Steel Toe Vs Composite Toe Work Boots – Detailed Comparison

Every year approximately 125000 workers lose their lives and are physically disabled in their workplace. So safety and health become the most priority in the workplace. We wear lots of safety equipment in our working environment; work boot is one of them.

It is one of the most vital things to buy proper safety and comfort work boots for your job. You may work on a construction site, industrial area, or hazardous environment. In that case, there is likely a possibility of falling heavy equipment on your feet and sharp objects penetrating through the outsole that can be a risk of severely injured.

The feet are the most crucial parts of our body, but keeping them healthy is vital for our active life. Because it works as a foundation of our body, they encounter many things in our hazardous working environments. So wearing proper safety boots is essential to keep your feet safe and healthy. Besides that, breathable and lightweight work boots are much more comfortable for your safe work environment.

But do you know what type of work boots is suitable for your job? Mainly it depends on your work environment, requirement, and budget. Steel toe and composite toe safety work boots are designed to keep your feet safe from injuries that occur by several factors. But most people don’t know the difference between these two types of significant boots.

Below we will discuss it in detail. Keep reading-

Steel toe vs composite toe work boots

Steel Toe Workboots

According to European safety regulations, one of the essential characteristics is that footwear must be capable of resisting 200 joules of impact energy to work safely in a hazardous environment. Steel toe boots are enough durable and robust. It has a protective reinforcement that can withstand up to 200-joule or 4.78 tons of impact energy.

So, steel toe boots will save your feet from falling heavy objects, and their puncture-resistant outsole prevents injuries due to slipping and penetrating while working in a hazardous slippery environment. But its extra weight can cause extreme tiredness if you have to move a lot of work. 


  • Use strong metal materials.
  • More durable and safe.
  • Offer excellent protection on your feet.
  • Thinner and nice-looking style boots.
  • Low manufacturing cost.
  • High impact resistance.


  • Bulky than other boots.
  • Uncomfortable for extremely hot and cold weather. Because steel is a thermally conductive material, it can absorb and releases hot and cold.
  • It’s not perfect for security work and who regularly pass through the security because it can not pass through the metal detector.
  • Steel is a high electric conductive material. Sole of badly worn-out boots can come in contact with the surface.

Composite Toe Workboots

Composite toe safety boots are made of non-metal materials such as a mixture of kevlar, fiberglass, carbon fiber, and hard plastics. They are typically designed to overcome the other safety toe boots drawbacks. Non-metallic and non-magnetic materials make them more lightweight and popular work boots for long periods of outdoor work.

However, composite materials are not as strong and durable as steel; they need to be larger, thicker, and bulbous to withstand the same impact energy and compression as steel work boots do.


  • Use nonconductive materials that combine Kevlar, fiberglass, plastic, or carbon fiber.
  • Lightweight and comfortable for use for an extended period.
  • You will get more space in the toe room area.
  • It can easily pass through the metal detector. So it’s perfect for security areas (if there are no metal parts in the boots).
  • The composite midsole is more flexible.
  • Using less conductive materials is better for an electrician and construction workers.
  • Thermal nonconductive. So you can use it in extremely hot and cold weather.
  • Prevent the chance of sparking.


  • More expensive than other boots
  • It’s not suitable for the high-risk workplace
  • Protection reduces after one or two accidents. Composite materials can able to hide physical damage, so you don’t find any signs outside the boot
  • It does not offer proper protection to your feet after an accident. So it is better to replace them with new pairs.
  • Low impact resistance

Steel toe vs composite Toe work boots – comparison

There are lots of footwear companies that manufacture safety boots according to ASTM standards. According to OSHA and ASTM standards, safety work boots must have full grain leather upper, resistant outsole, impact resistant 75 foot-pounds, and compression resistant 75 foot-pounds. Steel and composite safety toe footwear offers high protection and meets the OSHA and ASTM standards.

To make a wise judgment, you must know the difference between steel and composite toe safety shoes. Here we compare the steel and composite toe boots and cover all aspects of these boots that will help you to choose the perfect footwear.

  • Steel toe boots offer better protection and withstand a higher impact and compression than composite toe work boots. A thicker, more extensive, bulbous composite toe boots can do so.
  • Composite toe work boots are more expensive than steel toe work boots because the composite toe boots are a combination of costly materials such as kevlar, carbon fiber, fiberglass, and hard plastics. On the other hand, metal is a cheap, strong material.
  • As it is made of steel, it’s heavier than composite shoes. Composite toe boots are 30% to 40% lighter than steel boots. It’s not a big deal, but working for long hours can make a significant difference.
  • Steel toe boots cannot be breathable as well as composite toe boots because of their steel materials. So composite work boots are more comfortable to wear for an extended period.
  • Steel toe work boots are less bulbous compared to composite toe work boots.
  • Composite toe boots are more lightweight and comfortable than steel toe boots. So you will quickly move your work and increases your productivity.
  • Composite boots bigger than steel toe boots.
  • Composite toe boots offer more room in the toe box area. As a result, you will feel more comfortable while you work for a long time. But steel boots provide a smaller toe box area that can cause your foot to be swollen.
  • Composite toe boots significantly lose their impact and compression resistance after an accident. Steel boots don’t lose their resistance after an accident.

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Frequently ask questions and answers

How much weight can handle a composite toe boot?

The manufacturer uses non-metal solid materials such as Kevlar, carbon fiber, plastic, and fiberglass to manufacture composite boots. It offers you better protection from various hazards on your worksites. Composite toe boots can easily handle at least 3.5 to 4.0 tons, which is good enough.

Are steel and composite toe OSHA approved?

OSHA requirement-

  • Leather upper
  • Slip and oil resistance outsole
  • Impact resistant 75 foot-pounds
  • Compression resistant 75 foot-pounds

Both Steel and composite toe work boots are approved by OSHA and fulfill all requirements.

Are composite toe caps as safe as steel?

If you are looking for work boots made of modern materials, lightweight, and comfortable, composite toe work boots can be the best option. But composite toe boots can not withstand the same level of impact and compression as a steel toe boot. So if your priority is safety, steel-toe boots are a wise option.

Can steel toe boots cut your toes off?

No, it is a most common myth. A steel toe boot can handle 200 joules of impact energy, so chances are very low of cracking the steel toe cap under this pressure.

Are Steel Toes Stronger Than Composite Toes?

Yes, steel toe is more robust than composite toe because of its strong metal materials.

Final Words

After reading the above article, you may find the difference between steel and composite toe safety work boots. The toe cap is not the only safety factor; you must consider other safety factors according to your requirement to choose the perfect boots. Regarding workplace safety, Don’t buy cheap boots that cannot pass the OSHA and ASTM standards.

Finally, to tell in short, I will suggest you go with protective, lightweight, and comfortable composite toe boots if you are an electrician, plumber, welder, architect, and engineer. Other than that, if you are mechanics, construction workers, and loggers or want a cheaper protective, strong shoe, you must go with steel-toe work boots.

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