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Composite Toe vs Steel Toe Work Boots

What’s the difference between composite toe and steel toe safety boots? Both materials are great at protecting your toes from getting crushed or pierced on the job. Specifically, safety toe boots offers two forms of protection: impact resistance and compression resistance.

When it comes to steel toe vs composite toe boots, there isn’t a decisive winner between which is better for workers. Both steel and composite materials are wrapped around your toes at the front of your boots, and both offer unique benefits that should be weighed when you’re making a purchasing decision.

For starters, it’s always best to consult your supervisor before buying a pair of safety toe work boots. In some fields, steel toe boots are mandatory for the job. In others, boots without metal materials are necessary, especially if you need to pass through a metal detector regularly.


Composite Toe

Comp toe work boots are quickly replacing steel toe boots as the industry norm. A composite safety toe is made of non-metal materials like Kevlar, carbon fiber, plastic, or fiberglass. Some jobs might require you to pass through metal detectors – if that’s you, composite toe boots with non-metal hardware would be ideal.



Since a composite toe cap does not contain metal, boots with comp toes are also much more comfortable when working outdoors. This is especially true when working outside in extreme conditions. Metal conducts heat, meaning your feet will feel colder in cold climates, and hotter in hot climates. Socks can alleviate this discomfort to a certain extent, but it’s definitely preferable to have comp toe boots for outdoor work.

Going further, plastics do not conduct electricity. Composite toe boots have significantly better electrical resistance than steel toe boots. If you’re an electrician or work a job where you’re regularly around live wires, comp toe boots are a much better option.

Composite toes are also lighter than steel. This means you’ll expend less energy when walking and the boots will actually feel more comfortable if you’re wearing them for a longer amount of time.


Steel Toe

The steel toed work boot is a classic for a reason. For years, steel safety toes have been the old tried and true method for protecting the feet of countless workers on the job. And although there are many benefits of lighter, composite toe boots, steel toe safety caps offer more flat protection.

That’s right, as far as straight impact and protection resistance goes, steel toes can handle more. That said, unless you’re working in a very hazardous environment, you’re not likely to be in a situation where your comp toe boot is at risk of shattering.

Many workers are wary of bringing steel toe boots to the job site though. There’s a widely circulated myth that, if met with a heavy enough object, steel toe boots can cave and chop off your toes. However, the Mythbusters actually tested this theory, and proved it false.

One of the most common reasons people still reach for steel toed boots before comp toe is price. Composite materials tend to cost more to manufacture, resulting in a higher priced boot.


Safety Regulations

Interested in learning more about how safety toed work boots are classified? The ASTM – or American Society for Testing Materials – has developed a clear set of guidelines for how brands can classify safety boots.

According to the ASTM f2413 standards, impact resistance and compression resistance are rated up to 75, a rating of 75 being higher than 50. Most brand websites reveal this information on product details pages.


Wrapping Up

Always be careful on the job, and be aware. Composite and steel toe boots do a great job of protecting your feet, but it’s best to avoid situations that can result in injury in the first place. Now that you know the difference when it coms to composite toe vs steel toe boots, which safety toe do you think is best for your line of work?