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The phrase “shit-kicker” is not particularly nice when applied to a person — but it’s the highest compliment you can pay a pair of boots. Shit-kickers are not only durable, but they’ll protect your feet from whatever the world throws your way. Construction, color and materials may vary, but most shit-kickers have one thing in common: a steel toe. Steel-toe work boots were made with the job site in mind, but they can be great for DIYers, or just anyone prone to stubbing their toes really, really hard. Many of the best boot makers like Red Wing and Thorogood make both regular toe and steel-toe boots. And, since work boots are popular casualwear, you have to specifically seek out steel toe boots if you’re looking for that protection.
Most steel-toe boots today are more commonly referred to as safety-toe boots. That’s because safety-toe boots aren’t always made with actual steel. They may instead be made from a composite material, such as a durable plastic. You may be wondering if a composite toe is really as good as a steel toe. Luckily, you don’t have to guess. Safety-toe boots are tested on multiple criteria, such as compression (something rolling on the boot) and impact (something falling on the boot), and then given an ASTM rating. ASTM offers different ratings depending on the amount of protection you need, so you can be confident that the boots you buy will be job-site ready. Steel has the benefit of time-tested durability, while composite boots have the benefit of a lighter weight build. One problem with steel-toe boots is their performance in cold weather. If you’ve ever touched a piece of metal in the frozen section at your grocery store or a handrail outside on a hot day, you’ll know that metal conducts heat pretty well. If it’s cold out and your boots are not well insulated, your feet may feel colder.
Even if you don’t work on a job site, a steel-toe boot can be a worthwhile investment. That’s because there are a variety of options that are as stylish as their non-safety-toe counterparts. Whatever you need steel-toe workboots for, we’ve rounded up some of the best options you can buy online.
1. Thorogood American Heritage 8″ Moc Toe
MADE IN AMERICA
This stylish option comes from Thorogood, an American brand in production since 1892. These boots, like most of their offerings, are still made in the US. They have a comfortable moc-toe design with a steel safety toe. The thick rubber wedge sole makes these boots comfortable, durable and slip-resistant, so they’re great for long working days on your feet. The long 8″ shaft adds extra protection for your ankles and calves.
2. Timberland PRO Men’s 6″ Pit Boss Steel-Toe
Timberland is best known for its iconic 6″ wheat boots, but they make plenty of excellent boots that suit different situations. The Pit Boss style has a steel toe for protection and a rubber sole for comfort and stability on uneven surfaces. The ankle height boot has a padded collar that keeps your ankles comfortable and supported.
3. Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot
These boots from Caterpillar have leather uppers and a synthetic sole, making them both durable and comfortable for long-term wear. The boots have a padded ankle collar for comfort and support as you move throughout the day, and the ankle-height boots are relatively easy to take on and off. CAT is trusted for their heavy machinery, and their boots are similarly heavy-duty.
4. Wolverine Men’s Overpass Work Boot
Wolverine is best known for its 1000 mile boot, introduced over a century ago. The name alone is a testament to Wolverine’s reputation for durable footwear. For work use, Wolverine also offers the Overpass boot, which is made from leather and features textured panels to add durability. It has a composite toe that meets ASTM standards. It’s also waterproof, making it a great boot for tackling unpleasant working conditions.
5. Reebok Work Rapid Response Tactical Boot
Reebok is better known for casual athletic shoes, but their Work line includes military and workboot styles, like this tactical leather boot. It has a soft leather upper with mesh panels for breathability, and the rubber sole is comfortable and durable. The lace-up boots also have a zipper on the side to make it easy to put them on and take them off. They feature a composite toe for protection.
6. ROCKROOSTER Work Boots for Men
EASY ON AND OFF
Rockrooster has rocketed in popularity for the simple reason that they make reasonably durable boots at an attainable price. These work boots have a steel toecap for protection, and the rubber sole is slip-resistant and comfortable. This style eschews the traditional lace-up design for a trendy-but-no-less-practical Chelsea boot design, making them easy to slip on and off.
7. Dr. Martens 1461 Steel Toe Shoes
If you’d prefer a low-cut style, these shoes from Dr. Martens have a dressier silhouette while still retaining rugged details like a textured sole and contrast stitching. The leather boots meet ASTM standards; they have a safety toe made from steel, and the textured sole is slip-resistant. The sole is also Goodyear welted, meaning you can replace the soles once they wear down. The shoes are available for both men and women.
8. Irish Setter Work Boot
Irish Setter may not be as well known, but its parent brand is. Irish Setter is part of the Red Wing Company, meaning the shoes are backed by Red Wing’s 100+ years of footwear expertise. The most unique feature of these boots is the toe construction. Instead of a steel or plastic toe, these ATSM-rated boots use aluminum. Aluminum is both lightweight and durable, cutting down on the heft that can come from steel-toe boots.