According to USA Today, steel workers rank as one of the top ten most dangerous jobs in America. Welding steel involves combustive gases, extremely high temperatures, and a trained eye. The last thing you need while welding a joint or a beam is for your shoes to fail you.
The best welding boots must impress customers with unparalleled durability and a few specific alterations, such as heat resistant materials and a metatarsal plate. You can’t just go out and buy whatever your nearest department store has on sale. Or if you do, expect to replace them within six months.
To save money and work safely, I highly recommend purchasing a pair of work boots from my list. I’ve scoured the top welding work boots from the biggest brands and crafted this list from my experiences. After you’ve read through my top picks, check my sections on the things to look for in a welding boot and the top welding boot questions answered.
Table of Contents
- Welding Boots Comparison Table
- The Reviews for Our Top 7 Welding Boots
- Timberland PRO Men’s 53530 8″ Metguard Steel-Toe Boot
- Dr. Martens Ironbridge Met Guard Heavy Industry Boots
- Timberland PRO Men’s 40000 Met Guard 6’ Steel Toe Boot
- Irish Setter 83906 Wellington Steel Toe Work Boot
- Ariat Men’s Sierra Wide Square Steel Toe Work Boot
- Dr. Martens Men’s Icon 2295 Steel Toe Heavy Industry Boots
- Caterpillar Men’s Revolver Pull-On Steel-Toe Boot
- What to Look for When Choosing the Best Welding Boots
- How to Clean and Maintain Your Welding Boots?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- My Verdict
Welding Boots Comparison Table
|Timberland PRO 53530 Boot||Leather||ASTM safety standard||Yes|
|Dr. Martens Industry Boots||Leather||Ideal for Heavy work||Yes|
|Timberland PRO 40000 Boot||Leather||ASTM safety standard||Yes|
|Irish Setter 83906 Boot||Leather||Shaft 11.5" from arch||Yes|
|Ariat Sierra Work Boot||Leather||ATS Torque tech||Yes|
|Dr. Martens Heavy Boots||Leather||Ideal for Heavy work||Yes|
|Caterpillar Revolver Boot||Leather||Shaft 11" from arch||Yes|
The Reviews for Our Top 7 Welding Boots
Timberland’s extensive 70-year history equipping working men and women with safety shoes that can withstand the harsh challenges of grueling workplaces is enough reason to at least consider wearing their shoes. Their newest designs have added creative features that rank them in the top echelon of premium shoes.
I chose the TimberlandPRO Men’s 53530 8″ Metguard Steel-Toe Boot because no other product felt as comfortable or lasted as long. I love the 360-degree protection that these boots provide. The premium features begin with the all leather upper with stitched in Ever-Guard bolstered sides and heel for scuff and scrape protection.
The steel toe Timberland fitted into the Metguard work boots boasts the TiTAN insignia. TiTAN steel toes mix 20% of the steel with a titanium alloy, reducing the weight by 20% while maintaining the same ASTM safety impaction test rating. On your foot, they feel lighter and more like a regular boot.
I’m a big supporter of their Goodyear welt design. I’ve reviewed many boots with Goodyear rubber. As an automotive-grade welt construction, it wears slower than your average boot. I find this especially important for welders as the hazards on the job outstrip those of other workers.
The boots ship with a steel shank installed in the welt, too. This not only provides more support and durability but added safety protection. Many shops in the USA insist that their workers wear boots with steel shanks. Encircling the welt and the upper Timberland added a DuPont brand Kevlar Aramid. This is a synthetic fiber. It’s strong, tear resistant, and a big plus for your welders’ heat resistant. Slag rolling off a seam and onto your boot will die out without burning your feet.
As laced boots, Timberland includes a welder’s metatarsal guard. Unlike the metal versions you often see on traditional boots, this one’s made from a durable acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic. This guard vaunts impact and chemical corrosion resistance. I especially like the hinged design that moves with your boots instead of stabbing your ankle as you walk.
The Cambrelle inner lining and footbed are both antimicrobial, which means they ward off bad smells and clean easily. The Timberland PRO tread comes with these boots, too. It’s a slip, oil, and abrasion rated for added safety. The Metaguard Steel Toe Work Boots should impress any welder. Taken care of properly, these boots will keep you safe on long, tough jobs.
With six decades of anti-establishment fashion making and the choice boot for punk-era rock stars, it may surprise some of you to see a pair of Dr. Martens as my second pick. But over the years, they’ve excelled at every shoe niche they’ve explored, and now you can add welding to that list.
Dr. Martens took their classic Ironbridge boot and upgraded it with a steel toe, metatarsal guard, and slip resistant sole and labeled it the Ironbridge Met Guard Heavy Industry Boots. And you know what? They’re one of the most comfortable and durable work equipment that I think welders will love putting on before a shift.
This is a CSA-rated work boot with a non-metallic puncture resistant midsole or welt. They reduced the weight of the boot by going for a synthetic welt. It bolsters the support to your arches while also keeping them safe from protruding objects around your workspace.
For the upper’s construction, Dr. Martens opted for an oiled and tumbled leather. Tumbled leather is top-grain material that’s been thrown into a tumbler with stones. This process softens it without weakening its durability. They’ve also oiled the upper in the factory, so it ships to you supple and water-resistant. The boots won’t keep you entirely dry in a rainstorm, but for minor spills around the factory you’ll be fine.
The metatarsal guard fastened to the front of the boot is one of my favorites. It’s a steel plate sheathed in a tumbled leather casing. It’ll protect your feet from impacts and welding sputter.
The steel toe in the Ironbridge Met Guard Heavy Industry Boot was approved by the CSA for industrial use. As a downside, it weighs down the boot considerably. Yet I must admit that, steel-toe aside, this is one of the most comfortable shoes on my list. Part of the reason for the comfort is the classic PVC air-cushioned sole. They’ve melded a soft rubber behind the thick tread that molds to your foot. Slipping on these shoes feels incredible, and it only gets better from there.
My main problem with the boots relates to the soft rubber sole. Although you get lots of traction with the anti-slip grip, many customers have complained that the outsole degrades too fast in messy shop conditions. I’ve found this to be true, too. That’s why I recommend these boots for welders with either clean shops or hobbyists that weld at home.
If owning a pair of TimberlandPro’s seemed tempting, but the price had you scrolling down to other options on my list, then here’s one for you. The TimberlandPRO 40000 Met Guard 6’ Steel Toe Boot shaves off a few features from the 53530 but keeps the essentials that welders need to work safely.
I love the sleek black profile of these shoes. Timberland fashioned the uppers from full-grain leather and Ever-Guard leather patches on the sides, toe, and heel for added anti-scuff protection. Ever-Guard combines the same quality leather of the upper with a plastic coating with anti-corrosion properties.
Working in the 40000 offers a host of benefits that other brands can’t match. The fit is comfortable and snug, with breathable inner fabric and a padded leather ankle and tongue. These are the rare boots that not only offer comfort, but all the safety features required by the ATSM for welders in factory shops or construction sites.
For your required steel toe, Timberland fitted a TiTAN-brand steel toe. Unlike your traditional steel toe, these blend 20% titanium which cuts the weight of the boot. For added support in the welt, the 40000 include a Goodyear-brand rubber, which boost the strength and durability.
No welding boot with laces would be complete without a metatarsal guard. Here, you’ll enjoy an asymmetrical ABS guard with a woven hinge for added comfort. Having worn both other Met Guard boots in the Timberland Pro line, I especially liked the asymmetrical design here. It’s less obvious and easier to fasten than the tradition guards.
Throughout the materials of the 40000, you’ll find threads and stitches were upgraded with Dupont Kevlar Aramid fabric. This newly introduced material sports excellent anti-corrosion and heat resistance. That means the tough environments and dirty places you must weld in won’t cause early splits in the sole or heel of these boots.
For the inner lining of the Timberland PRO Met Guard Steel Toe Boot the company chose an antimicrobial Cambrelle material. Cambrelle has been making premium work boot lining for years. They boast an abrasion resistance and disperse moisture. The company claims their lining can hold upwards of three times their weight in moisture, keeping your feet dry.
I recommend the Timberland Pro Met Guard 40000 for welders that need a tough boot that can withstand rough worksites conditions.
The Irish Setter work boot began in the 1950s as a duck hunter’s second-best companion, after their Irish Setter hunting dog. But soon thereafter, welders and other heavy industry laborers discovered the brand. Now, they’re renowned for their welder’s boots and advanced technology.
Some of you may know the Irish Setter brand as their old school name, Red Wing. Either way, the boots are the same, and they rock. My favorite Irish Setter boots for welders are the 83906 Wellington Steel Toe Work Boot. They’re a no-lace slip-on boot with features that set them apart from other shoes on my list.
Irish Setter dubs these boots the Two Harbors. They’re dependable and ultra-durable. They’ve reinforced the heel with a welt, meaning a second layer of leather has been stitched in to stop early tearing or abrasions. For those of your that find boots often split at the heel, this is a must-have feature.
The Two Harbors also includes their HydroFlex technology. Irish Setter increased the flexibility in the forefoot and balanced it with a thick and stable heel. By using a cement adhesive, they’ve limited the possibility of a split throughout the boot. All this and wearing the boot feels more flexible and nimble than average. If you need to move fast around your shop or site, these are a great option.
Welders get into hot situations. Those with soles that melt away three months in, Irish Setter’s Vibram Outsole will solve your problems. The advanced rubber compounds in their outsoles provide anti-slip and added traction, while also being heat resistant to upwards of 475F. Slag and metal pieces littering your shop floor won’t stop these boots from performing.
To conform to your shop’s safety standards, the Two Harbors ship with a steel toe that passes strict ATSM standards for safety and compression. Also, the shock resistant outsole and heel protect you from any live wires lying around a messy construction site.
I really enjoyed my time with these boots. They’re well-built and provide welders with the best no-lace protection you will find online.
While Ariat has been the boot of choice for the equestrian community for decades, they’ve recently expanded their line to prove they have something to offer workers working with raw Arc power rather than raw horsepower.
The Ariat Sierra Steel Toe Work Boot combines the comfort and quality of equestrian design with the tough standards that welders desire in their safety products. Ariat designates these boots as Extreme Durability for that very reason — they’re worn in the harshest conditions.
These boots offer just the right level of swagger for a welder that wants to bring some of his personality to the job site. Looking at the exterior, you’ll find a stylish embroidery throughout the top shaft and even more on the upper. It’s stitched into a 100% leather construction that’s breathable and breaks in fast.
All great work boots aren’t that different from work boots. They both begin with a solid sole that cradles your foot and protects it from outdoor conditions. The footbed in Ariat’s Sierra Steel Toe Boots offers moisture-shedding material, and a gel cushioned heel for added shock absorption.
Moving deeper into the outsole, they’ve added an Advanced Torque Stability forked shank fashioned out of a light yet tough composite. It offers a wealth of support and movability while protecting your foot from sharp nails or other hazards in your shop. Last, I love Ariat’s Duratread-branded final outsole layer. It’s tough and grippy, with a oily and anti-slip rating for those that work in shops that have slicks of chemicals on their floors and not enough time to clean it up.
As a work boot, you need a steel toe to step onto a construction site. The Ariat Sierra Wide Square Steel Toe Work Boot ships with a tough steel toe that’s been ASTM rated. The wide toe design also helps for those with extra wide feet. As it’s a cowboy boot, you may have to adjust to how far the toe extends down the upper.
I think for the right welder, these are an ideal choice. They’re 100% leather, heat resistant, and the durable construction will last you years, especially with the right maintenance routine.
Dr. Martens has crafted a line of industry boots that have impressed me on multiple occasions. So those of you that loved the look and features of my number two pick, the Ironbridge, but wanted a no-lace boot, here you go.
My number six pick, the Icon 2295 Steel Toe Heavy Industry Boots by Doc Martens, flaunts an understated yet impressive version of the classic Wellington. This is a no-nonsense shoe with thick a thick leather shaft that should ward off any sparks from your TIG welds in a home shop or factory floor.
As an ASTM-rated work boot, you’re getting a steel toe cap installed in the boot’s front. It adds some weight, more than most of the products on my list. But the impact resistance you get is a trade-off I think is worth your time. Other safety features include added electrical resistance in the outsole. Stepping on a live electrical cable won’t shoot a current through your leg.
Like my second pick, I love the tumbled leather upper. It’s soft and pliable, but still water-resistant and holds its own against chemical corrosion. The black leather upper is a trademark of Dr. Martens boots and with the proper care it should last you a long time.
These are easily one of the most comfortable boots for welders, too. That’s thanks to the EVA footbed. This German-designed ethylene vinyl acetate combines rubber characteristics with the toughness of plastic. It’s one of the most durable footbeds you can buy and sports high heat and cold resistance.
The reason I dropped the boots down to my sixth pick is two-fold. Firstly, depending on which seller you buy from, they could be made in China rather than England, so ask before you buy. And I found the sizing of these boots to be overly cumbersome. They run at least one full size smaller than your normal boot size.
I recommend the Dr. Martens Men’s Icon 2295 Steel Toe Heavy Industry Boots for welders that want a no-lace Wellington style work boot and are okay with trying on a few sizes before finding the perfect fit.
Caterpillar might be the biggest name in construction. They’re a massive company with worldwide footprints in heavy machinery, oil rigging, and highrise construction. They not only craft some of the most impressive building technologies, but the clothing and footwear to go along with it.
Rounding out my top seven picks for welding boots, I have the Caterpillar Men’s Revolver Pull-On Steel-Toe Boot. This is another no-lace Wellington that offers extensive protection and durability at an affordable price point.
I really like the understated look of the Revolver. The two finger loops on either side of the shaft sport double-stitching and a small Caterpillar logo. They constructed the shaft and upper from full grain leather. The boots slip on easily and offer lots of room for your foot while also holding it secure.
These are one of the few boots I tried on that actually fit exactly to size. That means if you’re a size ten, then ordering a size ten should be fine. They’re light for their size and quality. The steel toe cap found in these boots offers the same high ASTM safety rating as my other top picks with approvals for impact and compression.
Like Timberland, Caterpillar opted for the Goodyear welt, which might explain the light feel to the boot. The T3 rubber outsole wears slowly and offers a higher than average chemical and corrosion resistance. Your shop conditions shouldn’t overly damage or degrade these boots.
Inside the boot, you’ll find a nylon mesh for breathability. And in the insole, the boot comes with a Tailbrelle lining which is a synthetic fabric that wicks moisture from your feet throughout the day.
For added safety, Caterpillar sent the Revolvers in for an electrical hazard safety rating. So anyone that requires an ASTM approval for 600 volts in dry conditions can buy these boots. My only complaint is that the welt isn’t very wide. So if you work off ladders as you weld, you may have an achy foot at the end of the day. Still for a welding boots steel toe, these are an excellent choice.
What to Look for When Choosing the Best Welding Boots
A welder’s job involves hot slag and combustible gases. There’s molten metal jumping from steel beams and no end to the sharp objects littering a shop after a long day. That means you need work boots that protect you from some of the harshest working environments in the world. Knowing the right things to look for could save your life. Check my tips below.
High Heat Resistance
Arc welding can reach temperatures anywhere from 3,000C to 20,000C. So you can imagine that the slag jumping off the weld remains within this range as it falls and hits your boots. That means you need work boots with high heat resistance. Some of them, like my number one pick, ship with a metatarsal guard that shields the exposed areas around your laces with heat resistant material.
Laces Versus No Laces
Many welding shops recommend you buy boots without laces. That’s because slag can hop off a weld and light your laces. On rare occasions, the flame on your laces can catch on your pant cuffs or a rag and cause a dangerous accident. Slip-on style boots solve this problem. But if you like the comfort and fit of laced boots, buy a separate metatarsal plate. Some boots on my list ship with the plate pre-installed.
Whether you’re working in a fabricating factory, a crowded construction site, or a home shop, welding erodes work boots faster than other jobs. So unless you want to re-purchase your footwear every few months, I recommend spending the money for durability modifications, such as double stitched outsoles, thick leather or kevlar uppers, and tire-grade rubber treads. It may cost you more today, but over time you’ll spend less.
Steel Toe a Must
Welding shop jobs involve heavy lifting. Some welding gigs, like high rise structural welding, position you in between objects that could crush your feet in an instant. It should go without saying, but you must buy steel toe work boots. Most job sites require your work boots to contain a steel toe. Some composite shoes work okay, but they rarely pass with the same safety rating.
Better Than Average Comfort
With comfort, don’t settle for average. Be prepared to return any work boots that don’t feel great on your feet the first time you put them on. Never trust the salesman or company rep that says you should work them in. Your favorite pair of welding boots should feel great from the moment you slide your foot inside. Walk around in the boots. Sit and kneel in them. If you detect pressure on the sides or top of your foot, try another size or another brand.
Leather or Metal Welt Insole
In a shoe, you’ll find the welt under the arch of your foot. It’s there to provide extra support and protect the soft inside curve of your foot from sharp objects. For welding boots, you need at least a leather welt. Those of you working on construction sites or dirty shops with scrap metal or shavings and shrapnel on the floor, I highly recommend boots with a metal welt or plate installed in the sole.
Thick Rubberized Outsole
Your shoe’s sole represents the first line of defense from workplace hazards. They’re also your only protection from slips and falls. As a welding boot, they must also combat the super-hot slag that spits and settles on the floor of your workplace. While almost any boot can tolerate a few days of such a harsh environment, only a few can keep up that level of protection for a year or more.
How to Clean and Maintain Your Welding Boots?
No matter the materials used in manufacturing a welding boot, you’ll want to muster a rag and some cleaning solution and care for them. Cleaning and maintaining your welding work boots can boost their longevity by years. With my tips, you’ll maximize your time and minimize the long-term damage.
Maintaining your welding boots begins the day you buy them. Despite the old myths about oiling or greasing your boot, don’t do it. Oil and shoe grease break down the leather faster. While this may seem like a good idea and help the material mold to your feet, it cuts into the longevity and stability of the boot.
Instead, wait approximately a month before lathering them in a reparative cream or oil. Once you’ve adjusted to the boot and they’ve seen some wear and tear around your shop, devote thirty minutes to wiping them down.
With a dirty rag, remove the layer of dirt and grime and chemical detritus that’s crusted around the toe, stitching, and heel. Once the boot is clean, apply some conditioner to the upper. Purchase a solution formulated for your boot’s material; read the label to find out what type to buy.
I recommend cleaning your boots every few weeks. Welding shops teem with caustic chemicals that eat away at your boots. If you don’t wash that gunk away, be prepared for early sole splits and toe peels! I like to add a waterproofing spray once I’m done cleaning and my boots have had time to dry, too.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it better to buy welding boots with or without laces?
Most welding shops tell their welders to avoid boots with laces. That’s because work boot laces are made of a nylon fabric that can catch on fire. You can buy work boots with laces, however, if you also purchase a metatarsal plate. These protective guards block sparks and slag from singeing your laces. Don’t want to spend the extra money? Then buy work boots without laces.
2. How long can I expect a pair of welding boots to last?
When taken care of properly, a pair of welding boots from my list should last you at least a year. Welding worksites are rife with substances that eat away at your boots. Those of you that shirk regular maintenance, such as wiping away flux dust and metal cleaners, expect them to last six months, maybe less.
3. What size of a steel shaft should my welding boots have?
The steel shaft or welt installed in the middle of your outsole protects the inside of your foot from protruding objects, such as nails and shrapnel. Your workplace or job site should have a policy on the certifications your boots require. In the United States, a steel shaft is certified to be a specific size, so if your boots ship with a welt, you’re fine.
4. What’s the difference between metatarsal and steel toe?
The metatarsal plate or guard is a secondary piece of protection that covers the top of your foot. Shoemakers can construct it out of Kevlar, a non-flammable plastic material, or steel. It’s designed to protect your foot not from heavy impact but slag and other heat hazards. Shoe manufacturers install a steel toe inside the toe of your boot. The steel toe protects your feet from blunt trauma, such as falling beams or punctures.
5. Can steel toe boots cause foot problems?
While some customers complain that steel toe boots cause their foot problems, that’s not entirely true. A proper fitting pair of steel toe boots are like any other pair of shoes. They keep your feet warm and safe, and they’re comfortable. If your steel toe boots hurt your feet, or you develop foot problems, that’s because the boots you purchased do not fit your feet.
Welders represent the backbone of America. They build the fire engines that save lives and the high rises that sustain our commerce and consumer lifestyle. But a great welder is only as good as their shoes. That’s because one workplace accident or injury can put them out of work for months — or worse — years.
My list of the best welding boots represents the top choices for MIG and TIG professionals. You can’t find a better pair of boots online than the ones you’ll find here. In fact, I’ve seen many websites copy my list and pass it for their own!
But if you want the best of the best, the pair that I most recommend to readers, it’s the Timberland PRO Men’s 53530 Metguard Steel-Toe Boot. They’re durable, lightweight, and loaded with protective features customized for professional welders.