boot’s sole.
In the 1860s, Charles Goodyear, an American manufacturer whose father invented the vulcanization of rubber, financed the machine that could sew welts without the labor of hand stitching every shoe. Since then, welt construction, sometimes called Goodyear storm welt construction, has been widely available even without the help of a professional cobbler.
However, the process of sewing a welt, even with a machine, is lengthy and more costly than other modern construction methods, so welt-constructed work boots tend to be expensive.
Still, you might decide welt-constructed boots are worth the higher price tag. There are a few reasons for this.
First, Goodyear Welt construction creates a more durable boot that can easily be re-soled as the shoe wears down. This means, if you’re willing to re-sole your boot now and then, welt construction could keep your shoe wearable for decades to come.
Goodyear Welt construction also creates better water resistance as the welt provides an extra layer between your foot and the wet ground. Using a welt can create more comfort as well because the placement of the welt creates a small cavity beneath the insole. Typically, manufacturers fill this cavity with cork which will mold your foot as you wear the boots.
Goodyear Welt construction is known to design heavy-duty work boots. This makes them rigid than alternatives, and they may take longer to break in. Many workers seek welt construction out and won’t buy boots that don’t feature it, but there are other options. If you want something lighter weight or with a less hefty price tag, you can seek out boots that feature direct-attach or cement construction instead.
In the direct attach method for shoemaking, the manufacturer attaches a mold to the upper leather of the boot. Then, they inject molten rubber into the mold to form the sole.
This method is relatively simple and doesn’t require much labor or skill. That means boots made with the direct attach method are less expensive than welt construction, and because the sole is directly bonded to the leather, they’re pretty durable.
Compared to welt-constructed boots, direct attach boots are also more lightweight, and some find them more comfortable. However, that perception could stem from the manufacturer’s other steps, like adding flexible midsoles or compression pads.
If direct attach boots are still out of budget or you really just need a pair of light-duty work boots, cement construction might be a better option for you. With cement construction, the manufacturer glues the outsole directly to the upper leather using a high-strength adhesive.
Most athletic and casual shoe manufacturers use this method because it’s inexpensive, and there are boot makers that rely on it as well. Unfortunately, cement construction doesn’t create a very durable boot. If you plan to wear your boots for eight or more hours per day in a rough environment, you’ll find that cement construction wears out fast, often within less than a year.
However, cement construction creates a lightweight boot, which some wearers greatly appreciate. They argue that durability is less of a concern with boots like these. Since cement construction is inexpensive, you may decide that you’re okay with replacing them more often.
Cement construction works exceptionally well for boots that you don’t need to wear all of the time. If your job only requires work boots now and then for visiting job sites or the equivalent, cement construction is probably the way to go, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
When it comes to the best working boots, there are several comfort measures to look for. Depending on your job requirements, you may want certain things like a more flexible midsole or greater ankle support. If you’re working on a hard surface all day, for example, you’ll probably want compression pads.
Compression pads are built into the boot’s sole. They compress under your weight to absorb shock and fight fatigue. Most manufacturers have some sort of compression pad, though what they call them will vary. Some have patented names, but they all essentially do the same thing.
If you’re seeking a little flexibility in your boot, rather than traditional, rigid construction, you should seek out an EVA midsole. EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) has been used in athletic shoes for some time, but boot makers are including it more and more often.
EVA is foam-like and flexible, so you’ll gain more movement in your boot. It also creates another layer of cushion that can be helpful on hard surfaces.
You’ll probably want better ankle protection and support for jobs like ranching, logging, or railroad construction. That means you should look for boots with leather uppers at least 8″ tall. The 6″ upper that many work boots have won’t be quite enough.
Finally, most boots come with a polyurethane sole to comfort and cushion your foot. It’s essential to keep in mind that the insole is removable. Polyurethane is fine, but if you have a job that keeps you on concrete, or any sort of medical or anatomical condition related to your feet, you might want to switch the standard insole out.
You can find insoles for arch support, better foot alignment, more breathability, or greater insulation. Insoles range in price depending on what you need, and you can even seek custom insoles from a specialist.
If you use a different insole than what the boot includes, you’ll want to have it with you when you try on your boots. Insoles can change the boot’s fit, and you may need to size up.
Plain Toe vs Moc-Toe
On your quest for the best work boots, you’ll probably see some labeled moc-toe and others referred to as plain toe boots.
Moc-toe is short for moccasin toe, and moc-toe boots have several similarities to authentic moccasins. Mainly, the toe box has a raised, secondary seam in the shape of a wide “U.”
The secondary seam creates more flexibility in the boot and gives the toe box more room. Because of this, moc-toe boots are a favorite for construction workers and others who stand on hard surfaces all day. More surface area in the toe box provides more room to spread your feet, creating better weight distribution. This can help fight fatigue over long periods.
Plain toe boots don’t have the secondary seam. Typical cowboy boots are an excellent example of this style, and plain toe boots are the preferred shoe option if you’re horseback riding (moc-toe boots can get caught in the stirrups).
Plain toe boots are more rigid and have a narrower toe box than moc-toe boots. They also take longer to break in and can feel heavier to the wearer. However, the lack of extra seams makes them more resistant to water and dirt. They’re also easier to clean because they have a smoother surface.
As you shop for boots, you’ll run into both wedge sole and lug sole options. Wedge soles usually accompany moc-toes and consist of a solid piece of rubber that runs from toe to heel. This creates more surface area in contact with the ground.
The greater surface area in contact with the ground means you can distribute your weight more evenly, preventing fatigue. Wedge soles also provide more arch support than lug soles can.
Lug soles have a gap between the heel and toe. You might also see them described as “heeled” boots, but that can be a little misleading. To be considered a lug sole boot, the heel doesn’t need to have a different height than the toe portion.
Lug soles are generally less comfortable because you can’t distribute your weight evenly. However, there are certain situations where a lug sole is necessary.
Lug soles always have deeper treads, making them better on slippery surfaces. A lug sole will provide greater stability if you work outdoors in wet or rugged terrain.
Lug soles are also the better option if you’re doing any sort of climbing. The heel portion can hook onto ladder rungs making climbing that much safer.
Before buying a pair of work boots, it’s crucial to consult with your foreman, HR manager, or safety manager. They’ll be able to advise you on specific safety requirements your boots will need to meet.
OSHA sets these safety requirements, but ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) creates the standards. So, OSHA says, “boots need to meet or exceed ASTM F2413-18 standards.”
Most work boots will list the ASTM standards they meet or exceed on their inner tag. There are standards for safety toes, electrical hazards, and other features like acid, puncture, slip-resistant outsole, and fire safety.
Safety Toes – Steel vs. Composite vs. Alloy Aluminum
One of the most common job requirements is a safety toe. Safety toes protect your feet from falling objects or compression accidents. They come in three different forms: steel toe, composite toe, or alloy aluminum.
The most traditional option is a steel toe boot, and some jobs will require steel specifically. Steel provides incredible protection without being bulky. They’re also less expensive than composite options. However, they’re not very breathable and can feel heavy to the wearer.
So, many prefer composite toe boots over steel toe options. Composite toe boots are usually plastic, carbon fiber, or kevlar. They may not be able to withstand as much brunt force as a steel toe, but they have several advantages.
Composite toes are more comfortable, for one thing. They’re also non-metallic, which is crucial in some jobs. And, unlike steel, composite doesn’t conduct heat or cold. So, if you’re working in extreme temperatures, composite is the better choice.
Alloy aluminum toes offer the same strength as steel, but they’re lighter and therefore more comfortable. However, they still conduct heat and cold like steel, which is metallic so they won’t work for certain jobs.
Electrical Hazard Boots vs. Static Dissipation Boots
If you’re working with or around electricity or materials that can cause static buildup, your workplace will likely require boots rated for either electrical hazards or static dissipation.
Electrical hazard protection boots reduce the flow of electricity from the ground into your shoe. So, they protect you from electrocution if you’re working with live wires or other hazards. Electrical hazard safety boots will have an “EH” sewn into their tag and always contain a safety toe.
Static dissipation safety boots will have an “SD” on their tag and are ideal for environments where static buildup can occur. When working with certain materials, the static buildup is common. If it builds up in your shoe and you touch metal or another person, you can feel a significant shock.
If your job requires static dissipation safety boots, you need to be aware of a few things:
On top of the safety features discussed above, there are several others your job may require. Each comes with its own ASTM rating number that manufacturers will list on the inside of the boot.
Again, your foreman, safety manager, or HR rep will be able to help you determine what ASTM standards you need to meet.
Examples of different requirements include:
Finding the Right Fit
Part of finding boots that work well for you and that you can wear all day without complaint is finding the right fit for your feet. When it comes to boots that fit, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Taking Care of Your Boots
Work boots are an investment, and you want them to last long. Proper care and maintenance help ensure they will.
When you first purchase your work boots, you’ll want to take a few steps to improve their waterproofing capabilities and help break them in.
Start by cleaning your boots with a water-based cleaning agent and a nylon brush. This step is a good idea, even if they’re brand new and fresh. Boots can collect dust as they sit in inventory storage, and you want them perfectly clean for the next step.
Once you remove any dust and dirt from the outside of the boots, use a water-based waterproofing agent on any exposed leather. Though many boots come with a waterproof liner to protect your feet, waterproofing the leather ensures the boots will better withstand the elements.
You want to ensure the waterproofing agent you choose is water-based. There are oil-based options that seem tempting. After all, the oil naturally repels water. However, petroleum-based products can cause the leather to stretch, affecting the fit of your boots.
A waterproofing wax is a better option, and they’re usually water-based. After the first application, you’ll want to repeat the process two to three weeks down the line and again before each new rainy or winter season.
As your boots age, you’ll also want to use a leather conditioner to keep your boots hydrated. Dehydrated boots are prone to stiffness and can eventually develop cracks in the leather.
Mink oil treatments work well, but there are several conditioners available. Pick one you like and use it regularly. For some boot owners, that means once a week, others get away with using conditioners once a season.
Finally, as you wear your boots, it’s normal for odors to build up. You can prevent this in part by storing your boots in a cool, dry location after work. You can also opt for an odor-eating spray.
Alternatively, you can clean the inside of your work boots using a low pH shampoo. Apply a small amount inside your boot and scrub gently. Then, rinse thoroughly. The shampoo will loosen and help remove lodged-in dust, salts, and dead skin.
Frequently Asked Questions
Buying the best work boots can bring up a lot of questions. So let’s see if we can address a few of them.
Is Composite Stronger than Steel Toe?
No, typically, steel toe work boots are stronger than composite options.
Are Steel Toe Work Boots Bad for Your Feet?
No, steel toe work boots aren’t inherently bad for your feet. There are rumors that if an extra-heavy falling object hits a steel toe, the steel can bend and hurt your foot, but that’s yet to be seen in a real-world setting.
Steel toes that are too tight can create bunions over time, but that has more to do with fit than it does with the boot’s construction.
Can you Wear Steel Toe Boots as an Electrician?
Yes, you can wear steel-toe boots as an electrician. The safety toe material is safely tucked within the shoe, so there are several boots that are both steel-toed and rated for electrical hazards.
Will Steel Toe Work Boots Set Off a Metal Detector?
Yes, steel toe boots can set off a metal detector. So, if you have to walk through a metal detector for work, you might be better off with a composite safety toe boot.
Are Logger Boots Good for Standing on Concrete All Day?
No, in general, if your job requires you to stand on concrete for long periods, you’ll want a wedge sole boot rather than a lug sole. The wedge sole will distribute your weight more evenly.
However, if your job requires climbing ladders, lug soles are the safer choice. Their heels will hook onto ladder rungs, and with the right modifications, they don’t have to be uncomfortable on concrete.
So, if you need a lug sole for safety purposes and have a job that involves standing on hard surfaces, look for ones with Vibram soles. Vibram soles feature comfortable EVA foam which will minimize fatigue. You may also consider an insole insert that helps cushion your feet.
Our favorite boots are the Keen Utility 6″ work boots with a composite toe. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and work in a variety of situations. If you want to check them out, click here. If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll be able to try them on before you commit to buying a pair.
Of course, all of the boot options on this list are exceptional, and the best work boots will be the ones that fit your feet and the demands of your job, whether that means buying a pair of heeled loggers or insulated Carhartt’s.