Contrary to popular belief, work boots don’t have to be used for, well, work. Rather, work boots is just a catch-all term for a pair of boots that are a little bit more sturdy and durable than your standard hiking boots. Of course, the best work boots 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.
The best work boots for men have:
- A thick sole to provide traction on a variety of surfaces
- Waterproofing to protect your feet from the rain and cold
- Strong materials to keep your toes and the soles of your feet protected
- A tough upper (usually made of leather) that actually gets better looking the more you beat it up
- Durable laces that won’t fall apart in your hand
Work boots are a classic footwear staple for men, and if you have yet to invest in a pair, now’s a perfect time. With winter weather still raging and spring rains right around the corner, you’ll get a lot of good use out of them before temperatures really heat up. Plus, as retailers transition to spring style, a lot of work boots are on sale.
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
If you’re not willing to spend the money on a pair of Red Wings, Timberland’s Pro Soft-Toe work boots are a wonderful alternative at a guilt-free price point. Cut in the brand’s beloved style, these boots have been elevated by being both waterproof and insulated, which will make them helpful no matter the conditions you find yourself working in. While the color featured here skews more towards that classic Timberland style, there are a few other colorways (including a striking all-black version) for whatever your personal preference may be.
4. Carhartt Composite Work Boot
Carhartt’s commitment to making true workwear gear continues to yield products that are more than capable of handling anything and everything that’s thrown your way. This Composite work boot is a more technical boot, made with features in mind to combat the most rugged of conditions. Specifically, its Rugged Flex tech allows for a slight give throughout the material. This allows for your foot to move and stretch throughout the day. Waterproof and slip-resistant, it’s the boot you’ll want to wear when you really can’t afford to be let down.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Wolverine Men’s Raider 6-Inch Work Boots
If you spend all day on your feet, operating heavy machinery, or working on uneven ground, then the Wolverine Men’s Raider MultiShox Steel Toe 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 steel toe, MultiShox rubber lug, and mesh lining for ventilation. The upper is made from full-grain leather. In short, this is a handsome shoe that’s perfect for any job.
8. 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.
9. Dr. Martens Icon 7B10 Leather Steel Toe Work Boots
BEST FOR HIPSTERS
Brooklyn-dweller? Studio loft-renter? Frenchie owner? You’re a hipster, dude — don’t be so shocked. Head back to your Tumblr days with the boots you’ve been eyeing up since you were 13-years-old, a new pair of Doc Martens. Whether this is your first or seventh pair, these steel toe work boots don’t only serve as a super-fashionable style choice, but also quite the protective piece of footwear to strut the streets in. Whether you’re walking your pup or doing hard labor, these are the work boots to do it in.
10. 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.
11. L.L. Bean Katahdin Iron Works II Work Boots
BEST L.L. BEAN WORK BOOTS
While L.L. Bean is famous for its high-quality duck boots, the brand’s Iron Works II boots are likewise exceptional. With its full leather construction, these work boots from L.L. Bean are both stylish and durable which make them a boot that’s made for the long-haul. The leather itself has been treated to be completely waterproof, which makes for a boot you can wear anytime, anywhere. Additionally, the boots are Goodyear welted for a long-lasting fit.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.