What comes to mind when you think of a pair of work boots? Rugged style? Comfort and design? Durable but fashionable? Well, you’re on the right track, as long as you drop all but the first word from each of those three questions. When it comes to a great pair of work boots, you need to think in terms of protection, comfort, and durability first; if they happen to look good, that’s icing on the cake.
And if your work boots are uglier than an oarfish but they keep your ankles supported, your toes protected, and your feet warm and dry, then don’t you fret about the looks. Chances are, no one else on the worksite or the ranch is looking anyway.
We have put together a list of 10 pairs of the best work boots for men, each of which will keep your feet safe when you drop a brick, step on a broken window pane, or send sparks showering down from that angle grinder you’re working.
(And if you are looking for stylish boots, we’ve got you covered.)
Wolverine I-90 Durashocks Elite Wedge
These surprisingly lightweight boots are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever slipped on, and that goes for the work boot category but also for boots in general. They feel as good as many pairs of hiking boots I have tried, yet they offer considerably more foot protection. A thick, high-abrasion outsole resists damage up to three times better than standard rubber, while the full-grain leather protects against cuts and gouges and will last so long you may well get these boots resoled someday, the toughness of the outsole notwithstanding.
Carhartt Energy Composite-Toe Industrial Boot
If you’re going to be wearing your work boots for long, grueling shifts, then go ahead and spend a bit extra for a pair that will keep your feet comfortable even in the 12th hour of serious effort. The footbed of these Carhartt boots was created after the company conducted more than 120,000 3D scans of feet, identifying the design that would provide the best overall comfort to most people. They’re also completely waterproof yet breathable, releasing excess heat and moisture built up from within.
Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat Mid-Calf Boot
While technically designed for hiking (or mountaineering, really), the Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat makes a superlative work boot for use in cold weather. The rise of the shaft provides excellent ankle support while also keeping out snow, and the toe cap is solid enough to protect against injury. The boot features a moderately aggressive lug pattern that will give you plenty of grip on snow, gravel, and dirt, or as you navigate a worksite strewn with debris.
Timberland Pro Pit Boss Steel-Toe Boot
When you pictured a pair of men’s work boots earlier, they probably looked a lot like the Timberland Pro Pit Boss boots. These boots have a simple, rugged style that actually does make them look pretty good, though the looks are secondary, as they should be. The primary features of this work boot are its steel toe, its generous padding, and its easy lacing system. Antimicrobial odor control is a feature you and your coworkers (and your partner) will appreciate, too.
Kamik Workday3 Rubber Boots
Not all work boots are made of thick strips of leather and laces strung through manly brass hardware. The Kamik Workday3 boots were designed to protect the worker from various specific hazards, such as dangerous fluids or electricity. They are 100% waterproof and rate as fuel-, oil-, acid-, and chemical-resistant. A built-in plate protects the wearer against an electric shock that could come from contact with an electrified object laying on the ground.
Rockhard Safety Steel-Toe Leather Work Boot
This is about the most typical work boot you’ll ever find, right down to the color. The tan suede boot with a tan sole and brown-and-yellow laces (I mean, you can change those) is straight out of central casting for a work boot, but they also perform well and don’t cost much. The boots have a steel toe cap, a padded collar around the ankle, and a puncture-resistant upper. They’re on the heavier side, but they will definitely protect your feet.
Caterpillar Second Shift Steel-Toe Work Boot
These Caterpillar work boots rather resemble a Vietnam War-era combat boot in styling and tread pattern, with an upgrade to materials and oil-resistant traction on the sole that helps keep you upright even on slick surfaces. Your toes are safe thanks to steel and your whole foot will be comfortable thanks to thick, over-generous, leather padding.
Georgia Boot Athens Work Boot
If you’ve spent long hours chasing down runaway steers with lasso in hand, trusty mount between your thighs, and a Stetson hat on your head, you probably know that most cowboy boots are missing one thing in particular: traction. Legit cowboy boots tend to have smooth leather soles and wooden heels, and as classic as that design may be, it’s horrid for staying upright on varied terrain. The Georgia Boot Athens Work Boot looks for all intents and purposes like an OG cowboy boot but has a rugged rubber outsole with decent grip.
Danner Tachyon Coyote Military Tactical Boot
This boot was designed for use in active combat, so you can trust it to perform when you’re at work on the roadway, a building site, or out in the backcountry. And thanks to the combat-inspired quick lacing system, you can get this boot cinched tight in a matter of seconds, even if you’re just headed to work. A 6.5-inch shaft offers plenty of ankle support, while the relatively lightweight boots won’t weigh you down as you get the job done.
Red Wing Shoes Irish Setter Work Boot
Alright, so I said work boots are always about function, not about form, but the fact is these Irish Setter work boots from Red Wing Shoes will look as good at the bottom of a pair of nice jeans as they will at the bottom of a pair of overalls. The handsome textured leather and contrast stitching on the upper and around the sole are plenty stylish, yet you can still count on the boots to be comfortable from the first wear through years of regular use in trying conditions. The looks will fade, but the comfort will grow.
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