Do You Really Need Steel Toe Boots? Think Carefully Before Buying…

Steel toe boots are among the most commonly returned boots to companies, and sold second-hand before they're fully broken in. If there's a feature to any work boot that you need to think really hard about before committing to, it's steel toe inserts.

It's not that you can't get a pair of steel toe boots that are really comfortable. You can. It's not that you can't get a pair that won't last as long as typical leather boots. They do. 

It's that most people find they aren't as comfortable as they like. When it dawns on them that they don't absolutely need them for work, they return or sell them to fund a new pair that doesn't have them.

So let's talk about whether you need steel toe boots or not. 

You Need Steel Toe Boots If Your Employer Says So

Safety equipment can be mandated by your employer as a condition of employment. 

In other words, your boss or the president of your company can say "employees have to wear steel toe boots and hardhats on the job site. You cannot report to work without them, which is treated as an unexcused absence from work."

It can be out of an abundance of caution, it can be to avoid liability, or it just might be both. It is possible they don't want you to be hurt AND they don't want you to sue them at the same time. 

If your company says that you have to wear steel toe boots, specifically, on the job site...then you absolutely need steel toe boots. It's required as a part of your job, and therefore you need them. 

You Should Have Steel Toe Boots If There's A Risk Of Crush Injury

All jobs have a certain level of risk. Granted, the risk of some jobs is a papercut or needing an extra cushion for a hard chair. With other jobs...the risks are catastrophic or even fatal injuries. 

Where steel toe boots offer any protection is in case of a crush injury, meaning something really heavy getting dropped on your foot and completely crushing your toes. 

Some warehousing jobs have heavy pallets of goods or materials stored aboveground. Heavy equipment mechanics work on parts that are far larger and heavier than typical car parts and they're also around really big equipment with really big tires. 

Lots of professions also involve being around building materials that can fall and so on. 

You probably get the idea. If there's something that can fall on your foot and turn your toes into blood and bone jelly, then steel toe boots are a good idea. 


If none of these conditions apply to you...then you want to think really hard about whether steel toe boots are really the best option for you.

Steel isn't the only game in town when it comes to safety toe boots. It's definitely the strongest option all things considered; if you want or need the utmost in protection, steel is it. But if you just want a protected toe, you have other options. 

For a little extra material to guard against stubbing your foot against things, a cap toe adds another layer of leather on top of the toe box. While your foot might feel a little more constricted, the toe cap does give you a bit more protection without too much loss of wiggle room. 

You can also consider a celastic toe box, meaning basically fiberglass. While it isn't quite as hard as steel, it does put a structure over the toes and protects them. The benefit is that it isn't as thick as a steel toe cap while being almost as strong, so you get a bit more room for the toes. 

If you need or want some protection, but don't necessarily need the full steel toe, it's the best of both worlds. 

Look, it isn't that you're going to be miserable wearing steel toe boots. If you get a pair of work boots with a sprung toe (larger toe box) your toes will have plenty of room and you won't experience serious discomfort. 

However, it's still the case that less room inside the toe box means less room for your toes and forefoot to flex with movement as they're supposed to normally. And like we said, that leads a lot of people to either return their boots or sell them if it turns out they don't absolutely need them. 

And we want you to be as happy as possible with your work boots.