Best Work Boots 2024 – Most Comfortable Boots for Men and Women

Best Work Boots Reviews

My feet are tired. The staff at Pro Tool Reviews and I have put hundreds of hours into wearing, testing, and reviewing work boots to find the best pair for anyone working in the trades. Which begs the question: How in the world do you recommend the best work boots for men and women in the trades? Some like (and need) steel toe work boots. Others prefer composite or even soft toe. While every trade has distinctive features and priorities, and everyone’s foot is different, we have a good framework for making some solid, comfortable boot recommendations.

Several brands and styles have returned, but we do have a new top pick (sorry Keen!). Direct-to-consumer and handmade brands continue to impress, and I’m definitely seeing an upcycling and recycling trend in work boot materials. Overall, this comprehensive guide should give you some trustworthy recommendations based on real-world use.

Best Work Boots – Our Top Rated Picks

Red Wing Traction Tred Lite BOA Work Boot Review

Red Wing Traction Tred Lite BOA

  • Outsole: Full-grain leather LiteTred
  • Insole: Bontex
  • Waterproof: Yes (3-stage)
  • Certs: ASTM SR, EH
  • Safety Toe: Composite

I have worn Keen Cincinatti boots for several years now. It was with much surprise (and glee) that I found an even more comfortable safety toe boot I felt worthy of the best moniker. The Vibram LiteBase wedge outsole works great on hard surfaces, but the aggressive tread depth makes it just as effective on rocks, dirt, and grass. With its welted construction, the Traction Tred Lite boot held up in a variety of challenging jobsite environments.

Of course, the most obvious characteristic of this work boot is the BOA fit system. It replaces standard boot laces, and the thin cables tighten or loosen quickly via a dial on the tongue. The system is a real time-saver if you work on secure sites or have to take off your shoes for TSA (Get Pre-Check—totally worth it!) Taking off and putting on your boots is exponentially faster and more convenient when all you have to do is turn the dial.

Some people may not want the BOA system. If you like to run your laces at different tightness levels between the top and bottom, an even tightening system like this prevents that. Fortunately, Red Wing also makes the Traction Tred Lite with traditional laces. Either way, these are the best safety boots you can buy in my opinion.

Reasons to Buy

  • BOA fit system
  • Heavy-duty welted construction
  • Perfect fit
  • Comfortable on hard surfaces and bare ground
  • Best non-metallic safety toe I’ve worn
  • Waterproof

Consider Another Boot if You…

  • Want a stability shank or met guard
  • Need a puncture plate
  • Don’t want even tightening across your laces
  • Are looking to spend less than $200
Wolverine I-90 Durashocks CarbonMax Wedge Work Boots best waterproof

Wolverine I-90 DuraShocks

  • Outsole: DuraShocks TPU
  • Insole: DuraShocks PU
  • Waterproof: Yes (full-grain leather+membrane)
  • Certs: ASTM EH
  • Safety Toe: Carbonmax Composite (opt)

The Wolverine I-90 DuraShocks boot uses a premium waterproof full-grain leather upper plus a waterproof membrane with moisture-wicking liner. From there, the I-90 gets even better with a DuraShocks PU insole we found comfortable for standing hours on end.

Several things stood out while wearing this boot during our review period. It features a denser midsole than most. While that reduces the sponginess of the boot, it offers more stout protection. For even more comfort, you can add an aftermarket insole like a SuperFeet Work Cushion. One thing to look out for is the material around the tongue. It can fold over on your metatarsal and create an uncomfortable pressure point. Just be sure it doesn’t fold and it’s not an issue.

Wolverine really beefed up the I-90 lineup. They have options to fit nearly every style preference, though not all have the Durashocks upgrade. You. have moc toe, hiker, Romeo, and Wellington styles to choose from.

Reasons to Buy

  • You like lots of options and colors
  • Comfortable on hard surfaces and bare ground
  • Non-metallic safety toe
  • Waterproof

Consider Another Boot if You…

  • Want a “cushy” boot
  • Need a puncture plate
Ariat Best Cowboy Boot Brand

Ariat Hybrid VentTEK Western Boots

  • Outsole: Duratread (Goodyear)
  • Insole: DuraShocks PU
  • Waterproof: No (full-grain leather)
  • Certs: None
  • Safety Toe: No

Ariat makes our list thanks to my personal experience with its Hybrid VentTEK series boots. I took them to Alaska and wore them for 10 days of sightseeing and hiking over various terrain. Available in two designs for men, these are top-rated pull-on work boots and the best I’ve ever worn. They will work wonders in agriculture, farm, and ranch environments.

Living in Florida, the VentTEK technology really does keep your legs cooler with much-needed breathability and airflow. The fit is spot-on as well, and I found them comfortable with only a minimal break-in period. Unlike other cowboy boots my team and I have worn, these pull on and come off much more easily and without the need for a long shoehorn. Even with this, they still let you slide a regular pair of jeans over them without having to wear a boot cut.

Ariat visually minimizes the outsole design. While many Western-style work boots have a thick sole that moves it away from the classic cowboy boot style, Ariat packs a durable, grippy tread into a more traditional look.

Reasons to Buy

  • Most comfortable western-style boot I’ve ever worn
  • Ventek technology actually works (Florida tested!)

Consider Another Boot if You…

  • Don’t like a workboot sole on a Western boot
  • Primarily need traction
  • Need a fully waterproof boot
Keen Utility San Jose Oxford Low boots

Keen Utility San Jose Oxford Low

  • Outsole: Rubber
  • Midsole: KEEN Luftcell
  • Waterproof: No
  • Certs: EH, Oil, Slip
  • Safety Toe: Aluminum (opt)

The Keen Utility San Jose is reasonably lightweight across the entire line, but the Oxford Low version dominates as my pick for the best lightweight work boots. First off, this is a comfortable shoe that our managing editor wore long enough to get a good feel for them as a viable work boot. It weighs just 20 ounces! If you need a safety toe, an aluminum toe model adds less than two ounces.

The wedge sole fuses both casual and classy styling, and the soft-toe version presents a great light-duty option for upper-level meetings or walking the floor. I got them specifically for wearing to events such as World of Concrete, where I’m on hard surfaces for long days. The combination of a wedge sole and low weight goes a long way in reducing arch-cramping foot fatigue. About the only downside is that I expect to replace these top-rated work boots after 6 months of use due to the softer soles.

Reasons to Buy

  • Incredibly lightweight (even the aluminum toe)
  • Comfortable on hard concrete
  • Multiple styles, colors, and options (including safety toe and sneaker versions)

Consider Another Boot if You…

  • Want a boot that lasts more than 6 months of hard use
  • Need more ankle support
Brunt Marin Work Boots on a budget

Brunt Marin Work Boots

  • Outsole: Heat-resistant rubber
  • Midsole: PU
  • Waterproof: Yes (opt)
  • Certs: EH, non-slip/oil
  • Safety Toe: Composite (opt)

If your work boot budget is more like $150 instead of $500, take a look at what the Brunt Marin work boots have to offer. While the selection isn’t as wide as most other brands we recommend, I’m impressed by the quality of the materials and construction you get for the price. For example, you get a Goodyear welt on the welted models. PTR reviewer Josh McGaffigan personally recommends both the Marin and the Distasio for incredible out-of-the-box comfort.

Brunt claims the savings comes from their direct-to-consumer business model which reduces one level of markup pricing. They also offer several options with their boots, including color, upper height, safety toe, waterproofing, and styles for both men and women. While you’re shopping, be sure to check out the workwear. The Coady hoodie and Torra pants are particular favorites of ours.

Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent value
  • Comfortable insole and wedge outsole
  • Multiple styles and options
  • ASTM EH and non-slip rated

Consider Another Boot if You…

  • Want a non-wedge outsole?
Skechers Cankton slip-ins work shoes

Skechers Cankton Construction Shoe

  • Outsole: Lug pattern high-traction
  • Insole: Air-Cooled Memory Foam
  • Waterproof: No
  • Certs: EH
  • Safety Toe: No

Searching for the best work shoes can mean a lot of different things. Are you on a construction site? Warehouse? Hospital? For our purposes, we’re going to assume you at least need the option of a safety toe, and that you’re working on hard surfaces. It’s that kind of environment where I love the light and more cushioned sneaker-style work shoe. For that, I highly recommend the Skechers Cankton.

It features a leather, synthetic, and mesh upper with plenty of ventilation to breathe. Sporting a soft or steel toe, it’s EH-rated to cover your work needs, while maintaining comfort with a shock-absorbing midsole and memory foam insole. Plus, you just slip this on with no need for lacing it up. Sketchers even gives you a couple of color options to match your work attire.

Reasons to Buy

  • Inexpensive hybrid design (work/play)
  • Very comfortable
  • Slip-on design (no laces)
  • ASTM EH rated

Consider Another Boot if You…

  • Need anti-slip soles
  • Like to lace up your footwear tight
  • Want a longer-lasting build quality
Nicks custom work Boots WaterWork

Nick’s Handmade Work Boots

  • Outsole: Duratread (Goodyear)
  • Insole: DuraShocks PU
  • Waterproof: No (full-grain leather)
  • Certs: None
  • Safety Toe: No

If you’re looking for boots that can last 3, 5, or even 10 years or more, high-quality handmade boots are the way to go. They’re not cheap, but they hold up better than most off-the-shelf boots. In fact, you can (and should) repair the outsoles and many other elements when they wear out.

Our managing editor had an excellent experience with Washington State-based Nick’s Handmade Boots. While they’re not quite fully customizable, you can choose colors for the upper and lower leather, choose your hardware, and specify width, height, size, midsole thickness, toe structure, and more. On top of that, the construction is outstanding. Whether you’re looking for wedges, loggers, or something in between, Nick’s has you covered.

Keep in mind that boots like these take several weeks to properly break in. Once they do, you’re in for a whole different level of work boot experience.

Reasons to Buy

  • Very customizable
  • Extremely durable
  • Repairable

Consider Another Boot if You…

  • Need to stay on a budget
  • Require less break-in time
  • Desire a 100% customizable boot

Our Process and the Nitty Gritty

Why You Can Trust Pro Tool Reviews

Ever check out a “review” site and you can’t tell if they actually tested the product or if they’re just “recommending” the Amazon top sellers? That’s not us. We won’t recommend anything unless we’d actually use it ourselves, and we don’t really care who the primary retailer is. It’s all about giving you a legitimate recommendation and our honest opinion of each product.

Since 2008, Pro Tool Reviews has provided in-depth tool reviews, buying guides, how-to articles, and industry news in the construction and lawn care industries. We focus on professionals in the trades and our writers have the skills and experience to know whether a tool or accessory will hold up on the jobsite.

Each year, we bring in and review more than 250 individual products. Additionally, our team will put their hands on hundreds more tools at media events and trade shows throughout the year. If I recommend a work boot, that means I’d wear it myself (and perhaps I or one of our staff already does!)

More Work Boots We Recommend

Even with the categories I have already covered, other brands make work boots and work shoes worth looking at. Here are some more great recommendations based on boots I or others in Pro Tool Reviews have worn and evaluated personally.

Danner Quarry USA

Danner’s Quarry line is my top choice for the brand. I’m not alone as it’s Danner’s most popular and has been on the market for more than 10 years. They’re waterproof with breathable Gore-Tex and have an 8-inch height. The design has gone through some updates since its original launch, shifting to a more durable midsole while maintaining an excellent comfort level with no break-in time required.

The line includes a variety of options, including a heeled or wedge sole; soft, alloy, or composite safety toe, and different insulation or the addition of a metatarsil guard. Additionally, you can choose from light brown, dark brown, or black color options. Lastly, the Quarry is assembled in Portland, Oregon from globally sourced materials.

Georgia Boots Wedge Work Wellington G5153

Georgia Boot’s Wedge Work Wellington may not have a lot of bells and whistles at first glance, but it’s packed with features that make it a workhorse of a boot. SPR barnyard chemical-resistant leather makes this an agriculture-friendly option. A Goodyear welt construction gives it a durable build and a wedge sole adds comfort to complement the insole when you’re working on hard surfaces. Plus, having loops on both sides makes pulling on these 10-inch boots much easier.

Irish Setter Kittson

Irish Setter is a good bet for folks who have a work boot budget under $200 and the Kittson is my top choice this year. It has a classic and attractive style with a heeled design that comes in soft or safety toe models. While they don’t provide as many options as some of our other recommendations, Irish Setter offers the Kittson in both men’s and women’s styles. Plus, the men now have a few Wellington pull-on options.

Keen Utility Camden

We’ve been wearing the Keen Utility Cincinnati since its launch, and it was going to take something special to knock it off the top of our list. After Kenny wore the Camden boots for a while and wrapped up his review, these boots made our short list.

Expanding the brand’s heavy-duty line, these heeled boots sport a composite toe and waterproof construction. However, it’s the combination of an aggressive tread pattern and super-comfortable Luftcell midsole that makes it suitable for darn near any situation. The durability and grip are excellent, and the fact that these boots help me avoid back and leg pain makes these some of the best all-around work boots for men.

Kodiak McKinney

Kodiak isn’t as well-known as some brands in the work boot industry, but they know what it takes to work in chilly weather. The McKinney is a classically styled, good-looking design with several height/style designs to choose from. With most designs falling under the $200 mark, they won’t break the bank, either.

You can get them in pull-on, 8-inch, 6-inch, and Chelsea styles. They also come with a soft or composite toe and you can find waterproof models among the styles. Finally, a M.U.T. (multi-use toe cap gives you the option of having some solid toe protection for jobsites that require it.

Tecovas The Doc Work Boots

Tecovas is a relatively recent Western brand that started in 2015. I’ve been impressed with the quality of both their boots and workwear—which I wear. Many of their handmade boots feature the classic cowboy design with a smooth outsole, but they do have some treaded models that make for excellent jobsite work boots.

The Doc is my personal favorite. It has a great look and offers your choice of a goat, bovine, or bison leather upper with a broad square toe and classic dress boot styling. The smooth leather outsole attaches with a Goodyear welt and you get a 1.5-inch straight heel on the back end.

Thorogood 1957 Series Safety Toe

I love the look of classic boots. The Thorogood 1957 Series includes excellent safety toe work boots (they also make soft-toe models). Heeled or wedge soles are storm welted to the upper and a moc toe design sets the tone. It’s a comfortable and durable waterproof steel toe boot with a great style to match. Plus, it’s assembled in the USA from global materials. I’m apparently not the only fan, either. Our social media survey found plenty of experienced tradesmen who trust their feet to Thorogood and no one else. It was our #3 reader-favorite pick.

Wolverine 1000 Mile Series

We can’t have a best work boots article and ignore the Wolverine 1000-Mile series. As Wolverine’s premium boot line, these are the best the brand makes and are among the best-looking boots I recommend. However, they don’t have any safety toe options, so keep that in mind. Their models with aggressive tread patterns seem perfect for those occasional jobsite visits.

Keep your eyes open—Wolverine offers limited special edition models from time to time.

Best Work Boot Brands Accord to Our Readers

We asked which brand was your favorite on our social media channels. After more than 120 responses, two brands clearly led the pack and the rest followed.

Of course, many other brands became part of the conversation. That even included some we hadn’t heard of yet as well as several from Europe that aren’t available in the US. The list sorted out like this:

  1. Keen Utility
  2. Red Wing
  3. Thorogood
  4. Danner
  5. Others (Merrell, Ariat, Irish Setter, Brunt, Timberland Pro, Wolverine, and more)

Take a look for yourself at the posts on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to drop your vote in the comments while you’re there!

What We Look for in Work Boots

Snug But Comfortable Fit

Never, ever buy a work boot that doesn’t have the proper fit. It’s a recipe for a lot of discomfort for your feet and potential injuries over the long term.

When you put your foot in, make sure your heel is as far back in the shoe as it can go. Once there, find a size that gives you a little extra room—about the width of your thumb. If you do that, you’ll have room for the foot swelling that everyone experiences over the course of a day. The amount of room can be tough to check on steel-toe boots, so try a soft toe for sizing if you’re buying in the store.

Then there’s the width. Good-fitting boots should snug up against the sides of your feet, but they shouldn’t squeeze them. You’re looking for stability, not discomfort. The opposite is also true—you don’t want too much width. Too much room lets your feet slide side-to-side and leaves you with unstable footing.

The other big piece of the fit puzzle is the heel. When trying on boots, check to ensure your heel is locked in and stable. You don’t want it sliding around.

Safety Considerations

Safety toes create a barrier of protection around your toes in the event of something heavy crushing down on them or slamming into them from the front.

Check with your safety manager to determine if you need a safety toe for work and which styles are approved. If you need them, carbon fiber toes are the lightest option, followed by composite and aluminum. Steel is still king on many jobsites, though more and more workplaces are leaving the style up to the user provided the boot meets required ASTM standards.

If your workplace doesn’t require safety toe boots, it’s up to you. When it’s our choice, we prefer either a soft toe or a carbon fiber safety toe.

There are other safety features that your workplace may require as well. Check with your manager and see if you need:

  • Metatarsal Guard (Metguard)
  • Electrical Hazard (EH)
  • Puncture Resistance
  • Heat Resistance
  • Chemical Resistance
  • Oil and Slip Resistance


What makes boots comfortable changes with your foot shape. In general, your foot should feel secure without putting any undue pressure on parts of your feet. You can always loosen the laces (which is why we LOVE BOA systems), but you can’t do anything about the rest of the boot.

The midsole does a lot for the overall comfort of a boot. One of the reasons you see some contractors wear sneakers on jobsites is that the EVA foam in them is so cushiony that it’s much more comfortable than boots. At least until recently.

New midsoles are air-infused and less dense, giving them more cushion than ever before. Like sneakers, the midsole breaks down faster than more dense designs, so you may find you don’t get quite as much life out of the most comfortable work boots.

The last major discussion point is the insole. Most brands put some type of polyurethane insole in their boots to help with cushioning. Keep in mind that they’re replaceable. If you want more cushioning, better arch support, or just a different feel, you can always pick up another insole and swap them out.


Boots usually come in one of two sole styles: heeled or wedge.

Heeled boots are the most traditional style and dominate the choices presented by most brands. They tend to have an aggressive tread that offers fantastic traction on bare ground. They’re appropriate for just about every jobsite but typically aren’t as comfortable as wedges when worn on hard surfaces for long periods.

Wedges tend to be more comfortable because they spread your weight out over a larger surface, reducing fatigue in your feet and legs. The trade-off is that they typically have very shallow tread that isn’t as appropriate for work on dirt and rocky terrain. They do their best work on asphalt, concrete, steel, and other flat, hard surfaces.

Recently, we’ve started seeing hybrid boots that combine a wedge design with a medium-aggressive tread that fits the best of both worlds. Currently, it’s the style I prefer for all-around work.


Materials are important, but it’s how they’re put together that tells you a lot about how long the boot will last. There are several different types of work boot construction.

Cement construction is when the upper, midsole, and outsole are glued together. It’s the weakest connection type but tends to yield lighter, more flexible boots. This construction style also carries a lower price tag than other types.

Strobel construction pops up occasionally and is more common with athletic shoes. With this form, the upper is sewn to fabric to create a sock-like look. From there, the midsole and outsole are glued on.

Direct injection is a process of injecting molten material (often polyurethane) for the sole and then immediately pressing the upper onto it so they bond. This keeps the boot lightweight, flexible, and generally stronger than cement without the high cost of welting.

Goodyear welting has been around for a looooooong time and is still considered the strongest possible way to put a shoe together. The upper, midsole, and outsole are sewn together using thick, strong thread. These boots tend to be heavier and take longer to break in but are much more durable.

Other Features to Consider

  • Pull-on, laces, or BOA system
  • Low, mid, or high lengths
  • Waterproof or non-waterproof
  • Anti-bacterial/anti-odor treatment

Our Favorite Insoles for Work Boots

Superfeet Work Cushion Insoles

Sometimes the insoles that come in our boots just don’t cut it for one reason or another. Often, it’s a preference, but your foot shape, arch, or other characteristics can create more painful chronic issues. If that’s what you struggle with, your best insole for work boots is going to be an orthotic from a podiatrist who works closely with you.

If it’s more of a preference thing, I recommend trying SuperFeet Work Cushion. These might be the best over-the-counter insoles for work boots. I’ve been wearing the Green insoles, but recently switched over to the new Work Cushion ones. These insoles were so highly anticipated that they sold out the first day they were available! With max cushioning and all arch height compatibility, it’s easy to see why.

Why Do Your Feet Get Wet in Waterproof Boots?

Waterproof boots are great, but they have limits. Waterproof linings, sealed stitching, and other techniques can prevent water from penetrating the material. However, the tongue area on a traditional boot is one likely place where water can find its way in when I’m standing in water.

To avoid that, consider a Wellington slip-on style and skip the tongue altogether. Or, if you need the ultimate protection against water, go with a dedicated water boot, such as the Grundens Deck Boss.

Grundéns Deck-Boss Boot Review

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