We have to wonder—does anyone ever really enjoy their work boots? For most people, they seem like a necessary evil—they may be uncomfortable, hot, and, eventually, smelly, but at least they protect feet, right? Wrong! We are work boot experts and are here to help our fellow workers discover the best work boots that are not only functional and protective, but extremely comfortable, durable, and even stylish. You do not have to live with throbbing feet—let us show you how to find the most comfortable work boots!
Top 10 Most Comfortable Work Boots
We decided to take some of the guesswork out of the process by reviewing dozens of work boots and creating a list of the top ten most comfortable work boots. Here are the our top ten picks:
Danner Super Rain Forest Uninsulated Work Boot
These boots were created with quality in mind: Danner used triple stitching, GORE-TEX lining (making them breathable and waterproof), Vibram rubber for the sole in order to provide maximum tractions on both wet and dry surfaces, and lugs that are angled so as to provide support when walking uphill or downhill.
Of course, the major drawback here is the price, but considering how durable they are, you will likely save money by not having to replace your boots for a long time.
Keen Utility Pittsburgh Steel Toe Boot
These boots are packed with Keen innovations—metatomical footbed (for cushioning), an interlocking torsion plate for support, a contoured heel lock for a secure fit, and moisture wicking liner.
Pittsburgh boots were designed with workers in mind and as such, they are can be worn for hours on end without discomfort. These are definitely one of the best products for those who find themselves on their feet the majority of the day.
Thorogood American Heritage Plain Toe Boot
Thorogood’s American Heritage Plain Toe Boot combines an attractive design with all of the durability and support one would expect from a work boot. The upper part of the boot is made from oil-tanned leather; the sole is made out of durable rubber, but it is on the inside that this particular work boot shines.
Included with the boots are removable dual density shock absorption inserts, which allow for maximum comfort, and cotton drill vamp lining, which keeps feet cool and dry.
Additionally, these boots are slip-resistant, have a fiberglass shank, and use Vibram rubber for the wedge, creating a work boot that is protective and comfortable to wear.
Caterpillar Diagnostic Steel-Toe Waterproof Boot
They use Cat Footwear’s ERGO comfort system, which is designed to support the movement of your foot, and included with the shoe is a removable, perforated EVA with gel technology for extra comfort and support.
Additionally, these Cat boots may be steel-toe but they certainly do not feel like it, as they are quite lightweight and ultra-comfy. Even users with flat feet have found relief with Caterpillar’s Diagnostic Boots and given their reasonable price tag, are worth trying.
Wolverine W02421 Raider Boot
These lightweight round-toe boots are great for those on a smaller budget who need maximum comfort. While the reviews surrounding Wolverine’s Raider Boot are not as universally glowing as those of the previously reviewed products, feedback on them has remained largely positive.
The most common complaint is that they require several days to break in; however, once they have been broken in, they are incredibly comfortable. Some may also not like the Raider Boot’s overseas manufacturing, but, in this case, “made in China” does not seem to equal to “shoddy craftsmanship,” as reports on their durability are almost all positive.
All things considered, Wolverine Raider Boots are a perfectly acceptable for those who cannot afford more expensive work boots.
Timberland PRO Pitboss Steel-Toe Boot
This rugged Timberland PRO Steel-Toe Boot is made to work just as hard as you. The steel toe meets ANSI safety standards and the toe box itself was designed to give the wearer more room than one usually finds in this type of footwear.
These boots also have great traction on wet or slippery surfaces and offer electrical hazard protection, a must for those who work around open circuits. For comfort, Timberland PRO includes a removable sock liner in order to guard against blisters and the shoes are designed with a padded top collar.
To top it all off, the fabric lining of the boot is treated with an antimicrobial to help control odor. With this Timberland PRO Steel-Toe Boot, you get maximum comfort and durability for a minimal price.
Keen Utility Milwaukee Steel Toe Work Boot
The upper part is made of abrasion, water, and stain-resistant nubuck leather, while the rubber outsole is slip and oil-resistant and features forefoot flex grooves. Additionally, your feet will love the dual-density EVA footbed and those who work around open circuits will certainly enjoy the electrical hazard protection that this work boot offers.
Keen’s Milwaukee Steel Toe Work Boot is the perfect mid-range option, offering quality craftsmanship as well as a variety of features for an affordable price.
Chippewa Waterproof Steel-Toe Super Logger Boot
The Super Logger boot uses a waterproof membrane that is sweat-permeable, meaning that not only will your feet stay dry from the elements, but that your own sweat will not be trapped inside with you.
They feature a thickly treaded rubber outsole, giving the wearer optimal traction and enhancing the sole’s durability. Chippewa also included speed hooks and stay-put waxed laces for convenience. The only real negative is the price, but if you are willing to pay for it, you will get a quality pair of boots in return.
Timberland PRO TiTAN Safety-Toe Work Boot
This boot uses full grain waterproof leather, has polyurethane midsoles for durable cushioning, contoured polyurethane open-cell footbed that is resistant to oil, slipping, and abrasion. Timberland included silver foils in its design to regulate temperature, prevent microbial infection, and remove odor.
On top of all of this, the Titan boots are extremely comfortable and have a minimal breaking-in time—perfect for the worker on the go.
Irish Setter Aluminum Toe Work Boot
Wearers will find that the aluminum toe is the perfect compromise between no protection at all and steel-toe protection. These Irish Setter boots are one of the more comfortable pairs of work boots, with little to no “break-in time” necessary.
The only common complaint has to do with the sizing—if you decide to order these, order a size smaller than you normally wear, because they run large. Other than that, these Irish Setter boots are dependable, comfortable, and affordable.
Best Work Boots Brands
Thorogood boots are known for being not only extremely functional, but fashionable as well, proving that work boots do not have to be hideous to be effective. Their boots are also quite affordable, usually only costing around $100 to $175.
Thorogood Work Boots have a long history that dates back to 1892 and a large portion of their product line is manufactured in Wisconsin, including their most popular model, the American Heritage Wedge Sole Collection.
In 1901, Chippewa Boots began supplying Americans with quality, rugged boots and shoes and they have not stopped since. They remain loyal to their roots by using American labor in the manufacturing process, as well as never deviating from the strict standards set for the company over a century ago.
Chippewa Boots sells boots of all kinds, from those meant for general outdoor activities to those required whilst working in the field and all of them are known for being extremely durable, exceptionally comfortable, and incredibly safe.
Keen is another company that is trying (and succeeding!) to take work boots from clunky monstrosities to attractive, yet highly effective footwear. While Thorogood’s boots resemble a classed-up and polished standard work boot, most of Keen’s work boots have the look of a rugged hiking boot.
Keen products have earned a reputation for being both durable and comfortable, as well as affordable; a pair of work boots from Keen usually only costs between $100 and $200. They currently offer a variety of styles within both their work boot category as well as other kinds of shoes.
Timberland PRO is one of the newer brands of work boots, having only arrived on the scene in 1999, though the company that created it, The Timberland Company, has been in business since 1952. Timberland has long been a favorite brand of those who enjoy outdoors activities, particularly those that require a tougher shoe than the usual sneaker or running shoe, and their entry into the work boot industry is a logical step.
Timberland PRO’s prices are comparable to other brands of its class, ranging from $100 to $200, and while they have a reputation for not being as durable as other brands, they are still one of the most popular choices currently available.
Wolverine is the oldest company on this list, with a history that dates back to 1883. Since that time, Wolverine has strived to not only produce the finest boots possible, but to stay in the forefront of boot manufacturing by developing their own technologies and improving those features that are commonly seen on work boots, such as steel toe, waterproofing, and the like.
Wolverine boots are known to be one of the more durable brands, with pairs of boots lasting for many years before needing to be replaced. Wolverine’s prices are generally comparable to the others in this list, though there are a few styles that cost over $200.
The name Irish Setter may not be as familiar to some as is the company from whence it came—Red Wing Shoes, which has a long and rich history that dates back to 1905. The Irish Setter brand was created 45 years later in 1950.
Today, they pride themselves not only on fine build quality and durability, but on their technological innovations as well. Today, Irish Setter is known for their comfortable, affordable, durable, and protective shoes.
Danner’s legacy dates back to 1932 and the company prides itself on keeping to its founder’s (Charles Danner) insistence on superior craftsmanship. Though it is not as well-known as some of the other brands on this list, its notoriety is growing.
Within the past few years, the Danner Super Rain Forest boots have been a mainstay on lists of “Top Work Boots,” and has even topped a few.
Work Boots Buying Guide
We know that purchasing new work boots can be rather overwhelming—there are so many different brands, styles, and features that it is quite a chore to sort them all out and make a decision. If this describes your predicament, we welcome you to look over our buying guide.
Know What Is Required
If you are purchasing boots to use in a workplace environment, then it is critical that you ensure that they are up to the standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which are based on the requirements established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Most footwear makers today do a pretty good job at making sure their work boots meet OSHA standards, but it is always a good idea to check the requirements yourself before you purchase a pair of work boots. This allows you to know what you must have in a work boot before you start to shop.
The way in which a boot is constructed can affect its weight, flexibility, durability, and performance.
Goodyear Welt construction
A welt is strip of material (usually leather or something synthetic) that goes between the sole and the upper and attaches to both. Often, a manufacturer will double stitch together the outsole, innersole, and upper through the welt to ensure maximum durability.
Boots that use welt construction are the longest-lasting boots available, making them perfect for heavy-duty jobs, extreme conditions, harsh work environments, and heavy use and abuse.
Direct Attach or Molded Construction
In the direct-attach method, a mold is attached to the upper and then injected with molten rubber, which forms the sole. Boots made in this way are lightweight, comfortable, shock-absorbent, and durable, though not as durable as those made with welt construction.
For individuals who need to move quickly over potentially hazardous terrain, direct-attach boots are a fantastic option.
Boots made with the cementing method are created by applying a flexible and high-strength adhesive to the upper and attaching it to the outsole (or vice versa). Cemented boots are usually the cheapest option and fairly lightweight, making them useful for those who spend a lot of time on their feet doing light-duty work.
Like direct-attach, cementing is a perfectly acceptable and durable method of construction, but it lacks the ruggedness of welt construction.
Manufacturers are always creating new and better ways to construct shoes, developing new materials and methods in order to create the best shoes possible.
Let’s Talk About Safety Toes
There are several choices when it comes to the type of toe your work boot can have; toes reinforced with some kind of metal are known collectively as “safety toes,” while those that do not are called “plain toes” or “soft toes.”
Steel toes are the traditional choice for safety toe boots. Steel makes the heaviest toe caps as well as the most compact, but steel also tends to conduct temperature much more than other options.
Some boot companies have gotten creative with their steel toes to make them more comfortable. Keen Utility boots use asymmetrical safety toes that contour to the shape of the feet and toes, which decrease weight and bulk while maintaining the same level of safety.
Those who prefer a lighter boot, but require a safety toe, may find that they prefer aluminum safety toes over anything else because of how lightweight they are, especially when compared to their steel counterparts. Aluminum safety toes meet ANSI/ASTM safety standards and offer the same protection, but the inserts are thicker than steel.
Composite toes are a blend of several different substances, such as plastic, carbon fiber, or Kevlar. They offer another lightweight alternative to steel, but the inserts are the thickest out of all three options.
Those who work in a metal-free environment will find these favorable to both aluminum and steel toes. Additionally, they do not transfer either cold or heat, a great feature for those who work in extreme environments.
Common materials used in the construction of work boots include:
- Full grain leather: Extremely durable, supportive, and water-resistant, but is heavier and less breathable than other types of combinations. Full grain leather shoes tend to last the longest and are recommended for those working in harsh environments.
- Nylon mesh and leather: They are a lightweight, breathable, and flexible combination that is often preferred by workers in warmer weather. They are softer on the feet, take less time to break in than their full grain counterparts, but are less water-resistant and durable.
- Waterproof liners: Liners made out of materials like GORE-TEX are must-haves for anyone working in wet conditions. A quality liner will keep water out, but let sweat escape, with the end result being nice, dry, and happy feet.
Types of Work Boots
Different types of work need different types of equipment and that includes boots as well.
- Insulated: Insulated work boots keep feet warm in cold weather.
- Electrical Hazard: Electrical hazard work boots protect wearers from electrical charges.
- Waterproof: Waterproof work boots are helpful to those who work in wet environments or who are called upon to work in wet weather. A large portion of work boots will be water resistant, but it is best to select the ones that are totally waterproof, just to avoid ending up with wet feet and socks.
Let’s Talk About Soles
Soles are often the first thing to go on a work boot, especially when they are constantly subjected to harsh terrain. This is why it is especially important to select the correct sole for your needs.
- Insoles: Many, if not most, boot manufacturers include removable insoles which may or may not include their own proprietary technology. Different insoles have varying qualities, especially if they are exclusive to the company, so pay particular attention to the specs in that area.
- EVA Midsole: Ethylene vinyl acetate, or EVA, is a lightweight, flexible, foam-like substance that provides cushion and stability for the foot.
- TPU Outsole: Outsoles made from Thermo Polyurethane are made to be tough, split-resistant, and lightweight. They are incredibly durable, as well being oil and chemical-resistant.
- Rubber Outsole: Rubber is the standard material for boot soles, but not all rubber is created equally. Many boot-making companies have developed their own proprietary rubbers that often have extra features and/or qualities that other types of rubber may not have. If you are currently in the market for work boots, you will notice that you often see the term “Vibram rubber.” Vibram is the brand name of a high-performance rubber that provides great durability and traction, making them popular in work boots.
- Antimicrobial Insoles: Helps to keep bacteria out of shoes and help control odor.
- Additional Padding: Is often included to increase comfort.
- Metatarsal Guards: Metatarsal guards protect the rest of the foot from harm, such as that caused by heavy falling objects, falling embers, hot materials, and other hazards.
- Asymmetrical Safety Toes: Traditionally, safety toes have taken the form of toecaps that go across almost the entire toe of the boot. However, in an attempt to make boots lighter without compromising on safety, some manufacturers have begun making their boots with asymmetrical safety toes, which are contoured to the shape of the feet and toes and use much less protective material, which reduces the weight of the shoe without sacrificing safety.
Getting the Right Fit
It is advisable to always try on boots before buying them. But, we understand that in the age of Amazon, it is too easy to order online and have them arrive on the doorstep. So if this is the route you take, we urge you to make sure that the company from which you buy accepts returns.
When fitting yourself for a work boot, you want to try on shoes in the afternoon or evening, as feet swell throughout the day, and bring a pair of socks that you would wear to work with you. It is important to understand that steel-toe shoes do not stretch—if they do not fit right when they are first put on, they will never fit correctly.
Something as important as your work boots should be treated with a proper amount of research and patience. Working in uncomfortable footwear can make a long day seem even worse. The best work boots are often the most comfortable work boots. Finding the perfect pair of work boots, such as those in our list above, can make work a lot easier and much less miserable.