The best steel toe work shoes for construction can vary tremendously from worker to worker. One worker may prefer a tough and rigid work shoe while another may prefer a softer shoe with more flexibility. This is why finding the best steel toe work shoe can be so difficult.
The Hard Hat Guy has combed over the best steel toe shoes for construction workers and laid every detail out clearly including the pros, cons and safety ratings of all the top-ranked steel toe work shoes.
Just take me to the Best Steel Toe Work Shoes now.
Wearing Steel Toe Shoes for Construction Work
Although steel toe work boots are most workers go-to choice for the job site, steel toe work shoes are a solid second. Steel toe shoes are nice for less-demanding jobs that do not require ankle protection or additional ankle support, but still require protection for the toe. Even though strap-on steel toe guards do exist, often times these can be a bit clunky and not nearly as comfortable. This is why the steel toe shoe will always be the best choice for construction workers after to the steel toe work boot. So, if you’re looking for the best steel toe non-slip safety shoes, we got you covered.
Steel toe work shoes are usually required when you are working on almost any job site. In fact, protective footwear is required whenever you are in danger of a foot injury from a falling object, rolling object, or any object capable of piercing the toe of your shoe. Safety shoes are also required in any situation where you are being put at risk for electric shock. If you are in violation of this requirement, your company, or the company you work for, can be fined by OSHA up to seventy-thousand dollars. That’s no small potatoes, so wear your safety shoes.
OSHA’s guidelines for safety shoes for the job site include events where:
- Corrosive/poisonous materials are present
- Electrical shock is a risk
- An explosion could be caused by static electricity
- A heavy object might roll onto the foot and smash it
- The foot could be punctured by an object
- Molten metal could burn the foot
- Slippery or hot surfaces are present
Qualities of the Best Steel Toe Shoes for Work
The best steel toe work shoes should not only be durable, they should also be comfortable. Let’s face it, your feet were not designed for standing on concrete all day long. Just because a shoe has a steel toe does not mean it cannot be comfortable. In fact, many steel toe shoes are just as comfortable as regular shoes. Some factors to consider when thinking about comfort include the inner cushion, arch support, break-in period, and adequate room (you may want to wear heavy socks).
Steel toe shoes should also protect your feet from punctures, heavy objects, slipping, chemicals and electrical shock. In some cases, you may even want to protect the top of your foot by finding a shoe with a metatarsal guard. You might even want a shoe that is waterproof, depending on what type of work you perform.
When it comes to adequate steel toe protection, Class 75 certification offers the best protection. Also, look for steel toed shoes with puncture resistance, they tend to offer more protection than shoes without it. While slip resistance is an important factor, remember that no shoe is 100% slip-resistant and different slip-resistant shoes will perform better or worse, depending on what is causing the slip. Some shoes are better at gripping in wet conditions, some when dealing with oil spills or grease. Also, some chemicals can wear down your soles pretty fast so a shoe that offers resistance to chemicals will usually last longer.
9 Best Steel Toe Shoes for Work
Safety Rating: ASTM F2412-17, F2913-17, MI75, C75, MT75, EH
An all-around excellent steel toe shoe for work, the Keen: Men’s Detroit is superior in both comfort and quality, and one of the best steel toe work shoes on the market. Not only does it meet a variety or safety standards, it also goes above and beyond with its metatarsal guard. Also, your feet will stay comfortable on the job site no matter what terrain you are working on with the shoe’s Key-Tech Flex outsole, designed to reduce foot fatigue and add enhanced foot support.
These shoes have fantastic arch support and generally fit true-to-size. Although it is a steel toe shoe, it is designed with the worker in mind with good flexibility in the toe for when bending.
This shoe has just enough weight to indicate its quality construction. Capable of withstanding high heat, this is the perfect steel toe shoe for if you do a lot of welding or work in a hot environment.
Its anti-slip features will reduce slippage on both oily and wet surfaces. In fact, Keen is an industry-leader in anti-slip technology. So, if you deal with a lot of slippery surfaces or wet pavement, this shoe is a great fit.
The outer layer of the shoe is leather and has reflective webbing for added safety on the job. The exterior is also waterproof if you work in a wet environment all the time. This shoe is also easy to clean with just gentle brushing and a towel (add vinegar for tougher stains).
This steel toe work shoe ranges in size from 7 – 15 and from regular fit to wide fit.
Safety Rating: ASTM F2412/2413-2011 I/75 C/75, EH ASTM 2412-2011
The Skecher’s Holdredge has exactly what you want in a steel toed work shoe at an extremely affordable price. This shoe provides a high level of comfort compared to most steel toe work shoes due to its memory foam insole and mid-sole with shock absorption. This technology makes it a great work shoe if you suffer from sore feet or back pain.
One of the most common things you’ll hear about these shoes from workers who worn them is that they have great slip resistance. If you work in a greasy environment this shoe is highly recommended. They are also good in wet environments and grip well on ice as well.
These shoes are both leather (upper) and synthetic (front and sides). And although they’re not advertised as being waterproof, they function well in the rain and keep your feet dry. There are also air vents in the side to help reduce foot sweat.
The only downside to these shoes is that they area heavy-duty and some workers might find them a bit too heavy. They’re also only of average durability, and might not withstand the most rugged terrain and harsh work environments as long as the best steel toe shoes for work. However, at a fraction of the price of most steel toe shoes, it’s hard to complain.
These steel toe work shoes are available in sizes ranging from 7 – 14.
Safety Rating: ASTM F2412-11, F2413-11 I/75 C/75, CAN/CSA-Z195-14 Grade 1, EH ASTM F2412-11, F2413-11, F2892-11
When it comes to work gear, you can never go wrong with anything Timberland. This is also the case when it comes to the Men’s Gorge Steel Toe work shoe. You get what you’d expect from a Timberland Pro shoe: good quality, unique style, and great comfort.
This shoe’s highlights include its comfort and style. Right off the bat it’s just a striking shoe and it’s going to get noticed by your co-workers. But, the main thing is that it’s comfortable. With the Timberland Pro comfort system these shoes are designed to have superior arch support as well as reduce foot fatigue. They’re also lightweight for a steel toe shoe, they fit like a glove, and they flex well due to the cement construction.
It also has a nice ghillie lacing system (the orange part) so you can get the laces tight and the shoe snug on your foot. The nylon shank also adds some good structural support to the shoe so it feels sturdy on your foot. It also helps take the pressure off your feet so you do not have to take as much of the load. This is great if you are doing a lot of climbing or walking on uncomfortable surfaces all day long at work.
The abrasion-resistant front toe guard is great if you have a tendency to always skuff up your front toe on the job site. It also gives you a little bit of added protection. The sole is also abrasion-resistant in addition to being slip-resistant and oil-resistant.
While these shoes have good durability, some people have had problems with the souls cracking or splitting after 4-6 months of use. When it comes to steel toe work shoes, I tend to start looking for a new pair right about that time period, but some people like to try to keep their shoes forever. Keep this in mind if you really put a lot of wear and tear on your shoes.
One benefit of these shoes is the electrostatic dissipation (ESD) feature. The bottom is rubber and there’s a polyurethane midsole for this purpose. If you need static dissipation where you work this is an excellent choice for you.
These shoes also meet a wide variety of safety standards, much more than most steel toe work shoes. They also feature heat-resistance as well as anti-microbial odor control so your feet do not smell.
This steel toe work shoe comes in sizes 7 – 15 in both regular and wide.
Safety Rating: ASTM F2413 (others not listed)
It’s a shame that Reebok makes mostly alloy toed work shoes as Reebok has some of the best work shoes around. Luckily though, they made the Men’s Guide Work steel toed shoe especially for industrial and construction workers. It really cannot be beat in terms of comfort and performance, and has only some very minor downsides.
One major highlight on these shoes is the ESD protection. It simply cannot be beat for a steel toe work shoe and is only rivaled by the Timberland Pro. Due to its dual-resistor protection, you would be hard-pressed to find a better ESD work shoe.
Another highlight is the comfort of these shoes. If you are used to high or mid-tops, these might take a bit of getting used to, but you will enjoy the flexibility you have in these shoes if you walk around a lot at work.
They also have a rebound midsole which actually propels you forward as you walk, which helps to reduce overall fatigue if you work a long shift. These shoes are also great on concrete floors as the memory foams helps reduce impact and the jar to your foot you’d usually experience.
There are only a few downsides on this steel toe shoe. For one, some workers might notice that these shoes do not wear as well as an all-leather shoe would. If you need the extra durability from an all-leather shoe this might not be the best fit for you. Secondly, they are not waterproof and only contain “moisture wicking” nylon mesh. Although they hold up okay in wet conditions, they are not optimal for work in wet environments.
Sizes on this steel toe work shoe run from 4 – 16 in regular, wide, and extra-wide.
Safety Rating: ASTM F2413-05 I/75 C/75, EH ASTM F2413-05 1/75
As should be expected from CAT, this shoe has a high level of durability and very solid construction. It is lightweight, roomy in the toe, and comfortable for a steel toe work shoe. Add that to an all-leather and waterproof exterior and you have a great dependable work shoe for the job sites.
The comfort of these shoes comes from what CAT calls “ERGO technology.” This technology takes into consideration how a worker moves throughout the work day and how he uses his feet. In essence, according to CAT footwear engineers, the shoes is “designed to fit like a glove.” Basically, all you need to know is the shoe is designed to hug your foot and accommodate your foot’s shape.
Another nice feature which helps the overall comfort of this shoe is the roominess in the toe region. Steel toe shoes have a tendency to be a bit tight near the toe and with this shoe that is not an issue. This is great if you wear your shoes for long hours or enjoy wearing heavy socks with your shoes.
This shoe also looks great and can easily be worn on or off the job site. Whether in black leather or brown, this shoe even looks formal enough to wear to a nice restaurant or if you’re heading out to an event after work.
These shoes do have slip-resistance technology as well as electrical hazard protection which meets the ASTM standards. The steel toe also complies with ASTM standards.
This steel toe work shoe ranges in size from 7 – 14 and comes in both regular and wide.
Safety Rating: ASTM F2412-11, F2413-11, I/75, C/75 & ASTM F2413-17 SATRA & MARK II F1677-96 & EH ASTM F2412-11 F2413-11 I/75 C/75
Another great steel toe work shoe from Keen is the Braddock Steel Toe work shoe. Assembled in Portland, Oregon right here in the United States of America, this is a top-notch quality work shoe. It is loaded with special features and offers the highest safety protection of almost any other industrial work shoe on the market. Although it was designed specifically for indoor work, it also functions as a great outdoor shoe as well.
The Braddock exceeds in delivering comfort and support. In fact, it’d be hard to find a better shoe for arch support, specifically. There’s also a good amount of ankle support that you do not see with very many shoes, though some people feel they function more like boots. If you’re transitioning from boots to shoes, this is not a bad bet though. Also, due to their comfort level, some people even enjoy wearing these as hiking shoes.
The nubuck leather is water-resistant so your feet will stay dry. However, they are not waterproof so do not expect them to withstand extremely wet conditions. There are also two built-in layers which control water retention and resistance. This ensures that your feet stay cool when you need them to and warm when you need them to.
These shoes also allow for great traction on the job site. With their Mark II rating they’re good up to 0.52 oil/water. Their excellent traction is another reason they are often used for hiking.
The only downside is that there have been some complaints about soles splitting as well as the lace retainers not lasting as long as expected. The company does offer a 1-year warranty and is usually very good to their customers, but for the price you would expect a bit more durability, especially from a top name like Keen.
One of the best steel toe work shoes on the market. Would have been rated higher if not for some durability issues at this price point.
This steel toe work shoe comes in sizes ranging from 7 – 15 in both regular and wide versions.
Safety Rating: ASTM F2413-11 I/75 C/75 / ASTM F2413-05 1/75 EH
If you are looking for something more on the casual side, you can’t go wrong with the CAT Woodward Steel Toe work shoe. Built to be a good transition shoe for moving from on the job site to off the job site, they actually surpass the level of quality you would expect from a casual work shoe. In fact, they hold up as good as nearly any shoe on this list and the overall look is tremendous.
CAT footwear engineers must have been working overtime when designing this shoe because it is absolutely loaded with comfort technology. First off, it has CAT’s ERGO technology for excellent comfort and stability. It also offers the shoe some more flexibility when bending. There is also a carefully crafted and engineered foam footbed built specifically for shock absorption. The nylon mesh was also specifically engineered for foot cooling as well as comfort. There’s even odor control built into the antimicrobial liner of the shoe.
If that wasn’t enough, this shoe offers top of the line slip-resistance for both oil and water. It’s also great shoe for general low traction surfaces. With electrical hazard protection, this shoe can protect against up to 600 volts in dry conditions. Its leather exterior also helps it withstand abrasions and any other accidents that might happen on the job.
The quality control on this shoe is extremely consistent, most likely due to the fact that it was made at a gold-rated tannery, rated by Leather Working Group (LWG). The size and quality is consistent and the fit true.
You will really have to dig to find anything bad about this shoe. The only downside is that the arch support could be a little bit better, but that’s really nit-picking. It really is the best-of-the-best in terms of high quality casual steel toe work shoes. As more of a casual shoe though, it excels best at light industrial jobs. Although it can be used at a heavy duty site, this would be on a case-by-case basis and ultimately depends on the nature of the work.
The size of these steel toe work shoes ranges from 7 – 14 and comes in both regular and wide.
If you’re looking for an affordable shoe that can get beat up and still survive, this the Fires Work Safety Shoes are an excellent choice. At less than fifty dollars a pair, you won’t have to obsess over your shoes and just focus on doing your job. If they hold up for longer than four months you’re happy, if not, no sweat.
That said, these steel toe shoes have a good amount of durability for a steel toe work shoe. In fact, they hold up almost as well as the more expensive brand name shoes. Quality is hit or miss though, so every once in a while a pair might only last for a few months.
However, the company did put together an impressive marketing video:
As far as meeting safety standards, it is hard to find reliable information with these particular shoes. If this is not a huge concern where you work, these might be a good fit for you. However, they’re one of the few shoes that claim to be anti-puncture. The reflective strip is also nice feature if you do a lot of work next to the road or late at night.
Comfort is a bit of a concern on these though. The insole that comes with these shoes is a bit flimsy and does not offer much in the way of cushioning. If your job requires you to be on your feet all day, you will probably want to replace the insole. You can’t go wrong with the Keen Utility K-20 insole or the Dr. Scholl’s Work if you are looking for a replacement.
You get what you pay for usually when it comes to work shoes. With these you even get a little bit more. A great work shoe at an affordable price.
This steel toe work shoe ranges in size from 7.5 – 14 regular.
Safety Rating: ASTM F2413-11 I/75 C/75 / EH Rated
Good for both industrial or casual purposes, the Men’s Gain steel toe work shoe by CAT is a good fit if you want more of a sporty look, feel and function. Great for on and off the job site, these shoes feel more like a running shoe than a work shoe. Top that off with the added safety features and you have an all-around great work shoe.
The highlight of these shoes is the comfort. These truly feel like you threw on a pair of running shoes and headed out the door for a jog. They’re also lightweight and with the nylon mesh lining, your feet can breathe well in them too. There is also good toe space, so you do not have to worry about your toe being pinched while wearing these.
The durability is also really good on these bad boys. Some people have been able to get more than 3 years out of them. And the stitching on these shoes is one of the best ever seen in a casual steel toe work shoe. You can put these shoes through the wringer and they’re going to hold up.
The only downside to these shoes is the limited availability of them. The sizes only range from 7 – 13 and most versions are wide versions. They do come in a black version, but the sizes on these are even more limited.
Summary: Best Steel Toe Work Shoes
The technology of steel toe work shoes has really come a long way. The best steel toe safety shoes of yesterday cannot hold a candle to the best steel toe safety shoes of today. This is tough to say as someone who likes the “tried and true” and more traditional work gear. However, before you pull the trigger and buy a pair of shoes there are some things to keep in mind.
If quality and durability is your concern, stick with the brand names: Keen, CAT, Reebok, Timberland, Skechers. If you want to save money, you have to be careful because many off-brands aren’t going to last very long and the reviews online for the lesser-known names seem to be planted with only good reviews, an absolute impossibility when it comes to work shoes that require a high level of durability. Last, but not least, if you are looking for comfort CAT and Keen are the top choices for the most comfortable steel toe work shoes.