10 Best Work Boots for Men that Work As Hard As You

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A good pair of work boots should not only feel comfortable, but be well designed so you can focus on the job at hand rather than the quality and stability of your boots.

In this guide, we will review the best work boots for men in 2021 – such as the Caterpillar Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boots.

Secondly, we will also cover important considerations to think about when making your purchase along with answering common questions men had when buying a pair of work boots.

Let’s begin:

Comparing The Best Work Boots for Men

For men that want a quick overview of our reviews, here is a table outlining each pair of work boots we looked at based on the following:

  • Award: What we feel best showcases the work boot.
  • Toe: Material used to protect toes from injury.
  • Price: Indicated by a $ sign, we provide an estimate of the price (relative to others reviewed).
NameAwardToePrice
Caterpillar Second Shift Steel Toe Work BootsBest OverallSteel Toe$
KEEN Utility Philadelphia WellingtonBest WaterproofComposite$$$
Chippewa Logger Leather BootBest for WinterSteel Toe$$$
Condor Arizona Steel Toe Work BootsBest Steel ToeSteel Toe$
Timberland Pit Boss Soft Toe BootMost ComfortableSoft Toe$
Nicks Boots Traveler Work BootsBest LeatherNot Disclosed$$$$
Carhartt Composite Toe BootBest Composite ToeComposite$$
Ariat Groundbreaker Pull-On Work BootBest Cowboy StyleSoft Toe$$
Ever Boots Tank Soft Toe Work BootsBest Soft ToeSoft Toe$
Merrell Work Thermo Adventure BootsBest for Tough WeatherComposite$$$

The 10 Best Work Boots of 2021 Reviewed

1. Caterpillar Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boots

Top Award: Best Overall Work Boots for Men

Caterpillar is well known for their heavy machinery as well as their apparel. These 100% leather, slip resistant boots feature reinforced eyelets to keep your laces snug and a synthetic sole to keep you working. The steel toe will ensure that your feet are well-protected. They are only ankle cut, so if you’re working in deep water, these are not going to be the choice for you. Moreover, for a well-designed, big name, this steel toe work boot will keep you protected and working for right in the middle of our price range. Available in four different colors and true to size.

Pros

  • Caterpillar name means quality
  • 100% leather, synthetic sole
  • Well-priced

Cons

  • Steel toe may run narrow
  • Would like to see a taller option as well

What You Need To Know

As long as you’re not doing waterproof work, the Caterpillar Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot is the best pair you’ll find. 

2. KEEN Utility Philadephia Wellington

Top Award: Best Waterproof Work Boots

When you need to keep your feet dry and safe, The KEEN Utility Philadelphia Wellington is the set that you’ll want to have around. At the very top of our price range, these composite toe boots aren’t for the occasional wearer but if you need boots for working in and around water or other liquids, these will get the job done. Made in the USA and 100% leather, the shaft of the boot measures 9” meaning you’re likely to keep your feet nice and dry. Loops help you pull the boots on and the removable footbed helps you dry things out at the end of your workday.

Pros

  • Full protection from water and falling objects
  • Removable footbed
  • Tall shaft

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Would like to see other colors

What You Need To Know

Working in wet conditions and want to invest in a pair of work boots that will guarantee you stay dry? This is the pair for you.

3. Chippewa Logger Leather Boot

Top Award: Best Winter Work Boots

Chippewa Logger Leather Boots are made for the winter. 100% Leather means you’ll have wind and some water protection and the mid-calf rise will keep the cold from creeping in. Note, these boots aren’t lined so you’ll have to get a nice pair of warm socks to go along with them. Still, the Vibram soles and attractive brown color make them well worth the top tier pricing. The American flag charm adds a nice touch of style – perfect for winter romping.

Pros

  • Mid-calf shaft
  • Vibram soles
  • Contrast strips on welt and charm

Cons

  • Leather is slightly thin
  • Not lined

What You Need To Know

If you’ve got a great pair of warm socks to go along with the Chippewa Loggers, your feet will be nice and toasty as you work in the elements. 

4. Condor Arizona Steel Toe Work Boots

Top Award: Best Steel Toe Work Boots

The Condor Arizona Steel Toe Work Boots have the look of a combat boot and for good reason – they’ll do combat with the elements. The steel toe meets all required standards for compression and impact and the outsole is directly injected, meaning it forms an inseparable bond to the upper. It’s made from 100% Nubuck leather for a soft, premium feel. It also includes a durable polyurethane sole for support and comfort. At the lower end of our price range, these are a great purchase for anyone who needs to be on the construction site or simply doing work around the house. 

Pros

  • Attractive light brown color
  • Direct injected sole
  • Cushioned insole

Cons

  • The style may not be for everyone
  • Lack of color options

What You Need To Know

The soft leather combined with the low price and great outsole make this boot work for every man, whether you’re on the construction site or at home.

5. Timberland Pit Boss Soft Toe Boot

Top Award: Most Comfortable Work Boots

Timberland is known for their work and style boots and the Pit Boss Soft Toe boots are no different. 100% leather with a rubber outsole, these beasts are oil and abrasion compliant and also provide great traction. In the middle of our price range, these boots are available in brown and tan and are stylish enough to wear with a pair of jeans if you’re headed to an outdoor gathering. Available with PRO 24/7 suspension technology in the midsole, these boots provide “walking on clouds” comfort for all day wear in the mud and muck or on the campsite.

Pros

  • Stylish for casual wear and work
  • Great, classic colors
  • Well-priced

Cons

  • Would like to see a steel toe option
  • Short shaft makes water protection tough

What You Need To Know

If you’re on your feet a lot, the Timberland Pit Boss Soft Boots are the ones you want to put them into before heading out the door.

6. Nicks Boots Traveler Work Boots

Top Award: Best Leather Work Boots

Made in America, the Nicks Boots Traveler Work Boots are crafted in Spokane, Washington and are a classic 8” design. Made from USA-sources and tanned leather, they’re double-stitched for added durability and Goodyear welt to allow for protection from the elements between the upper and sole. They’re also resoleable for a lifetime of wear but the Vibram sole will get you a good long time before you need to worry about that. Available in a sleek light brown with reinforced brass eyelets, this attention to detail is very much reflected in the top tier pricing. Nice enough to add to your wardrobe, but tough enough to keep in the garage.

Pros

  • Gorgeous, made in America boot
  • Goodyear welt for quality protection
  • Great style for hard work.

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • No color choices

What You Need To Know

Whether you’re looking for a boot to complete a look or don’t want to skimp on a work boot to get the job done in style, the Nicks Boots Traveler is a great choice.

7. Carhartt Composite Toe Boot

Top Award: Best Composite Toe Work Boots

Carhartt is synonymous with work and the 6 inch Men’s Composite Boot reflects that commitment. A 100% leather upper affixed to a rubber sole and Carhartt’s unique Rugged Flex technology means a comfortable fit that moves with you all day while providing the protection you need. Full-grain leather offers water resistance and keeps your ankles moving in the direction they should be. Oil and slip resistance is a key feature and the composite toe keeps your digits secure. At the average area of our price range, the Carhartt Composite Toe is a great pair of boots and one to consider for your needs.

Pros

  • A great boot for the money
  • Shock absorbing sole
  • Composite toe

Cons

  • Two color choices are identical
  • Not terribly attractive

What You Need To Know

A great brand producing a great product, the Carhartt Composite Toe Boot is a solid addition to any wardrobe that has a little work in the mix.

8. Ariat Groundbreaker Pull-On Work Boot

Top Award: Best Cowboy Style Work Boots

A pull-on boot is one that doesn’t lace and so fit is incredibly important – it’s good then that the Ariat Men’s Groundbreaker Pull-On Work Boot is available in about as many sizes as you’d want to choose from. Available in brown and an attractive brown/black, this western styled, American heritage boot will keep you dry with a leather upper and provide solid traction with its rubber sole. The removable insole allows for easy care and the price is right near our middle point.

Pros

  • Great western style
  • Pull-on style for ease
  • Quality materials

Cons

  • The western style may not work for everyone
  • Sizing can be difficult

What You Need To Know

A solid western style boot that protects your feet and is easy to pull on is one that we want in our closet – the Ariat is a great addition.

9. Ever Boots Tank Soft Toe Work Boots

Top Award: Best Soft Toe Work Boots

The Ever Boots Tank Soft Toe Work Boots are a great pair of work boots with a limited investment. Complete with Goodyear welts and speed hooks for easy tying, these leather upper, rubber sole boots provide great safety and comfort around the job site. A steel shank supports the arch of the boot, supporting your feet and the signature tank tread provides a nice touch. At the very bottom of our price range, the Ever Boots Tank Soft Toe is a great boot for those on a budget who still need to get the job done.

Pros

  • Great price
  • Speed hooks for ease
  • Tank tread provides nice flair

Cons

  • Durable leather means faster wear
  • Steel shank could be uncomfortable for high arch wearers

What You Need To Know

A stellar addition to any workwear, the boots offer great function at a great price.

10. Merrell Work Thermo Adventure Boots

Top Award: Best for Tough Weather

Merrell products focus on the outdoors as opposed to the job site and the Thermo Adventure Boots continue that tradition. Available in black in the middle of our price range, these boots are rated for cold and wet weather conditions and are lined with polar fleece. The composite toe keeps your feet protected and the Vibram 5 mm lug depth means you’ll stay planted right where you want to be. Coated with PU-leather, suede, and a mesh upper, this boot will keep your warm, dry, and ready for more.

Pros

  • Polar fleece lined
  • Vibram sole
  • Strobel waterproof construction

Cons

  •  Very heavy
  • Not terribly attractive looking

What You Need To Know

Working or hiking where the elements won’t slow down? Wet and cold everywhere? The Merrell Work Thermo Adventure Boots are the ones for you.

8 Tips on Finding the Best Work Boots for Men

1. Intended Use

It’s important to think about what you need your work boots for. Are you using your work boots for a job or hobby that puts your feet at risk or just for looks? 

This heavily impacts what type of working boots you will want to purchase, especially when it comes to possible features. There are lots and the best choice for you will depend a great deal on purpose.

Work & Duty

If you need your boots for work, whether that be for a  construction job or home improvements, safety is and should be your number one priority with fit and comfort just behind in a close second. You have to keep in mind what your feet are exposed to – if there is a risk of things falling, you’ll want a steel toe or composite toe. 

If you’re working in wet environments, waterproof work boots are the way to go. If you work with or around fire and heat, flame resistance is a key feature, along with a boot that comes up higher on the leg. Spills or slick ground require slip-resistant worker boot. Chemical resistance is also key if your work brings you close to substances that can burn your skin.

Whatever you choose, durable, comfortable work boots are key.

Outdoor/Hiking/Walking

If your work keeps you outdoors or if you want work boots for outdoor activities like hiking, you’ll likely want to prepare for a whole mixture of different things. Protection from the elements, including protection from water is key, especially if you’re going to be hiking in deeper water.

Additionally, look for a sole with good traction and slip resistance – a well-made, heavily waffled bottom will help you along safely as you traverse wet leaves and mud.

Casual

If your work boots will be worn for casual use, you won’t need many of these features and can focus on comfort and style. Full-grain leather is an excellent option for casual work boots. Consider your environment and how active you’ll be in the boots. 

2. Height

Work boots come in three major options for height:

  • Below Ankle: These are the least common options because it provides limited support and protection. Below ankle work boots are only recommended for casual use.
  • Ankle: The ankle-height work boot is probably most common as it provides full coverage of the foot and ankle but is not as restrictive as taller options. These are recommended for most uses.
  • Mid-Calf: Typically the highest option in work boots, the mid-calf work boot is a good height if you’ll be wading in water/mud/debris, if you need more leg protection, or if you are looking for the western boot look. 

3. Closure/Application

Lace-Up

Lace-up is the most common option enclosure for work boots. These are generally typical shoelaces, though many have added loops at the ankle for additional support. Lace up boots are simply to put on and adjust for a good fit but may take a few extra seconds. It’s important to know, however, that the laces may allow water to seep in so these won’t be the best option if your feet could be completely submerged.

Pull-On

Pull on closures have no laces, zippers, or other ties. They usually have an elastic band to allow some give and are simply and quick to put on. The lack of an opening makes these the best option for working in deep water.

Zipper

These are very easy to put on but a zippered closure does not allow for any size adjustments. Many work boots with zippers also have laces to allow for some give.

4. Size

Size is especially critical when it comes to work boots. Shoes that fit correctly offer the best protection, support and comfort. Also, they won’t slip off, rub or pinch. If you’re not sure of your size, check several charts and measure your feet. Alternatively, visit a store.

5. Fabric

Work boots can be made from a variety of materials – here are the common textiles that are used and their primary advantages:

Upper

  • Leather: By far, the most common especially full grain leather which is known for its durability, which is crucial. It’s also very comfortable once worn in.
  • Fabric: A fabric like nylon is breathable, lightweight, and comfortable.
  • Rubber/PVC: Can be completely waterproof and easy to clean, but not the most comfortable. It has very little give and can be awkward to move in.
  • Combination: It’s common to combine materials, like leather and nylon, to allow for different strengths in different areas.

Sole

  • Rubber: The most common, rubber is generally slip resistant and waterproof and has ability to be modified during production to add safety and performance features.
  • TPU (thermo-polyurethane): Is lighter than rubber but still durable and resistant to chemicals and oils. 

6. Brand

Going with a trusted brand, especially if you are using your boots for work, is critical. Some popular brands include Timberland, Merrell, Carhartt, and Ariat. In addition to being more accessible, they usually stand behind the quality of their products.

7. Color

Most are neutral, black, and various shades of brown and tan. You will likely have trouble finding some more standout shades, especially in boots that you’ll work in. 

8. Price

Prices can range from about $60 to $400. You can get a safe, comfortable pair of work boots packed with features for $100-250. 

9. Features/Extras

Slip Resistant

Specially added traction can keep the shoe’s wearer from slipping. These are generally a rubber sole and as a general rule, work boots aren’t slippery, but they aren’t all slip resistant. Look for rubber outsoles with a pattern; the best non-slip shoes are soft, thick rubber with a fine tread. These are especially helpful if you’ll be wearing your boots in a wet or slick environment.

Waterproof/Water-Resistant

Waterproofing or water-resistance is incredibly Important for work boots that might be used in wet conditions or become submerged. It’s important to remember the difference between waterproof, which means that submersion will generally keep your feet dry and water resistant, which can repel water that is splashed. If you’re going to be trudging through rivers or large bodies of water, you’ll want water proof.

Reinforced Toe

A good work boot with a reinforced toe has a strong material that is added to the inside of the toe to protect it from falling objects in hazardous work environments. These also tend to be made of leather and can be quite comfortable work boots as well as functional. 

A few of the most popular materials are:

  • Steel: sturdy and heavy enough to withstand falling objects, while not too expensive, a good pair of steel toe boots can keep your feet safe. The thickness of the steel can cause a smaller toe box and lead to discomfort if the sizing is wrong. They also tend to set off metal detectors.
  • Alloy: made from lightweight metals like aluminum and titanium means that an alloy boot can be made as strong as a steel toe work boot without all the weight. They do tend to be more expensive and do set off metal detectors if that is important.
  • Composite: essentially the combination of non-metal materials like carbon fiber, plastic, and fiberglass. Composite boots don’t get hot or cold like metal does so are best for working with heat/fire. They’re also significantly lighter than steel and good for moderate protection only – not as strong as metal options.

No matter the material, make sure that it adheres to ASTM F2413 – 11 specification.

Insulated

If you’re working in the elements, especially in the cold, an insulated boot can keep your feet warm. Popular options include Thinsulate and Thermalite, which come in different levels of insulation

Flame, Chemical, and Shock Resistant

Work boots are required in all sorts of environments where safety is paramount. That’s why they often come with options that protect against flame, chemicals and electrical hazards.

Work Boots: Must-Have Accessories

Work Pants

If your activities, whether that means going to the job site or going camping, call for work boots you might also need work pants. Work pants offer utility such as places to hold tools, comfortable knee reinforcements, durable materials, and keep from ruining your regular pants. Check out our guide to work pants.

Tool Belt

If your work pants don’t have enough storage for your tools, a tool belt will be the answer. A belt made of leather or other strong material and reinforced with rivets and other metal parts is key. A good tool belt will also have pockets and loops for carrying tools and other items.

Safety Goggles

Protective eyewear is an absolute must whether you’re on the job site or working at your home. They protect against debris, chemicals, and sometimes the elements. They’re crucial if you work with chemicals or do woodworking.

Work Boots for Men FAQs

What are the best men’s work boots?

The best men’s work boots are the ones that meet your needs. If you’re just looking for style, consider a lighter leather boot without protective features or even an American heritage style pull on western boot. If you are going to be on a construction site or working with harmful substances, consider boots that protect against those things, like steel toe boots or slip resistant soles.

How to get the safest and best work shoes?

The safest and best work shoes are the ones that meet your specific needs. Men need to do their research about the types of jobs they’ll need their boots for before purchasing.

What are the lightest work boots?

The lightest work boots will contain a lighter weight leather or even synthetic materials in the upper, as well as a composite toe or no toe at all. 

What are the most durable work boots?

The most durable work boots will be chunkier and heavier, made from heavy gauge leather and a large tread on the sole. These will stand up to the elements and wear and tear. 

How long should work boots last?

This depends a lot on what you’re doing with them. Generally, work boots should last a year or so with consistent wear.

What are the best work boots for standing all day?

Anything with a reinforced comfort sole and ample padding will allow you to stand and work until sundown.

Work Boots vs. the Alternatives

Work Boots

Work boots have specific features that protect the wearer from elements present in a given area. This includes fire and water resistance, cold tolerance, drop protection like a steel toe and other safety precautions. They will also often come up higher than other types of boots.

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are generally lower cut and made to keep the ankle and foot aligned while on uneven ground. They are often water resistant but not waterproof and do not contain things like a steel toe.

Motorcycle Boots

Motorcycle boots are specifically made for wear on motorcycles to protect the wearer against skid and slide abrasions. They are often leather or a synthetic substance like kevlar. They do not provide any other type of protection.

Dress Boots

Dress boots look the best of all but are not good for doing work in. They will not protect against hazards and don’t provide enough support for wearing while working.

Our Criteria for Choosing the Best Work Boots for Men

We considered a variety of features to come up with this list of the best work boots for men, including size, materials, price, features and more. Your intended use and the features you need are most important. The list above is an objective look at the best work boots for men on the market.

About Shawn Burns

Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn's expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.

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