The Best Work Boots for Men in 2022: Options for Any Job and Any Budget

Men wearing work boots at a construction site

The humble work boot grows on you the more you break it in, becoming something you'll find as valuable as a fine watch. There is no greater satisfaction than pulling off a pair at the end of an honest day's work—feet tired but free of injury—and no greater pride than putting them on the next morning without aches or blisters (compression socks can help). But what exactly makes a work boot so great?

The best work boots are made from durable materials like leather or steel, and have a midsole that cushions and an outsole that supports. However, with so many options to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down your search. That’s why we spent time selecting the 10 best work boots that run the gamut from cold weather standbys to rugged classic steel toes. From tall pull-up rancher boots to hybrids akin to a hiking shoe, this list has a little something for every worker.

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The Best Work Boots for Men - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall - New Balance 989 V1 

New Balance 989 V1

SPECS

  • Height: 6"
  • Weight: 22.2 oz., per shoe
  • Midsole: REVlite lightweight foam
  • Outsole: Rubber

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Affordable, lightweight, and surprisingly rugged, New Balance delivers with the 989v1, a modern black boot that can take on most light duty industrial work. They feature a composite toe cap and slip-resistant outsole (both ASTM-approved) for oily and wet environments, plus electrical hazard protection.

And their full-grain leather makes them a workhorse, yet their breathable mesh-synthetic fabric helps them feel more like a trusted day hiker boot.

What We Like

  • Breathable comfort with just the right amount of protection
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable

What We Don't Like

•  Glued construction means you can't re-sole these

•  Not suited to wet environments

BUY: New Balance 989 V1

Best on a Budget - Timberland Lincoln Peak

Timberland Lincoln Peak

SPECS

  • Height: 6"
  • Weight: 20 oz., per shoe
  • Midsole: EVA
  • Outsole: Rubber

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Technically, these Timberlands are hiking boots. But we think they're a perfect match for lighter-duty work with their speed-lace hooks, springy cushioning, and most importantly, waterproof membranes. Think lawn care, trail maintenance, and carpentry.

However, these boots boast no toe protection, so don't expect to stroll onto a construction or logging site.

What We Like

  • Snug yet comfortable
  • Toe bumpers and heel pieces made with climbing rubber
  • Sustainably-minded materials and fabrication

What We Don't Like

  • Not suited for heavy-duty or high-risk jobs
  • Glued sole cannot be resoled

BUY: Timberland Lincoln Peak

Most Comfortable - adidas GSG 9.4 

adidas GSG 9.4

SPECS

  • Height: 6"
  • Weight: 18.4 oz., each shoe
  • Midsole: EVA
  • Outsole: Rubber

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adidas has designed these all-black workhorses in the spirit of the tactical boot, suited to marching miles across mud and roots with heavy gear. Even if you're not a soldier, we think you’ll enjoy the rugged look and flexibility of the all-black full-grain leather. And the "Adiprene" heel cushioning provides comfort underfoot while the tactical outsole features lugs for optimal grip.

What We Like

  • Water-resistant treated leather
  • Surprisingly lightweight
  • Anti-static, oil and gas resistant
  • Very affordable

What We Don't Like

  • No safety-toe
  • Cheap laces and no speed-hooks

BUY: adidas GSG 9.4

Best Waterproof - KEEN Dover 8" Insulated Waterproof

Keen Dover 8 Insulated Waterproof

SPECS

  • Height: 8"
  • Weight: 31.4 oz., per shoe
  • Midsole: KEEN Luftcell: Air-infused polyurethane
  • Outsole: Rubber

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KEEN is a familiar name as far as work boots go and they don't disappoint with this higher rising insulated model built to tackle mud, puddles, and bad conditions. With their modern carbon-fiber toe and ultra-durable polyurethane midsole, these medium duty boots meet most safety ratings such as drop, puncture, and electric shock protection so you know they are as rugged as they look.

However, their waterproof abilities come at a cost. With a price point in the mid $200’s, these boots don’t come cheap.

What We Like

  • 8" of ample puddle protection
  • Carbon fiber toe
  • 600g of lightweight insulation for the colder months
  • Durable polyurethane midsole

What We Don't Like

  • Too pricey for some
  • On the heavy side
  • Not very breathable

BUY: KEEN Dover 8" Insulated Waterproof

Best Steel Toe - KEEN Pittsburgh Work Boots

Keen Pittsburgh Work Boots

SPECS

  • Height: 6"
  • Weight: 25 oz., per shoe
  • Midsole: EVA/polyurethane
  • Outsole: Rubber

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Waterproof with double reinforced construction, the steel-toe Pittsburgh work boots live up to their hard-tack name. While they feature innovations borrowed from hiking boots, these workhorses boast impact resistance standards fit for most jobs. We also like the asymmetrical toe design which ensures your toes never feel stifled.

What We Like

  • Double reinforced construction at key strain points
  • Not too heavy for a steel toe boot
  • Heat-resistant full-length torsion plate for stability and protection

What We Don't Like

  • Can't be resoled if they come undone
  • Might lose waterproof coating with time

BUY: KEEN Pittsburgh Work Boots

Best for Winter - KEEN Targhee High Lace Waterproof Boots

Keen Targhee High Lace Waterproof

SPECS

  • Height: 8"
  • Weight: 34.8 oz
  • Midsole: Dual-density, compression-molded EVA
  • Outsole: Rubber

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Looking for a boot that can withstand the harsh conditions of winter? The KEEN Targhee High Lace boots were built for working in the snowy, muddy cold. Their salt-resistant leather ensures they'll hold up equally to road work as they would on the trail. And their tall profile means you won't get mud or meltwater down your ankles.

What We Like

  • Lightweight insulation temperature rated to -25°F
  • Breathable mesh lining
  • 4mm multidirectional lugs provide traction

What We Don't Like

  • Toe box could be warmer
  • Lack safety certifications

BUY: KEEN Targhee High Lace Waterproof Boots

Best Pull-On - KEEN Cincinnati Wellington

Keen Cincinnati Wellington

SPECS

  • Height: 10"
  • Weight: 32.9 oz.
  • Midsole: Air-infused polyurethane
  • Outsole: Rubber

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True to the midwestern spirit, the KEEN Cincinnati rancher boot sports an easy Wellington pull-on design and a rich all-leather upper that is barn-proof: It's resistant to urea, oleic acid, ammonia, and salt. If these boots could carry you through a long day on the farm, you know they'll shine on an outdoor worksite.

The lightweight asymmetrical carbon fiber toe box keeps you safe from falls and punctures while staying roomy. Plus, these boots look timeless and they're as easy to pull on as they are to care for.

What We Like

  • Barnyard-resistant
  • Durable Goodyear welt can be resoled
  • Light carbon fiber safety toe

What We Don't Like

  • Without lacing, they may not fit everyone snugly
  • Some may find the heel difficult to break in

BUY: KEEN Cincinnati Wellington

Best Lightweight - Danner Vicious Work Boots

Danner Viscious Work Boots

SPECS

  • Height: 6"
  • Weight: 29.5 oz., per shoe
  • Midsole: EVA
  • Outsole: Rubber

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Heritage brand Danner does not disappoint with their hiking-inspired design. Vicious work boots blend nimble mobility with rugged features such as waterproof and breathable Goretex liners, oil and slip-resistant Vibram outsole, and a speed lacing system that will never yank out. And they're pretty light for what they can accomplish in a day's work.

What We Like

  • Time-tested heritage brand
  • Thick comfortable lining
  • Surprisingly flexible and nimble

What We Don't Like

  • Lacks a proper safety toe
  • Not ideal for work in hot weather

BUY: Danner Vicious Work Boots

Best Insulated - KEEN Davenport

Keen Daventport 6 Insulated

SPECS

  • Height: 6"
  • Weight: 27.4 oz., per shoe
  • Midsole: Polyurethane
  • Outsole: Rubber

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As warm as advertised and surprisingly light, the KEEN Davenport strikes a fair balance between work needs and comfort. Their composite safety-toe make these a veritable medium-duty boot and their "Polar" soles use micro-glass fibers to provide superior traction on ice. Our only complaint is that they may wear out sooner than you'd like if you're really putting them through their paces.

What We Like

  • Insulation stays warm when wet
  • Micro-glass fibers in the outsole provide superior traction on ice
  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like

  • Glued construction means they cannot be resoled
  • May wear out under a year if you put them through their paces

BUY: KEEN Davenport

Best Non-Slip - Scarpa Fuego Boots

Scarpa Fuego Boots

SPECS

  • Height: 8"
  • Weight: 36 oz., per shoe
  • Midsole: EVA
  • Outsole: Rubber

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With their mountaineering heritage, don't let the Scarpa Fuego's svelte profile deceive you: these work—hard. That's why they’re beloved by foresters, wildland firefighters, and mountain guides alike. That makes them ideal for any work on rugged terrain, whether that's logging on a steep cut or conducting geologic surveys.

The Lugged Vibram® M4 outsoles put you on sure footing. The only thing that will make you wince is your bank account: they're not cheap.

What We Like

  • All-leather upper with minimal seams
  • Proper arch support for long days
  • Strong grip and ample ankle stability

What We Don't Like

  • Not ANSI- or ASTM-certified 
  • High price point

BUY: Scarpa Fuego Boots

How to Choose Work Boots

Height

Work boots come in a variety of heights, depending on the job, from what are essentially rugged sneakers with safety features to knee-highs in the spirit of the rancher. However, the staple height for most needs is the typical 6” boots that rise just up the shin. With their ankle support and added protection up the lower leg, look to taller boots for muckier jobs, unstable ground, or navigating sharp objects or thorns. The downside for some will be their added weight and lack of flexibility.

Weight

Traditional steel toe work boots are among the heaviest shoes you will own. For some, this gives a sense of heritage and security they're willing to lug underfoot. Others will opt for modern safety-toe alternatives, made to the same standards of protection, only ditching steel for materials such as aluminum or even carbon fiber. Other components will tip the scale as well, from the thickness of the sole to the thickness of the upper material, typically leather. There are some modern styles made without leather. They tend to be lighter and more breathable but will likely wear out sooner. That's a tradeoff some are willing to make for the sake of comfort.

And while modern materials have made the best work boots lighter, overall, here's the bottom line—with durability and safety comes added heft. Choose your happy medium based on the nature of your work. What works for the avid gardener won't suit the workman assigned to a jackhammer for the day.

Midsole

Snug between the outsole you see and the upper you feel lies the all-important midsole. Balancing shock absorption and cushioning with protection and support, this component can make or break a work shoe. If you're working around a lot of puncture risk (think nails, glass or sharp spurs) you may be willing to give up a bit of flexibility for puncture protection. On the other hand, if you're doing lawn care all day, you may opt for something more forgiving with more foot-to-ground sensation.

Outsole

The outsole of any work boot must hold up to years of punishing wear and tear while still giving you a sure footing. When considering the outsole, find one that matches your work. Construction work absolutely requires ladder treads for slip protection when climbing. Loggers should use boots with deep tread for added safety over any terrain. Most outsoles are made of rubber as it's oil, abrasion, and slip-resistant. But you may opt for the modern lightweight alternative, thermo polyurethane. However, it’s important to know that this outsole material isn’t suitable if you're working near heat sources.

FAQs About Work Boots


What brand has the best work boots?

There is no single brand that can hold that honor. When choosing a brand, focus on their heritage: What were they used for back in the day? Read the reviews and ask anyone wearing them at your worksite for an honest assessment. Consider their customer service and warranty fulfillment. Sure, there are dozens of bargain brands. But when it comes to something you wear day in and day out, price should be the last consideration.

How long should you wear work boots?

If you hear stories of boots lasting a decade, those are tall tales told by those who've never had to put their boots through their paces of a 40 to 50 hour work week. It's more realistic to assume your boot will wear out in 300-500 miles in normal conditions. For those who work on their feet most of the day, even pacing racks up the miles and you should expect them to wear out in 5-7 months.

How do you break in work boots?

Showing up to a full day on the job in a pair of new shoes, especially if it's a brand or model you've never worn before, is a bad idea. Instead, make sure to do some rigorous walking or hiking in your boots about 3 times before you switch over. That's why it helps to have a second pair in the rotation. Some boots will take longer than others to break in, especially if they're of the most rugged variety. A small minority will never break into your liking—that's when it's time to lean on a good return policy.

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