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Composite Toe vs. Steel Toe Work Boots

When you head to a work site, you want to know that your shoes are going to protect your feet from the dangers and hazards of the job. Women's and men's work boots need to be reliable, durable and protective whether you're in a busy factory or on a construction site. Safety toe boots come in a variety of styles and designs to accommodate your needs, but deciding between composite toe and steel toe boots can be a difficult choice. By understanding the different advantages and limitations of each boot design, you can find the style that best suits your needs.

Composite Toe Boots

Steel Toe Boots


Low to moderateModerate to high




Not as sturdyMore sturdy

Weather Advantages

Keep feet warm in winterCan be less warm in winter

Toe Materials

Carbon fiber, plastic and KevlarSteel

Safety requirements

Meet ANSI safety requirementsMeet ANSI safety requirements

*Refer to the Types of Work Boots article for more information

Composite Toe Boots

Advantages of Composite Toe Boots

  • Foot protection - Materials in composite toe shoes are designed to protect your feet equally as well as steel toe boots, so they meet or exceed the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) safety requirements for work footwear.
  • Lightweight - The synthetic materials used in composite toe boots are often significantly lighter than steel toe boots.
  • Passes through metal detection - Because they are not composed of steel, these boots will easily pass through metal detectors, offering a convenience that isn't available with steel toe boots. If you regularly walk through a metal detector at work, these can be a worthwhile option.
  • Better insulation - When the cold temperatures hit, the materials in composite toe shoes can provide more warmth than the cold metal in steel toe boots.
Limitations of Composite Toe Boots
  • Less sturdy - Because the materials are not as heavy duty as those in steel toe boots, composite toe work boots are sometimes considered less sturdy.
  • Less affordable - Since they have a high-grade construction, these options can be pricer than steel boots.

Steel Toe Boots

Advantages of Steel Toe Boots

  • Foot protection - The most important aspect of work boots is that they follow safety standards and protect your feet from potential safety hazards. Steel toe boots' heavy construction meets or exceeds all safety requirements.
  • Durable - Because steel toe boots have a thick, protective layer of steel in the toe, they tend to be heavier and more solid than composite toe shoes.
Limitations of Steel Toe Boots
  • Cold feet in winter - When the temperature is cold, the steel may become cold, thus making the inside of your shoes less comfortable.
  • Heavy feeling - Because steel toe boots are made with metal, these heavy-duty shoes typically weigh more than composite shoes.