Best Work Boots for Men- Top Picks and Reviews 2017
Expert Work Boot Reviews and Ratings by Certified Physical Trainers and Real Construction Workers
The right pair
Having the right pair of work boots that fit you perfectly will make a huge difference in your performance and safety while you are working. If you aren’t tied to a desk then you are probably working on all types of terrain, and a good pair of work boots can literally save you from electric shocks, ankle sprains, cold temperatures and other hazards that are often found on the job.
The right work boots can do more than just save your toes from unexpected accidents, and a good pair goes a long way. However, choosing a pair of work boots that is right for you can get tricky. It often depends on your daily working conditions, along with the terrain.
We can help you find the best work boots that will be perfect for your needs.
The Winners: Best Work Boots
#1 Recommendation: Timberland PRO Men's 26078 Titan 6" Waterproof Safety-Toe Work Boot
Our top recommendation as the best work boots for 2017, the Timberland 26078 Titan has to offer everything that you might need from a pair of high end work boots.
These are one of the most comfortable to wear work boots with virtually no break in time. This feature is unique to Timberland thanks to their PowerFit comfort system which is really more than just a marketing gimmick.
The Timberland 26078 offers an aluminium alloy safety toe and ankle support and thus leaves no stones unturned when it comes to preventing work injuries.
The pair also features the signature Timberland PRO® Rubber sole that makes it resistant to oil, abrasion and slippage. The amount of traction and stability it has over almost every surface is remarkable.
It’s a great pair at a great price, however they look pretty generic. However, if safety and durability are more important to you then you’ll probably be okay with making that trade-off.
#2 Recommendation: Keen Utility Men’s Pittsburgh Steel Toe Work Boot
This pair of boots from Keen has a lot to offer in terms of features.
The pair comes with solid steel safety toe along with a tough rubber toe cap and despite that it is one of the few lightweight boot in its class.
The boots come in a sporty look and can be misjudged for hiking shoes. However, the Aggressive tread sole offers a lot of traction and remarkable resistance towards slippery surfaces.
The signature Dry-lex footwear lining and KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane makes it one of the best insulated, waterproof boots. The shoes are breathable and comfortable for long work hours.
There aren’t really any drawbacks that we experienced with this pair of boots.
#3 Recommendation: Timberland PRO Men's Pitboss 6" Steel-Toe Boot
When it comes to work boots, you just can’t go wrong with a pair from Timberland and our experience with Pitboss hasn’t been any different.
It’s a good pair of boots for the price and offers everything you could need from a well designed pair of boots.
Pitboss features steel safety toe protection, insulation against electrical hazards and good traction against slippery surfaces.
The construction of this shoe shows that it’s built to last. The boots are made with Goodyear welt construction and offer a lot of room for your feet.
They’re one of the sturdiest shoes that we’ve reviewed so far, however, it can take up quiet some time to break into them.
#4 Recommendation: Red Wing Heritage Men’s Classic Work 6-Inch Moc Toe Boot
Red Wing has been making boots since the first world war and they’ve gained quiet a reputation for designing some of the best work boots in the market.
The pair of boots that stuck out for us was the Heritage Classic as it is well-rounded in terms of safety features and will fit the requirements of most of our readers.
As you can see, the shoe is perfectly contoured and a lot of thought has been given to its stitching. In fact the seams are triple stitched.
The shoes are lightweight and offer a rather thick sole that are unique to this pair of boots and you wouldn’t find a similar base support in this price range.
It does take some time to break in to these so expect wearing it for a couple of days before you get really comfortable in them.
As a side note, a lot of users have found that there is a sizing issue and our recommendation would be to go for a size 0.5-1 larger than your regular shoe size.
#5 Recommendation: Wolverine Men's W02421 Raider Boot
Wolverine Raider Boot is a pair that is just as good in terms of function as it is in design. I personally love how it looks and it is definitely meant to stand out of the crowd.
However, looks is not the only reason why it’s one of the best selling work boots. These boots are built for comfort. It’s Multishox Comfort System and multiple individual pressure padding makes it a great choice if your work requires you to move a lot.
The pair features a rubber sole that is pretty standard and is resistant to oil slippage and abrasion.
While the pair offers a lot when it comes to comfort and mobility, it lacks the much needed insulation if you’re used to working on extreme temperatures and it isn’t much promising when it comes to the safety toe feature. If your work isn’t really prone to extreme temperatures or the possibility of heavy parts falling on your feet, then these will be quiet perfect for you.
The Ultimate Buying Guide to Work Boots
The Ultimate Buying Guide to Work Boots
There are a lot of factors that make a pair of work boots worth buying and sadly not all shoes offer every benefit under the sun. However, it is important to know what features are important to you so that you can choose the best pair of shoes that offers exactly what you need.
Here are the key factors that you need to consider before buying your pair of work boots.
The upper part of a work boot can be constructed from leather, nylon, rubber or a combination of these materials. Each has its own advantages, and depending on the conditions you are working in one material is not necessarily better than the others.
- Leather is the most common and popular choice since it is durable and capable of producing some of the most comfortable work boots, as long as it is cared for properly. It the work boots are constructed from full grain leather they are durable and water resistant, though the thickness of the material can make the work boots heavy and uncomfortable. Leather will form to the contours of your feet over time, and this alone is one of the reasons for its popularity.
- Nylon is not as durable as leather, but this material is lightweight and breathable. If you are looking for the most comfortable work boots, you might want to consider a pair constructed from nylon.
- Rubber work boots are waterproof and relatively easy to clean. If you can’t wipe them clean, you can easily spray the mud and grime off. While rubber or PVC work boots are lightweight, since they cannot bend or be adjusted for fit not everyone finds them comfortable to wear. This can be especially true if you have to cover relatively long distances.
- Some of the most popular and affordable work boots are constructed from a combination of materials, typically nylon and rubber. This gives you some of the advantages of both types of materials, without significantly increasing the price of the work boots. In most cases the upper is constructed from leather, with nylon panels inserted for breathability.
It is just as important to pay attention to the soles of the work boot as the upper. The sole protects the bottoms of your feet, along with providing necessary support and traction. The materials used to construct the soles of the work boots will vary, but it is important to pay attention to if you want to stay safely on your feet in almost any terrain.
- Rubber is the most common materials used to construct soles since it is resistant to oil, abrasions and slippery surfaces. If the work boots don’t come with a rubber sole, chances are it is still included as partial simply to add to its safety or performance capabilities.
- Soles constructed from TPU or thermos-polyurethane are resistant to oil, abrasions and even some harsh chemicals. Since this synthetic material is resistant to cracking and splitting it is extremely durable, and it is also lighter in weight than rubber.
- If you are looking for the most comfortable work boots you might want to consider a pair that comes with an EVA midsole. It is softer than the outersole, and can provide additional stability and support. It is also extremely lightweight and flexible. If you need added comfort or support due to low or high arches, the addition of an EVA midsole can provide the support and soft comfort you need.
Work boots can come with toe protection or none at all. It is important to check the requirements for your job before you start shopping for a pair of boots for work. If your job does require you to have toe protection, then you will want to make sure that the boots are ASTM certified. This will ensure that the toe cap meets or exceeds all required safety standards. Toe caps can be constructed from steel, aluminum or a composite material, and each one comes with its own advantages.
Work Boot Construction
You will also want to consider how the work boots are constructed and there are three types to choose from, stitch down, cement and molded. Each has its own advantages and the right one for you will depend on budget, working conditions and personal preference.
- Stitch down is one of the most common, and it also makes it easy to have the work boots resoled as needed. This can save you money in the long run when it comes to replacement pairs. The top rated mens work boots feature a Goodyear Welt stitch, which is one stitch that runs continuously around. This ensures maximum durability. A stitch down construction is also considered the strongest.
- Cement construction might be a little more affordable, but it is also not as durable as pairs that are stitched down. The upper part of the work boot is still attached to the outsole, only it is glued instead of stitched. If you aren’t planning on subjecting your work boots to constant rugged conditions this might be a more affordable option for you to consider.
- Direct or molded attach work boots are not as common as other types of construction, but this method is stronger and more durable than cement. The outersole is still attached to the upper, only now it is better able to withstand constant exposure to rugged conditions.
Types of Men’s Work Boots
There are several types of work boots, and each comes with its own unique characteristics that make it ideal for wear in specific environments. In order to make the best possible choice, it is important that you are familiar with the various types. Not only will this make finding the right pair a little easier, it will also ensure that you have the right type and amount of protection to stay safe while you are working.
Steel Toe Work Boots
Steel toe work boots are the most common and popular, generally because of the protection the plates are able to provide. The steel caps are located in front of the boots, and are designed to protect your toes from falling and protruding objects. Thanks to innovations in design and technology steel toe work boots are no longer uncomfortably heavy. Today’s steel caps are contoured to ensure comfort, and this also helps to reduce the weight without sacrificing your safety.
Steel toe work boots are ideal for wear at construction sites, machine shops, factories, and other industrial settings. One thing you will want to look for is to ensure that the steel toe work boots are ASTM rated for safety and protection. It should also be noted that steel toe work boots are not designed to be worn around electrical hazards since the metal is conductive. This also means these work boots may not be ideal for wear in cold temperatures.
Aluminum Toe Work Boots
If weight is an issue, but you still want to meet ASTM safety standards you might want to consider a pair of aluminum toe mens work boots. While aluminum is still capable of providing adequate protection, it is a thinner metal and this should be considered based on your working conditions. Aluminum is also a conductive metal, which means you do not want to wear them around electrical hazards. Cold temperatures might also be comfortable thanks to the metal toe plate.
Composite Toe Work Boots
Even though composite toe work boots are not able to provide you with the same level of protection as steel, they still have several advantages. Composite toes are lightweight, comfortable and best of all of the material is not conductive. This means that you can safely wear composite toe work boots around electrical hazards, and the material won’t get uncomfortable hot or cold depending on the weather.
If you want to make sure that your composite toe men’s work boots are ASTM certified you will want the caps to be constructed from plastic, carbon fiber or even Kevlar. While plastic and carbon fiber won’t be able to provide you with the same level of protection as steel, Kevlar can though it does come at a slightly higher price.
When you are choosing a pair of composite toe work boots it is important to take a minute to consider the conditions you are usually working in.
Waterproof Work Boots
Some waterproof work boots are also insulated for additional protection against the cold, and if you are frequently trudging through the snow this might be the perfect choice for you. Waterproof work boots are almost always constructed from leather, and come with sealed seams that will effectively keep your dry.
The weight of these work boots will vary on the materials used in construction, and this will depend on the amount of protection you need.
Insulated Work Boots
If you frequently find yourself working in cold weather a pair of men’s insulated boots might be the best choice for you. These work boots come with an extra layer of protection against the cold and moisture. Specially engineered to be lightweight, comfortable and capable of keeping your feet warm, most also come with exceptional tracking so you can even keep your balance on slick footing.
Electrical Hazard Work Boots
Working around high voltage machinery and equipment, electricity, wiring or circuits is dangerous and requires the right footwear. Electrical hazard work boots are constructed from a rubber sole that will effectively prevent or reduce your risk of receiving an electrical shock. While there are boots designed specifically for working around electrical hazards, as long as they are not constructed from conductive materials most are safe to wear in these conditions.
This means that you can even wear a pair of composite toe work boots and still stay safe from electrocution. It is also important that you closely follow any company regulations when it comes to the gear you wear at work.
Metatarsal Work Boots
Metatarsal work boots are similar to pairs with steel safety toes, except they also protect the upper part of your foot. These work boots are also referred to as “drop hazards” since they are designed to protect your feet internally and externally. If you commonly work on construction sites or jobs with there is a lot of lifting of heavy machines and equipment, you might want to consider purchasing a pair of metatarsal work boots.
Heat Resistant Work Boots
Even though these are often considered “specialty” work boots, we still thought that there were enough industries to warrant them being included. These work boots are often required in professions where you are exposure to high amounts of heat on a regular basis. This can include everything from machine shops and factories to certain areas on construction or industrial sites.
The soles of the work boots are constructed from heat resistant rubber that is designed to be resistant to cracking, and even charring. The best mens heat resistant work boots will be able to protect your feet from temperatures reaching 500 degrees Fahrenheit and higher.
Slip Resistant Work Boots
Slip resistant work boots should never be confused with insulated or waterproof pairs. This only refers to the outsoles on the boots which are designed to provide exceptional traction on slick or uneven terrain. The added traction is usually supplied by aggressive tread patterns and a soft, grippy outersole.
Construction sites are dangerous enough without having to worry about where you are walking. If you are always trying to avoid stepping on nails or even shards of glass a pair of puncture resistant work boots may be just what you need to stay safe on the job. In some industries as pair of ASTM certified puncture resistant safety boots might be required by OSHA or company policy. These work boots typically come with interior plates that will effectively protect your feet from punctures.
Now that you are familiar with the various types of work boots, you will find that it is a little easier to choose the right pair for your job.
Fit Really Does Matter
The fit of the work boot really does matter. When you have finished a long day your feet should not feel like they are being squeezed, rubbed raw or have painful blisters appear. When your work boots are too small or tight it usually results in foot problems that can be uncomfortable, and even make walking and standing almost unbearable. Ingrown toenails, corns and blister will be common, and other more serious problems can also develop.
With the wide variety of sizes available there really is no excuse for any guy to wear the wrong size men’s work boots. The right size can almost assure you of a full day’s comfort, while the wrong one will simply leave you feeling miserable. Taking the time to measure your feet and trying the work boots on if possible will go a long ways to ensuring the comfort of your feet.
Top Rated Brands to Consider
It is almost impossible to list all of the manufacturers of mens work boots, there are simply too many. Some brands are priced out of most consumers’ budgets, while others only manufacturer a specific type of work boot for a very select industry. There are also several top rated brands that can appeal to all consumers regardless of their budget, and these work boots can usually be used in a variety of applications.
Some of the top selling brands of work boots that you might want to consider when you are shopping for your next pair can include,
- Red Wing
- Truman Boot Company
These are some of the well-known and trusted brands of mens work boots. While not every company manufactures all types of work boots, chances are unless you are in a highly specialized field you will be able to find a pair that fits your needs.
How to Care for Your Leather Work Boots
Now that you have a pair of men’s work boots it is time to learn how to care for them properly. This will help prolong their life so you can get the most value for your money. Properly caring for your leather work boots will also help ensure optimal performance, and this is important for comfort and safety.
It only takes a few minutes to keep your work boots in top shape, and when your pair manages to outlast all of your co-workers you’ll be glad that you did. Here are a few tips on caring for your work boots, and they can also be applied to all of your other leather goods.
The main tip to remember is to keep your boots clean and well-conditioned. This means brushing off dirt and salt water residue and applying an approved leather conditioner. If you are worried that you might have to do this every time you wear your work boots, there is nothing to be concerned about. Most experts recommend conditioning your work boots after 5 to 10 wears in rugged conditions. Otherwise, a pair of leather work boots for men typically only need to be conditioned after 15 to 25 wears.
Over conditioning your leather work boots can cause just as many problems as forgetting to keep the pair soft and supple. Occasionally it is also a good idea to take a small brush or even a cotton swab to clean the dirt and grime from around the welts.
The type of leather the boots are constructed from will also factor into their care. Nubuck and roughout leathers should only be conditioned on the interior, otherwise simply use a soft brush or cloth to remove dirt and built up grime. The reason that you probably won’t want to apply a topical product to these types of leathers is that it can ruin the nap.
If the work boots are constructed from shell cordovan, Zug or true Scotch grain we do recommend moisturizing the leathers according to the conditions you are working in. This is also true regarding the care of pebbled grained work boots.
Once your work boots are cleaned and conditioned, if applicable, we also recommend that you use a shoe tree. This will help to maintain the shape of the leather so your boots will continue to fit you comfortably. If you are lucky enough to own a cedar shoe tree it can also help eliminate odors, moisture and bacteria, and this is always an advantage.
While it is important to condition certain types of leather to prevent it from cracking and drying out, there are a few products you will want to avoid. Some are unnecessary, and others can actually do more harm than good.
Mink oil is not an effective conditioner for work boots. It is expensive, often inconsistent, and can even ruin or change the leather’s appearance. Polishers should only be used on dress shoes, there really isn’t a reason to use it on a pair of work boots. The opposite is true for wax based waterproofing products. While it can change the color of the leather, it can give you another layer of protection from water.
You can also find leather cleaners, and we recommend that you only use these types of products when it is absolutely necessary. The harsh cleaner will remove layers of dirt and grime, but it also strips the leather of necessary oils. This can cause it to become cracked and dry, and this usually leads to the boots’ failure. If you do have to use a cleaner it is always best to follow it up with an application of an approved leather conditioner.
If you are ever in doubt about how to properly care for your work boots you can always refer to the owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website.
Common Defects to Look For in Work Boots
Even the best work boots for men can come with an occasional defect, and it most often occurs in the stitching. This is never good news if you have just purchased the pair, but thankfully most come with a simple return policy.
So you don’t accidentally buy a pair with stitching or other defects here are a few common examples to watch out for.
- The grain on top of the work boots is loose instead of neat and tight.
- Prominent wrinkles in the outer layer of leather.
- Loose grain around the ankles of the work boots.
- The leather on the tongue is wrinkled and cracked.
- Shallow cuts on or around the tongue.
- Cracking on the upper layer of leather.
- Gaps around the heel due to improperly folding of the material before stitching.
- Uneven, missing or high visible welt stitching.
- Puckering around the welt.
These defects can affect the work boots’ performance and durability, and this means their ability to provide adequate protection. There are a few others issues that you might also want to avoid since they affect the work boots visual appeal.
- Miss-matched leather panels.
- Forgotten or uneven finish.
- Non matching half soles.
- Stretch marks on the leather.
- Visible veins on the leather.
Ultimately it is up to you to return the work boots if the pair comes with one of these aesthetic issues. Chances are these problems won’t affect the overall performance of the work boots, only the appearance. In some lines of work it really doesn’t matter what the work boots look like as long as they are able to provide plenty of protection.
Additional Buying Tips
Here are a few extra tips that will help you choose the best work boots to fit your feet and job.
- Research first. Find out if there are any safety requirements at work that might affect the type of work boots you purchase. This is also a good time to take into account your personal needs.
- It is best to shop for boots or measure your feet in the late afternoon or evening. Your feet will swell during the day, and this is the best way to ensure that you select the right size. If you want to own the most comfortable work boots, it is imperative that they are the correct size.
- When shopping in a brick and mortar store it is always advisable to bring socks similar to the ones you will be wearing with the boots.
Comfort is the most important aspect to look for in a pair of work boots, after safety. Extra padding in the insoles and cushioning in the heels can make it a little easier to spend the day on your feet. If you have issues with low or high arches, you might want to consider spending a little more on the proper insert. Just because they are work boots doesn’t mean that your feet can’t also be comfortable.
Don’t forget that almost all work boots will need some break in time before you get really comfortable with them. This really varies with boot-to-boot and I’d recommend reading amazon reviews from previous owners to better judge this factor.