Are Moc Toes Good For Work?
A moc toe boot is an excellent work boot if it's a quality work boot. A poor quality boot is not a good work boot, whether it has a moc toe or not.
The question really is whether the moc toe boot you're looking at is a good work boot or not. And it might be! Or it might not be, depending on who makes it.
And some moc toe boots make incredible work boots; in fact, some of the most popular work boots nationwide have moc toes. It's not really the toe design that makes them so good, though. Let's talk about why moccasin toes are so associated with work boots and why so many people love them.
Moc Toes Are Good For Work Because Of The Boot Underneath Them
The reason so many people think of moc toes as work boots is because of the boots made by Red Wing and Thorogood. Everyone knows it, so it might as well be acknowledged.
Back in the heady mists of time, the Red Wing Shoes company made work boots for the miners and other laborers of the upper midwest. In the 1950s, they created a boot with a moccasin toe, which was ostensibly to reflect the Native American cultures of the area. The town of Red Wing is, in fact, named for a chief of the Mdewakanton, a tribe of the Dakota Sioux peoples.
The original was a 6-inch boot with oiled leather uppers, a moccasin toe, and a Christy Creme wedge sole. That original boot - the Red Wing 875 - established the archetype of the wedge sole moc toe boot when it was released in the 1950s.
A few years later, the Thorogood Boot company - the work boot brand of the Weinbrenner Shoe Company of Wisconsin - created more or less a carbon copy of the 875 with a slightly more supple leather, which they (at first) called the Camp And Hike. Initially it was marketed to Boy Scouts and outdoorsmen, but caught on with working men as well.
Those two makes and models of boots established the concept...but why did they work so well?
First, these boots don't feel like a typical boot. The wedge sole has very little heel drop, so they feel like a conventional shoe but with a lot more structure underneath.
Second, the thick Christy Creme sole put a lot of dense material under the foot, so you could be on your feet all day without feeling like your heels were taking a beating.
Lastly, the oiled leather uppers get very soft once broken in. Between the supple uppers, supportive footbed and sole and easy feel of those moc toe boots, you get a work boot that feels way more comfortable than you'd think they would be.
Are Moc Toes Still Good For Work?
A "moc toe work boot" is a style of work boot; what makes them unique in appearance is superficial in nature.
Much like logger boots are just typical leather work boots with a particular type of heel (for the benefit of people who did a specific job) and packer boots are like cowboy boots but for more rugged locations, it's just a way of making a leather boot.
Because a boot looks a certain way doesn't mean it's necessarily all its cracked up to be...unless it's made well. A work boot has to give you enough support and comfort to be on your feet all day doing hard work, and if it can't...it doesn't matter what it looks like.
The classic moc toe boots we mentioned have a following because they have some great attributes. They're made of decent leather, they have a decent footbed and a good design for working people. Factory workers, mechanics, iron workers and general laborers have all been known to love them.
But they're also known to have some downsides.
Since there isn't much heel structure, moc toe wedge boots often don't have as much arch support as a lot of people need.
Unless the boot company that makes them builds additional structure into the footbed for arch support. That's definitely something you should look for.
Another potential downside is if you need a steel toe. The moccasin toe can sometimes take a little bit of room out of the toe box, depending on exactly what last the bootmaker uses. Adding the steel toe cap inside a toe box that's already a little smaller than normal can feel a little tight.
So a moc toe isn't always the best choice if you need steel toe boots. Unless, that is, the boot company that makes them can make the steel toe to order to give your feet the extra room they need.
If you live in an area that really gets all four seasons, be aware that the Christy Creme sole or clones of it can lack traction in snow and rain. They are also known to be some of the fastest-wearing soles out there; hard use will often require a resole every year.
So moc toes are absolutely a great choice for work...if they're made right.