Best Work Boots – Guide & Reviews

Best for most people: Timberland PRO Men’s 26078 Titan
Budget-friendly pick: Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift

What is more frustrating than a torn pair of work boots? Being very honest, it would be a shame if you were to invest in a pair of work boots and find them to be not as durable as expected. Let alone the monetary factor, if your work boots don’t provide good grip or fitting, who knows what industrial accidents they might lead to? Footwear must not be compromised with. Owing to the wide range of work boots available in the market, it is quite a tedious process to select your chosen pair of boots. The things that you could take into consideration while buying your work boots are the safety features, tractions, grip, insulation and waterproof.

Best Work Boots - Top Picks

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Some of the Best Work Boots of 2016

You can never really understate the importance of work boots enough. A pair of these boots does more than just merely protecting your feet. They provide you with support, comfort and functionality beyond the mere protection your regular footwear would offer.

Timberland PRO Men’s 26078 Titan Work Boot

Editor's Rating:

Old is gold goes the saying and in case of the Timberland Pro Men 26078, one could just not be any more accurate. Released first over three decades ago, the Timberland 26078 remains one of the best shoes in the business. 

The popularity of these shoes is a testimony to the fact that you can really never go wrong if you get your basics right.

So what makes the Timberland such a hot evergreen favorite? For starters, the shoes do not require any sort of breaking into them. They are so finely designed that you can just wear them to work the very day you buy them and come away with no rashes or other foot injuries.

Now here’s where you get all impressed. The tip of the sole of the shoe is reinforced with an aluminum alloy that makes the boot durable and yet the light of weight. The shoes are oil resistant and Timberland gives you a 30-day money back guarantee on these shoes. Users have often praised the boots’ long durability of lasting for up to a couple of years in sharp contrast to a couple of months longevity of a regular pair. The boots may be the most generic and simple looking boots in the market. But a better legend you have never seen. The icing on the cake? It’s water resistant!

Red Wing Heritage Men’s Classic Work Moc Toe Boot

Editor's Rating:

Red Wing has had a long history with boots going back to the two world wars. It was during the wars that Red wing started producing boots and hence, you can trust them to know their craft. 

Red Wing over the years has gained reputation for designing and creating the most beautiful boots you can lay your hands on and the Red Wing Heritage Men’s Classic doesn’t disappoint.

Let’s start with the soul of a boot – The sole. As you will probably notice, the Red Wing Heritage Men’s Classic has a thick sole. This ample sole offers a firm grip on all surfaces and even balances out uneven surfaces. The thick sole also cushions your feet and provides comfort beyond your wildest imagination. However, the feature that really draws you to these pair of boots is the fact that they have been triple stitched at the seams to provide extra durability.

When it comes to looks, there is something magnetic about this Red Wing offering. For a boot with professional use, the design is marvelously very casual. This has the added benefit of even corporate people using these boots. However, nothing ever is perfect and even this marvel comes with its set of flaws. The boots seemingly have a very long break in period often lasting for two weeks or so. This would mean that your first impressions with the boot would be pretty unfavorable. However, once you get past that minor setback, you will be actually proud that you bought a pair of these absolute delights.​

Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift Work Boot

Editor's Rating:

When it comes to the world of work boots, look no further than the elite Caterpillar. Caterpillar has already built a considerable reputation for building tough things around the world and it is no surprise that they continue to dominate the work boot market.

The Caterpillar second shift is so perfect a pair of boots that I am confused as to where to begin on all its features. The boots have been known to be so very durable that there are actually chances of you wearing the soles of the boots down rather than the boots actually coming apart. Jeez! That’s some long durability right there.

Just to make sure that we are on the right pages, let me make it absolutely clear that the Caterpillar Men’s second shift is by far the most comfortable work boot I have ever worn. It’s built to be water resistant and to regulate all kinds of temperature and protect your feet in them. Be it chilling cold or sweltering heat, you can trust this Caterpillar to keep your feet safe. The boots actually come in two variants- one which is a soft toe and one which is reinforced to offer better protection. However, be warned that this Caterpillar variant requires quite a lot of time to break into it. But once you have successfully managed to do so, trust me, you shall never have to look at another pair of boots again.

Keen Utility Men’s Atlanta Cool Steel Toe Work Shoe

Editor's Rating:

In a segment dominated by work boots, let us talk about work shoes and the advantages of using them. Granted that they are the black sheep of this segment, but they may just have what it takes to be the dark horses. Read on to find out.

The Keen Utility Men’s Atlanta Cool Steel Toe Work Shoe is extremely underrated but let me tell you at the very onset that these shoes have the potential to be as comfortable as your tennis shoes without compromising on the functions of a work shoe. Needless to say that the shoe is both water as well as oil free as work footwear ought to be. These variants have integrated a lot of safety features like an increased grip and balancing to become a boon for workers. These shoes are light, easy to wash and extremely flexible meaning that they don’t require a break-in period.

This drastically increases its use as a shoe that can be instantly bought and used. There is also a lace up function that the creators have added in the boot. This function enables you to effortlessly adjust the shoe fittings and locking and allows you wear the boot on and off as required. In a list containing boots, it is quite unprofessional to recommend a work shoe. But trust me, this model has earned its place on the list and if given the chance, they may be well worth your while.

Caterpillar Men’s Diagnostic Steel Toe Waterproof Boot

Editor's Rating:

Work boots are more often than not oriented to climates and if you are working in moderately pleasant climates, this really doesn’t matter. 

However, suppose you are working in an area with snowfall or rainfall or other wet areas and waterproofing is of paramount importance to you, then look no further than the Caterpillar Men’s Diagnostic Steel Toe Waterproof Boot. The boot has been specially created for working in cold conditions. Thus, you can expect a pair of them to be able to put off any amount of water short of your daily swim.

The boot has a commendable insulation technique. This means that even after a long wet day at work you can expect your feet not to overheat or turn smelly. Another feature that sets them apart is that they require absolutely no period to break in and you can expect a comfortable use from the date of purchase itself. However, like every boot, even these come with their share of flaws. These boots are surprisingly heavy, maybe it’s just all that waterproofing taking its toll. However, the weight of the boots significantly affects the potential popular boots these could have been.

Danner Men’s Quarry GTX 8” AT Boot

Editor's Rating:

Talking about underdogs Danner, it is by far the least famous brand in this list and they probably make the best boots in the list. The Quarry boot gets it all right. Get this- it’s a triple stitched reinforced handmade boot that has an unbelievable durability.

In sharp contrast to the quintessential boots having a heel height of 6’’, the Danner Quarry GTX is 8” which renders it a bit tall. However, it also means that the boot offers superior protection and great insulation. Perfect for those long winters.

While work boots are usually not stylish or often considered to make no style statements, the Danner Quarry GTX is a sight to behold. The polished leather and the colorful laces are beautifully combined. However, at their high price, they may find a few takers. But if the end justifies the means, it’s worth every penny you spend on it.

The boots also have quite an unusual feature which is that they are padded with foam insert. While I can’t recall any other boots using it, it surely is an idea that could have a viable use. The boots are extremely comfortable and durable, not to mention that they have a strong grip and are oil resistant. Granted it’s a bit on the expensive end but hey! what’s life without a little comfort?

Irish Setter Men’s 83605 Work Boot

Editor's Rating:

The beautifully crafted Irish Setter 83605 is one of the most beautiful pieces of work boots around. And there is a reason why it remains the most sought after work boots in the market. 

The Irish Setter as a brand is a branch of the very successful Red Wing brand who have been making boots since the world wars.The parent brand is known for the superb craftsmanship that has been their hallmark for generations.

The Irish Setter 83605 is particularly helpful for working in heavy industrial areas and uneven surfaces like mountain areas. The boots are triple-stitched and made from tough leather. The boots are equipped with durable metal footholds and have laces. It provides a very fierce grip and strong traction to ensure that your foot doesn’t slip while working. Though these boots are very well constructed and have undeniably thick soles.

However, patent original leather means that the boots remain prone to water and are not waterproof. Red Wing advises that the user uses a water resistant ointment on the boot to protect them from the water. How effective that is, remains a question unanswered. I personally feel that these boots won’t last in tough weather conditions.

The Irish Setter 83605 also falls short on ankle support and as I have already noted before requires a tedious amount of protection from elements. This boot remains a great piece of footwear for those who can maintain it. However, in my opinion, it fails in its essential duty of being a work boot. Still, do give it a look for varietie’s sake.

Wolverine Men’s Raider 6″ Contour Welt Boot

Editor's Rating:

The wolverine has been created to amalgamate the best of both worlds by combining the best of Timberland and Caterpillar. It is therefore, not a surprise that the ensuing result in the form of Wolverine Raiser is one of the better boots around. 

The boot values comfort highly and put in pressure pads both in and out so that there is an all-encompassing comfort. The Wolverine Raider aspires to amalgamate the comfort of a sports shoe with the durability of a work boot and passes off with flying colors.

The boots are oil and water resistant. However, in what is a shame, there seems to be some designing flaw with the insulation and this renders them almost unusable in colder weather.

The Good Old Times

Boots, as you all might know, are a sturdy kind of shoes and heavily worn for greater efficiency, durability, and safety purposes. Boots are in fashion since the cold war and the punk revival days. However, the functionality of a pair of boots is mostly felt in extreme cases, like when hiking, or in snow, or mud, or risky jobs. Believe it or not, boots have been in use since the very beginning of civilization – long before U2 wrote and composed their famous Grammy-nominated anthem ‘Get on your boots, hey hey hey’. And, like most of the mass manufactured products in our godforsaken civilization, boots also have their inception somewhere in china.

In times before recorded history, separate uppers, soles, and leggings were combined and worn together to provide more safety than regular shoes. Around 1000 BC, an anonymous genius put them together to form a single unit that protected the feet, and the lower leg up to the knee. Ankle boots made from soft leather which is still in fashion these days were worn by tribes living in eastern Asian hilly regions and there are specimens left in museums.

According to the history books, the Mongol invaders helped to shape a number of cultures, and it is none other than these barbaric, wandering people who took their boots with them wherever they went, from Russia to China to India. So to speak, they literally left their footprints everywhere, didn’t they? However, after facing with so many natural extremities, these folks came down to fertile riverside grounds, and chose to be settlers – they confined themselves in a barefoot agrarian civilization and lived happily ever after.

But that’s just the beginning, the prelude of a long story. People would only be reminded of its importance again when they would step into a more modern industry oriented mode of civilization. The 17th century was a time of wars and history saw the first phase of colonization and the proverb that necessity is the mother of invention was to be proved true when the century also saw the revival of boots. But then again, the purpose had been changed, and boots started to be manufactured for military purposes.

From then onward, we have probably seen all kinds of boots including the sassy fur ones to the monstrous ones with spikes. However, the functionality of the boots have long exceeded their fashion value, and the ones we would be talking about today have more to do with miners and factory workers than models and ramp walks. Our concern for the day is safety boots or steel-toe boots, something more commonly known as work boots.

The Modern Work Boot

Work boots, as is evident from the name, are more about work than about boots. While traditionally manufactured from leather and steel, with the progress of modern technology, we’ve managed to find replacement material like fiber or composite metal which have greater safety standards. These boots are manufactured especially for extreme working conditions like mining, chemical processing, semiconductor manufacturing and construction industries, and extreme could mean death by the landslide, electrocution, or more bizarrely, chain saw. In conditions like these, that extra bit of caution could save your life insurance. So, you should act accordingly, ‘cause the last time I checked, injured legs were really bad for health. So, break a leg, will ya? Or, maybe, on a second thought, we could skip that. These shoes are made to meet various national and international Occupational safety regulations and go through a number of painful tests before you’ll ever wear it. Thus, you’ll never have to worry about their efficiency, ‘cause these little dudes will always keep their promise.

If you are a rich brat, and just sad that you’ll never get to wear one of those, then think again. If you’re a fan of these shoes, you know the names of the big brands like punk, skinhead, and rivethead. And these brands, besides making safety shoes that are efficient and meeting cautionary regulations, also pay attention to the aspect of fashion, and they’ve grown in the past years to achieve a cult status in the underground subculture.

Terms and Other Classifications

However, you might keep in mind a number of useful facts before you go down to the market.

When the name of a product is safety shoes, you know safety comes first. But you wouldn’t probably be aware of what kind of protection it’s providing. That’s why, to make things seemingly easier, most work boots have these standard signposts at the outset, to provide you with the necessary safety information. These symbols, to name a few, are something like these:

A Green Triangle would mean that the shoe has a puncture resistant sole. A Yellow Triangle would also mean that you are getting puncture-resistant sole, however, the difference would lie in the quality.

Also, when you’re buying a pair of work boots of your choice, you should keep in mind the kind of environment you work in, and act accordingly. Because with the working condition, varies the need, and changes the components of which the boots are to be made. Safety toes, which are responsible for keeping your toes extra safe, from water, mud, and even stones and electricity (That was really clever to figure out, wasn’t it?) are an important part of the boot. These artificial supporting components in your pair of boots are the reasons you’ll be safe from numerous possible feet injuries. In market these days, safety toes come in three or four variants.

Steel Toes 

You’ll always have the feels for the good ‘ol. And these steel toes have been in use since the point of inception of safety boots themselves. So, here is as traditional as it gets. The sturdy metal in use since the beginning of modern civilization will prevent you from just about anything – but steel might be, as you can imagine, a little heavy. Also, steel conducts temperature and you might feel it in extreme temperature. So, the workers from Alaska are requested to avoid steel.

Aluminum Toes 

Aluminium is also used to make artificial safety toes, but there’s a rather pleasing catch. Aluminum comes cheap, and it doesn’t weigh as much as steel. So, those of you low on pockets and muscles might as well try it out as a separate option. Aluminium will not let you down because it is just as strong. However, this alloy is as cheap as it comes and has some shortcomings. They’re a bulky metal and also conduct heat.

Composite Toes 

These artificial toes are usually made from plastic, Kevlar or fiber.

Do You Really Need a Pair of These?

To be honest, work boots pretty much like every personal item ever is more of a user-oriented decision i.e. the user is the best judge. It is absolutely a personal choice. However, that being said, here are some reasons I feel that it is worthwhile to invest in a pair of work boots if your profession demands it.

Firstly, it’s a matter of comfort. People often tend to underestimate the ability of the feet to bear stress. Yes, feet get stressed out too and it is your duty to take care of them. If you invest in a good pair of work boots, your feet would obviously tire out less and you could work more efficiently. All that just because you decided to invest in a little foot care. A little caring goes a long way.

Secondly, it’s a matter of professional integrity. No one, least of all you, wants to see slack at work. A pair of well-bought work boots not only ensures that you look sharp but also helps you to perform better. And we all know what happens when you look sharp and work nappy. Pay raise and promotions!

Thirdly, durability is the key to success. While you might think that you are better off with those normal casual shoes of yours and the work boots are just an expense. Try calculating how long your shoes last, then for the sake of trying, do buy a pair of work boots and see how long they last. You’ll be surprised to find that what seems to be an expense is actually your path to long-term savings.

Fourthly, weather odds. As a professional, you might be required to work under a variety of circumstances, all of which may not be the most pleasant of weathers. It could be hot, wet, slippery, snowy and what not. Work boots provide you every bit of support during that occasional rough weather you might encounter on your job. More often than not, your work boots could save your life. It could prevent a host of other accidents that you never saw coming. Invest in a pair and rest assured to your safety. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Lastly, to tackle those uneven terrains. This holds true especially if you live in mountainous areas. Uneven terrain always holds the danger of foot injury. You might just happen to twist your leg or slip down a slope. Work boots ensure that you receive a superior ankle protection and therefore, have happy feet at the end of the day.

Brand Names

Shopping for clothes and shoes and other articles, there is always a tendency to try non-branded goods as they tend to be cheaper. However, let me warn you that when it comes to work boots, Brand is the last word. Some of the best work boots that you might be able to get your hands on are branded. While non-branded shoes may seem cheaper and the salesman may assure you many features, I have seen them mostly to be hoaxes. Beware of cheap imitations of branded shoes. The following is a list of some prestigious brands that you may consider buying work boots from. Do note that the list is by no means exhaustive and you can always get better options if you search hard enough.

Timberland

While there is nothing official about it, Timberland as been known to be the biggest and most prestigious of Work Boot brands and as you shall see from the product review down below that their reputation is well founded and justified. The greatest feature of most Timberland shoes is that they have no break in period. While that would mean that you could wear them to work as soon as you buy them, it also means that they turn out to be less durable. Typically a Timberland boot would last for a year. If you need more durability, I recommend you look elsewhere.

Caterpillar

Caterpillar boots are one of the bigger names in the work boot industry. A curious feature is that their boots have put them on opposite poles with Timberland boots unlike Timberland boots, Caterpillar boots take a long time to break in. However, once that is secured, the boots are pretty much durable and easily outlive their Timberland counterparts.

Red Wing

Red Wing is literally the grandfather of work boot making as they have been at it for eight decades and continuing. The brand has some of the most fashion conscious boots in the genre and if you are a stickler for fashion you can’t get past them. However, over the years Red Wing has acquired the reputation of being an elite and expensive brand. If you can afford it, then there’s no reason you should worry about.

Wolverine

The most ingenious part about Wolverine boots is that they are equipped with the patented Multishox Comfort system that makes them some of the most comfortable boots around.

Wolverine products mash in the best of Timberland and Caterpillar boots because a typical Wolverine work boot would have an almost negligible break in period and yet stand the test of time. However, Wolverine really doesn’t score well on style and prefers to stay with conventional designs.

Conclusion

This article tries to take the difficulty out of buying a pair of work boots. You might also consider some special features like heat resistance, static dissipation, puncture resistance and shaft height. These features are to be considered if you work under special circumstances or areas. One thing that I would always urge you to do is to never try going for products which are cheap, merely for their price. Work boots are the professional culmination of your efficiency and the fashionable equivalent of corporate shoes. So, invest in a pair of work boots and invest well. I am sure you shall not be disappointed. Here’s wishing you happy feet.

  • Updated December 4, 2016
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