When you’re a welder, your wardrobe is an incredibly important part of your health and safety. The wrong wardrobe choices can lead to injury or even death when working with flames! While you might not think boots are essential because they’re so far from your welding tools, they’re just as crucial to keeping you safe as any other part of your gear.
What if a hot torch falls on your boots? What if burning material falls on them? While a boot isn’t meant to stand up to direct exposure from a burning torch, welding boots will protect you from just about everything short of that. While every single part of your welding gear plays a life-saving protective role, in this guide, we’ll be looking specifically at the best welding boots on the market today.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall Choice: Iron Age Ground Breaker IA5016 Work Boot
- Premium Product: Timberland PRO 53530 8″ Steel-Toe Boot
- Best Value Product: ROCKROOSTER Work Boots for Men
Types of Welding Boots
To make your choice of welding boots even more complicated, you should know that welding boots have several features that put them into different categories. The following are common differentiators between welding boots:
- Tall boots vs. short boots
- Laces vs. no laces
- Steel-toed vs. non-steel-toed boots
- Metatarsal guard vs. no metatarsal guard
Of course, just like a regular pair of boots, there are several different styles and looks to choose from. While tall shoes protect the ankles more, they’re heavier and more challenging to put on. Short boots, on the other hand, protect less of your leg, but they’re lightweight and easy to put on. That’s just one example, of course; shoes with tongues and laces, for example, tend to be better for people with wide feet, as they can have trouble getting non-adjustable boots on.
One of the most critical vulnerabilities of welding boots is their laces. Cloth laces can quickly and easily catch fire if a spark lands on them. While most respectable welding boots don’t use cloth laces, at least if they’re exposed, this is still something to consider. Slip-on boots without laces are an alternative, but they might not always give the same level of support that lace-up boots do.
Metatarsal guards are pouches or flaps that cover the laces on a pair of welding boots. The metatarsal guard adds weight to the boot, and it makes it more time-consuming to take the boot on and off, too. However, a metatarsal guard nearly eliminates the danger of shoelaces catching on fire if it’s used correctly. They protect the vulnerable area of your foot where the shoe meets the tongue, too.
In recent years, concerns have been raised about steel-toed boots and whether they’re worth the risk of wearing them. This is mostly a myth, but it’s thought to be because the steel-toed section of a boot can cut into the toes of the wearer’s foot if they’re crushed or made improperly. However, think about it: if something was strong enough to crush the steel-toed portion of your protective boots, what would that same thing have done to your unprotected toes?
However, if you’re still worried about the dangers of a steel-toed boot, there are alternative options available to you. While steel-toed boots are inevitably the best option to wear if you’re working with heavy metals, for lighter jobs, composite-toed boots are an option, too. Composite-toed boots are made with steel alternatives (such as Kevlar, plastic, or carbon fiber) that make the boot lighter and more breathable.
Welding Boot Laces
The laces on welding boots, as we mentioned, are one of their most vulnerable areas. This includes both the laces themselves and the tongue area behind those laces. If you’re working with molten metal or sparks, something could slip in between the tongue and body of the shoe and burn the foot below.
Additionally, cloth isn’t particularly fire-retardant. While professional welding boots have measures put in place to deal with this, generic work boots do not. If you’re looking to save a bit of money by purchasing generic work boots, you’ll have to take some extra steps to fire-proof them before you wear them on the job.
One of the main things to do to make your work boots fire-retardant is to switch out those cloth laces for something better. Some lace options for you to choose from are:
- Flame-retardant TPE
Kevlar will be your best bet for flame-retardant laces, as they’re the most common and arguably the most sturdy. However, alternative options exist for those that prefer something different.
Toe Caps and Spats
If you have the perfect pair of work boots, but they’re not quite tricked-out enough to be safe as a pair of welding boots, don’t fret just yet. While you can buy ready-to-wear welding boots, you can also turn a standard pair of heavy-duty boots into welding boots with a few choice accessories.
One of these accessories is called the toe cap. A toe cap is the internal protective area that working boots have to keep the toes safe. Steel toes are toe caps. However, you can purchase external, strap-on toe caps for working boots, too. You can do this to protect the boot itself from damage, or you can buy a reinforced toe cap for work boots without an internal toe cap.
Spats, on the other hand, are like aprons. Typically, spats are made of leather, and they’re worn over boots or clothing for extra protection from sparks and other dangers. If you’re using open-laced welding shoes, you should be wearing some kind of spats with them, but you can wear spats over your entire leg and boot for extra protection, too.
Several standards exist for how to classify the protection level of these boots – specifically, those with protective toe caps. Fortunately, all of the shoes on this list comply with these standards. We’ll go over this more below.
Read Also: Best Boots for Farm Work
Best Welding Boots
In the following sections, we’ll go over our very favorite welding boots. In this guide, we’ve made sure to include a broad representation of what’s available out there, from top-of-the-line professional welding boots to all-around heavy-duty footwear.
1. Iron Age Ground Breaker IA5016 Work Boot
This boot from Iron Age is our first welder’s boot in this lineup. As far as features go, this boot is a relative middle ground. The ankle on this boot is low, and it’s made of plain black leather. The sole is also synthetic, and a built-in spat covers the front laces. While the spat doesn’t cover the top half of the boot’s laces, this is common among integrated spats. If you’re wearing long pants (which you should be), the cuffs will cover the tops of these laces. Any external spats will, too.
If you take a look at these shoes, you’ll notice that, compared to the other options in our lineup, this boot has a very fluffy, padded ankle cuff. For those who need a bit of extra ankle padding and support, this boot will provide that. While you’ll still get more rigid support from a taller boot, if you can’t tolerate a tall boot, this is an excellent shorter option.
These boots are made to comply with the ASTM F2413 Safety Standard. This standard is a minimum set out to clarify the minimum requirements of a workplace safety boot, such as impact resistance, electrical shock, chain saw resistance, puncture resistance, metatarsal protection, and more.
While your workplace may not require you to purchase ASTM F2413-compliant work boots, it’s a good idea to adhere to them anyway, and this one does.
The stitching in this boot is made of Kevlar, meaning nothing on this boot will catch fire if exposed to a spark. They run extremely large – at least one size larger than a regular shoe – which means that you can wear very thick, insulating socks beneath these if necessary, or you can choose to pick a smaller size instead.
All in all, these boots are a strong contender and an excellent starting option. They start at a very affordable price for work boots, as well – the least expensive in our lineup, actually. If you’re looking for a robust and high-quality boot, this should be a contender, especially at such an excellent price point.
- Excellent all-round steel-toed boot
- Excellent price point
- ASTM F2413 compliant
- Runs very large
2. Dr. Martens Ironbridge Met Guard Heavy Industry Boots
The next option in our lineup is the Ironbridge work boots from Dr. Martens. If you’re familiar with Dr. Martens’ boots, you know that they come with a unique air-cushioned sole that assists with comfort and long-term wear. Like our previous boots, these also utilize a 100% leather upper and a synthetic sole, though our previous boots don’t have the Dr. Martens air-cushioned sole, of course.
These shoes have a tumbled leather outer finish that is more water repellent than standard leather. If you work in outdoor conditions or any conditions that might be wet, this is definitely a plus. Of course, these boots also have steel toes, and they come in both brown and black color options, too.
Like our previous boot (and many of our other choices, as well), this boot has a steel metatarsal guard. This guard both extends the protection of the steel toe and protects the shoe’s laces from sparks and flame. Of course, this doesn’t exempt you from needing flame-resistant laces, but it further bumps up that flame resistance.
Unfortunately, it seems that the air-cushioned sole on these boots is softer and less resistant to wear than a regular synthetic or rubber sole. As such, it may not hold up to full-time wear-and-tear the way that solid-soled boots might. While this might be an acceptable trade-off for some because of the extra comfort provided, it’s something to keep in mind.
However, a fortunate side effect of the wear and tear process for these boots is the break-in period. A good pair of leather boots will wear nicely and eventually conform to the shape of your feet, and these boots do this exceptionally well. They do lack a bit in arch support, but this can be solved easily with the purchase of orthotics.
These boots are also ASTM F2413-compliant, like the boots above, and the metatarsal shield provides excellent protection. All in all, these boots have a few extra benefits going for them besides Dr. Martens’ “air ride,” but whether these extras are worth the price of these boots will be up to the wearer.
- ASTM F2413-compliant
- Steel metatarsal guard and steel toe
- Air-ride sole
- Sole can wear out quickly
- Extra features may not justify the price
3. Timberland PRO 53530 8″ Steel-Toe Boot
As a workman, you have most likely heard of the brand Timberland before. Timberland is a high-quality producer of outdoor and working boots alike, and this boot is no exception. As far as all-around protection and support go, this boot is probably the best on our entire list.
To start, these boots come up quite a bit further than the others we’ve looked at so far. They provide much taller ankle and leg protection, and they lace all the way up, too. In addition to the extra protective value, this helps to support the wearer’s ankles more than a shorter boot. As such, if you suffer from ankle weakness or pain, these boots may provide the edge you need.
Even aside from the increased height, these shoes are fundamentally different from our previous models. For one, the metatarsal guard on these boots is made from a waterproof Kevlar material instead of leather. As such, it is fully waterproof, unlike our previous boot models.
Also, unlike our other boots, this boot is advertised as waterproof, a rarity among heavy work boots. Additionally, it’s built to surpass the ASTM F2413 standard instead of simply complying with it. Unlike the convex shape of the other metatarsal guards in our lineup, the guard on this boot is concave, meaning the boot fits the natural shape of your feet better.
These boots are made with something called “Ever-Guard Leather,” which Timberland claims is ten times stronger than standard leather. As such, they’re made to provide the ultimate in protection for a worker’s feet. However, unfortunately, their weakness seems to be holding up to frequent or prolonged wear. If you’re looking for a boot that will hold up against years of abuse, this may not be the option for you.
However, also keep in mind that, while these boots may not be the longest-lasting option in our list, they undoubtedly provide the highest level of protection for that short time. However, they also have a price to match that level of security. While they’re an excellent option for those that need that protection, they may be overkill for other people who could benefit from a longer-lasting boot with slightly less protection.
- Ultimate protection
- Excellent ankle support
- Waterproof met guard keeps your feet dry
- Lighter than expected
- May not hold up to long-term wear
4. Timberland PRO Excave Work Boot
The Excave from Timberland is the shorter alternative to the 53530 we reviewed above. This shoe is made of similar high-quality materials as the 53530, but it’s smaller and more affordable. If you’re looking for something a bit less ambitious than the protection-oriented boots we looked at above, these should be on your list.
These boots do come up a bit lower on the ankle than the other options on our list. This is mainly because the front of this boot’s heel collar is taller than the rear. This gives the boot a smaller profile than the other options on our list, but it might also sacrifice a bit of rear protection as a result. It’s all up to the wearer and what kind of protection they need.
These shoes have the same met guard as the 53530s above, and as such, they unfortunately suffer from the same issues. The met guard itself can be prone to ripping off, and while this might be repairable with a bit of creativity, it puts the quality of the boot itself into question. Some of the eyelets on this boot can be prone to ripping off, too, which can affect the fit negatively.
These boots are also nearly waterproof. Aside from fully submerging them, they should shed just about any water they’re exposed to. However, they can cause some foot pain, especially during the adjustment period. This is unfortunate, as the 53530s above are much more comfortable, potentially because of the increased ankle support.
As far as appearances go, these are definitely some of the most fashionable and attractive work boots on our list. However, stylish and beautiful don’t make a safe work boot. If essential parts of this work boot, such as the met guard, are failing, it may not make a viable option for some people.
That being said, Timberland’s customer service is very agreeable on the issue, and if there are defects in the shoe, they will replace it. While this is an important thing to keep in mind, many wearers might prefer to avoid this shoe altogether because of those defects.
- Quality control issues
- Less protection from low-profile shape
- Uncomfortable break-in period
5. Timberland PRO Powerwelt Wellington Boot
This other boot from Timberland is a very different style from the bots we’ve featured previously. This boot has no laces, and unlike our other options, it has little to no ankle support, either. Since this boot has no laces and no tongue, it does not need a met guard. However, without a met guard, this boot doesn’t have the same level of metatarsal protection that the other boots in our list do.
Of course, this boot still has a steel toe, and it will protect your foot from nigh-anything you’ll experience on the job. However, it’s undeniable that a metatarsal guard extends this protection further up into the boot, and a slip-on boot simply can’t match that level of security. However, as a welder, if you don’t believe you need that extra protection for your feet, then the metatarsal guard is unnecessary anyway.
This boot is made of two different materials: the “Everguard” leather that the two Timberland boots above are made from for the body of the shoe, and full-grain leather for the upper part of the boot. The Everguard leather is more resistant to impact and abrasion than standard leather, but it doesn’t have the same look. That doesn’t mean it’s unattractive, but if you prefer a natural leather look, these boots won’t achieve that completely.
Unfortunately, this Everguard leather doesn’t seem to stand up to repeated stress the same way that regular leather does. Instead of softening and flexing as it ages, Everguard leather tends to wrinkle and split. For those that need to capitalize on the waterproof nature of the boot, this is an extremely concerning issue, and it can cause concerns with protection, too.
One thing to note about these boots is how you wear them with your pants. Since these boots have a tall, open collar, you could theoretically wear your pants on the inside or outside of these boots. As such, wearing pants inside of these boots leaves your legs vulnerable to sparks or molten metal if you don’t wear some sort of spat around the opening as well.
However, unlike the other boots we’ve looked at so far, these boots conform to both ASTM F2413 and ASTM F2412. If you need that extra conformation, then these boots should be an option on your list.
- Both ASTM F2413 and F2412 compliant
- Tall leg protection
- Waterproof protection
- Chemical resistant
- Everguard leather can wear out over time, causing safety issues
- Doesn’t stand up to years of use
6. Caterpillar Revolver Pull-On Steel-Toe Boot
We’ve finally moved on from Timberland boots; these boots are made by Caterpillar instead. You probably know Caterpillar as a producer of large construction machines, but these work boots are branded by them, too. Similar to the boots we looked at above, these boots have a tall, open, slip-on design with no laces and little ankle support.
Unlike the timberlands above, these boots are full-grain leather. While this means they’re not waterproof, they’ll stand up to long-term wear much better than most other synthetic materials as long as you care for the leather properly. These boots also meet both ASTM F2413 and F2412, like our previous entrant.
Unlike many of the other boots in our lineup, these boots fit rather true-to-size, if not a bit on the small size. Don’t order a size down with these! You may even want to order a half or full size up if you plan to wear thick socks with them.
Do note that these shoes aren’t particularly comfortable for above-ground tasks, such as standing on ladders. The shanks in these boots are on the small side, so they tend to feel a bit uncomfortable on bars or rungs.
As fully-leather boots, you can expect to get at least an extra year of wear out of these boots over what you might see in a synthetic boot. The leather on these boots will outlast even the stitching on them if you condition them properly! While they’re not waterproof, they are water-resistant. Short of being submerged all day, they’ll protect you from any spills or inclement weather you might see.
While these boots have a bit of a break-in period, as with any good leather boot, once they’ve conformed to your feet, they’re exceedingly comfortable. The only thing to note is that the inner textile lining of the shoes is not quite as sturdy as the leather outside, but this won’t typically affect the wearability of the boots as a whole.
- Comfortable (after a break-in period)
- ASTM F2413 and F2412 compliant
- No laces
- Inner lining can wear out over time
- Can cause blisters for several weeks
7. ROCKROOSTER Work Boots for Men
ROCKROOSTER is a virtually unknown brand, which may be something that some customers prefer to avoid. However, this is a quality working shoe than offers a unique style, too. This is the only ankle-height slip-on boot on our list (and the only fitted slip-on, too), and while that won’t excuse a lack of function, we wouldn’t include the boot on this list if it wasn’t a functional, reliable boot.
These boots have a leather upper and synthetic sole that makes them water-resistant, though they also won’t stand up to submerging like some of the other entries on our list. These are very comfortable boots, but they tend to have some strange sizing issues that may be a result of their off-branding. The steel toe may be too tight for some wearers, and the shoes themselves tend to run small.
However, as long as you’re aware of these shortcomings, this is an excellent boot to consider, especially because of its price. Unfortunately, they seem to have some issues with breathability, so if you have problems with sweaty feet, you may need to invest in some moisture-wicking socks to help balance this out.
Fortunately (and somewhat surprisingly), despite being off-brand footwear, these boots also comply with the ASTM F2413 standard. The soles of these shoes are designed to be comfortable, though, as with any situation where you’re on your feet all day, supportive insoles are a good idea.
While there’s nothing to say that these off-brand boots won’t be any less reliable than name-brand boots as long as you’re willing to deal with some sizing quirks, some buyers will be put off by that fact alone. However, if you’re ready to give these boots a try, they can provide an excellent deal for someone on a budget, especially if they’re looking for lace-free slip-on boots in particular.
As these boots don’t have a metatarsal guard, they do provide a bit less protection than the other ankle-height options on this list. However, for someone who can make do with a bit less protection, this is still an excellent option.
- Lightweight, slip-on boot
- ASTM F2413 compliant
- Water-resistant leather
- Surprisingly long-wearing
- Excellent price
- Two color options (black and tan)
- Some size quirks (the extra-wide size option may be necessary for some)
8. Dr. Martens Icon 2295 Steel Toe Heavy Industry Boots
These pull-on work boots are our last entry from Dr. Martens. Like our other Dr. Martens, these boots are made with a proprietary air-cushioned sole that makes them exceedingly comfortable. However, in some cases, this can make the soles wear out more quickly, too, since they’re thinner in the air-cushioned areas. This is particularly apparent with work boots, which can be subjected to even more wear-and-tear than everyday boots.
Fortunately, this issue can be alleviated with external boot caps that protect the end of your boots. If your shoes see extra wear and tear from dropping and stubbing into things, this is definitely something to consider, and not just for these boots. Any pair of working boots that see excess toe abuse can benefit from this extra reinforcement.
That being said, these are still excellent boots if you’re willing to exchange that long-term durability for comfort. When you work on your feet all day, every day, that’s definitely something to consider. Like our other leather boots, these tumbled leather ones are water-resistant, especially with proper conditioning, but won’t stand up to submersion.
Like the other entries in our list so far, these boots are also ASTM F2413-compliant. However, do keep in mind that, unlike some Dr. Martens boots, these are made in China. It’s implied that Dr. Martens’ shoes made in other countries, such as England, are of higher quality than their Chinese-produced counterparts, but this is up to the buyer’s discretion, of course.
Unfortunately, as with many steel-toed boots, the leather covering over the steel portion of these boots seems to be more prone to wear than the other parts of the boot. As these aren’t meant to be waterproof, this isn’t as much of a problem as it is with other boots, but it’s worth noting, as it can cause safety concerns.
An excellent feature of these working boots is a reinforced heel cup that prevents the eventual slouching and breaking of the ankles of these boots. For non-reinforced leather boots, the heel tends to soften and fold over time because of the flexible nature of leather. However, because of the reinforced heel cup in these boots, you won’t see that issue here.
These boots are decently-priced, as well. All in all, if you’re looking at a good-quality pull-on boot that’s suitable for many functions, this one should be on your list.
- Durable (except steel toe issue)
- Flexible leather
- Reinforced ankle
- Good price
- ASTM F2413 compliant
- Soles can wear out
- Some models are made in China and may be lower quality
9. Carhartt 11″ Bison Waterproof Work Boot
These work boots are an interesting alternative to the boots we’ve looked at so far: they’re made of bison leather. Additionally, they’re waterproof. While they’re not made entirely of bison leather – they’re also part nylon – they’re still incredibly sturdy and attractive. Like our last boot, these have extra heel support, as well.
Like our other boots so far, this one meets or exceeds ASTM F2413 standards, so you won’t have to worry about safety or regulations. Additionally, thanks to a cushioned insole, these shoes are comfortable out of the box. While the leather will take a little while to break in, as with any leather footwear, it’s not a problematic break-in period at all.
Unfortunately, these boots are just as susceptible to wear-and-tear as any other pair of leather boots, and this is particularly true for the waterproof coating on these boots. There is a “Storm Defender” waterproof membrane that’s applied to these boots to make them repel water. However, this coating can wear off over time, lessening their water resistance.
While all leather is water-resistant, especially if maintained with leather oil, keep in mind that these boots might start as submersible, but may not stay that way forever. If you’re looking for a submersible boot, you may want to look elsewhere.
All in all, this is a quality boot that will be suitable for a limited audience. While the waterproof aspect of it is excellent, it doesn’t last forever. If you’re looking for a boot that stays waterproof, it might be best to use these boots only for that purpose to make them last longer.
- Waterproof (for a while)
- ASTM F2413-compliant
- Waterproof coating wears off over time
10. Carhartt 6-Inch Work-Flex™ Comp Toe Work Boot
These boots are a different option to anything else available in our lineup. Instead of having a steel toe, these boots have what’s called a “composite” toe, which means it’s supported with a non-metal material. There’s still toe protection built into this boot, but it’s not as strong or as heavy as what you’d see in a steel-toed boot.
Despite having a composite toe, this boot still meets or exceeds ASTM F2413 standards. Additionally, it’s flexible and lightweight thanks to this composite toe cap. However, because this shoe does not have a metatarsal cap, it’s vulnerable to sparks and molten metal. It’s recommended that you wear external spats with these shoes in addition to using flame-retardant laces for welding.
In this shoe’s favor is comfort and support foremost, and it’s an attractive shoe, too. Since these are all-leather shoes, the exterior is water-resistant, though the open tongue area makes them more permeable to water than our other shoes.
Unfortunately, while these are very comfortable and supportive shoes, they don’t have much over the lace-up boots we reviewed earlier on in this article. While it remains to be seen whether these shoes can stand the test of time better, they don’t come with a metatarsal guard, so for more money, you’re getting less from this shoe.
However, for those who are looking for a sturdy shoe that will stand the test of time, this isn’t a bad option. However, it’s definitely a bit of a premium pick, as you can get more features for half its price.
- Composite toe is better for some applications, worse for others
- Fewer features than cheaper shoes
All in all, we have a good list of robust and durable welding boots here. While no welding boot can do every feature perfectly, this well-rounded lineup showcases just about every type of welding boot available today.
While we can’t say any particular type of welding boot works better than another, we find that the best overall option on this list is our first pick, the Iron Age Ground Breaker IA5016 Work Boot. This boot is durable, water-resistant, long-wearing, and protective. It comes at an excellent price, too – it’s actually the cheapest option in our lineup.
However, if you’re feeling a bit adventurous and looking for a lace-free style, the ROCKROOSTER Work Boots for Men are another excellent budget choice. They’re an extraordinary value, and they come in an additional color, too. While their foreign make might make some people uncomfortable, they have a good track record that makes them a perfectly viable option.
As far as premium options go, the hands-down winner is the Timberland PRO 53530 8″ Steel-Toe Boot. This boot is tall, supportive, durable, and comes with all the bells and whistles that you could possibly add onto a welder’s boot. While Timberland has experienced some quality-control issues, their excellent customer service and returns philosophy makes giving these boots a try risk-free.
In the end, no matter which of these welding boots you pick, you’ll be well-protected and shielded while on your welding job. While each boot in this lineup has different strengths, weaknesses, and drawbacks, they’re all dependable, reliable options for you or the welder in your life. Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit, either; a good fit and a good set of features are essential for any welder.