The World’s Best Work Boots for Men Who Play in the Dirt

By Pete Macaroy

caterpillar mens second shift steel toe work boot

Overwhelmed at the prospect of finding your next go-to pair of top-rated men’s construction work boots? The internet is full of information, but sifting through it all can be frustrating. Stress no more. Here, you’ll find detailed reviews for the top ten work boots on the market.

The best construction work boots for men are ones that are comfortable, safe, durable, and stain-resistant. But depending on your occupation, one of these qualities could prove more important to you than the others. That’s why it’s essential to get the whole scope on the best-rated work boots out there, so you can make an informed decision and make your feet very, very happy.

In this work boot review, we’ll lay out the ten finest boots by discussing different types of products and brands that are available to you. And we’ll conclude with a few tips on buying a good pair of work boots. Basically, this is your survival map to discovering (and purchasing) the top-rated work boots for dirty jobs.

Work Boots Comparison Table

Different Types of Work Boots

Safety standards for men’s best work boots vary according to your occupation. Thanks to ASTM standards, specific requirements generally must always be met for your work footwear, so make sure you understand the small red, yellow, or green symbols on your boots that show you the protection they offer against puncture and impact or against electrical, chemical, and/or chain-saw encounters. You’ll find many of these within KEEN boot reviews or other brands who take safety seriously. The highest-quality boots will offer all of that and more.

Safety Toes

Steel-Toe Work Boots

First, let’s get technical. The best steel-toes have a piece of metal in the toe region of the shoe that prevents your toes from getting crushed on the job. On the outside of the boot, you have your standard leather—usually genuine, as well as water- and stain-proof—and, on the inside of the shoe, a comfortable sole for sustained support and for the most comfortable work boots. Somewhere in between these layers is the protective metal toe. Now, you’re a work boot anatomy expert. Congratulations. Steel-toed boots are the most trusted of all work boots, though they’re heavy and can become cold in winter months.

Aluminum-Toe Work Boots

Aluminum is a third the weight of steel boots so it’s definitely a good idea if you’ll be on your feet for long hours. This lighter-weight material is also gentler on the joints, which is good news for those of us with bad knees. The downside? Aluminum is not quite as strong as steel. Because of this, critics like to argue that this type of toe won’t hold up when confronted by heavy falling objects. But aluminum has stood the test of time in proving its ability to keep up with the rigors of hard work, making these the best construction boots for those of us who like our traditional metal-made toes but who also don’t trust composite-toe boots. Yet.

Composite Work Boots

These are the hot new trend among many protective footwear brands. Strong as steel and lighter than even aluminum, these protective boots are just as dependable as any traditional route. Though sceptics argue that composite-toe work boots aren’t as safe, there’s no research confirming their doubts. Composite-toe boots still comply with ASTM standards. Made from hard plastics, rubbers, and carbon fiber, they’re actually more resistant to electrical current, and they don’t set off metal detectors. When we compare work boots, we learn that they’re also warmer than steel or aluminum boots and serve as good work boots for winter. The downside? They tend to run on the expensive side.

Soft-Toe Work Boots

The caption is self-explanatory. These types of work boots don’t have a plate of metal- or composite-toe inside at all. Soft-toes are the recommended work boots for jobs that don’t involve heavy equipment, harsh chemicals, or compliance with ASTM standards. They look just like steel-, aluminum-, or composite-toe work boots—usually a tough leather outside and rubber soles. They just don’t offer the same protection as hard-toed boots do. Reading some of the best work boots reviews (like this one!) is extremely helpful in deciding if it’s completely necessary for you to dish out the big bucks for a pair of steel-, aluminum-, or composite-toe boots. In some cases, you won’t need to and can save yourself a bit of cash.

Height and Ankle Support

The lower the height of the boot around your ankle, the less support you’re getting. The higher the height of the boot around your ankle, the more support you’re getting. It’s pretty straightforward. The trick lies in finding what height works best for you. This depends on your ankles and your occupation.

High Shafts

Do your ankles have the tendency to roll? If your ankles aren’t strong, you’ll find yourself losing balance and frequently twisting them, perhaps not too badly but enough to cause problems on the job site where you need to be extra careful of your surroundings. Or maybe your job involves long periods of time on your feet in rugged terrain or on harsh, unforgiving concrete or asphalt flooring. Or maybe you just like the look. Like some of the caulked logger boots or industrial boots. Then, higher shaft what you need–especially asphalt paving work boots. Many boots come with 6” shafts, but 9” shafts and higher are also available. In fact, these are probably the best construction boots for those of us with the most rigorous jobs while working in the harshest environments.

Low Shafts

Does your job involve a lot of sideways and up-and-down movement? Higher shaft work boots don’t allow for a ton of mobility around your ankles, and if your job involves a lot of movement, then maybe lower shaft work boots are for you. What lower shaft (or no shaft) boots lack in ankle support, they provide in mobility and versatility. Plus, you can even throw on some of the best slip on work boots as opposed to lace up to ease the pressure around your ankles.

Types of Soles


Rubber is the classic go-to outsole for many boots because of its affordability and durability.


Vibram is super high-performance rubber that’s made to last longer than regular rubber.


Boots with TPU (or thermopolyurethane) soles are lighter weight than rubber or vibram soles but they’ll still hold up to the test of time and wear. They’re also spilt-, abrasion-, as well as oil- and chemical- resistant.


EVA (or ethylenevinylacetate) is foam-like, the lightest weight material, and very cushiony. The downside is that EVA isn’t meant for extreme temperatures or terrain and won’t last as long as the other options in this list.

5 First-rate Boot Options for Tough Jobs

You’ve probably got the idea by now—yes, hunting for the best pair of construction work boots for your occupation, lifestyle, and body type can be a grueling experience. They aren’t cheap, so finding the right pair the first time around is essential. If you’re still overwhelmed at the prospect of finding the best pair of work boots for you, read on! Next up, we’ve got ten options lined up for you in detail.

1. Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift Steel-Toe Work Boot

caterpillar mens second shift steel toe work boot

Of course, a Caterpillar shoe appears first on our list. Perhaps the most trusted brand of work boots out there, Caterpillar’s name alone evokes credibility and dependability—putting on a pair of Caterpillars, you just feel imbued with confidence to get your job done well prepared and safely. These Second Shift tough-guys come in yellow-tan and deep reddish-brown and are made with strong, durable leather. Rubber soles prevent slipping, and steel toes keep your feet safe. The shaft on these work boots is on the higher side at 6,” providing extra comfortable lower-leg and ankle support, and the heel is 1” for all-day support on the job. They also sport a soft, comfortable collar and hex-shaped grommets around the laces that give these boots a rugged appearance. If you’re looking for a dependable pair of boots that will last a long time and endure all sorts of stress, these are your best pick.

2. Timberland PRO Men’s Pitboss 6” Steel-Toe Boot

timberland pro mens pitboss 6- steel toe boot

Next, we have a Timberland PRO series boots review. Timberland has some of the best concrete work boots out there, and with imported leather for durability, synthetic soles for stability, and a 5.5” high shaft with a padded collar for comfort, these boots certainly live up to their name. Easy-lace grommets at the highest point of the shaft make it easy to lace-up in a hurry. And you can show off your brand with logo patches on the tongue and heel of each boot. Simple stitching and traditional tan and brown laces matches the yellow-tan leather perfectly, giving these boots a classic appearance. The steel toe meets all ASTM safety standards, and there’s a bonus: an antimicrobial footbed keeps your feet happy and dry throughout the day and prevents odor from contaminating your shoes. They also come in more three colors—classic yellow-tan, dirt-brown, and black. So you have your choice of colors. Or, you can pick the color that hides dirt the best. Just an idea.

3. Ever Boots Soft-Toe “Tank” Work Boots

ever boots tank 3 month warranty soft toe

Although their yellow-tan exterior and black collar might make them look a lot like Timberlands at first glance, these Ever Boots stand out from the crowd by sporting a no-fuss appearance: unlike many construction work boots, there’s no brand-name patches anywhere on the exterior, except an “Ever Boots” impression on the tongue. Likewise, the seams that hold together the various leather components of the boots’ upper portions are simple and inconspicuous. A high 7” shaft keeps your ankles sturdy on the job, and although these boots don’t have steel toes built in, there is plenty that earns them credibility in the tough department: it has rubber soles for a strong grip against oil and water, and it has an insole that’s cushioned for comfort. Something to keep in mind when purchasing a pair of Ever Boots: they run half a size bigger than Timberlands, so round up. They also offer a 3-month manufacturer warranty, which ensures that you’re getting your money’s worth.

4. GW Men’s 1606ST Steel Toe Work Boots

gw mens 1606ST steel toe work boots

Looking for a pair of boots that are as durable as they are sleek? These GW’s are streamlined to perfection. A 5.5” shaft gives you ankle support without impeding your mobility for jobs that require flexibility, and a 1.5” heel cushions your feet, preventing soreness from all-day wear. These work boots also have durable, slip-proof rubber soles and are made with Nubuck leather, which is cowhide that’s been rubbed until the leather becomes shimmery and suede-like in texture. Bonus: Nubuck leather is also water resistant, so you can look good and be practical too. The leather comes in black or an orange-tan color, the latter of which is a color that seems to be unique in the work-boot world of colors. GW’s brand logo is imprinted in the heel of these boots to help you represent. Adding to these boots’ sleek appearance is simplistic stitching around the heel and vamp.

5. Irish Setter Men’s 83606 6” Aluminum-Toe Work Boot

irish setter mens 83606 6 aluminum-toe work boot

Looking for a pair of boots that is versatile enough to glide between the worlds of work and pleasure? Then, the Irish Setter Men’s 83606s are just what you’re looking for. Despite its mystically numeric name, these work boots are really quite simple and part of the best Red Wing boots in the brand’s family. Made of reddish brown full-grain leather, they rise up on a 6” shaft and have a thick collar and tongue for a comfortable fit around your Achilles region. Their steel toes make them ASTM-standard approved for electrical hazard protection. They also have a shorter, steeper vamp and creamy white stitching around the toe box and around the direct-attach, cream-colored soles. The brand logo is stitched onto the tongue and imprinted in the heel of the boot. Their adaptable, classy look is perfect for a day’s hard work, or even for a day off. Of course, the steel toe is weighty, so you probably don’t want to wear these for a casual day on the town.

Quality Over Quantity: Even More Protective Footwear

We couldn’t leave you with just five boots to choose from. Whether you’re working on concrete or making room for a new roadway, we’ve got you covered. Here are some additional options to help you find a quality, durable boot for your needs—through rain, sleet, or snow.

Irish Setter Men’s 83605 6” Work Boot


These boots exude versatility in appearance and can be dressed down or even up. They also have an attractive, full-grain leather along with synthetic, direct-attach soles for durability. The Irish Setter’s also feature a 6” shaft for ankle protection and warmth. Plus, they include a thick, comfortable collar and tongue to support your ankles and keep you warm in winter months. Take comfort in the fact that they have a shorter, steeper vamp with extra padding for more protection. These bad boys also meet the ASTM standards for electrical hazard protection.

Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift 6” Plain Soft-Toe Work Boot

· Simple yet elegant leather uppers

· Synthetic soles made for traction and support

· 6.5” shaft for stabilizing your ankles and warming your lower legs in winter months

· Shorter, ¾” heel to keep you grounded comfortably

· Slip resistant for various types of work and considered among the best in waterproof work boots

Wolverine Men’s Hudson W02194 Work Boot

· Handsome, multi-layered leather uppers with nylon shank over toes

· Synthetic sole for grip on all materials and ground surfaces

· 5” shaft that’s just the right height for ankle support and mobility

· Taller, 2” heel for extended-length foot comfort

· Mesh, moisture-preventing insert to keep your feet feeling (and smelling) fresh

· Comfortably padded tongue and collar

Thorogood Men’s Composite Safety-Toe Gen Flex 804-4445 6” Work Boot

· Leather and synthetic uppers for a complicated, heavy-duty look

· Slip-resistant rubber soles

· Composite toe that’s lighter than steel and just as safe

· 6” shaft for ultimate support and comfort on the job site

· Can be worn comfortably throughout the day on hazardous job sites

KINGSHOW Men’s 1312 7” Soft-Toe Work Boots

· Water-resistant, genuine leather

· Rubber soles are durable and made for traction on tough terrain

· Tread syphons water away with every step

· High 7” shaft and 1.5” heel

· Comfortable enough for all-day wear without causing foot pain on hard surfaces

Buying Guide

Before buying a pair of the best safety boots for your particular occupation, check with your company standards, see what you are required to wear, and go from there. It’s the law. And, in most cases, your health insurance won’t cover an accident you may have while wearing boots that aren’t ASTM certified.

Here’s a helpful YouTube video on safety toe difference:

Another thing to consider when going to buy a pair of new kicks is your ultimate goal. Do you want ankle support? Foot comfort? Protection from extreme temperatures or falling objects and heavy tools? When you decide what your priority is in buying boots, then you can go on to narrow down a plethora of choices to those that best meet your expectations.


Remember that your number one goal in getting new boots is (or should be) functionality. You want a pair that has all the elements you’re looking for. Some boots are purely practical, while others give you that wanted-but-not-needed element of style that make you feel great about your boot selection.

Choosing the best pair of boots for tough jobs can be difficult and time-consuming, but we hope this article has helped you narrow down to the options that will best suit your needs as a construction or industrial worker who handles rough terrain, materials, and weather on a daily basis.

Now that you’ve finished reading our work boot reviews, we hope you have the tools you need to make up your mind regarding the best-rated work boots those who play in the dirt every day.

Product Images Sourced From

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