The 10 Best Men's Work Boots
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in February of 2015. Tough jobs require tough footwear, but you don't have to sacrifice style or comfort in the pursuit of protection on the worksite. Our selection of impressive men's work boots come in a variety of rugged options, including Red Wing, that will look just as good in the bar as around town, yet still provide all the features you need, such as waterproofing, insulation, and steel toecaps. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 10, 2020:
For a pair of boots to be deemed suitable for work, there are several requirements they need to meet. They should be durable enough to stand up to the working environment, whilst protecting the wearer from sharp objects and rough terrain; they need to provide good support around the ankle and under the bottom of the foot; and need a sturdy sole with good tread to prevent slipping. Depending on the type of job you do, you may need extra functionality, such as toe protection, waterproofing, oil and acid protection, or electrical hazard protection. We ensured this ranking is varied enough to cover all of these necessities without sacrificing on comfort.
In this most recent update, we fine-tuned the selection by removing some due to poor customer satisfaction and durability issues, and replaced them with better quality, more comfortable options. The Georgia Boot Giant was replaced after several complaints of heel pain and rubbing, in its place we added the Suadex Military, one of the lightest pairs of steel toe boots available. Canvas uppers keep them breathable and flexible and a Kevlar midsole provides protection from standing on sharp objects. The Stanley Dredge Industrial were a lace-free option with leather uppers, however, due to availability concerns we chose to replace them with the Rockrooster Working Shoes. These are also lace-free and have a full-grain, tumbled leather upper and a thick rubber sole that is anti-slip and oil-resistant. Finally, the Carhartt Ground Force were removed due to issues with the quality of the leather, their replacement, the Cebu Tk Borcegui have high-quality, full leather uppers that are oil and acid-resistant, and are constructed with a Goodyear welt, making them easy to repair if necessary.
Those looking for a pair of waterproof boots should consider the Rockrooster Working Shoes or the Keen Utility Pittsburgh, both of which also offer electrical hazard protection. The Red Wings Irish Setter feature outsoles that have been designed and tested to perform on high heat surfaces up to 475 degrees Fahrenheit, and are also electrical hazard protected.
May 20, 2019:
Removed the Chippewa Super Logger, as the elevated heel made them awkward in certain conditions. The Skechers Workshire were jettisoned as well, as we felt the Stanley Dredge Industrial were a superior budget option that made the Skechers superfluous.
There are two selections from Red Wings on this list, although there could very well have been several more. Both are rugged, well-made, and likely to offer you years of dedicated service. The Irish Setter were just a little more versatile and better suited for specialized work environments, which is why they earned the top spot.
The Timberland Pro ranked highly because they're tough yet comfortable; however, we won't begrudge you saving them for when you're off the clock rather than subjecting them to your daily grind. They're maybe the most stylish options on this list, and look fantastic with a pair of jeans. Of course, that may not be something your boss cares about, so it's a good thing they can handle the rigors of a busy shop, too.
Viberg Service These aren't particularly flashy, but they can pair with just about any attire, and they can help keep your feet comfortable no matter how long your workday is. The unstructured toe box is excellent for anyone who hates having their piggies mashed together. viberg.com
Grenson Joseph If you're as concerned with style as you are ruggedness, you can't go wrong with these gorgeous, military-style boots. Made of hand-painted calf leather, they're sure to garner a few looks — and compliments — whether you're on or off the clock. grenson.com
No footwear could be more appropriately American except, perhaps, for the cowboy boot.
The year that Jurassic Park came out–the original 1993 film, that is–a lot of the kids in my neighborhood went as Tim Murphy for Halloween. He was a relatable, young character who voiced all the nerdy interest in dinosaurs that the film would inevitably spark in us kids. I, however, wanted to be Dr. Alan Grant, Sam Neil’s character.
I had the denim shirt, the light hat, the red bandana tied around the neck like it was meant for a puppy. I even had a pretty approximate pair of khakis, a weapon much like the guns used in the film, and a little set of picks and brushes in case I came across any fossils worth excavating.
The day of my elementary school’s Halloween parade came along, and despite my efforts, there was still something missing: the work boots. Dr. Grant was a serious outdoorsman, a paleontologist with a wry smile and a half-way decent American accent (Neil, like so many actors invading American soil, hails from the UK). No footwear could be more appropriately American except, perhaps, for the cowboy boot. From a costuming perspective, though, the cowboy look might have detracted from Dr. Grant’s portrayed intellect.
The work boot has a deeper universality to it, at once demanding you recognize its strength while also implying its cunning with every use. Not only are modern men’s workbooks veritable tanks for your feet, they also benefit from decades of research into the science of standing and walking in difficult spaces like work sites and factories.
They boast features like waterproof leather exteriors, cushioned inserts, steel toes, quick laces, and gripping rubber soles for stability and comfort. All this they do while maintaining a specific and iconic form that works as well as a fashion statement as it does walking the beams of a skyscraper. The only thing left that could improve them would be if Dr. Grant could capture a triceratops or two instead of just hugging them. Then, we might have had work boots made of dino leather. There's always the sequels, I guess.
Working It Out
Choosing the right footwear isn't always something you do from a dry, clinical perspective, preferring practicality over all other considerations. If that were the case, all our shoes would be the shoes of some Soviet-style dystopia, black blocks of reasonably inexpensive material permanently glued to our feet, indestructible and adaptable to almost any task. Well, any task in the factory or labor camp, anyway.
Choosing the right footwear isn't always something you do from a dry, clinical perspective, preferring practicality over all other considerations.
Fortunately, the capitalists won the Cold War, so we continue to have a bevvy of options at our disposal that are as eye-catching as they are body-caring. You'd be hard-pressed to find a pair of work boots on our list that isn't both comfortable and useful, but it's that other aspect, the catching of the eye, that makes the most difference. Let your sense of style guide you toward a few of the boots on our list, and start evaluating other variables from there.
To get to the heart of those other variables, you should consider your intended use for your future work boots to help you narrow down our list to your best options. For example, you might be a motorcycle rider. That immediately rules out any boots that have laces, unless you want to get your leg caught in the gears and be viciously thrown from your bike at 70 mph.
Then, there's the question of actual employment, as to whether your job actually requires that you wear a work boot. If you do any kind of contracting, construction, demolition, or anything that puts your feet in harm's way, you want a boot that's sturdy and strong, and one that you can stand in for ten hours without losing feeling in your feet. Look for features like steel toes, Vibram soles, anti-microbial linings, and additional cushioning to ensure the highest level of comfort lives beneath that rugged exterior.
Always Leather On The Feet
The human foot has seen some grueling challenges of the course of its evolution. Everything from massive shifts in global climate, to a transition from nomadic to agricultural societies, and, my personal favorite, the timeless practice of foot binding, has shaped the way we stand and walk, and the way we think about standing and walking, for millennia.
The thing about sandals, though, is that they aren't particularly safe.
Early footwear consisted of leaves or strips of hide strung against the foot or the calf with reeds, tree bark, and other, thinner strips of skin. These designs led to the sandals of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquity that have made a slight comeback in recent fashion trends.
The thing about sandals, though, is that they aren't particularly safe. In the era of the industrial revolution, more and more factory workers utilized boots or wooden clogs to protect their feet from the dangers of the workplace. After the second World War, Germany developed a kind of reinforced boot meant to keep the toes safe from falling objects, and to keep the soles from enduring any puncture damage.
These were the first work boots to meet the standards to which we hold the category today. Over the decades that have proceeded since then, the leather has gotten thicker and stronger; the soles have gained elasticity, grip, and functionality from the addition of rubber; and the style has reached out past the factory walls and into urban and millennial fashion.