The Comfy (Half-) Dozen Work Boots
A sturdy pair of good work boots, by nature, tends to go under-appreciated. That’s because a truly great pair allows you to concentrate on your job without ever once thinking of your feet. They simply hum along in the background, supporting you without complaint. They are, in fact, workmanlike themselves.
Now, show up for a long day of work with inferior footwear, and you’ll know right away — not to mention later that night and when you wake up achy the next morning. The wrong pair of boots can leave your feet with inadequate insulation, subpar protection, and shoddy support. These issues can be irritating at best, and dangerous at worst.
Work is hard enough without being undermined by lousy boots. Whether that’s happened to you before or you’re looking to make sure it never does, this list can put your soul — and soles — at ease. Below you’ll find six of the most comfortable work boots on the market. Though each model is unique in its particular combination of specific strengths — be they grip, toughness, warmth, or style — they are bound by one common trait: comfort. These boots will make your feet forget they’re working, so the rest of you can focus on what matters: getting the job done.
Types of Work Boots
The most common type of work boots is those that have a steel toe. Many employers now require that employees wear these boots, especially if they work on construction sites or with heavy equipment and machinery. The boots have a reinforced area around the toe that features a steel plate. This plate absorbs the impact when something heavy lands on your foot. You should see a label inside each boot that lists its safety rating.
Those who work around live wires and electrical systems can opt for electrical hazard boots. Some are non-conductive boots that have insulation inside to keep you from experiencing an electrical shock. Others are static dissipating and will keep static from building up as you work. There are also conductive work boots that fall into this category. They help static electricity flow from the boots and into the ground to keep you safe when working around power sources.
When you spend a lot of time working outside in the cold, you might look for insulated work boots. While most work boots have some insulation, this type has one or more layers of extra insulation to block out the cold. The insulation also locks the heat from your skin inside to keep your feet warm. Insulated work boots usually have a design that pulls moisture away from your skin too.
If you need protection at work but also want to save some money, you can look for boots with a composite toe. Instead of a metal plate, these boots have protective caps made from composite materials such as carbon fiber or plastic. One advantage of these boots is that you can wear them in areas where you usually cannot wear steel boots. As they lack any metal, they will not set off a detector at the airport. The boots will also have a safety rating on a label inside.
Those who work in the oil fields and on oil rigs often need oil-resistant boots. The liquids that they work with can get inside the boots and stick to their feet. Oils can also cling to the soles and make it hard for them to get traction. Oil-resistant boots have stitching with thin layers of glue that block out the oil. They also have thick treads that help you gain traction when working on slick surfaces.
Whether you work outside every day or spend a few days a week around water, you might benefit from a pair of waterproof work boots. They use waterproof leather on the outside and have a layer of waterproof material on the interior. Sealed seams and stitches along the exterior further prevent water from getting inside. Waterproof work boots may come with insulation too.
Those who work in restaurant kitchens often wear slip-resistant boots on the job. They come in a variety of styles that resemble your favorite sneakers and traditional boots. Slip-resistant boots have a soft insole that lets you spend hours on your feet without any discomfort. They also feature a special tread pattern that helps you walk across slick surfaces without losing your balance.
Other Types of Work Boots
Work boots come in other types and styles too, including those designed to protect the metatarsal area and those that are resistant to punctures. You should think about what you do on the job and find a pair that will protect you against all the hazards that you encounter.
So here’s what we think are the most comfortable work boots that you can buy.
THE GOOD: With a shock-absorbing nylon shank, resistance to oil, water, and wear, and an optional steel toe, the Wolverine Men’s Moc-Toe 6″ is a jack of all trades. The model’s genuine leather exterior lends both durability and classic style, while its springy rubber sole and removable footbed offer hours of stress-free support and supreme comfort that rivals even some sneakers. This blend of versatility and reliability means the Moc-Toe is equally appropriate for construction, roofing, and, indeed, all forms of manual labor.
The aforementioned sneaker-rivaling comfort is aided by the notably low to nonexistent break-in period. Whereas some otherwise fine work boots can take weeks or even months of wear to soften and mold to your feet, the Moc-Toe arrives ready for the worst you can throw at them.
THE BAD: So long as your worst doesn’t include excessive moisture or extended treks, that is. Notable downsides include the lack of full waterproofing, and reports that the boots’ considerable comfort, while ideal for standing still, doesn’t hold up under heavy walking. Experiences also vary widely with respect to the soles’ staying power. Some customers report that their Moc-Toes remain in tip-top shape after three years of wear, while others say their boots’ soles have worn thin after mere months.
Others also report difficulty finding a pair with the right size, though this can of course be remedied through the addition or subtraction of removable linings, or, if need be, an exchange. Just be sure to take note of your retailer’s return policy if you aren’t trying on the Moc-Toe in person.
THE VERDICT: Overall, the Wolverine Men’s Moc-Toe 6″ represents a solid option for workers who demand adaptability to a wide range of environments and instant comfort. Just take heed if your job entails significant moisture or long periods of walking. A top class comfortable work boot for all weathers.
THE GOOD: Since introducing their waterproof leather boot in 1973, Timberland has been an industry leader in quality work footwear. Their PRO series’ Boondock 6″ Comp Toe model does nothing to betray that long tradition.
The Boondock’s safety and element-proofing features include deep grooves for superior traction, electrical hazard insulation, and, as the name suggests, a composite toe that offers impact protection without compromising on comfort. But the Boondock’s real strength is the waterproof insulation. Not only is the Boondock’s leather exterior specially treated to repel moisture, but it includes an impermeable membrane to keep your feet dry even when submerged in shallow pools of water.
The Boondock boasts Timberland’s exclusive Anti-Fatigue Technology engineered specifically for workers who spend their days on their feet. This includes a shock-absorbing support system and contoured insoles designed to keep your feet fresh and strong hours into any job. The Boondock also features a fiberglass shank that provides comfort on uneven surfaces, as well as moderate puncture protection. These features, designed with comfort in mind, are bolstered by a minimal break-in period, not unlike the Wolverine Moc-Toe.
THE BAD: Unfortunately, also like the Moc-Toe, the Boondock can be difficult to size. The model tends to run wide, so be prepared to layer your socks and tighten your laces, particularly if you have narrow feet. Even if the width proves adequate, you may be bothered by the boot’s bulk. Depending on your size, the Boondock can weigh in at over 2.5 pounds per foot — and that’s without a steel toe.
THE VERDICT: All things considered, the Timberland PRO Men’s Boondock 6″ Comp Toe is a fantastic work boot that’s designed to offer industry standard safety and element-proofing features — including waterproofing that means business — without skimping on comfort…as long as you don’t have especially narrow feet. A very comfortable work boot and affordable to all.
Read more on Timberland with our handy run down of the Best Timberland work boots.
THE GOOD: The second offering from Wolverine on this list, the Men’s Raider 6″ Work Boot corrects some of the Moc-Toe’s biggest shortcomings while retaining —
or improving upon — everything we loved. This starts with the addition of Wolverine’s patented Multishox comfort system. The three levels of this system — namely multiple shock-absorbing pressure pads in the sole, a super-flexible arch, and a comfort gel in the footbed for superior cushioning — add up to one great feeling shoe, whether standing still or on the go.
Sizing and durability issues present in the Moc-Toe have largely been remedied, meaning your Raiders will be there to support you for years to come. The attractive, 100% leather exterior is a nice bonus, giving the Raider a touch of style uncommon in a work boot.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Raider is just a pretty face. In addition to the standard safety features of any high-grade work boot — reliable traction, slip resistance tested on both water and oil, an abrasion-resistant outsole — the Raider is available with an optional steel toe, should your job warrant extra insurance against impact. Models with electrical hazard protection are also available.
THE BAD: One of the few but notable features not offered on the Raider is waterproofing. You should be fine in light rain, but anything heavier might leave you with some wet feet. Similarly, the Raider is best suited for moderate climates, and may not hold up in particularly hot or cold environments.
THE VERDICT: For those who live and work in generally temperate, dry conditions, the Wolverine Men’s Raider 6″ is among the best options. This is a comfortable, highly customizable work boot that has the added bonus of looking as good as many pairs of dress shoes.
THE GOOD: Pittsburgh is a tough, blue-collar, steel city, so this offering from KEEN has — pardon the pun — big shoes to fill. Among the things filling these shoes is a metatomical footbed specifically designed to support the arches and cradle the foot, making for one comfortable wear. The secret lies in KEEN’s ingenious decision to base the design on hiking boots, ensuring that your feet will stay strong no matter where the job takes you.
This emphasis on natural comfort extends to a toe box — available as both a soft toe and steel toe — intentionally made to be asymmetrical. This simple, yet brilliant design feature maximizes toe room, mobility, and protection. Among the other tricks in the KEEN Pittsburgh’s toolbox are slip-resistant rubber soles, electrical hazard protection, reflective webbing, and impressive waterproofing.
THE BAD: Though waterproofing is always a tempting — and, in some cases, essential — feature, the Pittsburgh’s proprietary KEEN.Dry membrane seems, unfortunately, as prone to keeping the elements in as keeping them out. Despite being pitched as breathable, these boots can retain a fair bit of heat and, consequently, sweat, making them a questionable option for work in warm, humid climes.
THE VERDICT: With their hiking boot-derived design and asymmetrical toe box, the KEEN Men’s Pittsburgh 6″ Boots were made with comfort in mind and durability in their name. These are high-quality comfortable work boots, though those who are prone to sweat or work in hot, moist environments may be forced to look elsewhere for a more breathable option — at least for the summer.
THE GOOD: This attractive leather model from venerable apparel company Carhartt is a well-rounded, if unspectacular, option. Polyurethane cushion insoles and a FastDry moisture-wicking, breathable lining keep your feet feeling as good as they’ll look in this handsome, oil-tanned boot.
But make no mistake; this is a boot of the trenches. The default steel toe meets industry standards, while the electrical hazard lining protects you from up to 18,000 volts in dry conditions. The model also boasts reinforced steel shanks, a 90-degree heel perfectly tailored for climbing, and open edge lugs for traction you can count on.
THE BAD: Despite the aforementioned FastDry moisture-wicking, these boots are not waterproof, so you’ll need to be sure to have a back-up plan for rainy days.
Customers also raised concerns about the durability and design of the model, particularly near the steel toe. Complaints ranged from shoddy craftsmanship leading to holes forming around the steel plate, to the toe being positioned too far down the shoe, causing painful chafing on top of the foot. Carhartt work boots offers a similar model with a soft toe, but if your job necessitates the protection of a steel toe, you may be forced to look elsewhere.
THE VERDICT: The Carhartt 6″ Safety Toe NWP Work Boot is a looker that also offers admirable protection from electricity and a standard steel toe. But reported issues surrounding that steel toe may make the soft-toe version preferable. For those whose jobs insist on steel-toe toughness, there exist viable alternatives free of any significant trade-offs.
THE GOOD: Though licensed by Caterpillar, the world’s leading manufacturer of construction equipment, the final boot on our list is, in fact, another offering made by Wolverine. The Diagnostic Hi Waterproof Steel Toe Work Boot comes equipped with the ERGO comfort system, engineered to mimic your foot’s contours and support natural movements. The Diagnostic Hi’s focus on being anatomically correct, unlike models with a flat design, offers flexibility, comfort, and the stability to stand tall wherever your day takes you.
That versatility extends to the Diagnostic Hi’s considerable array of environment-specific features: slip-resistant soles, steel toes, electric hazard protection up to 600 volts, 200 grams of thermal insulation, and waterproof leather uppers. The Diagnostic Hi is a true Swiss Army knife of a boot that can hold up under almost any conditions.
THE BAD: Just how long they’ll hold up is, unfortunately, another question. More than a few customers reported significant wear on the Diagnostic Hi’s soles after as little as two months of regular use. It’s truly unfortunate, because by every other measure this boot is among the most versatile on the market. But waterproof leather uppers only go so far once the sole gives way.
THE VERDICT: For as long as it’ll last, the Caterpillar Diagnostic Hi is as complete a work boot as you’d hope to find. If you only wear your boots sparingly or need something to bridge the gap until your next long-term pair, the Diagnostic Hi should perform well for as long as they hold up. Just know that that may not be long.
Available in multiple colors to match your uniform requirements, these boots from Timberland work on the job and off. They have such a comfortable fit that you may want to wear them in your personal life too. The metal eyelets on the boots are reinforced to keep your laces from slipping out. Located on the top are metal hooks that let you wrap and secure the laces. The PRO comes with anti-fatigue soles that reduce discomfort and let you stand or walk for hours without feeling worn out. Weighing less than two pounds, the boots are lightweight too.
Designed for 24/7 use, these Timberland boots feature a toe cap made from steel that absorbs sharp impacts to keep your feet safe. The outsole is resistant to oils and other liquids and keeps that moisture away from your feet. You also get an outsole that is resistant to abrasions to keep the boots looking their best. Thanks to the padded top collar, the boots will never run uncomfortably against your skin, no matter how tight you pull the laces.
- Abrasion-resistant sole
- Resistant to oil and water
- Comfort support technology
- Rugged and durable design
- Metal hooks
If you want work boots that fit comfortably and have a classic design, look no further than this pair. Thorogood went back to the basics and designed a boot as part of its American Heritage line that would look right at home on any job site. Made from rich and supple leather, this boot comes in two different brown shades. It has a footbed designed to reduce all types of shocks when you walk and jump. That footbed also has extra cushioning that supports your feet on the job.
Capable of withstanding weights of up to 50 pounds, these boots can also withstand impacts from dozens of feet in the air. They give you a small amount of clearance between your toes and the moc toe to prevent injuries. The boots can also withstand electrical shocks of up to 18,000 volts for a full 60 seconds, which gives you time to get away. A footbed inside each boot absorbs shocks and impacts to protect your feet. Thorogood also gives you a cushioned bed that takes some of the pressure off your lower body.
- Leather construction
- Slip-resistant outsole
- Goodyear welts
- Cushioned insole
- Made in the United States
Designed to meet the needs of any job, these work boots from Irish Setter feature both leather and EVA materials. The 1.5-inch heel lifts your foot slightly and keeps you from walking flat-footed, which can cause some pain and discomfort. These boots measure 5.5 inches across the shaft to give you some flexibility as you walk. With a 13.5-inch diameter, the opening of the boot makes it easy for you to slip your foot inside and tighten the laces as well as slide the boot off at night. The exterior of the boots features 100% full-grain leather too.
Suitable for wearing around electrical hazards and in hot conditions, the boots are heat-resistant at temperatures of up to 475 degrees Fahrenheit and meet all safety standards for working around electricity. These boots are easy to clean when you work around mud and other messes because you can just wipe them down with a wet cloth and let them dry overnight. You might like the outsole too that prevents buildups from static electricity and reduces your risks of electrical shocks.
- 100% leather construction
- Large opening at the top of the boot
- Meets electrical hazard safety standards
- Metal eyelets
No matter what your job throws at you, you can remain on your feet and stay on track with these work boots from Red Wing. The boots have a six-inch arch and a one-inch heel that work with the thin sole to give you extra flexibility. You can sit, stand, crouch, jump and go through a range of movements and find that the boots still move with you. Available in a few different colors, the Iron Ranger boots have a Vibram sole with a good tread that gives you balance and support when working in wet conditions.
You don’t need to worry about the boots fitting too tightly either because they feature a bump toe that gives you more room to move and breathe. Thanks to the three layers of stitching, these boots won’t fall apart the way others can. The outsole uses nitrile cork that adds some support and padding to the bottom that helps you stay comfy. Red Wing recommends that you use a leather conditioner to keep the boots in good shape and that you wipe them down with a damp cloth regularly.
- Vibram sole
- Leather design
- Triples stitching
- Bump toe
- Flexible sole
If you need an affordable pair of work boots with a comfortable fit and lots of protection, consider investing in this pair from Skechers. The company gives you leather boots with a full-grain appearance that look more expensive than they are. This boot has a nice design with a top that sits right above your ankle bone. Not only will that design keep you from overheating, but it also ensures that your foot and ankle have some extra protection.
Thanks to the rubber outsole, you get some added traction too. While other rubber soles can be too hard or flat, this sole is flexible enough that it can move with you but durable enough that it will prevent you from slipping and sliding. With a relaxed fit, these boots come off as easily as they go and will help you stay comfortable for long hours. You get even more comfort from the addition of memory foam cushioning inside. Skechers also added a steel toe in each boot that won’t weigh you down but will keep you safe from falling objects.
- Leather upper
- Ankle height
- Rubber outsole for added traction
- Memory foam cushioning
- Relaxed fit
When you choose these Timberland boots, you don’t need to worry about ordering the wrong size because most shoppers found that they fit was what they expected. You can order these boots in the same size that you usually wear to avoid any hassles. They come with a soft toe that meets three different safety standards for working around electrical hazards. If you step on a live current, the soles of the boots will absorb the shock and send the electricity away from your feet.
Weighing less than two pounds, these Timberland boots come with an antimicrobial lined footbed that kills germs to prevent odors. Though the boots are waterproof, they also come with insulation inside. That combination keeps your feet both warm and dry as you work in all types of conditions. With a 1.5-inch platform on the back, the boots lift your feet slightly to help you get more traction and to reduce fatigue. You might like the nylon plate inside each boot too, which diffuses shocks when you encounter electricity and similar hazards. The boots also have a plastic midsole that adds to their flexibility.
- Electrical hazard protection
- Soft toe design
- Waterproof outsoles and uppers
- 1.5-inch heel
- Antimicrobial lining
When you spend long hours on your feet and work on slick surfaces, you’ll like having these Danner work boots on your feet. Made from full-grain leather, they come in black and brown shades that match your uniform or job requirements. The boots have a moc toe design and contrast stitching that you can see on the upper and lower portions of the boot. Thanks to the rubber sole, you get the traction that you need to stay upright on all types of jobs. That sole is also resistant to oil and water, which keeps you from sliding across the floor or ground.
The classic Danner wedge lifts the back of your foot to take the pressure off your arches and help you stay comfortable at work. It also features a cushioned footbed for additional comfort. That bed adds some extra support too. Each boot has a flexible base that helps you get into any position as you work without the boots getting in your way. You’ll also find that these boots meet all the safety standards that you need at work and that the leather keeps up with the demands of your job.
- Made from 100% leather
- Oil-resistant and slip-resistant
- Cushioned footbed
- Solid traction
- Meets workplace standards
I hope our comfortable work boot guide has given you plenty of purchasing inspiration for your next comfy work shopping expedition.
For more on all things work boots, head over to our Work Boot Section where we have plenty more guides for you.