Contrary to popular belief, work boots don’t have to be used for, well, work. Because of their rugged look and cushioned soles, work boots can be worn for style as well as comfort. Of course, the best work boots for men should also keep you on your feet through an entire day of work, whether that work involves drywall, spreadsheets, or a little bit of both.
There’s no one standard for what defines a work boot, but they typically have shafts that are at least 6″ for ankle coverage and soles made from rubber, rather than leather, for superior comfort and traction. But there are exceptions to both of these norms. If you are buying work boots for their intended purpose, then your checklist is likely to be longer. You’ll want to look at the ASTM standards, which cover everything from slip resistance to protection from electrical hazards. Some job sites also require safety toes, which can include steel-toe or composite toe (a durable and lightweight synthetic alternative).
When shopping for work boots for casual use or style, it’s still worth looking under the hood, so to speak. Good terms to look out for include Goodyear-welting. A Goodyear welt indicates a shoe that’s stitched to the sole in a way that allows for greater water resistance. Goodyear-welted shoes can also be resoled once the heel wears out, allowing you to keep the boots for years and years. And though it’s not a guarantee of higher quality, American-made is an encouraging sign on many boots, including those made by Red Wing, Wolverine and Thorogood.
We like work boots because they are easy to dress up or down depending on the situation. They’re a versatile set of boots that will instantly add a dash of old-school Americana to any outfit. So whether you need work boots for the construction site or conference room, we’ve rounded up 15 of our favorite work boots to help you get the job done — no matter what it may entail.
1. Red Wing Heritage Classic Moc Work Boot
No list of work boots worth its salt would be complete without including this classic leather boot. The Red Wing Heritage Classic Moc Work Boot has been a beloved staple for dozens of years. The white sole and contrasting caramel leather make for an instantly iconic silhouette that looks just as good on the worksite as it does on Ryan Gosling. While they’re tough as nails and durable as hell, should anything befall them, you can ship them back to Red Wing and their repair service make them look good as new (it’s a $125 fee, but well worth it to keep these boots in tip-top shape). Long live the king.
2. Wolverine 1000 Mile Boot
It’s no secret that we love the Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots. These work boots were created in the 1910s to support the workers that powered Michigan’s booming auto industry, and the idea was simple — create a boot that would last for 1000 miles. More than a century later and these boots are still up for the job. Even better, they’re still made in Michigan from leather tanned in Chicago, making them the All-American working boot. With attractive leather, durable construction, and a look that’s grown more stylish over time, these are the perfect work boots. While they’re perhaps better for fashion than the auto plant in 2021, they’re well-made boots that will last for many years if you treat them properly.
3. Timberland PRO Soft-Toe Work Boot
BEST STREET READY
It’s no wonder Timberland’s iconic 6″ wheat boots are as popular as they are in New York. They’re built tough, but they offer plenty of style. And crucially, they’re waterproof, meaning they can withstand whatever the elements throw at you. The cushioned heel collar offers support for long days on your feet, while the thick tread helps you keep your footing.
4. Wolverine Men’s DuraShocks CarbonMax 6-Inch Work Boots
BEST UNDER $150
If you spend all day on your feet, operating heavy machinery, or working on uneven ground, then the Wolverine Men’s DuraShocks CarbonMax Work Boots have everything you need in a work boot. At $140, they’re the perfect balance of affordability and quality. These six-inch work boots feature a CarbonMax toe, which offers the same level of protection as a traditional steel cap but in a much lighter and thinner material. The DuraShocks Flex outsole works hard to absorb impact and return energy, preventing your feet from wearing out before quitting time. Finally, the upper is made from full-grain leather.
Here’s the bottom line: this is a durable work boot that’s been upgraded so that it can handle any job. If you’re searching for the best boots under $200, then you won’t do better than these newly reengineered Wolverine work boots.
5. Thorogood American Heritage 6-Inch Moc Toe
Red Wing isn’t the only made-in-the-Midwest boot brand you should have on your radar. Thorogood has been around since the 1800s, and it produces American-made moc-toe and plain toe boots, available with and without steel toes. The MaxWedge soles resist slippage, and they break in well to be comfortable and surprisingly soft. And they’re one of the best values you can find on American-made boots.
Related: Thorogood Boots Are a Great Value for American-Made Boots
6. Thursday Boot Company Captain Work Boot
Thursday Boot Company couldn’t make an ugly boot if they tried, as their entire product lineup is filled with stunning boot after stunning boot. However, their Captain men’s work boot is definitely the shoe most well-suited to a hostile work environment. The laces have been blended with Kevlar to ensure maximum toughness, while the Goodyear welt construction provides enough support and traction to give you the footing needed on testy surfaces. Additionally, the matte leather upper will continue to look elegant no matter how much you beat them up.
7. Timberland PRO Men’s Pit Boss Soft Toe
BEST UNDER $100
If you want a leather work boot from a trusted shoemaker that won’t cost you more than $100, then you should check out the Timberland PRO Pit Boss line. There are more expensive versions of this shoe with a steel toe, but this soft-toe boot still provides plenty of protection for your feet. Like the best work boots for men, these shoes will keep your feet safe and comfortable on the job.
8. Keen Pittsburgh Work Boots
While a lot of the options on this list are suitable for work that can take place in tough conditions, the Keen Pittsburgh work boots are made for jobs that require immense amounts of grit. With steel toes, a firmly-gripped outsole, and a weatherproof outer, the boot is all wrapped together in a hiker-style boot. In short, you get the benefits of a work boot in the package — and benefits — of a hiking boot. These boots are also ideal for men with large feet, as they come in a wide variety of sizes.
9. Irish Setter Men’s 6-Inch 83605 Work Boot
The best affordable alternative to Red Wing might just be Red Wing itself. The Irish Setter brand is a sub-label of Red Wing, and it offers boots at a much more economical price. That doesn’t mean they skimp on quality, though. These boots are constructed from USA-made full grain leather, and they’re heat-resistant and meet electrical safety standards.
10. Carolina Footwear Marlboro Hi Steel Toe
Keep your feet warm and dry in even the dampest of conditions with Carolina Footwear’s Thinsulate Insulation technology. These boots will never absorb water yet trap dead air, making them a great pick. They have a steel toe to ensure your tootsies stay safe under any and all circumstances and can even withstand applications of 18,000 volts at 60hz for one minute without any leakage, keeping you safe from any unintended mishaps at work.
11. Skechers Mariner Utility Boot
BEST LOW PROFILE OPTION
If you combine the cut of a low profile sneaker with the toughness of a workboot, the result might look a lot like the Mariner Utility Boot from Skechers. Its lug outsole still provides that expert level of traction needed for heavy-duty projects, while also providing good shock-absorption. While not fully waterproof like other options, it does provide a bit of water-resistance should you need to get out and about in nasty weather.
12. Frye Prison Boot
BEST HEELED BOOT
We’re not so sure about the name of this particular boot, but Frye’s boots are the real deal. The brand has been around since 1863, making them one of the oldest (if not the oldest) American boot manufacturers. They have a Goodyear welt, meaning the boots can be resoled should they wear out. The rubber sole ensures traction, and the boots are made in the USA.
13. Blundstone Unisex 550 Rugged Lux Boot
BEST CHELSEA BOOT
There are a lot of great American-made boot brands, but don’t count out the Aussies. Blundstone’s 550 boots are a rugged take on the Chelsea boot, and Blundstone’s boots are beloved for gardening, working and walking. They have a rubber sole for traction and a leather upper, and you can buy them in a range of colors.
14. Danner Bull Run Moc Toe
WEST COAST CLASSIC
Danner was born in Portland, Oregon, so it’s no surprise that they’re built for the outdoors. The brand is beloved for its hiking boots, but the company also makes great American-made work boots. These have an OrthoLite footbed for all-day comfort, and the wedge sole ensures comfort and traction. The boots are made from full-grain leather and meet ASTM F2892-18 EH safety standards.
15. Thursday Boots Diplomat Boots
Sure, they’re an excellent choice for all your rugged activities, but we love the Diplomat boots from Thursday Boots primarily for how great they look out on the town. Dress your feet in Diplomats for a first date, barhopping with the boys or when going out to dinner with the fam. There are a few colors available, but you can’t go wrong with these bad boys in their Arizona Adobe color. Pair ’em with a handsome pair of cuffed jeans and your favorite flannel shirt this winter.
16. UGG Biltmore Work Boots
BEST DARK HORSE
You’re more than likely familiar with UGG boots for making those cozy, Muppet-looking style boots that had a huge heyday in the late aughts. But UGG has and is more than just those boots, as is evidenced by these Biltmore work boots. With a fully waterproof upper, comforting support, and tough outsoles, the Biltmore boots are a great combination of form and function. A surprising pick from a surprising source.
17. Red Wing Heritage Men’s Iron Ranger Vibram Boot
These 100% leather men’s work boots have a classic design and sturdy rubber sole. The triple stitching will keep your shoes totally dry and ensure these shoes last for years to come (if you treat the leather properly). These work boots wouldn’t look out of place in the most fashionable boutique, but they offer the quality you expect from Red Wing Shoes. Plus, they’re made in the USA. Most men order a half-size smaller than their normal shoe size when ordering Red Wing boots.