Especially if you’re in a job where you’re on your feet all day, having a pair of the best work shoes for men you can find is absolutely essential.
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Sneakers, lace-ups, and sandals won’t do for various reasons, be it safety standards, arch support, or traction in a slippery environment.
As you seek out the best work shoes for the job, get some direction from our guide.
What are Work Shoes?
Although most might perceive “work shoes” as something you put on to head off to the job, they often serve two key specific purposes. One, work shoes anticipate potential safety risks related your responsibilities, be it a slippery kitchen floor, heavy equipment in a construction environment, or falling packages in a warehouse.
To keep their staff safe and performing up to par, workplaces across this spectrum will require a pair of work shoes either with specific features or certain safety guidelines in mind. This step helps with avoiding workers’ compensation claims and lawsuits down the road and ensures everyone is prepared enough to do their job.
As the second aspect, the best work shoes for men are built for comfort. That’s not to say they’re soft or designed to be light, like many running shoes are.
Rather, you’ll find that many offer anti-fatigue features, or a sole unit built to absorb shock and impact and provide a degree of orthopedic support – needed for many demanding occupations, including in hospital and restaurant environments.
In the U.S., the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires protective footwear for several types of occupations, spelling out its standards with 29 CFR 1910.136. Applying more toward industrial occupations, 29 CFR 1910.136 specifies that workers with a higher risk of foot injuries on the job wear appropriately protective footwear, including against rolling, falling, or sharp objects and electrical hazards.
As such, workers handling hazardous materials or heavy objects, in an environment with slippery surfaces or sharp edges, or with exposed electrical hazards, footwear meeting ASTM standards holds up to the rigors and dangers of the job. These are part of what make up the best work shoes for men.
ASTM International establishes guidelines for protective footwear in the U.S. and revises its recommendations every five years. These are listed in more detail in F2413 and F2412, and work shoes built for demanding environments are first tested before ending up on shelves. Factors for assessing the best work shoes for men include:
- Impact, with work shoes and boots tested with a 50-pound object dropped from a height of 18 inches.
- Compression, with 2,500 pounds of force applied to the toe area.
- Electrical hazard, conductive, and static dissipative properties, to protect the worker in an environment where they may be exposed to electricity or that have a higher risk of explosions.
- Puncture resistance, to ensure a sharp object can’t penetrate the toe and outsole areas.
- The best work shoes for men also include metatarsal protection, to ensure the top of the shoe also provides a degree of puncture resistance.
Tips for Finding the Most Comfortable Work Shoes
For those searching for the best work shoes for men for the first time, the options can seem overwhelming. To get off to a solid start:
- Measure your feet properly. Especially when your shoes have a steel, composite, or alloy toe, the design will be rather stiff without much room to stretch. You want to ensure a close yet not-too-tight fit from the start. Consider measuring them at the end of the day, after you’ve been walking and your feet have swelled a bit.
- Take account whatever you’ll be wearing with your work shoes. This will entail whichever socks you prefer and if you wear orthotic inserts.
- Try them on. Especially if it’s your first time wearing work shoes, you’ll want to lace them up and walk around in the store to see how they feel. Otherwise, if you purchase online right away, you may be going through rounds of returns.
The Best Work Boots
For a full-height set of work boots, get ready for the jobsite with the following:
The Caterpillar Second Shift pulls no punches in terms of durability and protection. Rugged leather holds up to the rigors of the jobsite, reflecting Cat’s history making industrial and construction equipment, and a steel toe provides the necessary compression resistance against falling or rolling objects – making this pair certainly one of the best work shoes for men.
The Timberland PRO Bosshog considers your comfort and protection from multiple angles. A composite toe feels light while holding strong against roll and crush injuries, while waterproof leather repels moisture from the exterior. While quick-dry properties on the interior keep you cool, a fiberglass shank and slip-resistant outsole improve stability when you’re on the move.
Lighter weight work boots have started grabbing some attention, and Wolverine’s DuraShocks® is right at the front of the pack, combining full-grain leather, a steel toe, dual-density footbed, an energy-absorbing SR Polyurethane midsole, and fiberglass shank that helps fight fatigue.
Logger boots like Carolina’s Elm are one of the absolute best work shoes for men since they are built for demanding outdoor conditions. Made with Crazy Horse leather with a distressed look, this pair keeps you going on the job with a waterproof SCUBALINER™ membrane to block out moisture, triple-rib steel shank, oil-resistant lugged outsole, electrical hazard protection, and solid yet flexible welt construction.
Red Wing has been crossing two camps with its boots. On one hand, it continues to advance its tried-and-true work-oriented styles, enhancing their strength while lightening the overall feel with alloy and composite toes. On the other, the company realizes its history and has introduced several heritage styles, with many of these being concentrated in the Irish Setter line.
The Roughneck Boots bring together bits of both designs. On one hand, this boot’s exterior made with Roughneck leather is pure timelessness. But, going beyond the surface, it’s a top performer, thanks to a steel shank, grippy Vibram lugged outsole, and lightweight yet responsive cork midsole.
Best Work Shoes for the Office
The best work shoes for men for the office mix classic looks with a casual feel. While sneakers are increasingly more acceptable, sometimes you need to put on an oxford or derby for the job:
The Crosscourt II delivers the look of a dress shoe with a casual sneaker-like feel for the office. Especially when you’re in a more active role, its responsive design with traction anticipates you being on your feet all day, while the sleek leather upper always looks polished.
Best Shoes for Men for Standing All Day
If you have a job where you’ll be on your feet but don’t necessarily need a high degree of puncture and compression resistance, these are some of the best work shoe brands for feet support:
We still associate Skechers with platform sneakers nearly two decades later, but they’ve expanded into the world of work shoes, offering lightweight yet traction-providing options for restaurant and other service jobs where being on your feet all day is expected.
The Cessnock surpasses the competition by offering ASTM F1677 slip-resistant outsoles meant to provide you with traction in wet or oily conditions. Beyond these attributes, a breathable mesh upper and memory foam insole lighten the design, so that you can move.
Reebok, too, has ventured outside of the athletic realm, introducing the best work shoes for men that offer the best of both worlds. For a higher level of protection, this work shoe styled like a sneaker offers an alloy toe, rubber outsole for traction, cushioned footbed, and moisture-wicking liner while still feeling lightweight for various industrial occupations.