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October 28, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros


Best Work Boots 2021 | Most Comfortable Boots for Men and Women

Best Work Boots Reviews

How in the world do you recommend the best work boots for men and women in the trades? Every trade has different features and priorities and everyone’s foot is different. Add in literally thousands of choices from plenty of quality brands with different designs and styles, and it’s overwhelming.


Seriously, we’ve been trying to narrow the list down for weeks now and we’re leaving out so many great boots to keep this from turning into an encyclopedia-length review. While these are our top choices for the best work boots in each category, we had to leave out some of our favorites.

So help us and your fellow readers out! If you see a brand, collection, or model you love that didn’t make our list, tell us about it in the comments below!

Best Work Boots for Men/Best Work Boots for Women

Keen Utility Cincinnati

Keen Cincinnati

As we said, it’s impossible to tell you there’s one best work boot for everyone. It doesn’t exist. So we have to give you the best work boot for the way we work. That means covering everything from concrete floors at trade shows to outdoor power equipment reviews and standard jobsites. In other words, we need a great all-around boot and the Keen Utility Cincinnati is the one we keep coming back to over and over again.

Its combination of comfort, soft or carbon fiber safety toe options, solid construction, wedge design with aggressive tread, and even the look make it our top choice as the best work boot for men. Thanks to women’s-specific models, it’s also our choice as the best work boot for women.

Price: $170 – $195

Best Waterproof Work Boots

Wolverine I-90 DuraShocks Moc Toe Wedge

Obviously, the best waterproof boot has to be waterproofed and Wolverine’s I-90 DuraShocks Moc Toe Wedge does it in style with their premium waterproof full-grain leather and waterproof membrane with a moisture-wicking liner. From there, the I-90 gets even better with a DuraShocks insole and wedge outsole to improve comfort.

This model features a more dense midsole than some of our other selections. While it’s not as cushy because of that, it does offer more stout protection and is able to resist oil, chemicals, and heat better.

  • Wedge design
  • Moc toe style
  • 6-inch height
  • Full-grain leather upper
  • Removable Durashocks dual-density footbed
  • Goodyear welt construction
  • Waterproof
  • Soft or CarbonMax safety toe
  • Men style only (I-90 EPX CarbonMax has a women’s option)
  • Oil and slip resistant
  • EH-rated

Check out the I-90 line here.

Price: $170

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 area where water can find its way in if you’re standing in water.

If you’re looking for the best way to keep water out of your work boots, consider a Wellington slip-on style to avoid a tongue. 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

Best Steel Toe Work Boots (Safety Toe)

Thorogood 1957 Series Safety Toe

Thorogood 1957 Series Work Boots

We love the look of classic boots and Thorogood’s 1957 Series and their safety toe models make the cut as our best steel toe work boots. A wedge sole storm welted to the upper and moc toe design set the stage for this one. It’s a comfortable and durable waterproof steel toe boot with a great style to match. Plus, it’s made in the USA using global materials.

  • Heeled or wedge design
  • Moc toe style
  • 6-inch or 8-inch heights
  • Full-grain leather upper
  • Removable Ultimate Shock Absorption memory foam footbed
  • Goodyear storm welt construction
  • X-Stream Waterproof
  • Steel toe (soft toe also available)
  • Men’s style only
  • Slip resistant
  • EH-rated (heeled style only)

Other options are available in the series. You can select 6-inch or 8-inch heights and there are also heeled options. If you don’t need a safety toe, you can get them in a soft toe.

Price: $249.99

Best Non-Metallic Safety Toe Work Boots

Red Wing King Toe 8-Inch Waterproof CSA Safety Toe (Style 3512)

Red Wing King Toe

The King Toe collection is all about giving those toes of yours some extra wiggle room—44% more than Red Wing’s standard boots. Red Wing’s King Toe 3512 has it all: it’s EH-rated, puncture-resistant, has a non-metallic safety toe, and features a waterproof design. If you happen to be north of the border, it’s also CSA-approved. It can handle the heat, too, with an HRO sole that’s rated to 475°.

  • Heeled design
  • Traditional style
  • 8-inch height
  • Full grain leather upper
  • Swen-Flex puncture-resistant footbed
  • Direct attach construction
  • Waterproof
  • Non-metallic safety toe
  • Men’s style only (check out the King Toe 2340 for a women’s option)
  • Oil and slip resistant
  • EH-rated
  • CSA-approved

Price: $254.99

Best Pull On Work Boots (Slip On/Wellington)

Ariat WorkHog XT Cottonwood

Ariat WorkHog

We love the convenience of Wellington boots and if you’re looking for the best pull-on work boots, take a turn to the West and check out Ariat’s WorkHog XT Cottonwood. They have the western look and quality of Ariat’s cowboy boots with a distinct jobsite focus in the toe and outsole.

Ariat goes with a dual-density midsole and Energy Max insole to keep the comfort level high and the entry is designed to be friendly if you have high arches.

  • Helled design
  • Western Wellington style
  • Mid-calf height
  • Full grain leather upper
  • Energy Max anti-fatigue footbed
  • Goodyear welt construction
  • Soft or carbon safety toe options
  • Men’s style only (check our the Krista for a women’s option)
  • Oil and slip resistant
  • EH-rated

Price: $194.95 –$204.95

Best Lightweight Work Boots

Keen Utility Flint II

Getting lighter boots often means sacrificing quality and/or stability and that’s simply not a trade we’re willing to make. That’s why we selected Keen Utility’s Flint II as the best lightweight boot. Using the mid-height soft toe model as a benchmark, the average boot weighs 20.8 ounces (1.3 pounds). At the same time, it still has the stability we need and a quality build.

Better yet, there’s a lot of variety in this collection with options for both men and women. There are low and mid heights along with soft, carbon, and steel toes.


  • Heeled design
  • Hiker or athletic style
  • Low or mid heights
  • Leather/mesh upper
  • Keen ReGen midsole
  • Polyurethane footbed
  • Cement construction
  • Waterproof options
  • Soft, steel, or carbon fiber safety toe options
  • Men’s and women’s options
  • Oil and slip resistant
  • EH-rated

Price: $125 – $145

Most Comfortable Work Boots

Keen Utility Cincinnati

Keen Cincinnati

Finding the most comfortable work boots starts with the correct fit. It has to fit right or the other comfort features and design functions go out the window.

The most comfortable works boots we’ve put on our feet are the Keen Utility Cincinnati. Its combination of a wedge sole and air-infused polyurethane (KEEN Luftcell) midsole makes it incredibly comfortable over long days, even if you’re a big guy. I’m 200+ and this is my go-to boot for shows such as World of Concrete where we’re on asphalt and concrete for even longer days than normal.

  • Wedge design with aggressive tread for hard surfaces or bare ground
  • Moc toe style
  • 6-inch or 8-inch height
  • Full-grain leather upper
  • Keen Luftcell air-infused PU midsole
  • Removable PolyAer dual-density footbed
  • Goodyear welt construction
  • Waterproof options
  • Soft or left/right-specific carbon fiber safety toe
  • Men and women’s styles
  • Oil and slip resistant
  • EH-rated
  • Barnyard chemical resistant

Price: $170 – $195

Best Insoles for Work Boots

Dr. Scholl’s

Dr Scholls

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 that works closely with you.

If it’s more of a preference thing, we recommend starting with Dr. Scholl’s as the best insoles for work boots. They’re readily available over the counter at a ton of retailers and they carry everything from extra support and odor-fighting to heel pain and plantar fasciitis insoles. They’re also not crazy expensive, so you can afford to try them out and see if they work for you before trying more expensive brands.

Price: $4.99 – $42.99 (most are less than $15)

Best Work Boots From Brands We Trust

Best Caterpillar Work Boots: Caterpillar Fairbanks

Best Boots Caterpillar Fairbanks

Cat’s Fairbanks line includes mid and high models with a couple of Chelsea options and either soft or steel toe. Our favorite in the line is the standard Fairbanks soft toe. It has a classic light brown/tan look and puts its focus on comfort with an EVA/memory foam footbed, microfiber footbed liner, and DuoFuse midsole that blends rubber and foam. Adding to the comfort of everyone around when your boots come off, the footbed liner has a CleanSport NXT layer that actively fights odor.

  • Heeled design
  • Traditional or Chelsea style
  • 6-inch and 8-inch heights
  • Leather upper
  • DuoFuse rubber/foam midsole
  • EVA/memory foam footbed
  • Strobel construction (cement construction on Chelsea models)
  • Waterproof options
  • Soft, or steel safety toe options
  • Men’s style only (check out the Paisley line for a solid women’s option)
  • Oil and slip resistant
  • EH-rated

Price: $130 – $160

Best Danner Work Boots: Danner Caliper

Best Work Boots Danner Caliper

Danner focuses on all-day comfort with their Caliper line of work boots. Working from your foot down, the insole is Danner’s Dual Layer Comfort design featuring memory foam and polyurethane. That sits on top of the Strobel sock base that uses memory foam instead of a basic fabric to complete it. The midsole uses polyurethane to wrap it all up on top of Danner’s Caliper oil and slip-resistant outsole.

  • Heeled design
  • Traditional style
  • 6-inch height
  • Full grain leather upper
  • Polyurethane midsole
  • Dual layer comfort footbed
  • Strobel construction
  • Waterproof
  • Soft or aluminum safety toe options
  • Men’s and women’s options
  • Oil and slip resistant
  • EH-rated

Price: $140 – $150

Best Georgia Work Boots: Georgia Amp LT Edge

Georgia Boot’s AMP LT Edge series has three basic styles to choose from: standard, moc toe, and Wellington. The standard style is available with either a soft or aluminum safety toe. Across the board, these are some of the more attractively styled boots we’ve seen even though they only come in one color (medium brown).

The entire line is EH-rated and waterproof with an EVA midsole and AMP LT insole promoting comfort. A fiberglass shank and heel lock help keep your feet stable on nearly any jobsite surface.

If you like the AMP LT Edge idea, but prefer a wedge, Georgia Boot has AMP LT models with that outsole and includes a couple of women’s styles with it. AMP LT Edge boots are only available in men’s styles currently.

  • Heeled design
  • Traditional, moc toe, or Wellington style
  • 6-inch of mid-calf height
  • Full grain leather upper
  • EVA midsole
  • AMP LT footbed with memory foam
  • Goodyear welt construction
  • Waterproof
  • Soft or alloy safety toe options
  • Men’s style only (check out Georgia’s AMP LT Wedge for a women’s style)
  • Oil and slip resistant
  • EH-rated

Price: $151 – $194

Best Irish Setter Work Boots: Irish Setter Nisswa

Irish Setter nisswa

If you’re looking for something more athletic in style with a lot more breathability and lighter weight, check out Irish Setter’s Nisswa line. These safety toe work boots (more work shoes, really) feature an oxford style on top of a wedge sole and makes for a great warehouse or delivery shoe.

  • Wedge design
  • Athletic style
  • Low height
  • TPU-infused nylon mesh upper
  • EnerG EVA midsole
  • Memory foam/EVA footbed
  • Cement construction
  • Aluminum safety toe
  • Men’s and women’s options
  • Oil resistant
  • EH-rated

Price: $134.99

Best Kodiak Work Boots: Kodiak Quest Bound

Kodiak Quest Bound

Outstanding comfort and a perfect fit are the two things Clint DeBoer mentioned the first time he put Kodiak’s Quest Bound Mid work boots on. Available in low or mid heights, these composite toe hiker-style boots offer reasonably lightweight protection as an excellent all-around work boot.

  • Heeled design
  • Hiker style
  • Low or mid height
  • Full grain leather upper with TPU guards
  • EVA midsole
  • Comfortzone footbed with Ortholite comfort foam
  • Direct attach construction
  • Waterproof
  • Composite safety toe options
  • Men’s style only (check out Kodiak’s Bralorne for an excellent women’s option)
  • Oil and slip resistant
  • ESR-rated
  • CSA-approved

Price: $155 – $165

Another Great Wolverine Work Boot: Wolverine Raider Durashocks

Wolverine Raider Durashocks

We just couldn’t leave out Wolverine’s Raider Durashocks Carbonmax. The Raider design has been around for more than 10 years but the Durashocks Carbonmax combination is fairly new. It’s a more flexible, comfortable ride and keeps the classic Raider style with soft or Carbonmax toe options.

  • Heeled design
  • Traditional or Wellington style
  • 6-inch, 8-inch, or mid-calf heights
  • Full grain leather upper
  • Polyurethane midsole
  • Full cushion footbed
  • Wolverine CountourWelt construction
  • Soft or Carbonmax safety toe
  • Men’s style only
  • EH-rated

Price: $140 – $155

Bonus Brand to Keep Your Eyes On: Brunt Workwear

Brunt RYNG Boots

Brunt work boots are relatively new to the scene, entering the market in 2020 with a direct-to-customer business model. Despite the circumstances, they gained a lot of momentum and are seeing great success. If you’re the type of person that likes to support smaller brands, give them a shot. The lineup is more limited than bigger names, but we like the quality we’ve experienced so far.

Check out our review of the Brunt Marin wedge or take a closer look at the Ryng for a more traditional style. It’s a lightweight design with a composite toe and flexible cement construction that’s more affordable than similar boots from other brands. As long as your checking out the boots, consider the Coady sweatshirt while you’re there—it’s not as fluffy as most sweatshirts and moves really easily.

  • Heeled design
  • Traditional style
  • Low or 6-inch heights
  • Tech mesh upper
  • Rubber/foam midsole
  • Triple layer comfort footbed with memory foam
  • Cement construction
  • Waterproof
  • Composite safety toe options
  • Men’s style only
  • Oil and slip resistant
  • EH-rated

Price: $105 – $135

Work Boots Buying Guide | What We Look For

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. 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 can let your feet slide side-to-side and leave you with unstable footing.

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

Comfort

What makes a boot 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 over the course of the day (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 most. Like sneakers, the midsole breaks down faster than more dense designs, but we’ve found we’re replacing most of our boots for other reasons before the midsole is shot.

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, arch support, or just a different feel, you can always pick up another insole and swap them out.

Sole

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

Heeled boots are the most traditional style and there are more of these available from virtually every brand. 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 on hard surfaces.

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 bare ground jobsites. They do their best work on asphalt, concrete, steel, and other 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. As a big guy, it’s the style I prefer for all-around work.

Construction

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 three main types of construction with a fourth we see from time to time.

Cement construction is when the upper, midsole, and outsole are glued together. It’s the weakest connection type but tends to be lighter and more flexible with a lower price tag than other construction 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 work boots) for the sole and then immediately pressing the upper onto it so they bond. This keeps the boot lightweight, flexible, and is generally stronger than cement without driving the cost as high as 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.

Features and Certifications to Consider

  • Pull-on, laces, or BOA system
  • Low, mid, or high lengths
  • Waterproof or non-waterproof
  • Steel, aluminum, non-metallic (carbon) safety toe
  • EH: Electrical Hazard rating
  • CSA: Canadian Safety Authority approval
  • Oil and slip resistance
  • Heat resistance
  • Puncture resistance
  • Chemical/banyard chemical resistance
  • Anti-bactieral/anti-odor treatment

Why You Can Trust Pro Tool Reviews

Ever check out a “review” site and you can’t tell if they actually tested anything 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.

We’ve been in business since 2008 covering tools, writing reviews, and reporting on industry news in the construction and lawn care industries. Our Pro reviewers work in the trades and have the skills and experience to know whether tools can perform well in the field.

Each year, we bring in and review more than 350 individual products. Our team will put our hands on hundreds of additional tools at media events and trade shows throughout the year.

Pro Tool Reviews consults with innovators in the technology and design of tools to gain a broader grasp of where these products fit and how they work.

We work with more than two dozen professional contractors around the United States who review products for us on real job sites. We consult with them extensively on testing methods, categories, and practical applications.

Our site will provide more than 500 pieces of new content this year absolutely free for our readers. That includes objective evaluations of individual tools and products.

The end result is information you can trust because of the editorial, scientific, and real-world professional experience we collectively utilize each and every time we pick up and test a tool.

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Types of Work Boots | What to Know Before Buying

There are so many types of work boots and choosing the best pair for the job is more than just picking a look you like. Whether you’re new to some of the lingo or thinking about trying something different, we got our team together to help you be more confident the next time you’re buying […]

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Clay Rossman

Danner are the best, They have many different models of work boots for different applications. Best of all… most are made in America!

Mike Canavan

Timberland Pro series are great. “Pit Boss’ only comes in brown; 6” in soft or steel toe are very well made & comfortable. “Titan” 3″ shoe (soft toe) is nice too. All have nice no-slip rubber soles, are ‘EH’ rated and meet ANSI reg.

dpa771

I found my new favorite work boot late last year, and it’s the Golden Fox 6″ moc-toe wedge. They’re made with Goodyear welting and thick, supple leather. They have a steel toe and shank, yet are lightweight and comfortable, requiring practically no break-in. An absolute steal at under $90.

Cliff Chandler

Kind of a poor selection for people doing work outdoors where it gets below zero. prefer not to have my feet freeze.

Justin Douglas Wolfenberg

What do you think about Red Wing boots?

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