What Safety Toed Boots are Better?

composite vs steel

History

Safety toe boots rose to prominence in the 20th century due to increased safety concerns and liability costs by companies. The US Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970 mandating safety footwear in numerous environments. In order to meet standards, safety toe boots must pass impact and compression tests, putting pressure on the toe area to ensure it won't be easily crushed. Steel Toe Boots were initially the primary build used, but then they started coming in various styles and colors, including hard plastics, carbon fiber, fiberglass, kevlar, and alloy, depending on the profession.

Composite Toe Instalation

steel toe boots

Steel Toe Boots offer reliable protection for the toes from falling objects and other hazards, such as slips, cuts, lacerations, burns, and punctures. Correctly built steel toe boots are compliant with ASTM F2413 Standard Specification for Performance Requirements for Protective Safety Top cap Footwear and may be marked (stamped, stitched, or with a pressure sensitive label) on the gusset, shaft, quarter lining or tongue. Compliance testing that these boots go through include conductive protection, metatarsal protection, static dissipative protection, and puncture protection may also be required.

However, some big drawbacks of steel toe boots are that they are:

  • Heavy 
  • Less comfortable in the toe box,
  • Less weather-resistant - get hot/cold
  • If worse comes to worse, steel toes can actually cut your toes if something heavy enough falls on them.
Safety Toe installed between the soft leather liner and thick outer layer

Composite Toe Boots

Composite Toe Boots

Like their steel counterparts, Composite Toe Boots have been thoroughly tested to achieve the same ASTM-certification, providing their outstanding protection from workplace hazards. Besides an alloy toe, all newer safety toe options are non-metal, which makes them lighter, flexible, and ideal for workers who regularly have to pass through metal detectors. Composite toes have a longer lifespan than steel toes because they don’t rust or bend like steel toes do. Unlike steel toes, composite material offers better insulation from the elements and do not conduct heat. For instance, they won't get piping hot in the summer working on a wild fire or freezing cold in the winter. 

Overall, composite offers better:

  • Mobility - composite is lighter than steel
  • Comfort - plenty of room, doesn't cramp the toes
  • Insulation from extreme temperatures
  • Security - If something extremely heavy falls on them, they will crack and absorb the blow whereas steel toes could bend down and hurt the wearer.

The main sacrifices you make with Composite Toe Boots is a higher price tag and a bulkier look. 

The Verdict

For jobs that require safety toes, we recommend the Composite Toe Boot. This is a more modern, superior build that offers greater value, comfort and convenience in the long run. Even though steel boots are the traditional safety toe, they have been outpaced with the development of the lighter and more comfortable composite toes. For any type of hard toe boots, wearing them for extended periods may cause discomfort, sweating, and other issues but, if you have to choose between steel or composite, composite is the way to go.


If you are in the market for safety toe boots, make sure you get boots that will increase your productivity and not weigh you down or cause more discomfort. Your feet need the best so you can work with peace of mind and focus on the tasks at hand. Over the years, we have seen first hand, working with multitudes of customers across industries to find the perfect safety toe boot. Here at JK Boots we offer ASTM-Rated Composite Toe Boots with only the highest quality material. Make sure you check out our Hard Toe Boots Collection to find the right boots for your you.