Best Steel Toe Boots For Welding

Steel toe welding boots are a necessity when working with hot metal. It’s not uncommon to drop a big chunk of metal, and it usually lands near, or directly on your foot. Most people actually have a reflex of sticking their foot out to break the fall of whatever they drop (I seriously burnt my foot once because of this), and in that case, a steel toe boot can really save your foot.

Nowadays you can find excellent alternatives for steel toe boots, like composite materials, but they aren’t as strong as steel, so they have to be much thicker in order to provide the same protection as steel. That’s why most welders (and other people that work similarly hazardous jobs) still prefer a pair of classic steel toe boots.

Laced Boots

Although laces provide a snug fit, they’re not ideal for welding because sparks will burn them, and you could remain with a loose boot for the rest of the day. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep an extra pair of laces in your shop or toolbox. Here are six great options for laced welding boots.

Overall Best Laced Boots: Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift

I don’t think I’ve ever met a welder that hasn’t owned a pair of these boots. The Cat Second Shift is truly a classic among work boots, and there’s more than one reason for that.

As Caterpillar puts it, this is a “no-nonsense” boot. It has a classic “work boot” design that never gets old, and can even be worn as a fashion detail. They’re made of full-grain leather which serves as great protection against the most common welding hazards such as spark and spatter. However, the leather is quite soft so the toe of the boots will rip after a few months of heavy use.

Yet, the boots are very protective and super durable. The T3 rubber sole is slip and shock-resistant, and it also meets the ASTM standard for electrical hazard protection. The inside of the sole features a steel shank that will keep you stable on your feet yet agile enough because it’s flexible. On the top of the outsoles, there’s a Goodyear welt construction that significantly increases the durability of the boots.

The inside of the boots is also well made. There’s a breathable Climasphere insole plus a removable polyurethane footbed on top of it. The footbed is not the most comfortable one you can find, so many workers replace it with a more comfortable gel insole. The nylon mesh inner lining is not only very soft to the touch, but it also has moisture-wicking properties to release the sweat from the boots.

Between the inner lining and the steel toe cap, there are a few protective layers that will keep your toes from rubbing against it. The steel cap passes the ASTM standard for impact and compression to keep your toes safe in any situation. What’s really important about steel toe is that it leaves plenty of room, even for those with extra wide feet.

A minor issue about the Second Shift boots are the laces. They don’t last long when exposed to sparks, so you might consider keeping an extra pair in your shop, as well as in your toolbox. I’ve personally destroyed an almost brand new lace just from grinding. I then wrapped a wire around the boot to keep it on for the rest of the day. This is really an insignificant drawback, considering that these boots might last a few years (mine lasted three).


  • Very durable;
  • Slip and heat-resistant;
  • Affordable;
  • A classic good look.


  • Not waterproof;
  • Insoles are a bit too hard;
  • Laces aren’t very durable.

Best Value-for-Money: Iron Age Men’s Ground Breaker

This is probably the best pair of safety boots for the money. The Ground Breakers only cost around $100, but they’re worth much more, definitely more than most high-end shoe brands. The uppers are made entirely from full-grain leather, including the metatarsal guard. Although the leather is not very waterproof, it will hold up against all hazards that come with welding.

The overall construction of these welding boots shouts toughness. The leather pieces are sewn together with Kevlar stitching and so is the Goodyear welt construction. The rubber soles are made to be heat, oil, and slip-resistant, but they’re also soft enough to increase the overall comfort of the boots. The inner part of the soles features a spongy heel because that’s the part that absorbs the most pressure.

The EVA footbed is another detail of this work boot that’s meant to increase comfort. It’s also removable in case you want to change it for a gel insole, which seems to be a common occurrence. Some users have reported that this isn’t the most uncomfortable footbed out there and that it could use some improvement. On the upside, the breathable nylon mesh lining has moisture-wicking properties, so sweat will be released out to keep your feet dry.

The steel toe cap meets the ASTM F2413 standard for impact and compression, so your toes will be safe. Your metatarsal bones will also be safe from falling objects because of the met guard which covers most of the boot. Something to keep an eye on before buying these boots is the sizing. Most people claim that the size runs a bit big, so you should consider ordering one size smaller than usual.


  • Metatarsal guards;
  • Very durable;
  • Oil and slip-resistant;
  • Heat resistant;
  • Kevlar stitching.


  • Sizes run big;
  • Insoles are not too comfortable.

Most Comfortable Laced Welding Boots: Thorogood American Heritage 6″ Moc Toe

This is probably the best-looking work boot money can buy. Once you’re done working, you can just wipe them off and go out for dinner in them (although, you should probably change your clothes and socks first).

The classic moc-toe style not only looks great, but it makes the boots very durable, too. The thick thread it’s sewn with is very tough and will make this pair of work boots last quite a long time. The boots are made with full-grain leather which is not waterproof but works great against sparks, spatter, and other hazards that come with welding.

The comfortable MAXWear outsoles are made to be slip-resistant, and will also protect you from electrical hazards. Inside the sole is a fiberglass shank to keep you stable on your feet, while providing enough flexibility to give you freedom of movement. The outsoles and uppers are connected with a Goodyear welt construction which really extends the life of these welding boots.

Comfort is a key feature of the American Heritage boots. The shock-absorbing footbed lays on top of a cushioned Poron insole, so you feel like you’re walking on clouds. Although there’s a steel toe cap inside the boots, you’ll never notice that while wearing them. Between the steel cap and your feet are a few protective layers that make sure your toes don’t rub against the steel.

The stitching is also of high quality. The leather is triple stitched in the most crucial areas and should last for a long time. Another feature I love is that the tongue and the eyelet strips are made from one piece of leather. This means that no sparks of flying debris can get through and injure your foot. If you’re still not convinced about the quality of these welding work boots, you should know that they’re made in the USA by union workers.

All those features come at a price, however. And not a very low price, but if you consider that these boots will probably outlast most boots you can find on the market and that they’re made using ethical labor policies, I think they’re worth every penny. There is one other small issue besides the price. The laces they come with aren’t the most durable laces you can find, especially when working with fire hazards, as happens to be the case with welding.


  • Very comfortable;
  • Very durable;
  • Slip and heat-resistant;
  • Great appearance;
  • Made in the USA.


  • Not waterproof;
  • Laces are of questionable quality;
  • A bit pricey.

Best Metatarsal Guard: Timberland PRO Men’s 40000

This is a pair of truly heavy-duty work boots. Timberland’s PRO line is made for the working folk, and these boots prove that.

The tough Ever-Guard leather they’re made of is waterproof but also heat and abrasion-resistant. But most of the boot is protected with the ABS metatarsal guard which will wick off any water, sparks, or spatter that could potentially ruin your boots. Most importantly though, the metatarsal guard will protect your foot from any pipes, rods, or hammers that you probably drop quite frequently (as we all do).

This metguard steel toe boot has other great features, too. The rubber outsole is heat, slip, oil and abrasion-resistant to keep you safe on your feet, no matter the circumstance. It also meets the ASTM F2413-11 safety standard for electrical hazard protection. The steel toe cap conforms to the ASTM standard for impact and compression. Inside the soles is a steel shank that will improve your stability, but is flexible enough for you to move around freely.

The outsoles are connected to the uppers with a Goodyear welt construction that’s been sewn with fireproof Kevlar thread which makes the Timberland PRO 40000 the perfect welding work boots. And they don’t lack comfort either. The outsole is not the only part designed for a soft, comfortable step – the open-cell polyurethane footbed will conform to your foot and its antimicrobial cover will let your feet breathe.

Alas, it seems like nothing can be perfect. Some users have reported the seams that hold the met guard to break open after only a few months. However, it seems that this happens from real heavy-duty, outdoor construction work. And it doesn’t seem to happen all that often, so it looks like it’s another case of faulty items ending up in someone’s hands.


  • Metatarsal guards;
  • Waterproof;
  • Slip and abrasion resistance;
  • Heat-resistant;
  • Very comfortable;
  • Kevlar stitching.


  • Faulty items have been reported.

Best Waterproof Laced Boots for Welding: KEEN Utility Men’s Milwaukee 6″

These full-grain leather heavy-duty work boots seem to justify their high-end price. The KEEN Milwaukee Steel Toe Work Boots are made to provide you with maximum safety while minimizing the never-ending impacts on your feet while working. They are made from a combination of leather, rubber, steel, and thermoplastic polyurethane, a combination that promises a lot of heavy-duty working hours.

The uppers are made from abrasion-resistant tough-tec leather where high-quality metal lace hooks are knitted in. The two uppermost eyelets play a crucial role in forming great uniform stability that will protect your feet constantly, even in the most severe conditions.

The dark brown leather is glued on top of slip-resistant soles that will keep your feet safe and stable even if you are welding the ships’ anchor chain while rocking and rolling in high seas. An interesting fact about the Milwaukee steel toe work boot is that it doesn’t have a steel shank, but a TPU stability shank that gives it a lightweight feeling.

The inner part is made from fabric that will enable good “breathing” and a removable “metatomical” dual-density EVA footbed for maximum comfort. The most prominent feature, however, is the above-mentioned comfortability. The shape of the boot is suitable even for those with chubby feet.

As I’ve said before, nothing is perfect. Some users have experienced fast wear-out of the bottom part of the outsole, but for welders, this should not be a problem if most of the work is done inside the workshop.

From my personal experience, an experience filled with a lot of fortunate accidents that would have become unfortunate if I didn’t have a boot with these foot-saving characteristics, I would definitely recommend these.


  • Very comfortable;
  • Slip and abrasion-resistant;
  • Rubber toe cover extends the boots’ life;
  • Waterproof;
  • Very lightweight.


  • Outsoles may wear out quickly.

Runner-Up: ROCKROOSTER Men’s Work Boots

These are some of the most appealing steel-toe shoes on the market. With them, an attractive appearance is guaranteed. The ROCKROOSTER Men’s Work Boots come with a YKK zipper that makes them quick and easy to put on and take off.

Rockrooster rubber outsole that will be effective against accidental slips even in the most “slippery” situations. The rubber is also static dissipative and it meets the ASTM standard for electrical hazard protection. The footbeds are made from anti-fatigue memory foam which is very important for long working hours.

This Australian brand has implemented several high-end technologies worth mentioning:

PORON Xrd ® is an innovative cushion technology specially designed to endure constant impacts and absorb shocks. It is very light and breathable but it’s also infused with another unique technology Microban ® which helps prevent the production of microorganisms such as bacteria.

CoolMAX ® is another unique technology that gives the user a cooling feeling while also keeping their feet dry.

The good looks and comfort aren’t the only pros that these affordable work boots offer. The non-slip outsole, combined with oiled full-grain tumbled leather provides dependable protection from impacts to the whole metatarsal and ankle area. It also serves as a waterproof barrier to keep your feet dry.

Just like with all welding work boots on this list, there have been reports of them breaking after only a few weeks. The company does have great customer support, so don’t hesitate to contact them if something like this occurs.


  • Great appearance;
  • Very comfortable and breathable;
  • Waterproof;
  • Slip and abrasion resistance.


  • Faulty items have been reported.

Pull-On Boots

If you prefer to pull on your boots and be ready to go, I have chosen five great options for you. Also, you won’t have to buy a bunch of extra laces, because there’s nothing to burn through.

Overall Best Pull-Ons: Irish Setter Men’s 83906 Wellington

Red Wing Shoe Company created the Irish Setter brand in 1950, and it’s been a symbol of quality ever since. Although they first started as a brand for hunting boots, Irish Setters quickly became a worker’s favorite, mostly because of their comfort and durability.

The full-grain leather used to make the uppers has been treated with oil to make these work boots heat-resistant and waterproof. Beneath the leather, there are three more layers with waterproof properties to make sure that not even a drop can get in.

The Vibram outsoles are made of durable rubber that’s slip and abrasion-resistant. Most importantly, the outsoles are heat-resistant, with a melting point of 475℉, and that makes these Irish Setters a proper pair of welding boots. The soles meet ASTM standards for electrical hazard protection, and the steel toe meets the ASTM F2413-11 standard for impact and compression.

As I’ve mentioned before, Irish Setters are known for being very comfortable, and there are a few features that are responsible for that. The design of the soles gives flexibility where it’s needed, and great stability all around. The welted heel also really helps to increase the durability of the boots, because the heel is one of the first areas where the leather tends to break.

Not every pair has shown the same durability, however. Some users have complained about the quality of the outsoles. A few people claim that the sole broke after only a few weeks of moderate use. Of course, as this doesn’t seem to be a very common issue, it’s probably a case of faulty items slipping through the quality checks.


  • Very comfortable and durable;
  • Waterproof;
  • Heat-resistant;
  • Abrasion and slip-resistant.


  • Faulty items have been reported.

Best Value-for-Money: Dr. Martens Men’s Icon 2295

Dr. Martens are known for their comfort. Their trademark see-through rubber sole is probably the feature that’s most responsible for that statement, but there’s a lot more to these pull-on welding boots than that.

The reason they look thicker than the rest of the pull-on boots on this list is the padding that surrounds the shaft. That padding was designed to provide a snug fit with great ankle support, without being too tight. The work boots are made of full-grain, tumbled leather, which is treated to be water-resistant. It’s also quite thick and offers great protection from heat and other welding-related hazards.

The uppers lay on top of a Goodyear welt construction and Dr. Martens’ air-cushioned PVC outsole. The sole is oil, slip, and abrasion-resistant, and it’s very sturdy to keep you stable on your feet. The EVA footbed also adds to the overall comfort of these welding boots, and the synthetic lining will keep your feet dry, due to its moisture-wicking properties. Keep in mind that the PVC sole doesn’t really do its job in cold weather. Low temperatures will harden the PVC, taking away its slip-resistant properties.

The cushioned Smartmask insoles are not only very comfortable but also antibacterial, which is super important if you’re gonna be wearing these boots all day. Beneath the insoles, there’s a layer of foam to make you feel like you’re wearing a pair of athletic sneakers.

All of the stitching is made with Kevlar thread, which really increases the durability of the boots. The steel toe cap will surely protect your toes because it meets the ASTM F2413 standard for impact and compression.

But there are two issues with this part of the boot. The fact that Dr. Martens doesn’t offer wide sizes means that people with wider feet will not be able to wear them without rubbing their toes against the toe cap. The other issue is that the leather in that area tends to wear out after a while, so a protective coating like Tuff Toe would be a good solution.


  • Very comfortable;
  • Water-resistant;
  • Quite durable;
  • Ankle support;
  • Slip-resistant;
  • Heat-resistant.


  • Toe area might be too tight for some;
  • Front of the boot tends to wear out quickly.

Most Comfortable Pull-On Boots: Ariat Groundbreaker Wide Square

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I love cowboy boots. Ariat is one of the classics when it comes to cowboy boots. They’re actually the first brand to apply athletic shoe technology to equestrian boots and you can feel that when you spend long hours working on your feet.

Comfort is a key feature of this pair of welding boots. The insole is made with Ariat’s trademark Four Layer Rebound technology for a very cushioned step. The addition of a  cushioned EVA midsole makes the Groundbreakers some of the most comfortable work boots money can buy.

Ariat’s Duratread outsole is another incredible feature. It will give you that extra grip when stepping on metal or any slippery or oily surface for that matter. Besides, the outsole is very durable and abrasion-resistant, and that significantly increases the life of the boots. The heels were designed with the working man in mind. They are ideal for climbing ladders while keeping you light and stable on your feet.

The uppers are made from very durable full-grain leather that will keep you protected from typical hazards such as sparks and spatter. The shafts feature a classic embroidered cowboy design which makes these, not just welding boots, but something you can feel comfortable wearing on any occasion. And, they are proper welding boots. The steel toe cap passes the ASTM F2413-11 safety standards. You wouldn’t even notice from looking at these boots, but the steel toe is quite wide, with plenty of room for your toes.

However, there’s the minor issue of the “break-in period”. The boots should feel a bit tight when you first try them on, but they will conform to your foot after a couple of weeks, providing a comfortable, snug fit. The other issue that may occur is wearing out of the leather that covers the steel toe, the tip of the boots. A smart solution would be applying a protective coating like Tuff Toe.


  • Very comfortable;
  • Slip and abrasion-resistant soles;
  • Very durable;
  • Heat-proof;
  • They’re cowboy boots!


  • The tip of the boot may wear out quickly;
  • A bit pricey.

Best Waterproof Pull-On Boots for Welding: Georgia Homeland Steel Toe

This is a great-looking pull-on boot. The 12.2” shafts are made from Cordura fabric which is known for extreme durability and resistance. The full-grain leather they’re made of is also very durable and it’s oiled up to make it waterproof.

Cordura is a fabric that was first used in the army. It’s a flame retardant, but also abrasion, tear, and rip-resistant, and also fully waterproof. It will definitely keep your shins safe from sparks, spatter, and even sharp objects. To keep your toes safe, these boots feature a steel toe cap that meets the appropriate ASTM standard. At the opening, there are two hooks to make slipping into the boots easier, which is a detail that’s very important but often overlooked.

As I mentioned before, the uppers are made of full-grain leather which serves as great protection from sparks and spatter. The uppers are glued on top of a PVC outsole that is abrasion, oil, and slip-resistant. It also passes the ASTM F2413 electrical hazard standard. A PVC outsole is perfect for welders because it’s also very heat-resistant, so stepping on a used-up rod may put a little hole in it, but it’s not going to ruin the boot.

Inside the soles is a steel shank that will keep them from deforming over time, but will also keep you stable on your feet. The inside features Georgia’s TDC polyurethane insole which is not only durable but very comfortable and soft. A comfortable insole is necessary if you’re gonna be on your feet all day.

Although there have been reports of the outsole breaking after only a few months, it doesn’t seem like it’s a common issue. Georgia has a one-year warranty on all its products, so if you have a similar issue, you can just contact the seller and ask for a replacement.


  • Cordura fabric shafts;
  • Waterproof;
  • Slip and abrasion-resistant soles;
  • Very comfortable;
  • One-year warranty.


  • Faulty items have been reported.

Runner-Up: WOLVERINE Men’s Floorhand Waterproof 10″

Wolverine is a brand that’s been on the market for almost 140 years. All that experience really shows in the overall quality of these steel toe welding boots. The uppers are made of waterproof, full-grain leather, and they’re glued on top of rubber, slip-resistant soles.

There’s more to the outsoles than just being slip-resistant, they’re also abrasion, oil, and electricity-resistant. They’re connected to the uppers with a Goodyear welt which significantly extends the life of the boots. Inside the soles, there’s a nylon shank which increases the durability while providing proper flexibility.

The cushioned footbed really molds to your foot to provide comfort with every step. If for some reason you don’t like the footbed, you can just replace it with another one because it’s removable. The inner lining of these welding work boots is made of moisture-wicking mesh fabric to keep your feet dry.

The steel toe cap meets the ASTM  F2413-11 safety standard to guarantee the safety of your toes. Still, you might forget that you’re wearing a pair of work boots because the steel cap leaves plenty of room for your toes.

However, there seems to be a recurring issue with the lining. A few users have reported it ripping apart after only a few months. It doesn’t seem like it’s something that’s guaranteed to happen, but it’s still something to keep an eye on.


  • Waterproof;
  • Abrasion and slip-resistant;
  • Very comfortable.


  • Questionable quality of inner lining.

Buyer’s Guide

Now that we’ve gone over my favorite steel toe boots for welding, let’s take a look at how you can find the right pair for yourself. I’d recommend that you consider the following factors.

Water Resistance

Welding boots don’t necessarily have to be water-resistant. A welder will avoid working in wet conditions mainly because exposing the welding machine to water can lead to a short circuit and even electrocution. However, if your job requires you to work outdoors, or you work at a shipyard or a dock, you should consider buying boots that are made from synthetic materials rather than leather.

Comfort and Support

Being on your feet all day can really take its toll. Wearing uncomfortable boots even for a couple of hours is not only annoying as hell, but it will make you fatigued and you might not be able to continue working. That’s why you should look for the most comfortable pair of boots you can find, and possibly ones that offer good support for your ankles.

Laced or Pull-on

It really comes down to personal preference when making this choice. Some people just prefer the snug fit that pull-ons can’t really provide. Others (like myself) enjoy the possibility of kicking their boots off whenever they’re on a break and being able to just slide back in them and get back to work. Of course, if your job requires you to be more agile, then laced boots would be the only option.

Kevlar Thread

Only a few of the boots listed above have Kevlar stitching, but it’s really something that can make a huge difference. Its heat-resistant properties can significantly increase the life of the boots because it’s precisely heat that ruins them.


In the list above, there are boots that cost around $200, and there are boots that cost less than $100. That is a huge difference, especially if you haven’t tried any of them, so you can’t be sure which ones are right for you. Of course, if you can afford a more expensive pair for yourself, go ahead, but I assure you that even the cheapest pair of work boots on this list is worth giving a try.

Metatarsal Guards

Metatarsal guards will protect your entire foot rather than just your toes. The bones in your foot are very thin and fragile – it only takes a few pounds of pressure for them to break in certain places. The tendons can also suffer serious injury, perhaps even worse than a bone fracture. An injury like that could put you out of work for a few days, so consider getting boots that will offer protection. You can also get aftermarket met-guards for your boots, like this pair that will fit any type of boots.

Sole Construction

For a pair of boots to be appropriate for welding, their soles must be slip and electricity-resistant. A rubber sole doesn’t conduct electricity, and if the tread is well made, it should protect you from slipping and possible injury. A feature worth considering would be heat resistance – it’s not uncommon for welders to step on hot pieces of metal or used-up rods. Although most soles will protect you from burns, heat-resistant ones will not be ruined when you step on something hot.


And now, a quick recap of my picks for the best steel toe welding boots.

The Caterpillar Men's Second Shift are my number one pick for laced boots for a few reasons. They’re very durable, offer great protection from a variety of hazards, and they cost only a fraction of the price of the high-end brands.

Iron Age Men's Ground Breaker is such a durable boot that when you see the price, it feels like you’re ripping the seller off. There aren’t many brands out there that offer this many safety features and such toughness for such a low price.

If you have an extra buck to spend on a pair of welding boots, you have to give the Thorogood American Heritage 6 a try. Your feet will be thankful, and you might never want to try a different pair of boots.

If you’re looking for full foot protection, then the Timberland PRO Men's 40000 are worth giving a try. There might be an issue with the stitching that holds the met guards in place, but it’s not guaranteed.

If pull-ons are more your thing, then the Irish Setter Men's 83906 Wellington would be the best option. They cost quite a bit, but they’re super comfortable, sturdy, fully waterproof, and will probably last a few years.

However, if you’re like me, and enjoy a good pair of Justins, then look no further. The Ariat Groundbreaker Wide Square are as good as they come. Yes, they cost twice as much as some other brands, but they’re worth every penny. They’re probably the most comfortable boots on this list, but they also have all the features required for a pair of proper welding boots.

If your budget is not that high, or you just want to spend your money on more important welding equipment, the Dr. Martens Men's Icon 2295 are a great option for that. The only real issue with these boots is the fact Dr. Martens doesn’t make wide fits, so if you have wide feet (like myself) you should definitely look for a different pair.

The WOLVERINE Men's Floorhand Waterproof 10” steel toe pull-ons are a great pair of welding boots that cost about half of the Ariats. They aren’t as comfortable or durable as the Ariats, but for the price you’re paying, they’re more than worth it.


Can a steel toe cut your toes off?

Absolutely not. This is a silly myth that’s been going around since I can remember. But I also remember an episode of “Mythbusters” where they put it to the test. And the results were not surprising. A steel toe will protect you from heavy objects, and the force it takes to bend the steel toe will actually crush your entire foot no matter what. In conclusion, wear steel toe boots to keep your feet safe.

What are the most comfortable steel toe boots?

On this list, probably the Thorogood Men's American Heritage 6. Thorogood is a well-known brand for work boots, and they take the subject of comfort very seriously.

What are the most lightweight work boots?

On this list, I’d say the KEEN Utility Men's Milwaukee are the most lightweight boots.

Are composite toe boots comfortable?

Yes, and they weigh less than steel toe boots, but for them to offer the same protection as a steel toe, the toe cap has to be much, much thicker, thus making them bulkier than their steel toe counterpart.

About Pierre Young

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Hey, I'm Pierre Young a qualified AWS Certified Welder. I got into welding in 2009 as a side hustle. Ever since then, I've been doing all kinds of welds - both for business and pleasure. While immersing myself in this wonderful hobby, I've learned from hands-on experience what welding gear works and what doesn't. Welding Headquarters is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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