The Best Work Boots of 2024 (2024)

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Manual labor can be hard on the feet. We've narrowed down the best work boots to help you tread carefully in dangerous work environments, and also stand comfortably on hard surfaces for hours at a time.

Written by Taylor Roby and Constance Mahoney

The Best Work Boots of 2024 (1)

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Manual labor can be hard on the feet. We’ve narrowed down the best work boots to help you tread carefully in dangerous work environments, and also stand comfortably on hard surfaces for hours at a time.

Like any tool, there’s a right boot for the job. While most of us will sacrifice comfort for safety and function, bulky and stiff work boots can lead to chronic pain. Overall, the best work boots should balance the competing priorities of comfort and utility.

Even if you’re careful, heavy materials can unexpectedly fall and crush a foot. When that happens, the only thing that sits between you and workmen’s comp is a work boot. Finding the proper footwear is a step toward a long and healthy career.

Based in the Gunnison Valley of Colorado, lead author and boot tester Constance Mahoney was raised as a fifth-generation hunter and rancher. Mahoney and her husband live a life that demands a lot from footwear. They manage property, work seasonal jobs, hunt, fly fish, and frequently venture out into the mud and snow. Every boot on this list has been submitted to careful examination and real-world scrutiny.

We’ve categorized boots into steel-toe, safety-toe, and soft-toe varieties. To better evaluate each boot’s utility, we rated each on a “utility-scale,” measuring a boot’s casual wearability against its utility.

From weekend chore masters to heavy-duty diesel drivers, here are the best work boots of 2024. To help you find the best work boot for your needs, we’ve included a buyer’s guide, a frequently asked questions section, and a comparison chart.

Editor’s Note: We updated our work boot guide on December 19, 2023, to include our pick for the best total foot protection work boots the Danner Steel Yard, Danner Vicious, as well as including the Kenetrek Hardscrabble boot.

The Best Work Boots of 2024

Best Overall Work Boots

Caterpillar Alaska 2.0

Specs

  • Utility-scale85% utility, 15% casual; best for outdoor-heavy use, but nimble enough for indoor work as well
  • WaterproofYes
  • Steel toeYes
  • Electrical hazard protection and other safety certificationsASTM F2892-18 rated to protect against open circuits up to 600 V in dry conditions
  • Weight per boot2 lbs., 3.1 oz. (size 12)

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Durable outsole and upper
  • Breathable
  • Accurate sizing
  • Good value

Cons

  • Low quality included laces

Taylor Roby

Caterpillar (CAT) has been known as a leader in construction and earth-moving equipment since 1925. With its prowess as one of the best in the business, it has also pushed to offer builders-quality footwear and clothing that’s as durable as its machinery.

After testing for several weeks, the Caterpillar Alaska 2.0 steel-toe boot ($140) came out on top. The Alaska 2.0 is a 6-inch steel toe boot that was newly designed for increased comfort, while still offering the same safety features and durability that CAT has always been known for.

The boot features a full-grain leather upper that’s waterproof and durable. Compared to most new work boots we tried, these provided immediate comfort straight out of the box with a broken-in feel that only gets more comfortable with use. They’re comfortable and flexible enough for long, hard days on the job site, and we didn’t feel the urge to get out of them as quickly as possible when we got home.

The uppers feature mesh sides as well as a mesh liner for breathability. They have a large leather pull loop to make slipping them on a breeze and heavy-duty riveted metal loops and hooks for the laces.

A steel shank in the sole provides stability and support but does not overwhelm the flexibility of this boot. Many work boots boast protection but are bulky and can negatively affect your gait. The Alaska 2.0 felt nimble and still allowed for foot awareness. The abrasion and slip-resistant outsoles shed mud and dirt easily while offering good traction. These boots are also built with a Goodyear welt, which means they can be resoled repeatedly.

The CAT Alaska 2.0 boots come in 6-inch steel toe (tested), 6-inch standard toe ($135), and 8-inch steel toe insulated ($155) varieties. For comfort and durability, these are some of the best work boots for a wide range of environments and projects.

Best Budget Work Boots

Caterpillar Second Shift

Specs

  • Utility scale80% utility, 20% casual
  • WaterproofYes
  • Steel toeYes
  • Electrical Hazard protection and other safety certificationsYes, this boot protects the wearer against open circuits up to 600 V in dry conditions (ASTM F2413-18)
  • Weight per boot2 lbs., 2.5 oz. (size 12)

Pros

  • Great value
  • Durable, high quality leather upper
  • Solid breathability and comfort

Cons

  • Advertised as waterproof, but tend to soak through easily

Taylor Roby

We understand that not everyone can afford the best on the market, especially when you’re just starting out. I recall my first construction job and the boss saying, “Don’t show up if you don’t have steel-toe work boots on.”

I spent over an hour at the local fleet store looking at boots, not sure what to buy, and worried I wouldn’t be able to afford the high prices for a good pair of boots. The pair I ended up with hurt my feet terribly after a long day’s work and were so heavy that I felt like I had weights strapped to my feet.

The Caterpillar (CAT) Second Shift steel-toe work boot ($115), fits the needs of someone looking for a great boot at a lower price. The Second Shift is comfortable enough right out of the box to wear for a full day’s work with no blistering or hot spots. As you wear them, the thick, oiled leather uppers break into a really comfortable fit that forms to your foot. It has a padded cuff to prevent chafing and a mesh liner that allows your feet to breathe.

These boots can handle water exposure decently well; they’re water resistant but not waterproof. I found that on a long day in the slush of a Minnesota spring, the leather was soaked and my feet were starting to get damp. Because of this, I would say these are best suited for dry location work with occasional water exposure.

Keeping the leather oiled helps keep the water out in the occasional deep puddle or on really wet days when I’m outside. The slip-resistant tread is shaped in a way that sheds dirt and rocks very well while still providing great traction. Sole and mid-foot flexibility is great as well, allowing for all-day comfort.

If you’re shopping for work boots on a budget, the Caterpillar (CAT) Second Shift steel-toe work boots are a great buy.

Best Safety-Toe Work Boot

KEEN Utility Chicago 6-Inch Waterproof With Carbon Toe

Specs

  • Utility-scale75% utility, 25% casual; best for all-around, mid-duty work
  • WaterproofYes
  • Steel toeYes
  • Electric hazard protection and other safety certificationsYes, ASTM F2892-18 rated to protect against open circuits up to 600 V in dry conditions
  • Weight per boot1 lb. 9 oz.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Great energy return
  • Supportive

Cons

  • Break-in period is required to avoid hot spots

Taylor Roby

KEEN Utility’s Chicago work boots ($200) are as comfortable as you can get for a real work boot. The construction quality is evident to the touch, the eye, and the try-on feel. Crisp stitching, clean, straight lines, and generous use of full-grain leather dotted with quality hook and hole hardware set the product apart.

The break-in time is much shorter than an all-leather “heritage” work boot. KEEN incorporates fabric in the upper flex zones as well as decent forefoot flex in the sole, making these feel wonderful on the feet right out of the box.

With that said, our reviewer “went full-blown lumberjack” with his KEENs, going on a 6-hour hike in the woods. Hot spots ensued on both heels, which could probably be chalked up to the stiffness of the soles and stout heel cup. Both lend to the supportive structure of the boot. The carbon safety toe was unnoticeable, however, making them possibly the best protective-toe boot we’ve ever worn.

The arch feels low as well, but it’s not grossly unsupportive. And we didn’t notice too much arch fatigue related to the low arch. Traction is excellent in mud as well as on ice. The soles have ample, thin sipes that provide great traction in winter conditions.

The boots aren’t insulated but are lined with KEEN Utility’s proprietary bootie liner. It helps trap heat, providing enough “R-value” to work into the low 30s. KEEN’s Chicago boots are at home doing real work. They’re relatively stiff, but not more than they need to be. They deliver the protection and support you need in a utility boot without being overly uncomfortable.

The Chicagos aren’t aimed at the lumbersexual (if that’s you, take a look at the heritage boots in this review). But they look good enough to pass this threshold when they need to.

The Chicago Work Boots are available in a 6-inch boot with a carbon fiber toe (reviewed), a met-guard ($180), and a low-cut Oxford ($165). If you don’t need the protection and just want a comfortable boot for tasks around the house, we’d recommend considering the soft toe ($185).

Best Soft-Toe Work Boot

Thorogood American Heritage 6-Inch Moc Toe

Specs

  • Utility-scale50% utility, 50% casual; best for indoor warehouse work or carpentry
  • WaterproofNo
  • Steel toeNo
  • Electrical hazard protection and other safety certificationsElectric shock-resisting soles and heels capable of withstanding an application of 18,000 V
  • Weight per boot1 lb. 12 oz. (size 12)

Taylor Roby

If you gave a child a crayon and asked them to draw a work boot, chances are they would push back a sketch similar to the Thorogood American Heritage Moc Toe ($250). A simple 6-inch shaft; bold, reinforced stitching; and a moccasin-style cap sewn over a wedge sole — it’s an American classic that defines the early work boot.

Many companies sell a wedge-style moc toe, but nobody owns the market like Thorogood. The American Heritage 6-inch remains the brand’s bellwether boot.

The American Heritage style has worked its way into the closets of the fashion-forward. But make no mistake — this is a hardworking boot that’s entirely capable of an honest day’s work. The 2.2mm, oil-tanned leather upper is unlined, triple-stitched for durability, and anchored to the MAXwear wedge sole with a Goodyear storm welt.

People who stand on hard surfaces all day swear by them for comfort. Why? Instead of putting pressure on a heel and the ball of the foot, the flat outsole disperses your weight across the entire sole. The tread is too shallow for reliable traction outside, but this boot excels on the hard, smooth, slick surfaces you find in warehouses.

One of the best parts of owning a pair of American Heritage boots is Thorogood’s restoration program. After you’ve put some abusive miles on them, you can box them up and send them back to Thorogood, where the brand will rebuild your boots by hand to a “like new” condition for $90-125.

Not every job requires the protective heft of the safety toe, and that’s why we love the flexibility and comfort of this classic soft-toe moc. It has the durability most weekend workers will ever need, and provides the unassuming confidence to walk through life’s lighter tasks.

If you need more protection, the American Heritage 6-inch Moc Toe is available in a steel-toe model ($255).

Best Total Foot Protection

Danner Steel Yard

Specs

  • Utility-scale100% utility indoor/outdoor work, heavy-duty work where total foot protection is necessary
  • WaterproofNo
  • Steel toeYes, with metatarsal guard
  • Electrical hazard protection and other safety certificationsYes, ASTM F2413-18 I/75 C/75 Mt/75 EH
  • Weight per boot2.25 lbs. (size 12)

Pros

  • Top-notch protection
  • Metatarsal shield protects against top-of-the-foot impacts
  • Durable
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Limited flexibility
  • Heavy

Taylor Roby

Since 1932, Danner has been renowned for its commitment to craftsmanship and making durable boots for tradesmen and women. The Danner Steel Yard ($200) is part of the brand’s most popular work boot family. But with the addition of the metatarsal guard paired with a steel toe, you’ve got the best total protection for your foot.

The upper full-grain leather has been tested six times to ensure it is the strongest and most durable leather. The Goodyear welt construction attaches the outsole to the upper and creates a stable and long-lasting connection. The outsole uses an oil-and-slip-resistant rubber with angled lugs and a defined heel for versatile traction. It is also Electrical Hazard Certified. These are made to keep you safe.

Safety is crucial, but comfort is a bonus. The inside has a mesh lining to help with airflow, a patent-pending plush, dual-density footbed, and underfoot venting for airflow. The heel is slightly narrow, but it opens up in the toe box.

Our tester noted that while the footbed is comfortable, the steel plate over the metatarsals does limit flexibility. However, it is a small price to pay for the safety the Danner Steel Yard provides.

Most Comfortable Work Boot

BOGS Bedrock II 6″ WP

Specs

  • Utility-scale75% utility / 25% casual; outdoor work, all-around work
  • WaterproofYes
  • Steel toeNo
  • Electrical hazard protection and other safety certificationsYes, F2413-11 / M I/75 C/75
  • Weight per boot2 lbs. (size 12)

Pros

  • Uncommonly comfortable
  • Minimal break-in required
  • Perfect for wide feet

Cons

  • Not the most supportive around the ankle joint

Taylor Roby

Although BOGS is best known for its neoprene pull-on “farm” boots, the brand’s work boots are worth a look. Available in a variety of protection types, BOGS’ Bedrock series is a lightweight boot that wears like a hiker. We particularly like the 6-Inch Bedrock II ($170).

At the core of the boot is the bouncy midsole. The soft boot truly feels like a hiker and can be worn straight out of the box. This is what we’d expect from a boot with a cemented outsole, which generally provides a wonderfully comfortable fit.

The pebbled insole is a nice touch too. Slide your feet into the boots, and the insole massages your feet. It’s super comfortable and wakes up the feet in the early morning.

The entire boot is wrapped with lightweight but protective “action” leather. This “shell” leather is reputed to be 10 times more durable than traditional leather and (true to all BOGS) is 100% waterproof.

With a 6-inch shaft, the boot has the potential to be very supportive. We just wished it offered a little more, as we found more ankle support in some of the other 6-inch boots we tested.

The BOGS Bedrock 6-Inch WP runs slightly wide, and it looks like it. With a large profile, we’d recommend sizing down a half size for a more precise fit.

Overall, the combination of supple materials and a wonderfully comfortable midsole made this boot the most comfortable work boot we stepped into this year.

Best for Snow and Cold Conditions

Muck Arctic Pro Steel Toe Boot

Specs

  • Utility Scale80% utility, 20% casual; best for heavy-duty winter work
  • WaterproofYes
  • Steel toeYes
  • Electric hazard protection and other safety certificationsYes, F2413-11 M I/75 C/75 EH
  • Weight per boot2.2 lbs. (size 12)

Pros

  • Ideal for cold conditions and deep snow
  • Warm
  • Good traction in snow and muck

Cons

  • Only available in whole sizes

Taylor Roby

For really cold, snowy, wet conditions, we reach for a simple pull-on neoprene boot. They’re super easy to work with and provide bombproof weather protection. Muck’s Arctic Pro ST ($215) is the go-to boot for contractors in Idaho’s ever-expanding mountain towns, and for good reason. They are easy to use, warm the legs, and allow you to work in deep drifts without ingressing snow, which hampers progress.

The 17.5-inch shafts are made from a thick, 8mm neoprene and lined with a soft fleece. The lower boot is protected by a rubber layup, adding complete waterproofing. A 2mm thermal foam footbed rides over the EVA midsole. It’s comfortable and prevents valuable heat from seeping out of the sole.

The boots are anchored to a Bob Tracker outsole. It’s not an aggressive hiker grip and doesn’t sport the ice-gripping rubber found on the Arctic Ice. Overall, it’s more suitable for snow and “muck.”

A comprehensive package brings these boots’ comfort range all the way down to -60 degrees Fahrenheit. We haven’t tested these ratings, and we hope you don’t have to either. But know that you’ll be comfortable working through any wet, wintry task.

Muck’s Arctic boot line is available in mid and tall models. But for serious work, we recommend the Pro version, which is the warmest in the fleet and sports a steel toe and shank for protection.

The Muck Arctic Pro ST fits true to size with a minimal sock. Keep in mind, Muck Boots are only available in whole sizes. If you prefer a thicker sock, we’d recommend sizing up.

Best Pull-On Work Boot

Kodiak McKinney

Specs

  • Utility-scale70% utility, 30% casual; indoor/outdoor work, all-around work
  • WaterproofLeather is waterproof but elastic stretch panels are. not
  • Steel toeNo, composite toe
  • Electrical hazard protection and other safety certificationYes, F2413 I/75 C/75 EH PR
  • Weight per boot2 lbs. (size 12)

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Nice-looking
  • More work capable than most other Chelsea-style boots

Cons

  • Runs large
  • Not ideal for wet conditions or deep snow

Taylor Roby

The pull-on ankle boot is one of our favorite boot styles. They fit over the foot with ease and quickly kick off after a long day of work. Our Blundstone 566 is one of our favorite winter boots and is great for more desk-bound, office work. But they aren’t suitable for hard labor.

Kodiak’s McKinney Chelsea ($180) is an interpretation of the pull-on through the lens of the work boot. All seams on the 6-inch boot are double-stitched, which locks all the high-stress points. The composite safety toe rides unobtrusively inside the boot. And the silhouette is slightly stouter than a non-safety-toe boot, but the Chelsea styling hides it well.

The McKinney Chelsea runs about a size too large. We’d recommend buying a full size down from your normal size. But once the fit is dialed, you get a boot that provides all-day comfort with wearable protection. The composite toe is very light and provides full coverage for the first four toes. The pinky toe rides just outside the toebox.

Kodiak’s McKinney has a fat chevron tread. The traction is blocky, but the spacing is tight and prone to collecting debris. A 1.5cm heel gives the boot a middle-of-the-line lift that, in our minds, splits the difference between what we look for in an indoor and outdoor boot, making this boot a good all-rounder.

The leather on the McKinney Chelsea is waterproof. Unfortunately, the elastic stretch panels are not. Step into anything deeper than 4 inches, and your feet will get wet.

We also wished the boots had a front pull-on strap to pair with the back. Of course, that sort of detailing starts to tread into the look and feel of a stylish pull-on style boot, so we’ll let it slide.

Best of the Rest

Kenetrek Hardscrabble ST

Specs

  • Utility-scale80% utility, 20% casual; best for heavy-duty work, though light enough for moderate work
  • WaterproofYes
  • Steel toeYes
  • Electrical hazard protection and other safety certificationsYes, ASTM F2412-11 and ASTM F2413-11 impact, compression and electrical hazard safety standards
  • Weight per boot1.9 lbs.

Pros

  • Excellent ankle support
  • Ideal for mud, snow, and loose outdoor surfaces
  • Durable

Cons

  • Requires some break-in

Taylor Roby

The Kenetrek Hardscrabble ST boots ($470) are built to withstand tough conditions. They have double and triple stitching in high wear areas, 2.8 mm thick full-grain leather uppers, and 7mm nylon midsoles for extra support. There are no seams down the tongue for abrasion resistance and to beef up its waterproofness.

At 7” tall, these boots provide excellent ankle support, crucial for navigating uneven or rocky landscapes. The Lightweight K-Talon outsole and protective rubber sole guard give you confidence on slippery or loose surfaces. Whether you’re hiking, hunting, or working in demanding environments, the boots offer solid footing.

The Windtex® waterproof capabilities are outstanding, keeping your feet dry even in wet and muddy conditions. This feature saved our tester’s feet as he packed out his elk in wintery weather in a canoe.

The Kenetrek Hardscrabble ST boots are an excellent choice for individuals who demand performance and durability in challenging outdoor environments. With top-notch waterproofing, traction, and support, these boots excel in various conditions. While there might be a brief break-in period, they are not insulated,and with a noticeably higher price point, the long-term reliability and comfort make them a solid investment for outdoor enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Timberland PRO Boondock 6-Inch Comp Toe

Specs

  • Utility-scale80% utility, 20% casual; best for heavy-duty work, though light enough for moderate work
  • WaterproofYes
  • Steel toeNo, composite toe
  • Electrical hazard protection and other safety considerationsYes, electrical hazard protection meets F2412-11, F2413-11, and F2892-11
  • Weight per boot2.2 lbs.

Pros

  • Plentiful structural support
  • Durable
  • Quite warm for a non-insulated work boot

Cons

  • On the heavier side, especially for a boot without a steel toe

Taylor Roby

Timberland’s PRO line offers boots for serious work, but keeps comfort in mind. The Boondocks boots ($200) are protected with soft, waterproof leather and a robust rubber-toe bumper, all sewn together with double, triple, and quadruple stitching. These boots exude quality in look and feel.

Despite tipping the scales at 35 ounces (per boot), these hardwearing boots are deceptively light on the feet. Under the hood, the toes are protected by a composite safety toe. A fiberglass shank lightens the load while providing structural support. The midsole is made from dual-density foams, simultaneously subtracting weight and adding flexibility and comfort.

The Boondocks have a hybrid outsole. The front three-quarters of the boot is fastened to the upper with a Goodyear welt, but the heel is cemented. Underfoot, the traction has a distinct hiker-style tread that sheds muck and is resistant to slipping, oil, and abrasions.

The combination of a welted and cemented sole allows for durability, stability, and a very comfortable boot that breaks in quickly. These are the most comfortable Goodyear welt* boots on the list. We use an asterisk because, unfortunately, the three-quarter welt is not resoleable.

A fully waterproof bootie sits under the waterproof leather, extending into the gusseted tongue. We typically find this level of weather protection in winter hiking boots but rarely in work boots. Bonus: This also protects against bloodborne critters.

Though the Boondock is not insulated, we found the waterproof membrane adds to the warmth. Our boots tested to be comfortable down to 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Two speed hooks allow you to lace up to the top of the boot, and the hooks have integrated eyelets so, should you prefer, you can lace the boot entirely through eyelets.

If your 9-to-5 runs closer to 7-to-7, the Boondock shouldn’t be overlooked — these are supremely comfortable boots. Keep in mind, the Boondocks boots run about a half-size big and also wide, especially in the toebox.

If your dogs sit squarely in E, these will feel great. Otherwise, we’d recommend sizing down a half size. And if you still have questions, Timberland allows returns within 30 days — with a full refund.

Danner Vicious

Specs

  • Utility-scale80% utility, 20% casual; indoor/outdoor work, all-around work
  • WaterproofYes
  • Steel toeNo, options include plain, composite, or floating PU metatarsal guard
  • Electrical hazard protection and other safety certificationsYes, ASTM F2892-1
  • Weight per bootVaries based on options; 1.2 to 2.2 lbs.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Minimal break-in required
  • Effective waterproofing

Cons

  • On the pricey side

Taylor Roby

The Danner Vicious boot ($220-270) is comfortable right out of the box. The dual-density EVA midsole allows for comfort on those extra-long work days or when carrying heavy loads. It’s a relatively lightweight work boot, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t built to be used. The full-grain leather upper, Vibram outsole, and composite toe option make it durable and ready to work.

The lining is water-proof with a GORE-TEX liner, which our tester put to the ultimate test by packing out an elk with several creek and snow crossings. Her feet stayed dry and she appreciated the heel cup and wider toe box. Her feet didn’t slip inside the boot and never had any blisters. The 90-degree heel, adds more lugs and grooves to help maintain balance on uneven terrain but has a low enough profile that transitions from shop to outdoor work easily. Which came in handy when she wore the same boots standing on a concrete floor to process the elk she helped pack out.

This boot is a top-tier option for those in need of reliable and durable footwear. The combination of comfort, traction, and waterproofing makes them versatile for various activities and environments. Despite a higher price point, the long-term durability and performance make them well worth the investment.

The Danner Vicious comes in many different options. For women, there is a 4” plain toe or composite toe version. For men, there is a 4.5”, 6”, and 8” option with plain, composite, or composite with a floating PU metatarsal guard. They even have an 8” insulated version.

Red Wing Iron Ranger — Men’s & Women’s

Specs

  • Utility-scale25% utility, 75% casual; capable of light-duty shop work, but lack of safety toe makes this better off the shop floor
  • WaterproofNo
  • Steel toeNo
  • Electrical hazard protection (and other safety certifications)N/A
  • Weight per boot1.8 lbs.

Pros

  • Top-notch build quality
  • Made in America
  • Elegant styling
  • Doubles as a dress boot
  • Durable

Cons

  • Not ideal for heavy duty work
  • Expensive

Taylor Roby

Heritage boots are defined as classic leather boots, often made in America. The style exudes a vintage aesthetic, traditional materials, and heirloom quality. Perhaps no boot brand better exemplifies heritage footwear better than Red Wing. At the tip of the feather of Red Wing’s Heritage line is its iconic Iron Ranger ($350)

The Iron Rangers are named after Minnesota’s Iron Range mountains, where miners still trolly taconite ore out of the hills to produce iron. The boot’s 2mm full-grain leather is triple-stitched and patched with an extra protective leather cap over the toes. Polished nickel eyes and hooks ride up the 6-inch shaft to close the boot around the ankle.

A Vibram 430 Mini Lug outsole sits under a cork midsole and is sewn to the boot by way of a Goodyear welt. It’s a negligible lug, providing just enough bite on sloppy sidewalks or in the back end of the restaurant.

The Iron Rangers are at the other end of our utility scale, wearing far more casual than utilitarian — which shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, this is the boot Bradley Cooper pairs with a two-piece suit. But that doesn’t mean they can’t pull a swing shift.

Our friend Tim Reeve, who sits at the helm of our favorite knife company — Chris Reeve Knives — has two everyday carries: his Sebenza 31 knife and his Iron Rangers.

The boots list for $330, but our reviewer bought his on eBay for $125. In addition to the price break, the boots were already broken in and perfectly faded.

If you’re upping your game from sneakers or desert boots, we highly recommend stepping into a pair of Red Wing Iron Rangers. With comfort, looks, and the “handmade in America” stamp, you really can’t go wrong with the Rangers.

Work Boots Comparison Chart

BootsPriceUtility-scaleWaterproofSteel ToeElectrical hazard protection and other safety certificationsWeight per boot
Caterpillar Alaska 2.0$13585% utility, 15% casual; best for outdoor-heavy use, but nimble enough for indoor work as wellYesYesASTM F2892-18 rated to protect against open circuits up to 600 V in dry conditions2 lbs., 3.1 oz. (size 12)
Caterpillar Second Shift$11580% utility, 20% casualYesYesYes, this boot protects the wearer against open circuits up to 600 V in dry conditions (ASTM F2413-18)2 lbs., 2.5 oz. (size 12)
KEEN Utility Chicago$17075% utility, 25% casual; best for all-around, mid-duty workYesYesYes, ASTM F2892-18 rated to protect against open circuits up to 600 V in dry conditions1 lb. 9 oz.
Throrogood American Heritage$25050% utility, 50% casual; best for indoor warehouse work or carpentryNoAvailable as an optionElectric shock-resisting soles and heels capable of withstanding an application of 18,000 V1 lb. 12 oz. (size 12)
Danner Steel Yard$200100% utility indoor/outdoor work, heavy-duty work where total foot protection is necessaryNoYes, with metatarsal guardYes, ASTM F2413-18 I/75 C/75 Mt/75 EH2.25 lbs. (size 12)
BOGS Bedrock II 6″ WP$17075% utility / 25% casual; outdoor work, all-around workYesNoYes, F2413-11 / M I/75 C/752 lbs. (size 12)
Muck Arctic Pro$21580% utility, 20% casual; best for heavy-duty winter workYesYesYes, F2413-11 M I/75 C/75 EH2.2 lbs. (size 12)
Kodiak McKinney$18070% utility, 30% casual; indoor/outdoor work, all-around workLeather is waterproof but elastic stretch panels are notNo, composite toeYes, F2413 I/75 C/75 EH PR2 lbs. (size 12)
Kenetrek Hardscrabble ST$47080% utility, 20% casual; best for heavy-duty work, though light enough for moderate workYesYesYes, ASTM F2412-11 and ASTM F2413-11 impact, compression and electrical hazard safety standards1.9 lbs.
Timberland PRO Boondock$20080% utility, 20% casual; best for heavy-duty work, though light enough for moderate workYesNo, composite toeYes, electrical hazard protection meets F2412-11, F2413-11, and F2892-112.2 lbs.
Danner Vicious$22080% utility, 20% casual; indoor/outdoor work, all-around workYesNo, though toe protection options existYes, ASTM F2892-1Varies based on options; 1.2 to 2.2 lbs.
Red Wing Iron Ranger$35025% utility, 75% casual; capable of light-duty shop work, but lack of safety toe makes this better off the shop floorNoNoN/A1.8 lbs.

How We Tested Work Boots

The GearJunkie team does not shy away from manual work. Our crew is used to being on their feet for hours in all different weather and working conditions. Safety is a priority, and work boots are critical. Boots that are ill-fitting or not made to a certain standard can be dangerous and put your feet and sometimes your life in danger. That is why it is so important for us to list all of the safety ratings for the boots in this guide.

Lead author Constance Mahoney grew up on a cattle ranch in Montana. She is no stranger to long days on her feet in all weather conditions. She understands the importance of having the right boot for the job and thinks work boots are just as important as the tools she works with. Quality matters.

Constance’s husband, Taylor, has been working in the trades since 2006, and is on-site 5 days a week putting the gear he’s wearing to the real test. He is also a licensed chiropractor trained in biomechanics, gait, and orthotics, giving him a unique perspective on how work boots should support, fit, and flex.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Work Boot

Soles

Of course, a work boot should protect your feet, but the unsung task of the work boot is to enable you to work hour after hour, day after day.

If the boot isn’t working, your legs, hips, back, and neck will compensate and eventually take the brunt (and do so with less grace). Above all else, a work boot’s task is to address stress at the ground level. A comfortable boot is arguably a safer boot. You’ll be more sure-footed and focused on the task at hand in a comfortable boot.

The outsole is where the rubber meets the road. Riding over the cushiony midsole and in direct contact with the ground, the outsole is about grip and protection.

Many boots use special formulas of urethane compounds that strike a balance of flexibility, durability, and increased traction on slick surfaces. If you work in shops where oils occasionally spill on the floor, look for shoes that specifically indicate oil and slip resistance. The best of the best are certified to meet SRC slip-resistance standards.

For standing all day on concrete, we prefer the simple wedge-shaped sole. Unlike a heeled boot, the sole has full contact with the ground. This helps absorb the shock with every step and disperses forces equally across the sole. A full-contact outsole also adds a little extra traction and, hence, is often a preferred sole for those working on slick surfaces.

When you think of the wedge sole, you immediately think of the classic moc-toe boot. We listed Thorogood’s American Heritage 6-inch moc toe MAXwear Wedge as our preferred soft-toe boot. But if your shoes are resoleable, a wedge sole can be added to any work boot regardless of the toe type.

If you’re standing all day on cement, like working the floor at Costco, a wedge-shaped sole should be on your list. Or, if your work brings you outside, look for a hiker-like tread that provides more traction in dirt and mud.

Sitting opposite the wedge sole is the heeled boot. The raised cowboy-style heel shifts your center of gravity slightly forward. These boots can be extremely durable and stable. But that gap between the heel and under the ball of the foot doesn’t give the foot full contact with the ground.

Because of this, they can feel a little squirrelly on slick ground. But they seat well with climbing spurs and have added ankle stability while climbing. Hence, you’ll often find taller heels on logger-style boots.

Soles can be cemented or welted to the boot. Cemented boots are lighter, more flexible, and arguably more comfortable out of the box. But once the sole wears out, shoes with cemented outsoles are irreparable.

A Goodyear welt can be resoled several times, increasing the life of your purchase. The outsole welt is sewn to the bottom of the shoe, enabling boots to be sewn and re-sewn multiple times. The shoe won’t be as comfortable underfoot as a boot cemented to an EVA midsole, but the durability and support are reasonable trade-offs. Over time, slipping into a Goodyear-welted boot will feel wonderfully comfortable.

Need more support? Consider an aftermarket insole. Available in a variety of thicknesses and cushion levels, Superfeet orthotics add a touch of personalized support to your boot. We particularly recommend an aftermarket insole for boots that lack a midsole.

Weatherproof

Dry feet are warm feet. If you’re working in truly wet conditions — like pulling crab pots off the Aleutian Islands — look for 100% waterproof boots. If it’s both wet and cold, upgrade to a thicker neoprene shell like Muck Boot’s fleece-lined Arctic Pro. It’s both 100% waterproof and rated down to -60 degrees F.

Other boots, like the BOGS Bedrock, use waterproof leather. In addition to waterproof leather, Timberland’s Boondocks and Kenetrek Hardscrabble ST boots add a waterproof-breathable membrane to keep moisture out. These membranes allow boots to be both waterproof and breathable.

Insulation

Cold-weather boots include a thermal footbed and insulation in the shaft. The insulation is listed in the fabric’s weight per yard in grams. The higher the gram count, the warmer the boot is.

For cold job sites, we recommend boots with no less than 200 grams of insulation in the liner (with 400 grams the preferred winter standard). Muck Boot’s Arctic Pro has a fat neoprene outer lined with fleece.

If winter work boots have a safety toe, look for boots with insulation around the cap (or composite cap). This reduces the conductive effects of heat transfer from the toes to the safety toe.

High-vis accents are also great, especially if your work starts and ends in the dark or if you’re working roadside.

Toe Protection

When he was younger, our lead tester’s dad worked on a farm that still plowed the fields with steel-wheeled tractors. Long story short, he now has nine toes. The importance of protective boots can’t be overlooked.

“Safety boots” are boots that have a protective cap that covers the phalanges (your actual toes). The cap resists compression, puncture, and impact forces.

Steel toe versus safety toe: What’s the difference? All steel-toe boots are considered safety-toe boots. Safety-toe boots are available in composites, alloys, Kevlar, and hard plastics. Steel is more durable and is considered the gold standard on many job sites. But they can conduct cold, heat, and electricity. Our top pick for a steel-toe boot is the Caterpillar Alaska 2.0 steel-toe boot. The Caterpillar (CAT) Second Shift steel-toe work boot is a great budget-friendly option.

Composites still meet the compression and impact safety standards, but they may only be able to sustain one of these impacts. On the flip side, composite-toe boots are lighter and won’t conduct currents. If you need toe protection on cold-weather job sites or work with high-voltage equipment, consider buying a non-metallic safety toe boot like the Perkins boot. Or if you are looking for an office boot with a composite toe, check out Kodiak’s McKinney Chelsea.

Nineteen of the foot’s 26 bones sit under the tongue and vamp of a shoe. The five bones that connect the toes to the ankle and form the arch of the foot are your metatarsals. Some boots like the Danner Steel Yard come with an additional protective “met-guard” that lies over the laces, protecting the metatarsals.

ASTM Safety Standards

Protection is what elevates a boot from a supportive hiker to an industry heavy-hitter. Standards provide confidence in the boot’s ability to perform under specific stressors.

If you poke around work boots enough, you’ll likely come across safety ratings set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). These are international standards that identify the minimal requirements for protective footwear on the job site. They rate everything from viral penetration to puncture resistance to compression ratings.

ASTM-F2413 standards rate boots specifically for compression, impact, metatarsal, conductive properties, electrical hazards, static dissipation, and puncture. Here are some typical ASTM abbreviations:

  • I for Impact
  • C for Compression
  • Mt for Metatarsal
  • Cd for Conductive
  • EH for Electrical Hazard
  • SD for Static Dissipating
  • PR for Puncture Resistant
  • CS Chain Saw cut resistance
  • DI for Dielectric insulation — insulation from circuits or conductors

Each is followed by a number. To find how your prospective boot rates, the ASTM standards are outlined in four lines:

  • Line 1: Compliance and year
  • Line 2: Gender/impact/compression/metatarsal resistance
  • Line 3-4: Specific hazards the boot protects against

So if we interpret the Timberland Boondock, we get the following:

  • ASTM F2413-11: Complies with the performance requirement of F2413, issued in 2011
  • M/I/75C/75: A men’s boot that complies with the impact and compression requirements of a 50-pound weight dropped from 18 inches, delivering 75 foot-pounds of force on the toe, and can endure 2,500 pounds of rolling force over the toe

EH: Outsole is made from non-conductive materials that are shock-resistant

Buying Your Boots

Which boot is best for you? If you’re puttering around the house on weekends, choose a comfortable boot with appropriate protection for your daily tasks.

Unless you’re Clark Griswold, you probably don’t need a heavy-duty, steel-toe boot to hang Christmas lights. You’d be better served with a comfortable, supportive boot with traction like the Danner Vicious. If you want something more stylish that pairs well with suites and shop work, look at the American-made Red Wing’s Iron Ranger. However, if you’re splitting wood or mowing the lawn, it’s not a bad idea to consider a safety toe for protection.

Many jobs will explicitly share which footwear meets required ASTM standards before you can step foot on the site. Neglecting to follow them can incur large fines from OSHA. Getting injured while deciding not to wear protective boots on the job can affect your workmen’s comp and insurance. If you’re unsure, ask your boss what standards your boots need to comply with.

You can buy any of these boots online. And some manufacturers, like White’s, will only build a boot off of your mailed measurements. But for most boots, it’s best to try them on at a local shop. A boot’s last can be different than your street shoe. A shop can measure your feet and ensure you’re stepping into a proper-fitting boot.

Try boots on at the end of the day, preferably after work. Your feet swell over a day’s work, and trying on shoes after your shift will provide a better gauge of a proper fit.

When you try on ski boots, you bring ski socks. The same goes for work boots. Bring a pair of socks you intend to wear with the boots. Better yet, buy yourself a new pair of socks; they wear out quicker than you think. Plus, nobody wants to try on shoes with socks pulled from the shop’s community bin.

Take care of your boots. Invest in a good horsehair brush to regularly dust off dirt and grime. Clean your boots with warm water. Leather is like your skin and needs moisturizing. Condition your leather boots after every wash.

Your boots are tools, so periodically check them for wear and tear. Treat the safety toe like a helmet. If a composite toe has taken a hit, it’s probably best to retire the boots. If the boot has a Goodyear welt, uneven wear on the sole’s heel, or any splitting from the boot, it’s a good indication it’s time to resole.

Work boots can be expensive, but they’re part and parcel of your health and wage. Buy wisely, and they should serve you well for years to come.

FAQ

What is the most comfortable work boot?

We found that the BOGS Bedrock II 6″ WP is the most comfortable work boot on the market for most foot shapes. However, if possible, go to a store after your shift is done and try on different boots to see what feels more comfortable to you.

What is the best work boot you can buy?

The best work boot you can buy will be the one that matches the safety ratings you need and one that you can wear repeatedly for hours on end. Everyone’s specifics will differ but the KEEN Utility Chicago 6-inch waterproof with carbon toe — Men’s & Women’s — and the Kenetrek Hardscrabble ST were two of the best overall boots we tried.

What is a MOC toe?

A MOC toe is a style of boot that has a seam running around the top edge of the toe. The Thorogood American Heritage 6-inch moc toe is a prime example of this.

Why do my work boots hurt my feet?

Work boots that hurt your feet generally do not provide the correct support, or they do not fit correctly. Finding the correct boots for your feet is important, and generally, the more money you spend on a work boot, the more comfort and support you will get. Follow our buyer’s guide above to help make a comfortable choice.

How do I choose the right work boots?

Everyone’s feet are different, so finding the correct boot for your feet is important. Here are some tips to lead you to the right boot when you go out boot shopping. If you need more info on how to choose the right boot, check out this GearJunkie article.

  • Decide what features you are looking for to help guide you to a specific style of boot. Some examples of boot features are as follows: waterproof, steel or safety toe, electrical shock-resistant, slip-on versus lace-up, boot height, etc.
  • Test the boots for length and width. Not every company sizes its boots the same. Some are longer or shorter, and boot width can vary significantly, especially when it comes to safety/steel-toe boots. We have found discrepancies of up to a full boot size between different brands we tried, so you can’t always rely on the size that’s on the tag. Make sure to try them on before buying them, or if ordering online, make sure you can return them if the fit is incorrect.
  • Make sure that the boots flex well and in the right location. Boots should flex at the ball of your foot, not at your arch. If the boot flexes too far back it will lead to foot fatigue due to lack of support. Looking for boots that say they have a “shank“ can help, as this adds support and only allows the boot to flex where it should flex.
  • Make sure that the laces hold your foot in place. If you cannot get the boot to the correct tightness, it will allow your foot to move too much, causing blistering or irritation.
  • Wear the same socks you wear on the job while trying on boots. Wool/synthetic blends will keep your feet more comfortable than cotton during a long workday.

Try on boots at the end of the workday. Your feet change shape throughout the day so trying on boots at the end of the day when your feet have swollen, widened, and flattened will allow for a much better fit that won’t have your feet hurting at the end of a long day.

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The Best Work Boots of 2024 (2024)

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