One of the biggest misconceptions people have when it comes to safety shoes is that they are not meant to be comfortable. When shopping for a good pair of safety boots, not many people take comfort into consideration.
Safety shoes should not only offer protection to your feet, they should also be comfortable enough to wear for hours at a time. Otherwise, you could be protecting your feet from external dangers but harming them from the inside.
With this in mind, we went out to look for the 10 best safety shoes, trainers, sandals and boots that you can buy. In addition to comfort, there are various other factors we considered in choosing our top picks.
Best safety shoes, boots and trainers
One of the most important was the toughness and durability of the material. All our picks are made from tough materials that can withstand harsh environments without deteriorating in quality. Another important factor was safety. We choose shoes that had various strong safety features to protect the wearer including a strong sole, tough outer layer, anti-penetration protection and anti-slip protection among others.
Browse our recommended choices and find the one that best fits your needs and work environment. We have included a wide variety of recommendations to ensure you find what you are looking for.
These boots come with all the safety features you need to do your work safely and confidently. Protection features include a steel toe-cap, steel mid-sole and impenetrable underfoot protection. Additionally, it is oil and slip resistant.
A breathable textile lining ensures that your feet remain cool and fresh even in the hottest weather.
- Comfortable innersole with cushioning.
- Adequate safety features.
- Average durability. Don’t expect them to last for years. The average lifespan is around 18 months.
The outside of these boots is made from full grain Nubuck leather. This is a special type of leather that is designed to be tough and durable. It is resistant to oil and heat.
A steel midsole and toe-cap ensures than nothing sharp or dangerous will reach your feet. The rubber sole is impervious to acids, alkalis, oil and heat. You can work confidently knowing that your feet are well protected.
For breathability, a mesh liner is used. It wicks away excess moisture and maintains air circulation within the shoes.
- Adequate protection.
- Comfortable and stylish.
- Does not provide adequate slip resistance on wet surfaces.
Safety shoes do not have to be large and bulky. This pair of lady safety shoes is a perfect example. These low profile shoes are rated S3, meaning they are best at general and midsole protection. A padded upper lining provides cushioning and prevents pressure points. The upper leather is breathable, which keeps your feet cool and fresh.
Some of the safety features in these shoes include antistatic protection, steel toe caps for impact protection and a tough impenetrable sole.
- Adequate feet protection.
- Resistant to oil, heat and slipping.
- Comfortable and stylish.
- Not ideal for some high-risk environments.
These are mid-level safety shoes. They provide various safety features including antistatic protection, energy absorption (shock absorption) and water repelling.
For comfort, they have been equipped with a soft and breathable internal lining that is also anti-bacterial. The foot bed provides cushioning and keeps your feet comfortable even through hours of work.
- Safe enough for most work situations.
- Very comfortable thanks to the cushioned innersole and breathable lining.
- Not ideal for extremely harsh work environments.
These shoes are the perfect combination of safety, style and comfort. From the outside, they look like any other pair of formal Oxford shoes. But get closer and you realize there is more than just style to them.
For one, there is a steel toecap to protect against impact and falling loads. Secondly, they come with a steel midsole to protect against any potential penetration from sharp objects. The polyurethane sole provides further protection from static, oil and heat.
- Breathable lining for cool comfort.
- Adequate protection from the steel toecap, steel midsole and tough sole.
- Not ideal for those with narrow feet.
This is another great choice for those seeking a formal safety shoe. It includes all the standard safety features including a steel toecap and midsole. An extra dense polyurethane sole ensures that nothing can get to your feet. The sole is resistant to oil, sharp objects and heat.
- Strong anti-slip protection, making them ideal for use on wet surfaces.
- Comfortable thanks to the wide toe room and soft lining.
- Adequate protection.
- They are a bit too heavy.
For those looking for a nice, urban-style pair of safety shoes, this is it. A nubuck leather exterior provides protection against water, oil and sharp objects. Though the mid-sole is non-metallic, it is tough enough to resist any penetration. This actually makes the shoe lighter without compromising on safety.
The shoe is breathable, making it ideal for outdoor use in all kinds of weather. It also protects against impact, pressure loadings, abrasion and static.
- The non-metal sole helps make the shoe lighter and much more flexible.
- Very stylish with a nice vintage-urban look.
- Not ideal for formal work environments.
Safety shoes are not just for work. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you also need tough and durable footwear to protect your feet out in the wild. These hiking trainers are perfect for that job.
A steel toecap combined with a steel midsole protects your feet from impacts and penetrations.
Furthermore, the shoes are equipped with anti-static and anti-slip protection. The heel is designed to absorb shock, thus protecting your feet from excessive impact.
- Perfect for outdoor activities. Can also be used as work boots.
- Comfortable and stylish.
- Average durability (around 1 year to 18 months).
With a very stylish urban-styled exterior, these boots can be used for hiking or work. A leather nubuck outer provides an impenetrable resistance against water. A steel toe cap provides protection against falling objects and impacts.
The rubber sole is lightweight and flexible to boost comfort. It also absorbs energy which cushions the feet against excessive impact.
- Stylish and comfortable.
- Adequate safety features.
- Not ideal for those with slim feet.
These semi-open shoes are ideal for those who do not want fully closed footwear. They provide anti-static protection for those in industrial work environments. A steel midsole and toecap protects your toes and underfoot from impacts and penetrations.
When you are walking, the heel is designed to absorb energy and reduce any shock reaching your feet muscles.
- They are light enough such that you can wear then for an entire day without feeling tired.
- A cushioned innersole for maximum comfort.
- They have a wide fit, which is a problem for those with narrow feet. Even those with normal-sized feet found the shoes to be a bit too wide.
Safety shoes buying guide
You will come across tons of choices when shopping for safety shoes. This is why you should be very careful when choosing your preferred safety footwear. Different types of shoes have different features and work for different types of situations.
Some shoes are best for harsh industrial work environments while others are best for less risky places. Some are designed for hiking while others are better for everyday use.
To help you make the right choice, here are the most important factors to consider.
1. Safety classification
Safety shoes must stick to specific safety standards that ensure they provide adequate protection. When you are comparing different brands, you will come across certain codes such as SB, S3 and S4. These are indications of the safety level provided by the shoe.
For instance, S3 shoes focus on midsole protection while S4 and S5 shoes are waterproof in addition to having all other protection features.
If you are in a work environment, the best way to determine the right kind of safety classification you need is by consulting a supervisor or technician. You will be advised on the ideal protection level based on your work environment and any risks you might encounter during work.
For casual and hiking purposes, simply look through the manufacturer’s specifications for essential features like water resistance, toe and midsole protection and dual density sole.
This is an extremely important consideration that too many people ignore when buying shoes. Buying uncomfortable safety shoes is a danger to the health of your feet and could even put you at a greater safety risk.
The first thing to check for is sizing. Know your foot size and buy the corresponding size. Keep in mind that most safety shoes tend to be wide.
Ideally, look for shoes that come in a range of sizes. This allows you to buy one that is a perfect fit. Also check that you can return a pair of shoes if they do not fit.
After size, make sure the design is comfortable enough for your feet. Good safety shoes should have a well-cushioned innersole. This provides pressure relief when you are working. Another important design factor is a wide toe room, which ensures that you do not end up with blistered feet at the end of the day.
Since you will most likely work in a hot environment, make sure the shoes are breathable. Most brands incorporate a breathable upper that allows heat and moisture to get out. Breathability is especially crucial if you wear the shoes for hours at a time.
The best way to ensure the shoes are comfortable is by trying them on. If they do not feel right, you are better off returning them instead of putting your feet in danger.
When you are going to work in an environment with oils, sharp objects, acids, heat and hard surfaces, you are going to need a pair of highly durable safety footwear. But you may also have to make some compromises.
For low-cost safety boots, durability is average. They tend to last somewhere between 1 year and 18 months. If you are lucky, they can go beyond 2 years. If you want a pair that will keep going for 5 years or more, expect to spend more.
Generally, these are acceptable durability ranges. But if you see customers complain that a certain shoe began peeling after a week, avoid it. A good pair should last for at least one year with heavy use and much longer with less-intensive usage.
Simply because safety is your top priority does not mean that you cannot enjoy some style. We have highlighted some brands above that move away from the traditional black boot design. There is a nice vintage style, a cool urban design and even a casual sandal design.
The style you choose will depend on your tastes and your work environment. Compare among different brands until you find the style that is perfect for you.
Frequently asked questions
Q: Why do I need safety shoes?
To protect your feet. If your work involves sharp objects, chemicals, water and other hazards, then safety shoes are absolutely essential. Away from work, safety shoes can come in handy when hiking, farming and home improvement projects.
Q: Will safety shoes protect my feet from every hazard?
It depends on the safety level of the shoe. Some safety shoes provide wide protection from water, impact, penetration, heat and other safety risks. Others provide lesser protection. So do your research well and buy the right kind of footwear that will provide adequate protection.
Q: Are safety shoes uncomfortable?
They should be. The notion that it’s okay for safety shoes to be uncomfortable is wrong. A well designed brand should come with various features to boost comfort. Examples include cushioned innersoles, padded uppers, shock-absorption heels and light weight sole.
Most importantly, the shoes should be comfortable right from the start without requiring an initial break-in period. This means they should fit you perfectly, provide enough toe room and protect your feet from painful pressure points.